Pastor Mike's thoughts

Thoughts on today's Christian world and how it fits into secular society.

Monday, July 31, 2006

The great life!

This week I watched a group of people lose their jobs, and I have to say that it was a miserable experience for all involved. I knew these people well, and I am praying hard for them. As I talked to these wonderful people, I witnessed various levels of reactions. I saw anger, sadness, depression, and many more. My heart goes out to them as they face a challenging time in their lives. Now the question becomes, how do we handle these sort of situations?

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, Ihave kept the faith.

Satisfaction in life comes from living righteously and trying to raise the level of quality in the relationships, services and products you're involved with. Matthew 5:6 says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." Do you really believe that? If you did, what would you be doing? You would spend more time feeding your spirit than trying to satisfy your fleshly desires. Have you ever tried to satisfy the flesh? It can't be done. The more you feed it, the more it wants.

Satisfaction is a quality issue, not a quantity issue. You'll achieve greater satisfaction from doing a few things well than from doing many things in a haphazard or shoddy manner. The key to personal satisfaction is not in broadening your involvements, but in deepening them through a commitment to quality.

The same is true in relationships. If you are dissatisfied in your relationships, maybe you've spread yourself too thin. Solomon wrote: "A man of many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). It may be nice to know a lot of people on the surface, but you need a few good friends who are committed to a quality relationship with each other. We all need the satisfaction which quality relationships bring.

Paul accomplished what he was called to do. He left a lot undone, but he fought the good fight, finished his course, and kept the faith. Jesus also left a lot undone, but He did His Father's will and was able to say, "It is finished." You may not be able to do all you want to do for Christ in your lifetime, but you can live obediently and faithfully day by day.

Praying that we look to the right place during the hard times
Pastor Mike

Sleeping On The Job?

This is just a 15 minute power nap like they raved about in that time management course you sent me to.
I was working smarter - not harder.

Whew! I must have left the top off the whiteout.

I wasn't sleeping! I was meditating on the mission statement and envisioning a new paradigm!

This is one of the seven habits of highly effective people!

I was testing the keyboard for drool resistance.

I'm in the management training program.

I'm actually doing a Stress Level Elimination Exercise Plan (SLEEP). I learned at the last mandatory seminar you made me attend.

This is in exchange for the six hours last night when I dreamed about work!

I was doing a highly specific Yoga exercise to relieve work related stress. Do you discriminate against people who practice Yoga?

Darn! Why did you interrupt me? I had almost figured out a solution to our biggest problem.

The coffee machine is broken....

Someone must have put decaf in the wrong pot.

Boy, that cold medicine I took last night just won't wear off.

Ah, the unique and unpredictable circadian rhythms of the workaholic!

I wasn't sleeping. I was trying to pick up my contact lens without my hands

The mail courier flipped out and pulled a gun so I was playing dead to avoid getting shot.

Geez, I thought you (the boss) were gone for the day.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Anger Management

Most people know someone with a hot temper. Such a person easily loses their cool, has a short fuse that, when it burns down, blows their stack. It is unpleasant even being around them since it puts you on edge; you don't want to feel or even see their anger.

Many people who struggle with chronic anger aren't even sure what they're angry about. Anger is a secondary emotion caused by the primary emotions of fear, hurt or frustration. Once you identify what you're angry about, you can begin the process of dealing with it. When you become aware of your anger, you have a choice: You can allow your anger to control you, or with the help of the Holy Spirit you can choose to control your anger. Accept the fact that most things in the world are out of your control. Continually trying to control your family, friends or circumstances results in frustration. In truth, no one can "make you angry," even though they can provoke you. You control your response to people and circumstances.

Anger has tremendous potential for good. The Bible mentions anger hundreds of times, including 375 references to God's anger in the Old Testament. Since God tells us to be angry but not sin, and since the Bible refers to God's anger, then it must be a valuable emotion. Examining the good side of anger, we find that it is a powerful source of motivation, providing energy for positive action, which, when wisely invested, can provide greater focus and intensity that leads to increased productivity.

There is a place for "righteous anger" - when one of God's principles is violated. Scripture does admonish us to "not let the sun go down on our anger" though. In other words, when you feel angry, it is important to deal with it and quickly move past it. Proverbs 16:32 says "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty." Why? Because the power and energy can be focused and directed.

Anger is an emotion that God can use to get our attention and make us more aware of opportunities to learn, grow, deepen, mature and make significant changes for the good. Anger expressed in Christ-like ways can empower us to declare truth, to right wrongs, and to help us and others "become conformed to the image of His Son." Romans 8:29

We all suffer from bouts of anger. Many of us suffer from it frequently. Hang in there and allow God to work you through it. Pray on it and hang out with those who bring you peace. Live it and forget it, but just let it go. Just let God.

Praying that we all find the peace of Jesus,
Pastor Mike

Projects - What We Say and What We Mean

Project slightly behind original schedule due to unforeseen difficulties--
We got so sick of working on this that we decided to do something else.

Major Technological Breakthrough--Back to the drawing board.

Developed after years of intensive research--It was discovered by accident.

Customer satisfaction is believed assured--We are so far behind schedule that the customer will be happy to get anything at all from us.

The design will be finalized in the next reporting period--We haven't started this job yet, but we've got to say something.

Test results were extremely gratifying--It works, and are we surprised.

Extensive effort is being applied on a fresh approach to the problem--We just hired three new guys; we'll let them kick it around for a while.

Preliminary operational tests are inconclusive--The darn thing blew up when we threw the switch.

The entire concept will have to be abandoned--The only guy who understood the thing quit.

Modifications are under way to correct certain minor difficulties--We threw the whole thing out and are starting from scratch.

Friday, July 28, 2006

What's happening inside.

2 Corinthians 4:1-15

"We are handicapped on all sides ... we may be knocked down but we are never knocked out!" (vv. 8-9, J. B. Phillips)

Why is it that while the same things can happen to us all, they may not have the same effect on us all? The same thing happening to two different people may have entirely different effects. Why should this be? It depends not so much on the circumstances, but on the "inner-stances" - or, in other words, our inner attitudes. As someone has said, "What life does to us in the long run depends on what life finds in us." Life's blows can make some people angry and bitter, others they sweeten and refine; the same events, but with opposite effects. The Gospels tell us that there were three crosses set up on Calvary on the first Good Friday. The same event happened to three different people, but look at the different results. One thief complained and blamed Jesus for not saving Himself and them; the other thief recognized his own unworthiness, repented of it and found an open door to Paradise. Jesus, of course, saw it as the climax of His earthly achievements and made it the fulcrum on which He moved the world. What counts, therefore, is not so much what happens to us, but what we do with it. The same sunshine falling on two different plants can cause one to wither and die, while the other will blossom and flourish. And why? It all depends on the response the plants make. Although, of course, they both need water, one plant is more suited to hot sunshine than the other, and therefore responds with more life and growth, while the other shrivels up and dies. hat choice will you make?

Praying for all of you
Pastor Mike

Broken Phone

Bill was a frequent user of a pay telephone at a popular truck stop, and was greatly inconvenienced when the phone went out of commission.
Repeated requests for repair brought only promises.

After several days, Bill again contacted the phone company and told that there was no longer a rush. The phone was now working fine...except that all money was being returned upon completion of each call.

A repairman arrived within the hour!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Nobody's the same

“I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.” John 10:14

One of the things we see throughout the Gospels is the way Jesus dealt with individuals. It's worth noting that Jesus never dealt with any two people in exactly the same way.

What would you think of a Doctor who gave the same prescription to every patient? To the person comes in with a broken arm, he says, “Take two aspirin.” To someone else who comes in with another kind of a problem, he says, “Take two aspirin.” You would be thinking, This guy is not taking the time to find out what the real needs of his patients are. The Great Physician, Jesus Christ, never treated any two people the same way. He dealt with them individually.

