What do you see … In Easter?

cross_4_edit_2There’s just something about this time of the year. The trees are beginning to bud and the flowers are pushing through the soil. Weekends are filled with neighbors busily working in their yards getting ready for the celebration of Easter Sunday. Stores are filled with mothers shopping for their children’s Easter outfits and many children are excitedly decorating baskets and coloring eggs for the annual Easter egg hunt.

I know you can relate with me that it’s almost impossible to walk in the super market without seeing the many Easter candies, decorations and not buying a cart full. Yet the many different ways people see this holiday is as numerous as the many different kinds of candy for the day itself. Some see it as a day for family fun and others see it as games in the sun, while still others a time for spiritual communion. No matter what age people might be many will look at Easter differently.

In John 20:1-8, we see three different views of the empty tomb from three individuals who had been followers of Jesus. Mary Magdalene who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities (Lk 8:2), faithful John the beloved (Jn 21:20) and Peter who


The tomb is Empty because He is not there for He is risen


had days earlier denied Jesus three times (Jn. 18:17-27). Jesus had been falsely convicted and scourged to inches of His life and then violently crucified before all Jerusalem. Then as if to cover and seal this horrendous demonic act He is buried in a tomb to be forgotten, or is He?

In verse one we read where Mary rises before dawn to go to the tomb where she finds the stone rolled away making the tomb open and alarming. She looks and immediately runs back and with the announcement that Jesus had been taken from the tomb arouse the disciples. Franticly, Peter and John run to the place where Jesus had been laid and John being first looks in the vacant tomb with out entering. When Peter arrives he goes on in and sees the empty space with the intriguing evidence of the folded headscarf. They all three looked at the situation and drew their conclusions resulting in their different responses.

If we inspect a little deeper the words that are used in Johns account we see that there our three different words used to describe how these three looked at the empty tomb. Mary, who came first with spices as well as John in the beginning looked with a


I owed a debt I could not pay and Jesus paid a debt He did not owe.


casual glance, which brought Mary to tears and grief (Jn.20:11-15). Peter as he arrived passed up John and went into the tomb and looked as a critical spectator, which resulted in him going back to his old lifestyle. Finally John who started out looking casually now goes into the tomb after Peter and inspects the evidence and remembering Jesus words perceives with understanding, which leads him to believe.

Now this leads me to the day we live in where there seems to be so many people with so many different perspectives about the Easter story, which will result in many different outcomes in their lives. Those that see it as just chocolate bunnies, chicks and eggs seem to live with no eternal perspective and without hope. Then there’s those that have a slight grasp of its religious meaning, yet because of their lack of understanding live with a critical and cynical view point. But, there’s one more group that have ventured to go in deeper with faith filled vision choosing to believe the message that Jesus is risen as the angel declared! (Lk.24:6) What do you see? I choose to believe He is risen indeed, how about you?

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That’s My Kid You’re Messing With!

Bullying At SchoolI am sure most have seen a burling cloud of smoke rising up in the sky signaling to all around that something is burning. Most individuals have a curiosity to see what is burning and how bad the devastation is.

I imagine David and his mighty men became alarmed when they saw the smoke rising from the direction of their homes. I am sure their battle worn bodies were in need of a time of rest and pleasure with their families, only to be shaken with concern. In 1 Sam 30:1-6 we read that these mighty warriors who were coming to Ziklag after a three-day travel from the Philistine’s camp were devastated beyond their capacity of remaining strong and focused.

When they saw that their houses had been burned and their wives and children had been taken away captive, it says in verse 4 that they, “lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep.” These men of war were driven to their


How long will we just sit by and watch our children and families be carried away down the road to destruction.   (tweet)


knees knowing that the Amalekites who they had recently brought havoc on and brought to the sword now had their children and families (1 Sam. 27:8-9). Why wouldn’t these murderous savages and fierce warriors not ravage and kill in revenge. This is what David and his men are picturing in their mind as they slide down the slopes of hopelessness.

Why has so many in the church succumbed to the same if not worse predicament with our families and children? We have been off building our careers and egos much as David’s army had been. We have allowed ourselves to be deceived in thinking that our children are safe and out of harms way much like this story. Yet, I believe we are in a much worse dilemma for we are not even concerned with the signs and smell of smoke invading our society.

All down through history we have seen the enemies attempt to carry our children away into captive and ultimately destroy them. John 10:10 says, “The thief


Don’t be messing with my kid!  (tweet)


does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” The enemy’s mission statement is to do everything he can to plunder our children which are gifts from God.

The enemy used Pharaoh in Exod 1:22 to try and stop the deliverer by killing the children when Moses was born. Again, we see the enemy used a threatened Herod to try and kill the coming deliverer by destroying the children when Jesus was also born Continue reading

Parenting isn’t for Wimps!

Wedding Of Renata Kochta And Thomas FrankI know many of you can relate to how I felt when I received my father’s bolt-action single shot 22 cal. rifle. It was the one that my dad grew up with as a boy and used it to hunt small game in the woods of Missouri. It was old and tarnished but now it was mine to have and pass down to my kids. In a sense it wasn’t really mine but was put in to my trust to keep care of and make sure it is given to the next caretaker. Maybe in your case it wasn’t a rifle but maybe a dresser, picture or even a valuable piece of jewelry. But this property or inheritance has been entrusted to you to cherish and love as you steward over it until it’s time to pass it on to the next in line.

