How to Overcome Tough Times

We all go through tough times - sometimes. Struggles, battles, and difficult seasons are not unique to any of us. We all face them, don't we? Sadly, however, too many people toss in the towel and quit during these times, instead of learning the secret to overcoming life's difficulties, by the power of the Living Lord! That is the key to victory - to overcoming even the worst of times - it starts with not depending on yourself, or relying on humanity to save you, or those you love in your difficult season - but rather - placing your trust in God, and reaffirming your faith in Him - especially when the going gets tough.

Two important keys to overcoming our hardest seasons, are spiritual vision and faith. However, these two powerful keys are often overlooked. Let me share a brief insight with you today, in hopes that these two keys may help you overcome the battle, trial, or struggle you are facing today.

To overcome life's difficult moments, we need: Supernatural vision (the ability to see beyond your natural limitations, through the Spirit of God) and faith (the power to unlock doors that seem to be bolted shut, and move impossible objects). These two keys are absolutely vital to help us overcome our daily trials, heartaches and sufferings. 

Sometimes, the weight of the moment can be overwhelming, almost suffocating, and it can feel like it will never end. Today we are praying for friends and family who have recently lost loved ones, are enduring pain from physical issues, battling sickness (lots of flu, etc. going around), and facing trying times in life. 

In our own lives, and there have even been times of pastoring, when we have experienced seasons where life seemed to be a continuous struggle. (And I know many of you know exactly what I am taking about - because you've been through such times yourself). But during those times, we have discovered that victory comes by holding onto your faith in Him - and asking Him to help you see with new perspective. We need His perspective on our situations, because we often can't see a bug on the end of our nose. lol Yep, we really are that shortsighted sometimes. But God sees things as they really are, and He knows that a brighter day is coming. 

Let me also remind you of His power, love for you, and commitment to you. Even when you can't see Him, because of the darkness of your present moment, He is there. The Lord promises to 'never leave you or forsake you, but to be with you always, even to the end of time.' Remember that. We also know that He does all things exceedingly well, He has all things in control, and He loves you more than you will ever know (remember the season of Easter we just celebrated for a hint at how much He loves you - He died in your place, and bore your sins, infirmities, etc. on Calvary - so you could know victory).

So let's make plans for victory:

1. First of all: in your present situation, you need to ask God to enlighten your eyes, and give you vision - based on what He can do, not what the present moment looks like. Another way to say this is, we need God's perspective of our difficult days, not our own. The problem we face, is our eyesight is limited to what we see in the natural. We don't have the luxury of seeing tomorrow the way He sees it. Where all we see is doom and gloom, the Lord sees the sun shining again, He sees the coming of a brighter day, He sees His Spirit healing our wounds, and His ability to transform our pain into victory. 

I'll be honest with you, I am not always sure how He does it. All I know is that He does it. To us, the dark days seem overwhelming. That's where God comes in. He sees all things - from the beginning of time to the end. He knows what's around the corner. We don't. So we get panicky, we get ornery, we get fearful. The unknown does that to us. 

If however, we will allow God to change our outlook, and see things the way He sees them, suddenly we find hope in the hopeless, comfort in our season of mourning, and peace like a river. All it takes to bring victory, sometimes, is to gain His perspective - seeing things through His eyes - so our faith can flourish, and victory can come. When we understand that He has the power to make al things new, and that is His intention, the battle becomes winnable. 

2. Don't toss away your faith in Him. Trials don't mean God has abandoned you. They are merely opportunities to prove that faith in God still moves mountains! We all can quote scriptures about faith overcoming obstacles, and winning battles. But mysteriously, when we get in the middle of our battles, we forget that's the perfect environment to grow our faith, and prove the power of God within us. 

Be encouraged today - the hour of hardship won't last forever. There will be a brighter day. Its coming! In fact, God promises to send "joy in the morning." Remember, the darkest hour means dawn is in sight! 

It can be VERY difficult to remember how to fight and win - when you're in the middle of the battle, or when you're going through tough times. However, I encourage you to make a notation today - remember that a new day will be dawning soon, and that the Lord will come and heal your pain, and make all things new (from the inside out). He cares about you, and cares for you.

Let's summarize: The secret to overcoming - in times like these - is to look forward, through the prism of the promises of God, by faith, and believe Him to fulfill His Word, and bring the times of refreshing, healing, and joy you so desperately need. Don't be discouraged in the battle, rather look to Him, standing on the rock of your faith - and you will win - in Jesus' name!

 

Posted on April 23, 2015 .

The Solution!

HERE'S THE SOLUTION YOU'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR - The solution to your problems is different than you think. Its NOT taking another anti-depressant, hiding in your room and pretending your problems don't exist, and it is NOT found in a vial of drugs, or a bottle of alcohol. The answer to your problems, is getting into the presence of God! For in His presence alone, there is power to change your world! 

I know that might sound crazy to some of you, but it isn't. The fact that you've never grasped is this: God IS REAL, and He REALLY does have power to change your life, bring peace to your troubled mind, transform even the most impossible situations, and make ALL things new in your life.

I have experienced the life-changing power of Jesus Christ many times before, in my own life, and have seen God do the miraculous in many, many other lives as well, so I (like many believers) know what I am talking about. That makes me a 'expert' smile emoticon So hear me out. Stop taking God for granted, stop 'filing' Him away under the 'antiquated religious nonsense' file in your mind, and come discover the power of the life-changing God for yourself.

That's right - my 'prescription' for you (as Dr. Tom Cannon) is to get out of bed, get dressed (no matter how you feel), come to church (Sunday or Wednesday evenings) and seek God with all your heart. Cry out to Him for help, and He promises to come touch you, change you, heal, refresh, and transform you by the power of His Spirit. 

And here's the best news: IT WORKS!!! God really does do what He promises to do. All you need to do is Come. Believe. Receive. 

We don't serve some make-believe divinity, or bow to some dumb idol who cannot hear your prayers or answer - when we come to Him. We are approaching the Creator of all you see (and all you don't see - all that's invisible), the One who has power to forgive all your yesterdays, transform & heal everything today, and give Life to all your tomorrows. 

And there you have it: That's the 'prescription' that works! Now be a good 'patient' and follow it all the way through to the end. Those who do what I have just prescribed - will be healed, and their lives will be changed/ made alive by the power of His presence. 

Don't laugh. This prescription alone works for every situation, every need, every hurt, pain, and destructive bondage. If you will do exactly what I just stated, the outcome is guaranteed, too - backed by His Word (that never fails), and sealed by the blood that He shed to eternally secure the vows/ promises that cannot be broken. Blessings as you come to Him!!! He's waiting for you!!!

Posted on April 13, 2015 .

PURSUING LIFE - AT WHAT COST?

Many people pursue greatness, wealth and fame at the cost of everything in their lives. They will sacrifice all their time, their families, their vacations, many hours of needed rest, and even neglect their health to become great, or add to their financial portfolio. The problem with pursuing things that rust and rot: In the end, what did any of those pursuits earn you? Maybe they earned you a few years in the limelight - a few better possessions (for a few years - but no time to enjoy them) - or recognition by your peers (which is fast-fleeting in the grave)!

You can clearly see my opinion of seeking after things that fail to satisfy, or securing an eternal relationship with God, that will help you make a lasting difference in people's lives. Like fools gold, many earthly pursuits look better on the surface, than they prove to be when you examine their true worth.

The sacrifice that God desires, and that really will make a difference in your life: Walking in obedience to God, and pursuing Him with your whole life. We know this is true, because the Bible declares this truth repeatedly. One excellent example is found in 1 Samuel 15:22, where God makes this truth clear to us; 'But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams."

You can spend your life in the pursuit of pleasure, wealth or fame - but in the end - you will come up empty-handed, like Solomon, who during the closing days of his life made this observation about his earthly pursuits, "Worthless, worthless, all is worthless."

Or you can be like Samuel, the "wailing prophet" - who loved seeking God from a young age, who had an exemplary, strong relationship with God, and became a man that God used to change generations. He learned to make right choices, and firmly set the greatest value upon the Lord, not the things of this world.

In Matthew 6, Jesus taught us what really matters in life. I hope you take time to read that chapter for yourself. But to summarize this chapter, He taught us to believe God for all we need, and clearly defined needs. Note: A summer house on the lake, expensive cars, bigger rings, more toys, and larger stock options are not needs. They fall into the category of wants. There is a difference, remember that. 

