Sunday, February 27, 2005

What Ground?

A thought you and I should be thinking everyday, especially when we come together to worship the One we love and obey! In regards to church (coming together to worship, to study, to pray, to fellowship) is it:


Do we come to church to mingle around with our favorite person, share a few laughs and news, let the Scriptures fly over our head, and heartlessly worship God then say, "This is better than sitting at home and doing nothing.."? Nothing pierces our hearts. We didn't return home with joy knowing that the Word of God has been planted in our hearts and that the Seed is working to change our thoughts and attitudes as I live my daily life every week! In other words, these are people living a "hypocritical" life. Hypocrites, in greek, HUPOKRITES, means "actors". They are merely acting (playing) out a role "pretending" they are Christians who loves and obeys God.


Do we come to church to cause an argument, division, favoritism, irritate one another? Do we pose a bad example to, not only the family of God, but to those who come to seek a Savior in their lives? Those who constantly cause bitterness and quarrels gives no room for church growth. They hinder the faith of another, especially young Christians. We may argue and nag about a certain incident and cease to come together to praise God. This is an area where Satan loves to come in and disrupt our love and devotion we give to the Lord.

"Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." 2 Timothy 2:23-26 (NIV)


Just as Moses approached the burning bush, the Lord spoke, "Do not come any closer," God said, "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Exodus 3:5(NIV) The Spirit in us is persuading us to fulfill the will of God. The question is, "Are we the walking Bible?" Do we do what the Bible says? Are we in obedience of the Lord's command? Are we faithfully serving out His will? The Lord desires us to worship Him, not only on Sunday but everyday. We ought to come together as if we're standing on the Holy Ground before our Awesome God and worship Him with praise, adoration, honor and thanksgiving for His Son who died so we be free from sin and have a "loving relationship" with Him!

So what ground are you standing on?
A playground?
A battleground?

Monday, February 21, 2005

Blooming Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

This Scripture ought to move and excite a child of God! So exciting that we want to be rooted in Him, deeply! The "fruit of the Spirit" which has a tendency to make Christians agreeable to one another and this was very suitable to the caution or exhortation he had before given (Galatians 5:13), that they should "..not use their liberty as an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.."

God exhorts us to:
Love: love God and love our neighbors
Joy: this is much better than happiness, a delight in God regardless of any circumstances
Peace: with God and conscience and in behavior toward one another
Patience: this refrains from anger
Kindness: courteous, and easy to be under restraint when any have wronged us
Goodness: a readiness to do good to others (all) as we have the opportunity
Faithfulness: justice and honesty; in what we profess and promise to others
Gentleness: this governs our passion and resentments
Self-control: depending on the circumstances, do not in excessiveness and immoderate in use of them.

Let's pray:

Lord, grower of spiritual fruit,

Let the fruit of the Spirit blossom, mature, and ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these.

Let me possess them!

Since I belong to Christ, I have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Let me live by the Spirit.
Let me walk by the Spirit!
Let me show no self-conceit, give no provocation, have no envy toward anyone else.
Let me live in, through, and for Christ Jesus, as he lives in, through, and for me and his whole church.

In the name of Jesus I ask you to perfect us, whatever that may take, and give us the grace to endure your renovation process so that the Spirit in every faithful Christian may bloom!


Friday, February 18, 2005

Change Your Lives

"Shameless people, change your lives before you become like a dry and dying flower. In the heat of day, a flower will wilt and die. You will be like that when the Lord shows his terrible anger. So change your lives before the Lord shows his anger against you! All you humble people, come to the Lord! Obey his laws. Learn to do good things. Learn to be humble. Maybe then you will be safe when the Lord shows his anger." Zephaniah 2:1-3 (EVD)

Zephaniah was an Old Testament prophet known for quoting, "The Day of the Lord is coming.." (NIV); "Because the Lord's day for judging the people is coming soon!" (EVD). Zephaniah, most of you probably have never read this part of the Old Testament prophecy, had confronted God's people, Israel (Jerusalem) with rebuke and encouragement. Yet, Israel continued on to sin against God. If you read the next chapter, "Jerusalem, your people fought against God! Your people hurt other people, and you have been stained with sin! Your people didn't listen to me! They didn't accept my teachings. Jerusalem didn't trust the Lord. Jerusalem didn't go to her God." Zephaniah 3:1-2 (EVD)

