LET THE CHURCH BE THE CHURCH!    

13 02 2018

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On this Valentine’s Day, I want to write a “Love Note” to the Church! The Greek word for “church” is ekklesia, which means a called out assembly.  The church consists of all born again believers in Jesus Christ. It always refers to people, and not to a building.  The church exists in several levels.  At one level is the universal church, which includes everyone worldwide who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Local churches are a different level, including people who regularly commit to meet together. Denominations are an intermediate level, containing groups of congregations that work more closely together because of shared history and beliefs.  The Lighthouse Church is a part of The Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination.

Local congregations sometimes include unbelievers —attendees who have not yet accepted Jesus as Savior, still nevertheless meet regularly with other believers. Local congregations may also include people who consider themselves to be Christians, but may not be. Both Scripture and experience shows that some of these will later admit that they were not really Christians at all.

Why do we need the church?   Many people claim to believe in Jesus Christ but do not want to attend any of his churches. The New Testament shows that the normal pattern is for believers is to meet together on a regular basis (Hebrews 10:25).  Paul repeatedly exhorts Christians to do different things to “one another” (Romans 12:10; 15:7; 1 Corinthians 12:25; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:32; Philippians 2:3; Colossians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:13). It is difficult for people to obey these commands if they do not have a consistent relationship with other believers.

A local congregation can give us a sense of belonging, of being involved in a family. It can give us spiritual safety, so that we are not blown around by strange ideas. A congregation can give us friendship, fellowship and encouragement. It can teach us things we would never learn on our own. A congregation can help train our children, help us work together for more effective ministry and give us opportunities to serve that help us grow in ways we did not expect. In general, the value that we get out of a local congregation is in proportion to the amount of involvement we give to it.

But perhaps the most important reason for each believer to participate in a local congregation is that people need each other. God has given different abilities to different believers, and he wants us to work together “for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). If only part of the work force shows up, it is no surprise that the congregation is not able to do as much as we would like, or to be as healthy as we would like. Unfortunately, some people find it easier to criticize than to help.

Our time, our abilities, our resources are needed to fulfill the work and mission of the church. The commitment of mission-focused people is essential in order for the church to effectively reflect Jesus and his love to the world. Jesus said to pray for laborers (Matthew 9:38). He wants each of us to be working, not sitting on the sidelines.  Individuals who try to be Christian without the church fail to use their strengths to help the people the Bible says we should be helping. The church is a mutual-aid society, and we help each other, knowing that the day may come (and in fact is already here) that we will need to be helped.

I have been called to be the Pastor of the Lighthouse Church for such a time as this.  In many ways- this will be the body that sets the foundation for what will happen in the years to come.  Let us stay true to the call and committed to the Lord’s purpose for us.  Let us not get in the way but help prepare the way for Jesus! Let us never make the ministry about building and budgets but continue to see it as the home base that will launch a thousand ships that will prayerfully contain many more who will call Jesus their Lord and Savior.  We’ve come so far but yet in so many ways, we have only just begun- but oh what an adventure it has been and will still be!  Fasten your seatbelts- the tide is high and the ride has come! I continue to humbly pray for God to do a “Rock Pile Revival” in Cape May County! Jesus said that upon this “Rock” he would build his church and the gates of hell would not stand against it. It is time to not just go to church but be the church! Let’s do it and be it together!   





IN THIS CORNER: MY SERVANT JOB! 

7 02 2018

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As I write this, I have no idea who won the Super Bowl. As I write this, I am very nervous about the game and I am not even playing. As I write these words, of this much I do know and that no matter what the Philadelphia Eagles do tonight, there is still an eternal prize waiting for all of us who trust in Jesus. There is a trophy waiting that nothing on earth may trash and no amount of rust can ruin. I surely hope we win but there is still no way we can lose. God has been gracious when we deserved nothing good.

 Which leads me to today’s question. When bad things happen, why more often than not do they seem to happen to positive people? Why? We are studying the Book of Job on weekends at the Lighthouse Church and after the many horrible events that occur in the first two chapters, Job and his wife either must find the strength to pick up the pieces or else they will fall to pieces. It makes me wonder if what happened to Job had happened to me, what would my response be? Would I still be worshiping God today?

