Archives For Family

sheepfence

Caution! Looking over the fence can lead to cutting your chin. A better usage of your chin is to bow it in prayer, thanksgiving at the feet of Jesus. Bowing your chin in prayer and thanksgiving acknowledges Christ as Lord. Cutting your chin on the fence revels the desire to be the center of the universe and last I checked, neither you, nor I can run the universe. The call of the Christ follower has never been to look for what we already have. We have everything. We have been rescued. We have Him.

I guess looking over the fence started in the garden. God assured Adam and Eve that He had everything in control and hadn’t missed a detail. He even gave details about the tree to leave alone. Guess what? That tree soon became their “fence.” The enemy introduced a very seductive word. That word was introduced to get them to look over the fence. That word was, “surely.” The serpent spoke, “You will not surely die.” In other words,  the lie was, “You don’t have all that you need.”

Looking over the fence is a hard one to resist. We all want answers that fit with how we think it should be or how we think it ought to be. Therefore, we often think to ourselves, the answers I’m looking for are surely on the other side of the fence. After all, I can smell the barbecue goodness coming from the other side. I can hear the laughter of plenty. They never seem to hurt or want for anything on the other side of the fence.

Life always seems better elsewhere, but it’s not.  What is out of our touch, or inaccessible, often seems of more wealth than what is present and sanctioned in our life on God’s side of the fence. It seems to be in our human nature to desire what we can’t have, and at the same time despise what we have right under our feet.

I’ve often found I start looking over the fence when I stop ministry to God. Ministering to God is the safest place to be. When I totally surrender to the beauty of sitting at His feet, the fence has no power and the voices on the other side grow strangely dim, and my soul gives way to a song.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” Psalm 23:5-6

Gone Fishin’

May 27, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Thanks for dropping by my blog where I post 3 to 5 times a week. Please enjoy looking through the archives. I’ve gone Fishin’

Look for a new post on June 3rd, 2013. I’m taking some time with some good friends and hope to take friendships deeper and enjoy God’s creation at the same time. Thank you for your love, and thanks also for sharing with others the writings of my heart.

Peace,

Pastor Steve

 

 

MountDiabloEmilieHike

You were not meant to be alone and isolated from people. You were never meant to say, “All I need is God and no one else.” God created us for fellowship with Him and fellowship with others. It’s God’s perfect plan.

I once had a friend who began to pull away from the body of Christ. He became disenfranchised for many reasons and finally allowed things to pull him away from those that loved him. He didn’t leave God, but he did say over and over to others, and me “All I need is God and no one else.”

Somehow, he had bought into the lie that he could do it with just God. By cutting off the flesh of humanity, he thought his life would be richer and fuller. Over the next several months,  he systematically cut off his best friends also. I was among that number, and it hurt and grieved me horribly.

He would touch base with me by phone from time to time, but it was shallow, and I could hear in his voice that he was slipping over the edge. The fellowship of the body of Christ had been traded in and replaced with a pseudo kind of Christian fellowship that consisted of just him and God.

It sounds good on the surface to say, “All I need is God and no one else,” but the fact of the matter it’s impossible to have true biblical fellowship cut off from the body. You and I were designed to have a vertical relationship with God and a horizontal relationship with each other.

My friend came up with a thought in isolation away from the body because he said he heard the voice of God tell him to do something. He didn’t run the voice through scripture to see if it contradicted anything and he didn’t run the voice by any believers for accountability. He simply “heard a voice,” and obeyed the voice.

The story is long;  therefore I will make it short and more bullet point for your reading.

  • He said he heard God tell him to drive out to the Mt. Diablo and climb to the top to be alone with him for many days. (Temperatures can reach high 90’s and above)
  • He was told to tell no one and to take only water
  • He drove his truck to the park and parked it at the bottom of the mountain.
  • He took his keys and threw them into a pond and threw his cell phone into the pond also.
  • He hiked up the mountain and found a place to worship and talk with God.
  • He used up all his water before reaching the top and over the next few days he dehydrated and began to see things.
  • He saw and heard angles telling him to do things and many other things that would be just too strange to share with you.
  • Finally, with the heat being too much to handle he unclothed himself wholly and lay down to die. That’s correct, he was naked on the mountain.
  • He was found the next morning almost dead. He was hanging on to life by a thread.
  • “All I need is God and no one else,” had taken him to a place of death and not life.

He finally made a full recovery in the hospital. His parents, family and friends were all happy he was alive. I would love to say he fully learned his lesson, but it wasn’t over night. Even after almost dying, he still had a grudge against the body of Christ. Over the years,  he has slowly worked through his issues, and last I heard he was doing well.

Pastor Rick Warren once said, “Why is it important to join a local church family? Because it proves you are committed to your spiritual brothers and sisters in reality, not just in theory. God wants you to love real people, not ideal people. You can spend a lifetime searching for the perfect church, but you will never find it. You are called to love imperfect sinners, just as God does.”

