He Knew Me, He Consecrated Me, He Called Me

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Jeremiah 1:5
(ESV) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

The words of the Lord are so amazing! The Lord says "Before I formed you...I knew you" then He says "I consecrated you" and finally He says "I appointed you". These words bring joy to my soul, especially when I keep them in this order. He knows me, or loves me just because! Then he claims me as His very own. And then, because He loves me and has claimed me, He provides a place for me to serve Him.

One of the great dangers in ministry is forgetting that God knew you before He called you. Don't forget that God knew you and loved you long before you took on your current ministry role and He will love you regardless of how successful you feel or how long you serve in that position. Are you cultivating your relationship with the Lord? Are you taking time out of your busy schedule to simply be with the God who knew you, consecrated you, and called you? Is it time for you to take a morning off and spend it alone with God over a cup of coffee, your Bible, and a journal? Let us not be guilty of pointing people to a God we have neglected to spend time with ourselves.

1 Corinthians 9:26–27 (The Message) — 26 I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! 27 I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.


Keeping Our Eyes On Jesus

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“Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.” ~ Walt Whitman

Keep your face always toward the SON...

Hebrews 12:1–2 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.


God Separates Us From Our Sins

China Beach, San Francisco

"And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins." Psalm 103:12

I don't have to be convinced that I'm a sinner, I just know that I am (Romans 3:10,23). I have my share of critics and I'm sure you do too, fortunately we have only one master (Romans 14:4) I'm willing to stipulate with those who don't think that I do a very good job at much of anything that I probably disappoint and drop the ball far too often, but God knows that my heart is full of love for God and His people (1 Peter 4:8).

Kathy and I made a trip to China Beach in San Francisco last week to watch the sunset. We got there just a little bit too late which was fine since I really don't mind night photography. This long exposure was able to catch the last little bit of the sunset that wasn't really even visible to the naked eye. I could watch the sunset every night and never get bored with it.

The thought that stirred within my soul that night was this, however imperfect and sinful we are, God separates us from our sins. Think about that! He doesn't throw us away because of our sins, He carefully separates us from our sins. He removes them from us and sends them as far as the sunrise is from sunset. That's a long, long way! How does He do this? He forgives.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9

Just another thought... Wouldn't our world be a better place if we would be willing to separate the sins from the sinners? If we would forgive like God forgives? Our brothers and sisters are far to valuable for us to cast them aside when they mess up!


in The Beginning

The first three words in the Bible are so powerful. They are not your typical, "Once upon a time". The first three words of Scripture, "In the beginning", are from a Hebrew word that could be translated as "choice" or "firstfruits". We can gather from this that creation is God's gift to himself - the "choice", the "firstfruits" of his divine activity.

Ken Hemphill, in his book 'Making Change', shares three truths from this opening phrase of God's Word.

"In the begining" means there is more to come. In God's declaration of the beging it is understood that He will direct what the "more" will be.

"In the beginning" also anticipates it's ultimate end. Isaiah 46:9-11

"In the beginning" means that the creator is also the owner. Everything was created by and for him.

Three simple words. They hold such significant truth about how we relate both to God and his created order.


Every Woman Should Know

AngelouColor.jpgI read a great poem tonight by Maya Angelou. One line reads...

"Every Woman Should Know...That her childhood may not have been perfect...But it's over".

That is such a simple yet profound line. As a pastor, I run across people all the time that are hung up on their past. Some just hold on to past hurts and allow these to continue to cause them pain. Some set out to get even with those who let them down while growing up, but only succeed in making a mess of their own lives. Others simply blame their mistakes on anyone and anything they can.

One of my favorite scripture verses is Ephesians 4:26. My version, "Be Angry, Be Christlike, Get Over It, Move On". Too many people get stuck on the 'Be Angry' part. These people are miserable and tend to make everyone around them miserable. If you are angry about your past, get over it. Move on! It's over. Don't let your past mess up your today. Don't let your today be something you regret tomorrow.


