Saturday, August 31, 2013

50 Day Spiritual Adventure

Each fall, my pastor (Trinity United Methodist, Albia, Iowa Trinity's website) organizes a 50 Day Spiritual Adventure.  There are special services—including guest speakers, and small groups start.  There is also a Scripture reading calendar starting September 1 and ending on October 20.  It’s a time to change our focus from the busy summer months.  And it’s a time for some to get back in to spending time in the Holy Bible.  Or for some, it might be the first time they've really gotten into the Word.  Whatever the case may be, it’s a time of spiritual renewal.  Speaking for myself, I've learned and grown from these special experiences. 

My plan is to share a bit about what’s going on; however, my focus will be on the Scriptures. (To be addressed in future posts…stay tuned.)  Services and special events (unless otherwise indicated) are at: at Trinity United Methodist Church, 1117 Benton Avenue East, Albia, Iowa. All are welcome!

Special services:
Enoch Fernando: Sunday, September 22, 2013 (both worship services 8:30 am and 10:50 am)
            Enoch uses the piano as his pulpit.  He travels the world sharing his gift of music, along with words of inspiration and encouragement.

David Hunter: Sunday, September 29-October 2, 2013, 7 pm:
David Hunter will be at Trinity sharing his knowledge.  It will be a time of powerful prayer, teaching, healing, and Holy Spirit impartations.  David has an amazing testimony.  God is using him mightily.   

Community Youth Rally with Joel Johnson and Christian band “We are Leo”: Saturday, October 12, 2013 held in the high school gym
            Joel will be speaking Sunday morning at both services at Trinity.

Vince Homan: Sunday, October 27, 7:00-8:30pm
Vince will be speaking on grief in losing a loved one.  He has written a book A Foot in Two Worlds: Facing Life After Tragic Losses.

Small groups will be starting in September, using the book, Devotional Life in the Wesleyan Tradition by Steve Harper.  There are a variety of days, times, locations, and host/leaders to choose from.  (I’ve already have started working my way through the book and find it to be interesting and informing.)

Everyone is welcome!  Hope to see you there!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Be Still

“Be still, and know that I am God!  I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”  (Psalm 46:10 KJV)

This summer I was introduced to a Christian, inspirational fiction series, written by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella (the first two and then after just Michael)—The Journals of Corrie Belle Hollister.  The series opens during the days of the California gold rush and continues through the post-Civil War period.  In reflecting on this time period, I realize that while things weren't easy or simple in many ways, there was a stillness, a quietness that life in the 21st century simply doesn't allow.  Travel during this period was anything but quick or safe.  Prior to the coast-to-coast railroad travel from the east coast to the west was arduous and slow (horse and buggy—wagon trains or stagecoach).  Life during this time, while not easy seems to have lent itself to times of quiet reflection, stillness. 

Yes, people were busy, just like we are today.  However, their busyness was different than our busyness.  They were busy simply trying to survive—get food on the table, care for their family, and make a living.   

Life in the 21st century is anything but still.  People are running to and fro—going from one activity to another at a breakneck speed, technology seems to morph overnight; knowledge is multiplying so rapidly that it’s impossible to keep up (see Daniel 12:4 see here), and we are suffering for it in a variety of ways. 

Due to the internet and social media sites we’re more connected than ever before, yet not connected at the same time.  Relationships seem to be characterized (many times) by shallowness. 

It’s no wonder our brains and bodies feel completely overwhelmed and frazzled at times!    

I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to simply be still and wait for God to come to me.  Even though, I know that I need to be still, I find myself time and time again scurrying from one thing to another—if not physically then mentally.  Sadly, God gets crowded out; and I end up exhausted—physically and emotionally. 

What about you: How are you about being still and letting God come to you and commune with you?  As the second verse of the hymn, Be Still, My Soul (Public Domain) states: “Be still my soul, thy God doth undertake to guide the future as He has the past; thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake—All now mysterious shall be bright at last.  Be still my soul—the waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.”

What does it mean to be still?  How can you take some time each day in the coming week to be still and wait upon the Lord? 
Please join me in prayer:

Dear Lord of All, we confess that many times we find it hard to be still and know that you are God.  Help us to learn how to be still and wait for you to come to us.  We acknowledge that we need this stillness in the midst of our busy schedules; nudge us into those places of quiet rest.  In Your precious name, we pray, Amen.

From my heart to yours,

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Jesus God’s Gift to the World

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV)

What a wonderful gift God has so graciously lavished on us through our Savior, Jesus Christ!  This gift may be free to us, but it cost God everything.  God gave us life, not the death we deserved.  Jesus lovingly came and walked among us—submitting Himself to death on a cross to atone for our sins.  While Jesus lived and walked among us, He experienced everything common to life as a human (Hebrews 4:14-15 see here). 

