Friday, November 30, 2007

DAY 12 ~ John 12

SCRIPTURE ~ John 12

KEY VERSE ~ JOHN 12:25

OBSERVATION ~ There is a party in Bethany for Lazarus and Jesus. It was in honor of what Jesus did raising Lazarus from the dead, of course, Lazarus was there, but now he had a bounty on his head. Ever wonder why the Phrarisees thought they could kill a man who could raise people from the dead? Just a thought.

Jesus continues to talk and push the people about their level of commitment and their level of spiritual maturity. Key issues in our lives today, as they were 2000 years ago. Notice there were some Greeks who had a question for Jesus, yet, Jesus begins the discourse on His terms, leading them where He knows they need to be.

Have you caught how many times Jesus talks about light and darkness in John. The word "darkness" is used in 5 verses, while "light" is used in 16 verses. There is much more power in light-ness than darkness.

I know when I allow Jesus to look around inside me His light exposes stuff that I don't want to see or want to admit. It will sound overly simple, but I'm impressed with how Jesus exposes stuff in my life. He exposes my sin and junk in a way that is not shaming, but encouraging and hopeful. That is good and I am grateful for it.

Sometime I need to take a picture of the church steeple from my home. It's cool to see the steeple of the church lit up at night. It's a great beacon and reminder, Jesus is the light of the world.

APPLICATION ~ Simply put, what am I trying to keep in the dark from the Lord, which by the way is impossible. Instead of hiding, I should look to God for what is good in me and allow God to expose the good, rather than covering up the not so good. Besides, I/we usually seem to dwell on that which is bad within us, maybe it is time to stop focusing on the bad and look at the good.

We do this in church as well . . . we see one thing we don't like and we become no different than the Pharisees. We end up focusing on what we want, not on what God may be calling us to do, which is grow in spirit and truth. So, what holds you back? What are you focusing on that may be destructive to your own health and spirit? It is time to let it go and focus on God's Spirit of Light and truth.

PRAYER ~ Father God, thank you for not letting me wander around in darkness, but providing light that gives direction to my life. And thank you for bringing your light inside my life and helping me see the stuff that wants to destroy your dream for my life. I welcome your light into my life today and I ask that your light give direction for the day. Amen

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Day 11 ~ John 11

SCRIPTURE ~ John 11
KEY VERSE ~ John 11:25 - I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

OBSERVATION ~ I love the way John wrote verse 5-6, "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days." On the surface, if Jesus loved them as He said, He should have dropped everything, but He understood the plan He had to really demonstrate He is the Son of the Father.

When Jesus arrived in Bethany, the people were grieving and mourning the death of Lazarus. If only He had been there He could have healed Lazarus. People had seen Jesus do this many times. But this is different, Lazarus is dead. There is no reviving the dead.

There are those moments in our lives, where we wonder and think, 'if only . . . Jesus had been here for us (fill in the blank) this would not have happened. Yet, we need to remember through the blessing of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is always with us, He will not fail, forsake, abandon, bail out, or leave us. He is always present with us. For some that is a blessing and a curse. That is how Job thought about it when he said, "What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, 18 that you examine him every morning and test him every moment?" Job 7:17-18

In Psalm 8:4, we hear the positive side of it in a question as well,
"When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor."

Ultimately we come to the key verse, when Jesus tells Martha He is the hope of the world, stating "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

This is the same question asked to us on a daily basis. How do we/I answer.

APPLICATION ~Intellectually we can say, "yes, I believe." But when we live out our lives, our heart and soul may do what is opposite of what we say we believe. Believing Jesus is the resurrection and the life should give us amazing hope to move forward in the midst of a chaos filled world, but does it. Do we really believe it, or simply / sadly give Jesus lip service. Is that how I live my life. I hear Jesus calling me to step up my trust in who He claims to be. Only by trusting Him totally, completely, 100%, can I then be the person He wants me to be. Without trusting Him, I will always fall short somewhere along the way. My accomplishments may look good on paper, but Jesus knows what could have been; and deep in my heart and soul, so do I.

PRAYER ~ Lord, take my heart, soul, mind and body so they may be open to You. That I may trust Your plan, purpose and grab the opportunities You place before me. Even when I am in the tomb for 4 days and stink, help me to know that no situation is unmanageable with You. Be my Lord! Be my Savior! Be my Leader! Be my Shepherd! and create / stir in my heart a longing to be in Your presence, to experience You, second by glorious second. Amen

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Day 10 ~ John 10

SCRIPTURE ~ John 10
KEY VERSE ~ John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

OBSERVATION ~ A number of times in this passage Jesus talks about the fact that the Good Shepherd "will lay down His life." Jesus spoke in parables, some didn't make sense to the disciples, others made perfect sense, and were perfect 'insults' to those who were unwilling to listen to Jesus. The Phrarisees were angry because again, Jesus was putting Himself up there with the Father. Consider this statement from Jesus in John 10:30, "I and the Father are one." This is the very reason the Jews why the Jews wanted to kill Jesus, see verse 33, 33"We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."

The key verse is one of my favorites. Jesus tells us the thief, satan, seeks to steal, kill and destroy, while Jesus comes to give us life and give us a super abundant life. The literal Greek means exceedingly abundant, super-added, more than is necessary. That is the offer from Jesus.

APPLICATION ~ But how often do I accept the offer of the super abundant life? How often do I dwell on that which is superfluous, that which is petty and mundane!? My goal for at least today is to do that which will bring joy to my Father. I have already allowed the busyness and needs of the day to block and even derail me. Now, I need to give it back to God and seek to glorify Him by enjoying Him.

PRAYER ~ Father, thank you for the offer. Thank you for offering me this abundant life because You were willing to be the Door, to be my Shepherd, so help me not only to hear Your voice, but to discern Your message. May I move about for the rest of today and tomorrow and the days to follow in a manner which brings a smile to Your face, and thus to mine. Amen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Wasted Life? A Compromised Life!

A pastor in South Carolina named Clayton King wrote the following blog. I think it will help you to understand me better. I want what I do as a pastor/minister/leader . . . you fill in the blank about title, I want it to make a difference in the world. I want it to make a difference in your life, so you make a difference in the world. I have to answer to God, yes to the church, but the ultimate authority is God. As a result, I don't want to compromise what I believe God is calling me to do, so I can placate the people in the church. This means I have to make difficult decisions about where and how God is leading us. It means I must spend time with God and know Him very, very well. At least as well as I can, because the pressure is always on. I need to lead, to envision, to dream, even to dream out loud. I hope I will never check my passion and desire at the door. I want it to become infectious, contagious and I want the world to catch it, and I want to catch the passion of those who are pumped up about Jesus.

So, this blog from Clayton stands on its own. I'd be interested about your reactions.

This is something every Christian needs to read, because it is possible for us to get so caught up in trying to please people that we lose sight of WHO we were created for (GOD), thus causing us to waste our life trying to please people who will not be our final judge . . . and so, with his permission, I have reposted his thoughts ~

"Several days ago, I wrote a reflection on "Dangers for Seasoned Veterans" where I listed 10 potential struggles that older ministers and Christians sometimes succumb to. I promised to share a personal story about one such veteran that I had the great honor to know and even serve on a number of occasions. I had intended to post it a few days earlier, but have spent every free moment trying to ready our new home for inspection on Monday.(In order to protect this man’s integrity and not cast him or his surviving family in a negative light, I choose not so use his real name.)

When I was in middle school, our family carpooled with several other families, but one family really stood out. The dad was a pastor of a church in our community, and he was one of a kind. Old school, Bible quoting, Southern Baptist, and country to the core. He had a jovial and warm personality and was never, that I recall, in a bad mood. He was trained in the classic seminary model, where he moved his family to a seminary town and spent 3-4 years finishing his degree while pastoring small churches, all the while his wife worked 2 jobs just so they did not starve. He was known and loved by all his parishioners and everyone in town.

As the years passed, his congregation began to age, as did he. His health began to fail, largely due to the stresses of his job. The older people felt like the church as slipping away from them; too much change, too many new people, and a pastor that was not “holding things together.” They gave him grief for every little innovation he suggested, encouraged him to stop visiting new people in the community and spend more time taking care of the core group of church members. When he hesitated to give in to all the demands of the older members, the deacons reminded him that he had a secure job with benefits and that if he rocked the boat, he would find himself looking for a new church (and how many churches would want to hire a pastor in his late 50s with high blood pressure, hypertension, and high cholesterol)? He understood their point, and he decided to GO ALONG TO GET ALONG.

A few years ago I was in the hospital visiting a family member when I walked past a room and heard a familiar voice. It was this same pastor, that I had known as a child, whom I dearly loved and respected. It had been years since I had preached for him, but his voice was unmistakable. I entered the room and his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. We visited for about 10 minutes until I could tell he was worn out. The heart surgery had taken a toll on him, so after I prayed for him, I was ready to leave.

He grabbed my hand and began to weep. “Are you still preaching the gospel, Clayton?” I responded that I was and intended to until I died. Then he choked out these words.

“Don’t you ever stop, and don’t you ever let anyone stop you. I let a church full of lazy christians steal my passion away from me. They did not want to change, they wouldn’t reach out to anyone, and they did not care about people dying without Jesus. All they cared about was making church easy and convenient. I let them scare me into doing what they wanted. And I slowly died. I would give anything to be your age again, Clayton. I would do it differently and I would obey God no matter what people said. Trust me son, you don’t want to end up like me, dying in hospital with regrets hanging over your head. Once you let anybody other than Jesus tell you what to do, you begin to die.”

It was the last conversation I had with an old friend. But as that Seasoned Veteran took a bow not long after that, his words are still ringing in my ears. I hope they stick with you for a while, too."

Day 9 - John 9

SCRIPTURE ~ John 9

KEY VERSES ~ John 9:1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.

OBSERVATION ~ I feel that God is opening my eyes to more and more of scripture and to write it all down, somehow just does not do this justice. Maybe it is where I am in my life, maybe it is a newer and growing hunger for Jesus, I'm not sure, but I feel, no, I know God is calling me to move beyond, way beyond where I am right now. For me, for any of us, that can be a scary thought, and it is, because God calls us to do what can only be accomplished when He is leading the charge. On our own, our accomplishments will always pale in comparison.

We are a grace deprived people. I mean that! And the one's who deprive us of the grace is ourselves and those whom we allow to influence us. This passage is a classic example of how we still think today. We assume that when bad things happen to us it must be because we did something bad. That was certainly the case back in Jesus day where affluence was always considered to be a blessing from God and poverty the denial of blessing from God.

Even though I know God’s goodness is a grace that is given undeserved, I still find myself thinking that if I screw up God will get me and if I will just be really good, He will bless me. (And the hard part about this is the partial truth within this – that if we live life God’s way, Jesus promises it will result in an “abundant life” {although God defines what abundance means}).

The disciples assume since this guy was blind it must be the result of his sin or sin in his family. They ask Jesus about this and he says, “No, this is not the result of sin.” Jesus doesn’t explain why the blindness, but he goes on to explain that God will take this bad situation and turn it into something good. He will redeem it. God will re-purpose it. And He does - Jesus heals the blind man and gives him his sight! And story of the blind man’s healing is told all over town and has now been told for 2000 years. Literally billions of people throughout history have been inspired by this story to trust Jesus.

Of course, the Pharisees were the exception. It was better for the man to remain blind for one more day than to upset the Pharisees. Ever get the feeling that the most religious people were the biggest stumbling block? Even the ex-blind man's parents were afraid of losing Temple membership if they spoke out too much, so they turned it back over to their son to speak for Himself. Ultimately, he becomes a believer and worshiper of the true Christ, Jesus! This leads to the application . . .

APPLICATION ~ Did you catch verse 4, As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. The question for us is the same as it always will be, 'how are we demonstrating our love of Jesus by serving Him and making a difference in the world?'

When we stand before Jesus will have empty fruit baskets, or will they be filled with fruit, and more fruit, and even more fruit? That is the call of Christ . . . it's my belief we are to be faithful to what Jesus calls us to be and do . . . and when we are . . . we become more fruitful than ever.

Today, I am leaving the church not long after noon and finishing my work day in the community, typing, dreaming, planning and faithful fulfilling the call of Jesus. I am looking forward to that.

On another day, I'll share some thoughts about what I sense we (the universal church) are to do in order to further the kingdom, yet, we don't do it.

PRAYER ~ Lord, You are awesome, You are faithful, You overflow with an abundance of love and grace; even when we are totally unlovable, sinful, wretched . . . and thank you, my precious Jesus for loving me so very, very much that You came into the world to give me hope and a reason to live. Help me to fulfill that dream You have for me, let me not fail You by falling short of the mark. Amen

Monday, November 26, 2007

Day 8 ~ John 8

SCRIPTURE ~ John 8

KEY VERSES ~ John 8:10-11 ~ 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 11"No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

OBSERVATION ~ Remember the Feast of Tabernacles is concluding and there is a large crowd. Jesus is being tested. Of course, the age old question is ‘what happened to the man caught in adultery.’ Being a male dominated society, he would be given greater liberties to walk away unscathed. She was guilty until proven innocent. It is interesting even in our society that when you commit a sexual crime, you are always guilty until proven innocent.


Nobody denied her guilt, she didn’t, she was caught, literally caught. But Jesus looked at her and as long as nobody was without sin, she was free to go, but with the reminder to sin no more. Yet, remember who was the sinless One on the spot, Jesus, and He had all authority to condemn her. He does the same for you and I, he does not condemn, but offers grace, love and peace to our souls which are wearied and troubled (see Matthew 11:28-29)

I am not going into the next passage, it is worthy of a sermon or two. In John 8:58-59 we read ~ 58"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" 59At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

Oh, you can’t imagine the anger the Jews had at Jesus on this one. He was guilty of the highest crimes at this moment, and He knew it. Think about what He just said, consider what the phrase "I am" means and who said it, then you’ll catch why the anger.


APPLICATION / PRAYER ~ I’m doing these as one, I think they flow together . . .

Simply put, Lord, help me not to be a Pharisee, a condemner of anyone who is different, anyone who is a sinner, anyone. At the same time, help me to lay my sinfulness before Your throne, and find your renewal and grace once again and once again. May I accept Your offer of love, and may I be a dispenser of You love, grace, peace and hope. I know I need it, I need to experience You and the gifts You not only offer me, but hand out to me everyday. Thank you, Jesus for Your acceptance of me, a sinner, yet a sinner redeemed and loved by You. Through Christ my Lord, Amen.

Final Vacation Reflections

Some final thoughts, some random, some with more spiritual significance ~

  • Most of the way home it was raining, and our back window was never wet. It was always in our face. On the other hand, the vehicles driving south, had most of the rain on their rear window. Ever have it on your rear window only.
  • It started raining moments after we got in the car. I simply said, "okay God, can you hold off for at least 2 hours, God." Strangely, the rain held off for most of 2 hours. I wish I had those powers on a daily basis for more important things.
  • Of greater spiritual significance is what occurred to me on the way home. Ready . . . here it comes ~ we had a blow out thanks to the ladder on the way down. In the end the state trooper recommended we change our other tire as well. He stated we would do a lot of hydroplaning in the rain and it would not be safe. Well, it rained for 7 solid hours on the way home. Maybe God took that ladder as an opportunity to save the Deutsch family from some real misery. It was strange that we were the only vehicle to have damage from this ladder which looked like a mangled piece of junk in the end. Sometimes, disaster is an opportunity in disguise.

Tonight will be an early to bed night, I'll hit it with a THUD!

Tomorrow or the next day I will send a blog from another pastor. His name is Clayton King, from South Carolina. I came across his blog and really appreciated something he wrote about a former pastor, now deceased. This may help some to understand a little more about me.

VACATION REFLECTIONS

Final thoughts about our time away.
  • Ladders and highways do not mix.
  • Did I say ladders and highways do not mix? Okay, I'll say it again, they really, really don't go together. I feel much better now.
  • I have a difficult time understanding people who speak softly with a southern drawl.
  • Driving 500 miles south does not mean warm weather. After the first day it was in the 40's all week.
  • The weather did not stop us from playing football.
  • We ate Ham for Thanksgiving and I slowed down on my coffee drinking.
  • We watched football, just as the Pilgrims intended.
  • Joshua has turned into the major football fan. Can't pull him away from the TV.
  • Connected a little more with my sister in Chicago while in Alabama.
    • I want to work on that relationship. She's my only sister left. Don't want to have any regrets.
  • Zachary could eat 24 hours a day, 8 days a week. The kid is always hungry.
  • I enjoy watching Debbie smile and laugh with family. She is beautiful.
  • Ate too much chili, enjoyed time with Debbie's cousins we had not seen in 3 years.
  • Had a blast at the Huntsville Rocket and Space Center -
    • Don't ever go on a g-force machine 30 minutes after you have eaten.
      • Amazingly I held it in, but . . . well never mind, you don't need the details.
      • Joshua loved it, but I wanted to yell STOP!
    • Went on a trip to Mars, and a Mars roller coaster. That was Zachary's favorite.
    • The boys went rock climbing and visited the gift shop.
      • They now have dog tags and jets.
    • Looking at the rockets, their engines was amazing. Debbie and I had been there before. There are so many possible things that could go wrong, so many people involved in putting them together.
  • Realized Zachary will probably never be able to be in the army or fireman or an astronaut due to his diabetes. Not trying to be filled with sorrow, but that is probably a reality.
  • It was great to see Debbie's dad, important for Debbie and the boys to also reconnect in person with him. The boys seemed very comfortable with him and in the house, had not seen him for 2 years.
  • Did not do anything spectacular, we did not have to.
  • We decided on the way back this summer we are taking a family vacation somewhere. Any suggestions?
  • We usually take our vacations to visit family. Going off by ourselves is unusual.
  • I plan to lose a few pounds and get in better shape. I need it.
  • I spent some time reflecting about church/ministry/my role, etc. more to come on that one later.
That is it for now. I know there is more, but my brain is tired of having to think.

Michael

Day 7 ~ John 7

SCRIPTURE ~ John 7

KEY VERSES ~ John 7:10
However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11Now at the Feast the Jews were watching for him and asking, "Where is that man?" 12Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, "He is a good man." Others replied, "No, he deceives the people." 13But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews.

OBSERVATION ~ Jesus is urged to make Himself known, boldly known to the Jews, yet that is what He was already doing. It's amazing to be an active bystander and watch the events unfold. Jesus is at one of the major feasts for the Jews. The Feast of Tabernacles was a major event in the life of the Jews. It was a time of celebration, and during times of celebration they always started and ended in the Temple. Hence, they are now there.

My key observation for John 7:10 is my look at Jesus' passion and purpose in life. He cannot stay away, even though His life and ministry are on the line, His calling according to the Father leads Him back to the Temple and He cannot listen to what is being taught, so He, the Master teacher, who has no formal education gets up and teaches like an expert. Reread this chapter and note how many times His authority and background is questioned.

Until ultimately in 7:46, we read, ""No one ever spoke the way this man does," the guards declared." The words of Jesus were challenging and if followed, leads you down a difficult road, but a road filled with a greater sense of God's presence.

APPLICATION ~ I talk a great deal about passion and purpose; and I really believe in passion and purpose, but life has a way of moving us away from what we are really called to do and be. Part of my day, today, is to take time and reprioritize, so that I can live more of my life according to my God given passion and purpose. It would be cool to have people look at me and think/feel his (Michael's) words are amazing . . . yet, what would be the best epitaph is someone saying he was really led by God . . .

PRAYER ~ With that in mind Lord, help me to do Your will, to follow You at all cost. Help me to set You as my number 1 priority/relationship/purpose in life. As I move closer to You, let those times be cherished, even sacred, so that I do not compromise myself, my position, or anything so that I am drawn closer to You. This does not mean I fill up my life with busyness, but with what is sacred. Amen.

HOME SWEET HOME

We made it home around 9 pm. It rained from Nashville to Alexandria. A long, long drive about 480 miles and 9 hours. Amazing to watch how people drive so crazy when there are slippery roads. Anyway, it was a good trip, good to see Lester and other family at a Friday chili fest. Today was Joshua's birthday (not the best way to spend the day), with most of the day being spent in the van - which rides somewhat different than prior to our incident. We drove past our accident site and recalled the moment . . . then forgot about it . . . for now.

Two posts tomorrow with John 7 and 8.

And more with thoughts about what God is calling me to do the rest of the year.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Day 6 - John 6

SCRIPTURE ~ John 6
KEY VERSE ~ John 6:15 ~ Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

KEY VERSE #2 ~ John 6:60 ~ On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" 61Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? 63The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.

OBSERVATION ~ WOW!!! There is just so much in this chapter; and there are so many verses that strike me. Jesus was such a Master with His words, actions and ways of talking to all people. It didn't matter if you were a disciple (one of the 12) if you were part of His inner 3 (Peter, James and John); if you were part of the 120, or a casual follower. His words always had meaning and intent. Sometimes I think we wonder if He ever just hung out.

Do you think Jesus told jokes with the disciples, laughed with them, just told stories about life and the silliness in the ways we approach life?

APPLICATION ~ I'm jumping to the application to quickly focus on a few verses. First is John 6:15.

It is usually when we are struggling and things are not going well that we need to find time by ourselves with God. Our spiritual reflexes are to wait until something is going wrong before we find time alone with God. Not Jesus. The crowds are increasing to an all-time high and they want to see Jesus do miracles and listen to His teachings. Things are so out of hand that it looks like they might make Him their king whether He wants to be or not and what does Jesus do? He withdraws to a quiet place all by himself to spend time with the Father. This is a great reminder. The time when we need God the most is not just in our desperation, but also in our success. In some ways it is during our times of great success that we are most vulnerable. We tend to think we have done this on our own and that if we just continue to do what we have done more and more success will come our way. Success is a kind of drug that keeps us from feeling the spiritual pangs in our life. I need to withdraw from it all to be with God everyday. Success or failure I need to hear from God everyday! How about you?

Finally, the disciples proclaim the message of Jesus is hard. He has just told them about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Words that seem contradictory to what the Jews are supposed to eat according to dietary laws. This was tough stuff and Jesus was cutting to the chase, He wanted to separate those who would follow Him and those who were too weak and wanted the road most traveled. Jesus' question in verse 61 still apply today . . . do His words offend us? In many respects, I feel they should. WHY? His words are always hard, they offend our normal ways of thinking. Do we really want to forgive? Do we really want to love those who offend us? Do we really want to go the extra mile? Do we really want to give and give and give? It is difficult, yet we gain our strength when we draw closer to Jesus. He is the only way for us to survive in this world.

PRAYER ~ Father, after being on vacation and asking myself some questions, I need to withdraw to be closer to You. To seek Your will, Your plan, Your dreams and vision for me, my family, FBC. Help me to make the time to slow down, to seek you and to experience You. And Lord, I know Your message, the actions You call me to take are never easy, so give me the patience, the wisdom, the courage to do what You call me to do. Amen.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Day 5 – John 5

back in the parking lot to send this last email for the night. I will try to send one tomorrow but may miss a day since we will be at the Huntsville space center most of the day

SCRIPTURE ~ John 5

KEY VERSES ~ 18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. 19 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

OBSERVATIONS ~ This is one of those chapters which is very, very different from other Gospel chapters. We hear of an early miracle, then the chapter turns to a very spiritual, somewhat mystical nature. The healing has an appealing verse in number 6, when Jesus asked, “Do you want to get well?” A question all of us need to answer. When we want to lose weight, quit smoking, drinking, doing something which is harmful, do we really want to be made well? Will we make the sacrifice necessary or continue as is, cursing our own lack of willpower and more importantly, God’s potential power in our lives?

Secondly, verses 18-19 remind me of the reason why Christ died. He was not what the Jews wanted. He was a nonconformist, a radical who changed the world. He broke the rules which people hold onto which work to hinder, rather than free. Think about healing someone, is it better to heal someone than let them wallow in pain? Just one day sooner of healing is worth it, but not to the Pharisees? And Jesus does whatever the Father does, because of verse 19. Jesus can do nothing by Himself, He can only do whatever He sees the Father doing.

APPLICATION ~ I ask myself two questions - - 1. What is it I need healing from? How can my life change for the better if I would only (and maybe even dramatically) allow God to take over?

2. How much am I willing to give of myself, even when others look at me as a nonconformist, radical, rule breaker for Jesus? What does that mean for me and the church? How far do I push the radical message of Jesus? Most Christians don’t really catch how radical Jesus was. He was an extremist, and He made most people He had contact with feel uncomfortable, especially the elite.

PRAYER ~ God, open my eyes to be able to see the world the way you see the world. Help me to learn Your world and see where you are at work and how I can be part of that. Help me to look for it today in both the big and the small. Forgive me for those times when I live like it is up to me to change the world. It is You, O Lord, who will change the world. May I be a part of bringing change and transformation to the world. Bring into my every second consciousness that you are "always at work . . . even to this very day." Amen

Blogging Issues

Hey all - we are somewhere in Lawrence County, at Debbie's cousins for chili and lots of great desserts. Lawrence County is the home of Jesse Owens. Today we played two rounds of football in the cold. It is only 34 degrees here. Played cut throat Uno, I helped Zachary win, he can tell you more about that.

Visited with family. Debbie's cousin Porter's band has opened for Sugarland and was asked to play at the governor of Alabama's inaugeration.

