A Heart to Serve


Practice Love This Holiday Season
Galatians 5:13
For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh, but through love serve one another.
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The Problem vs. The Promise


Words
Words (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

I heard a sermon that climaxed with a message of perseverance. Life happens and we attempt to “do our best” to “help God out.” Our faith in God becomes superimposed by our human goals to handle circumstances with human interventions rather than relying on God’s Word.

It all starts out with a God-given blessing by way of a message of promise, Divinely ordained just for you to experience, whereby  lives will forever be affected in a Godly manner and God’s glory is magnified. The problem arises when you have to contend with facts that obstruct a human understanding of how the particulars will happen. You become inundated with doubts, uncertainty and pessimism all because you can’t understand how the promise from God will become a reality. It is completely natural to rely on human intervention that can aid your heart felt desire to realize this dream that you now have. But if human intervention supersedes God’s power then you have mistakenly focused on the problem. The God-given dream you so desperately want to realize will not be fulfilled without FAITH. When you focus on the fact that God’s Word is ABSOLUTE, then you have unmistakably focused on the promise – by faith in HIM the dream becomes a reality.

SOVEREIGN FACTS:GOD NEVER FAILS!   GOD MAKES THE IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE!    GOD MAKES WAYS OUT OF NO WAY!       GOD CAN DO ANYTHING BUT FAIL!                                                                GOD IS OUR ALL AND ALL!

The character in the Bible that personifies this life issue is Sarah.  In Genesis 15 God promised Abram a son. He was old and she was old and barren. Fact! In Genesis 16 Sarah has assessed the facts and comes up with a plan that is devoid of faith in God’s promise but instead based in the prospect of human intervention. “An old man can still produce sperm.  If I give my husband my hand maiden and they have sex then she will conceive the baby that God promised. THIS MUST BE WHAT GOD MEANT!”  The message of how our minds take over what our spirits discern is truly telling for our personal spiritual maturity. This is why Paul writes in Romans 12 “be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…..”  Sarah was an enterprising, beautiful woman as she utilized surrogacy way before it was politically correct. 🙂  But all of these efforts were contrived in her mind because she was focused on the FACT that she was old and barren.  Her faith in God became superimposed by her human goals to problem solve with human interventions rather than relying on God’s Word.

All the while God said what He said and the act was done. Ishmael was born. By Genesis 18 God specifically promises that Sarah will have a son. Sarah was eavesdropping and, motivated by her knowledge of the FACTS, she doubted God’s Word inwardly and laughed to herself. Be mindful of the elements of sarcasm today. God knows the intents of the heart along with His Divine plan. Sarah is confronted with the reality of this when she must consider the question, “is there anything too difficult for the LORD?” Her conclusion must have been NO because Hebrews 11:11 declares ” Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.” In Genesis 18 we see her move her focus from the problem (the facts). Her attempts to use her intellect and human intervention were designed to get her to accept in her heart and mind that if God said it He CAN do it! She focused on Him as the all powerful, all knowing Creator of the Heaven, the Earth and mankind. Her faith in the promise changed her life and is still changing lives today.

We contend with our human nature on so many levels. Consider this in response to the contention: God created you and ALL that is around you. He can not and WILL not be overtaken by a problem. He is the Creator who created something out of nothing – you were formed from the dirt of the earth. If you realize there is destiny for your life but the facts are overwhelming your belief in His promises, tell yourself, “self, there is NOTHING TOO HARD FOR THE LORD!

 

Humility Now


Humility is knowing God ALWAYS CARES

English: Clouds & Sky. Portland, Oregon.

http://www.888c.com/z1Pe05.htm#1Pe0506

BELIEVE

LOOK UP & SEE

When the Sail is Broken


 

 

Yesterday I received a delivery. The young delivery man appeared to be unbalanced – nervous, twitchy, inattentive to details about the delivery process and payment – and aloof. I had never encountered such a delivery experience before. My heart became sensitive to his inner turmoil. Ultimately it was time to start talking about the solution. He listened. He received the gift of Salvation through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and left my home revived. In the midst of all his turmoil God is present and ABLE to save.

 

 

Psalm 34:18 NASB declares “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

 

 

Humiliation breeds resentment. Face it, when a situation occurs that is a direct blow to your pride (ego) your immediate response is subversion – get rid of this thought, issue, desire, person, place or thing that is attempting to destroy you.  If you can remove the threatening element yourself and keep your pride in tact, your ego is fueled. But if you are unable to thwart the process of humiliation then you are faced with a pierced ego/broken heart.

 

 

The Hebrew word for “BROKENHEARTED” is derived from shabar (unto them that are of a broken) and leb (heart). David describes that of a broken mind. The breaking process is likened to a ship wrecked in a stormy sea.

A Nonsuch 30' under sail
“Without Him life would be drifting like a ship without a sail.”

