Monday, July 01, 2013

Our Independence Day!

The Word:
Read: Psalm 146:7, Luke 4:18, John 8:31-32, 34-36

"Our Independence Day" by Randolph Koch

As I have been preparing to celebrate our nation's Independence Day, I started to remember how much we have to be thankful for. Independence didn't come cheap for the USA to become its own nation and many people fought and died to bring us this gift we know a freedom.

We have freedom to worship and attend church wherever we want, or we can choose not to do so. We can have our own Bibles. We can choose (for the most part) what our career will be. We can have our own vehicles. We can have children without government control if we choose to have children. We can have clean water to drink and for the most part we can have 3 meals (that we can choose) a day as well as many other freedoms that are truly unique to the USA. 

The list goes on and on regarding the freedom we have here but we so easily take them for granted!

Think about it for a moment: other countries don't have these freedoms and in some countries you could be killed or imprisoned for just being a follower of Christ. These and many other freedoms we tend to take for granted. 

We should remember to thank God for these things. We truly live in a land of much independence, beginning way back at the birth of this nation.

The fourth of July is a great time of celebration for the USA. But let us not forget the greatest Independence Day of all time that we can all celebrate no matter what country we call home. I'm talking about the day that we came to know salvation through Jesus Christ! On that day, Jesus set us free from the chains of our sin when He died for us, taking the penalty for our sin and making it His. We were slaves to our sin and through His power He has given us independence from our old sinful ways. We are no longer enslaved by our sin and will spend eternity with Him!!

Praise God that now as believer's we can truly celebrate, every day, our own Independence Day!

Thanks be to our God for loving us so much! We’ve now moved from dependence on sin and our old life to independence from sin and dependence on Him!!!

Questions To Get Started With:

-Have you experienced your own Independence Day?

-Are you thankful for the many blessings, freedoms and privileges you have?
-Are you living the way you were before you came to know Christ or is your life new or growing? Is there evidence of your own Independence Day?
-Are you secure in your walk with God knowing that the Lord has truly set you free?

 Application Idea:
-Consider making a list of the blessings, freedoms and privileges you have.
-Thank God for these things and seek to never take them for granted!

Have a wonderful and safe 4th of July!

In Him,


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cast the first stone...

I'm not condoning what was said in the past but here are two observations or my thoughts from the lopsided un-tolerant treatment I see taking place toward the cooking celebrity Paula Deen: 
#1- I hope that the stupid stuff I said 30 years ago isn't dredged up and held against me like it has against her! I've grown a lot since then and it seems she has too! Plus in my case I was 13 and said I'm sure a lot of stupid stuff :-) 
 #2 - ..."he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Walk in Integrity

Here's wisdom from the Proverbs: Read Proverbs 28:6

Do you realize that your integrity, character, reputation is far greater than riches or any worldly gain especially as you are representing Christ in all you do.
So, today and each day - remember to walk in integrity!



Thursday, June 13, 2013

What happens when songs are too high (and too loud)

The author makes some great points about what happens when worship songs are too high. Check out the article here: 

Something to think about if you are a worship leader or worship pastor. Would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. 

I have to interject that it does seem that today's worship songs are purposely high and loud and there's no in-between. Worship leaders, let me encourage you to shepherd your congregations by encouraging them to sing to their God via songs that are in a range that you don't have to be a "bird" to sing. ;-) 

Yes, the songs are just one mode of worship but an important one and a huge part of the weekly services so, shepherd them supporting their need and responsibility to worship The Lord in song and do so in a fashion the focus doesn't shift to things related to what the author says in the article. 

This isn't Chris Tomlin's congregation (or any other well known worshiper/worship leader for that matter) it's your congregation that God has given you responsibility over, so don't take that for granted. 

Also, the fallacy that seems to exist today that the music has be super loud in order to be good or to "lead people" in's wrong. Many churches are actually making ear plugs available to the congregation and I have to wonder...if people have to use ear plugs in order to "worship" is that really leading them in worship or does it detract from worship? 

For the ear plug utilizers, I'd say it must detract from their worship so I'd say, worship leaders, be mindful of the audio levels...if you turn it up...just make sure it's not up there too much as it does detract from what everyone is there to do and with both of these issues (too high and too loud) it can detract from you properly feeding the flock through your roll as worship leader/pastor/shepherd... food for though and prayerful consideration.

Praying the Lord uses all of you mightily and helps you strike the right balance in all these things.

Would love to hear your thought on these topic so please leave a comment to this blog post.

Thanks for stopping by!



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Let The Past Die!

Let's quit living in the past! Let's move forward as the new creation that He's made us to be! Replaying the past in your mind doesn't profit you unless to initially learn from it and then move on and if you continue to replay it in your mind it will paralyze you from progress!

"From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." -2 Corinthians 5:16-17



Monday, June 03, 2013

Ephesians 4:29 and Duct Tape

Here's a good one to chew on for your Monday, plus it displays yet another use for Duct Tape! :-)

May God through His Spirit help provide the "Spiritual Duct Tape" we need many times in order to live out Ephesians 4:29!