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When you become a believer you belong to a family. Just as sure as you were born into a family, you were born into another family the day you accepted Christ as Lord of your life.

You are in a relationship with Christ that is intimate and therefore, you have a relationship with His family, the church. You and I make up the body of Christ, which is the family of God.

You belong to a group that is changing the world through the power of His resurrection. You are vital to the body of Christ.  You can’t claim to be in the body but not part of the body.

I love what Rick Warren once said, “Whenever we become careless about fellowship, everything else begins to slide, too. Membership in the family of God is neither inconsequential nor something to be casually ignored. The church is God’s agenda for the world.”

How are you doing with your church attendance? Do you see it as a take it or leave it option? I challenge you today to reexamine your thoughts about church. I challenge you to allow your individualism thinking to melt away into the beauty of God’s fellowship of the saints.

Never forget that as a Christ follower you are called to be among His disciples and not separate from them. You can’t just have a bible close by and pray from time to time and call yourself complete. If you are living like that for Jesus, you are not complete without the church fellowship.

To reference Rick Warren again, “A church family moves you out of self-centered isolation. The local church is the classroom for learning how to get along in God’s family.”  You are loved and needed. God has a plan and an irreplaceable role for you in His church family, the body of Christ.

I once heard a person say, and I’ve repeated it from the pulpit before, “People don’t have a problem with Christ; they have a problem with the church.” I believe we can and should change that. You are part of that change when you faithfully attend church with your family each week.

Allow me one final thought from Pastor Warren who says, “Except for a few important instances referring to all believers throughout history, almost every time the word church is used in the Bible it refers to a local, visible congregation.”

How is your church attendance? Have you kicked your family to the curb?

Time Off

February 4, 2013 — 1 Comment

Hi Guys,

I’m taking some time off for a few days to gather my thoughts and spend time with family. Enjoy the archives and pass the blog link to your friends. I’ll see you guys Feb 11th. (Video Link)

Thanks,

Steve

 

Guilt And The Lap Of God

January 17, 2013 — 2 Comments

fatherreading

Have you ever had trouble staying awake during your prayer time? Many years ago I had a season in my life where I fell asleep more often than I would like to acknowledge. At first, it didn’t bother me much. I just excused it because I had been working a little more than usual.

However, guilt quickly set in, and it made me feel horrible.  Each time I fell  asleep it just increased the guilt. I was beginning to  feel shame, and I had thoughts of God being seriously disappointed in me. It’s distressing enough, I thought, to fall asleep during prayer but to feel like God was disappointed in me was worse.

No matter how hard I tried to stay awake during this period of my life, I would doze off. No one else knew but me, and of course God, but I was feeling like a spiritual failure. I was feeling like God was mad at me. I was trying hard to stay awake but getting nowhere. I heard the voice of guilt more than the voice of God.

Then it happened! One day I came home from work early, and my daughter who was about four at the time came running up to me and said, “Daddy, can you read me this book in your chair?” I smiled and said, “Of course I will.”

We settled into my favorite chair, and I lifted her up and into my lap. She turned her head slightly back and up and made eye contact with me, accompanied by a smile. I was feeling pretty good. I was having a perfect Father and Daughter moment.

As I was reading, she would look up and back at me asking questions and making comments. I was completely pleased with the moment. We were simply spending time together, and it felt incredible.

As I continued to read, her conversation and questions fell silent. She was getting tired. It wasn’t long until she fell asleep in my arms. I closed the book and just enjoyed the time we were having together. I was thankful she wanted to spend time with me at all.

Then it happened! God spoke and healed my guilt about falling asleep on Him. I could hear Him whisper to my heart. “Are you mad at her for falling asleep?” My heart whisper back to God was, “No Lord, I love just being with her.” His response back was, “I feel the same way about you.”

It was on that day God took my guilt away. His love for me was not based on effort and discipline, even though they are beneficial. His love for me is unconditional, and He is pleased even when I fall asleep in His lap with His arms wrapped around me.

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2012 — Leave a comment

To all my readers I wish you a very Merry Christmas. I pray your day is blessed. Thanks for following the blog. Enjoy your day with friends and family.

ChristmasEnjoy a Christmas Message

The Untouchable God Became Touchable

 

 

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God wants our private life, and our public life to line up for His glory. It’s been said, “Integrity is what you do when no one is watching; it’s doing the right thing all the time, even when it may work to your disadvantage.”

There have been times in my life that I’ve played the hypocrite. For example, I’m kind to those in the church body, and even to total strangers. You would never find me raising my voice in uncontrolled anger to someone outside my family. (Well, almost never)

However, there have been times in my life, I find myself doing the opposite of the right thing. I find myself not being patience with my family. I find myself raising my voice to my children, instead of treating them with proper respect.

How about you today? Have you experienced similar things in your own life? Maybe even something much darker? Maybe you have a private sin you have kept hidden away from the world. You keep telling yourself that it hurts nobody but you. However, deep down you know that’s not the truth. Your hidden sin makes you more and more depressed, and you find yourself taken your angry, and frustrations out on those you love the most.

