A while back, I had some friends over to watch a college football game on my new HDTV. The game featured the Ohio State Buckeyes. My friend Jeff was there and he is a big Buckeyes fan. As the game kicked off, Jeff got the best seat in the house, nearest to the TV. Several others of us were not quite as interested, so we just stood around talking and munching on chips and stuff.
A few minutes into the game, Jeff positioned himself even closer to the game, where he leaned in toward the TV so he could hear above our distracting chatter. Finally, he asked if we could talk more quietly. How rude! No. How passionate he was to see and hear the game.
You know, we say we are passionate about hearing from God, but how many of us are passionate enough to get ourselves into “position” to hear from Him? I wonder how many times we make half-hearted attempts at really seeking His will.
In Jeremiah 29:13, the LORD says. “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart”.
If I really want to hear and do His will, I must first, quiet the distractions. My main distractions seem to be my selfish agenda and my desire to please other people. I must quiet the voices in my head. That means entire surrender of my agenda, my life, my failures, my future, my whole heart.
After that, simply lean in toward the LORD. Develop that spiritual sensitivity to His voice. Surrender brings rest.
He will be true to the promise: Seek Me and you will find Me. It’s time we stop making “half-hearted “ attempts and begin surrendering our whole heart to Him!
I was at a wedding this past Saturday. One of my good friend’s oldest son was getting married. It was an outdoor wedding at a beautiful place north of Austin. Our drive to Austin on Saturday was met with rain, a lot of rain.
When we got to the Wedding that evening, the rain was pouring and there was no sign of letting up. Thankfully, there was a tent intended for the ceremony. Before the ceremony, I prayed with the groom, then found my seat with Kristi and several old friends. The rain continued. The ground was totally saturated.
It was time for the wedding to begin. The parents were seated in their respectful places. The bridesmaids were ushered into place. It was time for the bride to make her appearance.
As the music announced her arrival, we all turned back to see this beautiful young lady escorted by her dad through the rain. What I saw next was truly amazing. The clouds suddenly parted and the rain stopped! Not really, but that’s what we would have hoped for. Get rid of the storm. Right? Well, instead I saw the joyful smile of a beautiful bride excited about her wedding day. You see, a little storm could not extinguish the JOY of her wedding day. She didn’t fret. She didn’t complain. For the joy of the celebration, she endured the storm.
I saw Philippians 4:4 with my own eyes, “Rejoice in the Lord always”. Yes, rejoice...even if it rains on your wedding day!
Do you remember the story of Mary and Martha from the Bible? Jesus came to their house for a visit. While Martha was busy around the house, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened. When Martha asked Jesus to get Mary to help her out, Jesus said that Mary was doing the one thing that is necessary (Luke 10:42). What is that thing? Sitting down to listen? Does that mean then that serving is not necessary? Of course not. A closer look into the story reveals the answer.
Martha did what came naturally, she was serving. Mary was sitting down near Jesus, listening. Both are doing good things. Martha’s problem was NOT that she was serving when she should have been listening. The problem was that Martha was distracted (Luke 10:40). Jesus saw that in her serving, she was worried and bothered ( vs 41).
So here is is: Mary was listening, while Martha was distracted and worried and bothered that Mary wasn’t helping out. So what Jesus teaches us is simply: whatever we are doing, whether serving or sitting, we need to listen and not get distracted.
While you serve (or sit) or whatever you do today, do not get distracted from that fact that God is speaking and He wants us to listen.
Lord, help me to quiet the distractions and help me to listen.
On the way to school this morning, Madison said that she wished we could choose our own class at school. She likes choices. Don’t we all? But for 1st graders, the school dictates the class assignment. She has a great class with some friends from her Kindergarten last year, and her teacher is perfect for her. Still, I think she just wants choices.
Even though we’ve only had a week of school so far, I know that Madison’s class is perfect for her. How do I know? Did I select the teacher by paying off the principal? No. I did better than that. Kristi and I prayed for months that God would give Madison the perfect class for her. And Since God is in charge, we feel really good about His choice.
So I told Madison this morning, “You have the perfect class. Did you know the Bible says that God makes all things work together for good for those who love Him? Madison, do you love God?” “Yes” she said. I continued, “Then you can be confident that God works out all things for good, because He loves you and called you to great things”.
I think the answer satisfied her, but more than that, it reminded me of this truth. Whatever the situation, God is still in charge and He is at work for GOOD for me...because I do love Him. How about you?
