Jun 28, 2018

An Open Letter to My Parents

Hi Dad and Mom

Please forgive the “formalness” of this letter. I am typing this because if I hand wrote it would probably be harder to read; and I have a bad habit of relying on spell check rather than a dictionary.

I was thinking of the two of you when I was out for a walk the other day and I became very grateful for all that you have done for me; for our family over the years.

In particular, I wanted to write down a couple of things that came to mind.

You both sacrificed so much of your time, emotions, sleep, finances; your physical health to provide for all of us children over our lifetimes.

But more than the physical provisions; of which I am tremendously grateful, it is the spiritual heritage that I felt led to comment on.

I know that I did some things right as a dad and husband, but I know that it was God who chose to hear your prayers and change the course of history.

Mom and Dad; Thank you for not quitting on your marriage; for leaving a legacy of hope that marriages can be “born again”. Thank you for praying Cathy and I through the times of turbulence in our marriage.

Thank you for discipling me when I came to the Lord in college. I am forever grateful for the simple daily devotionals that the three of us would do at the counter in the kitchen. It was during those times that I developed a love for the Bible and reading it from cover to cover.

Thank you for teaching me to trust the Lord for His provision by seeking first His Kingdom and His Righteousness.

MOM; you started this. It was you who followed the Lord’s leading as you wondered what had happened to Chris and Sue Steven’s life to make them appear so different.

It was you who said “yes” to Angie’s invitation to “come and see”.

It was you who invited dad to “come and see”.

It was you who stood in the gap and prayed for your children.

It was you who said “yes” to allowing the Lord to make changes in all areas of your life.

It was your prayers and tears and intercessions that prayed all of us boys into the Kingdom of God. All of your sons are at a place where they long to follow and serve the Lord with their whole heart.

The results of your prayers are seen in the lives of those who we have touched in ministry; formally, or behind the scenes. 

Galatians 6:9 says; “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

Proverbs 31:28 says; “Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her.”  

You are blessed, and your sons are blessed, and the next generations (should Jesus tarry) will be blessed because you chose life in Jesus when you were presented with the option.

We couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you Mom.

DAD; you too were a part of all of this. More than what you did by becoming a Catholic and all that it cost you, it was the legacy of seeking God that you deposited.
I remember you going on retreats when we were kids and going to novenas and taking us to St. Joseph’s; trying to seek the Lord as best you knew how.

When mom came to the Lord, you, too, surrendered after you (like a Berean) sought for truth in following Jesus and baptism in the Holy Spirit.

You, too, were willing to say “yes” to allowing the Lord to make changes in all areas of your life.

You also have stood in the gap for so many people; including your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

On my walk, I remember a men’s retreat that we both attended where one of the talks was on how to raise your children in the Lord.

You, Tom Langlois, Joe Rowan, and Marv were hit with the frustration and tears as you expressed; “Where was this when we were starting out as young parents?” I remember several of us standing up and requesting; “Help us to raise our children, the next generation”.

As I look at my sons, I realize that your cries, your prayers that day were heard by a God who, too, wanted to see a godly heritage; and your sons and my sons are the result of that. Joshua and Jonathan are my hope of a new generation that will do it right; and the world will be a better place!

As I have spent time with Joshua and Jonathan and watch how they treat their wives, I realize; Dad, WE DID IT! We stopped the erosion of men who didn’t do it right (for a whole lot of reasons).

So, as you think of my ministry and the lives that I am able to touch and make a difference in, and when you look at my children and how they have turned out; please know that you were the ones who made it happen by your choices to follow and seek the only One who could ever make lasting changes in our lives.

 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” John 15:7-8

I am so very grateful that each of you has said, and continues to say, “yes” to the will and purposes of the Lord Jesus Christ in your lives.

Thank you.

I love you

 PSALM 127
1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
         They labor in vain who build it;
         Unless the LORD guards the city,
         The watchman stays awake in vain.
 2 It is vain for you to rise up early,
         To sit up late,
         To eat the bread of sorrows;
         For so He gives His beloved sleep.
 3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
         The fruit of the womb is a reward.
 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
         So are the children of one’s youth.
 5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
         They shall not be ashamed,
         But shall speak with their enemies in the gate

Jun 21, 2018

When Was the last Time You Fainted Going to Church?

It was September 1990 something and the Sunday Morning Service was about to start. And then they came in. 

They arrived after the service started and all eyes were focused on them as they made a bit of a ruckus trying to get inside the sanctuary; especially since some of them were in wheelchairs.

They were adults who had some disabilities and all lived with a young couple who had driven them to church.

I was up front and hadn’t noticed them until they started to sing during the worship portion of the service. Their voices were loud and they enthusiastically waved their hands in the air.

In all fairness, they did sing on key; just not the same key as the rest of us!

During the message they were attentive and responsive to my preaching.

After the service I was able to introduce myself and thank them for attending our service.

The following Sunday they returned and once again “interrupted” the tranquility of our sanctuary. Once again, they had trouble getting to their seats. Once again, they sang “off key” and enthusiastically waved their hands during worship.

The couple who brought them told me that they had returned because this was the first church that had accepted them. All other churches that they had gone to had asked them not to return because of the commotion that they caused.

I told them that they were welcomed and that I appreciated having them in the service.

The following Sunday they returned and once again “interrupted” the tranquility of our sanctuary. Once again, they had trouble getting to their seats. Once again, they sang “off key” and enthusiastically waved their hands during worship.

This went on for several weeks and then THEY came to talk to me; religious Rachel and Ralph. THEY had been sitting watching all of this, week after week, not saying anything as their own comfort levels were being stretched.

THEY issued a complaint because THEY thought that these people were too much of a distraction and wanted to know what I was going to do about them.

I replied that I wasn’t going to do anything because this group of adults wanted to be a part of our congregation and communicated that other churches had asked them not to return.

And then I shared how the couple who brings them each week told me a story about one of the women who came each week and who was the loudest in all aspects; including singing, clapping, and trying to get to her seat.

This woman, I was told, got up at five-o-clock in the morning every Sunday, got dressed, and waited by the front door so that she wouldn’t miss the van ride to our church.

On some Sundays she would get so excited anticipating going to church that she would have a seizure as she stood by the front door waiting to go.

I told “Rachel” and “Ralph” that this group of adults were now a part of who we were as a church.

I asked “Rachel” and “Ralph” when was the last time had they set down their preconceived ideas as to what was pleasing and acceptable to do during worship?

Then I asked them when was the last time that they had a seizure or fainted because of anticipation of going to church?

In Psalm 84, the writer exclaims that he faints in anticipation of being in the house of the Lord. 

He says that he LONGS to be with the Lord;
 “How lovely is your dwelling place,
  O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
  I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord.
  With my whole being, body and soul, 
  I will shout joyfully to the living God.”(Psalm 84:1-2)

King David wrote in Psalm 122:1
I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

He longed to be in the presence of the Lord and with God’s people.

My friend, when was the last time that you pushed through all of the obstacles that prevented you from being in church?

When was the last time that you had a seizure or fainted because of anticipation of going to church?

All Scripture is from The New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Jun 14, 2018

Validating The Invalid

English is my native tongue and I find it to be very complicated. I sometimes wonder how people even learn it with all of its rules that are filled with exceptions to every rule.

Most languages use different words to mean different things. Many languages use different words that are either masculine or feminine depending on whether it is referring to a male or a female.

Pretty simple; eh?

Not English; no, we don’t even speak the same language between countries where English is (for the most part) the native tongue (like USA, England, or Australia)

I say all that to talk about a word today that has several different meanings depending on which syllable you are placing the emphasis on.

The word is ‘invalid’. It can be read as invalid or invalid depending on what you are referring to.

If you are using it as a NOUN and referring to a person who has been made weak or disabled by illness or injury, then you would pronounce it as invalid.  

If you are using it as a VERB and a referring to validation, then you would pronounce it as in-valid.

Most of us are going through life looking for validation and without it we can become an invalid because we feel invalid.

God has created each of us to be in relationship with Him and there is a craving in all of us for validation. And the Father wants us to have it through His Son Jesus Christ.

Satan’s strategy has been to divert us from validation from God and point us to something that will only bring brokenness; to have us chase after something that will never satisfy…

In Christ we really have:
   Nothing to HIDE
   Nothing to PROVE
   Nothing to FEAR
   Nothing to LOSE

And yet, because we are invalids who don’t believe that, we seek validation from places that are broken and shattered. Trying to find life that only comes from one place: The heart of Father God.

Whenever we misuse that which the Father has given us, it is usually because we no longer hear the Father calling us His children.

Anytime we look to anything other than Father as our source of life and we attempt to get validation from those sources; we drink the brokenness of the people who are there, and we come away feeling disabled and we die.

This is us when we look to others instead of the Father to meet our needs.

This happens to us every time we look to an external relationship, or a certain level of income or to a job opportunity to validate us.