Monday, May 13, 2013

Taking Time to “Pause”: Reflections from “The Mountain Top” (AKA a recent retreat)

"Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying,
yet our inner man is being renewed day by day."
~2 Corinthians 4:16

(The Key passage that set the tone for the weekend) 

Was blessed to be a part of a men’s retreat the weekend of May 3rd – 5th, 2013 with my home church and wanted to share some reflections via this post.

General Thoughts:

The location/venue (Twin Rocks Camp and Conference Center in Rockaway, Oregon) as well as the weather, accommodations, fellowship, etc. were fantastic!!
The Speaker, Worship in song, break out groups were great as well and it turned out to be a weekend that had profound impact on many.

Spiritual Insights:

We were challenged to connect with God in a way we’ve never connected with Him before – something I’d say as men that we’re not real good at sometimes even though deep down we hunger for true relationship.

The speaker kicked off the weekend on Friday night by sharing his testimony and then during each of the sessions introduced a major theme of renewal and challenged us through the Scriptures and his recent journey with God to take time to pause with God. We were challenged to take time to be with God whether you pause for 2 minutes, 30 minutes or more. Taking time to read His Word, pray and listen for His direction. We were also reminded time and time again that we are not alone!

It was a needful reminder (or for some it may have been the first time they heard these assurances) as we live in a busy and hurried world! I know how busy I get working and serving Him that I forget to do just this, pause to be with Him.

In our breakout sessions where we met in small groups, the stories and testimonies started to unfold about the impact this was having on each of us.

Little-by-little we became more transparent with where we’ve come from, where we are, and what lies ahead with personal changes we need to make and need help from God and others to do so.

This was especially true when the question was posed to us to “pause” and consider and then share/discuss in our small group times: “What is (or maybe what are) the Lie(s) I believe about God.” Or, to personalize it, “what is the lie “I” believe about God?”
I know I wrestled with this question a bit myself and a couple things automatically came to mind as the speaker asked the question.

I listened to others share during our small group time and then I shared a few things as well and It was evident that we are not alone in our battles and not alone with how we tend to think about God sometimes either.

After our Saturday morning session and lunch we had about 4 ½ hours of free time before dinner and our evening session. After a hike with my son, he then wanted to relax at the camp so I decided to hit the beach, take a walk, snap some pictures and videos and relax / pause for a bit as I continued to process what God was teaching us.

About 30 minutes before needing to head back I sat down to physically pause and hear from God.

I had some worship/praise music playing in my headphones and as I prayed and looked out toward the ocean – the ocean He created, I again pondered the question the speaker asked us during the session, “What is the like I believe about God?”

As I reflected on this and prayed some more and then listened - within moments another question came to mind… “What is or are the lies I believe about myself?”

Boom!  That question hit me as they say, “right between the eyes!”

I drilled into this for a few moments and then I felt prompted to take a piece of paper from my notepad and write down the things that came to mind. Within less than literally 30 seconds to a minute I looked down and realized there were 10 things listed there – 10 major things and sadly I think I could have kept going!

You see, I realized why it hit me and it’s not only because of my past, but it seemed to drill down to penetrate the core of my heart and soul with the realization that how I view myself – the lies I believe about myself – directly reflects on how I view God!

Why?...Because He made me (all of us) in His image and His Word states clearly who I am in Him and how He sees me! I have no business believing these things about myself!

The list that I wrote down - literally boiled down to trust for me and due to my past, trust is a big issue for me…especially but not limited to other men, male leaders, friends, or male role models. So, I have to continually learn how to trust God (and others) – trust that He loves me unconditionally like He says and has shown that He does, and that everything He says that I am in Him and how He clearly states how He’ll never leave or forsake me and that He’ll provide, etc for me throughout His Word is true and that I can completely trust HIM!

For years I have put up barriers and have had a low self-image because of my past. I have continually had to learn about who I am in Him and that the lies I speak of or think about myself are just that - lies!

As I reflected on all of this, I was then led to turn that list sideways and right the word LIES over the entire list in large letters. Next I was prompted to burn that list up and as I watched the list of lies burn up, line-by-line, before me I realized that I don’t need to dwell on or receive them anymore because I know the truth and need to live in His unchanging truth about who I am and who God says I am!

I cannot allow myself to believe the lies about God or myself any longer and pray that with God’s help I will allow the lies that were represented on that list and more too truly disappear!

For me it was a simple yet powerful moment as I released things I had hung onto for far too long and they were and are barriers to walking fully in the newness of life He desires for me.

I ask you to pray for me as I continue this journey and walk with Him that I’d truly let go of these lies once and for all and in place of them, believe the truths about Him and myself that are so clearly laid out in his Word!

I challenge you to do the same and start by asking God for help identifying what lies you believe about Him as well as yourself and then confess those things, let them go, and move forward in His name, love and grace!

The next day (Sunday) which was our final retreat day and session we had a special and moving time of communion to close our time together. For me this was a very fitting end to the weekend as we celebrated the Lord’s Table which is a great time to celebrate what He’s done for you and I but also that we can take time to lay the burdens down before Him as He works in our lives.