Picture a sail boat gracefully gliding across a body of water. Instantly a violent storm produces winds and lightening that ultimately destroys the large sail on the boat. The storm then moves on leaving the boat stranded in the water unable to navigate the waters because the sail is broken.

 

How precious it must have been for David when he realized this process of humiliation yielded a closeness to The LORD.

 

Jehovah“the self-existent One, He that is who He is, the eternal I AM; a special relation of Deity, in His Jehovah character, to man, and all Scripture emphasizes this; the redemption name of Deity, a beautiful type of the righteousness provided by the Lord God through sacrifice (Romans 3:2125 http://www.biblestudytools.com/nas/romans/passage.aspx?q=romans+3:21-25); 

 

in God’s redemptive relation to man, various compound names of Jehovah are found which reveal Him as meeting EVERY need of man from his lost state to the end {Jehovah-jireh – the Lord will provide – Jehovah-rapha The Lord who heals and Jehovah -shammah – the Lord IS PRESENT.” (the Scofield reference Bible, pg.117)

 

 

God has our entire existence in His hands. Humiliation gives rise to the reality that you are in need of Him. The flesh laments in the disdain of ego assassination but the spirit is primed for God’s Heavenly intervention. “He saves those who are crushed in spirit” The “saving” implies a significant force or power behind the action. God saves us at the level of our spirit through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is an inside job!  Humiliation of the flesh crushes the spirit of a man in such a way that he/she is WILLING to receive DIVINE INTERVENTION or HELP in the time of trouble. My experience with the deliveryman demonstrated how IMMEDIATELY God can restore. Your circumstances outside of you may not change right away BUT God’s Word changes the condition of your heart and fortifies you, equips you with the strength, courage and wisdom to navigate through the difficulties with grace, love, peace, hope and perseverance.

 

 

You can’t tell HELP how to HELP. You can only ASK for HELP. When HELP shows up just RECEIVE IT. To my surprise the deliveryman asked for a solution to the angst of fear, uncertainty and heartache attached to him. His inquiry surfaced after hearing the Word of God.  All that was happening up to that point was God’s Sovereign hands preparing the way for this young soul to receive the message of God’s Saving power.

 

 

When the sail is broken, God is present to help restore you, revive you, rebuild you from within. It is then obvious that His presence was in effect during the humiliation process evidenced by His grace. If you are honest with yourself you can realize that your humiliation could have been a lot worse. The fact that you are still alive, able to realize His presence and receive His power is the proof that He Is.

 

 

Embrace humiliation and get into the solution. David’s pronouncement of the Lord’s nearness generates hope in times of hopelessness, strength in times of weakness, power in times of powerlessness. OUR LORD JESUS SAVES to the UTMOST.

 

Liberty and Justice for All (a response to the Presidential announcement)


James Madison, fourth president of the United ...
James Madison, fourth president of the United States wrote the Constitution at his estate near Orange Virginia, called Montpelier. Pictured here after an extensive renovation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is too much confusion going on about President Obama’s decision to be pro gay marriage. The confusion is easily settled when we consider The First Amendment Our President did teach this stuff at the college level.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

— The First Amendment

Largely because of this prohibition against government regulation or endorsement of religion, diverse faiths have flourished and thrived in America since the founding of the republic. Indeed, James Madison, the father of the United States Constitution, once observed that “the [religious] devotion of the people has been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the state.” (http://www.adl.org/issue_religious_freedom/separation_cs_primer.asp)

My country,' tis of thee, 
	sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing; 
	land where my fathers died, 
	land of the pilgrims' pride, 
	from every mountainside let freedom ring!
 2.	My native country, thee, 
	land of the noble free, thy name I love; 
	I love thy rocks and rills, 
	thy woods and templed hills; 
	my heart with rapture thrills, like that above.
 3.	Let music swell the breeze, 
	and ring from all the trees sweet freedom's song; 
	let mortal tongues awake; 
	let all that breathe partake; 
	let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong. 
4.	Our fathers' God, to thee, 
	author of liberty, to thee we sing; 
	long may our land be bright 
	with freedom's holy light; 
	protect us by thy might, great God, our King.

Every American – black/white/red/yellow, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender,Jewish,Christian,Baptist,Methodist,7 Day Adventist, Presbyterian, Reformed, Episcopalian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc., rich/poor, employed/unemployed and alive – all have one thing in common. We ALL depend on the aspects of freedom that living in this country has to offer.

Freedom is the most attractive aspect of being an American. Foreigners have died or been imprisoned as a result of attempting to enter this country because of their personal pursuit to realize the democracy of the USA as a citizen.

“The United States understands that the existence of human rights helps secure the peace, deter aggression, promote the rule of law, combat crime and corruption, strengthen democracies, and prevent humanitarian crises.