The psalmist writes in Ps. 127:3, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” The word “gift” can be translated property or inheritance that the Lord has given to us. As much as we would like to think having children is totally up to


With out the help of God and a good church, parenting would be a total disaster! (tweet)


us and no one else, the bible says children are a gift from God. In the book of James we are exhorted, don’t be misled…whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God. (James 1:16-17 NLT) So bottom line is that God has given us children to steward over. Wow! What an awesome and humbling responsibility. We will one day all stand before God and give an account of how we steward this gift as well as others that He has given us.

Now lets be honest, even though I went to all the prenatal classes and doctor appointments with my wife. Even painted the new baby’s room and put together all the furniture. I really had no idea what being a parent was all about until that first night we were able to bring her home. After my shocking experience in changing this


Let us be good stewards of His gifts, as we raise our children with His love and statues.   (tweet)


cute newborn’s diaper alone with a sleepless night of trying to rock and settle her through the night, revealed to me that I was sinking fast in the realm of parenting. The crash course of parenting 101 in the next couple weeks began to point me in the right direction for the next thirty-some years of parenting.

The truth of the whole subject of parenting in my life, now that it is coming to a close after these many years is, well, I think I am finally figuring it out. With out the help of God and a good church that He puts in your life to help, it would be a total Continue reading

Blessed is the Nation that Comes Together in Prayer

praying in a huddleAs the clock struck twelve, the crowds had only one thing on their mind—getting to the place of prayer. The whole city was shut down, businesses closed their doors, schools dismissed class early, and even the legislature had called it a day. The year was 1905, and from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., the eyes of the city were looking to God for his guidance. The mayor of Denver had declared a day of prayer, resulting in more than twelve thousand in attendance in downtown prayer meetings.

During this same time, over two hundred businesses closed for three hours of prayer in Portland, Oregon. In Burlington, Iowa, many stores and factories closed to allow their employees to go to prayer meetings. There seemed to be a yearning and anticipation for a fresh move of God sweeping through people of every social and ethnic level. Churches were bulging full of people praying and seeking God. The news of the great Welsh revival spread through the land like wild fire, causing a hunger to be aroused in America. The result of this great move of prayer was powerful. Many denominations recorded a significant increase in their membership. Things were beginning to be stirred and get in place for the soon coming Azusa Street Revival in 1906.

Nearly fifty years earlier, a similar movement of prayer took place, bringing our country to its knees. It all started in 1857, in Manhattan, New York, area, with an individual named Jeremiah Lanphier, who had a burden from the Lord to start a noon prayer meeting. He advertised and promoted it, which soon brought a steady increase in attendance. Before long, prayer meetings began to spring up in almost every public building downtown. The local newspaper’s publicity thrust a landslide of prayer, beginning a movement that spread throughout New England

The revival that followed had no boundaries going out in every direction changing lives. Shortly after the revival had begun, the country found itself in the middle of the bloodiest war ever fought on American soil. Yet, due to the moving of God, many of the men who lost their lives had been prepared for eternity through God’s grace and mercy.

The effects of this revival touched even the White House. President Lincoln, being concerned about America and how it had become too successful and self-sufficient, full of pride, gave his Proclamation for a National Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer. On April 30, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln said, “It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” The results of this great revival not only carried on, but also lasted for many years. It had begun in a passion for prayer and was sustained with faithfulness of prayer!


When God’s people come together in persistent powerful prayer, God breaks in with radical results!       Tweet


Mathew Henry once said, “When God intends a great mercy for his people, he first sets them a praying.” We must find the place of prayer! Revival has never come through great preaching or successful programs. We must set ourselves to prayer, seeking to be changed by the power of God. Only when we have touched the hem of his garments will we see a visitation of God!

“Christ-Must” list or Christ Centered Communion?

christmas List  Remember the excitement when you were a child making your Christmas list. It was a time that your imagination would sky rocket and every new toy and gadget became a possibility for your list. In your mind there was never an issue about money or if it was even practical for you or not. We became consumed by the monster of greed and desire! The list could go on as long as our paper or our fingers could write. Those childhood memories will never be forgotten as they found their place snuggled in each of our hearts.

In the same manner many Christians treat their prayer life as if they are making that Christmas list once again. They come to God in prayer with a list of wants of fairytale proportions.  As a Christian it is nonproductive and spiritually unhealthy to have a “Santa Clause mentality” which degrades our walk of faith to nothing more than a lifestyle that teeters in the fairytale realm.

If we are not careful we will think and act like Ralphie, the young kid in the 1983 classic movie “Christmas Story”. He wanted a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas so desperately bad that he was consumed with making sure that Santa Claus knew what he wanted. The only thing that seemed to matter was for him to wait in line to be able to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him his Christmas list. How many Christian’s have a prayer life that resembles this same frantic feeling that they must hand Jesus their LIST? Does that sound familiar? Have you allowed your prayer time to be turned into nothing more than a Christ-must list or is it as it should be a place of Christ centered communion? Our prayer life must continue to develop from a passion to know Christ more.

