Sunday, January 15, 2017

ANGRY

God's plan is for us to be a little unnerved and unsettled about the world around us.

There are people in our regular circles of influence we need to get a greater heart for.

It's great to celebrate when we come together as a church, but let's also be in some sorrow about what we could do but aren't yet doing.  If we never shed a tear for those around us, we're in trouble.

In fact, we should get angry about some things.  Right things.  Let's be angry that people are in sex slavery.  Let's be angry that our neighbors don't know Jesus - not be angry at them, but angry at the devil for the hold he has on people.  Let's be angry that there are thousands of children orphaned with no homes.  Let's be angry there are no thriving churches in communities all around us.  And then ...

We should get angry about some things.

Let's do something about it.

Have a burden for your city.

Have you noticed you hear your own child crying way faster than you hear other kids crying?  When it's your kid who crashes on his bicycle, you're running and crying and rescuing.  But when some other kid crashes, you're like: 'Oh, get up.  You're fine.'

Nobody will own the burden if we don't own it.

It's your child.
It's your community.
They're your friends.
They're your neighbors.
It has to bother you.  You have to own it.

It's OK to be a little angry at some things.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

TEAM

I love the team God has blessed Joelene and me and Journey Church with.  What a collection of gifted, talented, young, passionate, creative men and women who lead our student and children's ministries, young adults, serving, worship, community, offering hope, administration, counseling, communications, our school and college, and our Burlington and Lithuania campuses.

We could not be in better hands.

Recently we all had the opportunity to sit together under the ministry of Kevin Queen from 12 Stone Church.  He was our guest.  Kevin poured in to us for a 24-hour period and it was beyond amazing.  

Here are some quotes from our Bucket Filler weekend together.


‘You can have as much God as you want.’

‘God can only fill what you are bringing to Him.’

‘What are you liking that you shouldn’t be liking?
What are you loving that you should be liking?
What are you liking that you should be loving?’

‘What if it’s your prayer that's the key to revival breaking out in your city?’

‘Prayer isn’t the preparation for the greater work; it IS the greater work.’

‘Keep your head on a swivel looking for opportunities to pray.’

‘The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is the little extra.’

‘We’re born on third base thinking we’ve hit a triple.’

‘Reputation may get you to the table, but character keeps you there.’

‘It’s better to eat Dunkin’ Donuts with friends than to eat broccoli alone.’

‘Martha was making sandwiches Jesus didn’t order.’

‘The best way to fight weary is with worship.’

‘Honor is saying, “Your name is safe in my mouth.”’

‘You can miss the now by focusing on the then.’


And be blessed.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

POINT

God loves you and God is for you and God will provide for you, but the motivation behind all that isn't your awesomeness.  Rather, it's all for God.

What God wants is that His name be eternally praised in the universe.  He's the reason everything exists, to display His infinite perfection.

Every media ad is pointed against that.
You earned it.
You deserve it.
Why wouldn't you take all you can get?
Have it your way.
You're exceptional.

But you aren't.  I'm sorry.

Every time we say we deserve it or say how amazing we are, we're one step closer to presuming to be the center of the universe.

But you aren't.

God is the center of it all.  Here's why that's the best news you'll hear all year.

God being about God is infinitely better than God being about you.  Because nobody is a greater threat to you than you.

Have people jacked with you?  Absolutely.  But how you've responded to that is all you.  You're the greatest enemy of your own joy, not God.  Not anyone else.  You are.

The good news is, if you aren't the center of the universe, that frees you in a thousand ways.  Because if I'm the whole point, then I have a long list of things Joelene needs to start doing for me.  And last time I checked, though she's a great wife, she isn't doing a lot of them.  I'm just saying, she isn't.

If I'm the point, then my kids need to get back here and complete the list I had for them that they never finished before they traipsed off to college and got degrees and husbands.

If I'm the point, then I need to store all my money and never give any of it.

If I'm the point, when you cut me off in traffic, I'm going to have to follow you home and punch you in the face.

If I'm the point, I'm easily offended, because it's my universe, so you should never look at me the wrong way.

Because I'm the point.

But if I'm not the point, I'm free.  Really.

If I'm not the point, it's hard to offend me.

If I'm not the point, I'm liberated to love Joelene and not have a list of things she'd better do for me.

If I'm not the point, I don't have to be constantly worried about what I have or what I give.

