Tuesday, July 18, 2017

DELIGHT

'Delight' = great pleasure.

'Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.'  (Psalm 37:4)

I went to high school with a girl whose first name was Delight.  Never met anyone before or since with that first name.

Seems to me there isn't enough delight in the world today.  Way too much fear, worry, tragedy and trouble.

You could make a case that there isn't a great deal to be happy about these days.  Crime is up.  Abortion is the law of the land.  Too many marriages are crumbling and too many children are being trafficked and without homes.  Joblessness.  A nation divided by politics.

On the other hand ... Not long ago a man in NYC encountered a woman who had slipped in the subway terminal and broken her leg.  People streaming by left and right on a mission to their destination undeterred.  But this Good Samaritan, who was on his way to work, took the time to get her to his car and drive her to the hospital.  He spent the whole day making sure she was settled in and going to be OK.  He missed the whole work day so he could be a blessing to a stranger.

There are still things to delight in if you know where to look.

There are families in our church who have brought multiple foster children into their homes, freely and sacrificially being the arms, hands, feet and face of Jesus to children.  Many of them have gone the next step and adopted those children.

Delight.

I read about an armored car driving thru a metro suburb.  The driver had an accident and ended up dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the street.  Mobs came out of the cracks to descend on the money.  Not to line their own pockets but to help collect it back into the bank bags.  When officials calculated it after the re-gathering, every single dollar was accounted for.  All of it.

In places all over Wisconsin, Illinois and beyond those kinds of stories repeat.  Unidentified folks befriending others.  Assisting the down and out.  Coming to the rescue of those in trouble with no desire for reward or recognition.

God has given us much to delight in.

Know where to look.

And be blessed.

Monday, July 17, 2017

SLEEP

Why, in our American culture, with comfy beds - great cars - all the modern conveniences - access to all the calories we could ever want - full blessing on our lives - with all that, why can't we go to sleep at night?

Because you can wake up tired in America, throw down a high energy bar/drink, and then take something to help you go to sleep at night - and then repeat that process the next day.

Why can't we sleep?

We aren't laying down our anxieties.  We're gnawing our teeth at night about things God is already involved in.

Don't be anxious.  About anything.  Nothing.  Then come to God in prayer with listening and trust.  Then go to sleep with an assurance that God is there - that He's working.  He isn't sleeping.

'He who watches over you will neither slumber nor sleep.'  (Psalm 121:4)

'So sleep well, My sons and daughters,' He says.  'You're in the palm of My hand.  No power of the enemy can snatch you away.'

Sleep well.

And be blessed.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

EXPLANATION

We have to decide right now if God is someone we can trust with our whole lives or not -- when something comes into our families or our careers or our situations that's hard or even treacherous, will we become angry with a God who loves us -- or will we still trust Him?

When the flames are licking at our feet and the furnace is getting hot, will we say, "I'm out, God?  I'll be back when things cool down or when You're a little nicer or when You're in control again."

Does God have a better plan for your life than you do?  Is He really God in every situation, no matter what?  Because God doesn't owe us an explanation for all His actions.

(Yeah, I didn't think I'd get a standing "O" for that one.)

But He doesn't.

When we get to the new heaven and new earth God will create for us, all will be revealed -- but He doesn't owe us a full account down here.

But I'll tell you this.  He's good -- and He knows -- and He can be trusted.

And be blessed.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

POWERLESS


'Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made by the church.'  (Acts 12:5)

Earnest prayers.  That means without stopping.  Not some two-minute prayer in your life group -- not some add-on prayer around the supper table -- it was the desperate, passionate prayer of the church saying, 'We feel powerless, but we know how to pray.'

Many of us feel powerless against the world's system -- powerless against the notice in the mail from the lending institution - the IRS - powerless against the voicemail from the doctor.

Good news:  Prayer isn't powerless.

In fact, when we feel powerless, prayer is most powerful.

I hear this often:  'I pray.  I pray here and there in short spurts.  It works for me that way.  I pray in my car on the way to work.  I pray in my small group.  I take a couple of extra minutes on my break during the day to pray.  I pray with my family before bed at night.'

That's all great.  Keep doing that.  Don't stop.  But it has to work so God is moved, not so you're satisfied.

There are times in our lives - seasons sometimes - when we feel powerless and when God calls us to pray desperate, bold, passionate prayers.

Prayer isn't powerless.

And be blessed.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

KINGFISH

What is community?