Consider how differently Jesus treated Peter, Andrew, Philip, and Nathanael when they first became His disciples (see John 1:35–47). This reminds us that not everyone comes to Jesus in exactly the same way.

Perhaps you've heard the testimonies of people from different backgrounds who came to faith. When it comes to the bottom line, here is what you find. Whether someone was a drug addict or a straight-A student, whether a person was a gang member or a member of the cheerleading squad, and whether he or she did everything right or everything wrong, the Bible still says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We were all on our way to hell. We all needed to come to Jesus through the cross.

However it was that we came to Him, He dealt with our sin. God knew our real needs, and He did a wonderful work in our lives. Remember, we all have more in common than we realize.

Praying for more understanding
Pastor Mike

Second Notice

A taxpayer received a strongly worded "second notice" that his taxes were overdue. Hastening to the collector's office, he paid his bill, saying apologetically that he had overlooked the first notice.

"Oh," confided the collector with a smile, "we don't send out first notices. We have found that the second notices are more effective."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The all alone blues.

Be still and know that I am God... (Psalms 46:10).

There's a time and place in our walk with God in which He sets us in a place of waiting. It is a place in which all past experiences are of no value. It's a time of such stillness that it can disturb the most faithful if we don't understand that He is the one who has brought us to this place for only a season. It is as if God has placed a wall around us. No new opportunities - simply inactivity.

During these times, God is calling us aside to create something new in us. It's an isolation chamber designed to call us to deeper roots of prayer and faith. It's not a comfortable place, especially for a task-driven Christian. Our nature cries out, "You must do something," while God is saying, "Be still and know that I am God." You know the signs that you've been brought into this chamber when He has removed many things from your life and you can't seem to change anything. Perhaps you're unemployed. Perhaps you are laid up with an illness.

Most religious people live a very planned and orchestrated life where they know almost everything that'll happen. But for people in whom God is performing a deeper work, He brings them into a time of quietness that seems almost eerie. They cannot say what God is doing. They just know that He is doing a work that cannot be explained to themselves or to others.

Has God brought you to a place of being still? Be still and know that He really is God. When this happens, the chamber will open soon after, just be patien and be still.

Being still for God
Pastor Mike

Working For the Government

You know you work for the government when:
The process becomes more important than the product

You don't see anything wrong with attending a meeting on a subject you know nothing about

You feel you contributed to the meeting just by being there

You stop raising issues/problems because you know you will be the one answering them.

You fly first class across the country to attend a conference with 100+ people to discuss the fact that the project does not have enough money

You work for an acronym, on an acronym, and your job title is an acronym

You understand the rationalization of an acronym composed of acronyms

You know that the location of a meeting is directly related to its importance.
(1) A meeting at Fort Hood requires a subordinate or a contractor
(2) The same meeting at Lake Tahoe requires your personal attention

You've sat at the same desk for 3 years, done the same thing for 3 years, but have had 3 different business cards.

"Three Dollars Worth of God"

Matthew 7:23 And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you."

How well do you think you know God? Have you settled for knowing less about God than He wants you to know? Do the following words written by Wilbur Reese describe you?
I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough of Him to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack, please. I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please.

The Church, the body of believers, is only as great as its concept of God. If you sense that your Christian experience is not what it should be, chances are that your problem is that you are not taking time to grow your relationship with the God who gave you life.

After Elvis Presley died, newspapers told of people who had almost made him god of their lives. One young man in Florida actually had plastic surgery to alter his face to look like Elvis. "Presley has been my idol since I was five years old," he said. "I have every record he has cut twice over, pictures by the thousands, even two leaves from a tree from the mansion in Memphis...." But the tragic words of his interview fell flat as he confessed at the end, "I never got close to him. I never saw him. I never knew him."

I wonder if you and I will stand before God on the Day of Judgment and confess: "I represented You, but I never got close to You. I never knew You deeply. I was busy about the work of Christianity, without getting to know the Father of it all."

Praying that we all grow closer to God,
Pastor Mike

On Aging

My memory's not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my memory's not as sharp as it used to be.

It's scary when you start making the same noises as your coffeemaker.

These days about half the stuff in my shopping cart says, "For fast relief."

I've tried to find a suitable exercise video for women my age, but they haven't made one called "Buns of Putty."

Don't think of it as getting hot flashes. Think of it as your inner child playing with matches.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hanging with the best

He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20).

Talk to the president or C.E.O. of any company and they'll tell you how important it is to have a dependable and trusted board of directors. They understand that they don't have all the answers - it's not a one man show. Great decision makers, great leaders, know that they don't know everything and they go to the people who do know. They surround themselves with wise counsel.

The same is true in our personal lives. We need to have a personal board of directors - people we can trust to help us make the right decisions. Too many of us, though, have the uncanny ability to ask the wrong people the wrong questions; and as a result we do the wrong thing.

Instead of falling into that trap, surround yourself with people who will help you navigate the maze of life. Find those around you who you can trust, people who will look out for your best interest even if it doesn't personally benefit them. Find those people who will energize you and motivate you to make the right decisions. Trust that they have an insight into the situation that you may not see.

This week, begin to use your personal board of directors to help you make your decisions. Understand that there are people who will guide you towards the right answers to the multiple choice test of life. Don't try to take everything on by yourself. Instead, use the people that God has placed around you and trust in their wise counsel.

There for you through thick and thin
Pastor Mike

Things to Do in an Elevator. . .

1) When there's only one other person in the elevator, tap him on the shoulder and then pretend it wasn't you.

2) Push the buttons and pretend they give you a shock. Smile, and go back for more.

3) Ask if you can push the button for other people, but push the wrong ones.

4) Call the Psychic Hotline from your cell phone and ask if they know what floor you're on.

5) Hold the doors open and say you're waiting for a friend. After a while, let the doors close, and say, "Hi Greg. How's your day been?"

6) Drop a pen and wait until someone goes to pick it up, then scream, "That's mine!"

7) Bring a camera and take pictures of everyone in the elevator.

8) Move your desk into the elevator and whenever anyone gets on, ask if he has an appointment.

9) Lay down the Twister mat and ask people if they would like to play.

10) Leave a box in the corner, and when someone gets on, ask him if he can hear ticking.

11) Pretend you are a flight attendant and review emergency procedures and exits with the passengers.

12) Ask, "Did you feel that?"

13) Stand really close to someone, sniffing him occasionally.

14) When the doors close, announce to the others, "It's okay, don't panic, they open again!"

15) Swat at flies that don't exist.

16) Tell people that you can see their aura.

17) Grimace painfully while smacking your forehead and muttering, "Shut up, all of you, just shut up!"

18) Crack open your briefcase or purse, and while peering inside, ask, "Got enough air in there?"

19) Stand silently and motionless in the corner, facing the wall, without getting off.

20) Stare at another passenger for awhile, then announce in horror, "You're one of THEM!" and back away slowly.

21) Wear a puppet on your hand and use it to talk to the other passengers.

22) Listen to the elevator walls with your stethoscope.

23) Make explosion noises when anyone presses a button.

24) Stare, grinning at another passenger for a while, and then announce, "I have new socks on."

25) Draw a little square on the floor with chalk and announce to the other passengers, "This is MY personal space!"

Monday, July 24, 2006

What you see is not what you get!

Lamentations 3:22, 23 The LORD's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compasssions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness

In a general sense, your emotions are a product of your thought life. If you're not thinking right, if your mind is not being renewed, if you are not perceiving God and His Word properly, it will be reflected in your emotional life.

One of the best scriptural illustrations of the relationship between perceptions and emotions is found in Lamentations 3. In verses 1-6, Jeremiah expresses sadness as he wrongly perceives that God is against him and that He is the cause of his physical problems. In verses 7-11, 18, he vents his feelings of entrapment and fear. If your hope was in God, and these words were a correct portrayal of God, you would probably feel bummed out too.