If I'm not the point, every church gathering doesn't have to serve every single one of my needs or preferences.

If I'm not the point.

But if everything is about me,  all that is very difficult.

Fortunately, all of this isn't about you or me.  It's all about God and His mission is that His glory be displayed in the universe.

Whew!

And be blessed.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

SOMETIMES

Some people teach that if you have enough faith you'll always be well, you'll never have problems, you'll never be sick, everything will be great.

The only problem with that theology is ... life.  The Bible doesn't teach that and that isn't your own experience.

God is far more interested in your character than He is your comfort.  He's more interested in making you holy than He is in making you happy.  So God isn't going to give you whatever you ask.

But here's the truth:  God hears and answers every prayer you pray.  He just doesn't always answer the way you want Him to.

Sometimes when you pray, God says NO.
Sometimes when you pray, God says YES.
Sometimes when you pray, God says NOT YET.
Sometimes when you pray, God says I HAVE A BETTER IDEA.

If God gave you everything you wanted - everything you prayed for - you'd be a spoiled brat.  And you'd be weak.  But God wants you to have strength and maturity and character, so He lets you go through some things instead of removing them and He gives you courage to walk that walk.

Anybody can trust God when things are going great.
Anybody can give when they have extra money.
Anybody can persist when they see the finish line a couple of feet away.
Anybody can believe when it's right there in front of them.

Real faith is built in the valleys of life - even if you don't get what you want.  Especially then.

And be blessed.

Monday, January 2, 2017

WORLDCHANGER

2017 is here.  Exciting.

I know a lot of people are glad to see the '6' roll to a '7.'  Last year was not a good year for them.

Time and opportunity to start fresh.  The opening to change the world together is on us.

- You are the salt of the earth.
We aren't called to blast the world this year with everything we believe is wrong with it; we're just called to keep our virtue and pray for open doors of opportunity.  That will change the world.

- You are the light of the world.
The greater problem today isn't the presence of darkness, it's the absence of light.  Shine this year without malice; shine without judgment; shine without shame.  That will change the world.

- If God is for you, who can be against you?
Revolution doesn't just happen when you're in the majority.  History has proven that.  Someone said to me recently, 'Down thru the annals of time, the majority has always been right.'  That statement could not have been more ignorant or more wrong.  Even the secular world knows that isn't so.  Castro began a revolution with 82 men.  Jesus did it with even fewer.  It matters not how small you are if you have faith, vision, heart, passion and a plan of action.  Stay on God's side.  That will change the world.

- Do not be overcome by evil; overcome evil with good.
Let's not be mean-spirited in 2017, even when those who oppose us may be.  If we are, we have already lost the battle.  A soft answer turns away wrath.  Fight against pride in 2017.  Reach out instead of attack.  That will change the world.

- In this world you will have trouble; but take heart, Jesus has overcome the world.
Just as Jesus conquered every obstacle, so can you.

Be a worldchanger.

And be blessed.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016

As 2016 ends today, here are the 10 Most Read Posts of the year on this blog:

#10 - 'SIR2' - originally posted way back on January 30, a blog on what happened when I walked into the gym one day and some muscle dude called me 'Sir.'  
http://pksblogplace.blogspot.com/2016/01/sir-2.html

#9 - 'PRE-OWNED' - from February 23, a blog about some of my experiences around the world with ... driving.
http://pksblogplace.blogspot.com/2016/02/so-i-got-different-car-few-weeks-ago.html

#8 - 'ATTACK' - about the inevitable attack on your life from the enemy as a follower of Christ - published October 16.
http://pksblogplace.blogspot.com/2016/10/attack.html

#7 - 'BEST' - this blog was written on September 6 about always believing the best - my motto for living - the top read blog in a month-long September series about what I've learned from 35 years of ministry.
http://pksblogplace.blogspot.com/2016/09/lesson-6-best.html

#6 - 'NATION' - published on July 8, describing the dependence of our country on a God who loves us, especially in light of some of the terrorist attacks of mid 2016.
http://pksblogplace.blogspot.com/2016/07/nation.html

#5 - 'SECRET' - there was a healthy blog response on April 28 when I decided to post some secret things about my life.
http://pksblogplace.blogspot.com/2016/04/secret.html

#4 - 'BAHRAIN/DUBAI' - a follow up on our November trip to the Middle East - published the day after our return on November 13.
http://pksblogplace.blogspot.com/2016/11/bahrain-dubai.html