Sometimes it's a group of people living in the same general vicinity.


Sometimes it's a group of folks who have a particular characteristic in common.

At other times community is something deeper - it's this powerful sense of fellowship you have with others as a result of shared attitudes and goals, accomplishments, same interests and purpose.

And then there are times . . . that community is simply a baseball game where you're sitting in the stands together cheering on the home team together.

So great to be at the Kenosha Kingfish ball game tonight with over a hundred other Journeyers.  


Love this church.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

QUESTION?

What sermon are you giving right now - with your words, your deeds, your thoughts?

What are you broadcasting about God?  Because we're all broadcasting something.  What are you saying about God right now with your life?

Are you disappointed in Him?
Are you angry with Him?  Upset with Him?
Or are you satisfied with Him?  Are you thankful and grateful at how faithful He's been to you?

None of us would say life has turned out just as we imagined.  It hasn't for me.

I had health issues when I was young -- we've had serious financial crises -- our marriage hasn't been easy 24/7 -- I've had seasons of depression and discouragement -- my father was absent -- I've struggled with self-esteem -- ministry has at times been hard -- I've made bad personal decisions -- our kids weren't perfect ---- but God has been faithful.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Some of you are going through it right now.  I know some of your stories.  Here's an absolute promise:  God is faithful to you ... even in this.  Right now.

Not, 'Has it worked out the way you thought?'

I know the answer to that.  That isn't the question.  The question is, "Is God faithful and will He be tomorrow?"

That's the question.  I know the answer to that too.  Yes, He is ... and yes, He will be.

The enemy comes along and says God has abandoned you.  He's forgotten you.  You have no favor anymore.  And if the only evidence you're looking at is outward, physical evidence, that isn't all God promised.

He promised He'd stand with you.
He promised to give you help and peace and grace and strength.
He promised to always be near.

No question.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

FREEDOM

From the mouths of our forefathers . . .






Happy Freedom Day.

And be blessed.

Monday, July 3, 2017

ABANDON

Will God abandon you?

How do you know He won't?

Many of us are living lives that haven't turned out quite the way we imagined.  Twenty years ago - ten years ago - five years ago - last year - last month - you'd not have dreamed you'd be in the place or the mess you are right now.

Has God abandoned you?

That's a question that needs to be wrestled with, because I know the nice church world answer to that question:  'Of course He hasn't.'

But you need to struggle with that question all the way to the ground.

Has God abandoned you?

Here's the second question, and it's closely linked to the first:  'Will God forget His promises?'

God is trying to speak to His people - and we can either lean in and listen more closely or we can reject God and His words and turn our hearts and allegiance away from Him - back to our own Egypts.

Those are our two choices all the time -- follow God, pay attention to God, obey God ... or reject God, resist God, direct our lives away from God.

All the time - two choices.

It may not be working out the way you thought, but that isn't the question.  It never is.  I already know the answer to that one.

The question is:  Is God faithful in every season?  In the valley as much as when skies are blue?

I know the answer to that, too -- yes, yes, yes, resoundingly yes.

He was faithful yesterday.  He's faithful today.  He'll be faithful tomorrow.

He has not abandoned you.
He is not sleeping.
He promises you peace and strength and help for the storm.
He said He'd never leave you.
He'll always be near.

And be blessed.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

FINAL

After a brief hiatus, I'm back.


Last and final words are important.  The last thing a person says laying on their deathbed is typically significant.  Nobody's complaining about the weather as their final word to their loved ones.

Consider these 'final words' from some famous people:

George Harrison, member of the Beatles.  Recorded by his wife, his final words were:  'Love one another.'

Jack Daniel, fonder of the Tennessee whiskey company that bears his name.  'One last drink, please.'

Malcolm X, African-American Muslim, pastor and human rights activist.  Assassinated while giving a speech in Manhattan in 1965, his final words were an attempt to appease the crowd:  'Brothers, please!  This is a house of peace.'

Steve Irwin, 'The Crocodile Hunter.'  He was fatally pierced in the chest by a stingray in 2006.  The event was caught on tape.  His last recorded words:  'Don't worry, they don't usually swim backwards.'  The footage confirms the stingray was indeed swimming backward.

Charlie Chaplin, star of the silent film era.  His final words were in response to the attending priest who said:  "May the Lord have mercy on your soul."  Chaplin responded:  'Why not?  After all, it belongs to Him.'