My morning yesterday: Heard my youngest calling at 6:22 am. I had been awake since six, but I wasn’t quite ready to get out of bed. I got up anyway, got Michael downstairs and on the couch, then took our puppy out for her morning business. After giving ample time for her to do what she needed to do, I brought her back into the house to attended to my 2-year old on the couch. Within a minute, the dog had “done her business” throughout the front room and Michael was in “great need” of attention. So what do you think I did next? What would YOU have done in this moment of crisis? My next step was simple: I called for back-up. I woke up Kristi and she patiently helped me get our home back in order. “Hooray for Mommy!” is a constant refrain in our house.
Calling for Back up. Back up quarterbacks. Back up police officers. Back up “boyfriends/girlfriends”. When do we need “back up”? When we are in a bind. When we know we can’t handle things by ourselves. When we feel overwhelmed. We all need back up from time to time.
A few nights ago, I was stirred from a sound sleep to hear my almost 5-year old, Matthew, calling for me. When I went up to check on him he said, “Daddy. We have a real emergency here.” “OK son” I said, “what’s the emergency?” “I had a bad dream”. “Do you want to talk about it?” “No”, then he closed his eyes and quickly fell asleep. He simply needed “back up” for his “emergency”.
I am thankful for the many people God has placed in my life over the years to help me through difficult times. I’m sure you can think of people who have helped you in times of crisis: a friend, spouse, parent, pastor, priest, counselor, etc.
I challenge you to think of those people, then give at least one of them a call. Don’t e-mail or text. That’s too impersonal. Let them hear your voice. Tell them thank you.
My quiet time ended yesterday with the prayer, “Lord, what are You waiting on me to do?” I left it at that and went to meet a friend for coffee. This friend told me that he had been burdened from the Holy Spirit for several days to give me a message. This is a trusted friend who I know to have the gift of discernment and is in tune with God. Needless to say, the message he brought was right on target! I shared with him what I had written in my journal that morning and how God obviously gave him the answer to pass on to me. It was awesome to see God orchestrate this event.
God speaks in a lot of different ways: 1. directly to our spirit/heart/soul, 2. through other people, 3. through His Word in written form, the Bible. I know of a couple of people who say they actually heard God’s voice with their ears, but I’ve not experienced that personally. However God speaks to you or anyone else, it must always be consistent with the Bible. God will never contradict Himself.
I’ve been working hard lately on my listening skills. I want to hear what God has to say and I would guess that many of you do also. I ask questions, listen for answers, then write them down in my journal. Pretty simple, but it’s fun to look back at what God has said.
By the way, I did obey the message God sent through his messenger, and the result was incredible!
So this morning I prayed, “Lord, now what?” I ended up having a fantastic conversation with a new Christ Follower from China. She had many questions about her new found faith. How cool!
Dare you ask, “God, what are You waiting on me to do?” It’s worth it to ask the question and listen for the answer.
“Ding-Dong the witch is dead. Which old witch? The Wicked Witch. Ding-Dong the Wicked Witch is dead.”
At 4:15 this morning, this song was zig zagging through my brain. Why? My daughter, Madison is attending a Wizard of Oz Camp this week and she is trying out for a part today. She chose the “Ding-Dong” song for her vocal try out, and she sounds great. She memorized all the words in less than 24 hours (oh, to be young again). She is excited and confident. This is my first experience as a “stage mom”. Madison is the youngest of twenty or so kids who range in age from 6 to 11, so I’m somewhat confident she won’t get the coveted part of “Dorothy”. She’s realistic about it but she would still love to be “Dorothy”. If fact, she already has the dress.
So how do I prepare her for this day? I want her to be confident and courageous, but also prepared for the potential disappointment. I mean, she could get the part she wants, but there is that chance...
So here are some ways to avoid disappointment:
Avoid disappointment by not wanting anything. I believe that if you shoot for “nothing” you will hit your target (nothing) every time. Sure you won’t be disappointed, but you also rob yourself of really living.
Keep your expectations low and you won’t be disappointed. That stinks! That would be like me settling for left over pizza when there’s potential for a steak dinner at The Taste of Texas. How many people live life settling for less than the best? No passion. No adventure. No life! I don’t want that and I don’t want my daughter to settle for that either.
Go for it, with courage and confidence, and should you miss it, remember that your failures are not fatal.People who reach out for something ambitious and adventurous fail at times, but who cares? The reward is worth the risk. Failure is not the end of the world (especially at six years old).
