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Showing posts from 2010

Year in Review - a Brief Hodge-Podge

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New house.
Look Up!
WHO DAT!
Did somebody say Resurrection?
A teenager enters this house.
Became unshakable.
BREAK THE WALLS DOWN!
...and now you know ...JERICHO!
Engage!
Make it so.
Vampires playing baseball in church.
Red.40
3,000 Tootsie Rolls
Sharefest!
~Onesimus~
Light Up Christmas!
Stomp Out Hunger.
Second baby's first Christmas.
End.
Renewed.

Musical Chairs at the Mall

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Saturday afternoon Pastor Greg from LakePointe Church, Pastor Ben from River of Life, and myself joined forces with Heidi, DJ at KLAZ FM radio, for a big shindig at the mall.  Promoting STOMP OUT HUNGER, KLAZ gave away tickets to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas show by staging a mega game of... MUSICAL CHAIRS!  Check out these pics... including our inter-denominational Paper-Rock-Scissors challenge!  Then go grab a bag for STOMP OUT HUNGER, fill it up, and bring it back!  Help us provide a meal for 4,000 families in our city this Christmas!






LIGHT UP CHRISTMAS

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Once again we have entered into the season of Advent.  Advent is the season on the church calendar which boasts the message, “Christmas is coming!”  Actually, meaning “arrival,” Advent means, “Jesus is arriving!”  Advent was designed to prepare our hearts for the celebration of the Savior’s birth.  Weekly, and daily, we reflect on Jesus Messiah, who is the reason for the season.  It’s as if a big part of Advent is waiting.  We wait for His arrival with great anticipation!
We celebrate the arrival of Jesus in three ways:
INCARNATION.  This is the most obvious way we see “God With Us,” as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Messiah approximately 2,000 years ago.  This is our celebration of the arrival of Jesus in the past.
INHABITATION.  This means exactly what it sounds like it means.  By the Holy Spirit, this is Jesus’ continual arrival into the hearts & lives of those who would follow Him.  In this present tense, the Messiah is always arriving on the scene.
INCOMING.  This refers to Jesu…

The 2011 Thanksgiving Post

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This time of year I reflect on all that I have to be thankful for, especially in the year that has passed since we approached the Thanksgiving season last year.The Nelson family has grown with the addition of Jericho, who was born May 28 – we are thankful!

Christian, who became a teenager just a month before Jericho was born, has made another successful transition between schools as we “downsized” from Lakeside to “Cutter-Morning Star” – we are thankful!

We bought a house (I guess technically, we’re “buying a house”) in a nice, quiet (usually) neighborhood – we are thankful!

Shelly has put up with me for another year, and we celebrated 20 years of marriage on June 30 – I am REALLY thankful about that!

Being a bit of a word nerd, one of my favorite Hebrew words is the word translated as “thanksgiving” - tôwdâh (pronounced to-daw’). Tôwdâh means to literally extend the hand in adoration or appreciation.Being thankful is saying “thank you”, but it’s also extending the hand – doing something …

State of the church address -ish

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Even though it is not yet quite the end of the year, I am overwhelmed with thankfulness as I reflect on what a great year it has been already! The Oaklawn church of God congregation’s desire to be about the mission and vision of God is a great encouragement to me as I prayerfully embrace the responsibility of leadership.  Taking the lead in His mission while casting vision, is one of my greatest joys at Oaklawn. 

Throughout 2010, we have continued to ask, “God, what is YOUR vision for this congregation?”  Through our prayers and times of sharing, we have continued to understand God’s vision for Oaklawn is  – to provide spiritual direction, and help, for the families of our community.


So everywhere we go, we tell everyone about Christ. We warn them and teach them with all the wisdom God has given us, for we want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.–Colossians 1:28(NLT)
When we do this, we join Jesus on His mission.  When the mission of Jesus becomes our mission…

Mario family Halloween

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So, we totally rocked the Super Mario family for Halloween!

I can do anything! Philippians 4:13

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Day 30/30

"For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need." -Philippians 4:13(NLT)

"Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am." -Philippians 4:13(the Message)

What a great verse to wrap up my 30-day project of blogging 30 of our favorite verses at Oaklawn church of God!  Other than John 3:16, I have heard this verse quoted more than any other. Many times have I come to this passage myself, receiving encouragement and strength that I needed to keep going forward in faith. 

