Author Archive

God’s Intention to Astonish Us

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

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Kindled Fire

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

At a young age, I remember a teacher taking my class on a fieldtrip. Part of our excursion was studying how to become “one” with nature. The practicality of the lesson was learning survival skills, should we ever get lost in the wild. (I secretly wondered who was dumb enough to voluntarily come close enough to nature to begin with to even worry about this.)

Step one? Creating a fire. Somehow, we were supposed to accomplish this task without a lighter or a match. Even as a child, I was seriously doubting the intelligence of my teacher as my entire class (save yours truly) began to furiously rub sticks together in hopes of creating a spark.

I surveyed the scene. Alarm bells rang inside my head in vehement candor as the words of Smokey the Bear echoed in my ears: Smokey’s friends don’t play with matches. Only you can prevent forest fires. We were in a forest. There were dry pine needles all around us (perfect for kindling). And, there were dozens of kids, determined to produce a flame—some of whom were already experts in the task from hours of Boy-Scouting. They had the badge to prove it.

“We’re going to start a fire,” I exasperated to my teacher. Humor then alarm crested her eyes as the potential reality of the situation set in. I don’t exactly recall what transpired after that moment, but we also learned the importance of fire safety that day. There was a sure danger in kindling our own fire.

It’s not an everyday occurrence that we risk kindling a fire in our natural lives, unless you’re an avid camper, candle enthusiast, or in the habit of leaving on heat-generating appliances. But, we do run this risk daily in our spiritual lives.

Listen carefully, all you who kindle your own fire [devising your own man-made plan of salvation], who surround yourselves with torches, walk by the light of your [self-made] fire and among the torches that you have set ablaze. But this you will have from My hand: You will lie down in [a place of] torment (Isaiah 50:11, AMP).

Scripture warns us not to kindle our own fires. What does this mean? The Amplified version of the Bible explains this well: when we create own man-made plan of salvation. When does this happen? When we add to, take away from, misconstrue, etc. what God has already written in His Word (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18–19).

We see the gravity of this warning in Leviticus 10 when Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, let God’s holy fire burn out in the Tabernacle. They took censers and put their own fire and incense therein and offered it (strange fire) before the Lord. The end of the story? God took them out because they let go of the original, pure source of God’s presence and offered something man-made, and therefore, corrupted.

It’s easy to come up with excuses as to why we shouldn’t manifest our own fire. We’d be creatively hindered. It’s too hard to keep the original source burning. Fire is too difficult to maintain. We like the convenience of “quick” fire. Heat from other fires may burn just as brightly and keep us just as warm. Regardless of our excuses, we must be vigilant toward what we set ablaze in our lives.

Smokey the Bear’s saying is true for our spiritual walk. Only you can prevent forest fires. Kindling our own fire is a choice. Abstaining from it is a personal manifesto and moral we must hold true. We need to keep the true fire of the Lord burning in our lives and never allow it to burn out and/or seek our own kindling. Desire the fire, but desire the right fire. There is One who has promised to baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire (Luke 3:16). It’s God. It’s the Word. And, His name is Jesus (John 1:1–14).

Discovery Moments

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

It was in my most recent past when I faced the greatest failure of my life. I’m not putting a label on myself, but am being purely transparent that I am human, and I acknowledge the fact that I do fail.

I was devastated, depressed, and in denial that God could ever mend my broken life. The words of the enemy crept in at every turn. Worthless. Impossible. Disappointment. Ruin. His innate ability to remind me was bewildering. Reminders came through small whispers in my prayer time, boisterous thunderings from fellow saints, and my over-active (albeit quiet) thought-life that chanted, “failure, failure, failure,” with every beat of my heart.

Joy and happiness seemed to be non-existent. Comfort abandoned. Every fiber of my intelligible mind seemed to go missing. In my fallen hour I wondered if there was an escape to the monotonous drone of failure in my life. Was their hope? A purpose?