Walt Disney's final words were written, not spoken.  To this day no one knows for sure why he wrote what he did, but his final message was these two words:  'Kurt Russell.'  Russell was a child star in the Disney Studios at the time.


If you were in a place in life where you had to give your last words - one last thing - it's your final speech.  What would you say?  And what would you say about God?

And be blessed.

Friday, June 16, 2017

GOLDEN

There is an old saying that goes:  'Too soon old, too late smart.'

That may not be all that meaningful to you if you're say, 21.  But because I'm not 21, that's golden.

I've heard people my age say they wish they could be 21 again.  Really?  Not a chance.  The only way I would ever do it - as if it was actually possible - was if I could know back then what I know now.

Then, maybe.  Just maybe.


-- Being at peace in your spirit is a lot cooler than having outward success
I didn't know that at 21.  I thought career, money in the bank, lots of influence and power were the bomb.  Not so.  Additionally, I haven't arrived at the place I am in life without wounds - some of them deep.  Each would has personally needed the grace of God.  And the reward for giving the hurts to God has been something 'stuff' can't accomplish.  Peace.  It's taken me too long to figure that out.

-- Humility trumps being right
I used to love to argue.  I used to love the fact that I was a 'High D' on the DISC eval.  I used to love the fact that I was always right and I wanted everyone around me to know it too.  If I could, I'd turn the clock back and be right less often.

-- Serve more; be served less.
I obviously didn't come up with that by myself but honestly, I wish I'd been less selfish in my younger years.  I wasted a lot of time trying to be king over this and ruler over that.  Knowing what I know now, I would have carried more bags, opened more doors, gone on more Kingdom Builder trips, lightened more burdens, been third or fourth in line rather than first.

-- Giving is better than getting
Simply put, I just wish I would have learned the beauty and thrill and exhilaration of giving without expecting anything material in return long before I did.

-- Prayer is powerful and prayer is everything.
I had some 21-year old friends in college who had already seemed to have discovered this fact.  It did not penetrate me until much later that talking to God and listening to Him ... works.  Crises as well as smaller dilemmas drive me to my knees so much faster now than they ever did when I was 21. 


I don't want to be the guy who finally gets it after all those years -- the guy who sits up on his deathbed laughing at the joke he remembered four years back because it just dawned on him what it meant.

None of the above things meant a lick to me when I was 21.  I'm glad I learned them all before it was too late, because now they're golden.

Golden.

And be blessed.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

UNITY

Unity matters to Jesus.  He made it possible by His death on a cross.

It isn't just that He's my Lord; He's our Lord.  We're here to protect that.

How?

By Ephesians 4 -- 'Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain unity.'

That should be how we handle ourselves as believers when someone says something we don't understand -- what they believe -- what they stand for -- what they insist on -- rather than quick judgment, be a learner, not a critic.

And if you don't think you need to learn anything, you're just arrogant or insecure or you think you're God.

Walk in humility and gentleness with patience and love -- in unity.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

FOUR

The dividing lines between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world are:

Power ... Success ... Comfort ... Recognition.

These four.  They dominate in the kingdom of the world.  In fact, if you're in the world, you aren't much without them.  You're desperate for them in the world.

Power ... Success ... Comfort ... Recognition.

These four.  All life's decisions are made on the basis of them.

People don't move to New York City or Chicago or Los Angeles because they think:  'My, that looks like such a nice city.  I think I could probably make some great forever friends there.'  No.

Power ... Success ... Comfort ... Recognition.

Always these four.

The Kingdom of God has a completely opposite view of those four.  Jesus was a King without any recognized power ... scorned and rejected ... nowhere to lay His head ... no real recognition.  Even His own Father turned His face away from Him.

Jesus says: 'I don't care about success or comfort.  I'm giving all that away to spend time with the marginalized, to feed the hungry, to heal the sick, to deliver the demonized.  And anyone who wants to transfer into My Kingdom will have to be like Me.'

Not driven by power ... not enticed by success ... not seeking renown ... not motivated by having comfort.

It's fine if you have those things, but you aren't driven by any of them.

Do good.
Cultivate healthy relationships.
Give resources liberally.
Make decisions around what will benefit others.

Now we go out into the world and the main things aren't the main things anymore.  Now we make our decisions on the basis of what others need, not what we want.

Every other kingdom and revolution is about getting more power ... more success ... more comfort ... more recognition.

Those four.  But this Kingdom Jesus revolution is about giving up all those things and changing the world that way.

And be blessed.