If you remember, at the beginning of this Blog, the Lord had a conversation with Zephaniah about a "flower" that may, again with emphasis, "may" fall and wilt. This is very similar to the teachings of Jesus when He told His disciples the parable of a Sower in Matthew 13. If you fix your eyes on one Scripture, "But when the sun rose, it burned the plants. The plants died because they did not have deep roots." (6) We understand the seed as the Word of God. The soil is our heart. So it all depends on your heart: hard, rocky, infested with weeds or soft. God had to deal with the heart of Israel. Their hearts were hard as they fought against the command of God. They refused to listen to the prophets of the Lord Most High. See how Jesus felt when He approached Jerusalem:

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." Matthew 23:37 (NIV)

My! Jesus knows the heart of God's people. He weeps for them. He aches in His heart because of their ignorance. They aren't understanding the whole point of God's divine plan. They didn't take His Word deep in their hearts.

What happens, then, when people remain "unchanged" in their hearts. "The Lord said, "So just wait! Wait for me to stand and judge you! I have the right to bring people from many nations and use them to punish you..." Zephaniah 3:8 (EVD) But when we do change our hearts and keep on changing for the glory of God, "Then, Jerusalem, you will no longer be ashamed of the bad things your people do against me. Why? Because I will remove all of those bad people from Jerusalem. I will take away all of those proud people on my holy mountain. I will let only meek and humble people stay in my city (Jerusalem). And they will trust the Lord's name. The survivors of Israel won't do bad things." Zehpaniah 3:11-13a (EVD)

"All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats." Matthew 25:32 (NIV)

When we live a constantly changing lives for the glory of our Lord, the Lord is with us. He loves a heart that keeps on changing for Him. When we learn and accept His teachings, His teaching changes our attitudes and hearts. When we help other people make good decisions, this shows we're different from the world. When we fear the Lord, we show a changing lifestyle. God wants us to respect Him and His Word.

"The Lord your God is with you. He is like a powerful soldier. He will save you. He will show how much he loves you. He will show you how happy he is with you. He will laught and be happy about you, like people at a party." Zephaniah 3:17-18 (EVD)

When we show a "changing life" before the world, the world will return to the Lord with praise! Change your lives, people!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I Will Sing

Good morning! What a beautiful day it was yesterday, despite that most of us have stayed inside working. I am up early this morning (5:20 a.m.) letting a girl of a single mother inside. We're helping her by getting her daughter to school each morning, except Thursday and Friday. She is now re-catching some Z-z's before the rooster crows at 6:30 a.m..

Today, will you sing with me? I love to sing songs to the Lord! It's a wonderful way to express our love to God. He loves to hear our hearts sing to Him. We pour it out before Him with adoration and praise. I am reading Don Moen's article about singing. Thought you will enjoy this just as I did! Here it goes:

When you're privileged to do what I do, to travel around the country and minister to others through worship, you see a lot of church signs. And depending on what neck of the woods you're in, some signs just don't make a lot of sense to those passing by. Like the one I saw out in front of a beautiful white clapboard chapel on a state highway in Louisiana. It said, "Today's Sermon: the Word of God." Trouble was, besides the obvious fact that all sermons should be based on the Bible, I passed that sign on a Thursday. That sermon was long finished."

Another sign I saw recently confused me. It read: "Potluck Revival, Sunday-Wednesday." I'm still not sure if that church was having a revival or a four-day buffet.

But one church sign seems to be cropping up more than others these days:

"Sinners Welcome Here."

And everytime I see one, I think: "Thank the Lord for just telling it like it is."

The only difference between the sinners inside churches and the sinners outside churches is the amazing grace and forgiveness of God. The saints really are sinners who still fall down, but by the outstretched arm of a merciful God, we get up again. And again.......

Trouble is, too many Christians think that they have to be worthy to worship the Lord. Many walk through the work week feeling that God is far away. They don't try to pray because they're not convinced He's listening. And besides, the anger and fear and doubt that consume their thoughts isn't really the stuff you're supposed to tell God about, right?

Few things are farther from the truth. Psalm 145:18 says, "The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." You can - in fact, God wants you to - tell Him what you really think. To be honest about what's going on in your life and in your heart. He already knows what's going on anyway, but He longs for you to tell Him all the same.

THE REALITY: is that everyone goes through days when we feel God is far away. There's a phoniness in some Christian circles that says you don't admit that. But just look at Psalm 109 where David - the sweet psalmist of Israel who said, "I will bless the Lord at all times" - tells God all about his fear and doubt, in no uncertain terms. Why is David so bold? Because he couldn't be anything but honest before the Lord. That's what God wants in our worship - our spirit and our truth.