It was then, in my darkest hour, the Lord sent a voice of encouragement to me. After listening to my guttural cries, a dear friend illuminated my situation in a completely different light. He said:

You didn’t fail. You’re not a failure. This isn’t the end. You’ve had a discovery moment, and therein is a reward.

It took a moment for my mind to process past the “crazy” in his statement. You couldn’t replace “fail” with “discovery” in my mind, but the more I listened, processed, prayed, and read the Word, I realized, he was right.

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding (Proverbs 3:13, KJV).

There’s a quote that pretty much sums up my life. “Which way do you prefer to learn? The hard way.” For me, there’s no other way. Learning doesn’t come easy, and normally enters my life through a failure moment. Correction. A discovery moment.

Another translation of this Scripture says, “Happy is the man that makes discovery of wisdom…” My heart sang when I found this verse. Why? It’s through my mistakes and lessons learned that the Lord grows my spiritual wisdom and builds my spiritual understanding. And, the outcome will lead to a true reward. I not only draw closer to God, mature in my spiritual walk, increase in wisdom and knowledge, but there is joy (happiness) in it.

In the thick of the discovery moment, nothing feels good. The enemy likes to redefine the moment as a failure instead of discovery and he resorts to celebration on our behalf. However, Scripture tells us to proclaim to Satan not to rejoice because when we fall we will get up again. The Lord will be a light unto us—bringing knowledge and understanding, encouragement and victory (Micah 7:8–9).

Truthfully, I’ve been fearful concerning my past discovery moments. I’ve been afraid of letting God down. I’ve been afraid of others’ perception of me. I’ve been afraid of never standing back up. Still, we can’t be afraid of discovery moments. Discovery moments are cause for rejoicing (James 1:2–4; Romans 5:3–5). Discovery moments help us build our godly character. Discovery moments draw us closer to God.

Rejoice today knowing God will give you courage to endure your discovery moments. You will find wisdom and glean understanding to help you win your spiritual race.

The Three Keys to Beating Disappointment

Sunday, May 3rd, 2020

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Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me (Matthew 11:2–6, KJV).

Unfamiliar Manna

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

I sat there on the bench, side-by-side with my piano teacher. “I don’t know how to play this passage,” I exclaimed, fully exasperated. “I need you to play it for me so I can hear it.”

In learning a song, hearing the music has always been helpful to me. My ear grasps the rhythms, harmonies, and techniques. Once absorbed through the ear and processed in the mind, the learned information is somehow transcribed down through my hands, and my fingers emulate all the components as best as they can.

That day, my teacher didn’t play the music as I had asked. Instead she asked questions: What’s the time signature? What’s your key? How many beats are in a sixteenth note? What fingering do you need to use to move fluidly to the next measure? I was initially taken aback—shocked she wasn’t demonstrating the piece as I had assumed, but answered her questions, one-by-one.

Then, to my horror, she said, “Play it slowly.” What? My mind raced. Play something I already don’t know how to play? Is she crazy? This is why I asked for help in the first place! My ashen face brought a repeat instruction: “Play it slowly.” I began the painstaking process of fumbling through the notes with my unprepared fingers. As I commenced, my teacher said, “No, it’s one-e-and-a, two-e-and-a.” I forged ahead. “Try 3-5-4-2, then bring 1 underneath to the 4th position, and continue 1-2-3-4-5 in your fingering.” “Good, now do it faster. Again. Again…”

Then, it happened. Something clicked. Through her instruction and guidance, the melody came together, my fingers moved in graceful dexterity, and a beautiful harmony emulated from the instrument. The unfamiliar passage of music had now become familiar.

So he humbled you by making you hungry and then feeding you with unfamiliar manna. He did this to teach you that humankind cannot live by bread alone, but also by everything that comes from the LORD’s mouth (Deuteronomy 8:3, NET).