 Job responds to adversity with adoration and it is no where near just surface worship! After literally being hammered by the hounds of hell, Job doesn’t fall in defeat or even despair, but in utter dependence upon God! The enemy wasted no time in attacking Job and he went after him relentlessly. When will mankind ever learn that when it comes to attempting to negotiate with the prince of darkness, there is no level playing field at all? Hell never plays by the rules and always proceeds to scheme, claw and cheat its way into paralyzing people into an utter state of dominance. Kick a man when he’s down, you bet! If it means having to lie right to our face with an air of sickening sweet sincerity then what is the problem? We wrestle not against flesh and blood and if we don’t stand with the King of kings and Lord of lords then we don’t stand any chance of standing at all.

 Job becomes a human “Ground Zero!” The devil throws everything at Job including the kitchen sink. Job’s symptoms include inflamed ulcerous sores, persistent itching, degenerative changes in facial skin, loss of appetite, anxiety and depression, sores that don’t quit, worms forming, breathing difficulty, darkening eyelids, foul breath, weight loss, pain, high fever with chills and diarrhea. It appears that Job experienced every side effect that any television commercial might list when pushing it latest miracle drug. The real miracle here is that what might have folded most of humanity only made Job more determined to cling to God! 

 The enemy will try to recruit even so called allies to discourage those who are trying to obey God. Mrs. Job couldn’t muster much more than just encouraging her hubby to curse God and die! Now before we are too hard on her, she was reeling too. She had lost ten children. She too suffered great loss of possessions. She lost the position of being the “First Lady” to the godliest of men. She lost her companion and best friend.

 I know how she felt. These last few years I have had to miss many family major events because of nonstop physical issues. It wasn’t bad enough that I had to battle my body being rebellious; it all forced me into being alone. The last three times that I have been hospitalized, I was in isolation. It was adding insult to injury. It caused anxiety, depression and emotional strain. Yet in it all and through it all, I knew God was there. I may have yelled at him and vented my frustration at a pretty rapid fire pace, but I sensed that God had not abandoned me. It was only the Lord that kept me from giving up. It was only the Lord that saved me from looking for a rubber room to bash my head into the wall forever.   

 I have been meditating upon the question that Job asks his wife in chapter 2. “Shall we accept only good from God, and not trouble?” Doesn’t God have the total right and freedom to be God? “In all this, Job did not sin with his lips.”  The Hebrew words for worship are literally, “to kiss the Lord.” In everything that happened to Job he never went kissing on anyone other than his God. Job was faithful to his vows. Job was committed to his faith.

 All lives are full of trials and I hate to be a bearer of bad news, but we need to remember there are always more hardships to come. Don’t be surprised! And since none of us are commuting back and forth from Heaven daily, we must come to grips that we are residents of a fallen world, and that means that even others who truly love us still might give us lousy counsel! Don’t be fooled! And if our Lord Jesus himself had to deal with the pitfalls of planet Earth, what makes us assume that we might get off free? Don’t be naive!

 How can you properly prepare yourself for the trials and tribulations that will come into your life? How can you seek out the Lord and better be ready when all hell breaks loose? How can you hold on when your heart goes numb? How can you make things add up when the numbers don’t make sense? Can you win when you lose? Can you endure the cross knowing that the promise of resurrection is still on the table? Will you believe Jesus when he promises that he will never leave you or forsake you? Consider these questions carefully! Your answers will determine whether you are looking for a quick fix or a permanent rescue! God redeems, rescues and restores all those who trust in him. Job put everything he had into that present truth and it saved his future possibilities. I’m in Job’s corner! How about you? 

 





ROCK PILE REVIVAL

29 01 2018

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This year at The Lighthouse Church, I have challenged everyone within the sound of my voice to choose a word for 2018. It is a word that comes from the Lord, defines where you may be in life right now and looks forward to what you hope to become in the New Year. I have also instructed everyone to grab a rock and proceed to paint their word on this living stone to be placed at the foot of the Cross in front of our building. I long for this to become a place of prayer, a hill of hope and true holy ground as we seek for the Lord to move in new and exciting ways within our midst here in Cape May County.