Jesus understands us and is our Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1 see here).  Knowing all that Jesus did for us and how He is our Advocate should give us great courage!  In fact, we can approach the God’s throne with boldness (“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” Hebrews 4:16 KJV).

Jesus endured so incredibly much for us.  He took all of our sins and diseases upon Him on the Cross.  It’s hard to fathom the depth of the suffering and pain He took upon Himself for us.  Jesus willing gave His life that you and I might live—live a full life on earth and have a glorious eternity.  What an amazing sacrifice!   

Without this gift, we would spend an eternity separated from God.  Like all freedom, this freedom comes at a price; the price is surrendering to God and to serve Him—being willing to do what He asks of us.  And sometimes, what He asks isn’t always easy or popular.  It can even lead to rejection by others, including our family.    

Salvation changes us.  Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly…changes come within the deepest part of what makes us unique from everyone else in the world.  We are set free from our past.  God no longer remembers our sins once we confess them and receive forgiveness in Jesus’ name. 

God may ask us to give up cherished hobbies, ways of life that we hold so dear.  Friendships will change.  God may even ask us to change our careers.  Those changes will make all the difference!  In the face of changes, it would be easy to fear, yet, I believe that we’ll discover such peace and confidence and preparation to go forth and shine for Jesus.  Yes, there is a cost to saying yes to Jesus.  Counting the cost will be a topic of a future post.    

What do you say to God’s free gift?  What is your decision?  Will you say yes and experience life in it’s fullness or will you say no and experience life that is far from what it should be?  The choice is yours.  Where will you be spending eternity? 
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23 KJV)

Please join with me in prayer:

Dear God of Grace, thank you for the love and grace that You’ve shown us through sending Jesus to buy us back, taking care of our sins.  Father, we know that You’ve given us what we don’t deserve; we are thankful.  Thank you for our freedom; may we use it a way that is pleasing and honoring to You.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

From my heart to yours,


Monday, August 26, 2013

Making an Impact

“For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so we need not to speak anything”  (1 Thessalonians 1:8)

In Paul’s first letter to his brothers and sisters in Christ in Thessalonica we see where he encourages his converts to keep on sharing of themselves the hope that is in them.

Paul’s evangelistic work with the Thessalonians, although cut short, made a lasting impact.  This impact was not only on those Paul taught, but also on those around them.  This should encourage us to realize that we have impact (for good or bad) on those around us.  One contact with one person could potentially be life changing for him/her.  Who knows what that person might do for the Lord!  Our influence, for good or bad, has the potential to reach far more people than we can imagine (Consider how one small stone causes ripples on a pond…). 

It’s humbling to grasp that we may be the only Bible some ever read.  What are we saying or not saying?  Doing or not doing?  How we live our life speaks volumes about what we really believe!  What does our witness say about us?  What do we personally believe about God?       

The Thessalonians lived and shared their faith, and those living around them noted their difference and wanted to know more.  Their lives were changed; they went out and served—living their faith.  How has knowing Jesus changed your life? 

Paul’s converts in Thessalonica didn’t stay where they were—keeping things to themselves.  The same goes for us…we should be so in love with our Lord that others around us notice and want to know more!  This is not the time to keep quiet or the time to hide.  Now more than ever, we need to actively live and share our faith.  John Wesley stated something like this, “I want to be so on fire for the Lord that people come to watch me burn.”  That is my hope and prayer…to be so on fire for the Lord that people around me take note and want to know more.  What about you?          

 Please join with me in prayer:

Dear Jesus, come to us and so change us through the infilling of Your Holy Spirit that others will take notice and want to know more.  Please provide us the words we need and the desire to share You with those around us.  You truly do change lives and have made a difference in our lives.   In Your precious name.  Amen.

From my heart to yours,


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Life in Christ

“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, besides thee, what he hath prepared for him that waitheth for him.” (Isaiah 64:4)

For those of us who are in Christ (having invited Him into our hearts, asking for our sins to be forgiven) have a wonderful inheritance waiting for us.  The prophet Isaiah prophesied this hope for a glorious future—part of which is seen in the Scripture from Isaiah (shared above).  In the New Testament Paul, writes about how the gospel doesn't make sense to those who are perishing—it’s foolishness to them; however, to those who believe, it is life.

"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18

"For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it 
pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."  
1 Cornithians 1:21

We can cling to this promise, as well as every promise in God’s Word.  God is true to His Word; He cannot lie.  Our worse days are but such a short time compared to an eternity with our Lord.  No matter what our economic or social status on earth, we have a wonderful inheritance awaiting us, provided we are in Christ.     