I do understand that there are many facets of prayer and definitely realize that there is a time that we go to our heavenly Father with our needs and supplications. But if our prayer time is only defined by our list and what we need, then we are missing the joy and most important element of prayer.

We have been given the privilege and most awesome opportunity to minister unto Him. It’s when we come into His presence in worship and adoration that will lead us into the greatest and deepest point of our prayer life, the place of pure undefiled communion.  Transitioning from that attitude of “it’s all about us” to an eternal attitude of “living for the King” only happens when we can die to ourselves and live for His purposes in the earth.

Prayer is much greater than just a list of wants. It is a time that we respond to God’s invitation to come into His presence. He has always wanted us to abide with Him. We can see that all the way back to the Garden of Eden where God walked and talked with Adam and Eve. There was a sweet peaceful communion in the presence of the creator of the universe.

It was God’s idea and desire to walk and share His heart with His creation. From the very beginning of time, God created us to be in His presence and to know His heart. Let me ask you, “Have you ever taken the time to ask the Lord what’s on His list?  Or have you been so enthroned in our self-indulgence that we never even stop to hear or listen.

I encourage you as well as everyone to put down our “Christ-Must” list and reach higher in prayer to know His heart.

A Desperate Cry For Children

 

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1 Sam 1:10-11  And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. 11 Then she made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will …give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”  NKJV

 Gen 30:1  Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!” NKJV

             I remember my wife was having complications keeping her pregnancies from miscarrying. After losing three pregnancies she began to become desperate before the Lord, crying out for children. There was a God given desire to have children down deep in her soul that most women can relate to. Rachel and also Hannah was in this same place in her life. She began to cry out to the Lord for a child. 

            As Christians it’s in our DNA to have spiritual children. God said to replenish the earth to His creation in Genesis and also Jesus commanded those that followed Him, “Go make disciples”. The church has become dormant and impotent not bringing forth spiritual children. Therefore we must get to a place of getting desperate for spiritual children.  Crying out to the Lord as Hannah did. 

            Producing spiritual offspring in the body of Christ can be tough.  It’s much like a woman in labor… its WORK! There’s a time in the labor process that most women I have talked to say, they feel like giving up.  I remember when my wife was in labor with our oldest daughter, that that point came where she was insistent on getting this baby out of her.  She couldn’t take it anymore, it was a rigorously tough. That’s why they call it labor!  The nurse came in and coached her to push hard in the next couple of minutes because the baby was ready to come out.  She wanted to quit and go home, but that wasn’t a real option so she followed the instruction of the nurse and within the hour we had our first daughter. It was such a great day our first child. But, it didn’t come without desperation, agonizing pain and laboring work.     

             It’s much the same way for spiritual children in our midst.  It takes time, patience, endurance and a tenacious spirit in prayer. Many times we don’t understand the strongholds and the warfare that resists the harvest of  souls and God’s purposes coming to fruition in our midst.  

  •   Have we gotten to a place that we are as serious and desperate as Rachel or Hannah?
  •  Is it really at the fore front of our mind or just a passing thought?
  •  It will be work and take a desperate cry to the Lord

Are we willing to pray the price? Not quitting when it gets tough and we get tired. Hannah refused to quit and it says, “…in the process of time”  She produced not just one but three sons and two daughters. 

  

Let’s become Desperate for Souls and His purposes!

This is going to hurt me more than you!

disciplined child Heb 12:5-11   “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;  6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”  7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?   

Until I became a parent, I just could not understand the phrase, “This is going to hurt me more than You!”  I would hear my parents tell me this same line each time I was getting a wiping. At times I heard it more frequently than at other times. I guess maybe it was a seasonal thing. It was seasons of rebellion and seasons of obedience.

What was it all about? Could my parents really feel anything? Was it painful to swing the paddle?  I don’t think so! Did they just choose to say it so it would keep them from feeling guilty? Then what was it supposed to mean?

Well, now that I have become a parent it’s starting to make a little bit of sense. Even though my children are pretty spectacular they aren’t perfect. Therefore, there are times that they need a little correction or chastisement. And when that time comes I have to be truthful. It really does hurt me to do it. It would be much easier to just let things slide by without correction than it would be to reprimand them. There has been times that after I brought correction and chastisement that I was hurting all evening. It breaks a father’s heart to see his children hurt, even if they deserve it.  So now after all those confusing times of hearing those words time after time, I can honestly say I get it now! “It’s going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you.” It’s because of the love that parents have for their children that make them say those strange words.

The scriptures reveal in Heb. 12:5 – 11 that if we are not being chastised by God then we are not His children. If we are not His children then we are in a heap more trouble than just a little correction.

Therefore I think we should look at God’s correction as an incredible compliment from heaven. It confirms that we truly are His children.  And if we are children then we are heirs to the King. So we should say, Lord please continue to correct and chastise me when I am in need.

Our God is a just and loving God. He is always fair when He moves in our lives. Because He loves us!  In His chastisement towards us we can rest in knowing He loves us and wants the best for us!