In the Bible, when the saints would build altars to God, they wouldn’t be anything elaborate, but the altars would simply be rocks of remembrance piled at a certain point where one could go and be with the Lord. More often than not, our places of worship can actually become a distraction when there is so much to see, it causes visual overload and causes one to miss hearing God because there is just too much to see. Did you know the word “cathedral” actually talks more about being a “chair of listening,” rather than it does about creating an edifice of silver and gold? Maybe that’s why it is better to meet the Lord in simplicity rather than trying to dress it up with too many manmade decorations!

As I was preparing the message for this past weekend when we would begin to lay our “Rocks” at the foot of the cross, I discovered some history about an old rock altar in the woods.  I was told men would journey to this secluded place and tarry around this pile of rocks long into the night as they sought the Lord for a move of God.  When the response to their prayers came, it brought waves of revival into the community.  Unfortunately that old practice of building a rock of revival was lost over the decades; that is lost until now!

Here is the story of this old rock pile altar that laid the foundation for a revival in the town of Seneca, South Carolina. It was December 7, 1941 and Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor.  Our nation lost 2,403 Americans in a devastating blow to our Pacific fleet.  The following day, President Franklin Roosevelt addressed the nation calling the assault “a day which will live in infamy.” The attack thrust America into a global conflict that would last four long years and cost our nation over 400,000 lives.  America was at war and draft notices began arriving in mail boxes of homes across America.

I can only imagine that gut-sinking feeling a mother must have felt when she found such a notice amongst her mail addressed to her son. “Notice to report immediately for induction.” Yes, they knew the cause to be just and believed that something must be done; but this was her boy. No matter how honorable the fight, it could not remove that crushing anxiety that precedes a request for such a sacrifice.

This was the reality families were facing here in Seneca, South Carolina on what was known as the Mill Hill.   The hill was a tight-knit community that found it’s commonality around the cotton mill they worked and the church they attended. Together these families were sending their boys off to war. These mothers and fathers turned to the only place they could – to God.

They wanted a place of solitude where they could come and bear their souls out before the Lord. They needed a place where they could cover their boys in prayer as they were away. They found that place outside the village, past a cemetery, and down in a ravine next to a creek.  There they would erect a rock altar to the Lord where anyone could come and pray.

It was a daily occurrence for these god-fearing men to rise early in the morning, carrying a burden for their far-away son.  After work, they would head off to the woods. Along the way they would pick up a rock that seemed as if it was the size of their burden. They would pick it up and carry it to the pile and pray for hours into the night.  These people would get on their knees and battle in prayer as their sons warred on a foreign field.

There is no denying the power of prayer. In the four years of America’s involvement, no lives were lost among the names written in rock on the Mill Hill.  The story continues in that those simple stones became the foundation for a revival that shook this community. But should we be that surprised? If we desire God to roll up his sleeves and show his power among us, we shouldn’t have to look that far or travel to another part of the world. Revival can always be found at an altar.  In fact, it’s the only place it can be found.  

The altar is a meeting place for God and man.  It is sacred a place where we come to lay down our lives as a living sacrifice before the Lord and let him fill us with power from on high. We are creating just such a sacred place on the holy ground where our rocks are piled at the foot of the Cross. What if this year, because we prayed and sought the Lord, addictions in our County are foiled even before they get a chance to begin? What if we labored on our knees against the darkness in such a manner that nobody could commit suicide in our neighborhoods, children wouldn’t have to battle anxiety, and marriages would be repaired and broken lives rescued and redeemed? 

I am praying that the rocks cause a revival right here in Cape May County. Bring your stones and let the Lord roll our fears away. Place them right at the foot of the Cross. Come here to seek the Lord any time day or night. God is going to make this holy ground. The Lord is waiting and we are wanting! What a perfect combination for a miracle! My rock says, “Restore.” What is your word? Your word plus God’s word will make His Story real right here! We have the Lord’s word on it! Now it is time for the Lord to rock this County like never before! I believe. Do you?





