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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It’s Time for a Spiritual Check Up!

630828506            In the midst of David’s journey, he cries out to the Lord in Ps.139:23 saying, “Search me, O God, and know my heart” David invites the Lord to check out the hidden most parts of his heart. He didn’t want there to be anything that would hinder his relationship and walk before the Lord. The next verse goes on to say, “see if there is any wicked way in me”. The words “wicked way” can also be defined “painful way”. I believe David had experienced and knew that followers of God will often go through hardships in life’s journey and become bruised and hurt along the way. These can ultimately open the doors for various negative affects in our walk with the Lord. Therefore, David was emphatic about not letting anything come in his life that would jeopardize his journey with the Lord.

Growing up in school sports like many, I remember that it was a yearly requirement to get you physical check up by your doctor before you could be released to participate in any activities. It wasn’t a long appointment, by no means but as I remember there were some specific things the doctor would check. They would first


It’s important that we frequently have a spiritual check up to see if we are healthy and growing in the Lord     (tweet)


listen to your heart to see if there were any irregular rhythms. The blinding light in the eyes was one of the worst things he would do as he checked for any indications or alerting signs. It seemed almost as a police officer checking if a person is under any kind of influences. The doctor would continue his check up wrapping the blood pressure gauge on your upper arm, as well as taking my temperature. All of these simple and quick tests gave him an overview of our health and growth. The physical check up kept all of us in tune with our health keeping us from any serious danger.

How much more important is it that we frequently have a spiritual check up to see if we are healthy and growing in the Lord. We have all seen many people become


Have we become churches that are filled with the walking dead? God forbid!  (tweet)


lax and even lethargic when it comes to continue in good spiritual health. The end result can be spiritual sickness or even a spiritual death. God wants us to be alive and Continue reading

Don’t Mess with the Family!

Beaver CleaversRemember, when June, Ward, Wally, and Beaver Cleaver represented the American family, in the show Leave It to Beaver? One of the worst things that happened in their family if I remember right was when Beaver broke a vase on the mantle. They always pictured a strong stable family even in the midst of weekly dilemmas. Unfortunately, today is a whole different story. It seems as if there is an attack on the traditional family.

Not too many families even sit down together and eat dinner anymore. More tragic is the fact that the definition is being changed by our society. Same-sex couples took their vows for the first time May 17, 2004, in the state of Massachusetts and now, after deliberation for over a month, on Friday, June 26th the Supreme Court handed down their ruling that same sex marriage is legal. No longer is the American family considered a sacred assembly.

Today, on top of redefining marriage the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are over 1.6 million births to unmarried mothers, which is a staggering 40.8% of all births in the USA. The Divorce Source, Inc. indicates divorce rates have escalated in recent years with numbers hitting 877,000! The voice of some activist says that the family must be done away with because it’s enslavement to women.


God knew a society needed guidelines and boundaries of righteousness to keep it strong and prospering, so He instituted the Family   (Tweet)


Social professionals agree that the disintegration of the family structure is the cause of an intense major problem in America. The percentage of mothers not at home but serving in the work place is on the rise, producing a generation of “latch key kids” named for their ability to let themselves in their own houses after school because mothers weren’t home. The family is being attacked, and we’re doing nothing!

When the God-defined family deteriorates, there’s also a decline in morals. God knew a society needed guidelines and boundaries of righteousness to keep it strong and prospering. Family is a means that God has established to help keep a righteous structure in our society, keeping out any immoral rust that brings confusion and deception.

Sexual Immorality is a problem that has touched our land from the White House to our own homes. There was a time when politicians were pressured to back out of politics due to sexual immoralities. Present-day polls say, “If it doesn’t affect their jobs we don’t care what they do at home. That’s their business!” Whole cities have holidays where there is nothing but drunkenness and immorality! Our young people say, “Everyone’s doing it!” Some say, “If you don’t experiment, how will you know if it’s right?” With all the different influences, it is no wonder our families are going headlong downward.

The Internet is full of pornography and is an easy access for anyone wanting or just stumbling on to it! Adult bookstores outnumbered McDonald’s in the US by a margin of at least three to one. Annual revenues of the pornography industry in the U.S. are $13.3 billion. This is more than the revenues of the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball combined says the Stop Porn Culture.

Anytime a nation or society gives way to what the Bible defines as immoral lifestyles, it soon opens the doors to all kinds of unnatural and warped acts of sexual sin resulting in it’s downfall. The Church must respond to the urgency of the hour with a loving but firm voice of righteousness, “Don’t Mess with the Family”!

I Caught Something!

Image   The April sun broke through our kitchen window. I had sleep in my eyes. My siblings and I sluggishly forced ourselves to eat our morning oatmeal. There was nothing uncommon about this morning in 1967. It began like any other typical day. Until, the telephone pierced the silence and brought all of us to attention. My mother answered in her normal cheery voice, but immediately her tone changed. Her cheerfulness went to a devastating, “Oh my God” and from that moment my life changed forever.

Our daily priorities were obliterated by the news that my dad had just suffered a heart attack (that would later become fatal). As my mother hung up she insistently cried, “Everyone go and pray in the front room for your dad.” The sluggish sleepiness that just moments earlier was so prevalent vanished as we all began to cry out to the Lord. In the midst of disaster, we prayed!

Praying became a natural response in times of crises and need in our household, because it was instilled in us as a daily way of life. I can remember how my mother loved to take walks on our ranch in the beautiful Rocky Mountains to pray. On several occasions we would run up the trail to catch her only to find her deep in prayer. It was memories like this that had a profound impact on my life.

