Who’s ever heard of a man named Shemaah?

Shemaah, a Benjaminite, had at least two sons, Ahiezer and Joash. Though not well known, they were greatly appreciated for their skills and leadership abilities. 

They were bowmen and could shoot arrows and sling stones equally well with either hand. They were Benjaminites, Saul’s kinsmen. (1 Chronicles 12:2 ESV)

Use your imagination and picture them around ten years old, practicing and competing with each other. 

“They’re both just wasting time”, friends and family would grunt. “They’ll never amount to anything.”

But the Lord had other ideas.

There was a little boy, growing up just ten miles away, who would need the skills and loyalty of such men.

David, the young shepherd boy, destined to be king of Israel.

Navigating your way through your teen years, maybe you struggled to discover your life’s purpose, while those around you thought you were wasting time, or pursuing the wrong thing.

Maybe you didn’t know, or could never quite figure out, what to do with your skills and passions. 

Perhaps even now you’ve been afraid to step out in pursuit of those passions because no one else is doing it. 

No one likes to be the oddball. 

No one appreciates being labeled a rebel or nonconformist. 

But Shemaah’s two sons, Ahiezer and Joash, though they had skills that weren’t exactly conventional, did much for the Kingdom of David and the Kingdom of God.

You say preaching, teaching, or prophesying to the nations isn’t your calling? There’s still a place and calling for you. 

Let’s remember there’s a God in Heaven Who gives each person gifts, callings, and passions for His glory and the edification of all those around us.

Your name, my name, may never appear in lights or be mentioned in the most popular Christian magazine. 

It really doesn’t matter. 

But if we’re doing our best with what we’ve been given, what we do will matter. Greatly! Ahiezer and Joash seemed to find their niche, and God thought enough of them to include their names in His Word some 2500 years ago. 

I’m sure Shemaah never dreamed for a moment how important those days of his kids playing with bows and arrows, or throwing rocks at tin cans, actually were.

And God may be the only One Who knows what He has in store for you and I. 

But you can be sure it’s good. 

And necessary for Kingdom business.

The Start Of Something Wonderfully New

Early morning @ Little Boy Lake

Early morning @ Little Boy Lake

There’s an encouraging word resonating deep within my spirit; one I hope can makes its way to the blogosphere.

Every day, every moment, is the start of something wonderfully new with God.

Encouraging? How?

God doesn’t get bored with me. Or you.

Remember, He’s the One Whose mercies and compassions are unfailing; they are new every morning.

He’s the One Who makes all things new, whether it’s a new Heaven and earth, a new creation, a new opportunity, or a second chance.

He is always doing something wonderfully new.

Always!

You’re never too young or old to experience His new beginnings. And even if you think you’ve seen it all, pay close attention. You haven’t seen anything yet.

I was wondering how I could “sing unto the Lord a new song”, when He’s heard it all before and my vocabulary is so extremely limited.

I sensed Him speak to my heart, “I treat it as something new and fresh, when it comes from your heart.”

Wow!

Which tells me how I should receive the words He speaks to me; as something new and fresh.

Walking each day with the One and Only Almighty God is the experience of a lifetime – every day. It’s new, wonderfully new and fresh, when I allow my heart to rule over my mind and flesh. As I yield to the Spirit’s voice, rather than my own feelings and ideas.

He Who has promised to faithfully complete what He began in my life some 40 years ago, has promised to do so in an amazing way; one only He could possibly accomplish.

There have been multiple times when I have felt burnt out, overlooked, too old for the “good ministry positions”, and out of sync with life. The Kingdom has seemed far off rather than near. I’ve wanted to run and hide, and not be bothered with anything while I wait for Heaven.

But as He encourages me to not quit because my labor isn’t in vain, He also reminds me that I “ain’t seen nothing yet”!

Regardless of how many things He’s already done in and through my life, He’s always in the process of starting something new.

Something wonderfully new.

And the same goes for YOU.

I Choose To Be Thank-FULL

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Here it is, the day before Thanksgiving, and I just realized how unthankful I’ve been. 

No, you won’t hear me grumbling about non important things; I mean, how would that sound? But I have definitely been less than thankful.

Most definitely.

It dawned on me yesterday afternoon, actually. I ran into a former coworker and he asked me what I had been up to. I hadn’t seen him for a number of years, so I brought him up to speed rather quickly.

But in doing so, I included the reason why I was no longer working for the same company. Oh, I could have simply told him I had retired, but I felt the need to tell him why. After all, it made for a better story.

And besides, the more I tell it the more I justify my feelings; the better I look in my eyes. 

But the Lord convicted me of how unthankful I had become.

Yes, I was wronged. I shouldn’t have been treated like I was. It was awful to lose a great paying job, and have to retire so young.