I needed help from my piano teacher that day, and I had a preconceived notion for how I would receive assistance to get on my merry way toward mastering another concerto. However, my relief didn’t come in the form I’d fabricated in my mind. My piano teacher had a different methodology, a far different solution—a way in which I was unfamiliar and very uncomfortable with.

When we’re in need of God to move in a situation, we often have the perfect way God should intervene constructed in our mind’s eye. We know the how, when, and where—all the minute details God should follow to bring us to victory. However, God doesn’t follow our plans or our ideals. In fact, He’ll use His own solutions that seem unfamiliar to us.

When Israel was in the wilderness for 40 years, they didn’t have any food. After crying to the Lord, God opened the heavens and manna fell. Scripture tells us it was unfamiliar to them, so much that they asked, “What is it?” (Exodus 16:15). This manna didn’t align up to their cuisine, delivery, or presentation. They had their own solution for sustenance, but God had His. Consuming manna was the only way their lives would be saved. They had to abide in the direction God provided and not their own.

God will use unconventional and unfamiliar ways to reach us and perform miracles. We must trust that He is going to perform a good work in us. It will be challenging; it will make us uncomfortable. But, we’ll survive in the end because God’s ways are perfect and they always work.

The next time God puts something unfamiliar in your pathway, don’t run from it; don’t avoid it. Embrace the unfamiliar even if you have to ask God, “What is it?” The journey through the unfamiliar might be uncomfortable and a little rough, but the Lord will show you how unfamiliar manna is perfect and necessary to bring you to a glorious finale.

The Real Results of My Ruins

Sunday, April 26th, 2020

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But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear (Philippians 1:12–14, KJV).

Mind the Gap

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020

In 1969, the London Underground coined the phrase “mind the gap.” This phrase, when uttered, was to remind (and warn) public transit system passengers to pay attention to the space between the cement platform and the train itself. Too many Tube-riders were distracted by other stimuli, failed to pay attention, and fell down onto the railway tracks. Countless lives were lost due to lack of awareness.

The London Underground understood an essential fact—we must pay attention to the space between where we are standing and where we want to (or should) go. The pathway in front of us is not always paved. It’s not always a sturdy platform. It’s incredibly dangerous, and potentially life-threatening, when we don’t pay attention to what’s missing. We must mind the gap.

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (II Corinthians 7:1, KJV).

This simple warning to “mind the gap” is an awareness we should have in every part of our lives. The most important gap we must be conscious of is the gap between ourselves and the Lord of glory. God is infinite. His greatness, power, authority, righteousness, goodness, mercy, etc. far surpasses our own. To say there is a gap between us and God, is the understatement of the century.

Scripture admonishes us to be perfect as our God in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Because there is a gap in our state of perfection compared to the Lords, Scripture instructs us to perfect our holiness—to get better, to mature, to labor in our spiritual growth to close that gap.

Life is crazy. We’re running from point A to point B, trying to make it to work on time, ensuring the kids have their homework done, and remembering to turn off the coffeemaker. Our eyes are glued to our phones, glancing up occasionally at the world around us. Basically, we don’t have the time, nor the capacity, to mind the gaps in life—least of all the gigantic gorge in our spiritual one. But, we must mind the gap.

Just as the London Underground has automated the phrase “mind the gap,” and inundates its riders day-in and day-out to please, watch their step, God is doing the same to us today. He’s sending the message to us through His Word and spiritual leaders to mind our spiritual gap. He’s asking us to reflect in prayer over our spiritual status. He has promised to be the lamp unto our feet and light unto our path. His desire is to help us make it to the next leg of the journey—to take one step closer to Him and close that ever-present gap between us and Him.

If we don’t mind the gap, we’ll risk our spiritual lives. If we don’t drive onward to perfection in holiness, we may not make Heaven our home. We can’t be too busy to see the ever-widening gap between us and our Savior. He’s given us the ability to notice and close that gap. We must mind the gap today.