There are a lot of things that I can't do in my human strength - and this passage of Scripture is NOT about faster-than-a-speeding-bullet type stuff.  This is talking about overcoming selfishness... resisting temptation... this verse is about having the power of the Holy Spirit within me so that I don't have to fall for the lie of "well, this is just how I am; I can't change."

"Well,…

Be Glad: Matthew 5:11-12

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Day 29/30

"God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers.  Be happy about it!  Be very glad!  For a great reward awaits you in heaven.  And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted too." -Matthew 5:11-12 (NLT)

Hold up, wait a minute... back the truck up!  Did I just read that right?  Jesus said to be very glad when I'm mocked, persecuted, and lied about because I follow Him?  Very glad - really?  Really?  I've never really been persecuted for following Jesus, but I've certainly been mocked and lied about because I do.  It's not a nice thing to experience.  There is nothing about going through this that makes me feel good or happy or the slightest bit glad.  But Jesus didn't say to FEEL glad did He?  He said to BE glad.  Jesus said to look forward to a great reward that is not of this world - a reward that is out of this world!  And He said to look to the past and be encouraged by the example of the hi…

You say you love God? Joshua 22:5

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Day 28/30

"Be vigilant in keeping the Commandment and The Revelation that Moses the servant of God laid on you:  Love God, your God, walk in all His ways, do what He's commanded, embrace Him, serve Him with everything you are and have." -Joshua 22:5 (the Message)

Let's not miss that loving God is expressed as our reality when we walk in ALL His ways, which is to do as He commands.  Loving God means embracing Him and serving Him alone.  If we were to truly worship God with everything we are and have, we could only worship Him alone.  May we stop saying that we love God, and actually, truly love Him!

Love is a Verb: Matthew 7:12

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Day 27/30

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." -Matthew 7:12(NIV)


So in everything... If you're wondering what "everything" means, well - EVERY THING.  In every situation, on every day - when standing in line at the grocery store, when the person in the car in front of you just won't drive, when someone hurts your feelings, when there is tremendous stress on a relationship.  Even when someone doesn't deserve it...

do to others what you would have them do to you... We love to quote where Jesus says, "Love your neighbor as yourself," because we like to feel good about ourselves and being able to say, "Oh, I love everybody" does just that.  But love is a verb (love is a... love is a... love is a verb!)!  Here Jesus says the same thing, only the words He chooses show the action that the word "love" intends - DO!  Love that is real is evidenced by your acti…

Best Promise Ever! :John 16:33

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Day 26/30

"I've told all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace.  In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties.  But take heart!  I've conquered the world." -John 16:33(Message)

When Jesus says that He has conquered the world, He's talking about sin, death, oppression, loneliness, and selfishness.  He's not talking about a world where there will be no difficulties and conflict.  Jesus says we will have those things, but when we trust Him we will be unshakable, assured and deeply at peace.

More than a few times, people have said to me, "It seems like nothing really phases you, like you don't have a worry in the world."  Like everyone else, I certainly have my share of challenges and difficult days, but trusting Jesus is more than words for me.  Trusting Jesus is a lifestyle choice.  Forget what you've heard, living a lifestyle that trusts in Jesus instead of self or society, is the …

For Parents: Proverbs 6:20-21

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Day 25/30

"My son, obey your father's commands, and don't neglect your mother's teaching.  Keep their words always in your heart.  Tie them around your neck." -Proverbs 6:20-21(NLT)

While it is certainly good advice to listen to your parents, "mind your parents" isn't exactly what this ancient Hebrew Proverb is getting at.  The culture of the Hebrew people was centered around the Torah (God's Word, or The Way of Life) and the family.  Before the Temple and the synagogues, and the rise of the vocation of the Rabbis, the Torah was taught in the home by the parents.  Parents who loved God and loved Torah taught it to their children.  Parents who loved their children taught them about God and Torah.  The commands of the father and the teaching of the mother came straight from God's Word.

I wonder why we stopped doing that?  Seems like it might be a better idea than how many teach their children today.  This Proverb is definitely a good word for …

Bread Dough and Deep Roots: Romans 11:16

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Day 24/30

"If the first part of the dough is holy, the lump is also; if the root is holy, the branches are too." -Romans 11:16 (NASB)

I've read about the bread making process in the ancient world.  Every time bread was made, it was baked from a lump of bread dough.  The one making the bread would always hold out a small dough ball, called a "yeast ball," which would be worked into the dough the next time bread was made. Over and over, on and on, a yeast ball was held out of every loaf of bread in order to spread yeast through the next batch.  The yeast would work itself through the dough, eventually influencing the whole "lump."

In a similar way, the roots of the tree influence the rest of the tree.  The nourishment the tree needs comes through the roots, and the roots spread the life-giving nourishment to the rest of the tree... even the highest branches of the tree. 


A holy life happens when we let the "first part of the dough" - the prese…

Broken Bones Dance! :Psalm 51

Day 23/30

Psalm 51 (the Message) - the breakdown

"Generous in love - God give grace!  Huge in mercy - wipe out my bad record!
Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry.
You're the One I've violated, and You've seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil.  You have all the facts before You, whatever You decide about me is fair.
I've been out of step with You for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born." -vv.1-5

This is the Psalm that the great Israeli King, David, wrote after taking another man's wife into his bed, and then having that very man murdered... a man who was a loyal soldier.  The list of sins for the "godly king" gets pretty lengthy in just one episode: lust, fornication, adultery, abuse of power, oppression of the poor, manipulation, lies, murder.  David confesses to God, "You have all the facts before You, whatever You decide about me is fair."  God does not have to be a secret agent spy; there is no co…

The Reason We Raise the Roof: Psalm 32

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Day 22/30

"Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be - you get a fresh start, your slate's wiped clean.
Count yourself lucky - God holds nothing against you and you're holding nothing back from Him.
When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans.
The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up.
Then I let it all out. I said, "Ill make a clean breast of my failures to God."  Suddenly the pressure was gone - my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared.
These things add up.  Every one of us needs to pray; when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts we'll be on high ground, untouched.
God's my island hideaway, keeps danger far from the shore, throws garlands of hosannas around my neck.
Let me give you some good advice; I'm looking you in the eye and giving it to you straight:
'Don't be ornery like a horse or mule that needs bit and bridle to stay on track.'
God-defiers are always in trouble; God-affir…

Soar over Fields of Faith: Isaiah 40:31

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Day 21/30

"For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall.  But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.  They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind." -Isaiah 40:31 (the Message)

As a pastor, I speak with people all the time who just seem so tired spiritually.  No matter what age, or even how long they've been following Christ, some just get tired.  I see even the young ones, strong and vibrant, stumble and fall.  To be honest, it can be quite draining to be the one people come to for strength and answers.  Man, I don't have any.  But the Holy Spirit of God certainly does!  It is beautiful to see God at work for real in someone's life.

This is why I love nights like last night.  FCA Fields of Faith at Lakeside High School was awesome!  I was volunteering at the registration table for almost 3 hours, greeting students, collecting registrations, and handi…

Pray a Scary Prayer: Psalm 139:23-24

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Day 20/30

"Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about.  See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong - then guide me on the road to eternal life." -Psalm 139:23-24 (The Message)


Does this prayer freak anybody else out, or am I the only one?  It's one thing to live in the assumption that God knows everything and just not think about it.  That's what most of us do, right?  "Oh yeah, God certainly knows everything," while we continue to live as if He really doesn't... or else we just don't care... or, maybe even worse, we think God just doesn't care.  Nothing could be further from the Truth!

Not only does God care, but He really REALLY cares whether or not you care!  I guess that's why the words of this prayer in Psalms has such a high freak-out factor.  It's a lot easier to say "God knows all" than it is to live that way.

I stopped looki…

The Wedding

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Day 19/30

"Don't ask me to leave you and turn back.  I will go wherever you go and live wherever you live.  Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.  I will die where you die and will be buried there.  May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!" - Ruth 1:16-17(NLT)

I've done weddings in backyards before.  Actually, I've done more backyard weddings than church weddings.  So, that didn't really seem out of the ordinary to me.  But when I read the start time of the ceremony to be 3:31 PM, I should have known something was up.  As I welcomed everyone and introduced the bride and groom, the bride's two daughters... adult daughters, mind you... burst into song.  Just as I thought this must be a joke on mom & dad-to-be, mom herself (yes, the bride) joined in.  I thought maybe I had stepped onto the set to Grease III - The Wedding or the Rocky Horror Wedding Show.  Taking my cue as a proper traditional past…

The Fallen Restored: Romans 3:23

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Day 18/30

"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;" - Romans 3:23 (NASB)

This verse was actually repeated several times when we had folks "write on the door frames" of our auditorium passages of Scripture which really spoke to their hearts.  This is one of those verses that is packed with Truth, but certainly isn't a "get-all-excited-jump-up-and-down" verse.