What we 'really' need: clothes on our back, food to sustain us, and a home to shelter us from the elements (like the birds of the air). Nothing more in the natural sphere, is actually 'needed' to sustain us.

Then Jesus spoke to the spiritual part of our being - to reveal to our hearts what pursuits are really the most important of all. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you."

In other words, if you put God first, He will supply your needs. Make a mental note: There's no comparison - pursuing God is more important than chasing after the fast-fleeting desires of the flesh! 

Think of it this way. Even if you amassed a fortune greater than Bill Gates or Warren Buffett - how long would you be in possession of it? A few decades at best, right? And what then? Which of your earthly possessions has the power to sustain you through eternity? And which ones helped transform the lives of others for God? None of them. Only the relationship that you firmly establish between you and God will be worth the cost of your investment, in the end. 

The choice is yours! But remember - you only get one shot at life. Make the right choice early and often, and the end results will make God, you, and many others rejoice at the end results! Simple. Really.

Posted on March 17, 2015 .

God-Centric vs. ME-Centric. An Observation:

Through the years, as I have pastored churches, and traveled around the world in ministry, I've noticed something about the church that I'd like to share with you, and challenge your heart with. 

No matter where a church is located globally, I've noticed there are two distinct groups of people in every church. Those who pray for their pastors/ church/ world and those who typically (only) pray for more of God's blessings upon their own lives. 

The Bible makes it clear: "Without vision, people perish." Sadly, this truth is farther reaching than just our individual lives. It's impact will be felt in devastating ways upon the children of those who are spiritually blind, upon their marriage, their extended family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and even the harvest field. For people who "have eyes to see but see not" will never reach others for Christ, will never pray for their church, or lift a finger to make a difference in the lives of the desperately needy, because they cannot see beyond their own desires.

My heart breaks for such people, because these people always have potential, but seldom is their potential realized. If someone ever invented a spiritual thermometer, you would see that ME-centric people are the ones who trend south of lukewarm. And that's a shame, because God's desire is to fill us up with Holy Fire, and set our souls ablaze for Him! Make a note, before we move on, there is nothing good about lukewarm - not for you, for your family, the church, or a perishing world. 

Though God, pastors, and godly friends and family often invest endless hours encouraging, exhorting and building up ME-Centric people, more often than not, they just cannot seem to put others first, seldom if ever pray for the lost, never share with the needy, or care for the hurting, no matter how many times God challenges them to do it. The reason they never pray for others is simple: they only see their own wants, lusts and desires. While the world perishes, they see only more toys and joys for themselves, and carelessly turn a deaf ear to the cries of the perishing. How it must break the heart of God. 

Degrees of separation: In every aspect of life, the two groups are entirely different. These overwhelming differences start with the way they look at life itself (vision). While the ME-centric group only sees their own perceived lack, their endless wants, their hopes for more of every imaginable 'blessing' - and typically possess a life-dominating attitude of entitlement for self-gain, the God-focused group sees the world through their Father's eyes, and as you might have already guessed, their actions, attitude and outcome are predictably different. 

God-focused people give God the preeminence in all things. Their prayers are biblically-based, not human-driven. They can be heard crying out, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done!" Having "the eyes of their understanding enlightened," they not only comprehend the fact that the world is dying all around them, but their hearts long for God to use them to touch lives and save souls daily. And where their family is concerned - they see their children as God's greatest harvest field, not their buddies. This knowledge compels them to live holy, exemplary lives so their children will know the reality of Christ for themselves, and desire Him above all!

In the very first Psalm, David declared this truth to us: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish."

In this Psalm, you gain an understanding of the fact that two groups of people have always existed. The God-focused vs. the ME-centric. What I hope you will take away from this, is not condemnation - I am not trying to be critical - rather, I am trying to blow a trumpet; a wake-up call for the slumbering saints among us, who desperately need God to bring immediate change to their hearts, open their eyes, and fill them with His love for others - to such an extent, that He will successfully reshape their lives, and in so doing, transform our world.

The Good News: God has the power to change, if you have the will to let Him do it in you. The fact is, none of God's children have arrived. But some are at least on their way. If your life is dominated by YOU, rather than HIM and THEM - then I pray that you will let God rise up within you, and that you will let Him fight against the status quo in your life. He wants to come make all things new in you. Will you let Him?

Today can be the beginning of a whole new, joy-filled, and amazingly fulfilling life, if you simply bow your knee, surrender your will, and give God first place in your life. Where He leads you will be awesome journey of grace and goodness. 

In the end, the choice is yours - will you stay in the same old rut, and suffer the unthinkable consequences of your actions? Or will you turn to God with everything that is within you, and surrender every part of yourself to Him, so He can start having His way in your life - and from today forward, to flow through your life - to help transform you, your church, and a world that is desperately waiting?

Posted on March 17, 2015 .

Exchanging our 'Oldness' for His Newness

Paul wrote, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." Galatians 2:20 (NASB)

Only a man who had surrendered every facet of his life to Christ, and had counted all his personal desires and hopes, along with the fulness of his human will as nothing in comparison to a life-transforming relationship with the Son of God could write this verse. 

But here's the thing we need to understand: Paul doesn't have to be the only person capable of making such confident declarations. This exact proclamation can be made by every man and woman on earth, if they will merely yield themselves to the Lordship of Jesus, and exchange their old, sin-filled life, for a brand new life in Him!

The life you will receive from the Lord is the most incredible, rewarding, and blessed journey of all. Won't you make that commitment to Him today (if you haven't already), knowing that all He is, has, and possesses as God, becomes yours the minute you surrender your all of Him. Let today be the most blessed day of your life - the first of many more to come - its time to give everything to Him!!!

Posted on March 17, 2015 .

Mary's Life - It Wasn't As Easy You Might Think!

Capturing a Christmas Moment: Matthew 1-2 & Luke 1 & 2. 

Have you ever considered how difficult Mary's life would become – after she accepted God's will in her life? Think about what the Lord asked Mary to do: to become pregnant by the Holy Spirit, and bear the Son of God, as a virgin maiden? That definitely would have been a life-altering moment. But have you ever considered how difficult Mary's life would become, the moment she said "YES" to God's request?

Consider first: It was a sin against the Law of God to bear a child outside of the marriage union. So the moment Mary became pregnant, without an earthly husband, she would be branded an adulteress, or fornicator, and knowingly, would be placing herself in danger of death by stoning, if Joseph didn't believe her story. 

Speaking of Joseph, can you imagine how the conversation with her fiancé would go, when she tried to explain to him that she was pregnant, and Joseph knew he had nothing to do with it? What would his reaction be? He would be heartbroken, disillusioned by the woman he loved, and he may have been outraged. We do know, that no matter how Mary tried to explain things, Joseph wouldn't believe her. 

But who could blame him. The fact is, something like that was never thought possible. And let's not forget that Mary, when told of God's plan for her life, questioned it too: "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"

Any adult knows that virgins don't have babies. End of story. So you can understand why Joseph wouldn't buying whatever Mary was selling. 

Let's go back to Mary and Joseph's conversation again. No sooner would Mary inform Joseph that she was pregnant outside of wedlock, than she would say something like this; "But it's OK Joseph, you see, I'm pregnant by God Himself! The Holy Spirit overshadowed me, and the baby within me is the Son of God!"

Can you imagine Joseph's reaction to that little tidbit of information? Now he would have thought Mary was nuts for sure! I mean, it's one thing for her to be out messing around on him, and to get pregnant by some other guy, but then, Mary tries to cover it up by pinning it on God! What blasphemy!

At that moment, Mary would have found herself in a very hard place in life. I mean, how do you explain something like that, when there's absolutely no way to prove what you are saying is true? In that day, there was no video or audio capturing equipment. No witnesses to back her story up. It was just Mary, a young woman with a far-fetched tale, that nobody would ever believe!

The fact that Joseph didn't believe her story is proven through his actions. Joseph immediately sought to "put Mary away privately." That term means, Joseph sought to divorce her. Sad but true fact. But it could've been worse. Joseph had the right to drag Mary before the religious rulers of Israel, and have her stoned to death.