RESTORED IN ECUADOR…

29 01 2018

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 Miraculously I returned to the Mission Field a few weeks ago by leading an amazing group of 18 people from The Lighthouse Church, a team consisting of a variety of individuals of all ages, to Quito Ecuador. To say I was quite anxious about leaving the Country for the first time in over four years is putting it mildly. Let’s just say that all through Christmas, I had one eye on the calendar knowing that the departure date was coming up fast! As many of you know, I have battled through many physical issues since 2006 that have played havoc with my psyche rendering me overly cautious when it comes to wandering any significant distance beyond my own front door. But on January 5th, I went to Philly, got on a plane and before you knew it, I was back in South America. The minute we landed, I knew God had directed my path to this very destination. I was totally sure that He had written my name upon the adventure that I was about to embark upon.

 I had been on a Missions Trip with every one of my kids and this one was to be shared with my youngest son, Joel. We would share a room and much more than that; we would experience the Holy Spirit moving amidst us together. I didn’t want to miss this and I battled through all the excuses to stay home to make this happen. Let’s just say we made some memories that I know will last a lifetime. When we got to the House in Quito there was no available drinking water, but plenty of the icy cold H2O to shower by. That string of cold showers would last the entire week. We would be given 38 seconds of light while in the bathroom. If you weren’t done with your business within this amount of time, you were in the dark. We were served meals with the rule that if you took it, you ate it. We shared the delight of Mora Jelly and Mora Ice Cream and Mora Chewing Gum. We took part in the delicacy of eating “cuy” which is a nice way of saying guinea pig. I had it back in the 90’s and let’s just say I like it no better today than I did then.

 My word for 2018 is “Restore” and almost every day God was confirming that reality to my heart. On Day One in Otavalo, we returned to the very same Church in “Agato” that I had been to with my Nebraska Group back in the 1990’s. The wide array of emotions that I felt can not be properly put in words, only that I could hardly believe I was back at a place with the Quechan People that I truly loved. On Monday, it was the actual anniversary of the martyrdom of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint and the three other Missionaries who gave their life in trying to reach the Waorani Tribe on Palm Beach back in 1956. During the day I worked within the shadow of HCJB Radio which broadcast the Memorial Service for the Missionaries. In the evening, we went to the home of a Missionary Couple whose Grandparents had actually been in Ecuador in 1956 when the whole incident happened. Their Parents had actually known the Elliot and the Saint Families. What a true gift to talk to them and take in their stories on the remembrance of the very day it all happened.

 All during the week I was doing some painting, filling in the stencils of a mural that would decorate the entire wall of the stadium where Ecuador’s fourth best Soccer Team played their home games. It was also a blast from my past when I once spent an entire summer doing the very same thing within the Mountain Lakes, New Jersey School System. I even spent a day doing some major gardening–and I hate gardening! Maybe it is one of the reasons that I don’t have a garden!

 And the God happenings kept on coming as the day before we were to leave, I busted my glasses. I wear bifocals and it has been about five years since my last major eye exam. I was hoping to go before I went to Ecuador, but Christmas came and it never happened. I was sitting on the ground and when I asked John Clemons to help me up, I fell awkwardly back onto a guy named Glenn and in the process had my glasses break. I panicked right away. I can’t see without my glasses and I wondered what I was going to do.

 No sooner had I began to worry, one of the soccer players came right to me and asked me to go with him. He led me to his parent’s Shop about a quarter mile away. His Dad was an Optometrist. His Mom put the glasses together. The funny thing was that as soon as I went into the shop, I proceeded to bump my head pretty good on their low ceiling and blood was streaming down my forehead. While Dad worked on my eyes, Mom was cleaning the wound on my noggin. Not only did I get a full eye exam, I was presented with a brand new pair of bifocals within 24 hours and if I told you what it cost, you would all want to move to Ecuador. Needless to say, even my eyesight was restored on this journey as I came home literally with restored vision. I saw clearer on my way home than I did on my way there. Isn’t it just like Lord to do something unique like that?

