Tuesday, March 31, 2009

you will be shot at...


Ephesians 6:16
... take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Monday, March 30, 2009

... start walking

...to work, to school, to play, to the beach, at the mall, wherever...

Ephesians 6:15
... with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

There’s Another Way To Fight.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Potluck tomorrow after the service...

The menu may not be quite this exotic but we always have fresh bread for sure! We'll have to sort out who could qualify as 'foreigners', though.

Deuteronomy 14:3,21
Don't eat anything abominable...
Because you are a people holy to God, your God, don't eat anything that you find dead. You can, though, give it to a foreigner in your neighborhood for a meal or sell it to a foreigner.

Friday, March 27, 2009

How do you fight?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Gates of Hell will not overcome the Church!!!

The key to change . . . is to let go of fear. Rosanne Cash

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Where real strength comes from

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Enter the battle...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Love changes everything...

When God's love bursts into our life all of our relationships are forever changed. Last week Terry helped us see how in Ephesians 5, marriage is different in the light of God's love. We are to 'submit to one another out of reverence for Christ'.

Paul goes on to show in Ephesians 6 that parenting & even being parented looks and feels different for a Christ follower. These injunctions harken back to the last words spoken to the Israelites in OT times - Malachi 4:6 - 'He will convince parents to look after their children and children to look up to their parents.'

Too many hurts & wounds are carried deep within each of our souls because of ungodly parenting. Allow God's love to heal your past & give you a fresh start from this day forward.

Ephesians 5:1-2
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

Ephesians 6:1-4
Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. "Honor your father and mother" is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, "so you will live well and have a long life." Fathers, don't exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Times change...

What do you need to be happy?
Who in your life helps you tend to the garden of your soul?

Philippians 1:6
There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"God has lost track of me. He doesn't care what happens to me."

What will you believe about God - can you trust Him or not?

Isaiah 40:28-31
Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening?
God doesn't come and go. God lasts.
He's Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don't get tired,
they walk and don't lag behind.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Who defines what a failure is in your life?

Chill-out- enjoy yourselves and stop worrying. Be a church that has fun. The world often believes that one has to sin to enjoy yourself. This is a lie. Lets live with much laughter and forgiveness. There can be no laughter without forgiveness. Forgive your neighbor. Forgive yourself. Live with a love that cannot fail.

Mark 12:30-31
Jesus said, "The first in importance is, 'Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.' And here is the second: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' There is no other commandment that ranks with these."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"rest for the weary"

Matthew 11:28-30
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

The unforced rhythms of grace... I feel like I'm just barely scratching the surface of that reality... but it is a real reality... an actual realm...

Romans 5:1-2
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

"...into this grace in which we now stand."

Faith today is treated as something that only should make us different, not that actually does or can make us different. In reality we vainly struggle against the evils of this world, waiting to die and go to heaven. Somehow we’ve gotten the idea that the essence of faith is entirely a mental and inward thing. Dallas Willard

Lord help me to surrender to your grace, where my striving ends & real peace begins. I know it exists- your word says that. I want to stand there... and lay there... and just be there where hope is truly alive! Amen.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

words that build up or words that really hurt?

Ephesians 4:29
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How many things in an ordinary week of your life do you ask God about?

Psalm 69:3
I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Living on the Edge of Whatever Happens

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.
And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless.
We find that after years of struggle
that we do not take a trip;
a trip takes us.
John Steinbeck

Steinbeck's quote reminds me of an old Jackson Browne song Running On Empty, and specifically this line,

I dont know when that road turned onto the road I'm on

Ever wondered that about your journey?
Is there a bend in the road that you're resisting?
A hill to climb?
A desert to enter?

Whatever your situation, look to God in humility!

Daniel 10:12-13
'Relax, Daniel,' he continued, 'don't be afraid. From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your prayer was heard, and I set out to come to you. '

Luke 18:1
Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Letters from prison -

Some people think marriage is a prison...

Today Terry will speak on Ephesians 5:21-33,

Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.

Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor—since they're already "one" in marriage.

No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That's how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become "one flesh." This is a huge mystery, and I don't pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.

When it comes to relationships and especially marriage there is a veritable minefield of hurts:

A skeptic is someone who is reluctant to believe love is real;
a cynic is someone who refuses to believe love is real.
A skeptic is someone who once believed it and was disappointed and hurt;
a cynic is someone who once believed it and was deceived and devastated.
Deep inside all skeptics and most cynics is a deep abiding ache to believe in love again, but to do so without the fear of being disappointed, hurt, deceived or devastated.

Allow God's truth to soothe your own cynical or skeptical heart on the way to wholeness.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

It takes a lifetime to just begin to understand the truth. It's a long journey, and one that is filled with adventure. To not go is to become mostly bored, and resigned to finding entertainment as stimulus to ease the soul ache. DJ Chuang

At a certain point in your life — probably when too much of it has gone by — you will open your eyes and see yourself for who you are — especially for everything that made you so different from all the awful normals. And you will say to yourself, 'But I am this person.' And in that statement there will be a kind of love. Phoebe in Wonderland

We aren't the rules we follow or the rules we break.
We aren't defined by our successes or our failures.
Jesus defines us...

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Friday, March 13, 2009

What about your own personal experience of stress?

While in jail Paul penned these words,

Philippians 4:4-14
Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

I'm glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you're again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don't mean that your help didn't mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.

Is it possible that you & I could actually live in that type of reality?

Are you willing to trust that these words are from the Father to you?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The only way to live...

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

letters & papers from prison

Armin sent me this peom by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote it shortly before his death in a Nazi prison plotting against Hitler. When God calls a man or woman He bids them to come & die - for real. It just takes a little longer for some of us to realize - we're all on Death Row...

Who Am I?
Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equally, smilingly, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were
compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectation of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?

Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, 0 God, I am Thine!

1 Peter 1:2-7
... on assignment by Jesus, the Messiah, writing to exiles scattered to the four winds. Not one is missing, not one forgotten. God the Father has his eye on each of you, and has determined by the work of the Spirit to keep you obedient through the sacrifice of Jesus. May everything good from God be yours!

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you'll have it all—life healed and whole.

I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it's your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I love that ad - reminds me of this quote:

Life is not a journey to the grave
With the intention of
Arriving safely in a pretty
And well preserved body,
But rather to skid in broadside,
Thoroughly used up,
Totally worn out,
And loudly proclaiming,

WOW !!!! What a ride!

2 Timothy 4:6
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Relax, it's just Monday...

Does the 'day of the week' dictate your happiness level?

Oh no - it’s Monday. Tuesday, blah blah blah day; Wednesday is hump day, Thursday filler, TGIF, now I'm working for the weekend, Saturday party hearty until late & Sunday is the dread before Monday shows up once again!

Colossians 3:22-25
Servants, do what you're told by your earthly masters. And don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn't cover up bad work.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Spring forward....

Yes, getting up for today's service @ 1030 AM may feel like a harsh start-up because we lost an hour last night...

Perhaps Paul anticipates this in Ephesians 5:14,
This is why it is said:
"Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Friendship, maturity & the journey of life....

Maturity doesn’t automatically come with the passage of years or experiences gained.

We may be spiritually much younger than our chronological age, or vice versa.

Young Love (or friendship) is 'Loving someone for what they do right'.

Mature Love (or friendship) is 'Loving someone in spite of what they do wrong'.

Ephesians 4:14-15
No prolonged infancies among us, please. We'll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything.

Lord help me grow up before I grow old, & give me some friends I can trust along the way.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Nouwen forever...

Too often I looked at being relevant, popular, and powerful as ingredients of an effective ministry. Jesus sends us out to be shepherds and Jesus promises a life in which we increasingly have to stretch out our hand and be led to places where we would rather not go. He asks us to move from a concern for relevance to a life of prayer, from worries about popularity to communal and mutual ministry, and from a leadership built on power to a leadership in which we critically discern where God is leading us and our people. Henri Nouwen

Thursday, March 05, 2009

What is the name that is big enough to hold your life?

How about 'Child of the Father'?

To be a Christian is to believe that it is the Father who defines our identity and is to be believed against all inner and outer accusations to the contrary when he says to us, “This son of mine”. To know that is not to skulk in the back pew; it is to come forward with confidence to receive the inheritance. The robe which is the garment of sonship is accompanied by the ring which is the insignia of authority and the sandals that distinguish the free man from the slave. The son who comes home is invited back into his lost inheritance, to delight again in his father’s company and goodness and to rejoice. Thomas Smail

Romans 8:9-17
But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won't know what we're talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God's terms. It stands to reason, doesn't it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ's!

So don't you see that we don't owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There's nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what's coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we're certainly going to go through the good times with him!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

We all need a little prayer sometimes...

What can I learn about this? What do you want to teach me, Lord?

Romans 8:35-39
Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We're sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Soak yourself in God's love & grace

Understanding God’s love requires not a classroom lecture but a long bath. Larry Crabb

Monday, March 02, 2009

Every spiritual blessing

May the LORD bless you
& keep you.

May the LORD make His face shine upon
you & be gracious unto you.

May GOD give you His peace,
in your going out & in your coming in,

in your lying down & in your rising up,
in your labor & in your leisure

in your laughter & in your tears,
until you come to stand before Jesus

in that day in which there is no sunset
& no dawning. Amen.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Thanks my friends...

The goal of our relationships is not that anything gets fixed, but that nothing is hidden. John Lynch

A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked. Bernard Melzer