#3 - 'SECRET2' - the day after the fifth most read blog post this year, I proposed to reveal Joelene's greatest life secrets.  It was a bait-and-switch blog.  I'd never do that, but you looked anyway.
http://pksblogplace.blogspot.com/2016/04/secret2.html

#2 - 'RELIGIOUS' - a March 13 blog about the difference between rebellion and religion along with a personal confession.
http://pksblogplace.blogspot.com/2016/03/this-morning-i-asked-our-journey.html

And the #1 blog post of 2016 by far -- from August 21 titled "WARS" - a post about generational warfare in the church centered around worship.
http://pksblogplace.blogspot.com/2016/08/wars.html


It's been a great year being with you here.  Thanks for reading and following.  I look forward to more posting in 2017.

And be blessed.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

SEEK

If you've lived very long at all, you've walked through a season of life you might call 'the desert.'  You've been through dry times.  For some people, 'the desert' pretty much describes and defines the year that has been 2016.

That's legit stuff.

Jeremiah says, 'You will find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.'  (29:13)

God isn't playing Hide and Seek with you but just not coming out.  Remember that when you were a kid, when the person hiding from you hid in a place so good you just gave up looking and went to watch cartoons and left them in their hiding place the rest of the day?

That isn't God.

Seek the Lord and He will be found.

A lot of people complain about being thirsty and dry and then do nothing to drink.

'I'm so thirsty.'
'Well, here's some water.'
'No, I'm so parched and dry.'
'I'm telling you, there's water right here.  Come drink!'

... and He will be found.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

GIFT

The greatest delivery system of God's love ... is you.

And right now maybe you're saying to yourself, 'That's a really bad idea because I know me.  God, You got this one terribly wrong.  You need a better system than to trust me with this gift.'

You've heard people say, 'He thinks he's God's gift to the world ... she thinks she's God's gift ... '

Guess what?  You really are.

In fact, I give you permission to say that this week - 'I'm God's gift to the world' - provided you keep it in context.

It's like God is going, 'The best gift I have for the world is right here -- it's David -- it's Shelly -- it's Jim -- it's Rachel -- it's Gary.'  It's me.  It's you.

Christmas says God loved you - when you were His enemy - when you were running from Him - and He came to you when you didn't care about Him.  It was a sacrificial, understanding, covering love extended to an offender when the offender wanted nothing to do with it.

You are God's gift of love to the world.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

BREAK

It isn't that you love God.

People get confused by that, but the story of the Gospel isn't about you discovering God.  It isn't about you searching for God.  It isn't about you loving God.  It's about God's love your direction.

At the center of our lives is one decision we each must make -- one question that must be answered:  Is God good - does He love you - is He willing to provide everything you need for a great life?
Or, Is God not good - does He not love you - so do you have to take what you need to make it?

In other words, trust God - or - trust you.

That was the choice Adam and Eve had to make in the Garden.  They decided to trust themselves and make their own way.  As a result the Bible says they - and we - basically said:  "I like this better than I like You, God.  I want this more than I want You."

And if you scroll through the pages of the Bible right after that, you see the story of humanity unfolding -- racism, favoritism, pride, selfishness, sexual sin, dishonesty, anger -- it's all there.


The Gospel isn't about you loving God.  It's about God's love your direction.


And it becomes who we are -- people who break things.  We break promises, we break trust, we break other people.  The Bible calls that sin.

Even with all that, God still came for us.  He said, "I'll purse you.  I'll chase after you.  I'll love you even when you don't love Me.'  And He sent His only son into the world to save us from our sin and from ourselves.

That's the whole amazing story of the Bible and it's the beautiful story of Christmas, that God pursues you, and that He loves you very, very much.

And be blessed.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

WAITING

Christmas is a time for waiting.  For most of us, not our favorite thing.  But it's everywhere this season:

You wait for a parking spot at the crowded mall.
You wait in line at Target.
You wait with your kids to see Santa.  Sometimes that line has a sign that says:  'Wait time from this spot is ... 30 minutes.'

Wouldn't it be great if life came with some signs?

If you're a single woman, there could be a sign that read:  'Six months until you meet Prince Charming.'  That would be a great sign because that way you could get yourself prepared -- stop biting your nails -- quit chewing tobacco -- things like that.

