Monday, February 25, 2013

In the Trash

When I took out the trash last week, I had to walk carefully because of the sleet and ice on the ground. I rounded the corner of my house, walking down the gentle slop that leads to the spot where we store our trash cans. The sleet crunched under my feet, but didn't cause much problem until I was halfway down the hill. The sleet had apparently melted and refrozen in the shadow of our house. My tennis shoes became a size ten bobsled as I slid about fifteen feet down the hill. Fortunately, I slid all the way down without falling, grabbing one of the trash cans and performed a perfect three point stop. If there was an Olympic event for skating with trash bag in hand, I would have scored a perfect ten. Well, at least nine.

After depositing my trash and congratulating myself on a perfectly executed triple axel, I realized a new problem. I had no way to get back up the hill. My tennis shoes had absolutely no grip on the ice, and there was nothing to grab in order to pull myself up the hill. After wondering how long it would be until the spring thaw, I managed to pull myself along the fence to my neighbors house where I could grab their wall and pull myself back up the hill.

My midwinter adventure taught me yet another lesson about sin. The slope doesn't look so steep or slippery from the top of the hill, but don't be fooled. Give in to temptation, and sooner or later you wind up in the trash can. The good news is, God provides a way out.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Look for the way out, and remember, it's much easier to find at the top of the hill!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What You Said

“What You Said”

When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is wise. Proverbs 10:19, HCSB

Every time you speak, your words have the potential either to bring joy to others or to cause great pain.

Words of encouragement don't always come easily. Building up others requires that we first think about what they need to hear, and then allow the Holy Spirit time to give us the words he wants us to say. This requires setting aside the desire to do all the talking, focusing our attention instead on the other person. It means resisting the urge to interrupt every time we think of something to say.

A fool, on the other hand, doesn't think before speaking. A fool is never concerned about saying the right thing at the right time. Opportunities to say an encouraging word are often lost, because the fool is unprepared and preoccupied with selfish thoughts. Some of the deepest hurts people carry throughout life have come from careless words spoken to them by a fool.

Have you missed opportunities to bless others because you were too busy talking to listen to them? Are you in the habit of blurting out comments without thinking of the potential damage your words could cause?

Commit yourself to becoming a wise person whose words bring comfort and encouragement. Ask questions, listen more, and talk less. You'll be pleased with the results, and so will those around you.

As a I read the above devotional, I was reminded of this song:

“Words” by Hawk Nelson

They've made me feel like a prisoner
They've made me feel set free
They've made me feel like a criminal 
Made me feel like a king
They've lifted my heart to places I've never been
They've dragged me down back to where I began

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart
Or put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don't want to say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

You can heal the heartache
Speak over the fear
God, your voice is the only thing we need to hear

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts
Or put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don't want to say a word
Unless it points the world back to You
Let the words I say
Be the sound of Your grace
I don't want to say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

I want to speak Your love
Not just another noise
I want to be Your life
I want to be Your voice

                Are our words life-breathing or life-taking? Do they build up or tear down? May our words point people towards Christ.

The above devotional is courtesy of TQ.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ups and Downs v. Constancy

Church work is always a matter of emotional ups and downs.  You see a person come to Christ, and you are on an emotional high… excited to see God at work in people’s lives.  Then you turn around and find out that a church member has a teenager who has turned their back on God, family, and everything else, and you are brought low as you hurt for and with this family that is going through a trial. 
But, you know, in both of those situations, you can find God at work.  Whether it’s a problem or a victory, if you look for it, you’ll see God’s hand and heart moving us closer to Him.  It just depends upon your perspective. 

In my brief 12 years of being in the ministry, God has reminded me time and time again to take note of where I’m focusing.  It’s so easy when you come into contact with so many people who are going through such varied life experiences to feel like you’re on a roller coaster of ups and downs.  But here’s what I always come back to:  am I looking to Him?—the author and perfecter (Hebrews 12:2) or am I looking around me?—driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:5-8) 
Perspective changes everything. 

You can always find two truths. 
1.  Change is inevitable. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)  2. God is constant.  (Hebrews  13:8)  

There are going to be ups and downs.  It’s just a part of life.  There are going to be good times and bad times.  There are going to be times of growth and times of pruning. 
If you focus on the change or the ups and downs in your life or in the lives of those around you, you’re looking at things from the wrong perspective.  If you focus on the constancy of God,… 

Well, that’s just what you’ve got to do!

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed - that exhilarating finish in and with God - he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.  Hebrews 12:2 THE MESSAGE.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


I was sick last week....really sick.....and I didn't like it one bit. It's amazing how something microscopic can cause megascopic effects on your body. My head throbbed, I had fever, then I chilled, I couldn't stay awake, I coughed (and coughed and coughed), and the symptoms went on.

Sin can be like that. Just let one negative thought creep in, allow yourself to become apathetic in just one area, ignore that still, small voice 'just this once,' and before you know it, there are noticeable illnesses in your spirit. Thankfully, God has just the right prescription for every area of our lives. Worried about tomorrow? ("My God shall supply all your needs..." Phil. 4:19) Needing a rest? ("Come unto Me, and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28) And the list goes on and on and on! The Bible is full of God's cures for any and all of our soul's sicknesses. Best of all, each prescription is personalized--just take a look at THIS one! ("God so loved YOU that He gave His only Son!")

Feeling better after being sick feels--well--so--good. You remember very well where you WERE and are so glad to be past that point. Fixing a spiritual illness feels even better, for it brings us back into a right deeper fellowship with God. And the effects can be MEGASCOPIC ! : )