Let’s all listen to this simple reminder: mind the gap. There isn’t any gap too large that God can’t shore up in seconds. That’s the easy part. The hard part is noticing the gap and desiring to close or step over it and get to the One who loves us more than Himself. See where you are today and then where God wants you to be. Mind the gap, and take a step.

When Jesus is Your Anchor

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

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And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? (Mark 4:36–41, KJV).

The Quiet Game

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

Confined to a small space with one’s small children is never at the top of anyone’s list. It sure wasn’t desirable for either of my parents—three girls; sixteen-hour road trip. You do the math.

During those long hours in the car, my parents had a favorite game for us girls to play: the quiet game. Ever heard of it? Whoever invented this game should be awarded the highest honor, face put on a stamp, and revered by every parent (and aunt) throughout all time.

The goal of the game—to remain as silent as possible for as long as possible. The winner? A cherry-flavored Lifesaver.

With such high stakes, my sisters and I were all in it to win it, much to the ardent delight of my parents. On a good day, we could stay silent upwards of an hour, but normally, the game would score my parents somewhere around twenty minutes of sanity.

The game was a good thing for all involved. My parents would be able to relax for a bit, focus on the road, regain their composures, or have an uninterrupted, adult conversation. My sisters and I learned patience, fortitude, and a concept that transcended both the physical and spiritual realms: a reward for waiting in silence.

It is good that one waits quietly for the salvation of the LORD (Lamentations 3:26, AMP).

Scripture tells us plainly that it’s a good thing to wait quietly. For those of you who were hoping “quietly” means something else entirely in the Hebrew, I’m sorry to disappoint you. It means what it says—silence. But, waiting in silence doesn’t just mean to sit in silence. It means to rest or be at ease. It also means to rest or bow down and meditate thereon.

It’s interesting to me that this verse is tucked away inside the lamentations of the prophet Jeremiah. This speaks volumes of how we’re to conduct ourselves amid the trials and tribulations of life. However, it also sets a standard for how we should pursue a relationship with God. Quietness is important and more essential when coupled with waiting.

In our spiritual walk with God, finding moments of quiet are vital. We find these times of silence in prayer when we seek to listen for the voice of God. We find these moments when we pull our chairs up to the table of God and dine on His heavenly Word. We find these instances when our ears are tuned into hearing the spiritual leadership in our lives.

When we wait on the Lord in silence, He preserves our outward and inward man. He keeps us hidden from the enemy and opens our souls to His Spirit that will lead us to our ultimate reward. And, there it is—the true reward for waiting quietly on the Lord. Heaven. Salvation. Him.

Today, I encourage you, dear reader, to surrender to the quiet. Engage in God’s quiet game every day of your life. It’s not an easy feat, and sometimes the silence can seem like it lasts forever. But, the winner of the game earns more than a cherry Lifesaver. You secure an intimate relationship with our Savior, experience the earnest of His presence here on earth, and are promised a home with Him in Heaven.

Play the quiet game with me today and see what God says in the silence.

The Comeback

Sunday, April 12th, 2020

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Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words (Luke 24:7–8, KJV).

Remember to Give Glory

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

At that time Berodach-baladan a son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a gift to Hezekiah, for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick. Hezekiah listened to and welcomed them and [foolishly] showed them all his treasure house—the silver and gold and spices and precious oil and his armory and everything that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his house (palace) nor in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them (II Kings 20:12–13, AMP).

Hezekiah was a good king of Israel. He was faithful to and trusted God. And, when he discovered God was preparing to end his earthly life, he sought God with prayers and tears. Because of his actions, God extended His mercy, performed a miracle, and added fifteen more years to Hezekiah’s life.

This is truly amazing to me each time I read it. While I don’t necessarily condone Hezekiah’s plea for a life-extension, I’m in awe that the Lord would make a way to add time to our fleeting lives. This was something only God could do. What a miracle! What a blessing! What praise should have been brought forth to magnify God who is the Way-Maker, the Lifter of our heads, and the Hearer of our prayers.

But, this isn’t what Hezekiah did. This isn’t what Hezekiah realized.

When Berodach-baladan heard Hezekiah had been sick, he sent a letter and a gift to him. Upon receipt, Hezekiah communicated he was no longer sick and invited him to his home. Here, God had orchestrated the perfect window of opportunity for Hezekiah to witness to Berodach-baladan about the magnificent ability of His God—how He was a Healer and worthy of all honor, glory, and praise.

Sadly, Hezekiah misses this crucial opportunity. He quickly forgets His God and what He has done. He fails to realize how the power of his witness and praise will change another individual. He overlooks the necessity of offering praise to the Lord for pouring out a blessing he didn’t deserve.

Instead, Hezekiah shows Berodach-baladan all the treasures in his house. He was boastful and self-consumed. He never once communicated that God had any part in his restoration or the accumulation of wealth. Scripture later tells us the root of Hezekiah’s shortcoming: pride.

But Hezekiah did nothing [for the Lord] in return for the benefit bestowed on him, because his heart had become proud; therefore God’s wrath came on him and on Judah and Jerusalem (II Chronicles 32:25, AMP)

It’s easy to look at Hezekiah and think, “What was that guy thinking?!?” But, we all do it. How many of us are in a situation when we tell God, “If you would just do X for me, I promise I’ll tell everyone. I promise I’ll be a better witness for You. I promise I’ll change the way I live.” However, when the healing comes, or the financial blessing appears, we quickly forget God and return to our normal way of life. And, sadly, sometimes we forget to give God praise for what He’s done. Even worse, we don’t testify to others of His wonder-working power.

God, thank you for the gentle reminder today that You have poured out a multitude of blessings on every one of us. We aren’t worthy, but You made us worthy. We don’t deserve it, but You give it anyway. Help us to remember to be grateful to You—to give honor, where honor is due; to give praise, where praise is due. Thank you, Jesus for who You are, what You’ve done, and what You will continually do for us. All glory belongs to You, not to us.

The Blood of Jesus Still Works

Sunday, April 5th, 2020

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Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:10–14, KJV).

Just a Vapor

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

When we were children, my mother was absolutely ingenious when it came to filling our summer days with activities. Taking full advantage of the extra space outdoors, sun, and blissful weather, she structured many activities under the open air of our back porch.

One of my favorite activities from those youthful years was water-painting. Never heard of it? It’s exactly like it sounds. My mother would pull out empty butter tubs, ten-cent paintbrushes, and give us leave to create the ultimate masterpiece, using the deck floor as our canvas.

Such a simple activity would enthrall us for hours. We could create endless water paintings on the deck floor as the water seeped into the grain of the wood. In a matter of minutes, the painting would disappear, the hot sun evaporating all the moisture from the planks. We’d begin again and again, painting picture after picture, with my mother oohing and aahing over each one.

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away (James 4:14, KJV).

Reflecting over this found memory, I realize there’s a lot I can learn from this experience. While I could focus on the forgotten simplicity of the activity, my spirit is stirred over the temporal essence of it all.

We were created by God and placed on this earth somewhat in the same way my mother lovingly situated my sisters and me on the back porch those summers long ago. We were given the ability by our Savior to work and create our own individual masterpieces—and live our lives—all under the watchful eye of our Lord.

We toil and paint under the noon-day sun, proud of our own accomplishments. And, God oohs and aahs over our efforts, knowing He’s given us every ability to do what we’ve done. But, when the sun remains in the day and begins to evaporate our painting, we frantically seek to hold onto what was never meant to exist long-term.

God did not create any of us with the promise of living for multiple decades nor with the assurance of material wealth and abundant possessions. Our life (and everything surrounding it) is like a vapor. It’s meant to be temporary—a mist that comes and will eventually go. It’s not permanent, nor guaranteed, and will eventually pass away from this life.

It’s easy for a child to understand this truth: a water-painting isn’t permanent; it’s temporary. The sun will evaporate the moisture, making room for something or someone new. As adults, we have difficulty accepting and embracing this truth. We feel that if we’ve put in the work to create something, it should last. If we’re a good person and trust God, we should live a little longer on earth. But, we’re vapors—all of us—and none of us are promised tomorrow.

This life on earth was never meant to be a permanent homestead for anyone. Earth is not the eternal back porch we should long to rest upon. God reminds us in His Word to seek the eternal things, not the temporal ones; to keep our eyes heaven-ward, and not upon the earth absorbing the water droplets of our lives.

God, help us to know that this world isn’t our home. Painting on this earthen canvas is seasonal; we’re ultimately looking forward to the time when we can spend eternity with You. Yes, we’re a vapor, but a vapor that’s been created to be drawn upwards and onwards to a home beyond the sky.

The Progress of His Power

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

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Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6, KJV).

Transformed

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

It was late in the afternoon when my sister and I stumbled across a foreign object in our backyard. What it was or where it came from, we had no conception. No sooner after had we made our discovery, our mother summoned us into the house. The only thing for us to do was abduct the object from its haphazard resting place amid blades of grass and transport it into the house. Rushed to get ready for the evening meal, the article—somewhat shaped like futuristic vehicle—was tossed into the toybox.

Examination of the toy commenced bright and early the next day. My sister and I turned the item over in our tiny hands, wondering in our childhood amazement as to what it could be. Days and weeks passed without any intel as to the purpose of the toy from either of our grade-schooler minds, nor after consultation with both of our parents. We settled that it was a convoy vehicle of some kind and would readily be used as the transportation mode for our Polly Pockets.

One day, as I was unearthing the toy, a part wriggled free. The foreign object gave way to a hidden hinge within its plastic frame. Such exhilaration ensued as my sister and I carefully began to pull outward piece after piece, re-resting the parts on the exterior of the vehicle. We recognized the resemblance of arms, legs, and soon a head concealed inside a helmet. We had just encountered our first Transformer.

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (II Corinthians 3:18, KJV).

The adulation I felt the day I was baptized echoed those of the excitement of discovering the hidden Transformer as a child. God had changed me—who I was, and who I would be. I was transformed from an old creature to a new creature in Him (II Corinthians 5:17). The thrill of knowing there was someone new hidden underneath all the layers of sin was astonishing and seemed utterly improbable. But, there I was, my sins washed away, a new name assigned, and signed adoption papers welcoming me into the family of God.

Transformed. That’s a powerful Word and a powerful action. Jesus Christ transformed us by the washing of His blood so we can reproduce His same image and shine forth His same glorious light. He changed us from a child of darkness into a child of the light. We’re changed from glory to glory—a determined everlasting change.

Our transformation, or metamorphosis, is to be vastly different from that of the toy I discovered so very long ago. That Transformer, was created to be changed backwards and forwards—inverting from a robot into a vehicle incessantly. We’re not toys, and therefore, our transformation is meant to be permanent. Once God changes us into a new creature, we’re supposed to stay that way and not switch back to our former self: former ways of living, thinking, acting, or being. Realistically, a “Transformer” toy isn’t aptly named. It doesn’t abide by the transformed definition provided by God Himself. If it did, once the robot transformed into a vehicle, it would have remained that way the rest of its days.

Morphing forwards and backwards can be fun for a short time. I found enjoyment in playing with that toy as a child. But, once we encountered Christ, any change back toward our former selves is nothing short of devastation and will bring about our utter destruction. God never meant for us to un-transform and then re-transform, no matter how fun the enemy, the world, or our flesh makes it appear to be.

