Giving Thanks

While it happens every year during the third week of November, it was not much of a holiday until the second year of the American Civil War. The President at that time, Abraham Lincoln, wanted to find something that would be symbolic to represent not only persevering though trials, but would also act as a touch point that would serve to remind the entire culture of the cause in which to rally around. This was perhaps the darkest days in U.S. history, but in that darkness a great revival was moving in both the northern and southern camps. The heavy price of blood and treasury forced both sides to take stock in what was real, what had substance, and they clung to their faith, and while the differences were still there after the war, faith was the catalyst that healed and held the nation together. The conscience of mortal man was being stoked by a loving God who had given men their freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. Abraham Lincoln

Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day

Few today have any idea of where this current tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving came from or the price that was realized and payed in order for them to enjoy it. Most think of the Puritans landing on Plymouth Rock and think they simply were thankful for what they had. But here too we have a story of adversity, being blown off course some 450 miles north, not being prepared to survive the harsh winter, ill equipped and ravaged by sickness and malnutrition they lost half of their numbers. It’s the unexpected friendship of Squanto, an English speaking native American who had been kidnapped, taken to England and managed to return who befriends, teaches, shares, and most importantly loves the Puritans that spring of 1631. Investing in people who represented the culture that forced him to labor against his will. He thought of the good vs. the evil that fell upon him and in turn decided to return that same good vs. evil. He and the Pilgrims believed that God in His providence guided Squanto to this place and time.

This is the point that gave Abraham Lincoln the inspiration to pen and declare the “Day of Thanksgiving” He like they felt that God had guided him to this place.

So while we may enjoy a turkey and some pumpkin or pecan pie, the spirited rivalry of a football game, or the bedrock idea of a time of friends and family. It’s really all about being thankful for what God has done and is doing, even in the darkest of hours. Celebrating the former things in light of the latter. Looking to Him and his provision as our source of hope. May God bless you and your family as we enter into this holiday season, lets embrace what God has done, giving thanks in the face of what appears to be a time of great national and global trial and tribulation. May we find the courage, hope, and love to overcome the darkness with great thanksgiving that can only be found in Jesus. Like Squanto see where you can invest good and overcome evil.

Jer 29:11
I Corth 13

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With Understanding

Knowledge is great but knowledge with understanding is wisdom. As an artist part of my formal training was not just in the how of creating art but understanding what is happening on the canvas. There is a lot more to a painting than what you see up front. The way lines lead your eyes, shapes and space frame the subject, how color influences the way you interpret the painting. Until you understand these things you can’t truly know the intent of the artist and the message he wants to convey. There is the appearance of what the painting and subject are and then there is the underlying meaning. Some things are hidden by intent and require study and training to discover, you have to have intentional intimate moments with the art to appreciate its deeper true intent and meaning. With understanding I have real wisdom.

Another way of putting it, let’s say, we take a walk down the street, during our walk we smell a pizza being cooked, we walk a little further and walk right up to the window of the pizza parlor, stop, watch the pies being tossed in the air to be shaped, see them put the sauce on, the cheese, all the various toppings and into the oven they go, we see them pulled from the oven, even see them cut into slices and served. We can see folks buying slices and sitting down and enjoying the food. Sure I have knowledge at this point, I can tell others where to get pizza, I can even tell them what toppings they have and how good it smells, but I have a very limited understanding, unless I go in and partake of the pizza myself, I can’t speak with any real authority about it, sure I can talk about what it looks like, how others love the pie, how affordable the prices are, I can sound like I know everything about the pizza to others, I can even talk with folks who have had the pie and they probably think I’ve had it too because I know so much about it. But I only have knowledge, not understanding what it means to have some pizza. Sure I have a form of knowledge but when I eat the pizza I now have a new appreciation and relationship not only with the pizza joint, but others who have eaten pizza from there as well, and I can tell you first hand what its like to eat and enjoy the pizza. Again I can speak with wisdom about the pie, not just talk about something I have only seen.

How many times have we all just listened as the T.V. or radio reports on some happening, not taking it in but simply passing the time. There we are listening without understanding what is really being said. It’s become a normal thing for folks to do, not that they are trying to not hear what is being said but simply caught up in the activity going on around them, the kids acting up, driving the car, doing some sort of work. Point being we are hearing but not understanding the importance of what is said. If we know a tornado is coming and don’t take shelter, what benefit did the knowledge of knowing such a thing benefit us? We knew certain destruction was coming but we didn’t make or take the precautions needed. We are because of our own indifference a victim of circumstance in the aftermath of the storm. This is what a lot of us do when we go to church or read the Bible, not that we’re trying to ignore what is being taught but we’re not fully committed to understanding and applying that knowledge to our lives. And that is a very dangerous place to be, we can find ourselves having a form of Godliness but denying the power there of.

Knowing about God and knowing God are two different things. We are called to know Jesus with understanding of what He did for us in a personal sense. Salvation is knowledge realized. Take the time today and listen and understand what He has done, what He is doing and what He has planned. Once you have knowledge make sure you get understanding and be wise.

2 Timothy 3:5
Mat 7: 21-23
James 1:19-27

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Hitting the Snooze Button

This morning, I was laying asleep and the alarm went off telling me it was time to get up. I had a very restless night with some odd dreams and not getting much rest. Exercising a foolish attempt to get more sleep I hit the snooze button. Just as I would fall asleep once again the alarm would sound to wake me from my slumber, I went through this process five times till I finally saw that I was now running late and had to make up some time. I am sure that like me you have spent many restless nights, only to toss and turn to try and ignore what time it is.

The fact is no matter if we ignore or acknowledge what time it is, those things that are going to take place are going to happen with or without us being involved. Just like those crazy holiday sales that stores have at 5 a.m. where you get special savings by being there when they open, the key is you have to be in the store at that time and redeem a special coupon to participate in the special savings. Those who come late get turned back into the darkness, they have a choice to pay a greater price at a later time or to go back and leave into the darkness.

The question is by ignoring the alarms what rest are you finding? Better to rise and enter the day at the alarm than to put off your appointed duties. There are times that we have been given grace and allowed many alarms to go off in our lives, able to ignore the time and continue to sleep. However there is an appointed time that will come and only those who wake and are ready at the alarm will receive their redemption. We need to consider the 10 virgins who are waiting for the Groom to come, five have extra oil and five run out and have to go and find some oil. While they’re gone the groom comes and takes the five that have their lamps ready into the wedding feast, the other five well they show up and beat on the door to be let in only to be told to leave and sent into the darkness.

Make sure you listen to this alarm, wake and prepare yourself. Go and wait at the doors of the store, with your coupons in hand so when the store manager comes he will let you into the store. Don’t show up 1 minute late and only find you’ve been locked out and turned away and loose heart as many will and simply leave into the darkness. We don’t know the day or hour but we sure can know the season, look around you and take notice of all the alarms going off.

People get ready for the Night is far spent, the day is at hand!

Mathew 25: 1-13
Romans 13 : 11-13
Proverbs 6: 10 -11

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Are you Pimping or Primping?

Is your motivation to fall in love with the King of the universe who has set aside his own glory in order for you to be with him? Are you primping yourself, keeping yourself for him and him alone and spending your time knowing who he is and what he is all about? Are you keeping yourself according to the word that he provided you?

Or are you trying to prove your worth and your value by telling everyone about Jesus and what he did for them, pimping the goods, selling salvation, convincing others of what they need?

While the first sounds like a selfish thing to do, the second is in fact. You see the first knows who they are and who’s they are, from it others will have natural questions about who their love is and will want to know him too. Real love, real depth. The other relationship is more like a used car salesman. They simply don’t know much about the Savior they are trying to sell.

Motivation intertwined with obedience is the key to success. Motivation alone only provides energy but obedience is the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is the third person of the God head that leads us and guides us. He leads us into all truth, there is no other way, for example the disciples were fishing one day after Jesus had ascended into heaven John 21. They were fishing all night and caught absolutely nothing, they used every idea and trick they had in their own power to fulfill their mission that night with no success. Low and behold Jesus, unknown to them at the time, standing on the shore, tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the ship. They do and they can hardly contain the catch in both of their boats. It’s not just motivation that equals success, but Motivation tempered by obedience. Its when we are motivated to move by the restraint of the Holy Spirit that we can see success.