What was Jeremiah's problem? His perception of God was way off center. God wasn't the cause of his affliction. God isn't a wild animal waiting to chew people up. But Jeremiah wasn't thinking right, perceiving right, or interpreting his circumstances right, so he wasn't feeling right or responding right either.

Suddenly, Jeremiah's countenance changes: "This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness" (verses 21-23). What a turnaround! Did God change? Did Jeremiah's circumstances change? No. His perception of God changed and his emotions followed suit.

You're not shaped so much by your environment as you are by your perception of your environment. Life's events don't determine who you are; God determines who you are, and your interpretation of life's events determines how well you will handle the pressures of life. In reality we have very little control over our emotions, but we do have control over our thoughts, and our thoughts determine our feelings and our responses. That's why it is so important that you fill your mind with the knowledge of God and His Word. You need to see life from God's perspective and respond accordingly.

Praying that we all see things for what they really are
Pastor Mike

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Avoiding Detours

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

I turned off the interstate to get gas for my car. As I turned onto the road, I looked for the entrance ramp to get back on the interstate. It was dark and I couldn't see any signs. I made a turn to the right that seemed to be the turn I needed to make. I could see the interstate was next to the road. As I continued down this road, the interstate was on my left. It soon became obvious it wasn't the entrance road but rather a frontage road. I assumed it would take me to the next interchange. However, the road soon turned away from the interstate. It grew darker and darker. The road became a dirt road. I realized I was not going to get to the interstate on this road. Being a bit frustrated that I had made the wrong turn, I turned around and went back, losing valuable time.

It's easy to make assumptions about the path we're on. If God's Spirit has not made our reasoning clear, then we're inclined to make the wrong choices. Our choices seem right at the time, but later we discover these choices have led us away from God because they were based on our own reasoning.

Acknowledge God in all your ways today. Lean completely on Him to reveal His direction for your life. If you do this, He'll direct you to the destination He has in storefor you. Just learn to trust His ways, not yours.

Learning along the way
Pastor Mike

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Just like Noah

“In those days before the Flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the Flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.” Matthew 24:38–39

The people in Noah’s day laughed his beliefs. They laughed at the old man who was building his huge boat when there was no body of water around. But when those first drops of rain started coming down, they changed their tune.

This mockery like Noah experienced, that is, the mockery of the things of God, will also be a sign of the last days. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:3, “First, I want to remind you that in the last days there will be scoffers who will laugh at the truth and do every evil thing they desire. This will be their argument: ‘Jesus promised to come back, did he? Then where is he? Why, as far back as anyone can remember, everything has remained exactly the same since the world was first created.’ ” How accurate this description is. It’s the same argument being used today. The writing is on the wall for all to see. And it isn’t hard to read that writing if you’re paying attention.

According to the Bible, there's a generation that will not see death. Instead, they will be removed from the face of the earth. And if you believe in the Rapture, you are not alone. According to one study done by a news magazine, 61 percent of Americans believe that Jesus Christ will return to the earth, and 44 percent believe in the Rapture. How is that for a figure?

Praying that we all keep our eyes on what's important,
Pastor Mike

Friday, July 21, 2006

Comparison shopping

Do you ever struggle with envy? Envy can germinate in our souls when we decide to plant the seeds of comparison. It all starts with a long look at what someone else has achieved or received. We compare what we know we have with what others appear to have. Generally, we can find a way to compare ourselves unfavorably with others. Envy has now taken root.

Matthew 20:13 Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius?

Jesus taught a parable about envy in Matthew 20:1-16. A landowner hired laborers for his vineyard early in the morning for a fair day's wage. Throughout the morning and even into the afternoon he hired more workers, promising to pay them "whatever is right" (v. 4). They agreed to his terms and went to work.

Later that evening he paid each laborer the same wage, regardless of how long they had worked. Predictably, those who had worked diligently in the scorching heat all day compared and grumbled, "That's not fair!" But the vineyard owner reminded them that they had agreed to work for what they had agreed upon, and the money was his to do with as he chose.

We become just like the "grumblers" when our limited perspective leads us to compare what we think we deserve with what others appear to get. The result of this comparison shopping is envy.

We live in the "culture of comparison." Everyone has their rights-their entitlements. A Christian should avoid comparison at all costs. Don't plant the seed. Instead we must learn what the employees did on that hot day. Our heavenly Master is just and good in all His judgments. And because He can be trusted, we can learn to be content in circumstances that by all outward appearances seem downright unfair.

Ultimately the choice for each of us is whether or not we truly believe that God is in control, or our desires are in control. The choice is yours.

Praying that we all become happy with what we have
Pastor Mike

Must read joke of the day:

Mean Old Man

An old man and woman were married for years, even though they hated each other. When they had a confrontation, screaming and yelling could be heard deep into the night.

The old man would shout, "When I die, I will dig my way up and out of the grave and come back and haunt you for the rest of your life!"

Neighbors feared him because of the many strange occurrences that took place in their neighborhood.

The old man liked the fact he was feared. To everyone's relief, he died of a heart attack when he was 68.

His wife had a closed casket at the wake. After the burial, she went straight home and began to party as if there was no tomorrow.

Her neighbors, concerned for her safety, asked, "Aren't you afraid that he may indeed be able to dig his way up and out of the grave and come back and haunt you for the rest of your life?"

The wife put down her drink and said, "Let the old man dig. I had him buried upside down.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Call to Servanthood

Three New Testament writers opened their epistles in a similar way: “Paul, a bondservant of Christ Jesus…” (Romans 1:1), “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ…” (2 Peter 1:1), and “James, a bond-servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ…” (James 1:1). These men whom we call great for their unfailing commitment to the Gospel viewed themselves as humble workers.

Galatians 5:13 For your Bretheren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

God calls each believer to a life of service, just as He called these men. This should be an exciting prospect, but too many people get hung up on the belief that they can't be “as good” as the apostles of old or the preachers and missionaries of today. A popular idea in the church is that the Lord’s servants are those doing full-time ministry but that everyone else is simply trying to live well. Nothing could be further from the truth. From God’s perspective, we're both the same as Paul, Peter, and James: servants with important kingdom work to do.

Some kingdom jobs look more important than others, but that’s only because we evaluate with human eyes. Every work that advances the Gospel or serves a need is valuable, from cleaning the church or preaching to evangelizing or recording a praise album.

Not every person can be on a foreign mission field, but we all can share the Gospel with a neighbor. Some people can sing in the choir; others can put a dollar in the hand of homeless man. God invites us to do His work in the world, whether the task is great or small — and we do it by serving our fellow man. What is He calling you to do?

Praying that we all find our mission in life
Pastor Mike

Joke of the day:

Admission Polices . . . . .

A young man died and went to Heaven, where he was the third person in line at the Pearly Gates. St. Pete was taking a break, so an angel was admitting the newly arrived into Heaven. Trying to get a little stricter with the admission policies, the angel said they each had to state their former occupations and yearly salaries.
The first man in line said, "I was an actor and I earned $5 million last year." The angel ushered him in.

The woman behind him said, "I earned $350,000 last year as an attorney." The angel thought about it for a moment, then ushered her in as well.

The young man moved up to the gates. "I only earned $18,000 last year..." he began.

"Oh," the angel interrupted, "and what state agency did you work for?"

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Admitting Failure

They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.
—John 21:3

It was a familiar scene. The disciples had been fishing all night, but caught nothing. Then they hear a voice from the shore call out, “Children, have you any food?” (John 21:5).

The word “children” used here could also be translated “boys.” Both terms would normally be used by a parent or someone in authority. I wonder if Peter thought, Who is he calling boys? We're men. Why is he even talking to us? It’s not his business.

But John, always the perceptive one, recognized that it was Jesus. But why did the Lord ask them this question? The point was to show them their own need. He wanted them to admit their failure: “We caught nothing.” It isn’t that this was the biggest failure you could ever have. After all, we have all had this happen when we've gone fishing. But Jesus was using their empty nets to demonstrate a bigger point.

God will do the same with us. Before we can find restoration, before we can find forgiveness, we have to admit our failure. That's really hard for some people. We don’t like to admit we've failed. It seems like more people are willing to say, “I’m sick” than “I’m sorry,” or “I have sinned.” We have become a nation of dysfunctional victims with all kinds of imaginary diseases. It seems like no one wants to take responsibility for their actions any more.

So to the disciples, the Lord said, “Did you catch anything?”

Before we can find God’s forgiveness, and indeed, His restoration, we must first admit our need. No excuses. No blaming others. Instead, just honest confession as we take responsibility for our own actions.

Praying that we all move past our failure
Pastor Mike

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Enjoy Your Life!

When your alarm clock goes off in the morning, do you wish you could just stay in bed? Do your struggles and responsibilities weigh you down with frustration, boredom, or hopelessness? If so, rest assured that God wants you to have a much better life – one that you enjoy! God will give you the ability to enjoy life, no matter what your circumstances.

Here’s how you can enjoy your life:

* Look for fulfillment in the right place. Stop looking for true and lasting satisfaction in the wrong places, like your work, personal pleasure, or accumulation of knowledge or things. Realize that only God can provide the stisfaction you're looking for. Make a strong relationship with Him your top priority.

* Give yourself permission. Don’t feel guilty about enjoying the blessings God gives you. Understand that denying yourself enjoyment doesn’t somehow make you a more seriously spiritual person. Remember that God Himself is joyful and intends you to fully enjoy the gifts He gives you. Go ahead and have fun with your interests, knowing that as long as you don’t engage in anything bad, you can enjoy your pursuits.

* Notice God’s gifts, and thank Him for them. Make it a daily practice to thank God for each new day after you wake up. Throughout the day, keep a running list of specific things for which you’re grateful. Then, before going to bed, pray over your list, thanking God for each one. Don’t forget to acknowledge basic blessings, such as your freedom or ability to buy healthy food.

* Place the seasons of your life in God’s hands. Ask God to transform your attitudes and bring positive results out of negative situations as you travel through life’s seasons. Rely on God’s unchanging power in the middle of changes you experience in all aspects of your life. Rather than battling the season you currently find yourself in, ask God what He wants to you to learn from it, and trust Him to give you the encouragement and strength you need. When you’re going through a tough time, serve other people to take your focus off yourself and find genuine enjoyment as God broadens your perspective. Know that, while life is unpredictable, your faith in God will always stand.

* Don’t isolate yourself. Understand that God has created all human beings to engage in relationships – with Him and each other. Make sure you’re investing plenty of time and energy in relationships, which will give you lots to enjoy. Pray about specific challenges in your relationships, trusting God to give you the solutions you need.

* Use your time wisely. Regularly remind yourself of how fragile life on earth can be, and that every day is a gift from God. Don’t fall into the traps of being either lazy or too driven, missing out on God’s best for you. Ask God to give you wisdom to use your time each day as He would like you to use it, according to His purposes for your life.

* Place God at the center of your marriage. If you’re married, realize that your marriage isn’t about just you and your spouse. Ultimately, it’s about God, the source of your love. Invite God to guide your marriage and use it to transform you and your spouse into the people He wants you to become. Trust that when you do so, you’ll open the door to a much more enjoyable marriage than you could have otherwise.

* Turn your worries into prayers. Whenever a worry enters your mind, pray about it. Know that worry can’t accomplish anything good, but prayer has great power, since nothing is impossible with God. Be specific as you share your concerns with God, and trust Him to answer your prayers in the right way at the right time.

* Pursue contentment. Ask God to help you be content with your money, your health, and other situations in your life. Realize that true contentment doesn’t depend on external circumstances, but on internal peace that only God can give. Trust God to do what’s absolutely best for you at all times and in all situations.

* Find friends with crazy faith. Don’t confront sorrow or pressure alone. Ask God to provide friends who have so much faith that it sometimes seems crazy – friends who will boldly proclaim that God can perform miracles in your life. Surround yourself with these friends, ask them to pray for you, and thank God for them.

* Regularly clear sin out of your life. Ask God to constantly search your heart and show you areas of sin that you need to deal with in order to truly enjoy life. Confess your sins honestly and frequently, repent of them, and embrace God’s forgiveness and grace to keep growing. Expect that the more you submit every part of your life to God, the more of His wisdom He will reveal to you.

* Forgive others and yourself. Don’t allow bitterness to poison your heart and keep you stuck in unhealthy patterns; instead, pray for the ability to forgive, and ask God to help you move beyond challenges with confidence.

* Be patient. Remember that there is an end to every trial. Instead of giving into temptation, press closer into God and ask Him to renew your strength during a hard time. If you don’t see immediate answers to your prayers, keep praying, and expect God to answer them at exactly the right time.

* Personalize Scripture verses. Every day, read the Bible and invite God to lead you to Scripture passages that relate to your current experiences. Then paraphrase them in a personal way, either aloud or by writing down God’s fresh messages for you.

* Don’t let your emotions lead you. Decide to trust in God’s reliable leading rather than your own unreliable and constantly shifting feelings. If you sense God leading you clearly to act, go ahead and do so, even when it doesn’t make sense to you.

* Trust that God will redeem your mistakes. Expect that, just like all imperfect people living in our fallen world, you will make mistakes. But also expect that God will right what you’ve wronged if you invite Him to do so.

* Give generously. Don’t wait until it’s convenient for you to help others. Decide to give whenever God leads you to, trusting that God will give you joy in return.

Remember that God didn't put you here to be miserable, He came to give you life. Now go out there and live it with joy....

Praying that we all see the joy that life can offer
Pastor Mike

Today's joke:

Darn City-Slicker

There was this city-girl who was out driving and found herself out in the country. She drove by a farmer standing next to a large impressive-looking animal and stopped the car to ask the farmer a question.

"Sir," she inquired, "Why doesn't this cow have any horns?"

The farmer cocked his head for a moment, then began in a patient tone. "Well, ma'am, cattle can do a powerful lot of damage with horns. Sometimes we keep'em trimmed down with a hacksaw. Other times we can fix up the young 'uns by puttin' a couple drops of acid where their horns would grow in, and that stops 'em cold. Still, there are some breeds of cattle that never grow horns. But the reason this cow don't have no horns, ma'am, is 'cause it's a horse."

Monday, July 17, 2006

Standing Strong

The Bible is full of questions… questions from our eternal God to you and me.

And He’s not asking those questions because He doesn’t know the answer. He’s asking because He wants to lead us to the truth through our own journey. He wants to stimulate us to work out the answers.

One of those questions is found in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes was written by a pretty smart guy by the name of Solomon. In fact, Solomon was one of the wisest men to ever walk the face of the earth. And through the words of Solomon, God asks an important question:

But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:10-12).

Did you catch God’s question there? It’s found in verse 11: “How can one be warm alone?” The purpose of this question is to make sure that we understand completely our need for companionship and fellowship.

And in these verses, God helps us discover several reasons why we need to pursue fellowship and companionship. One of which is that we are in a battle zone!

Many Christians walk around dazed and confused, saying, “I don’t understand what’s happening to me; it’s almost like I’m under attack or something.”

Friend, we are under attack! We’re in a battle. And we really do have an enemy.

This enemy is the enemy of your soul. He wants to destroy your family and your spiritual life. He wants to rob, steal, and kill. (How else does a minor argument with your spouse over who left the peanut butter out escalate to “I want a divorce!” ten minutes later?)