While Joseph was in the act of divorcing Mary, however, God sent his angel to explain everything to Joseph, and stop him from carrying out his 'just' intentions.

Though Joseph did believe the angel's report, the fact is, very few, if any other people in Israel would believe her story - friends and family included. 

And so it was, for Mary, that for the rest of her life, she would have to hear whispered accusations of her 'whoredom, unfaithfulness, and fornication.' Then, when the rest of her story was factored in, about Jesus being God's own Son, there'd have people making all kinds of cruel and cutting marks against her, for sure!

The day Jesus was dedicated in the Temple, Simeon prophetically spoke many wonderful things over Jesus and his mother. But the last recorded words of Simeon's prophecy are what we want to remember today. Simeon proclaimed something that foretold what her life would be like, from the day she yes to God, to the end of her life. In Luke 2:35, we read, "And a sword shall pierce your own soul, as well."

Those words weren't exactly the kind of blessing Mary had hoped to hear, at her son's dedication service, I'm sure. But it revealed the course of Mary's life from that day forward. For Mary, you see, life would not be easy. Knowing who her son was, and understanding there was the greatest call upon his life, was something that few around her could comprehend. And not being believed, openly mocked, ostracized, rejected, ridiculed by friends, family, and neighbors alike, for decades, would not be a pleasant way to live your life, would it?

In America, we like happy endings to our stories, don't we? But sometimes, submitting to the will of God doesn't result in happy days ahead. At least, not in this life. Consider for a moment, all the adults and children being murdered by ISIS at this very moment. And the millions who have died martyr's deaths throughout the centuries. Though their present days are not pleasant, and God's will isn't a;ways easy, being obedient to God, and doing His will is worth it all. For to please God, and be His witnesses in the earth is worth more than any temporary earthly gain or pleasure.

Paul assured us of this truth, in Romans 8:18. "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

I hope we understand, that although Mary's faithful submission to the will of God was necessary for our salvation, it brought great difficulty into her life. That's the undeniable fact. To be marked as a wretched sinner, while knowing it was not true, would daily pierce your soul, wouldn't it? Then, to watch an unbelieving, and entirely ignorant world beat your son beyond recognition, and crucify Him upon a cross, while you watched from a short distance away, had to be the most unthinkably horrible moment a mother could ever endure.

Mary didn't know all the details of how hard life would become for her, the moment she accepted the call of God upon her life. But she knew enough, from the very beginning, to know it was not going to make life easier. 

For the sake of a sin-ravaged world, who stood guilty before God, and had no hope for redemption, until that blessed moment when a young woman said, I do" to the will of God - I am so thankful Mary did what she did.

Note: Contrary to some religious beliefs, Mary is not equal with God. We do not worship her. In fact, Mary had to receive her own son, Jesus Christ, as her Lord and Savior, during the course of her lifetime, the same we must do so, for her to be saved from her own sins. Think about that: The mother had to submit to her own Son, as Savior, and believe in Him (as her Redeemer) to be saved. Physically bearing a child, even the blessed child, wouldn't be sufficient to save her. She had to be 'born again' - just like us. 

Mary's life was an amazing life, but a difficult life. And many times, when she felt that sword piercing her soul, she had to wonder at the purposes of God. But Mary remained faithful to the end. And so it was, that in the end, the faith of a faithful woman resulted in the redemption of countless millions. When we think about Mary, we should be thankful for her faith, and her faithfulness, that regardless of the cost, she was willing to accept God's call in her life. 

Now here's my challenge to you: I pray you will do the same. No matter what it costs you to do the will of God, I pray you will be willing to do whatever He asks you to do - faithfully - all the days of your life. In the end, Mary received great joy as her reward. After all the tears, Mary was filled with UNTHINKABLE JOY - when she saw Jesus COMPLETE HIS MISSION, and do for us, what nobody else could do. 

But never overlook the fact, that up to the moment when Jesus rose from the dead, and ascended to His heavenly Father, life was hard for Mary. Write it down: Mary only received her reward because she believed God, obeyed His will, and remained faithful to the end.

So what's that mean to you? Keep your eyes upon the goal - and press forward. Don't give up, don't quit. But like Mary, faithfully do all He asks you to do, and in the end, you will receive your just reward, as well. In that day, you will be thankful you did whatever God called you to do. 

But here's the key: between now and then, through every difficult moment along the way, I encourage you - keep on believing, keep on walking faithfully in Him, for the outcome is well worth the journey ahead! So stay faithful, and do His will regardless of the temporary difficulty you may encounter. In the end, like Mary, you will receive your reward!

Posted on December 22, 2014 .

Importance of Faithfulness

Faithfulness - setting a deliberate course of action toward Christ-likeness, and not allowing our life to be based upon emotion, physical feeling or mood is the sign of a maturing believer.

Paul said, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me" (1 Cor. 13:11). Putting away childish actions, thoughts and conversations, and growing up into the fullness of Christ's image and likeness is the mark of maturity - of learning the ways of faithfulness to God.

Faithfulness is vitally important to every aspect of the believer's life: It impacts everything. Our testimony with our kids - remember, they see through unfaithful actions like Superman sees through a wall. Faithfulness weakens our testimony with the world - they too can spot 'reality' a mile away. And a lack of faithfulness limits God's ability to flow through us, use us, and reveal Himself through us.

What's the problem? Unfaithfulness is the exact opposite of who God is - it denies His transformative work within us, and makes it impossible for His likeness to be formed and revealed in us. In other words, we cannot become like Him, and have His likeness formed within us, until we put away the childish ways of humanity, and allow Him to shape and mold us into "who He is."

Considering the high value of faithfulness, and it's impact on our lives, isn't it time we stopped doing what pleases us, and at all costs, did what mature adult believers do to grow in Him? When you look at the results of a life lived in faithfulness, its not only the best decision, its the ONLY decision a believer should make. After all, why go through most of the motions of being a believer, when with a little more effort, you can become the man or woman of God you always desired to be? The time is now ...

Posted on September 6, 2014 .

RE-thinking the KEYS TO GROWING THE CHURCH ...

In America, many people connect "success" to acquired wealth, achievements in business, and the number of kudos bestowed upon them by their friends and colleagues. 

Sadly, many are now carrying this mentality over to the area of church growth. They believe the church's success in filling their sanctuaries, must automatically be tied to the 'secular successfulness' of the church and their people. Some go so far as to suggest that without these 'tangible, secular blessings' the church will experience diminished effectiveness in outreach efforts, and a general weakness among believers.

But is that true?

I encourage you to think that suggestion through carefully before continuing. If that is true, as they insist, then how do you explain the amazing growth of the church in China (they've grown to be 300 million strong (min.), even though many churches are dirt poor, their pastors have been imprisoned for 5-20 years, and many believers are being locked up/ put to death for believing in Jesus? 

And what about Burma, where the national Army is actively hunting down Christians and murdering entire villages of believers? Have you been to Burma? Have you seen their living conditions? Most villagers live in simple bamboo shelters, have no running water, have one or two changes of clothing, have been given NO kudos from 'business associates', have NO bank account, NO car, NO toys, and NO desire for them. Yet the church is growing by leaps and bounds - with some entire tribes becoming nearly 100% committed to Christ - amid continuous persecution, hardship and poverty. 

And let us not forget Iraq and Iran - where the government (Iran) and groups like ISIS (Iraq) are hunting down Christians and exterminating them by the thousands - taking away their homes, and torturing their loved ones in an attempt to turn them from Christ. In face-to-face conversations with pastors from Iran (in a neighboring nation), I learned that Iran is killing 100-120 pastors and thousands of believers every year. So, while its certainly NOT socially advisable to be a Christian in these countries, yet, the church is exploding with growth. (Certainly the number of believers in some Iraqi cities has dropped to near zero, but the reason for the decline has only to do with believers fleeing persecution (going to other cities), and is not an indicator of declining numbers of believers within the nation). 

So what do we learn from such stats? These facts disprove the 'American doctrine' of church success. Don't take me wrong: while I am certainly not against the personal success, accomplishments, milestones, and social advancements of any believer, when you zoom out to take in the greater worldview, you see how erroneous the American church growth ideology really is. 