So how did I counsel my sweet, innocent six year old? Go for it! Give it your all. Should you not get the part you want, we will still be there to cheer you on.
It would be good for all of us to remember thatfailure is not the end, it is simply the beginning of the next adventure!
Can’t wait to hear if she got “the part” and how she responds to the news.
I had so much fun teaching my oldest two children, Madison and Matthew how to body surf yesterday. We are on family vacation in Alabama. The weather is absolutely amazing. Thank you Lord for a “cool” front and low humidity.
Last night we went to a really cool local restaurant. I heard that Jimmy Buffet’s sister is the owner. Anyway, we had a two hour wait so we hung out, listened to the live band, and played in the sand. Fun times. After dinner, we had sno-cones and headed back to get ready for bed. Madison, my six year old said, “Dad, this is a very fun vacation. I like vacation because on vacation, all of the things you usually say ‘no’ to at home, you say ‘yes’ to”. Interesting perspective. It’s true. We’re staying up past nine o’clock, dancing in the sand after dark, and eating “late-night” sno-cones, We are living life on the edge!
I once read that a sabbath rest (mini-vacation) is when you do the things you WANT to do instead of the things you HAVE to do. Of course, there are SOME boundaries...there always are, but vacation is an opportunity to just let go and do things you really enjoy.
Need a vacation? God taught that we all need a weekly break from the daily grind. It’s called a Sabbath. We need a day to get off schedule and enjoy God and the life he has given us. God has given YOU permission to take a break. So do it. Go crazy. Dance in the sand after dark and get a sno-cone.
“So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest...” Hebrews 4:9-11
I got up at my usual time this morning, but it so happened that my 4 year old, Matthew got up early. Yesterday, he had gotten a stuffed monkey at the zoo and he wanted to play. He handed me a stuffed elephant and we started role playing. We traveled to see the rhinos. We were swinging on vines through the jungle. We even headed to “the bathroom area” for a pit stop. He told me there was an area where some mean and grumpy elephants lived. He said that we didn’t want to go there...but we did.
Now at the “mean elephant area” he advised that I was now one of them. Matthew fed me my lines: “Say, ’I am a grumpy elephant and I told you not to come here’”. I said my lines exactly as he had instructed. Matthew said, “O.K.” then started to move backwards. I decided to ad lib, “Could help me not to be so grumpy?”, I asked. “Yes”, He said and now I am quoting Matthew:
“There are five rules you must do to not be so grumpy: 1. hug, 2. kiss, 3. turn blue (Blue is his favorite color. I guess this would help me feel better to “be” my favorite color), 4. Turn around and sit down (be playful?), and 5. Just be nice.”
I promise, I did not coach him at all. Those were his “rules” to follow, in that order. I think these might work. So the next time I wake up grumpy or someone or something puts me into a bad mood, I am going to try these five “rules” to help me not to be so grumpy.
Will you take the “Matthew’s Rules for not being so Grumpy” challenge? It is worth a try.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just and God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
How is it that Elijah, after an incredible victory on Mount Carmel, quickly runs away like a coward when he hears that the wicked queen is after him? I mean, God had just displayed His mighty power for all to see. Literally, fire fell down from heaven. How awesome it would have been to see that. I stood on Mount Carmel several years ago and thought about this story. I looked up and imagined the sight of fire falling from the sky. How totally cool...and humbling. Check out the story in 1 Kings 18 and 19.
So Elijah sees God move in a mighty way, then immediately trouble comes to Elijah and instead of confronting the enemy, he is afraid and runs away. Interesting.
Have you ever experienced an incredible spiritual victory and soon after feel spiritually deflated? I sure have. I’ve had times of courage and coward all in the same day. What’s wrong with me? My emotions can sway from victor to victim very quickly. What was going on in Elijah’s mind? “Seriously, Lord. You just moved mightily. I prayed a crazy prayer and you came through for all to see. I have obeyed you and now, I am running for my life. What’s up with that?” I’ve prayed similar prayers before.
So The Lord rebuked Elijah for being such a baby...NOPE. The Lord Himself spoke to Elijah and put him back to work. I love that. This is so important to remember: Our enemy wants us on the shelf. He wants us to run away and believe the LIE that God cannot use us anymore. But God can and does use us even after we run and hide.
So get into the game. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Christ- Follower, God wants to use you again. If He didn’t, why would He leave you here on earth? You and I have an incredible job to do. Let’s do it. Stop believing the LIE that God is finished with you. Let’s stop feeling sorry for ourselves and get to work!
Last week, I was the KId’s Camp Pastor for Houston’s First Baptist Church. My first ever Camp Pastor role was 1991 with Second Baptist, Houston. I guess I continued to be the Camp Pastor for the next ten years or so. Don’t feel sorry for me. For those of you who worked along side of me know how much I LOVED it! Camp was always an exciting highlight of my years as Children’s Pastor. But it had been a while since I had played the part, so I was a little nervous about speaking primarily to pre-teens again.
I put on my Facebook status that I was headed to Kid’s Camp for the first time in many years and I received encouragement from a couple of dozen former workers and campers. I even received a comment from one of my first campers who is now30 years old. Yikes!
At camp, I was watching some of the kids playing on the zip line and I realized that in a few short years, my daughter could be at this camp, or one just like it. And so, I thought... I am to speak six times over four days. I am the primary source of teaching for these children. I prayed, “Lord, what do You want these kids to hear?” God spoke, “What would you want your daughter to hear?” O.K. I get it!
Each time I spoke over the next four days, I thought of my little girl. What would I want her to hear? I wouldn’t want someone to feed my little girl the ever popular “Jesus Lite”. I would want her to hear the truth: Jesus is the Way to experience real life, now and in Heaven. The Bible has the answers for how to live this amazing, joyful life He has planned for us. He requires our whole heart in return. No half-hearted commitment. A real decision to follow Jesus.
So that’s what I taught these kids.
Camp was amazing. Many kids came to Christ and many others made firm commitments to follow Christ with an undivided heart. Can’t wait for my daughter to experience Kid’s Camp.
Thank you Pastor Gregg, Cindy Pitts and the HFBC family for trusting me with this task. I had a blast!
I spent the last few days out of town with my family. Each morning I would get up early and sit on the deck outside the hotel lobby. On Friday morning, I just sat quietly in the rocking chair and enjoyed the sunrise, the chirping birds, and celebrated the glory of God’s creation. I got a little philosophical (I won’t bore you with those details) and God rekindled in me the wonder of His creation. Yes, God is Holy and Loving and Sovereign, but He is also extremely Creative!
I rested my mind on Psalm 8 and prayed along with King David, “O Lord, Our Lord, How majestic is Your Name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that you take care of him?” (Psalm 8:1,3-4). Your creativity is without peer!
On Saturday morning: same spot; same beauty, peace and rest as the previous day.
On Sunday morning, I woke up a little earlier than usual, got some coffee and headed out to my spot. As I exited to the lobby doors leading to the deck, the place was covered with garbage. Beer cans. Coke cans. Half full jars of salsa. Empty chip bags. What a total mess! I wondered what kind of person would trash up such a beautiful place. What a contrast from the first two mornings.
I thought of how God has made so many fantastic things for us to enjoy, and we “humans” carelessly mess things up. I wonder what awesome things God would do if we would simply stay out of His way?
Lord, You are so creative. Help me to work with you instead of getting into Your way. Help me to walk with You and not ahead of You. Amen.
We have 41 people in Mexico for a mission trip and they called in during our Worship Service this past Sunday so we could hear how things were going. They are involved in medical care for the locals, encouragement for the church there, and other fun activities.
Just like a parent who gets a call from their kids, I listened to the excitement of a group on mission for the Cause of Christ. I was so proud of those who were willing to sacrifice comfort, money, and even vacation time to follow Christ’s command to “go”. We have bankers and doctors and CPAs and students and builders and all kinds of people involved in this mission. We missed them in our congregation on Sunday, but it was so refreshing to think of our church in two different places, yet unified in spirit. Yes, we were one church in two locations today! Truth is, we (all of us Christians) are one church in millions of locations. I felt like a real part of that local church in Bahia de Kino, Mexico and they a part of us at Grandview. is a word from our team in Bahia De Kino:
Greetings from Bahia De Kino!
“What an exciting week it has been here in Bahia De Kino! God is at work in this community and it has been a joy to be a part of it. In addition to building a house for an amazing man of God in this community, the construction team is installing two bathrooms for families here in Bahia De Kino.
Our medical team is hard at work seeing women and children in the clinic. Pray for Judy Moyes as she works with our nurses to treat and diagnose patients with limited supplies or medical history.
The most amazing thing we have seen this week is how our youth and children have connected with the locals here. As adults we see a language or cultural difference as a barrier in ministry, however our students and children have embraced the time we have here with an enthusiasm and maturity that has impacted not only the locals but also the adults.
