Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Best Days are Ahead

At times in my life I have looked back on what used to be and longed for those days.  Recently I was thinking of the house where I spent a good part of my childhood.  Those were great years, riding my bicycle all around town, exploring in the woods, going to my best friend’s house for sleepovers.  Those were the simple, carefree childhood days.  But those don’t have to be the best days.  The best days are ahead.

God wants us to have hope for the future, and, of course, joy for today. 

Someday I hope to take my wife back to the place of my childhood.  I want her to see where I grew up and be able to share those memories with her.  But I doubt I will ever live in that town again.  I can’t turn back the clock and relive those days.  And that’s okay. 

There have been times in recent years where I've struggled significantly with the direction of my life.  I felt stuck in my job, it seemed I couldn’t leave if I wanted to.  I think, at times, I was a bit frantic, thinking I had to figure out something to do with my life.  I wanted to do something of significance.  I felt like Joseph in the prison, the Lord was with me, but it seemed like little was changing for the good.  My discouragement, at times, and sense of disappointment was deep and debilitating.  It has clouded my whole view of life. 

But today is a new day.  God has brought about changes in my life in this last year that have given me a fresh hope for the future.  About a year ago I was promoted in my job.  The pay, though not super-great, is better than I’ve ever made.  I met my beautiful wife, Leslie, and now I have hope that we will start a family, that I will be a father, and that our family will serve God in ministry.  God has also given me a fresh sense of direction regarding my career and my calling.  Things are not perfect, but, things are better.    

The oft-quoted verse in Jeremiah says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (vs. 11)  No matter how good things were in the past, or how bad things may have been, we can believe that the best days are ahead.  My prayer for you today is that God will give you fresh vision for the future.  I pray that God will “give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…” (Ephesians 1:17-18)  

The best days are ahead!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Every Good and Perfect Gift

Thinking back on many Christmases, can you think of a gift that was especially meaningful to you?  As I’m thinking about this, I know I’ve received some nice gifts over the years, but, looking back, it’s much less about the gifts received and more about the memories shared with loved ones.  I’m thinking of the times around the holidays at the dining room table or in the living room playing games with the family.  Or how about the times spent singing carols and reading the Christmas story from Luke Chapter 2 on Christmas Eve?  You probably have similar memories.  Those memories are a gift.

Last night my wife and I spent the evening with my sister, Becky, and my brother-in-law Jason.  I read a book and relaxed while Leslie and Becky baked in the kitchen.  Then we sat at the dining room table and played a board game.  Later that night, at home, Leslie and I read from the Scriptures and then prayed as we took Christmas communion together as a couple.  I wrapped a couple of gifts, we tidied up around the house, and we got to bed about 4:30 in the morning.

I woke up today excited about watching my wife open the gifts I bought for her and about opening mine as well.  Before opening the gifts we read the Christmas story from Luke and Matthew.  We opened the gifts and then, for the the remainder of the day I’ve been able to just relax.  The day has been a gift that I’ve been able to share with my lovely wife.   

The Scripture says that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)  God brings perfect gifts into our imperfect lives, and in the midst of our own imperfections, He blesses us.  I realize how much I don't deserve God's gifts, yet, as I write this, I look over in the kitchen, and there my wife is, a great blessing in my life.    

Though we did not deserve him, God gave us His Son, Jesus, His good and perfect gift from above.  He came into our lives and blesses us, though we are imperfect.  Through Him we can sense how greatly blessed we are.

This Christmas I am thankful for the gifts God has given me and how much He has blessed me.  And, I am thankful that He sent His Son, Jesus, as a baby in a manger, to ultimately die on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.

"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!"
II Corinthians 9:15  

Monday, May 6, 2013

Commissioned!

“…that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:19

The following is a dream I had last year, on Sunday, October 28th.  I will explain the dream as best as I remember it, from what I wrote in my journal, adding my thoughts and impressions from the dream.

I arrived from work, feeling somewhat detached from what was going on.  There were people sitting, watching some kind of conference or event that was taking place.  We were in some kind of cafeteria or auditorium.  There was an event taking place with my church; I believe people from my church were there.  I think they were looking through glass to the auditorium, and on the other side of the glass there was a stage, and I know Jan Crouch from TBN was there. 

Then I walked down a hall of some sorts, and sat down by a small wooden door.  Inside the door Creflo Dollar was speaking.  It may have just been an audio recording of him.  I believe he was speaking on the primary mission of the church.  Maybe he had 3 points about the church’s primary mission. 

Then I looked up and saw Paul Nelson’s face, broken, like he was weeping.  Paul and his wife are the youth pastor’s at my church, and the directors of our World Prayer Center.  It was as if he was longing for all of what God has to be realized, a deep cry of the heart for the fullness of all that God has.  I believe that desire could be for me personally, for my home church, and even for the church at large.

Then my pastor came and laid his hands on me.  I believe he stood behind me with his hands on my head.  The sense and impression of his prayer was that of GRACE, BLESSING, and COMMISSIONING, and even DELIVERANCE too.  He was praying a blessing of grace for me, I believe for my deliverance, and commissioning me to fulfill the Great Commission.  I believe I heard the words, “Go, go, go!”  There was a sense of commissioning and sending.  For me, personally, perhaps a sense that I will be delivered in my heart, and sent out to fulfill the Great Commission. 

When Pastor laid his hands on my head there was an earnestness in his prayer, I believe, that spoke to something deep in my heart.  As I awoke I was weeping – not really shedding tears, but weeping.  I was being touched by the Lord. 