Do the COMPARISON yourself: Why is it, that in nations where people live in a constant state of ease, and enjoy every conceivable blessing in their lives, that the church has nearly stagnated? At the very time when believers in America are praying for more blessings, so "unchurched people will see the power of Jesus in their lives, so they will be drawn to Him" - the church has become ineffective at reaching this generation for Him. But in nations where it is very likely that a person might be put to death on any given day, simply because they believe in Jesus, the church is exploding with growth. 

When compared to the Word of God, it is apparent that our definition of church 'success' is a modern church invention. Don't believe that the church can actually thrive spiritually, explode with growth, and be considered a true success in the sight of God without doing it through the artificial requirements of our church growth experts? Then read Hebrews and Acts over again. In Acts the leadership of the church, and many believers, suffered terrible persecution and death - and STILL - the church exploded numerically into every nation, and believers walked in an incredible level of power in God. 

And I close with this quote from Heb. 11 - after reading it, tell me what you think of the American doctrine of church growth - and the silly expectations they try to place upon congregations throughout the world.

While many count success through the number of dollars stored in their bank, the plaques on their wall, and the model of car sitting in the driveway of their mansion, that is NOT how God views it at all. He considers the people, and their church successful when they're doing His will, touching lives with His love, lifting up the hands of those who are discouraged, feeding orphans, caring for widows, and visiting people in prison. (James 2:27).

The problem with validating our "success" with numbers of backsides in a pew: I could give you hundreds of examples of men and women who are considered the greatest patriarchs and matriarchs of the church, yet the numbers of converts in their lifetime may not support their exalted position, if we weigh their success by the American standard.

But rather than citing hundreds of examples from the annals of fellow believers, I will do you one better. Consider Jesus. If you gauge Jesus' earthly ministry by the "American Standard of Success" - then He was a miserable failure. When he died all-too-young at the age of 33, 

1) He had NO wealth, 

2) He had NO followers, 

3) He received NO kudos from His colleagues, and 

4) Even His closest followers turned their back on Him, and walked (or ran) away. 

Think about it: The Bible validates these facts about JESUS' MINISTRY: 

1) In Luke 9:58, Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head" (YOU can't get LESS wealthy than that, can you?)

2) Mark 14:50 explains it this way, "Then they all forsook Him and fled" (Last time I checked, ALL means Jesus "membership roll" was stuck on zippo, zilch, zero). 

3) When we read Mark 3:6, it explains just how true that statement is: "Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus" (When your colleagues are plotting your death, they're probably not arranging a "man of the Year" banquet for you), and 

4) Jesus had handpicked His disciples, yet 70 of them left when He taught them about communion, one plotted with the Pharisees to have Jesus killed, and the remaining eleven turned their back on Jesus, and ran for their lives when He was arrested, tried, and crucified. 

Of course, we know that Jesus radically and permanently changed the course of history, paved the way for our salvation, fulfilled the will of the Father, and completed His pre-planned mission to perfection. And don't forget, when its all said and done, Jesus wasn't just a success, He IS Almighty God - and that's how success is counted in His eyes!!!

So tell me - what do you think of the American Standard of Success now?

Now, let's finish by reading Hebrews 11:32-40, "And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect."

I rest my case - I pray we will become "successful" in the ways God considers VALID and COMMENDABLE - rather than seeking to prove God's favor through secular achievements. May you do well, in all you do for Him, and in the end may He say about you, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

Posted on August 14, 2014 .

How Are You Living Your Life?

I hope you are concerned about your generation, and are actively doing something to touch lives, change hearts, and helping make our world a better place - one life at a time!

Some people do nothing, or next to nothing to make a difference, and it has a negative impact on us all, whether we know it or not. 

My advice to you: Don't become a statue. Be someone who is worth knowing. Interestingly, we raise statues to people who have accomplished something significant. Yet there is nothing that represents stagnation more than a statue. They don't move, they don't think, they don't do ANYTHING! 

Indecision in our lives can have the same results. Not knowing what's the best path to take in life, some people take no path at all, and end up stagnating. There are many reasons a person can stagnate. Fear is a leader in this condition, as well as lack of confidence, lack of vision, and as I have already stated, indecision. 

You've probably heard the saying, "Do something even if its wrong." While I certainly don't encourage you to do that, I do understand where the idea originated. After watching people do nothing long enough, the person who penned those words probably blurted out their advice from sheer frustration! 

While the overall wisdom of those words is definitely wrong, I understand the intention behind them. Doing nothing in life will result in being stagnant, and you will end up joining the statues of the world before you're dead! 

In the family, in the church, and in our world, we need people who are DOERS - people of action - those who will help do the right thing, in a timely manner, and as a result, will help transform this generation!

I don't want to see anyone remembered like the man in the following story. 

"There was a very cautious man
Who never laughed or played
He never risked, he never tried,
He never sang or prayed.
And when he on day passed away,
His insurance was denied,
For since he never really lived,
They claimed he never really died."

Many choices can lead to stagnancy. It's good to consider your next step in life, just don't make it permanent. We need people of action to stand up and be counted in the family - in the church - and in our world! Strong men and women; people of direction in God, people who deeply care and SHOW it. People who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty helping others, and who will lay their personal dreams down to help fulfill someone else's.

Are you THAT type of person - someone who looks at the bigger picture of life, and determines in your heart that you are going to give yourself to make your world, church and family better?

I hope so, because we NEED people like YOU - people who will help us fulfill the call of God "to change the nations" - one life at a time. Today is not a day for indecision. Today is a day to shake off the pigeons, and do something - to help others discover the joy of Jesus' love, to lift weary hands, and benefit many others, in numerous ways!

I pray you will discover the joy and wisdom of action over inaction - and as you do - that you will make a real-time difference, in real-life people's lives every day!

Posted on July 9, 2014 .

There MUST be Something MORE!!!

God is challenging us to BELIEVE Him for the outpouring of His presence - like we have NEVER seen before! I believe the earth is ripe for the harvest: people are looking for the reality of a Redeemer who will transform their lives, radically change their culture, and fill the God-sized void in their lives!

But before God can do what God wants to do - we must do our part. What is our part in the equation? GET OURSELVES READY for His great outpouring. 

How can we GET READY for God's great move among us? 1) By believing that He will yet do a work in the earth! 2) By seeking Him with your whole heart! 3) By allowing God to birth within you 'a holy dissatisfaction for the status quo!"

We must allow God to make our stomachs 'sour' for the world - turn our eyes toward Him alone, and cry out: "Give me something MORE Lord! There MUST be something MORE in YOU!!!"

Can you hear the sound of an awakening from God within your spirit? Can you feel the shifting taking place in the heavenlies? Can you sense the stirring of the Spirit of God within you, that is causing a holy desire for the deep things of God to be released in you?

If your answer is 'yes' to the above questions, then you are becoming READY for a move of God that can and will transform the culture of this nation, and make our hearts one with Him again!

Now is the time - this is the place - and you are the people!!! Do not shrink back from what God is saying, doing or seeking to accomplish in the land!

God has not given up on this generation - I believe that this generation is ripe for the harvest, and that He will still be heard from! And I also believe, that as many as will commit to believe Him, keep their eyes fully upon Him, and move in accordance to His divine will - will yet see God do what He said He will do! 

Can we count you in? Then start giving yourself to God like never before, seek Him in your quiet place, and ask Him to move heaven and earth - that there might be revival, and an awakening come to this earth like never before!!! Let's do this - together!!!

Posted on June 8, 2014 .

Easter - New Life is Available to YOU!

Your life may feel just as discouraged and hopeless, as Friday felt to the followers of Jesus, when He was hung on a Cross, died, and was laid in a tomb. The Bible tells us what that day was like, for those who believed in and followed Jesus: Matt. 26:56, "And all forsook Him and fled."

Has the direction of YOUR life made you feel equally as discouraged or hopeless, also? Has life left you feeling empty, discouraged, or even desperate? Then read what comes next - it has the ability to change your life.

For three days, the followers of Jesus were the most discouraged, despondent people on earth. Filled with doubt, fear, anger, and confusion - they ran for their lives, and hid in fear - thinking the same mob who just crucified Jesus, would be coming for them next, they didn't know where to turn, or what to do.

Except - the mobs never came. Though they hid for fear, and fought hopeless depression for three days - none of their fears became reality.

Instead, something totally unexpected happened that weekend, that would forever change their lives. On the third day, just like Jesus promised, the women came to apply fresh perfume to Jesus' decaying body - found the tomb empty - and were greeted by an angelic message that reverberates through eternity: "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here - He is Risen!"