The Mountain Top:

During special times of personal retreat or special serve efforts such as a mission trip or other significant life event, we have what we often refer to as a “Mountain Top Experience”.

Much like others throughout history who had significant things happen through such experiences we can and do have tremendously moving events take place during these times.

The hope always is that through those “Mountain Top” times that those momentary events, once “off The Mountain Top”, would lead to lasting life change!

I believe and my prayer is that per my own experience and others experience through this specific time that this will be the case! 

The end of this weekend was truly the beginning of a fresh new perspective for myself and many others I suspect and I’m excited to see what changes and new things come for myself and others as we strive to walk in newness and let the old life, the old things, the lies disappear.

I’m very thankful for the very simple, contemplative and profound weekend and pray that the effects of the learnings of the weekend aren’t temporal but truly become life altering and lasting changes for everyone, including myself that attended.

Principles to Ponder:

  • Take Time to Pause – Pause Often and Regularly: Seek God regularly! Take time to connect with Him. Whether it’s in 2 minute intervals throughout the day to longer times, it’s vital that you and I invest this time with God seeking Him and listening for His direction.
  • Take Inventory: Ask God to help you take inventory of your journey from time-to-time. Assess what lies you’re believing about God and yourself.
  • Take Time to Connect with Others: Building relationships is an important aspect of your journey especially in the context of your spiritual life as well as life in general. We weren’t designed to do life alone and we need the help of others to rise above where we are and to move forward.

Questions for personal reflection:

  • How often do I take time and connect with God?
  • Why don't I pause?
  • What is the lie (or the lies) I believe about God?
  • What is the lie (or the lies) that I believe about myself?
  • What do I need to do / need God’s help to do in order to move forward more fully in the newness of life He desires for me?
I would love to hear and learn from your own experience! So, please leave a comment in reply to this post for the benefit of not only myself, but others who may stop by this blog
for a visit.
Blessings and Love in Christ,

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The Fruit of The Spirit

Hello My Friend,

As we grow in our walk with Christ - in the wisdom and knowledge of Him, the fruit of this growth should be evident to everyone (including ourselves) around us!

The key to a Spirit-filled and led life is to take God's Word and actively live it out in our lives and with this, when we are told to bear fruit in the scriptures we ought to do just that - bear fruit! The Fruit of The Spirit comes from God working in and through us. 

In the book of Galatians God lays out for us the Fruit of the Spirit as follows:  

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit." Galatians 5:22-25 (ESV)

This list in this passage is the exact opposite of what we see or experience many times in our lives and in the world we live in, isn't it? 

Note also that the passage states ..."those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." In this statement alone it's clear that we are to rid ourselves of the bad seeds we have sown and the bad fruit we've produced in the past and thankfully God is faithful to help us do just that!
As we grow, God will plant good seed and in turn produce good fruit and the choice then comes to us in part - what fruit do you and I want to bear?  Fruits of the flesh (sinful nature) or the Fruits of the Spirit (The fruit that comes from God and abiding in Him)? 

May you rely on the work of The Holy Spirit in your life and allow Him to work in and through you so you might bear fruit for The Lord all the days of your life. 

I recently ran across this below great video on The Fruit of the Spirit. 

Take time to watch this brief video and then ask The Holy Spirit to help you  #1 evaluate what fruit you've been bearing lately / what seeds you are sowing and #2 to help you to bear good fruit - spiritual and physical (the things you do) fruit because we cannot do it on our own!  We need His help to plant good seed and bear good fruit!

Fruit of the Spirit - An illustration from inspiredfaith on GodTube.

Let's seek to replace the bad seeds we sow (like doubt, fear, wrath, anger, etc..Which results in bad fruit) with His good seed and in turn bear the good fruit that brings glory to Him and blesses and benefits ourselves and others! Let our lives be ruled and guided by His Spirit and therefore plant good seed and grow and bear good fruit - The Fruit of the Spirit!

Blessings in Christ,


Thursday, May 02, 2013

Walking in the Spirit

Here's Wisdom for all of us: 
"Instead of using "I'm Human" as an excuse to walk in the flesh, try using "I'm Saved" as a reason to walk in the Spirit!"
Boom! Can I get an AMEN!? Are you going to join me in rising to the challenge of striving to walk in the Spirit and no longer allowing our humanity to be an excuse for not doing so?

Let's pray for each other! You can do it with the help of God's Holy Spirit! step at a time brothers and step at a time! Just keep walking!!
In Christ,

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

In Memory of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

On this day in history:

On April 9th, 1945 German Christian pastor, writer, theologian, and anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by his captors at the Flossenb├╝rg Concentration Camp near the Czech border in Germany.

The concentration camp Bonhoeffer was martyed at was liberated just two weeks later by Allied forces.

Bonhoeffer was only 39 years old at the time.

An eye-witness to the execution later wrote: “I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer... kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the few steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

via Drive Thru History

The world is watching

"The world is watching to see whether Christians really are different or not." -Alistair Begg

It's true, they are watching...and so is The remember Who you're representing! Something to think about each day! Let's pray that we (The Church - the young and the old) are found to be representing Him well!

Be Blessed,