The truth really does set us free. Free to worship with our whole hearts.

And "Free to sing praise, sing praise, sing praise before our loving God!" We worship because God is worthy and that is the only reason we need. He is Holy and we're made holy through His Son. He is Worthy and we're made worthy through the sacrifice of Jesus. He is Mighty and Jesus is mighty to save us from condemnation. That's why we worship Him. That's why we praise Him. But in the last few years there are some things I have been thinking and this you ought. God uses worship to prepare our hearts to receive ministry, to prepare us to minister to others, and I believe that many battles are won in the spiritual realm when we worship. Amen? When we worship Him in spirit and truth, people who don't know God are drawn to Him! And because of God, I will sing!

I WILL SING by Don Moen

Lord, You seem so far away..
A million miles or more it feels today..
And through I haven't lost my faith..
I must confess right now..
That it's hard for me to pray..
But I don't know what to say..
And I don't know where to start..
But as You give the grace..
With all that's in my heart..

I will sing, I will praise..
Even in my darkest hour..
Through the sorrow and the pain..
I will sing, I will praise..
Lift my hands to honor You..
Because Your Word is truth..

I.... will...... sing.........

Be desperate Nike of God!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Born Once, Die Twice; Born Twice, Die Once

"And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence the earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and the books were opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged, everyone of them according to their deeds... and death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:11-15).

Last weekend, Michelle and I watched a movie, "Luther" based on the life of Martin Luther during the 15th century (1517). My, it was a good movie! You can feel the thermostat rise in your very bodies when Luther constant tries to persuade the Catholics to reform their ways and rely on the truths of the Bible. But the Catholics turned against him calling him a heretic asking him to "recant" which means to take back what he has said and stick with their doctrine, or otherwise be condemned to death. Luther has shown tremendous faith confronting the papacy, even unto death! We highly recommend that you rent this DVD movie, "Luther"! I would like to share with you an article (one of hundreds of articles written by Luther) emphasizing the importance of baptism. Here's what Luther wrote:

What is baptism? Answer: Baptism is not merely water, but it is water used according to God's command and connected with God's word. What gifts or benefits does baptism bestow? Answer: It effects forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and grants eternal salvation to all who believe, as the Word and promise of God declare. How can water produce such effects? Answer: It is not the water that produces these effects, but the word of God connected with the water, and our faith relies upon the word of God connected with the water. For without the word of God, the water is merely water and not baptism. But when connected with the word of God the water is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Spirit."
-The Smaller Catechism; Martin Luther; 1529 A.D.

"Born Once - Die Twice"

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our lord." (Romans 6:23). There are several states referred to as "death" in the Bible. There is "physical death". This is the one we usually mean by the term. The Bible points out that the physical body is dead when the spirit separates from it (James 2:26).
There is also "spiritual death". This is the state that describes sinners who are separated from God by their sins (Ephesians 2:1;12). It was in this sense that Adam and Eve died in the very day they disobeyed God. They died spiritually, and also became subject to physical death.
Finally, there is the "second death". This is the eternal state of alienation from God described in Revelation 20:11-15; the "lake of fire". There is much we do not know about this last state mentioned, but we do know enough to understand that it would be the worst tragedy to suffer such a plight. There are many passages which describe the "second death" (Revelation 21:8; 20:10; 14:9-11; Mark 9:42-48; Matthew 25:30,41,46; 22:13).

"Born Twice - Die Once"

Jesus answered and said unto him, 'Truly, truly I say unto you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God... unless one is born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:3,5). The way to avoid the second death is to be a partaker in the second birth! Jesus said that there were two necessary parts in being "born again". He referred to it as "being born of the water and the Spirit".

Later, following His resurrection, He will send out the apostles to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:18-20, cf. Mark 16:15,16). Obeying His commands, the apostles taught the believers on the day of Pentecost to "repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:37,38). When the Ethiopian nobleman heard the gospel and then saw some water, he expressed the desire to be baptized in the water, and subsequently was (Acts 8:35-39). Saul of Tarsus was told, "Arise, and be baptized, washing away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16). This is how "baptism does also now save (us)" (1 Peter 3:20,21).

Therefore, we're born once (natural birth), die twice (spiritual and physical death); born twice (natural and spiritual birth), die once (physical death).

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


"My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises." Psalm 119:148

When you close your eyes, what do you see? Nothing. Pitch black. No color of any kind. No picture. No abstracts. No perspective. If we close the eyes of our heart, can you explain the seriousness of this condition?

