Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What a Mighty God We Serve!

While I was away this past weekend in El Paso I had my Worship Pastor Brad Irons preach for me. He actually lead worship and then preached. He did an awesome job. Go here to listen to his sermon.

Sunday afternoon he started having a severe headache and numbness on his right side. He was taken to the emergency room where even morphine didn't cut the pain he was experiencing. Over the last few days he has been through a number of tests to determine what was wrong. Heart, kidneys, high blood pressure, etc. Doctors thought his heart was damaged and that he may have clogged arteries. They did a heart cath today - and - well, I will let his wife speak for them:

Ephesians 3: 20-21Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Today: Words are just inadequate to express a mighty move of God that leaves a doctor perplexed.

Yesterday Brad's test results were 2 abnormal EKGs and a heart sonogram (video) showing a 40% loss of heart function. It was SEEN ON VIDEO NOT FUNCTIONING!!

Today during the heart cath the doctor was completely shocked to find no real blockages AND a heart that was functioning at 100%. He expressed his confusion about the discrepancies between the tests yesterday and the results he saw today. He was not prepared for what he saw. He was expecting to have to place stints or possibly even go into open heart surgery.

Now he said we will just aggressively treat his blood pressure but no other procedure is necessary as HIS HEART IS FULLY FUNCTIONING AND IN THE CLEAR!!

Truly God did answer the prayers of the saints...and I thank you all for spending the precious time offering up prayers on behalf of our family.

It never ceases to amaze me that God continues to do miracles again and again...each one still leaves me in AWE.... Please continue to pray for Brad today as he is having really BAD back pain and is having to lay flat on his back for the next 6-8 hours. The morphine is not helping the back pain.

All I can do is agree with her and thank the mighty God we serve. Thank you, Jesus!

Monday, April 28, 2008

God Gives the Victory!

Jos 6:1-2 Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. 2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. NIV

I love the Book of Joshua! I love teaching from it. It is a book of leadership, strength, courage, inheriting promises, battles, victories, and miracles.

God always goes before us in our walk with Him. The victories are planned by Him beforehand. When Joshua was to confront the mighty walls of Jericho, God had already given Him the victory and how to accomplish it. He followed God's plan to the letter and the walls did actually come tumbling down.

Jos 7:4-5
4 So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water. NIV

In the battle for the next city Ai, Joshua became a little arrogant and forgot to ask God what His plans were for victory over Ai. They decided to send a smaller group to fight and got their tails kicked! It was only after that defeat that Joshua sought the Lord and allowed Him to tell him how to take the city.

Oh how we try too often to live our lives separately from God and fight our battles our own way. It isn't until we have our tails kicked, tucked, and we're off and running from our battle that we finally get to the place where we cry out to God.

You think we'd learn!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Heading to El Paso-

Debi and I are heading to El Paso to be with our friends Buster and Judy Russell. They pastor a great church (LifeGate) there and we always enjoy going there to minister.

I will preach an all day Men's Conference on Saturday and then for the church on Sunday. Monday will be a play day with our friends before heading back on Tuesday.

Buster had mentioned in his brochure about wanting the men of LifeGate to be mighty warriors. So I came up with this slogan, "Strong Warriors against the times!" His youth pastor Josh designed this t-shirt to give to the men at the completion of the day.

Pretty cool --

Monday, April 21, 2008

Only in Texas

Lk 19:40
And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. KJV

A Texan walked in to church one Sunday morning and the pastor noticed that he had a gun under his coat.

The pastor told him he could not bring the gun into church, the Texan replied; “Pastor, you know the word and the red words say in Luke 19:40 that I should hold my piece!”

Friday, April 18, 2008

Overcoming in the Face of Opposition

I will never leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:5 NIV

Joshua was told by God that he would have every place where he set his foot. It meant he had to get our there, be early, steadfast, stay later, and work harder. Joshua had to do his part and God would do His.

He told Joshua to expect opposition. In his book High Maintenance Relationships, Les Parrott identifies the types of people who will oppose your progress:
1. Critics who constantly complain or give unwanted advice.
2. Martyrs who are forever the victim and wracked with self-pity.
3. Wet blankets who are pessimistic and habitually negative.
4. Steamrollers who are blindly insensitive to others.
5. Gossips that spread rumors and leak secrets.
6. Control freaks that are unable to let go and let things be.
7. Back-stabbers who are two-faced.
8. Green-eyed monsters that seethe with envy.
8. Volcanoes that build steam and are always ready to erupt.
9. Sponges that are always needy and never give anything back.
10.Competitors who always keep track of tit-for-tat.

Joshua was finally told to be strong and he would lead the people to their eventual inheritance.

Do you have what it takes to go the distance in God’s plans for you? He promised to be with you. If you will walk with Him; stay strong in the face of opposition, fatigue, and temporary defeat; and allow Him into you life, He will help see you through.

Pastors, let’s possess our land!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Loving What You Do!