The Pastor's Wife

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My wife and I spent an evening this past week doing a little counseling with another married couple. During the course of our conversation I mentioned to them that couples should never stop dating each other. Married couples need to set aside time each week to go out. I mentioned that when they go out they should ask each other what they needed to do to be a better husband or a better wife. Who better to tell you how to be a better husband than your own wife? Who better to tell you how to be a better wife than your husband? The truth is we might be surprised by our mate's answers.

I've been thinking about that conversation for the last few days. There are lot's of people who offer up opinions on what makes a great pastor's wife. The Bible says nothing really about the role of 'Pastor's Wife' but it is very clear about what a wife should be. I think the best person to define what makes a great pastor's wife might be the pastor.

God has blessed me with a wonderful wife. I can't imagine doing ministry without her by my side. What is expected of her as the pastor's wife? It's very simple really, just be my wife. She fulfills that role expertly. She is my best friend, my counselor, my honey, my confidant, the mother of my children, she is my everything. I'm sure that she is very special, there is no doubt in my mind that God gives special grace to some women that enables them to be great pastor's wives.

A few days ago I woke around 6:00 a.m. to the sound of quiet voices. Kathy and Beth were huddled near the wall furnace outside our bedroom door reading the scripture and praying. A warm feeling came over me as I listened to my wife gracefully fulfill her role as 'the pastor's wife'. Later that night we went for a drive and grabbed a cup of coffee and I shared some burdens I was carrying. She lovingly assured me that God would show me what to do and would make a way. Again, she was fulfilling the role of 'pastor's wife' and doing a great job.

It is very important that we understand that the pastor's wife is just that, she is the pastor's wife not the churches' wife. Pastor's must passionately protect their wives from being pulled in too many directions. God gave our wives to us and we are to love and protect them. Our ministry must never come at the expense of our wife or family.


Fullness of Joy

Pop!Joy is one of the keywords of the Christmas season but it should be a keyword in the believers life at all times. I spoke from Psalm 16:11 last Sunday and if nobody got anything out of my talk at least I did. I'm still thinking about the idea that fullness of joy can be found in God's presence.

The presence of God is a very special place. Adam and Eve enjoyed being in the presence of God while they were in the garden (Genesis 3:8). Moses took off his sandals and entered God's presence when God spoke to him from the burning bush (Exodus 3:4-6). Isaiah was in the Lord's presence when God called him to speak to his generation (Isaiah 6:1-6). The scripture says that Enoch walked with God. The accounts of men being in the presence of God are always exciting.

How do we move into the presence of God? How do we find that place where we can experience 'fullness of joy'? I'm convinced that God would like for us all to be found in His presence more than we are. God wants His children to experience 'fullness of joy'. God is indeed omnipresent, but the idea of being in his presence in Psalms is more of an intentional intimate encounter with God.

The most obvious place to find ourselves in the presence of God is God's House (Psalm 27:4). There are times when we are down and discouraged and don't feel like going to church, but we go anyway and when we leave we rejoice and are glad that we took the time to go to the House of God.

A second place where believers can find themselves in the presence of God is in thankfulness. The scripture tells us to enter into God's presence with thanksgiving in our hearts (Psalm 100:4).

A third place where the believer can place themselves in the presence of God is when we are with other believers (Matthew 18:20). I can enjoy spending time with all sorts of people but there is something about being with my brothers and sisters in Christ that brings me into the presence of God and helps me to experience true joy.

Find time this week to spend intentional intimate time in the presence of God. It is there that you will experience fullness of joy!

God Bless!


Having Done All To Stand, Stand!

Jeremiah 17:8 (English Standard Version)

He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit."

One of the greatest things about serving and trusting God is the fact that fear and anxiety are not necessary! We can trust God when the heat is on, and we can depend on Him to supply our needs when times are lean.