When we contemplate Scripture, God's very personal message to us, it moves our hearts toward Him - sometimes it even inspires a song! It enables us to look up and see with "spiritual eyes" instead of focusing on ourselves and earthly problems. It corrects our "perspective".

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. " 2 Corinthians 4:16

When our "spiritual eyes" are closed shut, we do not understand the troubles we're wrestling with. We cannot grasp that God's love is greater than our pain. We do not kneel before God to help us in our time of great need. And we don't understand all that life is!

I encourage you, as you go through your daily routine, to keep a portion of Scripture - whether it's what you've read, heard from a minister, discussed with a friend, or heard in a song - in your thoughts. Put is down on a Post-it note on your car dashboard or on the mirror in your bathroom or on the refrigerator door. Remind yourself of it regularly. What does it really mean? How can you apply it to your life? Pray that the Lord will enlighten you and bring appropriate verses to mind as you need them, especially during a time of trouble.

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord,
Open the eyes of my heart,
I want to see You...
I want to see You...

To see You high and lifted up,
Shining in the midst of Your glory,
Lord, pour our Your power and love,
As we sing, Holy, Holy, Holy....

Beautiful song! One of my favorite! Not only do we want our "eyes open" to see God's truth in Scripture and in the world, but as this prayerful song says, we want to see God for who He is and understand Him as fully as we can with all of our earthly struggles and limitations.

Let's pray: Lord, we long " see You high and lifted up.." and "..shining in the midst of Your glory!" We humbly ask that You, "..pour out Your power and love, as we sing, 'Holy, Holy, Holy..'" I can't imagine closing my "spiritual eyes" before You and walk blindly the rest of my earthly life. I pray that, not only me but the rest of those who loves You, will stand in awe of Your beautiful light through Your Word and the examples of the faithful. We must fall down to our knees, bowed down in humility - overwhelmed by gratitude and amazement at the thought of You wanting us to know You and have fellowship with You!

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see You.

Monday, February 07, 2005


I don't know about you but I believe yesterday's worship was awesome, especially when we all knelt before the One before time! I don't know about you but when I asked the congregation to kneel before God and knelt before Him, I felt the fresh outpouring of the Spirit come into me! I could feel the transformation in me and I pray that is true for each of you!

It is all mysterious! When we kneel before Him, we declare that He is God: pure, holy, blameless, magnificent, ultimate, beyond decay, awesome, and reigning high on His throne with His Son, Jesus, on the right! We humble ourselves before Him declaring His majesty. When we kneel, we ask to constantly transform us into the likeness of His Son, Jesus. But in the world we live, we're exposed with all kinds of evil portraits that invades the very eyes of our soul and eventually creeps into the very core of our hearts. The heart is where transformation begins. However, Satan clouds the channel we may have with God poisoning our eyes with doubts and confusion slowing the transformation process.

In the world, there's so much hatred passing through the channel leading toward our hearts. Instead, we need to ignore such evil and train our eyes on LOVE. Often, we hear this, "God is love." "For God so loved the world He..." "He loved us and gave Himself for us.." How many times, in the Bible, did the word, "LOVE" appear? Count the stars in the sky? You can't? Then that's how many there are in the Bible. You cannot destroy love. You can't even create it. To get love, it had to come from the source of love itself, and it slowly but surely seeps its way through every inch and pore of our beings. And through its power, it transforms everything it touches into the workings of His will. God, the lover, becomes Love itself.

God's gift of love to the world is: JESUS! It is far beyond our imagination! It is a breathtaking realization: IT WILL NEVER GO AWAY! Love never, will never leave you. You couldn't shake it if you tried. Yes, about Jesus! A man lashed onto a tree (cross). The desperate cry of "My God, why did You forsake Me!". The sun leaving the sky, unable to bear the sight below. God painted on that sorry, lonely hill, when all of love seems to have forever vanished! But it was not. It could not be destroyed. And just as He said it would, three days later, love transformed death into one empty tomb of life!

So we have this one great hope that the love (Jesus) in you will forever transform you, whether you struggle in its clutches or bask in its comfort, that everything dead in you can gloriously rise each new day into the wonderful new life, forgetting what "Yesterday" did! There's always a New Beginning! Only Jesus can provide that when we humbly kneel before Him and ask Him to help us Become Jesus!

Friday, February 04, 2005


"Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us; He has injured us but He will bind up our wounds." Hosea 6:1

I hate it when I sin against God! And I know you do, too! It is the pain that helps us understand that there's more to life than itself! Pain is good, sways us from things that are life-threatening. If I get a cut, no matter how nasty it is, quickly I take the piece of my flesh away from it and hold it to keep it from bleeding. Then I soothe it with some ointment and cover it with some bandages to prevent an infection. Then the wound heals, scar is visible for a while then vanishes!

What is interesting is that an injury that is serious leaves a visible scar as a reminder to learn from whatever caused it as a precaution that we don't do it again. Other injury that doesn't leave a scar often becomes a repetition, even though we learned not to injure ourselves again, we do it anyways!

It is the same with sin. Most of our sins appears so small that we repeat it all over again. But a sin that appears to great that it leaves a scar in your heart, it persuades you to refrain from such sin.

So suffering will always be in the world where we live. You may say, "As for me, I don't want it. Suffering, that is. I don't want to have to spend hours running from it. And if it did catch up to me, I wouldn't care to take any lessons from it. If the rules mean I have to go through hell to learn something, I'd rather just read about it in a book. Unfortunately, yet again, I am not in charge here."

Then God came near. "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains." wrote C.S. Lewis, and that perhaps is more a reflection of our human character than it is of God's best plan for reaching His creations (that's us!). If we'd listen to His whisper when everything was rosy, it wouldn't take a megaphone of pain to get our attention. But why and how He chooses even to speak to us in the first place still remains a mystery. And how pain could be His calling card - a greater one still.

Explain the Holocaust?
Explain the Twin Towers in New York?
Explain the Tsunami?
Explain our own pain we're trying to endure?

Did it make anyone strong? If it did, I can't imagine that it was worth the price. Consider this, "Surely he bore our sorrows.." writes Isaiah, and surely He did see suffering from both its side. As a man He walked and wept with every broken heart that met His gaze, and as a Messiah on the cross! We crushed Him! Our sins crushed Him. We crushed Him with our evil hearts! We crushed Him with every evil intention we thought and have done! He suffered and persevered from the garden to the cross! Instead of Jesus sending legions of angels to destroy us, He made us stronger. We killed Him and He made us stronger to persevere through our own trials!

God works in mysterious ways!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Check it out!

Brother Cesone posted a neat blog called, "Ten Things God Never Says..". Thanks to Dennis for posting this for us.

Remember His Grace

My what a month we had (January)! We had two snowy (and icy) weekends in a row resulting in one Sunday postponement and one Sunday cancellation. It sure makes me thirsty and hungry when I miss the important day of the week, worshipping God! Though, we couldn't come to praise Him altogether, we continue to praise Him from home. That was more of an appetizer to us. Worship is a main course and fellowship is our dessert! Oh, how we need God to soak our soul with His loving grace! That's what I am going to talk about today! GRACE!

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect." 1 Cor. 15:10

Someone saw a bumper sticker on an old car that says, "GRACE HAPPENS". You can imagine how many words on the bumper stickers fills in the blank before "happens" like, "----------- HAPPENS". I have seen a bumper sticker says, "HAPPENS HAPPENS". But this one, "GRACE HAPPENS" meant so much more!

I read a article regarding the powerful word, "GRACE". It reads like this,

"A plane goes down and the newscaster, without emotion, can read the numbers of people who won't go home again. People with bombs bigger than their ideas randomly pick a building and take it and all the people in it away in one awful blast. And innocents die, and love ends, and life remains eternally unfair. And we wonder, for the millionth time, why bad things have to happen, even to strangers - because we know it just as easily could be us.

But grace tiptoes along more silently and invisibly than those clanging chimes of doom. The kindness of a stranger streaks its light across our room; mercy is in the middle of the heart of someone whose forgiveness we beg; another plane bursts through the air, defies all laws of ground and gravity, and brings home the one we love most. And when that good happens, we forget to ask why. The One we easily blame and whine to for all the bad is still the Giver of all good things who never gives up trying to show us the miracle of just being alive."

The real grace for you and me is - God opening our ears to hear the music of life buzzing around us and widening our eyes to the ever-present, extravagant light of His love. God's grace happens everywhere - even in a traffic jam on I-66 and 495 in Virginia! The jam that left you with nothing to do but read every bumper sticker or license plate that surrounds you. Remember to look for Him while you're there. Don't forget to honk if you love what they're displaying on the back of their car!

Remember His grace - all day, everyday! And, in addition to that, remember you're a NIKE of God! Those with great faith are more than conquerors of the Holy One!