And just that quickly - the downtrodden, defeated church experienced an infusion of hope that supercharged them with fresh faith & joy. No longer would they hide out, no longer would they live in fear, the discouragement was gone, the heartbreak was forever taken away, and their lives were changed for eternity!

This Easter holds the same kind of hope for your life, as it did for the lives of those early followers of Jesus. Your life doesn't have to end badly, your tomorrows don't have to remain bleak and hopeless. Your life can be dramatically changed in a moment's time - if you know how and where to access the power of transformation - in Jesus.

Take it from someone who has experienced this great life-change already - I can attest to the fact that Jesus Christ is real, and His power is sufficient to change your life. I know the truth of that statement, because He has already performed that miracle in my life. And the Bible makes it clear: "He is no respecter of persons." What He has done for me, He will gladly do for you, if you simply come to Him, and ask. It really is that simple.

Don't live another day in hopelessness, confusion or defeat - Sunday's on the way! This Easter Sunday - let Jesus lead you into a lifetime (and beyond) of brand new tomorrows! "Jesus said, I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life - no one comes to the Father but by Me!" (John 14:6)

This Easter - go to church to find Jesus. Let it be the day of new days for you. Don't make it a religious tradition, but by faith in Him, let this Easter be the beginning of days you have longed for, hoped for, and wanted to find.

This Easter - when you find Jesus, and welcome Him into your heart and life, you will never be the same again - your confusion, hopelessness, frustration, guilt and pain will be gone forever - and your life will become new through Him - who makes all things new.

This Easter - will be unlike any you have ever experienced before - when you turn it all over to Him, and receive with joy, the power that takes away the old, and makes all things new! Thank your Jesus - for Easter - for Resurrection Life!!!

Posted on April 19, 2014 .

EXPERIENCING THE INCREDIBLE LOVE OF JESUS

Jesus first extended grace to the woman accused of adultery, assured her that He wasn't one of her condemners - then dealt with the sin issue in her life. 

The order of Jesus' conversation with the woman is very important. Take note: It was only after Jesus assured her that He held no stones in His hands, or malice in His great heart, that He dealt with the sin. 

We would do well to follow His lead when reaching out to those around us. We need to assure people that Jesus loves them, that He didn't come to condemn them - and is there to rescue them from certain death first - before confronting the sin issues. 

Why? He will deal with the sin issue in their lives - don't worry about that. He is, after all, the righteous God. But He also knows what it takes to make inroads into peoples lives. Inroads that will lead them into a redemptive relationship with Him, if we proceed according to His pattern. 

Think of it this way - who will you listen to: someone who stands condemning and berating you - or someone you know cares enough for you that they would give their own life in exchange for yours? 

Here's the way it works: when people fall in love with Jesus, they will be so thankful, so joyful - so new inside - they will want nothing to do with the sin that once brought them to the brink of ruination. The sin issue will be easily conquered when they fall in love with Jesus - and receive His incredible love in their lives first. 

Let us go and do likewise - the pattern is there for us to follow!!!

Posted on April 5, 2014 .

Can this Generation be WON for Him?

When you look at the way Jesus does things in His kingdom, versus the way we typically do them today, we have to admit that our way and His way don't always gel. In fact, when it comes to doing the will of God, it seems like we sometimes find ourselves on polar opposite ends of the spectrum. Have you ever noticed that? Jesus tells us to do something one way, and we get it all mixed up, and do it just the opposite of how we were instructed.

Case in point: When it comes to winning the world for Him, we sometimes hit it out of the park, but at other times, we strike out BIG TIME! Why? I think we simply don't get what He is saying, or we are so set on doing things our way, that we can't see beyond our own preconceived ideas. 

How can we change our ways and experience success in winning souls for Him? Notice what Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 9:35-38, "When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Today, we get the Lord's prayer focus badly turned around, then wonder why we aren't reaching people like we should. Did you notice that Jesus DID NOT PRAY FOR THE HARVEST- He prayed for the WOULD-BE HARVESTERS! 

In all our 'endless wisdom,' of course, we would never think of praying for US - oh no, that's not how it works in church. We gather together and pray for the harvest, and pray for the harvest - then wonder why the Lord doesn't bring the harvest in? Did you ever pause to think that maybe, we've gotten it all wrong? Instead of praying for the harvest - maybe we should do exactly what Jesus did - and pray that the Lord will get US off our well-padded pews, and send US into the streets where we belong - so we can reach the harvest - that is already ready to be harvested!

Maybe its time we swallowed our pride and admitted we've got it all wrong. Isn't it about time we wake up, recognize the fact that He knows what works best - and obediently, passionately go where the lost sheep are, for Pete's sake!?

When Jesus made His shocking statement about the lack of harvesters - being the crux of the problem - He could have been talking about US today, as much as He was talking to His disciples on that day. But for some reason, we just don't get it. 

Let me make this plain: The shortcoming is NOT THE HARVEST - people are still hurting, and lost, and in need of a Savior - as much in this time and place - as they were back then. Write that down: there's NO SHORTAGE of people WHO ARE READY AND WAITING TO BE SAVED.

I hope we figure it out - finally! The harvest is not the problem - WE are the problem. The church is the problem. The people sitting in their cushy seats (us) praying for the harvest - instead of getting out of the building and going to them - wherever they are - to be willing to reap the harvest, at all times, and in every imaginable way is the problem. 

Did you notice, that while we are praying for them, Jesus is praying for US - to go to them? That's sad. Time and again, Jesus commands us to GO and GO and GO some more - but instead, we SIT and SIT and SIT some more - doing exactly what He told us NOT TO DO. The lost and helpless people are in the streets - in case you didn't notice, not sitting in the Bible study class next to you.  Isn't it time we heeded His call, and went to wherever they can be found? 

There is a true saying, "You can't keep doing something the same way and expect different results!" That's the bottom line for reaching this generation for Him. If we want to reach souls, we must start going and finding them - wherever they are. 

Instead of sitting in the prayer room, or classroom discussing soul winning ideas, or praying for the lost to come in - maybe its time we started asking Jesus to mobilize US, send US, get US out of our comfort zones, and get US into the streets, to empower US - just like He said He would, when we finally wake up and do things His way.

The bottom line: Lots of people in this generation are going to hell, while we do the exact opposite of what Jesus told us to do. Isn't it time we inverted our actions - so they line up with His will, admit we have been wrong, and go do exactly what He commanded, and has been praying WE would do in the first place! Its been 2000 years, isn't it time we figured out what He told us to do - and go do it just like He said we should do it?

The good news is: Jesus is ready to empower His laborers the minute they head to the harvest fields. He is ready to empower you - are you ready to work for Him? 

As you enter the fields, get ready to be anointed, prepare yourself to be shown favor, and don't be surprised when you gain access to people's lives in ways you never dreamed possible! Why would Jesus do that for us? He does amazing stuff like that for His people, whenever they finally are willing to do His will - just like He asked them to - a long time ago.

Now is the time - what are we waiting for. Let's stop praying for the harvest, and start praying for US (the harvesters) - to go to them, and win them for Him - in dramatic fashion! Now is the time - let's roll for Him!!!

Posted on March 20, 2014 .

Jesus - Our Burden-Bearer

As I was praying for needs in people's lives, the other day, the Lord reminded me of the scripture, "The sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). 

The fact is, being a believer does not exempt you from facing difficulties in life. I have learned that 'the hard way' myself. 

I once blew my back out, and suffered terribly with the pain and limited mobility for almost a year. Here's the important point I want to make: during that year, the Lord made it abundantly clear to me, that there was something deeper and greater that He was trying to work in me, inside my spiritual man, than just proving that He could heal me, or relieve my pain by bringing instantaneous relief. 

One day, while scheduling surgery for my back, the Lord miraculously healed it - but the deeper/ greater work He accomplished inside of me - was the greater miracles in every way! I learned to trust Him in the difficult times, I learned to worship Him for who He is, not just what He can do, and yes - though I hate to admit it (smile) - I learned patience (to a degree) 

The same miracle was worked in the lives of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Though they endured four days of extreme pain - in the end, Jesus revealed His greater glory unto them (and to the whole world) in a much greater way than if He simply sent the healing word prior to Lazarus' death. 