I think much of the dream is self-explanatory.  However, when I shared my dream at my church’s Sunday evening equipping service I believe one of my friends pointed out that the dream speaks of a generational transfer taking placing between one generation and the next.  Jan Crouch, Creflo Dollar, and my pastor all speak of the former generation.  Jan and Creflo, despite their imperfections, may speak that God will use us even though we are far from perfect.  I believe there is a deep desire of God for the church to walk in the fullness of all He has called us to do, both corporately and personally. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

There Is a River

there is healing in the pain
there is healing in the river
rushing river wide
I can see you but I cannot hear you
the only sound I hear is that of singing
the song of healing
there is rest in the river
though it rages
it rages with peace
it rages release
release from the striving
freedom from the struggle
fear is banished
anxiety must go away
sorrow and mourning must be no more
with the rush of the river
all is swept away
“Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return,
and come with singing unto Zion;
and everlasting joy shall be upon their head:
they shall obtain gladness and joy;
and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
there is a river
for the healing of the nations
there is a river
which flows from within
there is a river
that wells up to eternal life
spring up O well, spring up within my soul
there is a river
which makes glad the city of God
there is a river
let me dance, let me dance
rejoice and sing
and spin around and around
in that holy river
in the river of God

(Scripture from Isaiah 51:11)


Thursday, April 18, 2013

There Is a Place

I recently finished the book Heaven Is for Real, the story of a 4 year-old boy's visit to heaven.  It was such an encouragement.  You can read more about it at heavenisforreal.net if you'd like.  I wrote this poem about heaven:

There Is a Place

this world is full of striving and struggle
but there is a place
the world heaves with heartache
but there is a place
this world is worn by fighting and war
but there is a place
this world is tossed and weary
harassed and helpless
but there is a place
in this world you will have trouble, He said
but take heart
I have overcome
in this world you will have tribulation
but look up
I give you joy
in this world you will be persecuted and hated
but look beyond
I go to prepare a place
in this world you may have heaviness
but gaze out at the night sky
look up at the sliver of the moon
look out across fields of wheat
and let your eyes stretch out across horizons
because somewhere, far beyond the sky
I am there
preparing for you a room in heaven
where sorrow will be no more
where no one will grow old
where never you’ll meet a stranger
and everything broken will be restored
no more sighing
pain
fear
torment
no more crying there
there will be no night
look up my friends, and take heart
there is a place

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”.”
John 16:33

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

All Things Possible

I woke up this morning with this song in my spirit:  All Things Possible by Mark Schultz.  

This line is encouraging to me:

Even when it feels like the light is fading
And I've lost my way
Still I'm holding on to the One who's making
All things possible

"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'"

Matthew 19:26


Sunday, March 31, 2013

I Love You Lord, My Strength

I will love You, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.”
Psalm 18:1-3

The word for love in the above Scripture (Hebrew: racham), according to the note in my Bible, "is used only here in all of the OT for a person’s love for God.  It expresses an especially tender, deep emotion.”  This tender emotion expressed to God by David is linked to a moment of deliverance in his life.  I find that to be encouraging.  The introduction to the Psalm says David "spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.” (emphasis mine)  

Why do we love the Lord?  Yes, we love Him for who He is.  Yet, our love for Him is deepened in the dark trials of our lives.  And when that moment of deliverance final comes, our love for Him is consummated as our hearts overflow with relief and overwhelming gratitude, basking in the faithfulness of God.

It is one thing to love someone because you enjoy their company.  But love is deepened when you walk with them through struggles and trials.  When your love is tested in the fires adversity, your hearts are bonded together in a deeper depth of love. 

I love you Lord because You have been faithful to me.  I love You for who You are, and for all You have done.  You have shown me the depth of Your love in the darkest moments of my life.  When I thought I did not have the strength to carry on, You sent angels, or Your Spirit, to lift me up.  When I was confounded by confusion, You sent a word, a whisper in the night to give me direction.  When I was crushed under the weight of my own failures, You ministered to me deeply.  You restored me.  I love you, O Lord, my strength.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Best Time for God’s People

During the night before I woke up to March 25th, 2001 (my birthday), the Lord gave me a dream.  I was in Michigan at an old house my family used to rent.  It felt like the world was going to end.  Everyone knew that a great earthquake was coming to the whole earth.  Everyone was preparing for the worst.  People were running around frantically, preparing.  The world was full of fear.  I had an awesome sense of great destruction coming to the earth but my heart had such great, sweet peace. 

While everyone was running frantically around my house this six-year-old black child came into the house.  I began to talk to him about Jesus and his eyes began to fill with tears.  Right there, while the world seemed to be coming to an end, I led a little child to Jesus. 

I have always felt like God gave me this dream as a picture of the church in the last days.  When the world is shaking in fear, we will have peace, and we will be reaching out to others with the love of Christ. 

The Scripture speaks of a time when men’s hearts will fail them because of fear “and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”  But then it says, “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (Luke 21:25-28, NKJV)

Despite great tribulation, Jesus says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) 

Yes, it may be the worst of times in the world, but it will be the best of times for the church!  I believe we need to shift our focus to the kingdom of God.  The earth and everything in it is going to pass away, but God’s kingdom is going to endure forever.  His kingdom is what really matters, and gathering in His harvest is the priority of His kingdom.

Prayer Equals Peace

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow...