Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Life is About What is and What Can Be


“The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” William James

There is a story told of identical twins: “One was a hope-filled optimist. “Everything is coming up roses!” He would say. The other was a sad and hopeless pessimist. He thought that Murphy, as in Murphy’s Law, was an optimist. The worried parents of the boys brought them to the local Psychologist.

He suggested to the parents a plan to balance the twins’ personalities. “On their next birthday, put them in separate rooms to open their gifts. Give the pessimist the best toys you can afford, and give the optimist a box of manure.” The parents followed these instructions and carefully observed the results.

When they peeked in on the pessimist, they heard him audibly complaining, “I don’t like the color of the computer…I’ll bet the calculator will break…I don’t like this game…I know someone who’s got a bigger toy car than this…”

Tiptoeing across the corridor, the parents peeked in and saw their little optimist gleefully throwing the manure up in the air. He was giggling. “You can’t fool me! Where there’s this much manure, there’s gotta be a pony!”
(Excerpt from Chicken Soup for the Soul)

There are two kinds of people: Optimists and pessimists. Some will see the wonderful works that are being done everyday, while others are always looking to find the bad.

Christian living isn’t about what isn’t, but rather, what is and what can be.  We are so blessed with brothers and sisters who see us for who we really are, but they also stick with us for they have an eye for who we can be. Jesus is the perfect model of taking a bad situation and making something good out of it. There was no joy in suffering, separation, or sin being splatter all over Him. However, Jesus took our suffering and our separation, and our sin and created the most spectacular opportunity ever! Jesus healed us spiritually by His wounded flesh. By His bloody body, and by taking the sin bullet for us!

Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was not a prayer of pessimism, but rather, a prayer of humility and service opportunity for mankind. Jesus didn’t see the last days of His life as doom and gloom. Jesus saw the last days as an opportunity to show case His Father’s limitless and unquenchable love for mankind. Romans 5:8 say, “God demonstrated his own love for us….”

The Jesus walk isn’t about whether we have all the latest gadgets, but rather, do we really have a joy for Jesus living? Do you love people for who they are? And, do we see people as an opportunity to show case God by the way that we live our life everyday?

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Worship is NOT just on Sunday!


"If you will not worship God seven days a week, you will not worship Him on one day a week"  A.W. Tozer

"To worship is to experience Reality, to touch life.  It is to know, to feel to experience the resurrected Christ in the midst of the gathered community."  Richard Foster,

Foster also wrote, "Worship is our response to the overtures of love from the heart of the Father." The Scriptures says in Romans 12:1: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your act of spiritual worship."

Worship is the way we show our love and respect to God for who He is and what He has done for us.  Disciplining ourselves to studying the Word of God, praying to the Father on a daily basis, along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit,  will lead to the desire to worship Him daily, not just on Sunday morning.

Worship is a lifestyle!  We don't start and stop worship to God; we live it daily.  24/7.  365 days a year for a lifetime.  The newest Jesus followers in Acts 2 disciplined themselves to a daily worshipful lifestyle:  (42)"They devoted themselves to: Teaching, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayer."  (46-47) "Every day they continued to meet together...praising God...."  Worship to God for the earliest Christians was a daily lifestyle.  No short cuts.  No time limits.  No restraints.

Worship is spiritual focusColossians 3:2 says to "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."  Right thinking will lead to right focus.  When the Words of Christ dwells in our lives, we are able to focus our minds upon God.  We put to death all the things that rob our relationship and worship to God.  When we focus on being spiritual, it will give attention to good works and worship to God – Matthew 5:16

God is worthy of all of our adoration, praise, and attention.  Each day, he provides us with all the resources that will sustain us in life.  He opens up doors for us to walk through so we can experience joy and feel the presence of hope.  He gave up his son so that we could have a relationship with him, personally.  God is creative.  God is generous.  God is trustworthy.  God is dependable.  God is loyal. 

If we only make a Sunday morning church gatherings the totality of our worship, we will set ourselves up to fail Monday through Saturday.  God made each day, not just Sunday.  Give all your attention to the inspiring artist who paints the most beautiful sceneries and provides for us all the resources we need to get us through each day.  Praise him.  Honor him.  Respect him.  Revere him.  Bow before him.  Live for him.

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Acting up in Worship


Worship gatherings are a wonderful place to fellowship, celebrate, and be edified.  I love to attend them and listen to laughter and music being made from the hearts of each attendee as they lift Jesus up, and to cheer on those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus and to joyfully sit around the supper table and eat the bread and drink the wine that represents Christ sacrifice.  Each gathering gives us hope and encouragement and gives us a boost.

I’ve often heard it said that there are five acts of worship in the gathering:  Giving.  Singing.  Preaching.  Lord’s Supper.  And, Praying.  I have searched the Scriptures to find it, but am not able to.  What I have found in Scripture that are acts of worship pertain to our daily lives. 

When I was a kid, we all attended our church gatherings.  When we were younger, we all had to sit with our parents.  For a while, six kids lined the hard wooded pews.  My dad was the lead and then my mother and then we followed from youngest to oldest.  We did not dare “act up in worship.”  If we did, somehow, my father’s arm got pretty long and we felt a pinch on our leg.  We had to stay still.  Listen.  No sleeping. No eating snacks.  No! No! No!  It was a time of strict silence.  Oh, we could sing when we were supposed to and we could give our quarter when the basket was passed and if we were baptized, we could take the Lord’s Supper.  Other than those activities, we didn’t dare make a sound or movement that was distracting. 

Years later, I have found that worshiping God is so much more than sitting idle in a building and going through “acts” of worship.  Worshiping God isn’t confined to a facility once a week and then it is over until the next week; rather, it is a daily opportunity to demonstrate to our God that all we have and all that we are is appreciated.  I love what Romans 16:1 says, And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”  (NLT) Whatever each of us do on a daily basis, whether it is working, sleeping, or simply walk about in life, give it as an offering to God first.  Once we give it to him, there is no taking it back.  This is worship!

While praying and singing and giving and preaching and taking the Lord’s Supper are all beneficial, they do not solely capture the essence of daily worship.  If on one particular Sunday I could not sing, does that mean I did not completely worship God?  Or, if I left before the sermon started, was my worship cut short, therefore, I did not fully worship?  If that were the case we would have a lot of people who do not fully worship God.  On the other hand, if worship is viewed as Ephesians 5:15 describes, “Be careful, then, how you live your life…” (NIV) our entire life would change.  Our music to God would be everyday, not just confined on Sunday.  Our giving would be everyday, not confined to Sunday.  Get the point?  Plus we would live Hebrews 10:24 out, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.” (NIV)

Let’s act up in worship…EVERY DAY!  When worship is our life, then it will be much easier to gather with our people to celebrate and fellowship and be edified on a Sunday!

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I'm Searching for a Church, Which one is Right?


Nothing can be more confusing than to drive around looking for a new church to connect with.  Nearly on every corner, there is a type of “church.”   One may question:  Why so many?  Why so many of the same type of church? Who is right?  Who is wrong?  Can all of them be right or wrong? 

When one is searching for a church, there is more than just seeing what types of “programs” they offer.  However, “programs” can be a starting point to reaching and connecting with those who are seeking to better themselves, their children, or the entire family. 

It was in the early 1960’s that my father was searching for a better life and more meaning to his spiritual life.  One day, he got a knock on his door from some people who attended the Lemay Church in St. Louis, MO.  They were having their yearly Vacation Bible School (VBS) and had invited him and the family.  My dad accepted the invitation and attended with his family (I wasn’t born yet).  The invitation to the VBS changed his life, my mother’s and our family.  My dad and mom surrendered their lives to Jesus and they resurrected into the new life, which Scripture calls baptism (Romans 6:3-4).  From that invitation to attend a VBS, all six of my parent’s children are born again believers.  Two of the six kids are preachers.  And, most of all the grandchildren are born again believers and some of them serve in a variety of ways in leadership with the church where they are attending. 

Never underestimate the power of inviting someone to your church “program” or worship gatherings.  It just might change their lives for generations to come. 

In seeking the “right” church, one must conclude that there is no perfect church.  We are all sinners in the need of God’s grace.  However, there are at least a couple of important factors one needs to consider when making the final decision as to where to go.

First of all, is Jesus the center?  No one should attend a “church” if Jesus isn’t the centerpiece of it.  Colossians 1:18, Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body.” (NLT)  If the church is run by man’s philosophies of what you can and cannot do and who you can and cannot associate with, then stay far way.  That means, Jesus isn’t the center, man is. 

Secondly, is Jesus the leader?  There have been many who have built facilities to worship in or have started a church for one reason or another.  Just because one started a church, he/she isn’t the boss; Jesus is.  By boss I mean, lead builder.  Matthew 16:18, says that Jesus will build his church.  The church is not a literal building, but rather, a spiritual one.  It is inside the hearts of people who have surrendered to Jesus as Lord and Savior and those who have resurrected in the new life.  God does the adding to the “church” and it is relationship based. (Acts 2:41)

“Churches” are everywhere!  No one has the market on who is the most right.  For all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)  However, there are many who strive to be the very best they can be biblically and spiritually.  Always ensure in your search that you compare what the preachers, teachers, and their periodicals say with the bible.  Never let anyone tell you they are the only ones going to heaven.  For if they do, they have just made themselves the perfect church.  There is no such thing as the perfect church!  But there is a perfect Savior! 

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

You are a Gift From God


It was January 9th 1991 that would forever change our world.  It was the day our first-born child made his entrance into the world.  He was so tiny and fragile.  His voice cried out for the first time, as he was being washed and then handed to his mother for very first time.  He was given the name Roman.  Little did we know that his life would be exactly how the bible defines it to be, strong and powerful!

God is in the gifting business on a daily basis.  He knows when to give the gift and exactly who should receive the gift.  God is incredibly thoughtful to our needs and his timing is impeccable.  The gift of a son was not in our timing, but God’s timing. 

God gave us another gift on July 2nd 1996.  Her name is Tessa.  She made her entrance into the world not knowing how important she would be to her parents.  She too is strong, but she is also sensitive.  She has a heart that feels the pain of others and is always doing her best to help everyone.  Her name means, “to gather.”  How fitting for a young lady who gathers those who are struggling or dealing with hurtful issues and she gathers them to comfort and show compassion. 

Again, God’s gifts are unmistakable and perfectly timed.  Both of our children are not only gifts to us, but to the world in which God placed them to live and work and interact.  Roman is a youth minister in Tennessee.  He powerfully shares Jesus and mentors and motivates teens to live the Jesus life.  Our daughter Tessa lives in California as she supports her husband who serves our nation in the Navy.  Also, Tessa works with children and helps take care of their needs.  She loves them and shares with them joy and laughter and hugs and a warmth of a kind soul. 

It is true that I could be a bit bias in my assessment of our children, but I am not at all bias in my assessment of our God who is the greatest gift giver ever.  He knows each of us on a personally level and is constantly providing us with everything we need to live our lives to the fullest. 

Think for a moment of the gifts you have right now!   Reading this means you have the gift if eyesight.  Someone may say, “yeah, but I need glasses to read it.”  But at least you can see to read and God gifted someone with the ability to invent glasses.  It is a matter of perspective in what we truly want to see God giving us in our lives to help us. 

The gifts are galore:  Water.  Heat.  Cold.  Trees.  Flowers.  Food.  Mountains.  Cars.  Friends.  Children.  Stars.  Home.  Love.  Jesus.  Shoes.  Fingers.  Hair.  Airplanes.  Medicine.  Sleep.  Clothes.  Dogs and cats.  Lady bugs.  Light and dark.  Hugs and kisses.  Lips.  Taste.  Feel.  Touch.  And the list is endless. 

James 1:17 says that all perfect gifts come from God.  God is always going to see to it that we get the perfect gift at the perfect time.  It is true that there are those who suffer greatly or go hungry or homeless or lonely or jobless or a host of other problems.  The key to God’s gift is realizing that you are the gift to the sufferer, the hungry, the homeless, the lonely, the jobless or whatever problems others are dealing with in their life. 

Galatians 6:2 tells us to carry each other’s burdens.  When we believe that God created us as a gift and to be a gift, then our perspective toward others will radically change.  When will see opportunity rather than burdens. We will finally use the gift to bring hope to the hurting, love to the lonely, refuge to the homeless, food to the hungry, and employment to the jobless. 

See yourself as a God-gift.  Keep the gift unwrapped and usable.  Be approachable.  Be Kind.  Be Gentle.  Be Hope.  Be Help.  Be Jesus.  Be ready. Be a gift!

Remember, Be God controlled!

Brian

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Christian Unity is a Must for America!


We live in a society that is bent on being “correct.”  Merriam-Webster defines being Politically correct as, Agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people.” It has become the norm in our society that when one oversteps the political correct philosophy, advocacy groups are up in arms and outraged.  It appears that in America today, we have to tiptoe around those who are easily offended. 

There isn’t much difference in the church and society when it comes to “offending a particular group of people.”  What seems to be driving folks away are the “church advocacy” groups.  We have a bunch of them.  We name them on our marquees and proclaim our way is the right way.  It is destroying the very fabric of Jesus’ desire in John 17 when he prayed for unity.  Instead of unity we are in competition with each other and are forgetting the purpose for which we exist. 