If you’re struggling today with embracing the new, transformed “you” under the image of Christ, it’s time to get to an altar of prayer and ask God to help you keep your transformation. God will help you retain the right clothes, put on the right mindset, and become enthralled with the way the new, transformed you looks like in the mirror. It’s not time to un-transform today. Be transformed. Permanently.

Don’t Miss Those Moments

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

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And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children (Matthew 14:14–21, KJV).

Finding Dessert in the Stress

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

It wasn’t too long ago, I found myself in the long return line at IKEA. If you’ve been there, I’m sorry—but you know what I’m alluding to. If you haven’t, let’s just say you’re lucky you haven’t had the experience.

It’s a struggle to find any sanity amid the endless chatter of adults, cries of discomfited children, squeaky shopping cart wheels, and the infinite crinkle of polypropylene bags. On top of all of that noise, there’s another audio layer of intercom announcements, droning on in various languages.

Desperately trying to drown out the excessive stimuli, my ears honed in to one advertisement for IKEA’s famed desserts (have you had their cinnamon rolls?). Abruptly aware of the grumble in my stomach, I listened to their rendered catchphrase: stressed is desserts spelled backwards. Turn it around and enjoy your “stressed” with our desserts.

A smile crested my face as the realization set in: stressed is desserts spelled backwards. It was ironic that there was something positive to the negative, but only when you donned a different perspective.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13, ESV).

It’s hard, isn’t it? To always see the positive in the negative? I know because I find it a real struggle. It’s easy to see the obvious challenges, zoom in, and magnify them before our eyes. But we miss out on the positive in the entire experience. In the landscape before our eyes, what are the good things happening? What are the blessings God’s chosen to unfold in the situation? What aren’t we taking time to see and/or appreciate?

Everything we have in life is a blessing, whether we see it or not. It’s all about perception. If we can’t see the blessing, we might have to move to get a better angle to be able to see the circumstance in a new light. I’m not saying it’s easy to find the blessing in the death of a loved one, or the loss of a job. However, it’s not every day I read words backwards. Why? Time, difficulty, and it’s unnatural. If IKEA’s marketing department hadn’t called this to my attention, I don’t know how long it would have been until I realized this truth: stressed is dessert spelled backwards. If we don’t take the time, accept the challenge, and move ourselves to a state of uncomfortableness, we won’t see the dessert in the stress.

As I looked at the chaos before me in IKEA’s return department, I adopted a reframed mind and willing attitude to see the positive in the situation. I was grateful to be able to make a hassle-free return because of their amazing return policy. I’d be able to replace the item with something else that worked better in my home. And, I was blessed to have the financial ability to make the purchase.

There it was—my dessert in my stressed state. And, it only took me a mere few seconds to find the positive in the negative; to turn a painful situation into a pleasurable one; to see the blessing in the bustle.

No sooner did I “turn around” and change my perception, God provided a more obvious dessert in my stressed state. I was presented with a hot, gooey cinnamon roll to enjoy. True rapture.

The next time you have a challenge before you, challenge yourself to see the dessert in the stress. Don a different mindset, see the good the Lord is doing, and praise Him for it. You’ll find your dessert before you know it.

Hope Helps

Sunday, March 15th, 2020

Watch Service Online

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Romans 5:1–5, KJV.)

Update on COVID-19 (Corona) Virus

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

Dear APC Family,

It is a high priority to make our church a safe, secure place for you and your family to worship. Due to the ongoing concern about the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), we believe it is prudent to exercise caution in a number of ways.

The spread of illnesses like the flu and the coronavirus is something we take seriously on a regular basis.

The strong safety measures we normally follow as well and additional measures we are taking will help keep you and your family safe and healthy. These measures include the following procedures:

  • Sanitizing our classrooms and toys after every service.
  • Wiping down high-traffic areas like door handles and other surfaces.
  • Providing hand-sanitizing stations. (These items are in short supply. Please bring your own hand sanitizer in the event we run out and are unable to purchase more.)
  • We are closely following news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about best practices to contain the spread of the coronavirus. We’ll continue to update our policies and procedures with the latest information and communicate with you as necessary.