 I loved my time in Quito. I savored my experience with my Son. I bonded so well with my Teammates. I reconnected with my Lord in a manner that I had not done so in quite a while. I returned renewed. I cherished the opportunity and took nothing for granted. As a matter of fact, my first week back in the States was so crazy; I was tempted to go back to Quito about every other minute. While I know I belong in Jersey, my adventure to the center of the world surely hit me in the middle of my heart. The Lord showed me that my best days are not behind me. I am still able to follow wherever the Lord leads me. My hope was restored as my horizon was stretched. Who knows where God will take me from here? This much I will say. I am nowhere near retiring. I am just so excited about returning to the lineup. So my prayer is simply this. “Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play, today! Look at me; I can be- faithful and committed in whatever position the Lord decides to put me!” 





RETURNING TO THE RIGHT SHEPHERD

15 01 2018

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In the Book of Joel 2:20, the second half of the verse going into verse 21 reads, “Surely God has done great things! Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things!” These words were written to the Israelites as they were coming back to the faith they had abandoned. The Hebrews had wandered from their God, choosing to try to replace Him with worldly pursuits and temporary pleasures. They found no lasting satisfaction; as a matter of fact they ended up losing much more than they had ever gained. But now they were returning to the source of their very being. If there is a word that defines their behavior; it would be repentance.

 In the midst of our chaos, God brings us a promise of comfort as a response to our repentance. Repentance is a word that I believe is misunderstood in the modern day. It literally refers to an individual reversing their course.  They were walking away from God and now they are turning in the opposite direction to go after him. It makes room for God’s amazing grace to redecorate a heart. Old habits are replaced by a new behavior that reflects God’s holiness. Prior labels are replaced by signs that reflect the new ownership of Heaven upon what was once monopolized by the things of earth.

 Real repentance happens when you are genuinely sorry for what you used to keep a secret! You no longer try to hide what you know must be addressed. You are no longer sweeping under the rug what must be totally removed. You allow God to go into your closet and deal with every one of those ugly skeletons. Your faith in God leads to you forsaking your old ways. You humbly surrender your stubborn and selfish ways so that you can freely be available to serve in God’s will. Repentance is so much more than just feeling guilty. It opens the door for you to be godly! There can be no saving faith without sacrificial repentance. There can be no real rescue without admitting that you are drowning.

 God’s holiness is not on display to render us hopeless. God’s goodness is our only hope to open our eyes to the truth that only within his hands will we ever really discover the path to find our way home! It is only by our sudden and sincere return to the Lord that we can receive and reap his promise that he will miraculously provide more life from fewer moments than we could ever hope to muster or manufacture. God can do more in one day surrendered to him than we could ever hope to accomplish in a lifetime.

 The Prophet Joel also proclaims this promise for those not afraid to admit that they can’t do much living without a commitment to the author of life. In Joel 2 we read that God says that he will make up for the lost years of the great locust devastations. He will heal us from the memory of both the savage locusts and those that were deadly. This includes the fierce locusts and the locusts of doom. The Lord will repair, redeem and renew our land from the damage of all those great locust invasions. If we trust the Lord, we will once again eat our fill of good food. Our mouths will stop the grumbling and once again shout out praises of gratitude. Never again will we be shamed or humiliated. Never again will we be alone and unloved.

Religion has always been about us trying to impress God with our outside actions. Christianity has always been about us allowing God to do a transforming work on the inside of our dying hearts. Religion has a way of proving us inadequate. A relationship with Jesus has a way of showcasing God’s amazing grace. There is nothing embarrassing about coming clean with the Lord. We can be secure that in the Lord’s care, we will never have to worry about our heart’s being hung out to dry again.

 When I was 8 years old I went on an Altar Boy’s Trip with my Church from North Jersey. We went as a group to Point Pleasant. It was a different time because we were left loose to roam with very little supervision. I remember that on this day I actually jumped off a diving board for the first time. It was a really good day until my moment of disaster. Father Mark told us that we had to be back at the Bus by 7PM. I was terrified of him. I made the decision to not be late at the expense of me wetting my pants. I confided in the Priest what I had done with the hope of receiving mercy. What I got was total humiliation. He announced to the entire bus what I had done and proceeded to tell me to move away from him because I stunk. Needless to say, I felt like a hopeless Loser in this man’s sight. And I never again felt good enough to be loved by God.

 Who is your Shepherd today? I have decided to follow Jesus and only in him can I delight in the redeemed miraculous provisions that God has promised a plague filled person like me. What the locusts have attempted to annihilate, the Lord has powerfully renewed to animate and because of his intervention, he has opened the door to some exciting brand new adventures. This time I won’t be shamed. This time I will be saved. This time I won’t be rejected. This time I will be respected. This time I won’t be left alone. This time I will be loved.  It does matter how you walk and where you walk and who you choose to walk with. Rather than wandering aimlessly in a world of charades and smoke and mirrors, why not get back to where you once belonged. It’s a New Year and it’s time for some new moves. Sheep are vulnerable to begin with. In the wrong hands, they are lamb chops. I don’t want to be basted. I am tired of my days being wasted. I desire to humbly be part of God’s flock. And when we come to Jesus, we will never be turned away!





THE WORD FOR 2018

10 01 2018

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 For the past several years, because of a practice that I first picked up on from my daughter Abbie, I have chosen one specific Word to act as identifying my primary goal and hope for the New Year. In 2016, my word was Pray piggybacking on the powerful Movie, “War Room.” Last year, it was Contentment because I too wanted to learn like the Apostle Paul just how to be content no matter what the circumstances. This year it is Restore. I have been beseeching and begging the Lord for quite a while to help me find my way back out of the irritating fog caused by constant physical ailments and setbacks, paralyzing anxiety and fits of discouragement and depression.

 I have nothing to hide. I love the Lord, my wife and kids and grandkids, my call as a Pastor with all of my heart and I try to live life to its fullest extent. But I have had many obstacles in my path the last dozen years that have done its darndest to puncture my balloon of dreams! The enemy has been busy planting mine fields in my green pastures of grandeur. Life is good and certainly a gift but it isn’t easy!  It is much too safe to buy into the lie that our best days are behind us. I refuse to receive this as my mandate from Heaven. Habits are much too accommodating to form and even more difficult to break. I believe that we consciously need to retrain our brain so our minds can be renewed to think the way the Lord would want us to and never surrender to a platform of defeat.

 So I have picked the word, Restore! Restore the grounds the locusts have tried to destroy! Restore to me the pure joy of my salvation! Restore to me the mind that will trust and obey no matter what mountains might be standing in the way. Restore to me the energy to be on the offensive and not just get stuck playing daily in a prevent defense mode. Restore the faith that believes God loves me and is right by my side no matter where the adventure may take me. Restore the confidence, courage and consistency that I once knew as a devoted disciple of my Savior.

 Restoring old houses or vintage items is certainly popular these days in our culture. The whole concept of taking something old and making it look new again. I want God to overhaul the broken parts and pieces of my life and bring them back to their original classic glory. Several years ago I watched Paul Brant restore a 1972 Chevy Nova, which happens to be my all time favorite car, piece by piece. He did it as a labor of his love for that car. When Paul was done with all of his efforts; that Nova looked like it had just rolled off the assembly line in pristine condition. I want Jesus to do the same in me. Rescue me from the junk yard. Redeem me out of the pits of despair. Restore me to the place that God always intended me to be. Make me believe now what I was so sure of then.

 I am not going to wait very long to put this word into practice. This Friday, I am leading a Missions trip with twenty other individuals from The Lighthouse Church to Ecuador. When I was younger, traveling the world came so easy to me. I couldn’t wait for the next assignment. But that has not been the case lately. Traveling is very difficult for me. Anxiety comes too easy and the yearning to stay put has kept me homebound way too many times. If I could explain it, I could conquer it on my own but I know it is beyond my own ability. So I am humbly asking the Lord to restore to me the simple trust of following him wherever and whenever he leads, even if it takes me out of Cape May County. This is a pretty big step of faith and I am determined to take it. “Restore to me the childlike dependence upon you my Lord. I choose to believe that you will look out for me so that I can just be the man you created me to be. I can’t do it without you but I want to do it with you so here we go!”