But the Lord still wants me to be thank-FULL. Full of thanks. Without any room in my heart for complaints or grudges.

What do I have to be thankful for, even in the situation I was “forced” into?

First of all, the level of stress I was experiencing immediately dropped to almost nothing. I can be thankful for a stress free life.

Second, I discovered a passion and calling to write. And with ten books published, I’m just beginning to develop my skills as a writer.

And the ideas keep coming.

Third, my schedule is so much more flexible. No longer must I submit a request to take time off, and hope someone with more seniority doesn’t want off the same day.

Of course I am thankful for my Savior, my wife and family, my church and my friends.

But if I am harboring ugly feelings toward someone, or about a situation wherein I was wronged, I cannot be thank-FULL.

So I’ve made up my mind. I don’t have to explain to anyone else about how badly I was treated. Nor do I have to beg for another’s consolation or pity.

No, I choose to be thank-full.

I have a wonderful life to live, and I’m going to do just that!

How full of thanks are you?

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15 ESV)

If I Were To Pastor Again…

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I’ve been a Christian for over forty years. I received Jesus as the Savior of my soul, and Lord of my life back in August of 1975.

I’ve been in Christian ministry, as a credentialed minister, for almost thirty five years. Pastoral ministry for about eighteen years, as well as worship leading and various teaching/preaching responsibilities.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on the pastoral side of ministry.

I have been privileged to sit under the leadership of some great pastors. Here’s some things I have learned and seen modeled along the way.

1. Build the church/ministry upon the personality of Christ, and Christ alone. My smile and encouraging words are important, but should never be more important than God’s words, plans, disciplines, or His Church as a whole.
I will not stay around forever. God will. I am not infallible. God is.

2. Help others find their gifts, callings, and anointing; discovering how they fit in the Body of Christ.

3. Let people practice their calling without fear of failing.

4. Focus on the Kingdom of God, and declare/model the many different ways the Kingdom should affect society.

5. Model unity, and teach how to keep unity in an unrelenting manner.

6. Teach by precept and example how to protect one’s life and ministry from wolves who desire to enter into the fold and wreak havoc among the brethren.

7. Pray more, talk less.

8. Listen to my ministry/life partner-my wife. God speaks to her and through her, also.

9. Build friendships outside the borders of the “ministry”, as a well as with those within.

10. Ask more questions and learn the stories of others. Earn the right to speak into someone’s life.

There’s probably more but this list will suffice for now. It will keep me busy as I think of others.

Even if I’m not a lead pastor or head of a specific ministry, I can still focus on those ten things. 

After all, I’m in a kingdom which I did not start, is far greater than I know or even imagine, and is in need of every person in the kingdom doing their part.

That’s what I’m attempting to do.

How about you?

It’s not over yet…

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There are at least two reasons why it’s even more important NOW to seek God on behalf of this nation.

1) the nation is as divided as I’ve ever seen it.

2) the election process is not a done deal. There COULD be a fly or two in the ointment…

In my opinion, the country is heading toward a not so civil war…maybe not state against state, but various people groups and ideologies all vying for their rights. Maybe not with guns and militias, but certainly with enough hateful words and actions that would only further divide us.

Pray for not only a peaceful transition from one administration to the next, but for Divine intervention, wisdom, and protection for all leaders.

Pray against rioting and murderous spirits. Pray for the spirit of humility to prevail over the spirit of pride.

There’s a spiritual undercurrent at work attempting to steal, kill, and destroy anything good, pleasant, and connected to Truth. It’s our responsibility, as citizens of God’s Kingdom, to seek God’s face on behalf of our land.

We must stand with God and against our foe.

Let’s give God half a chance!

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Many people think our rights as Christians will be dismantled if a certain person gets elected president. 

Others are worried that Christianity itself is in jeopardy.

Really? Since when?

Ever since the resurrection of Jesus, the Church has weathered years and years of tumultuous times, from insane rulers to compromising church leaders. But God has always had a remnant of believers He could count on to carry His message of truth to the next generation.

And it’s the same today.

God is not ceding His power and authority to any man, woman, or devil. Regardless of who’s in charge, God’s truth shall prevail.

If Christianity is outlawed, so be it. We who are Christ followers have sold out to Jesus, not the ways of the world.

If we can no longer claim charitable donations as a tax exemption, so be it. Our heart is for God and His kingdom purposes; that’s why we give.

If we can no longer preach against homosexuality or abortion…if we’re incarcerated for “hate speech”…if we are hunted down like mass murderers because we declare Jesus as the only way to the Father…

…then so be it.

God will not be overpowered, undersold, or outmaneuvered.

His plans and purposes may not be understood, but they’ll never be outplayed.

And we can enjoy the victory along with Him if we’ll simply give Him half a chance to work in our lives.