'In three months, you'll have a job that brings significance to your life.'  People are waiting for that to happen.

'In two years you'll be a father.'  Plenty of people would love to see that sign in their life -- unless you're 58 years old, then maybe not so much.

'In six months, no more depression.'  That would mean the world to a lot of people.

The problem is, life doesn't come with signs and we don't like waiting very much.  Waiting reminds us we aren't in control.  But there's a faith that's produced in us when we wait.  Character is formed when we wait.

That's what's happening right now.  Advent.  Christmas is a season about waiting.  The word 'Advent' means 'arrival,' and waiting is always involved when we're excepting someone to arrive.

We're all waiting with anticipation right now to open gifts -- we're waiting for the relatives to show up in the driveway so we can get on with making memories -- sit around the table and eat and laugh and make memories.

It's happening right now.


Waiting reminds us we aren't in control.


They waited for Jesus to arrive, too.  He came the first time as a baby and ultimately He was nailed to a cross to die for our sins -- in our place -- as our substitute -- because He loved us.  Then He went away and sent the Holy Spirit and said, 'I'm coming back in awhile and when I do I'm going to make everything right.  There'll be no more disease, no more hurt, no more pain or loss.  I'm going to make things right again.'

We're waiting for that day.  That waiting is part of what we're excitedly reminded of this season.

Merry Christmas.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

APPETITE

We're people driven by our appetites as well as by our belief that our actions will make us happy.  You do what you do because you think in doing it you're going to be satisfied ... fulfilled ... it will bring you joy.

Everything you do is driven by your instinctual desire for happiness and pleasure.  You do nothing that isn't driven by that.

The Bible drives counter to that.  It speaks of a celebration of Jesus being better than everything else.

Psalm 4:7, for example: 'You have put more joy in my heart than they have when grain and new wine abound.'

In other words, "Let others have what they want.  Let them pursue all the world has to offer.  I've tasted some of that and what I can say is, 'God, You're still better.'"  

There's more joy to be had in You, God, than in any of those.

I'm not saying you can't experience pleasure in anything other than God.  Of course you can - and you do.  But I'm saying you won't experience the fullness of joy possible for human beings outside of a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Do you have an appetite for that?

And be blessed.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

JOYFUL

My mother used to wrap gifts for our kids prior to the big Christmas day.  She called it 'The Twelve Days of Christmas.'  There was one small, inexpensive gift for each day preceding Christmas, getting everybody in the mood for the magnum opus that is December 25.

We have continued the tradition she began by wrapping 12 small gifts for our own grandchildren so they can enjoy the whole season rather than wait for one great day.  Their parents send us the videos daily of the grankies opening the gifts.  Over the past five days we've had our eldest grankie, Elias, here with us while his parents were on a trip.  So we got to see it up close and personal.

Every day, whether in person or on video, you can see the delight in a child's eyes as they find a gift under the tree and rush to open it as soon as they wake.

No greater joy than right there - children teach us how to be joyful.

But it seems as we get older, we have a harder time with joy.  It seems to fade.  We're great through the first part of our lives, but joy starts to disappear with the adult years.

I get it.  Life gets complicated as you mature.  You're aware of more.  Experiences weigh you down.  Pressure rise.  Responsibilities grow.  Family - job - life.

It's almost weird.  We become a little cynical and suspicious of people who have extra amounts of joy.  What's wrong with them?

But joy is something our hearts are desperate for.  So we try to make it happen on our own.  We buy better gifts - we get more stuff - we medicate joy with thrills or alcohol or drugs.

But what if the timeline of our lives was joy rising rather than sinking?

The Gospel of Luke says the angel told the shepherds: 'I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.'


Joy is something our hearts are desperate for.


My question is, why did we need joy reintroduced to the world at Christmas time?  Where did it go?

Let's go back to the beginning.  God, the source of all joy, intended it for everyone.  He declares everything good.  He makes it - it's good.  He makes it - it's good.  He makes it - it's good.

But Adam and Eve want the one thing they aren't supposed to have.  Sound familiar?

Evil is introduced into the world.  Sin comes in and creates distance from God - and joy begins to decline ... everywhere.  Satan starts to steal joy.  Evil comes in and breaks us down.  It ages us - it sours us.

So what does God do?  He sends His Son at Christmas.  It's the re-arrival of joy into the world.

And be blessed.