Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Reflections

Well, 2 hours and 38 minutes to 2008. Some closing thoughts about the good of 2007 . . .
  1. Met a group from Alec in February at Terre Haute and life would forever change.
  2. Zachary's cool birthday in March.
  3. April saw us coming to Alec to candidate and be asked to move here!! Wahoo!!!
  4. Telling Dearborn we were leaving, a tough, but good day.
  5. Mother's Day . . . my mom died on Mother's Day, but don't feel sorry for me, she was a great mom, she gave me my love and to die on Mother's Day was kind of a tribute to her.
  6. Finding our home to purchase in Alec. We are blessed and happy here.
  7. June 3 was my final sermon at FBC-Dearborn, along with some parties.
  8. June 20-21 our move to Alexandria and the many people helping clean and fix up our home . . . who can you say thank you besides saying thank you from your heart.
  9. The joy of having friends see you off and say shalom, not good-bye!
  10. A trip to Green Lake, Wi. for my final leadership conference called CECL (I never understood what the letters meant) - actually I think it stood for Center for Excellence in Congregational Leadership. A great experience to attend 6 conferences and met pastors who have become friends, even some from Indiana.
  11. Saying good-bye to Cliff and his send off was a blessing. Along with the Steve Green concert.
  12. Experiencing FBC at its best in giving grace. A beautiful moment in a difficult time.
  13. August means Debbie's birthday and our anniversary! I am the luckiest guy around.
  14. The boys started school, Joshua is in football, Zachary in soccer, Debbie is subbing.
  15. My installation was in October with some friends coming from Dearborn to share in the weekend, especially Nina, who is battling cancer. What a joy!
  16. Having the Gaither's premiere of "How Great Thou Art" at FBC and our greeting and help overwhelmed them. Go team!!
  17. November saw my birthday and a year older, but a year wiser . . . okay a year to be more of a 'wiseguy' aka Curly.
  18. Baptizing Joshua was an amazing experience. I wish every person could baptize their own child, spouse or parent. Actually, I don't see why not!! Hmm. . .
  19. November saw Joshua's birthday and a trip to see Debbie's dad in Alabama and a visit to Huntsville Rocket Center.
  20. The trip also featured a great driving over a ladder as God's way of protecting us for the trip home. The providence of God will never be understood, just accept it.
  21. A great Christmas with family and friends.
  22. Saying good-bye, and shalom to Ernie.
  23. Being blessed by God everyday!
  24. Making many new friends in Alec.
  25. Knowing I have touched some lives is always more powerful of an experience than I can ever imagine.
  26. Having Joshua just come in and give me a hug and say "I love you." Zachary then doing the same.
  27. Watching football with the boys tomorrow (1/1).
  28. Looking forward to what 2008 will bring. I know there will be lots of hard work, but great success in following God's plan for us.
  29. I AM EXCITED!!
  30. I know there is more, but I didn't plan on writing all this so, anything forgotten . . . sorry!

Thank you for being part of my blog . . . for listening, readying and accepting me!

May 2008 be a year filled with greatness as you and I draw ever closer to Almighty God, the LORD of Hosts.

Michael

Sunday Reflections

Not an easy day! But a wonderful day!! I have only known Ernie for 6 months, but we share so many thoughts, ideas and dreams for worship and the church. It was difficult to say good-bye to him as the Music Minister. One of the great things about Ernie is the fact that he understands music and the need for the church to stay relevant and have a mix of the old with the new. Not many people will work to make that happen after 48 years of ministry. Another thing about Ernie is that he was never stuck in a certain time period of music. He has his favorite music, but knows and this is one of the great points about Ernie, he knows worship is about God, not his liks and dislikes.

I look forward to January 20 and a time to fully honor Ernie in a relaxed setting.

Worship was fun and Becky did a great job filling in for Marilyn, who by the way is now home from the hospital.

Since we were talking about duct tape, I wonder what you have used duct tape for, and what about those resolutions, don't make duct tape ones, make ones which are focused on God.

I said I would tell you my 2008 goals - - they are usually pretty basic
  1. Grow closer to Christ . . . and experience more of His presence.
  2. Get in better shape (I got a punching bag for Christmas . . . can you picture me running up the steps of city hall in Alec? But no raw eggs)
  3. Walk more, exercise more, drink more (H2O), eat less
  4. Finish my doctorate!!!
  5. Hang out more with the kids and Debbie (although hard to do when trying to accomplish #3)
  6. There are always more items, but those are probably the top 5.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Celebration

Hey all -

It's been a few days since I last blogged. Taken some down time, doing some heavy reading on the history of Spirituality. Yikes, that is fun stuff. Hope your Christmas was awesome!! We had a great time, way too many presents under the tree, but the boys had fun and we spent time talking about why we celebrate Christmas, besides Santa and presents and food. The boys took turns reading the Christmas story.

Christmas Eve was a good worship. People were pumped and the worship seems to be growing each year. I really thought a lot about Christmas worship. I gained some strong feelings, thoughts and ruminations about Christmas worship. I'll talk more about it in 11 months.

I am getting ready for our final worship of the year, and have been thinking about New Year's Resolutions. Oh what fun it is to make them. I think we like making them because we think for a moment we have control over the next 366 days (remember a leap year this year). I have a friend from Dearborn who is getting married on Feb 29.

So, what resolutions, thoughts, plans, dreams, hopes, visions . . . do you have for 2008. Let's hear them, then I'll share mine.

Blessings to all, and to all a good night.

Michael

Monday, December 24, 2007

Helping a family

Had an opportunity with another family to help a family who didn't have presents for their children. It was great to deliver the gifts and see their excitement and appreciation. That is what following Christ does for you, you give to someone else you don't know, just because God calls us to love others.

It was a great experience, maybe something we can do annually.

Sunday Reflections

WOW!! What a great worship today!!

Oh . . . the weather outside is frightful, but the people in church were delightful . . .

The music the people, the buzz and excitement, great day!!

Ernie and the choir did fantastic. All of the specials, the 3 amigos (shepherds) were great. Beth and Randy's rendition of "Mary did you know?" was so moving for me. For the first time I heard the words and they hit. I was speechless.

Ernie's passion was wonderful to watch, he was so moved by the choir's passion and dedication. You could see it in his eyes, his body posture, everything. Notwithstanding this was his last to direct. He ended with a beauty way to lead us in worship.

I look forward to Christmas Eve and hope many, many people come. It will be a fun night and you will hear about when God was at His best.

Blessings,

Michael

Thursday, December 20, 2007

By - Laws and the Bible

A quick note of correction

Last night (Wednesday) at our Business meeting I may have given the impression that I am totally unfamiliar with our by-laws and don't care about them.

That is not true. I have read the by-laws 4-5 times, and have referred to them on other occasions. So, I am familiar with them, my point, which may have been poorly stated was, 'I prefer to read and understand the Bible more than I prefer to read the By-laws. In fact, the Bible serves as the By-laws for our lives.

I do understand the need for by-laws within a church or any organization.

I hope that may clear up any confusion.

Michael

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

TUESDAY'S HAPPENINGS

A busy but good day!!

Sometimes personalities can dominate our lives. Often times the most dominant personality is ours. Ever realize that? Yet, at the same time we need to ask and ask again, then ask again, 'God, what is my role?' Where am I called to serve, to mentor, to witness, to lead, to stand back, to . . .'

Personalities, they are a gift from God, they help make us unique, one of a kind. How cool God is for the way He went about creating us . . . in His image. Can't wait to see all of the ways we are created in His image, since I really believe we will be surprised to learn about God's uniqueness when we all get to heaven.

Speaking of personalities, I am realizing this more and more about my 2 boys . . . WOW!! They amaze me with some of the things they do. And those are the good things. A couple of thoughts ~
  1. Now that Joshua is 10, and before, he does not want mom and dad doting on him, hugging him, touching him in public, yet, when it is my night to put him and Zachary to sleep, he can't wait for me to get in bed with him and put his arms around me. It's as if he can't get enough physical contact. I knew a long time ago, and he is confirming it, one of his love languages is 'touch.' It's a special time for us.
  2. Every day Zachary seems to come home with a picture for Debbie or some drawing that he did in school. He's another one who says 'don't touch me,' yet can't wait for the physical contact. Although I would say touch is his secondary love language. His first would be quality time. He can't wait to just play with me.
  3. Simply put, it would be great if we all knew our children's our spouse's 5 Languages of Love.

Today I also went to the Anderson University Library and was blessed to receive a guest library membership. I can check out 5 books at a time. . . lucky me. I checked out 5 today for my doctorate, including 2 almost 700 page books on the History of Christian Spirituality, good bedtime reading. Plus books written in 1871 and 1895. I can hear your violins playing for me now. I turned one book away because I could not pronounce the name of some chapters (never a good sign).

That's about it from my corner of the world, time for bed. Remember me in prayer, remember the church in prayer as we have our business meeting tomorrow night. Business meetings are a great reminder that the church is not at all about us, it's about God entrusting us sinners to bring His message to those who are not yet believers in Jesus. The church is about our redemption, our transformation from hell bound sinner to heaven bound sinner, simply because God loves us . . . yesterday, today and tomorrow, and He will never change!