If you are facing a difficult moment in your life today, and are wondering why He doesn't make it immediately better - this encouragement is for you. Building you into the kind of person He wants you to become - is far more important for you (and to Him) - than the simple relief He could instantaneously provide you. Remember, the lessons we learn in the moments when we are 'being pressed on every side' are more enduring, and have greater results, than being immediately relieved of the temporary discomfort, or frustration we experience in them.

Be encouraged this morning - though your trial may seem hard for the moment - if you find Christ's purpose in it - and He accomplishes something eternally worthwhile in you - it is worth it all! Be blessed, as you seek Jesus, and His fulfillment in whatever you are going through today! And never forget - Jesus is Lord of all - always!

Posted on March 18, 2014 .

GROWING ...

Jesus came to give us life (abundant), victory over hurtful lifestyles, and power to defeat sickness & disease. But did you know that Jesus also came to help YOU (and your family) to GROW?

Growing in Christ is a very important aspect in the life of believers. Knowing that Jesus makes it possible for us to leave the life of weakness & defeat in our rearview mirror, and grow in His strength, power and victory is one of the greatest benefits of serving Him every day.

How can WE GROW IN HIM? The Bible gives us a simple, three-part plan, that's easy to follow. Will you try it out - starting today?

1. Fall in Love with Jesus! The pathway to spiritual growth starts with building a relationship with Jesus Christ. Its that simple. The key word there is 'relationship.' Notice I didn't say, "the pathway to spiritual maturity starts with a religious experience - that may or may not include Jesus!?'

Lets be clear on that: Jesus Christ is the ONLY God who is alive and active. And because He alone occupies that unique place in the world, a life-changing relationship begins by putting Him first in our lives. There is no way to grow in Jesus unless Jesus is alive and active in you.

Going to church, playing a religious bit-role is not going to cut it. Nothing can be gained by merely acting out a part, unless of course, you're looking for a lucrative income as a Hollywood actor. But if you're trying to find the key to growing up, and becoming a mature believer - who lives their life as a 'conqueror of all things flesh-driven' - then there's only one starting place: Leave the religious claptrap behind, and become best friends with the Living and Active God - Jesus Christ!

Good news awaits: Jesus wants to develop a close-knit relationship with you. That's what Jesus died to provide, and that's His greatest motivation today. Remember, as the Creator, He made YOU according to HIS plan. That means, He designed you for heart-to-heart interaction with Him. And this amazing two-way role is intended to bring immense satisfaction both to you, and also to Him. If you think it sounds crazy that Jesus would actually want a close relationship with you - think again. He not only wants one, He died to make one possible.

So go ahead - plunge into a deep, amazing relationship with Jesus today. He can't wait to spend more time with you - interacting in conversation (prayer and worship) and He will be there when you take time to spend time together.

2. Read the Word - believe the Word! "For the word of God is alive and active" (Heb 4:12).  God's Word is alive and active for one reason - the Lord Himself is alive and active! He isn't a religious figurehead on an ancient building. If you haven't been reading your Bible - its time to dust off the greatest book ever written, and start reading it. Why? It is not just a nice history book - it contains the Words of Life themselves.

Remember, those are the words of Almighty God you will find written in the book, and His Words will reveal many keys to living a victorious life. Included in the Bible: how to overcome sin, defeating discouragement and doubt, conquering sickness and disease, and many keys to building a long-lasting relationship with Him.

That's right, those keys - and many more - are found in the amazing, life-transformative pages of God's Word. And best of all - God is ready to reveal those keys to you, as you take time to read some of them every day. Where to start? You can start anywhere you like. Just be sure to take 10-15 minutes (out of the 1440 minutes in a day) to read a few of them. You'll be amazed how they will change your life! 

Make a note: For the Word to work, you must believe it. Don't forget that - its important. The Bible is not like a novel that you read in a day and go on to the next. For the Bible to work its miraculous work in you, you must read it prayerfully, believe God's Words are true - and that they apply to you - right where you live! So what are you waiting for - isn't it time you committed your time to reading the Word of God?

3. Pray Like You Mean It! Unless our prayers are accompanied by faith, they are never going to be impactful. That much is clear: when building a relationship with God, and starting your walk through a growing season in Him, faith is the one constant that must be resident within us at all times.

Be encouraged: If you have the smallest faith - even the size of a mustard seed - your prayers will be heard and answered. You don't have to be a famous minister to have your prayers accomplish much. Jesus said, we need to become like little children, simply trusting Him, and believing He will do what we ask, and supply what we need.

If you ask Jesus to help you grow stronger, so you can live an impactful life - He will do it, because you are praying His will. That's exactly what He wants to accomplish in all of us.

But also remember - prayers must be prayed before they can be answered! Don't just think about a situation, or need - actively pray concerning them all, knowing Jesus hears us, and is ready to provide the answers needed, when we pray.

Growing stronger in Him: Growing stronger is not a complicated mission, at all. Simply committing to building a great relationship with the Lord, one where you communicate from the heart, and learn to apply His promises in your life, so you can be more effective in impacting our world for Him - is the key to growing up in Him.

Will you apply the easy 1-2-3 steps of growing in Jesus today? When you do, good things will happen, you will become the man or woman He has called you to be - and the kind of person He wants you to become - starting today. May the Lord bless you abundantly as you start the most incredible journey of all. Its a pleasure to be walking with you! 

Posted on January 28, 2014 .

FAMILY FASTING?

Are you making the "21 Days of Fasting & Prayer" a family time? If you haven't considered it before, maybe you should, because you can experience God in a dynamic way, when you make the 21 Days of Fasting & Prayer a time to seek the Lord as a family. 

When we were children, a 10-year-old friend asked his mother if they include the family pet in the church fast? To his chagrine, he was informed that pets are exempt from fasting. Although pets are excluded from fasting & prayer, it is a good idea to include all the members of our family, as we seek the Lord.

Family fasting - While we certainly can't expect small children to fast for extended periods of time, we can introduce them to the concept of fasting, by sharing biblical truths about fasting with them, and teaching them how God responds when they fast. 

Reminder: Children have a much greater capacity for seeking & serving the Lord, than many adults give them credit. That helps explain why Jesus said, "You must become as a little child to inherit the Kingdom of God." So parents - don't underestimate how powerful, and life-changing this time of fasting and prayer can be for your family.

What type of fast can children do? Excellent fasts for kids include the 'Partial Fast' or 'Media Fast.'  The Partial Fast is a good choice, because it doesn't require them to skip whole meals (which we don't recommend for children). They can, however, be given them the option of picking a favorite food to fast (abstain from) for a certain period of time. Depending on the age of your children, they certainly don't need to surrender their favorite food for all 21 days, but even a day or two is a good start for young kids. Maybe they could even repeat that fast one day each week, for three weeks. 

The Media Fast is a other good choice for kids, because most kids (according to polls) spend too much time on video, computers or watching TV anyway. So you might get a more productive 'sacrifice' of their time, if you push for a Media Fast than anything else. In the end, what we fast isn't as important, as our heart-attitude in it. Remember, the Lord will always honor our best sacrifice.

What food should kids fast? Broccoli probably doesn't count as a legitimately 'sacrificed' food (lol), b but foods like chocolate, or sugary cereal might be good picks for kids. But once again, let your kids help make the choice. You just might be surprised what they will give up, to seek the Lord.

Family prayer - we also encourage you to take time to pray together as a family. Once again, the length of time will vary, depending on the age of your children, but even if you get together and pray for 5-10 minutes each day, you are teaching your family to set aside time to communicate with the Lord. Try this at home: Let each of your children pray for a need each day. You'll be amazed what you can learn by listening to your children pray.

During this time of fasting, another good teaching we need to share with our family, comes from Isaiah 58:6-12. In 'the chosen fast,' the Lord includes, 'Is it not to share your food with the hungry, and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them.' Take this opportunity to teach them the heart & will of God, by doing good by others. 

May the Lord bless you, as you seek His face together!

 

Posted on January 7, 2014 .

Times & Seasons of Life

When it comes to the changing of the seasons - we all have personal preferences. But I was reminded this morning, that the Lord makes every season for specific reasons, and every season He makes is good. We simply need to learn what His reasons for each season may be.