Private faithfulness is the true test of where you are in your walk with Christ. If your private faith is off track, you public faith is a walking zombie.

In 2 Samuel, chapter 12, the story of King David committing adultery, and murder is shared. If you have time read the whole chapter. David concealed his sin, but God eventually sent Nathan to confront him. David ends up repenting in Psalm 51 and asks God to restore the joy of his salvation. David repented and realigned his public and private faith.

If you are having trouble letting go of a private sin I want to offer you a challenge.  I want you to visualize something for me for the next 7 days.

glasshouse

Visualize your home, and your life, as a glass house that everyone can see what you doing. Would you choose to sin? Most likely you wouldn’t.  Here in North Carolina, there is a town called McAdenville. Each year, many of the residents decorate their homes with Christmas lights. People drive from everywhere to view the homes and lights.

From the outside, it all looks good. However, on the inside of those homes are real people with real lives. It would be amazing if all those homes were glass. I bet the people on the inside would live their best life knowing that everyone could see them.

Go ahead; give it a try this week. Visualize yourself as a glass house and see how much better you do.

 

legacyEvery person wants to be remembered. We want to be remembered, not only in this present time, but we also want to be remembered after we are gone. Today, I encourage you to take an inventory of your life in light of leaving a legacy behind.

You will be remembered. You will leave some kind of Legacy. Legacies are not born; legacies are cultivated one day at a time. The legacy you leave behind is both a choice on your part, and a voice to those that follow behind you. What you do in the here and now will be remembered by someone forever and what you do in the here and now will follow you into eternity.

Here are a few ways to leave a legacy print on the world around you.

 

1. Acknowledge Christ

Your walk with Christ is the most valuable part of your life. Words are powerful, but your walk speaks much louder. In order to have a strong walk, you must have an intimate relationship with Christ daily, and moment-by-moment. Proverbs 3:6 tells us, “in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” In other words, allow God into every part of your walk.

2. Encourage at all times

Think ahead of the next person you run into by asking yourself, “After I encounter this person, what will they say about me 20 years from now?” You can make a choice about how you want people to talk about you in the future, by making the right choice in the now. You have the power to lift people up or to tear people down. Don’t choose the latter. Matthew 5:16 tells us, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

3. Live beyond yourself

Yes, you must take care of yourself. Yes, you are valuable, but the greatest life you can live is a life that is lived beyond yourself, for the sake of others and for the glory of God. You need to make your life about something much grander than yourself.  John 15:13 tells us, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

4. Don’t be inconsistent

The voice of action deep inside of you is the Holy Spirit speaking to act. Listen to that voice and obey. God will get the glory, and you will create a lasting legacy. When you hear God speak to do an act of kindness…obey, obey, obey! God is trying to use you, and that is a great way to develop a lasting legacy. I’ve often said to the church I pastor, “Demons obey God; nature obeys God, but people struggle with it.” Make the choice to obey God without struggling, and you will be amazed at how grand and full your life will become. Divine moments are all around you if you will only see them.

To go deeper with leaving a legacy and living a life of compassion, get a copy of my book, The Descent to Compassion.

 

shy

You are not alone in your walk with Christ if you have difficulty sharing your faith because of shyness. There are many other Christians that get nervous when they even think about witnessing. Do you struggle with sharing your faith because you have no clue as to how to witness in spite of your shyness? If so, I’ve got a few things that will help you.

 

1. Understand that witnessing isn’t always about words.

St. Francis of Assizi once said, “Witness at all times; if necessary use words.” The first thing that will reduce the pressure of shyness in your life is to know that you don’t have to use words to witness. You can use actions, and many times they speak louder than words. You can send letters to nonbelievers in Christ and let them know you are thinking about them. You can get them a gift and take it by their house to let them know how valuable they are. Doing these kind of things will be sure to open up a conversation, and they will end up, most likely,  asking you about your faith. When they do, just tell them what Christ has done in your life. No need at all to give them a bible study. Just share your life, and how Christ has changed it for the better.

2. Witness at home

Witnessing at home is easy because you already feel safe. Live before your family a changed life. Living for Christi in front of your family is the loudest witness you will ever do. Each family member is watching, and learning from you. They, in turn, will hopefully live the same way. That is making disciples without words.

3. Witness on vacation

Next time you are on vacation, witness to those who clean your room. Leave a great tip each day, and a hand written note of encouragement to them. Then sign it with a bible verse. Pray over the note, and let the Spirit of God do the rest.

4. Take advantage of birthdays

Collect as many birthday dates as you can and send them a card or an email. In the same way, you would write a note while on vacation, do something similar with a birthday card or email. To make this step automatic, do a Google search of free sites that remind you by email when a birthday is near.

I could give you many more, but I think you get the idea. What are some ways you have found that work? Leave a comment and share with others.

 

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