So in spite of all the fearful rhetoric being tossed about by many well meaning believers, we should be excited to see what God will do next.

After all, He’s the One Who raised Lazarus from that stinky old tomb after he’d been in it four days.

Just think what He could do if we believers gave Him half a chance…

Maybe We Should Let Some Things Die

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How long can we keep gripping the slightest sliver of hope? Should we?

Is holding on for dear life always the best course of action?

If our dreams and plans, yes, even our lives, are deemed as utter failure, or they’re cut short before becoming that which we intended, is that so bad?

Even if we’re convinced we’re doing everything for a righteous cause, that God’s honor is at stake, isn’t there a time to stop our powerless efforts and yield to Him?

For honest reflection, we must remember there is no resurrection without first a death, and victory never comes before the battle.

In many cases, the best thing we can do is exchange what we’ve called hope for simple trust.

What do I mean?

Hope is a powerful thing, yet at times it’s nothing more than wishful thinking. As long as there’s at least a small percentage of things working out, we’re hopeful and perky. 

But if and when things take a turn for the worse, we work ourselves into a frenzy trying to maintain our hope.

So instead, why not just give up and trust?

Maybe pretend our situation is akin to the story of Eutychus and Paul (Acts 20).

“On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted.” (Acts 20:7-12 ESV) 

Our dreams, like Eutychus, can become so tired. All work, no joy, no life, and eventually they droop and sag until we’re worn out trying to keep them propped up.

But when we finally release our grip, and the results to the God of the resurrection, life becomes enjoyable once again.

At that point the plans and purposes, the calling of God, are within our grasp.

It’s the same with trusting God for our nation.

God has had a purpose, a calling, on this nation from its inception. But to make America great again will take more than a man, woman, or political party.

So maybe things need to die first, to make room for the resurrection.

Yes, we’re to do what we can. Faith AND works (and all that).

But you know what? Many times we never begin to REALLY trust until we’ve exhausted all our resources.

So, like I said, maybe things need to die, expire, or become even worse before we finally trust the God Who moves mountains and raises the dead.

Maybe THAT is what’s needed to make America great again…

 

The Christian Voter and What’s At Stake This Election 

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Let me say up front, I don’t expect to win any popularity contests with this blog, but please hear me out. I welcome your comments, but let’s be respectful of one another. I respect your right as an American to vote as you believe you should. Please give me, and others who may comment here, that same regard.

Could it be we’re missing something big this election cycle?

I’ve heard many arguments from the Christian camp about why we must overlook a certain candidate’s “character flaws” in order to preserve the Republic.

I agreed until I dug a little deeper into the Word of God AND my own soul.

I now believe there’s much more at stake than our nation. 

For years our children have heard us tout the importance of believing God, taking a stand for righteousness, and living with eternity in view rather than a temporal mindset of “let’s eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.”

But because it looks as though the only hope for America is a loud mouthed, unpredictable and unprincipled, self-centered egotist, many in the Christian camp are willing to hold their collective noses while trying to get the man elected.

What’s wrong with this picture?

There’s much more at stake than our economy, abortion laws, illegal immigrants, ISIS, and any other issue which threatens to destroy our nation.

So what could possibly be more important?

Truth. Specifically, our stand for truth.

It also could be referred to as integrity.

We say we want to make our nation great again for our children’s sake.

I agree.

But notice: “The righteous who walks in his integrity – blessed are his children after him.” (Proverbs 20:7 ESV)

If we, as followers of Christ, throw our integrity out with the trash, in the name of patriotism, the right-to-life, second amendment rights, or anything else, what does that leave us?

How do we explain our inconsistency to our children?

How can we effectively proclaim “character counts” or even more importantly, “righteousness exalts a nation” after we’ve compromised our basic beliefs?

I’ve been wrestling with this for some time now. My first responsibility is to guard my heart and follow the Lord’s way rather than any other. Even if my fellow believers disagree.

My vote counts. Your vote counts. It counts in who we are and what we are willing to do to really stand for righteousness.

“Who, O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.” (Psalm 15:1 – 15:5 ESV)

For the Christian, there is something far greater than the USA to stand up for.

The Kingdom of Righteousness…

…and our purpose as sons and daughters of God.

The Church isn’t of less value than the nation. It is everlasting, and the dwelling place for God Almighty.

In fact, God is trying to use His people as carriers of His Anointing. People who will declare His Kingdom in word AND deed.

Paul wrote: “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 3:10 NLT)

But He can’t (that’s right, He CAN’T) if we are sidetracked or sidelined under the guise of patriotism.

We must remain faithful to God’s Word. Our heart must be sensitive to the voice of God, and continue to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

It’s been said that no one’s perfect. And since we’re not electing a pastor, we should overlook a person’s flaws.