Because the promotion of human rights is an important national interest, the United States seeks to:

  • Hold governments accountable to their obligations under universal human rights norms and international human rights instruments;
  • Promote greater respect for human rights, including freedom from torture, freedom of expression, press freedom, women’s rights, children’s rights, and the protection of minorities;
  • Promote the rule of law, seek accountability, and change cultures of impunity;
  • Assist efforts to reform and strengthen the institutional capacity of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Commission on Human Rights; and
  • Coordinate human rights activities with important allies, including the EU, and regional organizations.” (http://www.state.gov/j/drl/hr/index.htm)

The President’s decision is not based on religious beliefs but on the fundamental establishment of “Liberty and Justice for All” that our country stands on. Whenever we, as Americans, forget the designs of the Constitution and want to infuse our belief systems into society, we always have to contend with the First Amendment.

Hos 4:6 “My people are destroyed because they have no knowledge. You priests have refused to learn, so I will refuse to let you be priests for me. You have forgotten the law of your God, so I will forget your children.”

They are destroyed for lack of it, for the true knowledge of God is the life of the soul, true life, eternal life, as our Saviour saith, “This is life eternal, that they should know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent.” John 17:3

Hosea was writing about the failure of the Hebrews to know, accept and live the life God called them to. Instead they regularly reverted from God’s way to the way of the world. The result – God allowed suffering to come to the Hebrews. The sufferings were designed to ALWAYS motivate them  to turn from their wicked ways and repent and return to the plans that God had for them as a nation.  The root cause of their reversion was sin.

God has offered us evidence of how He can deal with human extremism resulting in a nation or nations in which ungodliness is the norm. We need the book of Genesis to appreciate the historical elements and the overall outcome of Sodom and Gomorrah. Human beings who reverence God’s Word know that God allows people the freedom to live but always maintains His authority over us – whether we acknowledge it or not is again based in freedom. When you choose not to do it God’s way you have two authorities to answer to – His and the governments.

Sin is at the root of this issue of Gay marriage. The President was not elected to handle the affairs of the heart. His role as the Leader of this great nation is to uphold the law and lead this country in such a way that our freedom is protected, our democracy is paramount and our futures are secure as human beings. To do this “The President is the administrative head of the executive branch of the Government, which includes numerous agencies, both temporary and permanent, as well as the 15 executive (Cabinet-level) departments.”(http://usgovinfo.about.com/cs/agencies/a/presbrief.htm)

Religious leaders, including myself, all have a major job to do as well. We, as Christians, are to uphold the truth of God’s Word from Genesis to Revelations. Jesus said in John 8:32 “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The freedom He describes is different from the freedom established in the Constitution. The government can not provide for the freedom of my spirit – only God can and does handle this area in ALL of us. Therefore, preachers, teachers, ministers, evangelists and lay-people are ALL responsible for upholding the truth as it relates to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Romans 6 meticulously defines the issue of sin. Furthermore, a thorough study of Romans 1-8 is recommended if one wants to lay a firm foundation of truth relative to God and sin today. In society we want to rationalize sin by way of moral guidelines. This methodology is flawed only in respects to a Biblical perspective. Morals then are the antithesis to what God deems as the problem humanity has always encountered since Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden. They are the world’s attempt to harness and manage the soul sickness he/she is destined to experience. Rationalization and justification are the means by which moral morphology continues. The law of the land is designed to handle the matters that result from one’s tarnished moral fiber.

When we try to marry the two we fail miserably. President Obama exercised his authority over the affairs of the USA by establishing his position on a moral matter that plagues our country. We as Americans are aware of his decision. It is irrelevant to support his decision from a personal and/or religious standpoint. He is clearly looking out for how human beings can have a better quality of life as they engage in same sex behaviors. However, what is relevant is to let the President be the President and let God be God. What a wonderful world this would be if everybody got on the same page about this.




	

Athlete, Champion, Conqueror


Third seed Serena Williams, USA returns a shot...
Third seed Serena Williams, USA returns a shot during her 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 victory over Natalie Dechy, at the Family Circle Cup Tennis Tournament on Daniel Island in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The US Open, September, 1998 had my complete attention as a fan of the legendary Pete Sampras. Unfortunately, due to injury, Pete lost the final. The following year he would arouse the support of his fan base as he rose to victory at Wimbledon against Andre Agassi. My enthusiasm for tennis grew even greater as we watched the thrilling competition between these 2 American champions. It was so good that we looked forward to another duel between them in the 1999 US open. To me they were the reason for loving the sport.

Pistol Pete did realize the opportunity to win yet another Grand Slam title, making it to the final but was unexpectedly forced to drop out of the tournament due to a significant back injury. A physical setback that I am all too familiar with myself. His exit from the ’99 Open yielded a shift in my focus as a fan of the Americans. Women’s tennis infiltrated my life as I watched Serena Williams begin construction on a historical career as athlete, champion and conqueror.