Cannot get my flash drive to work in their computer so will try to stop at my site to blog again.

Until later, blessings,

Michael

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Day 4 - John 4

SCRIPTURE - John 4

KEY VERSE: John 4:34 - "'My food,' said Jesus, 'is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish his work.'"

OBSERVATION ~ Jesus and the disciples end up in Samaria. Remember, Jews viewed Samaritans as lower class Jews. The Samaritans held onto some beliefs about God that were contradictory to the Jews in the southern kingdom of Judea. The Samaritans and Judeans were enemies since the time of the end of Solomon’s reign, around 900 BC.

Jesus in His wisdom engages the Samaritan woman in a conversation. She is drawing water at the well in the middle of the day, when most women would not do this. It is hottest at this time and she is most likely ostracized by the other women because of her promiscuous lifestyle.

APPLICATION ~ Sometimes I have days where I almost literally run from appointment to appointment and from meeting to meeting non-stop. What happens is I start early in the morning and the morning turns into afternoon and the afternoon turns into evening and before you know it you haven't hardly paused even to eat. Jesus had been on a roll like that. The disciples are appropriately concerned that He hasn't had anything to eat and they encourage him saying, "you need to get something to eat or you won't be able to keep on going."

Jesus says in so many words, "hey guys, I have a source of energy that sustains me, and you don't know anything about it." The disciples are confused. Then he tells them, "My food, is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish his work." Jesus was explaining that what really motivates Him and keeps Him going is doing what the Father wants; that is how He gets fed, by feeding others.

Jesus is a great example of someone who is at a place of spiritual maturity. It was serving God and others that was his "food". That was how He got fed. Serving sustained Him.

My question for myself, and our question for ourselves is, how are we fed by God? It drives me crazy when people say, ‘I’m not getting fed in church.’ What do you mean you are not getting fed? What are you doing with the other 167 hours of the week to feed yourself from God? Think about what our role is . . . if we are spiritual babes, then you need me to feed you, via a bottle.
However, if you consider yourself a spiritual adult, then you should be eating meat (turkey). It means you are capable of cutting it and eating it.

The question I need to continually ask myself is how well am I being fed by God, because I am continually drawing closer to God.

PRAYER ~ Father God, I want to serve you, but I can only do that when I seek to be present with You in Your work. Help me to seek You, daily, to better understand how I need to be fed by You, and help me to be healthy in my personal, spiritual and emotional life. Thank you for how much meaning and purpose You have brought to my life. In a very real way the mission, Your mission, brings me sustenance. Amen.

DAY 2 in Hatton.

The phone rang at 1:57 a.m. WHY?! It was a cousin assuming Lester was still awake, their all night owls. Now I know where Debbie gets it, her mom is the same way. I have to admit, I didn’t sleep great. We had a thunderstorm last night. All through the night it rained and thundered.

The temperature has dropped from 60 to 40 degrees.

We have played more games, watched some Thanksgiving Day parades and now we are watching the Lions play the Packers. In a few minutes we will go outside and play catch with the football. Then it will be off to find a site in Moulton to check email and blog. We are now in front of a strip mall 11 miles from Debbie's dad's home.

Tonight we will eat Ham. Her dad does not like turkey, so it is ham. We’ll eat turkey back home. So . . . for now, have a great day and do all you can to serve and give thanks to Jesus.

Life in Hatton, Alabama

Frankly, I’m not sure there is much that happens in Hatton. Yesterday (Wednesday) I learned the reason Debbie’s dad has a Town Creek address, even though he lives 7 miles from Town Creek is the fact that Hatton does not have a post office. All mail is delivered to his mail box which is about 3 blocks from his home. If you need groceries, you either go to Town Creek; Moulton (which is 10 miles away {where this is being sent from}) or you go to the Dollar General store in Hatton, which is Hatton’s only grocery store.

Yesterday, we shopped and had lunch at Sonic, Joshua’s favorite place when we lived in Ashland. There were no Sonic’s in the Dearborn area. Other than shopping and eating dinner at 8:45 Alec time, we hung out, played games of Checkers and Jenga. The boys were tired, they should be, they only slept from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m., and went to sleep at 10 pm. I followed at 11:15. So much for day 1.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

RV - the movie

Ever see the movie RV? Robin Williams is trying to email his report and is going all over to do this. That is how I feel. I am sitting in the rain, in the van, of course, in a parking lot where I found an unsecured wireless connection.

I drove in Moulton, Al with my computer on hoping to hit the right spot. I have a marginal connection. So, I'll try this place tomorrow, it's about 10 miles from where Debbie's dad lives. They are shopping for food for Thursday.

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Michael

Town Creek

We have arrived! 11/20/07
Arrived about 2 hours later than expected. We had a hiccup on the road, somewhere around Cave City, Kentucky. But that will be in the blog right below this one. Debbie’s dad lives pretty far out in the country, and we usually have a difficult time finding his home, but we had no problems finding it. In fact, we were not able to find an exact location via google maps or mapquest. But I did hunt it down and found his property via the satellite on google. The boys enjoyed that.

We finally went to sleep around 2 a.m., the boys included, they fell asleep for awhile, but once they were up, they were ready to play!

LADDERS, PAINTERS AND STATE POLICE

So . . . what do these have in common? Can you say the Deutsch family, or to be more exact, the Deutsch family van. Okay, here’s the story ~ ~

We left Munfordsville, Kentucky after a pit stop. I relinquished control to Debbie for this part of the driving. We just past Dinosaur World in Cave City and looked back to see a big T-Rex. When Debbie looked back at the road there was something in our lane that was big. We smacked into it at 70+ mph. The van began to shake and to Debbie’s credit, she stayed in control, slowed the van down and pulled over to the right shoulder. Directly in front of us on the shoulder was a pick up truck with a long ladder sticking out and a guy running on the shoulder. I knew the folks in the van were the ones who lost whatever in the road. The van shook as if something happened to the front axle.

I jumped out of the van a second before we stopped, and nicely spoke to this man. Really, I did speak nicely, even though I was furious at these guys. There were 3 guys in the pick up who were painters and were on their way back home after a day at work. Somehow, one of their ladders flew out of the back of their pick up, landing in the highway. They said a truck hit the ladder and then it was our turn. We hit it and the end result was a front left tire that was literally ripped apart.

We have road side service and called for a tow truck, got Joshua and Zachary out of the van and over to the side of the road. To their credit these guys knew they were responsible and were going to pay for whatever the cost was for the damage to our van. One guy even ran out onto the highway and grabbed the crushed ladder from the road to prevent other cars from damage.
A police roadside emergency truck came by and then a state trooper came by. Then a tow truck came by, and we all went back to Cave City, they looked at our van, and determined it was only our tire that needed changing, so we had a new tire put on, they paid for it, then at the state police officers suggestion, we changed our other front tire, since it was becoming bald and there was a nail in it.

Being on the side of the road was harrowing. One truck cut off another truck to the point that he virtually stopped right next to us. Other vehicles and trucks were flying by, it was scary. The state trooper told us that a good friend of his, another state trooper, had been killed in that area last year when a truck hit him.

After that, we went to Subway, had snacks and hit the road again. It was a 2 hour experience in fear and gratitude. There are more side stories to all of this, but that is the more important part. We were blessed in the fact that nobody was hurt and the only thing we think that was hurt was one tire. We all rode in the emergency vehicle to the gas station which had 8 kittens walking around the outside of the station. The boys were great throughout everything. They listened and were well behaved, which took away from the additional stress of the moment.

There is no wireless connection in Town Creek, Alabama, so I will be trying to find somewhere in town each day. It’s about a 9 mile drive so we’ll see what they have around here.

John 3

Day # 3 - John 3
SCRIPTURE - John 3
Key verses - John 3:2 He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."
3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. "
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

OBSERVATION ~ I love the way Jesus works conversations towards the spiritual. This is why verses 2-3 are key for me. Nicodemus comes to Jesus with a statement, it was a leading question, and in the process Nicodemus says nothing about God’s kingdom, yet that is where Jesus goes with his statement. . . the kingdom of God and being born again. Nicodemus has his head spinning with what Jesus is telling him. Maybe he wanted to make some brownie points with Jesus, just like you would when you tell a respected teacher or lecturer something you appreciate about them, and then they engage you in a way you are totally ill-equipped for.

Finally, John 3:16-17 comes and I love verse 17. God’s plan is never to condemn the world, but that the world would find salvation through Jesus.

APPLICATION ~ I am reminded about arrogance with Nicodemus. He was a respected leader and possibly showed arrogance with his comment to Jesus. Yet, the learning point is what Jesus calls me to do as a follower and pastor . . . bring conversations to the underlying spiritual dynamic. That is where real life is found, in our spiritual world. The lack of a spiritual life is a spiritual life, just a non-existent one.

Finally, as I consider God’s condemnation toward unbelievers, I am reminded that God is love, and what must break God’s heart is those who reject Him. They are ultimately condemned, because they remain in darkness, while those who believe in Jesus, are in the light . . . which leads to another responsibility, showing our light into the world.

PRAYER ~ Lord, help me to humble myself before you and before others. Let me put off that old self on a daily basis, put on that new person, that new creation You want me to be. May I be a person who demonstrates Your light which is in my life to others, believers and unbelievers. Help me as a spiritual leader to lead more people to You, to know You and to find redemption and love in You. May I not waver or be bashful in proclaiming who You are what You seek to accomplish in our lives. Amen.

Monday, November 19, 2007

DAY # 2 - John 2

SCRIPTURE ~ John 2


OBSERVATIONS ~ Jesus respects and listens to His mother. A great lesson for all. He turns water into wine, its is the first of His miracles (read on for the reasons). He presses the issue with the Pharisees, but they don’t get it, in fact, ‘pharisees’ never do, do they? Jesus had a great understanding of Himself, and did not need anyone to validate His ministry or life.
APPLICATION ~ KEY VERSE ~ John 2:11 - "This is the first of miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in Him." John tells us that Jesus turning the water into wine was the very first of miraculous signs that Jesus would do. And he also tells us the purpose of miracles. The purpose of this miracle was not just to make sure that they had enough wine at the party so everyone had a good time and the bride felt good about her big day. (Although I do think Jesus was concerned with little things like the success of a friends party.) The bigger purpose of this miracle and all miracles are two-fold: bring glory to God and increase the faith of people. Whenever I pray for God to do something miraculous like a healing or some kind of intervention or reconciliation I always promise Him a couple things. First I promise God that we will give Him all the glory for that miracle. And secondly, I promise that we will tell the story of that miracle over and over so that peoples faith will be built up.

Lastly, I realize the need we all have for validation. We often want our kingdom on earth, not God’s kingdom on earth.

PRAYER: Father, there are some people in my life that need a miracle in their life right now. I know you care about the little things like their health and their relationships; but I know that from an eternal perspective your glory and increasing people’s faith is what ultimately matters. Yet, I know that there are so many times that what happens in life just does not make sense and maybe never will make sense . . . so give me an extra measure of peace and wisdom to minister and lead these people and myself to serve You without qualifications. I ask that you do the miraculous in their lives and once again we promise to give you all the glory and we promise to tell the stories over and over so that people know that you are God.

Day #1 - John 1

Day #1 - John 1


For the next 21 days I am going to attempt to journal my thoughts, observations, and take-aways from the book of John. I look forward to your comments and thoughts as we journey together.

SCRIPTURE ~ John 1

OBSERVATION ~ John reflects on Jesus as being the Creator, as well as the Redeemer. We forget that Jesus was an active and had a lead in creation. There is the call of John the Baptist and his recognition that Jesus is the One, not him. A reminder that it is all about God, not about us. Finally, when Jesus calls, how do I respond?

APPLICATION ~ 2 KEY VERSES ~ John 1:3 - "Through Him (Jesus) all things were made; without Him nothing has been made." And 10"He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him."

As I read through this chapter the first verse that really grabbed me was verse three where John continues to describe Jesus. He is talking about creation and how He along with the Father and the Spirit created "all things"...and..."without Him nothing has been made". That is not just a statement about the past, that is also a statement about the present and the future. If we want to make anything good it will be through Jesus. Here is how this applies specifically to my life:
  • I want to make a family that loves God and loves one another. "...without Him nothing has been made."
  • I want to make a marriage where the focus is on loving each other and not getting what I want.
    ". . . without Him nothing has been made."
  • I want to give direction and vision to a team of great leaders at FBC who believe in the power of the resurrected Christ. "...without Him nothing has been made."
  • I would like to have a great vacation and be patient with my family during our time away. "...without Him nothing has been made."

Secondly, another reminder in verse ten that Jesus was a Creator in this world, that He was in the world, but the world did not recognize Him. It makes me wonder how many times in a week and month and year, do I not recognize Jesus. How many times do I not step up and serve Him the way He wants me to . . . maybe because of my hardheartedness, my selfishness, my ignorance, or you can pick the adjective.