Of course that’s only said about THEIR favorite candidate. There’s no way they’ll overlook the opponent’s atrocities!

Christian, the bottom line for me is this:

Jesus Christ is the Lord of my LIFE. I want to represent Him in all I say and do. I don’t want to say something matters and then vote like it doesn’t.

I want to love the things He loves, hate what He hates (Hebrews 1), and trust Him for EVERYTHING.

I love this nation, but for me, it’s more important that I walk in the steps of the Spirit than like a sheep to the slaughter.

God can make this nation great again; God and people who follow His steps, His ways; who put their trust in His wisdom and ability. Who aren’t afraid of the devil, or any of his representatives. 

And who don’t “lose their salvation” when someone disagrees with them (or their candidate isn’t elected).

It’s time for true followers of Christ to search our souls, and discover once again the truth we say we believe.

Then vote accordingly. 

If we vote our conscience, and our conscience has not become seared (1 Timothy 4:2), our vote will count.

With God, if no one else.

Are YOU A Facebook Dramatist?


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I’ve never known anyone to be as gloomy, nasty, or self centered, as the Facebook Dramatist.

Where else can a thespian find such an instant audience but on Facebook?

Don’t misunderstand me, please. I’m all for sharing concerns and celebrations with those who are your friends.

But the Facebook Dramatist (FD) takes sharing to a whole new level.

For instance, if someone’s mind sat down on them, and they forgot to wish the FD happy birthday, the post will read something like this:

“Well, it doesn’t take much to learn who your friends are. I’ve bent over backwards to make sure my friends have what they need, but how do some repay me? They can’t even remember to wish me happy birthday.”

Or, from the veteran FD, you may read this-

“I’m finished being the nice one. From now on, people are going to dance to MY tune! I’ve had it with do gooders judging me because I don’t act like they want me to. I’m as much a Christian as the next person. I just don’t blow about it like they do. I’m gonna live my life the way I want, and they can kiss my cupcake if they don’t like it.”

Some of the best ones, though, are where they have a gripe with one person, who shall go unnamed (but YOU know who you are)-

“And they told me I could trust them.”

“I wish a certain someone would quit acting like they’re God’s gift to women.”

“I’m not listening to your crap any longer…”

Yes, the Facebook Dramatist can grab an audience simply by posting the bare bones of truth, flocked with a healthy covering of intrigue, highlights of doubt, and published so all their friends can grab a mouthful.

If only the FD would understand things like, “A soft answer turns away wrath…” (Proverbs 15:1) and “…Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

Each time we post something online, we have a decision to make. Will we incite hatred, divide friends, and stir up unbelief, or will we encourage others to be their best, live right, and trust God?

God walks with the humble, the peacemaker, and those who put other people first.

But His face is far from the proud, the instigator, the troublemaker.

Are YOU a Facebook Dramatist, or are you someone who is known as an encourager?

“There are six things the Lord hates – no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.” (Proverbs 6:16 – 6:19 NLT)

“For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:10 – 3:12 NLT)

The facts aren’t always the truth.

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Facts don’t always equal truth. Even when you see evidence of the facts all around you. 

Something else needs to be considered when evaluating the “evidence”.

Truth.

Life’s circumstances may try to declare your physical demise and financial despair; all the while supplying you with limitless commentary on just how awful God is.

Facts as you see them.

But facts are not the final word as long as truth is allowed to have a voice. 

Elisha and his servant were minding their own business, when, from out of nowhere they were surrounded by an enemy’s army.

The servant had gotten up at the crack of dawn and turned on the coffee pot. As he stuck his head out the front door to see if the morning paper had arrived, he noticed soldiers and horses everywhere.

Quickly slamming the door and shoving the deadbolt into place, he ran to Elisha’s room.

“Elisha! Quick! Look out the window! We’re dead meat for certain!”

Closing the curtain, and turning to face his servant, Elisha said, “Why? What’s the problem? The facts declare we’re hopelessly outnumbered; but the Truth says something entirely different! Truth is telling me there are more for us than against us.”

“Huh? Are you still asleep, Elisha?”

“Then Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!’ The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.” (2 Kings 6:17 NLT)

And so it is with every child of God; everyone who has received Jesus as their Lord and Savior. 

Facts may say, “You might as well give up! You can never conquer your addiction, or failure, or experience the abundant life Jesus promised.”

Truth says, “God is not a man that He should lie. Every word is backed by heaven’s power and God’s integrity. He will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

We have a choice to make. If there’s ever a discrepancy between what we see or what we believe, are we going to listen to the facts or the truth?

And if we’re having trouble distinguishing between the two, maybe it would be a great idea to spend more time studying the truth.

Because the facts aren’t always the truth.
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