Though we may not like certain seasons of life (wilderness, tests, trials, etc) - the fact is - God makes them all, and places them in our lives for a specific purpose. In retrospect, the less-than-appreciated seasons have been some of the best times of my life, because they have resulted in the greatest periods of growth, maturity and discovery of how much He loves me. 

So, instead of fighting against, or grumbling through the less-than-appreciated times of our lives, maybe we should try to discover God's purposes in them, learn to appreciate and discover the beauty within each and every season of our lives. After all, if the Author of our lives chose to place them there, then we should rejoice and be glad in every one of them - for we know His plans for us are good. (Jer. 29:11)

Posted on January 6, 2014 .

Welcome 2014 - It's Gonna Be Good!

Welcome 2014  - I am greeting the New Year with a sense of joyful expectation. I believe this year is going to be a year of newness and supernatural victory for many people. There is a rising anointing in the land, and I believe this is YOUR time to see God turn things around, and give YOU a brand new start. Gone will be the days of your defeat, shortcomings, and failures. God wants to do a brand new work in your life - so let Him! 

Isaiah 43:18 - 21. "Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise." 

Forget about the old days of defeat, discouragement and disappointment - they're gone. And standing here before you today is an open door of victory, hope and change. Nothing can hinder you from going through that door - except you. If you choose NOT to believe, not to receive, or not to walk into the new day He has for you - then you won't receive. But if you DO believe, and follow His lead - then nothing can stand in the way, or hinder the new work God is preparing to do in you!! 

It's time to move forward - starting now!!! Don't allow anyone, or anything to distract you from your goal, rob your faith, or deflate your resolve to believe God for new days and opportunities in Him. God is preparing something new - and it is time to move forward! 

It's a brand new year - a brand new day … and a brand new hour! Seize the day, the opportunity, and the victory - for they are yours in Christ Jesus today!

Posted on January 1, 2014 .

A BRAND NEW YEAR - A BRAND NEW START

Regrets can easily dominate your life if you let them. With regret, people often ask themselves, "What could I have done differently in that moment," "Why did I do that, say that, behave that way?" and so on. Sadly, there is no way the past can be undone. What was done is done, and what was said, is said. You cannot undo any of the words you have spoken, or the hurts you have caused to others, or to yourself, along the way.

If we are honest, all of us can look back at a portion of our life, or at events in our life with regrets. But consider this: What does living your life in a continual state of regret do to change your future, repair hurts in the lives of others, or help make your future anything but 'regretful'?

The only hope we have for a brighter future, that is free from the pain of regrets, is to surrender our past to Jesus, somewhere along the way. Failure to do so, will only extend our journey down this harmful and hopeless path.

That brings us to the New Year. I love the New Year season, because it is a good time to look forward, and make key decisions that can alter the direction of our lives, and lead us into a brand new day - with the help of the Lord.

But - let me make this perfectly clear - change won't just happen by itself. You must make a conscious decision to release every wrong you've ever done, every sin you've ever committed, and every harmful word or deed - to the Lord - and allow Him to bring closure, release, and healing to them all. 

Until your regretful moments are surrendered to Jesus, however, He cannot forgive you of them, free you from them, or begin to bring healing in the situations you regret. It is a true saying, "the Lord cannot bring victory to any life, or any situation that does not belong to Him."

So you see, the answer to overcoming the regrets of the past, is found at the foot of the Cross. Our flesh is incapable of dealing with complex problems that are beyond our human strength or abilities. Only the power of Jesus Christ - our Redeemer (He buys back our lives from all things hurtful), our Healer, and our Deliverer - is capable of breaking off the sorrow, sadness and pain our regrets cause us.

Now here's the Good News you've been looking for, and longing for - perhaps your entire life. No matter what you have done to others, to yourself, or have had others do to you - Jesus Christ has the power to transform, and heal all those situations, along with their memories for you, as well.

Before the Lord can do anything miraculous for you, or through you, however, you must surrender the hurts, and their accompanying memories to Him.

That brings us back to the start of the New Year. As the New Year begins, it would be a great time to 'cast all your cares (and regrets) upon Him,' allow the Lord to bring closure and healing to those situations, and let Him breath fresh life into your heart, life, emotion, mind and spirit, too.

Looking ahead at the New Year - it can be a wonderful time of release and healing in your life, if you will simply apply this truth, and exchange the hurtful moments of your past, for a day of new beginnings in Him.

He is able to do miraculous things in you, and through you, as long as you are willing to surrender and believe. So what are you waiting for? It's going to be a New Year anyway - you might as well let God give you a brand new start in every way!

Posted on December 30, 2013 .

The INCREDIBLE JOURNEY of Jesus!

On that very first Christmas day – Jesus’ earthly journey began. His journey was destined to become the greatest journey ever undertaken by anyone, in the history of the world. Though Jesus Christ was born of heaven and earth, He didn’t come to lead a mighty army, like Alexander, or rise to the throne of a physical empire, like Caesar. He didn’t have to – for His mission was not to divide and conquer with the sword, or rule a few generations with a rod of iron.

Rather, Jesus Christ came with all the authority of heaven, to do for us what no human king or conqueror ever could. Of all the rulers, generals, presidents, and prime ministers to ever rule, only Jesus accomplished the heavenly goal – to provide redemption for the whole world. He did not come to die for a few believers in a far-away place – but for all generations of people, from every nation, until the end comes.

His journey is indeed amazing, I pray you will take the time to read about it, and in the end, that you will make the singular decision that His life, His sacrifice, and His victory over sin for you, compels you to do.

His journey begins: My heart turns toward the journey Joseph and Mary had to undertake, over many difficult miles, to journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, to participate in the Roman census. Even though Mary was long into her miraculous pregnancy, there was no avoiding the journey, for Caesar had issued an edict – a decree that all the world should return to the place of their birth, so a census could be made of all peoples, in every nation.

Some things never change. Taxation is one of them. When Caesar issued his decree, he didn't take into account how difficult it would be for a woman, heavy with child, to make that arduous journey, sometimes walking, sometimes riding on the back of a donkey, over dusty roads, and miserably long hills. He never considered how hot it would be during the day, or how cold the wilderness would be at night.

For a woman in her condition, the journey had to be brutal, at best. Even for pregnant women in our day, undergoing a long journey, while riding on the soft seats of a modern car is a difficulty when THEY ARE THAT FAR ALONG in pregnancy. But for Mary, it had to be especially hard.

Regardless of what Caesar’s edict required of young and old alike, there was no alternative. Caesar was not a merciful man, he has a dictator, ruling a harsh world, and nobody faired well, if they defied the king.

So the journey commenced, not at a time of convenience, but at the exact time ordered, regardless of its difficulty upon the mother of the soon coming King. The 80-miles that separated Bethlehem from Nazareth would normally take 4-5 long days, under the best conditions. Even then, a person had to be in good physical condition to hike 15-20 miles a day.

But this journey would be different, for Mary and her 'betrothed' husband. Even with his constant help, the journey would probably take two weeks, for a pregnant woman as far along as Mary. Two grueling weeks minimum, if they took it slow enough to avoid a late-term miscarriage.

World leaders seldom consider the common man, or expecting mother when making decisions, going to war, or levying taxes. They only consider the needs of their nations. That is to be expected, after all, their burden is far greater than any of us could ever understand.

But I am so grateful, that in all of our difficulties, and throughout the course of our daily struggles, there is One who not only understands, but promises to go through our journey with us, once we make Him our Savior & Best Friend.

The Child, who the weary mother was carrying in her womb, over all those dusty, difficult miles, would be born in an unsanitary little barn, in a faraway town, separated from the comforts of home, and the warm embrace of family and friends.

Nobody in that town even knew their names, other than what was scribbled onto the census scrolls, but there was one coming into the world, that fateful, wonderful night, who would know every name, understand the longings, needs, and hopes of every heart, and who would never shy away from meeting those needs, and caring for every individual heart - no matter it cost Him.

And cost Him dearly, it most certainly did. From the initial stages of the journey, even before His birth, when a baby's mother should be at home, to endure the customary difficulties of child labor, Jesus' mother was traversing many lonely miles, endangering herself, and the Blessed Child, with the rigors of the journey.

But for the only begotten Son of God, the process of making a Way for all people to be freed from sin, and released from iniquity, was going to require more difficulty than the treacheries, and discomfort of a long journey, late in his mother's term.