Of course, we need your help too. Here’s what you can do to keep yourself and others safe and healthy:

  • Avoid skin contact. While we love giving hugs, handshakes, and high-fives, try giving an elbow-bump, a big smile, or a friendly wave instead.
  • If you need to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth with your sleeve or a tissue.
  • Wash your hands often in warm water for a minimum of twenty seconds and encourage your entire family to do the same.
  • Our volunteers will ask children to wash their hands if they visit the restroom while they’re in our care.
  • Use hand sanitizer often.
  • If you’ve been exposed to a person with the coronavirus or have recently traveled out of the country where you might have been exposed, please follow the CDC guidelines and take a couple of weeks off from attending church.
  • If you or your family members are experiencing, or have recently experienced, symptoms associated with the flu or the common cold (fever, persistent cough, headache, chills, or unexplained rash), we ask that you stay home from church for a couple of weeks.
  • If you need to stay home from church, please watch online. We want everyone to stay connected to what the Lord is doing in our church.

Together, we can do our best to make our church a safe place for everyone.  To borrow a phrase I’ve heard recently, “We are not worried…but we are not indifferent”.

Let’s continue to tell the Truth, love like disciples, and serve like He’s watching.

Pastor

King of the Rock

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

Atop a disgusting place (for most of the world) was where I fought to be growing up. Okay, maybe it wasn’t the worst place. But, I highly sought to be the child who could be the sole reigning champion of the circular sewer drain in our front yard.

Yeah, I was one of those kids who could spend hours fighting playing with my siblings and neighborhood kids over who would be the king of the sewer drain. It was the coolest place to stand on in the yard. It didn’t have grass! And, it provided ample space for my highly stellar tap dance moves.

I also recall similar battles over the green electrical cover betwixt the yard, albeit the small, dome-shaped cover provided minimal square footage to get my pas de bourrée exactly right. Plus, we’d often get yelled at to dismount the electrical cover because it wasn’t safe. (No child has any conception or fear of electrocution.)

There was always an inner drive to have ultimate reign and rule over something…even if it was just a small 2-foot space in the yard that wasn’t really ours. Sure, I was a kid, but I was just giving into my natural desires and tendencies. This doesn’t stop as we grow from childhood. As adults, we still struggle with the desire of control. We forget there is only One who really has it:

Dominion and awesome might belong to God; he establishes peace in his heights (Job 25:2, NET).

Scripture tells us dominion belongs to God. Dominion means to reign or have infinitive, absolute control/ownership. And, He does this in His heights. In plain language, the Bible is telling us that God is the ultimate “King of the rock” and rules in His holy mountain (Psalm 99:9). He doesn’t share His dominion (or mountain) with anyone else, and no one can shove Him off either.

When we disagree with God’s plans or fail to trust Him, we engage in a “king of the rock” game with God. We try to assume ownership of a “rock” that isn’t ours, nor is ours to take. The throne upon that rock isn’t a one-size, fits all. It’s only for the Lord of Glory, alone.

With the office of King (of the rock), comes a great power: the ability to create peace. If we allow God to maintain His dominion as King of the rock, peace will come to us—into our lives, situations, circumstances, etc. But, if we try to fight for control of that rock, and become our own king, we don’t have the power to enact peace in our own lives.

Knowing all of this, my question is this: What’s the point of being king of the rock? If I think about my childhood self, what was the point of shoving kids away from a little round sewer drain cover? To tap out a few rhythms, which accomplished…? It was dumb. And, so is our plight to get on God’s rock. We can’t accomplish anything doing that. SO, GET OFF!

Lord, help us today to see You as the only reigning King of the rock. When you reign, you reign in splendor, power, and establish peace. It’s Your presence and manifestation of peace that we want in our lives today. We praise You as being the One, true King.