It is better to primp yourself waiting for direction, having natural beauty that attracts others because of he who lives in you than it is to pimp the goods without direction. Does that mean we don’t step out in faith? Of course not, but our motives need to be pure and we need to make sure we seek Gods face as we do step out. It’s only when we hear from Him that we can know what we are doing is in obedience.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you;
Depart from me you workers of iniquity

Mat 7:22

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Rob Bell is Right, Hell is Not Forever, it’s Just a “Pit” Stop

So, Rob Bell is right, when you die, if you’re bound for Hell, you will spend a very short time there in comparison to the light of eternity. You WILL go to Heaven, Everyone will, You will be with Jesus and see God Himself, it will be an awesome awestruck moment in your existence. You will receive a new body fit for your eternal destination, one that will endure all time. But then…

Just so we get this cleared up real quick, Hell, the compartment of sheol, the compartment of the damned, well it will be emptied out on the day of Judgement and both the great and small, rich and poor will stand before God and receive judgement from the various books and if their name does not appear in the Lambs Book of Life they will be taken to the LAKE OF FIRE prepared for the devil and his angels, where the flame never stops, the worm never sleeps and the separation from God and everyone else is forever. There will be no relief from the pain both physical and psychological, no return, no party, no work, no anything but one thought, “I am separated from everything and everyone forever” so the thing to do is to avoid it all together.

There was a key phrase, “Prepared for the devil and his angels” good news your not either one of those, however because of an act of treason by our great,great, great….. Granddad and Grandmom, Adam and Eve, against God, man is under that judgement. However because we were deceived by the devil we were given the opportunity to trust in an act of mercy by God himself when he took our blame, shame and place on the cross. Through his selfless act of love, Jesus made a way for us to be once again in God the Fathers presence. You don’t have to do a thing, just trust in what Jesus did. There is nothing to do but be thankful and accept what he did and walk with him.

Rob Bell is right Hell is not forever, but the lake of fire is.

But then again so is Heaven.

The choice is yours.

Rev 20:13

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Created for the the Sabbath

Did you know that the first Sabbath day was mans very first full day? The Sabbath was created for man, meaning that God designated our very first full day of existence to be His day of rest. A day to spend with us, no burdens, no expectations, just the Creator enjoying His creation and Us doing the same back. With that knowledge and understanding how much more should we long to spend time with Him, no longer do we have the law of stone to keep the Sabbath but its written in our hearts. No longer do we have a single day of rest but we are now in Jesus who has become our Sabbath, He is our rest.

Matthew 11 28-30 Come unto me, all that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

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Do you have Fire Insurance? or do you know the Fire Chief?

Most people think, “if I spend time learning about Jesus and Kingdom principals I will be equipped to fend off all the fires of life.” That’s somewhat true, but I can tell you a better way. By spending time with Jesus, to actually know him, and him you, as you invite Him into your home, He will begin to point out all the hazards, the things that will kill you and destroy your home and property before it happens. And if you respond you will avoid the loss and suffering of a fire.

If you want to suffer loss, or not have the benefit of peace, then have that type of relationship with the fire department, sure they will come when the house is burning down, and the insurance company might replace what you lose in the fire, but you could avoid all of that and simply ask the Fire Chief, Jesus, to be your friend, and he will come and spend time with you and make sure you never have a fire and if you do He will be there to put it out.

By spending time with the Fire Chief we become just like Him, because He invests Himself into us and our lives.

Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

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The Real Deal

At one point in time I thought a Man was what people thought of him, how they esteemed him, so I tried to be the person people would look up to.

But I found emptiness;

Then I thought a Man is someone who has power and influence over what he does, that others would say, there is a man who is in charge, someone to watch, a leader.

There I found loneliness;

Then I found that a Man, a real man is someone who simply and quietly sows himself into his friends and family. Looking to God and only Him for approval, waiting to hear;

” Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord”

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More Than Meets the Eye

Have you ever wondered why you struggle to do ministry? I know I sure have. I have many times thought “didn’t God give me the vision to do this?” ” All I want to do is to please him, what’s with all the struggling?” Ministry, real ministry is more than meets the eye. Before we can experience the joy of bearing fruit for others, we have to be rooted and grounded in the real things of God, we have to spend time with God and know Him in order to share Him and His love. The more He calls you to reach and lead others the deeper you must go. You can only go as high as your willing to descend, in order to grow larger to bear more weight we have to be hidden deep in him. Most of the time it takes a at least a season before a tree can bear fruit. Some trees never bear fruit because they simply have a shallow root system. Its all about the roots, if your root system is not well developed and strong, then your simply not going to be able to bear good fruit. It’s only when we are rooted and grounded that we can bear fruit that is both attractive to others but more importantly we can be sustained though trials because of our rooting. But before any fruit can come from a tree no matter how small or big it is, that tree has to have a root system that is well developed.