Each Christian group has their slogans.  Mission statements.  Programs.  Ministries of outreach and benevolence.  And, church doctrines. 

What amazes me is that we can’t work together as Christians due to so many theological differences.  Our kids can play on the same ball teams together and after our church gatherings, many will meet at various restaurants and have a meal together, but in no way can they gather at the same place of worship to celebrate the Lordship of Jesus. 

Within the Christian community, we are struggling to make progress for a better America.  According to a Gallup poll taken in June of 2015, most Americans are still highly pessimistic about the direction in which moral values in the United States are headed. Seventy-two percent say moral values in the country as a whole are getting worse.  While we as a Christian community are infighting, competing with other churches, or just outright degrading other biblical views, Satan is having a heyday of a time dismantling a nation once govern by morals, values, ethics and a strong conviction that God is our leader and Jesus is our Lord and the Spirit is our guide. 

The Apostle Paul got on to the Christians in Corinth in 1st Corinthians 1 for trying to pick whom they would follow.  It became a status for the Christians rather than being concerned about the community in which they were living.  

Christians need to see the value of unity in order to become relevant to the communities in which God has placed them in to serve.  Ephesians 4 describes exactly how we must live:  Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” (NLT)

Christians who can be humble, gentle, patient, love and Spirit-led will be a community that will change an entire community.  Isn’t time to model Jesus prayer and be a people of one rather than a people of self?  I challenge all of us to stand tall and allow Jesus to be the Lordship of our lives and community.  When we do, we will be a unique people.  A people God will say, well done!

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How to overcome Life's Challenges


A burdensome life can throw anyone for a loop if one looks at the negative and proclaims life is harsh and unfair.  Life is what each of us makes it out to be no matter what happens to us.  Perspective is everything when one is facing challenges in life and the way each one response to bad news, health issues, loss of a loved one, financial troubles or relationship trauma is crucial. 

There are countless individuals who have walked the pains of heartbreak and endured the trials of bad days and overcame obstacles that seemed too difficult, too hard and too demanding. 

God never said life would be easy to live out.  God never promised us a life free from hurt, hardships or heartache. However, God did promise all of us that no matter what, he would walk the journey with us.  Hebrews 13:5-6 declared: “…Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote, God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?” (MSG)

There is nothing more encouraging and calming than to know that God is always on the scene providing his reassurance that everything will be ok.  It is in our trusting that we will discover comfort, strength, hope and security in the one who provided life in the first place.  God is amazingly generous with his time and resources.  He gives a heaping load of heartfelt love and he just doesn’t place a band aide on our wounds, but rather, he wraps them up in his healing powers.  No matter life’s wound, God can make everything better in the end. 

Seeing the beauty in life when one cannot see at all is the trademark of a life of contentment and trust.  There is a story told of a seventy-five-year-old grandpa who has been blind from cataracts for almost 15 years said to his granddaughter, “Your grandma is just the most beautiful thing, isn’t she?“ the granddaughter paused for a second and said, ”Yes she is. I bet you miss seeing that beauty on a daily basis.“ “Sweety,” the grandpa said, ”I still see her beauty every day. In fact, I see it more now than I used to when we were young."

The grandpa’s perspective to his life situation was positive and inspiring.  Though he could not see through his eyes, he was able to see through his heart. His outlook was full of optimism and his view of his wife was painted eloquently in his mind.  He didn’t need to see his wife to know her beauty; he was able to see her through the lens of love.

A doctor needed to operate on a little girl who needed O negative blood. The hospital didn’t have any, but her twin brother also had O negative blood type. The doctor explained to the little boy that it was a matter of life and death and they needed him to donate his blood for his sister. The boy sat quietly for a moment, and then said goodbye to his parents. The doctor said that he didn’t think anything about the boy saying goodbye to his parents until after we took his blood and the little boy asked, "So when will I die?"

The little boys perspective wasn’t about himself, but rather, his desire for his sister to live. It was his love, devotion and sacrifice for someone other than himself that demonstrates that his young life was lead by a willingness to help others even if it meant his own life. 

The right perspective in hard to deal with “life-issues” is critical for emotional survival.  Trusting that God will lead the way is vital to dealing with cancer, heart disease, and a loss of a loved one, financial disaster, relationship issues or painful memories.  Life can be tough and circumstances can deal us a big blow to our sanity, but in it all, God will carry us through the dark moments and provide us with every resource necessary to get us through the tough stuff.  Trust! 

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian