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Archive for July, 2011

A Grateful Nation.


Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. Psalm 106:47

God loves a grateful nation.

Just as an individual cannot “out-thank” the Lord—for God pours out His blessing more than ever, so a nation cannot out-thank God either.

Just as those individuals who praised God on Palm Sunday possibly did so selfishly, even ignorantly and for the wrong reasons—and God accepted their praise, so God accepts the praise of a nation that attempts to show gratitude to Him.

It does not necessarily matter that every single person who participates in such thanksgiving is a faithful servant of God in his or her private life; God just notices a nation overall that makes any attempt to show gratitude to Him.

If this message were to get through to heads of state, even if they are not themselves born again, I believe most of them would still want to lead the nation to show thanks—if only for what it would do for that nation.

God inhabits the praise of people.

If any nation were to show thanks to the true God—the One who sent His only Son into the world, that nation would be so much better off.

We should be continually thankful to God (and remember to tell Him so) for laws in the land that outlaw theft, murder, and other crimes; for medical people, for the police, for firemen.

God’s common grace preserves a measure of order in the world.

However chaotic things may seem from time to time—whether through terrorism or natural disasters, the truth is that if God utterly withdrew His hand from the world, all hell would break loose and civilization as we know it would end overnight.

It is in the interest of any nation to show reverence to the God of the Bible.

Excerpted from The Word and the Spirit (Charisma House, 1998).

By R. T. KENDALL.

{ Day 211 }.


I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness knownthrough all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself. Psalm 89:1-2 When we begin to understand God‘s emotions for us, a corresponding emotion is quickened in our hearts. For example, when we behold the passion in God’s heart for us, our own hearts start to feel passion toward Him. We enjoy Jesus—why?. Because we finally “get” that He enjoys us. We pursue Jesus because we grasp that He is pursuing us. The point is that our gazing into the emotions of God transforms us from the inside out. If you want to become a fiery lover of God, then you must understand God as the fiery lover of all the ages. The secret to having more love—or peace or joy or faith or any fruit of the Spirit—is enjoying God more. Wow! What a revelation! Trying harder will get you nowhere. { PRAYER STARTER } God, I finally “get” it—You are pursuing me, You are seeking ways to bring me into a relationship with You. Here I am, Lord; overtake me and overwhelm me with Your glory. We are committed and dedicated to Jesus because it hits us that He is committed and dedicated to us. By MIKE BICKLE.

Soul Surfing I: When Loss Grows Faith.


waves crashing

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

One Sunday morning in the Crystal Cathedral not too long ago, I had the honor to meet and speak briefly with Bethany Hamilton.

She’s the young woman who lost her entire left arm when it was bitten off by a 14-foot long tiger shark while she was surfing not far from her home in Hawaii.

She lost 60% of her blood supply by the time she finally arrived at a hospital.

At the time of her attack, she was 13 years old and ranked as one of the top amateur female surfers in the world.

She had just been contracted to become a professional.

The story of her faith-filled recovery from this horrifying shark attack is so compelling that a full-length motion picture, “Soul Surfer,” opened nationwide this past spring.

Sheila and I have seen it…and we encourage you to see it, too.

In the movie, Bethany’s father is shown sitting at her hospital bedside reading his Bible, while she sleeps.

When she awakens, she asks him, “Dad, will I ever be able to surf again?”

He replies, “I can do all things…”

And she finishes the sentence by saying, “…through Christ who strengthens me.”

I’ve admired talented surfers since my early teens.

At 61 years old now, I’m still fascinated to see men and women who can speed across and maneuver skillfully on the surface of a sparkling mound of rapidly moving water.

Bethany surfs waves of all sizes, large and small.

The larger a wave, the faster it moves, so, paddling fast enough to catch it in the first place is a demanding art in itself.

I was curious about this, so I asked her, “How do you paddle fast enough with one arm and hand to catch the wave?”

“No big deal,” she said. “I just catch the wave slightly later, closer to its breaking point when speed’s not as critical.”

She said, “No big deal.”

But, I know that this fraction of a moment, as the wave crests, makes the front surface of the wave much steeper… meaning that Bethany has to more quickly push herself up to her feet (using only one hand instead of two) at a much more precarious and near-vertical position than any “normal” surfer would ever want to.

It means that by her conditioning her senses and instincts to adapt to her new body, her skills have honed themselves sharper than ever necessary before.

Today, Bethany is one of the top-ranked professional women surfers in the world.

She gives credit and praise to God for her success.

Because of the events of her accident, she’s a beacon everywhere she goes – an attention magnet – and she proclaims her faith in God at all times to all people.

Because of her inspiring triumph of seemingly overwhelming adversity, her testimony of God’s power is getting more attention than it ever would have BEFORE or without the attack.

She truly “turned her scar into a star”* and will remain, for the rest of her life.

an individual surfing for souls for God’s great Kingdom.

      *                       *                      *

PRAYER:

Lord God, you’ve used countless persons throughout the ages to spread Your message of love.

Use me.

I want to be used by You.

You speak; tell me how, tell me when…and I’ll listen.

I want to help save souls for YOU, whatever the cost. Amen.

*                       *                      *   

  

How has God used you…or, how does God want to use you…on this earth to positively change lives?.

Do you see adversities as a help or a hindrance to do so?.

Written by Jim Coleman.


He Is Here.


By Vine.

From there he arose, and went away into the borders of Tyre and Sidon. He entered into a house, and didn’t want anyone to know it, but he couldn’t escape notice.Mark 7:24

The fame of Christ was known all throughout the country to such an extent that for Him to travel anywhere without being recognized would be almost impossible.

No doubt there was something in is appearance and demeanor that distinguished Him from other men and soon revealed Him.

There must have been a rare sweetness in His face, the outpouring of the great love of His heart.

There was no halo upon His features, as many artists have depicted in their paintings, and yet there must have been a glow of grace that revealed Him to sad and hungry hearts.

Christ never can never be hidden.

There’s no place in this world where His presence can not be recognized for too long.

You can hide sweet-smelling flowers so that they cannot be seen, but soon the fragrance will reveal their hiding-place.

So the sweetness of the Savior’s life and love will always tell when He is near.

When He enters a human heart He cannot be hidden; for soon His Spirit begins to breathe out in all the words, actions, and life of the new follower.

When He enters a home He cannot long be hidden, for the home is changed.

Worldliness, bitterness, and sin give way to prayer and praise — to the spirit of love and gentleness, and to purity and holiness.

When He enters a community He cannot remain concealed.

The stories of missionary work illustrate this. Christ will always reveal His presence in this world.

The same is true also of all faithful discipleship.

A Christian cannot be hid. If the love of Christ is truly in his heart, people around him will know it very soon.

They will see it in his character and disposition, in the way he honors God, in the way he treats his fellow-men.

When someone can hide his religion, she doesn’t have much of it to hide.

True religion breathes out in fragrance and shines out its light.

Apply This To Your Life Today… Is your religion hidden? How do those around you know you are a Christ-bearer?


Bible In A Year: July 30th…

By Book Old Testament New Testament Proverbs & Psalms
Isaiah 31-33 1 Chronicles 7-8 Romans 13:1-14 Psalm 89:38-45

Joy Busters: Jealousy (An Unhappy Existence).


Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, but who is able to stand before jealousy?

Proverbs 27:4

Recommended Reading
James 3:13-18

Wanda Holloway, the “Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom,” attempted to hire a hit-man to kill the mother of her daughter’s cheerleading rival, hoping to give her daughter the upper hand.

The girls were only thirteen at the time.

This is unconceivable to us that a mother would be driven to such an action, but her desire to further her daughter’s cheerleading prospects was greater than her rational thinking.

She was driven by jealousy.

Jealousy is destructive–the Bible is full of evidence supporting its critical nature.

Cain killed Abel.

Saul attempted to take David‘s life.

Joseph‘s brothers sold him into slavery. J

ealousy sneaks into our lives and strangles those closest to us.

How can we overcome the jealousy that seeks to destroy?.

Rather than wish evil against someone, we can remember them in prayer.

When we pray for someone, it’s very difficult to desire evil in their lives.

Very few acts are more encouraging, even if the person never knows we’re praying for them.

And while we’re praying for them, we can also thank God for the many blessings in our lives.

When we focus on what we do have, rather than what we wish we had, our jealous tendencies begin to wane.

The cure for the sin of envy and jealousy is to find our contentment in God.

Jerry Bridges

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Isaiah 63:1-66:24
Jeremiah 1:1-3:25

By David Jeremiah.

You Can’t Teach A Frog To Fly, So Stop Trying.


Guest Post by Steve Brown (read more about Steve here). Few people make me laugh more than Steve. Enjoy…

I’ve had a lousy job for most of my life.

As you know, I’m a preacher/pastor and my job description is to keep people from doing what they obviously want to do.

I’ve often felt like an overwhelmed police officer at a rock concert charged with keeping the concert goers from using drugs.

With a job description like mine, you hardly ever get invited to parties, people are not very honest, and sometimes you feel like a wet shaggy dog shaking himself at a wedding.

I tell them that I’m trying to help and that God anointed me to reach out to them, but they simply don’t care.

Preachers are supposed to keep people from sinning.

I haven’t been very successful so far.

There are times when I feel like I’m standing by a cliff where people come to dance.

“Be careful,” I tell them. “It’s a long way down and the stop will be quite unpleasant.”

They look at me.

They sometimes even thank me.

Then they jump.

But I keep at it. “Hey,” I say to the next group who approach the cliff, “not too long ago, I saw people go off that cliff and if you’ll bend over and look, you can see the bloody mess they made.”

Like everybody else, since I’ve been standing beside the cliff, they seem grateful for my concern.

They maybe even say something about my compassion and wisdom.

Then they jump.

Frankly, I’m tired of it.

In fact, I’ve given up standing by this stupid cliff.

I’m tired of being people’s mother.

I’m tired of trying to prevent the unpreventable.

I’m tired of talking to people who don’t want to listen.

And I’m tired of pointing out the obvious.

Just when I determine to leave my position by the cliff, to my horror and surprise…

I jump!

What’s with that?

Let me tell you.

There is a very human and undeniable proclivity of human beings to sin-to jump off the cliff.

We’re drawn to it. We love it (at least for awhile).

No matter who tries to keep us from doing it or how much pain it will cause, we are irresistibly drawn to that cliff.

Maybe we want to fly.

Could be that we have a masochistic streak in our DNA.

Could be that our default position is jumping off cliffs.

I don’t know.

But for whatever reason, we do jump, we do get hurt, and if we survive, we then climb back up the cliff and jump again.

There is a parable (author unknown) about Felix, the flying frog.

Even if I mix the metaphor a bit, let me tell you the parable.

Once upon a time, there lived a man named Clarence who had a pet frog named Felix. Clarence lived a modestly comfortable existence on what he earned working at the Wal-Mart, but he always dreamed of being rich. “Felix!” he said one day, hit by sudden inspiration, “We’re going to be rich! I’m going to teach you to fly!”

Felix, of course, was terrified at the prospect.

“I can’t fly, you twit! I’m a frog, not a canary!”

Clarence, disappointed at the initial response, told Felix: “That negative attitude of yours could be a real problem.

We’re going to remain poor, and it will be your fault.”

So Felix and Clarence began their work on flying.

On the first day of the “flying lessons,” Clarence could barely control his excitement (and Felix could barely control his bladder). Clarence explained that their apartment building had 15 floors, and each day Felix would jump out of a window, starting with the first floor and eventually getting to the top floor. After each jump, they would analyze how well he flew, isolate the most effective flying techniques, and implement the improved process for the next flight. By the time they reached the top floor, Felix would surely be able to fly.

Felix pleaded for his life, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.

“He just doesn’t understand how important this is,” thought Clarence.

“He can’t see the big picture.”

So, with that, Clarence opened the window and threw Felix out.

He landed with a thud.

The next day, poised for his second flying lesson, Felix again begged not to be thrown out of the window.

Clarence told Felix about how one must always expect resistance when introducing new, innovative plans.

With that, he threw Felix out the window. THUD!

Now this is not to say that Felix wasn’t trying his best.

On the fifth day, he flapped his legs madly in a vain attempt at flying.

On the sixth day, he tied a small red cape around his neck and tried to think “Superman” thoughts.

It didn’t help.

By the seventh day, Felix, accepting his fate, no longer begged for mercy.

He simply looked at Clarence and said, “You know you’re killing me, don’t you?”

Clarence pointed out that Felix’s performance so far had been less than exemplary, failing to meet any of the milestone goals he had set for him.

With that, Felix said quietly, “Shut up and open the window,” and he leaped out, taking careful aim at the large jagged rock by the corner of the building.

Felix went to that great lily pad in the sky.

Clarence was extremely upset, as his project had failed to meet a single objective that he had set out to accomplish.

Felix had not only failed to fly, he hadn’t even learned to steer his fall as he dropped like a sack of cement, nor had he heeded Clarence’s advice to “Fall smarter, not harder.”

The only thing left for Clarence to do was to analyze the process and try to determine where it had gone wrong.

After much thought, Clarence smiled and said…

“Next time, I’m getting a smarter frog!”

A number of years ago, I realized that I was, as it were, trying to teach frogs to fly.

Frogs can’t fly.

Not only that, they get angry when you try to teach them.

The gullible ones will try, but they eventually get hurt so badly they quit trying.

And the really sad thing about being a “frog flying teacher” is that I can’t fly either.

Let me tell you a secret

. If one is a teacher trying to teach frogs to fly, nobody ever bothers to ask if you can fly.

In fact, if you pretend that you’re an expert and tell a lot of stories about flying; if you can throw in a bit of aeronautical jargon about stalls, spins and flight maneuvers; and if you carry around a “Flight Manual” and know your way around it, nobody will question your ability to fly.

You just pretend you’re an expert and tell stories, and the students will think you can fly.

The problem is that you become so phony you can’t stand yourself.

So I’ve repented.

Now I just send them to Jesus and try to get out of the way.

Come to think of it, if you’re struggling with sin and aren’t getting better, don’t come to me.

I like you okay, but that kind of depends on how my day is going.

Instead of coming to me, run to Jesus. He’ll love you and maybe even make you better.

By Tullian Tchividjian.

Leading Worship in Light of Christ’s Perfection.


[Editor’s note: the article below was adapted from a blog post by Bob Kauflin that first appeared at www.worshipmatters.com.]

Not too long ago a group of friends and I finished reading together The Cross And Christian Ministry by D.A. Carson.

It’s a book every Christian leader could benefit from. One group member, Matt Richley, wrote down a few thoughts about two quotes he found in chapter 2.

I thought you’d enjoy them. Here are the quotes, followed by Matt’s response.

“It is idiotic – that is not too strong a word – to extol the world’s perspective and secretly lust after its limited vision. This is what the Corinthians were apperently doing; that is what we are in danger of doing every time we adopt our world’s shibboleths, dote on its heros, admire its transient stars, seek its admiration, and play to its applause.”

“We must come back to the cross, and to God’s plan of redemption that centers on the cross, and make that the point of our self-identification.”

I was challenged by this when I considered how I lead people in corporate worship.

I was aware that often, I would be riddled with nervousness, feeling the continual battle with pride and the fear of man.

I was concerned with my musical ‘performance’ and how well I would articulate verbal transitions between songs.

I was aware of my weakness, which is good because it helps me recognize my need for and dependence on God.

But instead of giving Him glory, in those moments I was craving the praise of man and wanted people to think well of my leadership and musical skill (not that my gifting is particularly significant).

What I find so funny and ironic is that the gifting I do have, by the very nature of a gift, was given to me by someone else, namely God!

And yet I try and claim some achievement or prideful ownership over those gifts.

I was convicted by Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians:

What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?  (1 Cor 4:7)

In the midst of discussion about these things, the other guys helped me see what I was initially blind to.

Here’s what I gleaned about preparing to lead the church in corporate worship in a way that redirects the focus from ourselves to the risen Savior:

Don’t Expect Your Own Perfection – Lead in Light of His Perfection

Romans 3:23-24 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

If I’m aiming to lead (speaking and/or musically) flawlessly then I am dooming myself to discouragement because I will never do it perfectly!

Yes, I could do it better, (and evaluation is a useful tool to cultivate humility) but I do it from the foundation that I am already accepted in Christ and that my worship is pleasing to God through Jesus’ perfect sacrifice.

Christ has done the work that no other could do, and the work is finished – His worship was perfect.

Our worship then, through redemption is in Christ.

It is cleansed through his blood and is a pleasing aroma of Christ to God.

Because our righteousness is in Christ – ‘prepare’, ‘practice’ and ‘lead’ in the good of that

Prepare for, practice and lead in light of the fact that ‘our righteousness is in Christ’.

We don’t have to prove our worth or value as a member of the church or hold up an identity of ‘The Worship Leader‘!

We just need to show/remind people of the greatness, mercy, kindness, love of God, the pinnacle of all these being at the cross.

That doesn’t negate preparation and practice, but our identity isn’t in our role or position or in how well we do, but as a redeemed child of God.

A good signpost doesn’t say, “look at me, what a great sign I am, aren’t I so clear, bold and striking!”

No, a good signpost doesn’t distract or call for attention to itself, but points you to something greater. Humble leaders point people to Jesus.

The Spirit of God Does The Work…so don’t you try to!

Bryan Chapell says this,

“The Holy Spirit uses our words, but his work, not ours, affects the hidden recesses of the human will.”

We may bring words, but God does the work, and He does so through and in spite of our sin tainted hearts and weakness.

As we take comfort in this, we don’t have to try and manipulate a response in people’s hearts from smooth progressions and eloquent speech (not to deny their value).

God loves his church and He and He alone does the work through His Spirit and can do so with or without me or you.

One Last Quote From Carson…

“Whenever the periphery is in danger of displacing the center, we are not far removed from idolatry.”

It’s so easy for leaders to be more focused on musical techniques and smooth transitions (though they are helpful and we don’t want to be distracting).

But our aim is to be leaders that are focused on Christ and Him crucified so that we can help others magnify Him who in His unsearchable greatness has saved sinners like us.

~ Matt Richley

By Bob Kauflin.

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