In studying these words this morning, it seems to me that this often quoted phrase is actually a part of a longer statement that would span verses 21-25 (at least partially).  This being the case, I would encourage you to grab your Bible and spend some time with the whole passage.

Now, this may get touchy.  I happen to differ in belief from the popular theology of the day in this area.  This is what I'm talking about (perhaps this will sound familiar): "We're all sinners and sin every day" and "I'm just a sinner and sin every day like everybody else.&q…

Be Resonsible: Joshua 24:15

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Day 17/30

"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.  But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." - Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

Responsibility is a pretty big deal to me.  Years ago when I was starting out in this pastoring gig, as a youth minister, I felt like I was responsible for everybody... at least everybody under 21.  Did you know that shouldering the responsibility for an entire generation's spiritual direction and growth is pretty heavy?  Did you also know, as I found out about five and a half years in, that it is also a sin?

I was doing what I felt was right - saving the world, one student at a time.  What I was really doing was working hard (at the detriment of my own family, might I add) to build the "kingdom of Steve."  The "kingdom of Steve" turned out t…

You're asking the wrong question: John 9:1-11

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"Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked, 'Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?'  Jesus said, 'You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame.  There is no such cause and effect here.  Look instead at what God can do.  We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines.  When night falls, the workday is over.  For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light.  I am the world's Light.'  He said this and then spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva, rubbed the paste on the man's eyes, and said, 'Go, wash at the pool of Siloam' (Siloam means 'sent').  The man went and washed - and saw.  Soon the town was buzzing.  His relatives and those who year after year had seen him as a blind man begging were saying, 'Why, isn't this the man we knew, who sat here and begged?&#…

Just BE: Psalm 46:10

Day 15/30

"Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." - Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know I-AM.
Be still and know.
Be still.
BE.

WOOF! 2 Thessalonians 3:3

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Day 14/30

"But the LORD is faithful, He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one." - 2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NASB)

Searching for Righteous Examples: 1 Timothy 4:12

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Day 13/30

"Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young.  Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, and your purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12 (NLT)

In my experience, some people seem to look down on others, or think less of others, who are young.  At age 41, when I get together with many other pastors, I am still considered the "young one."  I'll take that.  :)  And I have often used this verse to rally young people to step up to the plate and not be satisfied with the low-expectations of society nor self.  If you've ever been a student of mine, you have probably heard me ask you to repeat after me, "Do NOT... let ANYBODY... look down on you... because you are young... including myself."  Almost defiantly shouting these words as if to say, "YEAH!  I'm a person too!"

But the truth of the Scripture here isn't defiance... it's righteousness.  When you are a good example to othe…

Sheep Poo: Psalm 23

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Day 12/30

"God, my Shepherd!  I don't need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows, and You find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to Your word, You let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side.  Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure.
You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.  You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.  I'm back home in the House of God for the rest of my life." - Psalm 23 (the Message)

There is so much packed into the most famous Hebrew Psalm!  This morning the words that are fully engaging my heart are "Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life."  Another translation reads, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."

I've read/heard these words numerous times throughout my…

A Stronger Right Arm: Isaiah 41:13

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Day 11/30

"I am holding you by your right hand - I, the LORD your God.  And I say to you, 'Do not be afraid.  I am here to help you.'" - Isaiah 41:13 (NLT)

I have read that in ancient times, in Hebrew culture, the right arm was considered a symbol of strength and blessing.  Perhaps this is because for so many people the right arm is actually the stronger arm.  To hold up the right arm was a symbol of strength, power, victory and honor.


Do you see what God is doing in this passage from the prophet Isaiah?  God isn't just saying, "Hey, I've got you," or "You know what, I've got this."  It's specific - "You don't have to be afraid because I am here to help you... and I'm using MY strength to do it, not yours."  God holds my right hand, which represents all of my strength, because I don't need it. 

How often do we face trials, struggles, conflict, and noise, and pray something like, "Lord, give me strength!&q…

Ask.Seek.Knock. :Matthew 7:7

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Day 10/30

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened yo you." - Matthew 7:7(NASB)

Maybe you're like me, and read a passage of Scripture like this and you think, "Ok... why?"

Ask. Seek. Knock.  Why does it work?

Growing spiritually happens when we desire for it to happen.  God always wants spiritual growth to happen in our lives. So, when we are aligning ourselves with the purpose and will of the Creator, He is more than ready to give what we ask for.  Ultimately when we are truly spiritual people, we ask for opportunities to learn, to love and to care about others.

When we seek God we find God, because God isn't hiding.  Sometimes I treat God like we're in a cosmic game of hide-n-seek, and I'm "it."  Of course, this is frustrating because who knows all the best hiding places any better than God?  But He is not hiding.  Mysterious? Yes.  Mystical? Indeed.  Bigger than my brain can really wrap aro…

See You At The Pole on the way to Jerusalem: Psalm 84:5

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Day 9/30

"Happy are those who are strong in the LORD, who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem." - Psalm 84:5(NIV)

"Setting your mind on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem" is a metaphor for "making a decision to follow the path of God."  This makes a person happy and strong with a strength that is not your own.  How do I tap into that strength?  How do I live in this kind of happiness?  What do I have to do to "set my mind on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem?"

Prayer.  Spending time with God, talking with God, listening to God, brings His presence and His power right in the middle of my life, no matter the situation. 

Earlier this morning, I was truly blessed to be able to share a few minutes of praise & worship and prayer, led by high school students, at Cutter Morning Star school.  My son, Christian, and I joined with a bunch of other Jesus-followers and seekers for the See You At The Pole rally.  As these young members of the Next Gen led us in …

John 3:16

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Day 8/30

"This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son.  And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have whole and lasting life.  God didn't go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was.  He came to help, to put the world right again." - John 3:16-17 (Message)

When we placed some of our favorite and most-inspiring verses of Scripture on the doors of the auditorium a couple of Sundays ago, I anticipated that John 3:16 would reoccur more than any other (go back to day 1/30 blog entry for explanation).  These words truly do embody the Message of Jesus, but could it be possible that, for many of us, we have heard/said them so often that we don't even engage the brain... nor the heart... anymore?

One way I have found to keep these beautiful words of Scripture fresh for me, is to personalize the words "the world" and "anyone…

From the Mouth of God (a poem): Isaiah 55:11

Day 7/30

"So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed.  They'll do the work I sent them to do, they'll complete the assignment I gave them." - Isaiah 55:11 (Message)

From the Mouth of God

Say my name,
Send me out like words of love and hope
From Your mouth.

Speak my name,
Assign my feet to Kingdom-work,
I am listening.

Call my name,
Cast me full-flung into Ocean waves,
I will swim back.

Breathe my name,
I will not return unfruitful
To Your arms.

A Peace of the Ocean: John 14:27

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Day 6/30

"I am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives.  So don't be troubled or afraid." - John 14:27(NLT)

At the core of my being, I want peace, don't you?  Peace is something that I believe is essential to the human life; without it we become something less than human.  But what is peace?  The "peace the world gives" could be the absence of war or conflict... or noise.  I have found a place where I have this kind of peace - the surf, the sand, and the sun.

My family lived in south Florida a few years ago, and I fell in love with the Ocean.  Nearly every Monday morning I made my way to the secluded "locals only" stretch of beach just 7 miles from our home.  In one of the noisiest areas of our country, I discovered a place where only the sounds of the Ocean could be heard.  And on Monday mornings, with the exceptions of holidays and excellent surfing conditions, I might not…

Oh Be Careful Little Feet Where You Go: Proverbs 5:21

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Day 5/30

"For the LORD sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes." - Proverbs 5:21 (NLT)

There are a couple of ways to look at this ancient Hebrew proverb.  One could say that his is a warning like the old kids' song, "Oh be careful little feet where you go..."  I once lived in a city where a store that sold musical instruments had this big sign that read "Jesus Is Watching You."  Since I wasn't sure if that was to deter shoplifting or to warn those zooming by on the interstate to slow down, I went in and asked one day.  I thought, "Maybe the owner is really trying to honor Jesus with his sign."  The answer I received was, "You know what?  There's a lot of Christians in this city, and I figure putting that on the sign would draw 'em in."  Consumerism once again at the heart of the matter... and God sees it clearly. 

Another way to view this proverb is as a promise.  Could it be possible that the reaso…

Don't Worry, Be Happy: Philippians 4:6

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Day 4/30

"Don't fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns." - Philippians 4:6 (Message)

What a great and powerful piece of Scripture to embrace!  In our culture, worry is a big part of so many lives.  Maybe you hear it all the time too?  "What's gonna happen with this economy?"  "What about the oil spill in the Gulf?"  "Look at those gas prices!"  "What if he gets elected?"  "What if SHE gets elected?"  "Will I have money for retirement?"  "What kind of world are we leaving to our children?"

Great questions to be sure.  Certainly things to ponder and even be concerned about.  But there is a distinct difference between concern and worry.

Concern is opening your eyes to the needs and potential results of our current action or inaction.  Concern drives us to our knees in agreement that some things are too big f…

Boy Scouts with Insomnia: Matthew 25:13

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Day 3/30

"Stay awake and be prepared , because you do not know the day or hour of my return" - Matthew 25:13 (NLT)

Jesus' theme verse for Boy Scouts who struggle with insomnia. ;)


The return of Jesus and things like "the end of the world as we know it" are talked about all the time.  Jesus Himself said, "you don't know the day or hour..." and "no one knows the day or hour..."  Too many of us obsess over the idea of going to Heaven... someday, and miss the central Message of Jesus that "the Kingdom of God is now here" and He came to give us "life to the full" in the now.  Jesus doesn't just affect where/how you spend eternity; Jesus affects how you spend your now.

So how should I be spending my now?  By staying awake and being prepared.

Staying awake is living with your eyes open.  It is walking the path of your journey with all of your senses on alert - taking in the beauty all around you with the propensity to ma…

God is the Rescue: Jeremiah 20:13

Day 2/30

"Sing to the LORD!
Give praise to the LORD!
He rescues the life of the needy
from the hand of the wicked." -Jeremiah 20:13(NIV)

This is a classic "do this because of that" experience.  As I'm meditating on these words today, I'm thinking of the context in which they were written.  This is a part of a prayer of Jeremiah the prophet, which is included in his writings as poetry. 

The "needy" here is not some generic "those people," but Jeremiah himself.  Maybe we can all relate to this because on some level all of us are needy (not that too many of us like to admit it).  But it's true - we need food, we need shelter, we need love, and yes, we need guidance.  For Jeremiah, one of his needs was, in the midst of a time when most of his nation were turning away from God, to have at least the priests responsible for the spiritual direction of the people to be the "holy men" they were set apart by God to be.  What happened …

My story is Mourning-To-Dancing: Psalm 30:11-12

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Welcome to Day 1 of 30.  Last weekend during the Gathering at Oaklawn church of God, I had everyone write a favorite verse of Scripture, or a "life-verse", on a slip of paper, then we taped them to the door frames of the four exits from the main auditorium (for my inspiration, see Deuteronomy 6:4-9).  Afterwords, I had the idea to grab 30 of those passages and write a series of 30 blog entries over 30 days (give-or-take, if you know me).  I'm actually going to begin with my personal "life-verse":

"You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.  You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.  O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever!" - Psalm 30:11-12 (NLT)

These words have been a part of me since I attended a concert with my good friend, Justin, back in our college days in Oklahoma City.  Playing that night were Five Iron Frenzy, Joy Electric, and my favorite band The Echo…

Let the leaves fall where they may

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Confession time.  As a Lead Pastor, with my particular personality-type, when someone(s) stops attending the worship Gatherings of the congregation that I am tremendously blessed to be a part of, I struggle with feeling like they don't like me.  I know in my mind that this is not necessarily the case - actually, the opposite as I'm told, "We love your teaching, but..." yet in my heart I battle with the feelings of being left out, unappreciated, and unloved.  Especially when I actually have no idea as to the "why???" someone, or a family, disconnects.  This is when this struggle inside me puts the best MMA contest to shame.

I was feeling this last week, and then I began studying Genesis 15 for a "life of Abraham" class I am teaching on Wednesday nights.  In this chapter of Abraham's life, God basically reminds Abraham how blessed a man he is. Abraham responds by complaining, "I don't have even one son, God.  What good are these blessin…

Why does stupidity make national news?

I just finished reading this article on Yahoo News about a group of about 50 in Gainesville, FL, is having a "Burn the Quaran Day" this week, on Saturday, Sept.11.  Here's the link if you missed it:  http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100907/ap_on_re_us/quran_burning

According to the article, this group holds to a very strong "anti-Islam" doctrine.  Here is a small group of people, on one hand claiming the Way of Jesus while on the other hand holding a major theological doctrine that, in my opinion, is the opposite of the Way of Jesus.  And they get national and international media coverage? 

The leader of this group says that the Quaran is "evil" because "it espouses something other than Christian biblical truth and"... get this now... "incites radical, violent behavior among Muslims."  Ummm, excuse me Mr. Jones, how is burning a book, one that is held in such high regard by many people, NOT radical, violent behavior?

My prayer is that …

Reach our hands in fellowship... and service... and prayer...

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God is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ, until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ. Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth. Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” –Ephesians 4:11-16 (NLT)



God is doing so…