Continue to pray and praise God for what He is doing here in Bahia De Kino. Thank you for your support as we, Grandview Fellowship, seek to serve from the overflow or our heart in Sugar Land and all throughout the world.”
I am proud of this group of Christ Followers who followed His call to “go”.
Every June 1st, I am reminded of a story. Years ago, I knew a teenager who was faithful to church, sang in the youth choir, was president of the church youth group, and attended Christian camp every summer. He was even baptized in a Baptist church. He was the model Christian teenager in front of most people. But I knew better. I was able to see the truth about him. He was a teenager in conflict. He was living a double life.
He was introduced to drugs at age 13 and over the next few years he met older teenagers who would buy him beer and alcohol. He was running quickly down a path toward pain and heartache. He struggled to “keep face” in front of family and church people while all the time, finding a way to indulge in things he knew was killing him. At church he was all into Jesus, but outside those doors, he lived absolutely for himself.
That brings me to June 1, 1980. At the end of his junior year in high school, he attended church on this fateful Sunday. Something was different on this day. As the pastor was preaching along, this teenager was shown that he was living a lie and he wanted to make things right with God. He struggled with letting go. How hard it can be to give control of your life over to someone else...even God. But he did. That day, this young man surrendered his entire life to Jesus Christ. On June 1, 1980, he received from God what his soul had always longed for: peace, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
I don’t recognize this guy any more even though I see him everyday in the mirror. The fact is, I have never been the same since yielding my life to follow Jesus. Am I perfect? No way. But I have Jesus who guides me and is patient and forgiving with me. Jesus has literally saved my life and I have celebrated this day for the last 29 years!
Had lunch with a great friend today. We are going through similar seasons of life. Over the past year, we both changed jobs offering less pay and less security. We both caused close friends and associates to question our sanity in doing so. And, we both felt absolutely sure God was leading us to launch out into these unfamiliar waters.
We exchanged “war stories” and recalled fond and funny memories of our “previous life”. We looked back and concluded, once again, that our God is faithful to provide all of our needs. We talked about how much we have learned during this new adventure. One thing for sure, we are learning an even greater dependence on Christ. Suffering and struggle and uncertainty puts our faith to the test.
I told him of something I heard years ago from pastor Charles Stanley of FBC Atlanta. He said the problem with young pastors today is, they get handed churches of 1000 or 1500 people and they don’t know how it feels to struggle. What was Dr. Stanley saying? The same thing the Apostle Paul says. And it’s something I don’t like to hear. We like things to come easily, but struggle is necessary for building Christ-like character. Challenges cause us to be less dependent on ourselves and more dependent on God. But the good news is these troubles bring forth proven (tested) character (Romans 5:3-5). Challenges and struggles can keep me from cracking under “real” pressure. That’s a good thing.
So I can rejoice in the challenges of life. Why? Because God’s Word tells me that the result of these challenges can produce “proven character...and hope; and hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5:4-5).
Struggle. Challenge. Conflict. Uncertainty. Perhaps God wants to build His character in us so that we will surrender and become absolutely dependent on Him.
We are coming up on Memorial Day weekend. I hope we will all pause to remember those courageous Americans who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
I like visiting cemeteries. It’s fun to imagine what was going on during the time of a certain person’s death. I like to stand near the head stone and imagine myself being in the moment. Is that weird? I have visited some old graves in the Northeast United States, but compared to some grave sites I’ve visited in Israel, the cemeteries in the U.S. are very young.
I’ve seen tombstones of war veterans, teenagers, infants. Fancy markers and some very simple. Some tombstones declare a loyalty to a certain organization (Masons, Loggers Association, for example) and others have a simple caption “loving mother.” I once saw a tombstone in Bandara,TX made out of a skateboard! For me, a cemetery is an interesting place. Now you know I am weird!
My 97 year old grandmother already has her grave marker in place. My grandfather died in 1973 so his name, birth- and death-dates are already on his side of the tombstone. On grandma’s side, it has her name, birth-date and a “dash.” Grandma is still living in the “dash.”
Here is reality, we have very little control over most of the information on our tombstone. Someone else chooses our name and God chooses our birth- and death-dates. So all we can do is determine what we do with the “dash” in between.
In Revelation 2:10, Jesus says to each of us, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
I want my “dash” to count for Christ. How about you? I take the Apostle Paul’s challenge: I want to make the most of my time here on earth (Ephesians 5:16).
I heard an old quote by someone, I have no clue who it was...”One life to live and soon it will pass. Only the things done for God will last.”