Every day would be a time of preparation, a funneling as it were, toward that momentous day, when on the grand stage of Israel's capitol city, Jesus would finally fulfill the requirements for the culmination of the journey - for us.

The King would surrender His life for the people. The Savior would take His place, in the annals of history, performing the singular act that no other man or woman could ever fulfill: to die as a sacrificial offering, for the sins of all the people, in every nation, for consecutive generations, until His duly prepared, and much-anticipated return.

The final days of Jesus' journey was more difficult, pain-filled, and extreme than for any passage ever endured by man or woman in history. The BIble makes that point very clear. The King of all, was beaten beyond recognition, spat upon and mocked, His face more closely resembled raw burger, than human flesh. His back was lashed so brutally with a Roman whip,  that His skin, and muscles would have hung in bloodied strips, mercilessly torn by that nine-tailed torture device, laced with metal, bone or glass.

Beaten 39 times, many men had died from the shear anguish of the whip alone. A human body can only endure so much, you know. But having the flesh torn off your back, shoulders, neck and legs, as you are bent forward, and tied tight over a pole, and brutalized to the point of death, by a highly skilled, and merciless Roman, must have filled Jesus' body with unthinkable, unbearable pain.

Even then, the journey was not over, for the man, Christ Jesus, who was "born to us a Savior," still had to walk several miles, in His unthinkable condition, carrying the weight of a rough-hued Cross on His bloodied, and tormented back.

Up that dusty road, through that jeering crowd, step by step upward through those seemingly endless streets, the journey had to seem impossible, even to the very Son of God. For though He possessed access to all the supernatural power and authority of His heavenly kingdom, his physical limitations were just as great as yours and mine. Jesus was, after all, human - and He was locked into the limitations of the human body, the same as we are.

Onward, through the heat of Jerusalem, Jesus continued to make the climb toward the top of Golgotha hill - the Place of the Skull.  But even though Jesus gave it all He had, His physical strength was not up to the task, and He gave out part way along the journey. Falling to the ground, and crying out in pain, Jesus could not summon the physical strength to carry His heavy burden one more step.

A Roman soldier, standing guard as Jesus struggled to regain His feet, looked at the people lining the streets, and spotted a strong man standing in the crowd. Not much is known about Simon, except that he was probably of African decent, and was undoubtedly strong enough to fulfill the task at hand.

Simon the Cyrene, was randomly selected by the soldier to help Jesus carry His Cross of death the remainder of the way. We don't know a lot about Simon, but he appears to be a simple passer-by. But we do know, that a Roman soldier spotted him in the crowd, and forced him to assist our Lord in the final segment of His journey on earth. And for that, I am sure that Jesus was grateful. After all, the rough timbers of the Cross would have been heavy, and with Simon's help, their weighty beams would no longer be pressing as severely into the torn flesh of His shredded back and shoulders. Jesus must have breathed a sigh of relief. Even in that condition, any lessening of pain, even the slightest relief, would have been appreciated.

Jesus knew every step He took, up that winding road, led Him closer to His death. He understood there would be no escape from the task at hand. That is why He had struggled so, in the Garden, the night before: trying to prepare Himself for the unimaginable terrors of the coming day.

Now His journey was drawing to a close. What began in a tiny, out-of-the-way location, those many years ago in Bethlehem, was culminating in the animated streets of Jerusalem.

The Son of God, who had clearly informed the world that He had been sent by the Father to become the Way itself, was now ascending the final hill of His life on earth, and was only moments away from being cruelly nailed to a Cross, raised high into the sky for all to see, suspended between heaven and earth – to become a sacrifice for the sins of us all.

Mockingly, Jesus would be crowned with a thorny wreath, one that would rip his scalp to the bone, and hang underneath a sign that deliberately mocked His authority before all the world: Jesus, King of the Jews.

Though the people of Israel didn't recognize His Lordship on that day, blinded as they were, by their own sins, and the spiritual darkness of a wayward nation, Jesus was in fact, born their King, and would die their King. Not because it was easy, or convenient, but because it was required for a Righteous man to pay the sin-debt of the undeserving – so they through Him might be allowed to live.

There was no other way for the bondage of the sins of all people to be dealt the necessary, final blow, than for Jesus to be raised into the scorching heat of the day, on a Roman Cross, not only to die for the Romans and the Jews, but for all people everywhere.

Rejected by all, Jesus hung on that tree, the weight of His body causing immense pain in His hands and feet – where the nails had torn ragged holes in His flesh, and the agony of it all, was meant to slowly bring upon the condemned, the conditions for death to take Him in the end.

Except there was one small glitch: No matter what the Romans did to Him, death couldn't take Him. That was a complete impossibility. Why? For a person to die, it requires the separation of the human spirit from the human body. And Jesus’ Sprit was not human – it was eternally divine. Though unseen, His indomitable Spirit was the main difference between Jesus and the rest of us.

Never forget: Jesus' Spirit was eternal - remember that. He was, is, and always will be ‘God of very God.’ While His body may have been no different than our own flesh, that was the “human half” of the equation. The “God-half” was the unseen, the part that possessed the power of eternal life. And for that reason, nobody would ever, or could ever take His life from Him. Jesus had to willingly lay His life down.

And that's just what Jesus did. Crying out in anguish of body and soul, abandoned by the Father in that climactic moment, for the sole purpose of suffering death, Jesus surrendered His life - or more accurately - He out-breathed His eternal Spirit into the awaiting hands of the Father. And that, I hope you understand, is the only way the human element of the journey could possibly end.

Jesus cried, "Father, Into Your hands I commit My Spirit!" And just as though He exhaled a normal breath, Jesus released His Spirit unto God.

In one glorious moment, the journey was over - it was complete - it was finished!!! Sin's curse had been broken, it's hideous, unbreakable reign ended, in that one, singular moment of time, just when it seemed like Satan was winning the day, Jesus dismissed His Spirit - as the final step in a long, and painful journey! And in so doing, accomplished for us, what no other power, no other king, no other earthly or heavenly ‘being’ could ever do.

In that moment, for the first time since Eden, mankind was free. The divide between God and man, initiated by the sins of Adam, had been bridged. Sin was finally conquered, and the Way had been made, once, for us all.

Never was another journey undertaken, like that journey. And none ever will be. For the price of Redemption has been paid – eternally paid – so there is no need for another sacrifice, or payment to be made by anyone. In one moment’s time - Jesus Christ, the Lord of heaven and earth, accomplished everything needed for our salvation, healing, and the release from every human bondage.

Write it down: The journey was for you - the journey was for me. It had nothing to do with paying the price of Jesus’ own sins. He needed no sacrifice for sin, because He was sinless. Coming from God, and being God, He could not sin – for God is sinless, and eternally holy.

You and I have a different storyline, however. We need a Savior – desperately. For without One, we are eternally lost, separated from God, and hopeless.

So … what we do in response to our Lord’s ‘Redemptive Journey’ will determine the final stage, or destination of our own journey. I pray you will recognize the personal element in His journey – the part that includes you in it. He did not do what He did for Himself. Jesus came to meet YOUR needs, to deal with the sin issue in YOUR life, and to reveal His mercy for YOU. What YOU do in response to His journey, however, will determine the outcome of your own.

My prayer for you - is that YOUR journey will not end like many blind-eyed individuals throughout history, who went to their appointed grave cursing God, or rejecting His call. But rather, that YOU will be wise, like those who came to worship him at the beginning of His journey, and like millions upon millions of others throughout the course of time, who willingly surrendered their hearts to Him, and joyously became the recipients of His divine grace.

Like those who have gone before us, and untold numbers of fellow believers around the world, there is no more blessed journey ANYONE could ever undertake, than the journey that begins with Jesus by your side, and continues forever – with Jesus in your heart.

His journey to awaken every heart, and transform every life by His amazing grace continues from generation to generation. Will you join Him in the blessedness of the Way, and enter once and for all - upon the only pathway that is abundantly blessed, both in this world, and for ages to come?

I guarantee you – upon the surety of the Word of God - that you will never look back with regret, once you set your feet to the Way, for the journey with our Lord is filled with wonder, joy and gladness – more than we even knew existed, in our days of darkness and death.

Isn't it time you started your journey with Him - today?

Posted on December 24, 2013 .