I believe some things must be caught not just taught. Joshua had evidently caught something as he followed Moses. The young Joshua saw the results of Moses’ communion with God. He talked to God and then walked in His power every day.  Joshua caught the spirit of prayer and abiding in God’s presence. I love Exodus 33:11 where it says, “So the Lord spoke to Moses face-to-face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.” Picture this scene: Moses returned to camp and to his responsibilities but Joshua stayed in the Lord’s presence. Evidently Joshua caught something; he understood that a life of intimate prayer and communion with God will result in a walk of power.

A lifestyle of prayer was birthed in my own life through being raised in the shadow of many great men and women of prayer. Even once I had left for college and then continuing down the road to marriage and raising a family; it seemed that God would always place me in the midst of men and women of prayer. Through colleges and seminaries rooted in prayer such as Christ for the Nations Institute and others. Speakers that taught and motivated us to minister out of the place of prayer such as Dick Eastman, Mike Bickle, Bill Bright, as well as, great Pastors such as Dr. Larry Lea, who were used to call a generation to pray. God was definitely orchestrating in me a lifestyle of prayer.

Over the years I have reflected on many of those days and memories and have been encouraged that I had caught an attitude of prayer to sustain me in and through my life. It has kept me through many trying times and has become a lifelong message of mine as well as a book I have published, “Igniting the Power of Prayer”.  It is my desire to see God’s people live a life empowered through a life of prayer

We Can Do It If We Will

haystack  “In 1806 a group of students at Williams College in Massachusetts sought refuge from a sudden rainstorm in a haystack.  As the rain beat down, they turned their retreat into a prayer meeting.  They asked God to use their lives.  As they prayed, their faith rose to believe God could use them significantly to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission.  When the rain subsided, they left with the rallying cry, “We can do it if we will!” This unobtrusive meeting went down in history as the Haystack Prayer Meeting.  Today this spontaneous prayer time is seen as the beginning of the mission movement in America.  As a result, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was birthed.”[i]

Through a simple small non-organized prayer meeting the world would never be the same.  God used a group of young people that had a relationship with Him to shake the world through missions. Not because of who they were or even that they deserved anything.  It was all because they chose to allow God’s heart to be vocalized through prayer. That small group came in agreement with God’s will and because of it changed the world!

If the believers of God would only understand there is an incredible power when we come in agreement with heaven through our prayers. We could virtually change our surroundings and our world. The question is, will we no matter what the circumstances are find a place and time and begin to pray prayers that will make a difference?  Let us also make our rallying cry as did that small group many years ago

“We Can do it if we will!”

 

[i] David Shibley, A Force In The Earth, Florida: Creation House, 1989 P. 85

There’s Life in the Vine!

Image    There is a definite difference between the life that is separated unto prayer and the life that has separated from prayer. One has the power of God flowing through it and the other is powerless. We must understand that Jesus is the vine and we are only the branches. (Jn. 15:5). As long as we stay connected to the life-source then we will walk in His power.

Paul encouraged the Christians in Ephesus with these words: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might,” (Eph. 6:10). We walk in His power as long as we are in fellowship and communion with Him. I remember my former pastor, telling the church that some things must be caught not just taught. I believe Joshua caught something as he followed Moses.

Joshua saw the results of Moses’ communion with God. He Talked to God and then walked in His power every day.  Joshua caught the spirit of prayer and abiding in God’s presence. I love Exodus 33:11 where it says, “So the Lord spoke to Moses face-to-face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.” Picture this scene: Moses returned to camp and to his responsibilities but Joshua stayed in the Lord’s presence. Evidently Joshua caught something; he understood that a life of intimate prayer and communion will result in a walk of power.

We cannot survive without being grafted into the vine. Joshua was committed in making sure that he was grafted into the vine. It was a daily choice he made. Just as it must be a daily choice in our life to make sure we are connected into the life source of the vine.  As we come into the place of prayer and communion with God, we are strengthening our connection in the vine!

The Harvest is Ready…So Just Do It!

          

Image

 The flashing police lights and news cameras drew our attention across the street. The assembling crowd was all gazing to the other side of the yellow police tape.  People stood in awe as they covered and took away a body, apparently a victim of a mugging.  We were shocked and dumbfounded at what we were just exposed to. 

            My three younger girls, my wife and I were coming to speak at a church in Houston, Texas.  We had never been to this church before.  So after arriving in town, we began to look for its location.  To our amazement and literal shock we had come upon this crime scene, which ended up being right across the street from where we were scheduled to speak.  At that moment, words could not express the feelings that rushed through my very being.  All I could think about through the night was eternity!  The thought of how totally lost people are without Christ and how close eternity really is to each one of us. 

            This experience has stuck with me through the years.  It has given me an eternity awareness that just cannot be shaken.  The fact is there are people dying and going to hell every day around us.  We sit in our stained glass churches every Sunday, hearing the Word of God.  Yet, we leave and never change our society with the message of Christ.  Like we read in Matt. 9:37, “…The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”  The harvest of souls is ready to be harvested.  They are ripe and in their prime to be picked.  Yet, it says that the laborers are what is holding up or hindering this great harvest, for they are few in number!

  • How many people do you know that need to hear the Gospel?  
  •  Today, Will you choose to be a part of God’s great plan of salvation?   
  •  Will you not only PRAY for the laborers to be released into the harvest field, but be one of the laborers? 

 It’s time to stop talking about reaching people for Christ and just do it.  We go to conferences about soul winning.  We listen to great messages about reaching the lost for Jesus.  We pray about our friends and family coming to know the Lord. But…. We don’t act on it.   

     It’s time to shake off the dust of complacency and be about the God’s business!      

 

Make a change…Just Do It!