PRAISE GOD!!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Random Thoughts

I was reminded I had not posted for a few days . . . yikes!!
  • Looking forward to Christmas? I am!
  • Reflections of God coming to earth, just for you and me.
  • Does it get any better than that?!
  • Consider when God was doing His best work in your life . . . when was it?
  • How did you react to God's intervention in your life?
  • What's with all of these 2 hour delays? Never heard of these until we landed in Indiana.
  • Have I recently said the Bears are pathetic! Well, they are!
  • Tonight I asked Debbie "where did I find you?" She is just too nice of a person!
  • Amazing how blessed I am to have her!!:-)
  • I can't wait to see Joshua and Zachary on Christmas morning, for that matter Debbie, too!
  • Joshua played percussion in the school band concert tonight. He was awesome. I could see him tapping his toes and nodding his head to keep the beat. Never for me. He's got more rhythm than I'll ever have.
  • I am working on my doctorate. I am feeling the pressure, so pray for me . . . pray for the family. I have lots of reading and writing to do between now and Feb 28. I need to order about 10 more books, I found one online, written in 1871 - geesh!
  • I will be starting my project in church on January 6 and for the next 13 out of 16 weeks. We will be looking at 11 different spiritual disciplines. I will be writing sermons and Sunday School curriculum for each. All adult classes will be asked to participate in this and do three surveys about spiritual disciplines. I'll talk more about it on Sunday. I was going to do that last Sunday, but no church.
  • I hated, oops, I really disliked canceling church on Sunday, but think it was for the best. At one point I wanted to call people and say come to church at noon, but that would not have worked. Oh well.
    • Are you ready for Christmas? I am!
    • Looking forward to Sunday!!

    Friday, December 14, 2007

    CORRECTION

    The scripture verse from yesterday that was listed as Revelation 3:5, should have been 3:20. The link to Bible gateway was correct, but the number on the blog itself was incorrect.

    Thursday, December 13, 2007

    21 Days of John - The End!

    Folks, I hope this has been helpful to you. Thanks for listening to my rantings. I really hope this helped you gain a little better picture of John and what he is calling us to be and do.

    If this has been helpful, let me know. Not for my praise, but I just want to know what helps, what does not. If something else would be more beneficial let me know.

    Next year we will read through the Bible together and I will send a daily journal (thoughts) about those passages. It will not follow the SOAP acronym, too much scripture makes it hard to pinpoint one or two verses.

    Let others know about this. You don't have to attend our church or even church to be part of the blog. I'd love to have lots of subscribers and comments from you all.

    So . . . if you have a comment, let me know via the comments on the blog; or send me an email at mishana826@yahoo.com

    Blessings,

    Michael

    Day 21 - John 21

    SCRIPTURE ~ John 21
    KEY VERSES ~
    John 21:21-22 When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?"22 Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me."

    OBSERVATION ~
    The disciples had returned to doing what many of them understood, fishing. Does this mean they gave up on Jesus and His resurrection? NO!! It means they went fishing. It means they took some time as brothers and hung out together. Maybe they needed some time to reflect, to think, to feel, to decompress . . . after all, Jesus who was once dead, is now alive. How does that make any sense to one's senses? It doesn't, and that is the issue.

    They had already experienced His presence, now they experience Jesus' mastery at cooking breakfast. A favorite verse for me comes from REVELATION 3:5 when Jesus gives us an amazing invitation. Read it and invite Him in for some good cooking!!!!!

    Jesus then reinstates Peter by asking him 3 times, the same number of times Peter denied Jesus, if Peter loves Him. Note the subtle differences in all 3 commands.
    1. Feed my lambs.
    2. Tend my sheep.
    3. Feed my sheep.
    Now comes the kicker verse, the one that kicks you in the gut and knocks the wind out of you, as if these 3 questions had not already knocked Peter down.

    APPLICATION ~ John 21:21-22 states -- When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?"22 Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me."

    What does that mean for me and you? Peter understood that life will get crazy and that he will end up in a death which he would not want, he will lose freedom and ultimately, life. So . . . first thing he does is ask about John, 'what about that guy, how is he going to suffer?' Jesus simply tells Peter, whatever happens to him is my decision, it's not yours and frankly, Peter, it's none of your business. What I and the church need is this one thing and one thing alone from you . . .
    YOU MUST FOLLOW ME!!
    Yup, you got it, follow me!! Isn't that the call for each of us. It's a great way to end John. Jesus calls us to put aside ourselves and follow Jesus. Let go of the petty ante junk which holds us back in our relationship with Jesus and with one another. Get a grip on what real life is about, forget about that old stuff, those old issues, move on . . . move on, pilgrim! Move on, my friend, focus on Jesus, nobody else, it's about Him, isn't it?

    Folks, don't get wrapped up in yourself, get wrapped up in Jesus. Follow Him, follow Him. He has the answers, I don't. My answers will always pale in comparison to His, only when I get it right and say what He wants me to say, and I listen and I don't get in the way, then listen to me.

    There is too much going on in this world we need to fight for. Let me end with a quote from the book entitled,
    Unchristian, "Christianity has become bloated with blind followers who would rather repeat slogans than actually feel true compassion and care. Christianity has become marketed and streamlined into a juggernaut of fear mongering that has lost its own heart" (page 15). That is a terrible indictment from a non Christian. Yet, that is very much how the non Christian world sees us. This is why the call of Jesus . . . to FOLLOW HIM is so crucial.

    Pastor Michael

    Wednesday, December 12, 2007

    Day 20 - John 20

    SCRIPTURE ~ John 20
    KEY VERSE ~ John 20:25 - So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."

    OBSERVATION ~ The tomb has been opened, what was impossible is now possible. It is unimaginable for Jesus to be alive, it makes no sense to the normal mind. After all . . . how is He alive? Where has He gone? Ever feel that way in your life? Wondering where is Jesus? The disciples and all of His followers were feeling the same. The man they thought was the One, is dead. He's in a stinking rotten tomb and their hopes have been laid to rest with the thud of the rock.

    I love the story of Thomas! He is so indecisive, much like many of us. One day he is willing to die with and for Jesus (John 11:16), then he questions the disciples belief in Jesus, claiming, only if he sees and touches will he believe.

    How do we get to that point? Is our belief in Jesus so shallow, so tenuous that we struggle with faith/trust/belief depending upon which way the wind blows?

    APPLICATION ~ As I see it and I am seeing it, experiencing it and feeling it more and more . . . it's the need to be so connected to Jesus that nothing really rocks my world to pull me away from Him. Yes, things may rock my world, like the shootings in Colorado and more, but the point is to stay focused / connected to Jesus like a laser. Knowing I need nothing more than Jesus. It almost sounds hokey as I write this, but what more do we really need, if our full (100%) trust is in Jesus. I guess part of the rhetorical question is fill in the blank of what % you really believe, trust in Jesus.

    PRAYER ~ Lord, keep me connected to you. Give me the energy, strength, desire and courage to stay connected, to be faithful, so I can be fruitful. Amen

    Tuesday, December 11, 2007

    Scripture References

    For your convenience when I mention a scripture I am highlighting in in Blue, so you can click on the scripture and it will take you directly to that scripture at www.biblegateway.com

    Rainy Night Thoughts

    I'm dismayed at the shootings in Colorado. How does it happen? How can it happen? WHY does it happen? The theological answer is easy, 'sin.' The heart answer is so much more difficult.

    Yet, some thoughts come to mind.

    God is NOT in heaven right now wringing His hands and wondering what to do next. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that He makes all things beautiful in His time. I don’t understand that, and I wish His time was my time, but I kinda sorta understand, yet I really don't want to understand, but I need to submit to God's sovereignty. That's a word and phrase we don't talk much about. It means God has the "absolute right to do all things according to his own good pleasure."

    If I did things according to my good pleasure, the world would be in more chaos than it is. Scripture says it, and I have to believe it. Paul wrote in Romans 8:28 that God works all things for the good of those who love Him. Once again . . . . I'll admit my ignorance, I don’t understand that – I really want to understand, but I struggle with this especially when it comes to something like this.

    But God is still God . . . and I am not. I have to believe that even when He allows evil to manifest itself in this way, God is still working for the good of all who believe in Him. He has the crystal ball. He knows the future, I don't. I must trust His plan. The Bible says in Isaiah 55:8 that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways, period!!!

    God is bigger than Michael Deutsch. God is smarter and better and more grace-filled and more giving . . . than I am . . . and I have to go back to the trust issue, and simply trust Him and His plans. . . and His timing.

    What happened in Colorado could have happened here . . . it could have happened to us. We like to think it never will, but it can. I wonder about how many friends in ministry are out there, how many people are dramatically impacted from our youth group who were in Arvada this summer at YWAM. We need to continually pray for God's protection . . . daily.

    When things like this happen it is a grave reminder that we are at war. Evil exists, satan exists, he is real and he is out to destroy us. John 10:10 is a great paradox about life . . . the life Christ offers us, and what the devil is trying to steal, kill and destroy us. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that the battle is REAL.

    Folks . . . satan is real and active and the battle must be taken to him and NOT the church that doesn’t happen to be fitting into your neat little box. Just read what john wrote in Revelation 12:17. For me it is one of the scariest passages in the Bible.

    Finally, all we can do right now is to PRAY! Pray for these people and their families. I have no idea what they are feeling . . . but I believe and trust that God works through prayer. Take a time out and say a prayer for YWAM, New Life Church and the families of all those involved. God is in control . . . pray that through this tragedy He will bring more people to Him.

    Alien Invasion

    Took a picture of what is left of Zachary's snowman and if you look carefully and use a little imagination, the snowman looks like someone facing right, sitting on a stool with their right arm close to their chest, and they have a little eency weeny head. Plus it looks like they are wearing a bow-tie or spilled chunks of chocolate cake on their nice white shirt.

    Anyway, enjoy the day.
    Michael

    Day 19 - John 19

    SCRIPTURE ~ JOHN 19
    KEY VERSE(s) ~ 2 Key Verses
    • John 19:7 ~ The Jews insisted, "We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God."
    • John 19:31 ~ Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.
    OBSERVATION ~ The time has come for Jesus to be killed. Pilate wants nothing to do with Jesus. According to other gospels, Jesus scares Pilate, and even his wife didn't want him to have anything to do with Jesus (Matthew 27:19).

    You may consider these the unusual verses to pull out of the crucifixion of Jesus, yet, 19:7 helps you to see the reason why the Jews wanted Him dead. Jesus, in their eyes broke the law. Read Leviticus 24:16. Jesus had blashpemed the name of God, period.

    What is interesting about 19:31 is the irony of the situation. These Jewish leaders who were so determined to have Jesus crucified, who were accomplices in this judicial murder are the very same Jews who are being very scrupulous in keeping the ceremonial law about dead bodies and burial. According to Jewish law (Deuteronomy 21:23) a dead body could not hang from a tree overnight, otherwise the land is defiled. This was an important Sabbath, as the Sabbath which occurs during Passover is always considered as an especially important day.

    APPLICATION ~ Very simply as we move about our days, how are we being Pharisees, legalists about some things, but not about others? Are we really being consistent in our walk with Christ? It can become a 'sticky wicket' when we pick and choose what is acceptable and what is not. Yet, at the same time, we need to have values, Biblical values, but we can get on our high horses about what is really not important, and make it a life and death scenario.

    PRAYER ~ Lord, as I move about my day, and as I finish preparing my heart, soul, mind and body for the remembrance of Your birth, help me to be focused on You, on Your mission, on Your plan and purpose for my life. Thank you Jesus for Your call. May I be obedient to You, may I be filled with love and grace, not law and legalism. Amen



    Monday, December 10, 2007

    Day 18 - John 18

    SCRIPTURE ~ John 18
    KEY VERSE ~ 17 "You are not one of his disciples, are you?" the girl at the door asked Peter.
    He replied, "I am not."

    OBSERVATION ~ The time has come for Jesus' arrest. Verse 3 gives us some insight into the details - 3 "So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons."

    A detachment is either 200 or 600 soldiers, depending on what source you use. But think about it, 200 or 600 soldiers just to capture Jesus, there were torches and weapons. They were ready for a real insurgent, not the Lamb. It's remarkable how paranoid the Jews were about Jesus. They could not stand anyone who might see God in a different way. Talk about people who rebelled against change . . . these were the headliners. So, He is taken away, after healing a soldiers ear (Luke 22:51).

    Pilate sees nothing wrong with Jesus. I was torn between looking at "what is truth?" or Peter's denial. Both are important moments, yet, Peter's seemed more significant at this time. So . . . how do we apply this moment from Peter's life?

    APPLICATION ~ I wonder how many times have we said in one way or another "I am not" to Jesus. Maybe we were asked about being His disciples or we had to make a decision at work, home, school, church, wherever it may have been; and our answer indicated we are not His disciples. At least not the way we acted and spoke. Often times it is not a public thing, it is private where we look around, and if nobody is looking, or so we think, we act. Maybe it is lashing out in anger, hitting something (and breaking it), or it is taking that drink we don't need, or engaging in porn, or being in a harmful relationship which is leading us away from God . . . You can name the situation, but in so many ways, we say NO to God and yes to us.

    On my own power I cannot do it. I must be connected to God in order to stay the course and be equipped to say YES to God and no to myself.

    PRAYER ~ Father, the world pushes me away from You. Sometimes it is so very easy to be pushed further and further away, then reconnecting with You becomes more and more difficult. So, Precious Father, give me the strength, energy, the desire to draw closer to You, to know You are God, and I am not. Amen

    Prayer

    Damon called me and told me about the shooting at Arvada, Colorado where Youth with a Mission is. That is where our youth were at this summer. Two people were killed and 2 wounded by a gunmen.

    Keep all in prayer.

    Gator Nation

    I was never a Florida Gator fan! I have changed my mind, because I was surprised by the winner of the Heisman Trophy. The Heisman is the trophy for the best college football player. I have never liked the Florida Gators, it goes back to the days of Steve Spurrier coaching them. But is has changed.

    The winner of the Heisman Trophy is the first sophomore, Tim Tebow. I learned that Tebow's parents were missionaries in the Philippines where he was born. He is a devout Christian. The ESPN announcer listed Tebow's first 4 priorities in life . . . his first priority is his faith . . . football was 4th.

    When he got up to speak and say thank you, he started out by giving thanks to Jesus Christ, his Lord and Savior; and in fact did so more than once during that speech. He made me a fan. I give thanks for witnesses like Tim's, when thousands upon thousands of sports fans hear Tebow's first priority is God. How cool!!


    Saturday, December 08, 2007

    Snowmen

    Played outside for awhile. Amazing how heavy it is to lift snow when making a snowman.


    The picture is of our first successful snowman. This was Zachary's creation, Joshua made his, but had more fun jumping on top of it and destroying it. I think he was getting ready for the Colts game on Sunday. Here is Zachary's masterpiece.

    You can see it was pretty tall. At least a snowman's head taller than Zachary.


    Friday, December 07, 2007

    Day 17 ~ John 17

    SCRIPTURE ~ John 17
    KEY VERSE ~ John 17:20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

    OBSERVATION ~ Any guesses where I sense Jesus going with this last part of chapter 17? This chapter is broken up into 3 parts - - 1. He prays for Himself, 2. He prays for the disciples, 3. He prays for the future believers (you and I).

    The time has come for the capture and the pains of death are fast approaching. Can you picture Jesus walking along the path to the garden of Gethsemane and He stops and stoops over at the Mount of Olives (Luke 22) and begins to talk and ultimately begins to pray. His heart and spirit are heavy and torn. The time has come.

    APPLICATION ~ Jesus utters this as part of His prayer. Note how He prayed for Himself, the disciples, then us. There is a specific progression. His prayer is for the future church to be ONE unified body of believers who seek to lead others to know, trust and worship Jesus as Lord, Savior, Forgiver, Leader. . . What is God calling me to do as part of the Kingdom to help people find the church (ours and the universal) are ONE? How can I be part of the ONENESS and not be 'a part' of the oneness?

    For my part, God calls me to lead myself, my family, His church, and those who are not yet in the church. Somehow it is to find a commonality among these 4 branches and not separate and segregate, but to be inclusive. I need to keep my eyes, ears, heart, soul, mind and body ready to call on the love of Jesus so others accept and embrace the call of Christ, to love Him and be transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    PRAYER ~ Father, there are times when it is easier to pull back from Your call. After all, Your call is not the easy road, it is often times the road less traveled, yet, that is where You call me today. Help me to not be so blind and resistant, but to be open to THE call . . . Lead me, make Your plans known and help me to follow, and follow and follow . . . YOU! Amen

    Thursday, December 06, 2007

    Random Thoughts

    SCHOOL DAZE
    What's this with late school days and canceled classes; and even canceled church?
    Joshua and Zachary had fun in the snow. Zachary said he drew (with his body) a picture of the nativity, with Mary, Joseph, Jesus and a star. I would liked to have seen this.

    The side roads were pretty slick last night. Stay safe and stay warm.

    CHRISTMAS
    Christmas can now officially begin. It has snowed.
    I have not been a Scrooge. Our tree is up and lights are on, ornaments go on tonight.

    BULLETINS
    We will have new bulletins for next year. They will be 11x17. Much larger with virtually no inserts. This cuts down on paper and office time. They will look cool.

    CHRISTMAS EVE
    I am hoping for a huge, huge turnout on Christmas Eve. This is our time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but more than that, it is a great, great opportunity to meet people who are seeking Jesus, to love them and welcome them. Let's not miss this opportunity. be ready to greet, to embrace to welcome . . . to celebrate.

    My message will be fun and exciting and will call for a response. And the answer to the question I ask may surprise you.

    Day 16 - John 16

    SCRIPTURE ~ John 16
    KEY VERSE ~ John 16:7 "But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you."

    OBSERVATION ~ Jesus is telling the disciples He is leaving. In other words, He will be killed, but the disciples still don't fully understand. Then again, if I was in their shoes, I'm not sure I would have gotten it either. There were moments when the disciples were right with Jesus, and other times when He made no sense. Jesus would talk at levels that they just didn't get, and sometimes maybe they just didn't want to get it. Aren't we that way? Sometimes, we hear the truth, but we just don't want to get it, because it causes us to become too vulnerable, too open to learning something about ourselves that can lead to great transformation, but transformation is always painful . . . and we avoid pain, at least as much as we can.

    APPLICATION ~ Why would Jesus have to go away? What good would that bring to a world which is hurting and pained? His leaving would bring the Holy Spirit! If Jesus didn't leave, we would not have the Spirit of God with us. The Spirit was sent by Jesus for us. He leads us in so many ways, especially to help us know who Jesus is. As 100% man and 100% God, Jesus could not be everywhere at the same time, however, the Holy Spirit is able to be with you and me 24/7. Now that is something Jesus could not do. But through the ministry of the Holy Spirit we experience the Father, Son and Spirit. Maybe this helps us understand a little more why the Trinity is so important.

    PRAYER ~ Father, there are so many moments when I walk the path alone, trying to accomplish Your work on my own powers. Prompt me, remind me that You have joyfully sent Your Spirit to be with me every second of every day. Thank you, Jesus for Your love and Your life, because of You I have hope. . . and because of You, I have the Spirit who sustains me and teaches me, and leads me to know You and the Father. Amen

    Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    Day 15- John 15

    SCRIPTURE ~ John 15
    KEY VERSE ~ John 15:7 ~ If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”

    OBSERVATION ~ The first 17 verses of John 15 are some of my favorite verses. It is the constant reminder for me to follow the leading of God. If I don't, I run the risk of being thrown into the trash as something which is useless. The call of God is to a life of faith which leads to obedience and ultimately as we journey down the road of faith, obedience, listening, learning - - we become fruitful. Even during the times of pruning, which is painful, we experience new growth, which leads to new fruit and more fruit and much fruit.

    APPLICATION ~ In verse 7, Jesus said, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you." It's pretty straightforward, ask whatever you want and it will be given to you. Nothing too difficult to that part of it, but, but . . . there is a huge condition to this. We must remain in Jesus. We must be faithful which means we are intimately connected to Jesus, doing what He bids us to do. And when we are in Jesus, we are being faithful and ultimately fruitful.

    PRAYER ~ Precious Lord, there is so much to ask You for, but what I need and want is to abide in You, and to have the comfort of Your abiding in me. Help me to let go of my control and embrace You. Lord,
    • make FBC a place of faithfulness.
    • help us to listen to Your calling in our lives.
    • Help us to be passionate, devoted followers . . . making a difference for You.
    • Let us be fruitful risk-takers . . . following Your call.

    Amen.

    Tuesday, December 04, 2007

    I WAS SOOOO MAD!!!!!!

    The Baltimore Ravens were the team to beat the New England Patriots. Yet, they lost, and honestly speaking they deserved to lose and should not win again forever!

    There I said it and could not believe how that team gave away a game. It could have turned their season around, but their coaches quit last night. I was embarrassed for the players, because they played their hearts out, and the coaches lost the game for them. Especially the defensive coach, Rex Ryan, son of Buddy Ryan, the great Bears defensive coach.

    If you did not see the game, New England who is now 12-0, was losing, and all Baltimore needed was a couple of first downs. And on 3 consecutive series they did not make a first down, their play calling became ultra conservative. That is the first mistake. Why become conservative at this point in the game? You end up playing not to lose, instead of playing to win. New England knows how to win, Baltimore does not. Big difference psychologically.

    Secondly, the defense only rushed 3 men at the quarterback, Tom Brady. WHY?!? WHY?!? WHY?!? Debbie will tell you I was yelling at the TV. Every time they sent 4-5 men at Brady, they put pressure on him, and he made poor throws. Every time they rushed 3 and gave him time, they gained significant yards. The players lost their composure, which is a coaching issue. The players committed 2 obvious penalties in key situations, which gave new life to New England. Technically New England did not convert three 4th down plays, but due to 2 penalties and the most lame time out by the defensive coach, New England won.

    I am not a fan of Bill Belichik. He's arrogant, as is the whole team, and they will most likely beat the Colts in the playoffs, and anyone who is afraid of them. But then again, they have won the Super Bowl in 2002, 2004 and 2005. So, they can be a little arrogant and strut their stuff.


    A final lesson for me is that when you back down, when you do not attack and follow what is working, you will most likely lose. The coaches did not coach well. As the leader at our church, it is my job to coach well. To look for us to make the big plays, to have victories, to motivate and to help us claim the victories our Head Coach, Jesus, calls us to accomplish.

    Okay, I feel much better now after ranting!

    Day 14 ~ John 14

    SCRIPTURE ~ John 14
    KEY VERSE ~ John 14:11Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.