PRAYER ~ Father, you know the dreams and desires that I have for my life and for my family. You also know the dreams and desires I have for this FBC. I know this will only happen through you. I believe these ambitions are consistent with what you want; so I ask for them. But I also know that they are only possible through you; so help me to surrender them to You.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Reflections

It's amazing how fast a week flies by. It started with lots of sickness and worry and ends quietly for the boys. Although Zachary still complains of occasional stomach aches. He was up the last two nights needing to go to the bathroom, so we really need to monitor him.

Some thoughts about today!!

  • I enjoyed the energy when the praise team was singing. For some reason we seem to be louder or sing with more energy.
  • The kids did a good job singing. I need to move to the front row so I can better watch them.
  • Dedications are always cool! Miriam's moving about just added to the unpredictability of children. It was also cool to look into the eyes of Brian and Rebecca; I could tell this was meaningful.
  • Also fun to hold a baby which is not mine, does not scream or spit up. Lydia was grabbing at my microphone, she's a cutey.
  • Thanks to Andy Chastain for bringing me a new microphone when mine died.
  • The video "Letters from War" always leads me to tears. What a powerful video!
  • I have learned to enjoy preaching about money and giving. It's fun to do, maybe because I like to make us uncomfortable on occasion. Money really does grab our hearts and often leads us away from where we really need to be in our relationship with Christ. Talking about money can be a 'sticky wicket' (that was for Damon).
  • Attended the community Thanksgiving service. Pastor Mark from the Nazarene church preached, I said a prayer for the community. He spoke about the need for unity within the community. His message gave me the feeling like there are a great deal of splintered groups and animosity in Alexandria. I'll have to check this out.
  • I also learned that a good friend's grandson suddenly died in his sleep. Tristan was only 2. I went to the visitation and spent a few minutes with Woody (he is the current interim pastor in Summitville FBC). A good friend I've known for 3 years. The only words Woody could say was that this is the most difficult moment of his life. Life does not make sense, does it? Remember Woody and Glenda and Tristan's parents in your time of prayer. The funeral is at 11 am tomorrow.
  • Because of this, I gave Joshua and Zachary an extra hug and cookie and tickles tonight.
  • Tomorrow (Monday) I start on 21 days of John. Debbie reminded me that it may be hard to find a wi-fi connection in the hills of Alabama. We will be in Town Creek, Moulton and Hatton, Alabama. About 1 hour away from Decatur. I'll do my best to get a wi-fi connection everyday, if possible.

For now, blessings to all!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

21 Days of John

Remember we start reading through the book of John on Monday, November 19. Get others to sign up for the blog to read my thoughts, and I would enjoy reading your reflections as well. We can learn from one another.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sick Call - Part 4

Okay, this is getting old. Joshua is fine, Zachary is on the door step of recovery. His stomach hurt tonight and we gave him medicine for that. Now . . . Debbie is throwing up. Gee, guess who's next? No way. This guy does not throw up!!

Keep us in prayer. I can't even have my birthday cake! It's sitting in the refrigerator with candles, but nobody to eat it. Are you crying for me yet?

How to Make Comments

I was asked how does one make a comment. Good question. Here is the answer.

Click on the title of that days blog, for example, you would click on

HOW TO MAKE COMMENTS

this will direct you to the blog website at http://michaeldeutsch.blogspot.com
scroll toward the bottom of the page and you will see comments, click on that and comment away.

Hope that helps.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sick call part 3

What a birthday!! We ended up at the ER again. Zachary was dehydrated and had a great deal of stomach pain. His doctor wanted him checked to make certain it was not his appendix. He had to drink about a 1/2 gallon of bad tasting orange dye. He was a trooper and after initial complaints, just drank it without a word. They did a ct scan of his abdomen, which checked out fine. He also survived the IV needle without flinching, this one was not as smooth as the first, since the nurse could not initially find his vein .

By the end of the night they gave him morphine, which did not put him to sleep, but made his perk up and feel no pain, which was nice to see the Zachary of old.

So, both boys are sleeping, and hopefully Zachary will feel well enough tomorrow to go to school on Thursday. Joshua went back today and felt tired, but good about being back.

Hope this is the end of our saga!! It is the Deutsch custom to go out for dinner at the birthday persons choice. So, we will have a make up date at a restaurant of my choice, not to be Chucky Cheese. To show the kindness of some friends, one friend sent a birthday card which included the health benefits of celery How disgusting!!! to even insinuate there are redeeming purposes for God's creation of celery.

Don't want to leave you on a down note, but my mother in law sent a card with a great looking piece of chocolate cake on the cover, now that is celebrating the right way!!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Prayer

Just a simple request to keep me in prayer over the next few days. I have lots to do and have some important decisions to make.

Thanks!

Sick call - part 2

I need to start out by saying I inadvertently left Joshua out of yesterdays email about the boys being sick and going to the hospital. I was more concerned with Zachary because of the diabetes and stomach pains, but Joshua was sick and was seen by the ER doctor at Community.

Both were feeling better today, although they were pretty slow moving. Joshua did not eat much, Zachary had a little more. Joshua wants to go to school tomorrow, so we will see what the morning brings. I think Zachary will stay home one more day.

Debbie had a 100 temperature and my cold is back, my shoulder hurts, I don't want to say, but I think it was from trying to start my leaf blower from Saturday. It died on me and just would not start back up no matter how hard I pulled the cord, it's the aging process.

Continue to remember us in prayer.

Michael

Sunday, November 11, 2007

GREAT JOB

I need to get the video, but I heard great great great comments about Damon's preaching from this morning. Way to go dude!! Proud of you.

Bible Reading

Since I did not have the chance in church to talk about the Bible reading starting on Tuesday through the book of John, I wil hold off on starting until Monday, November 19. That way I can announce it next week at church.

Sick Call

What a day!! Joshua and Zachary were up most of the night, along with mom and dad. They were taking turns throwing up; about 8 times in all. Eventually we needed to take Zachary to the hospital, he was very pale and becoming dehydrated. They gave him an IV which helped a lot and eventually we headed home.

I very much appreciated so many who told me to leave church and go with Debbie to the hospital. I needed to be with them . . . thank you!

It is 10 pm and they are still up, just laying in bed watching the Colts get hammered. Zachary has had stomach pains all night and day, they have only had a little to eat and drink and are both running 100 degree temperatures. So much for any plans to go out for ribs for my birthday (Tuesday). I think it will be a quiet birthday.

Anyway, keep the boys in your prayers, and Debbie and I. We are exhausted and I think a long night is ahead.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Giving and giving

I am so pumped up. I don't usually get this way when I am writing a sermon, but here it is 12:20 a.m. and I am just finishing it and can't wait for Sunday. Yes, it is about, gulp, giving. And I really believe God put this message into my heart, spirit and mind tonight. I had it pretty much done, but after bringing some food for tomorrows leaf raking, I sat down and just started typing and have not stopped. I rewrote lots and lots the majority of the sermon. I love it when that happens. Of course, I wish that happened on Monday morning, but that is God at work.

We will have games during the sermon, remember, "who wants to be a millionaire?" We will start with that, and add apple eating during the sermon as well.

One thing I have noticed about God working in my life lately is my imagination has kicked into overdrive. It is so much fun, and at the same time so much stuff is going through my heart and spirit and mind.

I have the music cranked good and loud. Music is a real medium I use to help me feel the Spirit at work within my spirit (notice the big and little s).

Hope to see you Saturday, and again Sunday!!

I Surrender

But do I? Read this from Andrew Murray from his book, Absolute Surrender,
  • "And lest anyone should have the wrong impression as to what it is to be filled with the Spirit; just let me say that it does not mean a state of high excitement, or of absolute perfection, or a state in which there will be no growth. No. Being filled with the Spirit is simply this - having my whole nature yielded to His power. When the whole soul is yielded to the Holy Spirit, God Himself will fill it."
May that be the case for each of us. At the same time my best friend, Tim, pastor in Dubuque, Iowa wrote about a verse he just read from Jeremiah 10:21, which smacks us in our face, "For the shepherds are stupid, and do not inquire of the LORD; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered."
  • Talk about a sobering passage for a pastor to be reminded of. It's a great, great and awesome passage reminding Tim and me about our call to follow God, to inquire or PRAY, because the consequences are huge if we don't.
God's final message for the night, then I am going home, it's 12:35 a.m., is to surrender to Him, completely, totally, absolutely, entirely, perfectly, utterly 100%. That is the daily challenge for the rest of my life!!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

One Wish

Today was a long day, but a good one. I made it despite feeling drained.
  • I had a wonderful, really wonderful on-line mentoring session this evening. It was with Tom Bandy, one of my mentors, on-line. It was just he and I and one other person for one hour. It was priceless!!

I was thinking, if I had one wish for our church, what would it be?

I had lots of answers, to grow, to grow spiritually, to reach out more in the community, for every person to sing and to worship and to be passionate about God, for personal spiritual transformation, and . . . and . . .


For any or all of this to happen, we need to hear from God. In essence to be connected to God in such a way that we hear from Him and (no) that we learn to hear from Him everyday of our lives. If we did, and we followed God, think about, consider, muse, (you choose the word) what would happen to our church and to Alexandria and to Northern Madison County and . . . and . . .

If every person heard from God everyday this amazing church would become more than an amazing church. This church would become a force that would transform the face of the earth. Everyday God would give clear direction to everyone of us and everyone of us would move forward into life with a confidence that we are not just living out our days, but we are fulfilling the dream of God for this planet!

As a result, I want to challenge you, your the first to hear about this to a 21 day challenge and read through the book of John. We will start in one week. I want you to journal, I am not the best at it, but I try. I learned to journal better from Wayne Cordeiro, pastor of New Hope Church in Hawaii. I use the SOAP method, try it,

On day one, read John 1. On day 2, read John 2, and so on.

SOAP

S - Scripture (John 1)

O - Observation (what are you observing from this chapter on the Bible) Is there a main verse for you? Pick out 1 or 2 verses from that chapter that speaks to you and write it down and why it means something to you.

A - Application (How and what can you apply to your life? What is God saying to you?

P - Prayer. Write out a prayer.

That's it. On Tuesday, November 13, I am going to start this journey. I'm going to take the 21 day challenge from the book of John. Imagine how your everyday life might change if you were to seek to hear and learn from God on a daily basis.

Then share your observations, I will send out mine on a daily basis. Will you join me.

P.S. - this is a preparation for a major Bible reading undertaking for the church for next year. Get ready!!!

Sicky family

Hey - Debbie has been down for a couple of days with stomach problems a temperature and feeling achy all over, I now have a cold and Zachary is finally (I hope) getting over his. Joshua is immune to it all.

Pray for us!!

Catch the News!!

Jack Woods was elected the new mayor of Alexandria!!

Great work, Jack! I never heard about other races, but hoping for Kevin Gardner, as well to win as city council rep.
I was friends with the mayor of Dearborn, and now the mayor of Alexandria, talk about knowing all the right people. Gee, that and $2 may get me a cup of coffee. I suppose Jack will want to paint his office Green and Yellow.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sunday Reflections

I have not blogged recently, too many late nights and too much tiredness at the end of the day.

This was a good weekend. Played football with Joshua and Zachary yesterday. Mostly Joshua and again today. Joshua enjoys running pass patterns and I play quarterback. It's always been a dream to play catch like we are. He's getting better and his arm has greatly improved. I made sure to tell him that tonight.

Speaking of which, some of the best moments come when I lay down for 15 minutes with each boy when it is sleep time. We laugh, we talk and I try to be an encouragement to them. It's fun to snuggle with them, since I know those days won't last forever, but hopefully they will remember them forever.

I was not sure how people would take the video and message and having bread for communion. I was hoping people would not see me as irreverent, but really trying to be more reverent and relevant. Amazing that nobody passed out or fainted from discussions about money and possessions. We'll do more next Sunday, hopefully going deeper, but no videos. Much thanks to Damon for helping with that. He filmed and edited. I owe you one!!

Tonight was fun talking about my childhood and Jewish upbringing, although I found myself ready to cry at a couple of points when I spoke of the Holocaust and my mom's reactions to it. It's amazing when emotions come upon us in such a powerful way, it really caught me off guard. I was torn with talking about my life and story and sharing about Judaism. Next week we'll end it, and I will talk more about heaven, hell, the afterlife, and other differences between Jews and Christians.

I'm looking forward to the week, especially to the Spiritual Gifts class, it's getting a little deeper and hopefully more challenging for people to look a little deeper at their lives and stories and giftedness.

Have a great week. Remember to vote on Tuesday.

The Courage to Grow!

I appreciate devotionals which are real and relevant.  This devotional perfectly meets that requirement.  Annie Downs has written a powerf...