And yet, the Father still calls out through the Holy Spirit to ALL who will listen; whether we know Him or not; to come to Him for validation.

The truth is, we all need a touch from ABBA Father because we continue to try to get validation everywhere other than from Him.

He wants us to be validated so that we are no longer invalids (disabled). He longs for each of us to hear Him validating us like He did to His Son Jesus BEFORE He did any ministry.

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:15-16)

The truth is that in Him we are validated. We are no longer slaves because we are children of God. We are surrounded by the arms of the Heavenly Father; surrounded by songs of deliverance form One who reveals Himself as “Abba” which means “daddy”.

Those of us who have come to the Father (Abba) through Jesus Christ have been liberated from our bondages. We are sons and daughters through receiving the work done on the cross by Jesus.

Some of you have been searching for your Father when all along ABBA Father has been searching for you! When all along ABBA Father has been waiting for you! When all along ABBA Father has been longing for you! 

For some of you it seems too good to be true that He would be your “father” or “daddy”. Too good to be true that He would love and validate you… 

Or you’ve had head knowledge but not experience, or if you’ve forgotten it

Or it’s been a really long time since you’ve heard that He loves you…

Or you’ve been plugging into the wrong places and everything you’ve tried has left you hungry, and because you are just so tired of going on.

And you long for a Father who will embrace you, kiss you, and take you back to His bosom and hold you, and soothe you. A Father who will call you His child and not allow you to be called a slave.

Don’t look to anyone or anything else for validation. Let God reveal Himself to you by the Spirit of God.

That is the Father that Jesus came to reveal to us and if you don’t know known God as a daddy, He wants you to come to Him TODAY through Jesus Christ.

Not sure where to start? Call 1-800-NEED-HIM; someone is waiting to talk with you right now.

Jun 7, 2018

You Can’t Help Me; I’m Overwhelmed!

When we think of the word “Overwhelmed” we often think that this is something bad.

We picture negative things such as being overwhelmed a day jamb-packed with things to do; and not enough time to fit everything in.

Or being overwhelmed in our minds by remorse or regret that causes the brain to be stuck in circular logic.

Or being overwhelmed in our feelings as though life all around us is squeezing in on us.

Or being overwhelmed by an attack; or over powered; especially by superior forces that have the potential to crush or destroy.

Or being overwhelmed such as in a disastrous situation that could bury, submerge, or cover us, like a flood, fire, tornado, hurricane, avalanche, volcano, earthquake, etc.….

So, if I were to say to you; “I hope that today you have an overwhelming day!”, you’d probably reply with; “No thank you!”

If you are super-spiritual you might reply with; “Get behind me Satan!”; but that wouldn’t be nice because I am really just trying to help you.

But “overwhelmed” isn’t necessarily really a bad word

With the right understanding and perspective, “overwhelmed” can be a
good word.

Or as George Costanza (Seinfeld) said; “…So, anyway, if you think about it, manure is not really that bad a word. I mean, it’s ‘newer’, which is good, and a ‘ma’ in front of it, which is also good. Ma-newer, right?”

But I digress…and some of you are more overwhelmed because I have taken time from your already busy schedule…

Hang in there; I do have a point.

“Overwhelmed” is a word that can be used to describe BOTH negative as well as positive situations. It can be bad or good depending on what’s whelming whom over.

If you have a sports team that has “an overwhelming offense”; that’s a good thing; especially if they are winning the game.

The word “overwhelmed” means ‘to load, heap, or address with an overpowering amount of ANYTHING’.

And “ANYTHING’ can mean overwhelmed with good things such as overwhelmed with provision of presents or food or clothing or cars or houses or job opportunities or extra days of vacation…

“ANYTHING’ can mean overwhelmed with good things such as overwhelmed with too many friends and too many invites to celebrations such as weddings or graduations or parties. 

“ANYTHING’ can mean overwhelmed with good things such as overwhelmed with hugs or kisses.

“ANYTHING’ can mean overwhelmed with good things such as overwhelmed with comfort or love or joy or peace or patience or kindness or goodness or faithfulness or gentleness or self-control or understanding or forgiveness. Can we ever have too much or be overwhelmed with these?

“ANYTHING” can mean (as King David wrote in Psalm 68:19) being overwhelmed or loaded (imposes a heavy burden) with benefits or blessings from the Lord!

So, I to say to you; “I hope that today you have an overwhelming day!”

I hope that you are overwhelmed by the goodness and grace of our Heavenly Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Especially if, when you are reading this, you are feeling as though your day is already (in a negative sense) overwhelming.  

Take some time to let this song minister to your heart...