 What is your word for 2018? I’d love to hear it and have you share it with me. Perhaps you can do it as a family, a small group or even as a church! All I know it that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God and so words can be pretty powerful. The difference between Yes and No is life changing. Let the Word give you a word and when you have his word on it, you are ready to lay your life on it and a whole new story begins. It is so much better when the Author of Heaven writes our tales here on earth!  





CHRISTMAS ALL YEAR LONG…

10 01 2018
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“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17 


We need to understand that when God looks at the world and sees the selfish sin and surrounding degradation that is so prevalent, He chooses to bring us a solution to the problem. God hates sin and there can be no doubt about that. But when He sees us stuck within the sin we are in, it instills within the Lord a desire, not to destroy the person who is sinning, but to make a way in the human race so that our sin no longer will disable us and keep us spiritually paralyzed.

“God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.” We can’t be good enough until we admit that we are helpless and hopeless without him. All Religion ever does is leave us with the impossible task of trying to earn a love that is well beyond our price range! I heard a car commercial this Christmas that was singing the jingle, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Payment.” I know they were using these words within the context of automobile sales, but I took it into the light of the present state of our souls. Nobody could afford the necessary means to cover the debt that our disobedience to Heaven has put us in. I don’t care how many good deeds that a man or woman tries to do, it could never be enough to purchase even one splinter if the Tree that Jesus died upon for you and me.

Once there was a little boy who was really mean. No matter what his parents tried, he continued to be ornery and extremely defiant. Christmas was coming soon, so the little boy, in his usual selfish way, compiled his “Dear Santa” letter and gave it to his parents. It was twelve pages of gadgets and toys. When his parents saw the monstrous letter, they were outraged.

The father picked up the little boy and carried him to the living room, setting him firmly on the floor right in front of the family’s nativity scene. “I want you to sit right here and look at this scene until you remember what Christmas is all about. Then I want you to write a letter to Jesus.”  So the little boy sits there a while and then returns to his bedroom. Finding paper and pencil, he begins to write: “Dear Jesus, if you will bring me all the presents I want, I’ll be good for a whole year.” Then he thinks for a moment and tears up the paper. He starts again: “Dear Jesus, if you’ll bring me all the presents I want, I’ll be good for a whole week,” but once again he tears up the paper. The little boy quietly leaves his room and returns to the living room, looking intently at the nativity scene.

He gently reaches down and picks up the figure of Mary. Returning to his room, he places the figure in a shoebox and sets the box in the back of his closet. Then he writes another letter: “Dear Jesus, if you ever want to see your mother again.”

Let’s just say that left up to our own ingenuity- we come up quite short! Jesus is God’s gift to the world, not because our world deserves Him, but because we need Him. If you want more of less this Christmas- Make sure you do it on your own! But if you want to discover that less of you means more of Him, plug into Jesus!

At the first Christmas God entered the world in the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus came for the express purpose of saving the world, and Jesus gave the church the mission of carrying out His purpose until He would return. Through the church the entrance of Christ into the world continues.

Our church is God’s instrument for retelling the story of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If we strip away all the glitter and tradition that has attached itself to the Christmas story, what we will find is God being birthed through a human womb so that He can save humanity. Unfortunately- too many people run away from their one and only option for eternal rescue. God is not your enemy! Christmas proves that He is the only real ally we have!

A radio station reported a story about a stolen car in California. Police were staging an intense search for the vehicle and the driver, even to the point of placing announcements on local radio stations to contact the thief. On the front seat of the stolen car sat a box of crackers that, unknown to the thief, were laced with poison. The car’s owner had planned to use the crackers as rat bait.

Now the police and the owner of the car were more interested in apprehending the thief to save his life than to recover the car.

Oftentimes, when we run away from God, we feel it is to escape His punishment. But what we are actually doing is eluding His rescue. God came into this world in the Person of Jesus Christ because He wanted to rescue us from our lost condition and become the Lord of our lives.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. – Revelation 3:20

Now if you answer Jesus’ invitation He will come into your life and change you from the inside out. Jesus will be in your life, literally. Do you really believe today that God is literally in your life? If so, there are no limits to what you can accomplish in this world.