She beat her sister Venus at age 17 and became the first Williams sister to win a Grand Slam single‘s title. All eyes remained on Venus as she too would excel to historical greatness in her own right. I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Venus at Charleston and NYC later on in life. But unfortunately, I have not been able to see Serena play live yet. However, what I have had the blessing to realize, as a result of consistently following her career, is a heralding athletic example that personifies a conqueror lifestyle.

From ’99-’04 I sat in front of my TV and watched every tournament she played in, and there were many victories. The infamous cat suit at the US open was just one of the highlights of her invincibility. Everything about her was appealing to me – her look, her body, her game and her life. It was good to gain access into her budding life outside of the tennis world through various exposure outlets. But her career would eventually realize the strains of maturity as she had to learn to contend with injuries, game losses, family tragedy, personal heartache and failure.

We counted her all but gone as the start of the tennis season began in 2007 down under. When she took her place in the Rod Laver  arena again it was a bitter-sweet showing. As a fan I was happy to see her back where she belonged for our viewership and the value of her  entertainment would again be realized. Yet her blatant lack of physical training presented a Serena that was not the norm. Honestly, I, along with countless others, remained pessimistic about any real opportunity for her game to prevail. BUT IT DID! Against all the odds and the opposition of new players and old foes, Serena emerged as a CONQUEROR of the sport of women’s tennis to win the Australian Open for a 3rd time in her continuing career. She was not done.

Subsequently, Serena’s career would again experience a higher intensity of extreme setbacks, designed to alter the foundation of her monumental career. A verbal outburst would define a devastating loss on the all too familiar Arthur Ashe Stadium, where she vanquished her opponents 3 times prior. Sorrowfully we watched Serena explode in a display of anger that I understood. The issues – personal and professional were obviously affecting her standing example of grace under pressure. Growing pains have a way of manifesting outwardly to where onlookers – supporters and haters alike – clearly offer insights that destructively miss the mark. Yet those of us who have the gifts of empathy and compassion know that the best response you can offer to someone who is not handling the effects of growing pains well is to encourage them in the faith and pray for God’s continued grace and mercy to prevail.

The shift would continue with more physical injuries, some grave . Yet Ms. Williams maintains her pursuit to take part in the sport, which her dad introduced her to as a child, against all odds. I read an article in People magazine while I was at my doctor’s office. Serena made it clear her determination to walk back on a Grand Slam court again, even after surviving a PE and all the medical therapy associated with recovery. Shortly afterwards, Serena Williams, garbed in signature Wimbledon white attire gracing the freshly cut grass on Centre Court, would again experience all the emotional joy she came to know along her career. Yet this time her response yielded the infamous “tears of joy” that I identified to as I desperately desired a “win” in my life again. My personal anticipation received a boost while watching her once again show me what victory looks like publicly.

It’s a difficult task to perform and achieve what many have said is “the impossible” as they know of your struggles. Courage becomes a crucial reality. I know of many personal struggles life has acquainted me with during my lifetime where so many friends, family and loved ones counted me out.  But God’s grace shows up in so many wonderful experiences and the blessings continue as I see examples displaying how His power prevails.  Serena’s continued success is a beacon of light in my life and I hope so many others are getting the same lessons.

Every time Serena steps on a court to play another tennis match it is inspiring to the most troubled soul who is watching. As an athlete and champion, Serena offers every one of her millions of viewers confirmation of just how possible the impossible is. I have taken the opportunity to label her as a conqueror when I can, not because of her spiritual choices – I do not know how they work for her – but as I continue to write, teach, preach and represent Romans 8:37 “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” I continue to see how this declarative statement made by the Apostle Paul materializes through the example of an athlete in the career of Ms. Serena Williams.

Thank you Lord for giving us the realm of athletics, specifically individual head to head sports like tennis, to prove what your Son did at Calvary for all who would by faith believe.

 

Spiritual Integrity in Action


This is spiritual integrity in action. “For His ways are packed full of peace, even as we stand in the storm. He alone can speak to the chaos, ‘Be still,’ and the calm must show its form.”

Revelations In Writing

There are days when my heart is so heavy,

and all around me produces such ache.

All the more I must call on my Savior,

to come lead me on which path I should take.

For despair is not where He’s leading,

nor sorrow, nor anger, nor fear –

though emotions we have to experience,

His heart is for us to draw ever near.

He will hold up our hearts in the heartache,

take our hand in the places of pain;

lead us on to His love everlasting,

that covers our sin, hurt and shame.

For His ways are packed full of peace,

even as we stand in the storm.

He alone can speak to the chaos,

Be still,” and the calm must show its form.

What’s heavy is but like a speck,

a miniscule grain of the sand,

to our mighty, conquering Redeemer,

Who holds the world…

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