    OBSERVATION ~ John 14:1-6 is often stated as a passage of comfort at many funerals. We find comfort in the words of Jesus, letting us know there is a place for us in heaven, a place with our name written on it. He also gives us the words which we cannot ignore, try as some may, He is 'the way and the truth and the life, nobody comes to the Father except through Him.' Jesus is the only way to eternal life. Zachary was asking about that last night, about only Christians being in heaven.

    Jesus offers us the ministry of the Holy Spirit, it is the way in which God remains with us through all of life. The Spirit does much for us, in giving us a teacher, counselor, comforter, peace, and more.

    The passage that jumped out at me is what Jesus said to Philip, as Philip seemed a little confused about the language of Father and Son, Jesus said, "11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves."

    Jesus is giving two options here. We often miss what Jesus said to Philip and us, and ultimately those who don't know Jesus. The gist of it is this - 'either believe in me, that is, trust my words, trust I am who I say I am . . . but if you cannot believe this way, then at least allow your belief to begin with the miracles Jesus has performed. Look at the evidence, and tell me I am not true . . . go ahead, I dare you.'

    APPLICATION ~ What strikes me about this passage is the opportunity to lead people to Jesus in new ways. We usually assume there is one way to evangelize . . . stand on the corner and shout out "REPENT, BELIEVE IN JESUS!" Or we must go door to door. Yet, Jesus tells us not only should we help people believe in Him, but we can help them to see that He is the real Messiah because of the miracles performed in the Bible and those which we see in life. Part of the miracle is what we can offer others. We take it for granted that life is just to flow normally and naturally. That is our belief, but I never heard God say, believe in me and you will never have another problem in life again. Instead, we have this God we can turn to at all times, a God who is always present with us, a God who desires more than anything to see us having a joy-filled, peace-filled, love-filled life because of who He is . . . and we make a difference in the world because of Him. Hence, people experience Jesus because of who we are and they see the evidence of Jesus first hand in me and you.

    PRAYER ~ Father, You have sent Your Son for us, to believe in and to follow through His miracles and through His words. Help our unbelief, help us in our times of mistrust and distrust, help us to experience You and then lead others to know You because they see You in us. And all this comes because we believe in You and then You give the Holy Spirit to us. Amen.

    Monday, December 03, 2007

    Movers Anyone!?

    Great afternoon today!!

    Damon, Marcus B., Tim W., Jim N., David H., Brian D. and myself helped a family move their belongings off a 16 foot truck, including the heaviest doll house you have ever seen.

    The family recently moved to Alexandria from Alaska and needed help getting stuff into their home and storage sheds. For 2 hours we braved the cold and wind and got the job done.

    Great job, guys. Jim and Rosebell (the couple and their four children) were very appreciative. They came to church last week and this week. Stop by and say hello to them.

    It was a great way to make Christ's love real. It was a grace gift and I was proud to be part of it.

    Day 13 ~ John 13

    SCRIPTURE ~ John 13
    KEY VERSE ~ John 13:14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

    OBSERVATION ~ John goes right from the Jews unbelief and desire to kill Jesus and Lazarus in chapter 12 to the Passover and foot washing. It was an expectation that when you went into someones home they would give you something to wash your hands or your feet; or if they were wealthy a servant would wash your feet. Here Jesus is acting as the servant, doing what nobody would ever expect the Messiah to do, get on His knees and wash the feet of another person. We should be doing that for Him, not He for us. Yet that is the example He sets before us. Along with it is the command 'to do as He has done.' That command is one of the cornerstones of our faith, yet we often don't get it. Along with it is another command from this passage 'love one another.' Sometimes it is not easy to love others. Let's not be pious, let's admit the difficulty and move to finding the remedy, which of course is always Jesus.

    APPLICATION ~ So, how do we / I apply what Jesus commands? What was His example, other than to go into the world and love the unlovable, to challenge the status quo, to seek to be a difference maker. He was GOD! He had the power and ability to do anything He wanted, all resources were at His disposal, yet He did not act 'willy-nilly' about anything He did. Jesus strategized His moves. He loved, He served, He cared. And He did it to those who were the rejects of society. Those were the ones who knew they needed something more. After all, the Pharisees had the law and their arrogance, so they felt they didn't need anything else. God's call is to go into the world and love others, to do as He did, give your love to someone who needs and wants to be loved. Break down the walls and barriers which separate us.

    Prayer ~ Lord, it is not easy to love. Sometimes we want to be loved and be the recipients of the gifts. But for me to grow, I need to extend myself into the world and give away Your love which You continually pour into my heart. Remove any arrogance, remove moments where trust decreases and help me to rely on Your grace and love to lead me. Amen.