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23 NIV

I like what I do, in fact, I love it! I would rather be pastoring than anything else (with the exception of being a barista :>)). Seriously, I have always told people to discover your ‘bent’ (desires, likes, job you want to do), do it, and be happy in doing it!

A big insurance company conducted a work-study, during which they discovered that 20 percent of their employees did 80 percent of the work; which meant the other 80 percent only did 20 percent of the work (by the way, this is mirrored exactly in many churches too). And they found something even more interesting - the 20 percent at the top produced 16 percent more than the 80 percent at the bottom. That doesn't mean they were 16 times smarter or more experienced. No, it just means they made a conscious decision to be the best by committing to excellence on the job.

I pray over the offering on most Sundays? ‘Lord, as we work faithfully in our jobs as unto you, may you give us bonuses, raises, and increases.’ When others are not watching you working, the Lord always is and He will reward diligent labor!

What is your work ethic? Do you respect and obey your boss? Do you work hard even when he is not watching? Does your work ethic bring glory to God? I once knew a Christian lady who kept going from job to job. When I asked her why she left so many jobs, she replied, ‘They don’t have flexible hours. None of them will work with me on that!’ Do you know what she was saying; ‘I am constantly late to work and they are harassing me!’ Well, duh, I wouldn’t hire you either! And one last thought for those of you who work in a difficult place – give your best anyway!

Bob Glass says, ‘Your work is a self-portrait of the one who does it, so, today, autograph it with excellence!’

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008

When Bullied, Keep on Singing!

Remember Paul Potts? Watch this kid!


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Surfing for Sermons- Part 2

In my first post on this subject, I quoted Dr. Tom Blackaby, “People are being given second-hand visions from mega churches, and second-hand sermons God gave to other messengers.”

That would describe many pastors as ‘Cookie Cutter Pastors and Churches.’ With all the pressure out there from ‘successful pastors’ many pastors are pressed upon to mimic what is working and what is ‘preaching.’ Ever noticed how many of these 'successful pastors' look almost identical in their dress, hair (or lack thereof), stage designs (one church I know spends more in a week on stage design than many small churches receive in a months worth of offerings), and their sermon emphasis. I love the Pillsbury doughboy and the products he represents but I sure don’t want to look like him!

“And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who shall feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jer. 3:15).

Blackaby continues, “The simple reality is that many pastors are seeking God’s heart in a book or online rather than in His Word, through prayer, or by spending unhurried time alone with God seeking His heart.”

Listen, if you are finding your sermons online, chances are your sheep can find them too. There have been some prominent pastors (as well as politicians) embarrassed and some even asked to leave their churches after it was discovered they were ‘preaching verbatim’ other’s sermons. This points to the fact that we are losing our identity and uniqueness in many churches today!

God has uniquely created each pastor and placed him with a unique congregation for a unique vision. It is his to pray through, get it, and implement it. You can only be yourself and not somebody else. We have to settle that fact and believe that God has something unique for us. I remember a pastor friend from years ago who attended all the seminars on ‘how to do church,’ bought all the books and tapes, and tried to apply all that stuff only to become frustrated and no longer in the ministry.

Listen, I know as pastors we will always be looking for new ideas, way to do things, and topics to preach, but we need to become strong in Christ and the time we spend online needs to be spent with Him and His Word. There is no greater sermon you can preach than one that has come as manna from heaven into your own soul!

Lk 10:38-42 As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. "Master, don't you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand." The Master said, "Martha, dear Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it — it's the main course, and won't be taken from her." TMB

Nor from you, Pastor!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Now it's called 'Child Abuse'

Pr 13:24
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. KJV

Pr 13:24
Refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them. TMB

We are so far removed from this as a society - no wonder we have problems!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

2008 Global Missions Conference

We just finished up our annual Missions Conference (been doing this for 18 years). I was asked by a pastor how we keep it going and get the participation of our people - my answer to him - Leadership!

We had a great time as we focused on the Heart of God for the lost. Our theme this year was 'Testify of the Light' (Jn 1:7). Our missionaries with us this year were Dirk, Elizabeth and Abigail Wood (South Africa); Craig, Michelle and Justin Logan (Philippines); Brad and Jan Thurston (Germany); Mark Ost (France); Noel Elberto (Pastor- Philippines).

The missionaries did an outstanding job in all the services. We had 'Christmas in March' giving them gifts, fun money, and a delightful Christmas meal with all the trimmings!

The picture above is our Fun Day at Alley Cats with our missionaries and our staff; and, of course, Starbucks.

Jesus said we are to go into all the world. What is it about that statement that so many churches don't get today with some even curtailing their global missions emphasis? I would hate to have to answer to our Lord for that one!

Tony Campolo once said, "You had better go to heaven with the picture of a international child that you are supporting on your refrigerator!" I might add you better have the names and countries of missionaries there also!

Let's be obedient to our Lord and fulfill His Great Commission! Pastor don't let it be your great omission!