The atmosphere we live in today isn’t just natural. As believers, we have an adversary. And if we’re ignorant of it, he will manipulate us and steal from us. Read these verses from Ephesians 6 in the Living Bible:

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand safe against all the strategies and tricks of Satan. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies, the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world (v. 11-12).

In this great spiritual battle we’re engaged in, God's made it so that we're dependent upon each other. Let me give you one example from the Bible that shows why this is so important.

In Judges 18, there's a story about a group of people who “had no ties with anyone” (v. 7). As the chapter tell us, an enemy came in and killed them all. The Bible tells us the reason they were destroyed was because they had no ties with anyone. There was no one close enough to deliver them.

Remember, you and I need to have ties. We need friendship and companionship. When we assume the posture of, “Hey, if the devil fights you, he’s got to fight me…and if the devil fights me, he’s got to fight you,” we’re getting somewhere!

The amazing thing that happens when we as Christians bind ourselves together is that we bring a third Person into the bundle (Ecclesiastes 4:12). And who is this third cord?

It’s Jesus.

Our decision to be unified brings the presence of the Lord in the time of battle. And the devil hates that.

In Matthew 18:20, Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” When we gather…when we have fellowship and friendship with one another in His name…when we bind our lives together…when we decide to fight for one another…Jesus is right in the mix, strengthening us! That’s a cord that won’t be broken by the enemy!

Today, I want to challenge and encourage you not to be an island to yourself. Tie yourself in to other Christians who’ll share life and the battle with you. Because none of us is strong enough to go it alone!

Praying for unity in the hard times
Pastor Mike

Today's joke:

You Know it's Summer When ...

The birds have to use potholders to pull worms out of the ground.

The trees are whistling for the dogs.

The best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance.

Hot water now comes out of both taps.

You can make sun tea instantly.

You learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron.

The temperature drops below 95 and you feel a little chilly.

You discover that in July it only takes 2 fingers to steer your car.

You discover that you can get sunburned through your car window.

You actually burn your hand opening the car door.

You break into a sweat the instant you step outside at 7:30 a.m.

Your biggest bicycle wreck fear is, "What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death?"

You realize that asphalt has a liquid state.

The potatoes cook underground, so all you have to do is pull one out and add butter, salt and pepper.

Farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying boiled eggs.

The cows are giving evaporated milk.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A must read article

Please read this article recently sent to me by Pastor Al. Warren of Stockton, California.

Reason to Believe

A leading geneticist argues that science can lead to faith.

Written by Scott Russell Sanders

Sunday, July 9, 2006;

Washington Post


A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

Here we are, briefly, under the sun, one species among millions on a gorgeous planet in the remote provinces of the universe, our very existence a riddle. Of all the words we use to mask our ignorance, none has been more abused, none has given rise to more strife, none has rolled from the tongues of more charlatans than the name of God. Nor has any word been more often invoked as the inspiration for creativity, charity or love.

So what are we talking about when we talk about God? The geneticist Francis S. Collins bravely sets out to answer this question in light of his scientific knowledge and his Christian faith. Having found for himself "a richly satisfying harmony between the scientific and spiritual worldviews," he seeks to persuade others that "belief in God can be an entirely rational choice, and that the principles of faith are, in fact, complementary with the principles of science."

As a researcher who helped discover the genetic basis for cystic fibrosis and other diseases and as the director of the Human Genome Project, Collins brings strong credentials to the scientific side of his argument. For the spiritual side, he draws on Christian authorities such as Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas and C.S. Lewis. His aim is to address "extremists on both sides of the science/faith divide." On one extreme are those scientists who insist that the universe is purely and exclusively matter, and on the other are literal interpreters of the Book of Genesis who reject the last two centuries of scientific discovery. Although Collins's purpose is grand, his manner is modest and his prose clear, as befits a man more concerned with sharing his views on the nature of things than with displaying his ego.

Collins writes just enough about his youth for us to learn that he was brought up in a household indifferent to religion; he became an agnostic in college and an atheist in graduate school, where he studied chemistry. Only in medical school did he reverse that trajectory, gradually accepting the existence of God and embracing evangelical Christianity -- led to belief, like St. Augustine, less by longing than by reason.

Reason persuaded him that the universe could not have created itself; that humans possess an intuitive sense of right and wrong, which he calls, following Immanuel Kant, "the Moral Law"; and that humans likewise feel a "longing for the sacred." The source of this longing, the Moral Law and the universe, he came to believe, was the God described in the Bible, a transcendent Creator, Companion, Judge and Redeemer. He found additional evidence of a Creator in the eerie ability of mathematics to map the universe and in the numerous material properties -- from the slight imbalance between matter and anti-matter in the Big Bang to the binding energy within the atomic nucleus -- that seem to have been exquisitely tuned to fashion a world that would give rise to complex forms of life.

The God in whom Collins believes is no aloof Prime Mover who set the show in motion and withdrew to watch. He's a deity who intervenes (albeit rarely) in the course of things. Why God permits the suffering of innocents is a puzzle Collins does not pretend to solve, although he speculates, following C.S. Lewis, that we may need to suffer in order to learn. The resurrection of Jesus is, for Collins, the key intervention by a God "who takes personal interest in human beings." Late in the book, after a lucid account of genetic research and a spirited defense of evolutionary theory against proponents of creationism and "intelligent design," he reveals that on his path toward faith, Jesus was a crucial "bridge between our sinful selves and a holy God."

One can respect his belief in the divinity of Jesus without agreeing that such a belief logically follows from his argument for the existence of God. Likewise, Collins goes beyond the evidence when he speculates that "God's intention in creating the universe" may have been "to lead to creatures with whom He might have fellowship, namely human beings." Many readers will doubt that all 10 or 15 billion years of cosmic history merely prepared the way for us, a pack of inquisitive primates pondering the starry expanses from our speck of planetary dust. Still, it's bracing to be reminded, in our disenchanted day, that an eminent scientist can read the genetic code as sacred speech. ?

Scott Russell Sanders is the author of more than a dozen books, including, most recently, "A Private History of Awe."

Today's joke

Travelling Too Light

A porter loaded down with suitcases followed the couple to the airline check-in counter.

As they approached the line, the husband glanced at the pile of luggage and said to the wife, "Why didn't you bring the piano, too?"

"Are you trying to be funny?" she replied.

"No, I really wish you had" he sighed. "I left the tickets on it."

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The highlights of life

Long ago, I learned to tell the difference between features and benefits. Features represent characteristics of a product or service. Benefits are those things that directly profit or benefit me by using the product or service. For instance, my new computer has incredible speed and lots of memory (feature). This allows me to do things more quickly and easily (benefit). People are more concerned about the benefits than the features.

Isaiah 48:17 This is what the Lord says-your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go."

God tells us in the above verse that there are some direct benefits to the features of His nature. He is a God who is committed to teaching His children in the way they should go. What is the real benefit of His teaching? He answers this in the next verse. "If only you had paid attention to My commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea" (Is. 48:18).

The Lord tells us that the benefit of allowing God to teach us and lead us in the way is peace and righteousness. Here is a guaranteed promise from God. I often use guarantees in my advertising claims. Here is God's immutable guarantee: You will have peace like a river and righteousness like the waves of the sea! What a great promise!

Are you trusting God with the very details of your life so that He can lead you in the way you should go? Are you allowing Him to teach you? Seek the Lord today for what He wants to teach you and allow Him to lead you, and you will ensure peace and righteousness in your life.

Praying for the Benefits of God to hine in our lives,
Pastor Mike

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Greatest Success

What do we consider success? If we were to classify a successful person, what would be the earmarks? Power? Wealth? Popularity? Respect?

[He] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:7–8

If that is our criteria for success, then apparently Jesus was a huge failure. Was He popular? Not for long. The part-time associates sang His praises for awhile, but they turned on Him a short time later. So in a sense, He was not popular. In fact, after one of His sermons, all of His followers deserted Him except for the twelve disciples.

Was He politically powerful? No. He was a political failure. All levels of government first rejected Him and then conspired to kill Him.

Did Jesus have lots of friends? Not really. He had a lot of fair-weather friends. He had a lot of people who claimed to be His friends, but when it came to the end, He had only a handful.

Did He have money and possessions? Not really. He said, “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58). He had one garment that we know of, which the soldiers gambled for at the foot of the cross.

Was Jesus respected by His peers? It you consider the religious leaders His peers, then the answer would be no. They rejected His work.

But despite His failure by these standards, Jesus Christ was the greatest success that anyone ever could have been. Why? Because He came with a purpose: to die for the sins of the world. And He accomplished that.

Praying for Christ-like success
Pastor Mike

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Waiting on God

Waiting on God's timing. Don't you just hate it? Maybe hate's a strong word, but you know what I mean. Forget waiting, we want it now....:)

Psalm 37:3-6

Godly waiting requires action: Does that surprise you? God asks us to do our best work right where we are (1 Corinthians 15:58) and to get along with others until He moves us elsewhere. (Romans 12:18) As we wait, we are to exhibit righteous character, which is...

Patient: When God doesn’t answer quickly, we may get frustrated and try to manipulate our desired outcome. With the Spirit’s help, we can be patient.

Trusting: Trust means believing that the Lord is in control, has our best interests in mind, and will arrange things for our good and His glory.

Quiet: Confidence in God brings believers a calmness of spirit. Fretting about difficult circumstances and people is to be replaced by a continual seeking of the Lord’s presence.

Steadfast: We are to stand firm with our focus on Jesus and continue to do the work we have been given to carry out.

Discerning: When solutions come to mind, we need to distinguish the source: Are they our own ideas, the world’s suggestions, or the Lord’s direction? With wisdom from God, we will discern where He is at work, what our part is in it, and which action we’re to take.

Courageous: Courage is not the absence of fear but a calmness and stability in the midst of it. Although we do not see God, we believe He is at work. A resolute spirit is required if we are to wait on God.

Delays present us with opportunities to show the world what Jesus’ transforming power has accomplished in us. When God says, “Hold still,” how do you react?

Praying for patience
Pastor Mike

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

When to Pray

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.
—James 5:13

When we find ourselves in difficult circumstances, often the temptation is to lash out at the person who helped bring those circumstances on us. Or, we want to blame someone for our state of affairs. We may even become mad at God for allowing this in our lives. Or, we might wallow in self-pity.

But when we’re in trouble, when we’re suffering, or when we’re in trouble, God tells us what we should do: pray. Why? For one thing, it just may be that God might remove that problem because of our prayers. That’s not to say that God will always take our troubles, suffering, or misery away. But it’s to say that sometimes He will.

By simply bringing our circumstances before the Lord and acknowledging our need and dependence on Him, we can see God intervene in the situation we are presently facing. Prayer can also give us the comfort we need to endure trouble and be brought much closer to God.

James 5:13 tells us, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. . . .” The word “suffering” used here could also be translated “in trouble” or “in distress.” Is anyone among you in trouble? Are you distressed? Then you should pray.

So when the bottom drops out, when you feel you are just hanging by a thread, when circumstances have become incredibly difficult, or when they have grown worse by the minute, what should you do? You should pray.

You should pray when you’re afflicted. You should pray when you’re sick. You should pray when you’re corrupted by sin. And you should pray when specific needs occur. Pray, and don’t give up.

Praying for us all
Pastor Mike

*Science Fair Responses*

Responses to questions on 5th and 6th grade science tests:

- There are 26 vitamins in all, but some of the letters are yet to be discovered.

- Genetics explains why you look like your father, and if you don't, why you should.

- Vacuums are nothings. We only mention them to let them know we know they're there.

- The cause of perfume disappearing is evaporation. Evaporation gets blamed for a lot of things people forget to put the top on.

- Water vapor gets together in a cloud. When it is big enough to be called a drop, it does.

- Mushrooms always grow in damp places, which is why they look like umbrellas.

- Momentum is something you give a person when they go away.

- A monsoon is a French gentleman.

- The word "trousers" is an uncommon noun because it is singular at the top and plural at the bottom.

- To keep milk from turning sour, keep it in the cow.

- When planets run around and around in circles, we say they are orbiting. When people do it, we say they are crazy.

- For asphyxiation, apply artificial respiration until the patient is dead.

- Thunder is a rich source of loudness.

- One of the main causes of dust is janitors.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The ultimate act of obediance

Are you growing in the Lord, but wondering what He has in store for you? Do you think that only Pastor's and church leaders are used by God to bring people to Jesus? You would be surprised at how the Lord can use you.

Acts 9:8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing.

There is a place of obedience for all of us. For Paul, it was being struck blind on the Damascus road. God literally knocked him off his horse with a blinding light. A voice from Heaven asked Paul why he was persecuting Him (Jesus). When Paul got up, he couldn't see. Jesus told him to go to Damascus and meet a man named Ananias. There, Jesus gave Paul his sight back through Ananias.

Each of us has a place of obedience. For some, it only needs a nudge of pressure to gently lead us toward God. For others of us, a lightning bolt is necessary to get our undivided attention. Many who are hard-hearted rebel against God. But God's love for these individuals is so great that He takes extreme measures to get their attention, and their hearts. When you come in contact with people like this, don't fear their arrogance. Instead, see them as God sees them as people who need the Savior and who could be a powerful force in the Kingdom if God saved them. It is a sign to begin praying for them.

We've all heard the saying, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall." In many cases this is true. God has called many hard cases into His Kingdom through amazing circumstances in order to save their lives from the pit of hell and transform them into a sweet-smelling flower. Don't let the hard exterior fool you. These are needy people who are crying out for help in their own prideful way.

When my God was alcohol, I had two sorts of people in my life. Those who said I could never change, and the other side (Christians) who had faith enough to know that nothing was impossible for God. I praise the Lord constantly for the people in my life who prayed for me without ceasing. They loved me, and saw something in me I couldn't, and now, Jesus is using me to reach those who were once where I was. Who would have thought?

Whenever God starts this process in the life of a sinner, He has others standing by to help Him in this lie-changing transformation. Ananias was that person in Paul's life. He found it unbelievable that Paul really could have been saved. An angel had to convince him. Has God placed such an individual in your path? Perhaps God wants to use you to be an "Ananias" in the life of one of His wayward children. To do so requires a willingness to stand beside that one who needs your help. Who knows, that person could be the next apostle Paul.

Praying that Jesus uses us all to change someone's life
Pastor Mike

Taking A Poll

A pollster was taking opinions outside the United Nations building in New York City. He approached four men waiting to cross the street: a Saudi, a Russian, a North Korean and a resident New Yorker.

He asked, "Excuse me, I would like to ask you your opinion on the current meat shortage?"

The Saudi replied, "Excuse me, but what is a shortage?"

The Russian said, "Excuse me, but what is meat?"

The North Korean replied, "Excuse me, but what is an opinion?"

The New Yorker replied, "What is 'excuse me'?"

Monday, July 10, 2006

Everybody has a place

The Holy Spirit came down on them, just as on us at the beginning. ACTS 11:15

An interesting thing to notice about the upper room is that the Holy Spirit came, not just on the Twelve, but on the one hundred and twenty.

What would have happened if the Spirit had come on the Twelve and had bypassed the others who were waiting in that room, what would that have done to Christianity? It would have limited the Spirit's power and presence to special people, called to a specially ordained job. Someone once said that the addition of a zero to the twelve, making 120, is one of the greatest additions in history.

It is! The coming of the Holy Spirit on the 120 meant that all distinctions based on a special class or group were gone. Some have different gifts, of course, such as are described in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4:11. As far as receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is concerned, however, anyone who is saved, is eligible.

If we think this through carefully, it might make us able to get a sense of mission in life. Some occupations are considered sacred and some secular.

This produces a sag in every so-called secular occupation. The layman is in a secular occupation and so is excused if he lives a second-rate Christian life. This takes away from a Spirit-filled life because it removes any sense of divine calling. A minister can be holy and a layman can be holy, all on the same conditions with no special favors. Sacredness is found in character, not in a job description; in values, not in vestments.

Praying for us all to live a Spirit Filled life
Pastor Mike

Crazy Things Actually Said By Commentators In The World Of Soccer...

1. Well, it's Liverpool two, Ipswich nil, and if the score stays this way, I've got to fancy Liverpool for the win.

2. He had an eternity to play that ball, but took too long.

3. And so they have not been able to improve on their 100% record.

4. With the last kick of the game, he scored with a header.

5. Well, it's a fabulous kaleidoscope of color: almost all the Brazilians are wearing yellow shirts.

6. If that had gone on, it would definitely have been a goal.

7. Their manager, Howard Wilkinson, isn't here today, which strongly suggests that he may be elsewhere.

8. I am a firm believer that if one team scores a goal, the other need to score two to win.

9. If a team scores early on, it often takes an early lead.

10. You cannot possibly have counted the number of passes made, but there were eight.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The true enemy that we face

A great deception satan uses is to be perceived as non-existent. The majority of adults believe that he is not actually a living being, but only a symbol of evil! If one doesn't believe an enemy exists, the battle is already lost to him! The strategy used by satan against Christians is to destroy the Body of Christ from within by, among other things, smothering its witness, creating division and through false teachings mixed with some truth.

We're at war in a spiritual dimension. This is made clear in the passage Ephesians 6:10-18 on the spiritual armor of the believer, equipping him for the great battles he must fight.

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Ephesians 6:11

Paul warns of the "wiles" of satan, which mean specific plans toward each of us. In other words, the enemy of our souls tailors his attacks to fit each person!

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." Ephesians 6:18

The devil is described as "a roaring lion" walking about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8, 9). So, we're instructed to be sober and vigilant and to resist our enemy steadfastly in the faith. In his "roaring lion" approach, satan is intimidating many pastors who are afraid to warn God's people concerning satanic deceptions for fear of losing a portion of their congregations. We must realize that satan's major attack is upon the Word of God, just as he attacked God's Word in the Garden of Eden.

The first activity mentioned once we have put on the armor is prayer. And we can go into battle knowing that we're not alone, but have the power of the Holy Spirit. Satan's already defeated for Christ is "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named...all things are under His feet" Ephesians 1:21. Remember, "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." 1 John 4:4

Go out today and know that God is with you
Pastor Mike

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A promise kept

Have you ever been walking along and see a beautiful rainbow? It's beautiful, isn't it? But many people forget that the rainbow is actually a remnant of a long-lasting covenant between God and Noah. Just like the covenant itself, it's beautifu, forever, and faithful So what does that tell us about a promise made by God?

Genesis 6:18
But I will establish My covenant with you, and you will enter the ark-you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you.

The Bible is filled with covenants made between God and people. Six of those covenants were made with Old Testament people: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David. The seventh was made with His own Son, Jesus Christ. God is always the strongest partner in a covenant relationship.

God made a covenant with Noah to preserve the human race. This covenant involved Noah by building an ark. He'd never built an ark before. He'd never had a boat. It was a totally new concept to Noah and the rest of the world. Why would he need a boat in a dry land?

Noah didn't have to invent the ark; God gave him the plans-in specific detail. He didn't have to gget the animals-God led them into the ark. God even closed the door when they all came on board. God made it rain to prove why the ark was needed.

The covenant gave all Noah needed to complete his mission in life. When God spoke to Noah to do this thing, he needed only to respond to God's call to do it. Noah knew the covenant made with God was going to be fulfilled if he fulfilled his part.

If you've entered into a covenant relationship with God, you can be assured that God will uphold His part of the covenant. He's committed to fulfilling His covenant with you and to fulfill His purposes in and through your life. It only requires one thing on your part-obedience. He'll even provide grace and faith to you to help you fulfill your part of the covenant.

Each of us has a covenant with God. But we also enter covenants with others in our personal and business lives. How are you doing in fulfilling covenants to others? God has given us the example to follow. Ask God if you have any unfulfilled covenants you need to honor. He's called you and me to be covenant keepers.

Praying that we all keep our words,
Pastor Mike

Friday, July 07, 2006

Anyone Can Pray, But . . .

Prayer! It's one of the most practiced rituals, but also one of the least understood and abused. What do we really know and think about prayer?

You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father. Yes, ask anything in my name, and I will do it! (John 14:13-14, NLT).

In addition to you and me, there are 6 billion-plus other imperfect people on planet Earth, all of whom have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

Who among us can assume that they can approach the perfect, Holy Creator of the Universe, King of kings and Lord of lords? Who can pray?

The answer: Anyone.

But there is one major prerequisite. Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6, NIV). Contact with God begins when we receive Jesus Christ into our lives as Savior and Lord.

As all Christians should know, access to God is provided by the blood of His own perfect and sinless Son, whose death opened the way into the Temple of the Holies for anyone who put their faith in Him. "For there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12, NIV).

Faith in Christ is the open door, but once in the door, we want our prayers to be pleasing to God and successful. Any believer has access to God, but only those who walk in faith and obedience to Christ can expect to receive answers to their prayers.

Praying with a clean heart is vital to successful prayer. "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened" (Psalm 66:18, NIV). We cannot expect God to answer our prayers if there is any unconfessed sin in our life.

One of the most frequent hindrances to prayer is an unforgiving spirit. Jesus says, "When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins" (Mark 11:25, NIV). We must come to God with a forgiving heart if we are to receive the believer's legacy of power in prayer.

Also, we must have a believing heart if we expect God to answer our prayers. Jesus says, "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer" (Matthew 21:22, NIV), and "According to your faith will it be done to you" (Matthew 9:29, NIV). Yet few of us take these words seriously.

Let us be obedient, praying and believing people. The world is waiting to be reached for Christ.

Praying for everything
Pastor Mike

For all the Californians out there

Earthquakes can strike without warning, and being prepared for such a disaster can mean the difference between life and death. Here are some tips to help you and your loved ones make it through a quake:

Those living in areas not prone to earthquakes can respond quickly to the plight of disaster victims in quake zones by complacently smirking and saying, "I told you so."

To minimize loss and damage in a quake, try not to own things.

Practice your burrowing-out-from-under-40-tons-of-rubble skills ahead of time.

Look out your window often. If you see a large, zig-zag-shaped crevasse moving rapidly from the horizon toward your home, step either to the right or the left.

Do you have a treasured childhood toy? Perhaps a stuffed animal, such as a teddy bear? Well, let's see Mr. Bear help you now!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Sweet forgiveness

I wonder how many Christians are out there today wondering in quiet about how saved they really are. When you honestly think about the forgiveness that comes from Christ and the human conception of it, it really is a hard idea to grasp. The reason that it's hard for us to understand is that we think of it from a emotional point of view, not a logical one. An emotional response to someone who has hurt us is to be angry and non-forgiving. This comes from the sinful nature of man. But a logical thought in the same situation says that since God is without sin, and not forgiving someone is a sin, he forgives because He can do nothing else. But He does it all out of love. Since God IS love, he has no problem forgiving us when we fall away from Him. Now all we have to do is to honestly believe that.

His unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:11-12, NLT).

Imagine yourself in the crowd as this story takes place as recorded in the Book of Luke:

Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to push through the crowd to Jesus, but they couldn't reach him. So they went up to the roof, took off some tiles, and lowered the sick man down into the crowd, still on his mat, right in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

"Who does this man think he is?" the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to each other. "This is blasphemy! Who but God can forgive sins?"

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, "Why do you think this is blasphemy? Is it easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven' or 'Get up and walk'? I will prove that I, the Son of Man, have the authority on earth to forgive sins." Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, "Stand up, take your mat, and go on home, because you are healed!" (Luke 5:18,20?24, NLT).

What an incredible demonstration of God's willingness to forgive.

God's holy Word tells us that Jesus Christ, through His death on the cross, has set us free-free from sin, and free from the bondage of guilt that sin and the Law bring.

Maybe you're finding it hard to believe in your heart that your sin has been paid for. Perhaps you're thinking, "I have lustful thoughts toward another person." Or, "I've been taking the Lord's name in vain. God won't forgive that, will He?"

The fact is, He has forgiven you if you have placed your trust in Christ. You simply need to claim His forgiveness and believe His promise.

And think of it: It became yours the moment you believed in Jesus Christ as your Savior and as an act of your will received Him by faith into your life as your Lord and Master.

Don't allow doubt to cloud your relationship with God. Live your life in the Lord and make Him proud to have you as His child. Live a relationship of love, not guilt. He died so you would believe it.

Praying that we all come to know that truth
Pastor Mike

I've Earned A Raise

The basketball coach of a Major National Powerhouse stormed into the university president's office and demanded a raise right then and there.

"Please," protested the college President, "you already make more than the entire History department."

"Yeah, maybe so, but you don't know what I have to put up with," the coach blustered. "Look." He went out into the hall and grabbed a jock who was jogging down the hallway and says to him. . .

"Run over to my office and see if I'm there," he ordered.

Twenty minutes later the jock returned, sweaty and out of breath.

"You're not there, sir," he reported.

"Ohhhh, I see what you mean," conceded the President, scratching his head.....

. . . . . "I would have phoned."

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Looking past the past

Have you ever longed for "the good old days?" Do you look back and blame your present situation on an event or a person? Is the past holding you hostage to the point where you can't even enjoy the present? If you've answered yes to any of these questions, then here's a verse you need to focus on today.

Isaiah 65:17, For behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth, and the formered shall not be remembered or come to mind.

You can’t drive life’s road without sometimes hitting bumps like regrets, disappointments, and tragedies. When you do, it’s easy to get stuck there, looking back into your rearview mirror at the past.

But God wants you to move on toward the future He's planned for you. It’s a future filled with hope. But to get there, you’ve got to turn your focus forward and look through the windshield at the road ahead.

Here’s how you can let go of the past to move into the future:

* Realize that you have a choice. Understand that you’re not a victim of your circumstances and that no one but yourself can tie you to the past; you can decide whether or not to move on. Ask God for the courage to choose to break free of whatever is chaining you to the past.

* Know Who travels with you. Remember that God is right beside your side all the time. Trust in His power, wisdom, and love when He encourages you to keep going into the future. Don’t stay in any place God is calling you to leave. Be willing to put your own agenda aside to follow wherever God leads you.

* Recognize the difference between learning from the past and letting it control you. Understand that it’s healthy to look back as long as you’re learning from your past and remembering how God has worked in your life. But don't become so preoccupied with your past that it starts to dictate your present and future. Don’t let your past define you; that’s God’s job.

* Pray to be freed from parts of your past you’re struggling to let go. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you mentally take those past experiences and lay them in trust at the foot of the cross for Jesus to handle. Remember that holding onto the past is sin because it keeps you from obeying God’s call to move on. Make whatever changes you need to make in your life to strengthen your decision, such as dthrowing away past possessions. Look for God with all your heart and be excited about His plans for you. Read and focus on Scripture as a new perspective starts taking root in your life.

* Stay away from nostalgia. Don’t be tricked into thinking that your best days are behind you. Expect God to continue to bless you in new ways. Remember that your success is not dependent on any special time or place that can never be lived again. Know that the same God who was with you back in the past is with you now and will continue to be. Don’t rest on your laurels or become intimidated by your past successes; keep active and contributing to the world as He leads you. Trust God to bring you encore success and joy.

* Overcome failure. Ask God to help you move past two obstacles that stand in your way after you’ve gone through failure: the events of your actions, guilt, regret, and self-inflicted punishment. Take your failure to God and allow Him to give your back your strength, hope and confidence. Honestly pour out all your thoughts and feelings about the failure to God. Ask Him to teach you what He wants you to learn from your failure. Accept God’s forgiveness, and forgive yourself.

* Break free of trauma’s bondage. In prayer, freely express the anger, fear, disillusionment, mistakes, and regrets that have resulted from a past trauma in your life. Ask God to direct you to Scripture passages that relate to that trauma, and to use those passages as a surgeon would a scalpel to bring about the healing you need. Don’t blame God for your trauma; realize that it was the result of living in a sinful, fallen world. Invite Jesus into your pain, realizing that He's the ultimate answer to your problem. Ask Jesus to give you new hope and restore your sense of purpose.

* Get rid of the poison of bitterness. Realize that holding onto bitterness after someone has hurt you will only continue to hurt you more by poisoning your soul. Know that there is only one antidote to that poison – forgiveness. Decide not to allow people who have wronged you to keep controlling your life and distancing you from God. Remember all that God has forgiven you for, and let your gratitude and love for Him motivate you to obey His command to forgive others. Always be willing to forgive, even when people repeatedly offend you, don’t ask for your forgiveness, refuse to reconcile, or are deceased. Understand that forgiveness doesn’t depend on what you consider fair, reasonable, or just, it’s a matter of being faithful to God. Don’t wait until you feel like forgiving someone; you probably never will. Instead, decide to do so and trust God to help you. Expect God to clear bitterness out of your life as you forgive.

* Rely on God’s strength to get you through stormy crossings. Expect a struggle every time you try to move beyond your past and cross over into your future. Don’t let challenges take you by surprise; instead, use them as tools to grow closer to God. Don’t give up; ask God for the courage and strength you need to keep going. Ask Him to teach you whatever He’d like you to learn from your crossings. Invite God to strengthen your character and renew your mind so you can become the person He wants you to become. Ask God to show you a side of Himself you’ve never seen when you make each crossing.

* Encourage others. Realize that your experiences in life aren’t just for your own benefit, they’re also designed to help other people. Use what you’ve learned about moving on to help others to do the same.

* Fulfill your potential. Remember that your past doesn’t determine your future. Invite God to help you understand His purposes for your life and give you a vision for the new adventures He has in store for you. Realize that your greatest potential can only be realized in and through Jesus. Ask Him to help you fulfill His highest potential for you. Step boldly into your future!

The past can be a pleasant experience, but it can also be a trap. Let go of the past that keeps you chained up in fear, anger, and regret, and learn to live for what God has in store for you, not on what didn't happen. Live for the eternity that comes to us through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Praying that we learn to live for the day we see Jesus
Pastor Mike

Political Kitty - Cats

A little boy was walking down the street pulling a wagon with a new litter of kittens in it. Al Gore approached him and said "What cute little kittens you have there, young man. What kind are they?" The little boy said, "They're Democrats." Al Gore said, Oh, how nice and moved on.

A week are so later, the little boy is again pulling the kittens down the street. Al Gore and George Bush are walking together and approach the little boy. George Bush said, "Those are some cute kittens. What
kind are they?"

The little boy said, "They're Republicans."

Al Gore said, "Now, wait just a minute! Last time I saw you with those same kittens, you told me they were Democrats." The little boy smiled and replied, "Yes Sir, but they have their eyes open now."