When a seedling grows it both develops its root and leaf, first growing in the unseen way, getting its “tap root” into place and branching out so that as the canopy above that is visible can provide the tree with its needed elements from the seen world, like sunlight and exchanging its life giving oxygen for carbon dioxide, but the roots provide the tree what IT needs in order to survive and thrive and reproduce; water, nutrition and most of all its stability. Its is the unseen things that cause the tree that is visible to grow and to gain its height and stature. Even in times of extreme distress the tree above can suffer loss and survive and blossom again because of the highly protected root system that is not seen.

If we take the cross section of a tree and look we can see that while it has gotten larger each year doubling in size, we can take note of all that its experienced, maybe a fire, a drought, a car wreck, maybe even some boards left over from an abandoned tree house from 30 years ago that are half engulfed by the trunk. While the bark and the leaves look like the substance of the tree to the world, it is in fact the unseen part of the tree that is both its substance and provides its ability to serve its true purpose. What we see even if its scared by a fire, in time, will be encapsulated, while the scar will remain, it will be covered  and be overcome by the strength of the substance of the tree. This is true about us as well, we by the love of Jesus, by the joy of the spirit will succumb to the strength of the substance of the his Love. If you look first year growth is very small but so important. It is that early formation that determines how well a tree will do, if it will survive.

Trying to bear fruit to early will only cause damage to the tree, either the fruit will wither in place because there is not enough root system to both sustain the development of the fruit and the tree, second, the fruit could cause the tree to sag or break because of the weight, the tree is simply not strong enough yet, thirdly, violent harm from external winds and storms, because the tree is simply not strong enough to weather the storm its torn or ripped from the ground because of the weight of the fruit.

We like trees are designed to bear fruit, in their due season, some trees never develop their root system, sadly, many Christians also never develop the deep rooted relationship with God they need to bear good fruit. Many Christians either by choice or ignorance never grow in the grace and admonition of the Lord. They simply stay in the state they started out at, a seedling or a tree that try’s to bear fruit but has no root in it.

So what does real ministry look like? Ministry in its simplest terms is doing what you see Jesus doing, we are told imitate Christ. Jesus Himself states “I only do what I see the Father doing”. John 5:19 A reflection, a mirror image of who God is. Just like our external life the visible tree is a reflection of the unseen root system, our personal relationship with God. So then our purpose is to reflect / mimic only what we see Jesus doing. In order to do that we have to let his spirit guide and grow us. While bearing fruit is the goal of the tree, its purpose is to exist for His good pleasure. in order to bear good fruit it has to be a healthy strong tree.

While the vision of great things has been given to us, literally designed into us, it requires us to first yield to the Holy Ghost to form the grounding and rooting that we need that we can first weather the storms and then be able to yield good fruit.

Who Jesus is, and how he loves us is our chief concern, from it, by it we will produce fruit in due season. If you have tried to bear fruit before your time. Stop, turn around, do your first works and simply fall in love with Jesus. That in its self is the greatest fruit that we can bear, to know Him and make Him known. In due time you will bear the fruit and experience the ministry and purpose you first caught a glimpse of and desire.

It more than meets the eye. Grace and Peace

Luke 13:6, Luke 6: 43-44 , John 15:2

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Ok, RFID inplants? One Step Closer

Just because we can do something like use RFID as a way to harness and manage tasks, does it make it a good thing? Watch the movie and learn how we are moving faster and faster into the brave new world we have been warned about for such a long time. It absolutely stinks of “the mark” that non believers laugh off as a pathetic religious paranoia and the faithful look for as a possible sign that the time of redemption is at hand. Am I saying this is a direct indication that the “Mark of the Beast” will be this technology? No. But what I am saying is that as this and many other ideas of changing, altering, enhancing our bodies is socialized and made acceptable the only people who will give any resistance will be viewed as a “religious right” conspiracy nut case. Just look at how opinions have been changing over social and ethical hot topics in our cultures world wide over the last half century. As the world gets smaller through mass communications so does the number of people who have a high view of scripture. As I watched all I could think was Revelation 13:15 – And he had power to give life to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

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