Where do you stand?  It takes spiritual eyes to see, spiritual ears to hear, and a spiritual mind to understand spiritual truths.  May the eyes of your heart be enlightened (see Eph. 1:18!  Who can you share the Good News with today?

Please join with me in prayer:

Dear Father, thank you for this glorious future you have prepared for those who believe and have Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  We eagerly await this future that is better by far than our present situation.  You are awesome, Father, we give you all praise! In Jesus’ holy name.  Amen.

Grace and Peace,


Friday, August 16, 2013

New Life in Jesus Christ

 “Jesus saith unto him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.’”  (John 14:6 KJV)

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23 KJV)

At the very beginning of this blog, I want to share what will make a difference in the lives of those who are reading: the importance of having a saving relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?  If not, why not?  What are you waiting for?  God loves you deeply and desires nothing more than a relationship with you.  God is waiting with open arms for you to come to Him.  You can take comfort, because everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23  Sinners (and that’s all of us!) are worthy of death.  The only way we can be saved is by calling upon the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13 there aren’t multiple ways to God, as the world would have us believe. 

Do you honestly know where you’ll be spending eternity?  Each human will spend eternity either in Heaven with the Lord or in the horrors of hell—utterly and eternally separated from a holy God.  The choice is an individual one—no one can make it for you.  There is only one way to God and that is through His Son, Jesus Christ, without Jesus we lose our way—Jesus is our compass—guiding us through life until we leave this life for eternal life with our Father.  This is only possible if we have Jesus in our hearts; if we don’t have Jesus truly in our hearts we deceive ourselves and others, and we will pay for it for eternity.  If you haven’t acknowledged your need for a Savior and honestly confessed your sins and invited Jesus into your heart and life as your Lord and Savior what is holding you back?  I pray that you will find that Jesus in your heart and life satisfies your deepest longings. 

What are you waiting for?  Jesus accepts us just as we are.  We don’t have to do anything other than come to Jesus, just as we are—He will do what we can’t do—change us, set us free from all that has enslaved us.  In salvation, the Holy Spirit will come and live within us, empowering us to live a Christian life.  Allowing Jesus to come into our hearts and lives changes us.  As the old hymn, Just as I Am (public domain) states, “Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come!  I come!”  This is so true.  We don’t have to clean ourselves up before coming to the Lord.  He accepts us when we sincerely come to Him; however, He doesn’t leave us as He finds us. 

When we invite Jesus into our hearts and lives, He begins to change us from the inside out.  It’s a transformation, we are a new creation!  ("Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed awaybehold , all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV).  Without the Lord, there’s a deep emptiness inside, a longing that we try to fill with things, with people, with work, with activities, and sometimes even drugs.  Yet we find the emptiness remains—an emptiness that can only be filled by our Creator, the One who loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die on a Cross, so we could have a relationship with Him (John 3:16).   Why not start the greatest relationship of all—a relationship with Jesus today?

God loves you all so much and desires to have a relationship with you.  He’s a gentleman, so He’ll not force Himself upon you.  He’s already said yes to you—the ball is now in your court.  What will you decide?  Will you say “yes” or “no”?  Please don’t wait too long; one day it will be too late—none of us know when our life will end. 

Here’s a prayer that is an example for asking Jesus into your heart and life. 

Dear Jesus, we come to You humbly admitting that we are sinners.  You died for us, to pay the penalty for our sins.  We need Your forgiveness and we turn from our sins.  We open our hearts to You and invite you to come in to our lives as our Lord and Savior.  Thank you, Jesus, for humbling Yourself to come to earth and live among us and then die upon a cross for us.  In Your name we pray.  Amen. 

From my heart to yours,


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Welcome to my blog!

Grace and Peace to you! 

God has always been a part of my life--there were times that I didn't want to acknowledge Him and His desires for me.  All of that changed several years ago, and for that I’m so thankful.  My life really hasn't been the same since.  I don’t want to go back! 

After much prayer and pondering this blog is coming into existence.  It’s my prayer that the Lord will use this site to lead others to Him and bring about spiritual growth.  In everything that is shared on this blog, may the Lord Jesus be glorified and honored.  It will be an adventure to see where the Lord leads in this new ministry. 

In the next few days, I’m planning to post some short devotional style materials that I composed several years ago. 

From the outset, know that God loves you and desires nothing more than a relationship with you.  The only way to that relationship is through Jesus, God’s only Son (see John 3:16    

I bless you in the name of Jesus.