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Empty Alters

I need to be a little bold and say a few things that have been on my heart a lot lately. As I sat in church last Sunday I sat with broken heart. My heart has been really heavy for a lot of reason lately. I think one of the reason my heart was so heavy is because Sunday after Sunday I stare at an empty alter in front of the sanctuary.

As I stare at an empty alter, I think about the how this country is getting further and further away from God and my heart breaks.

As I stare at an empty alter, I think about the stuff out my kids and your kids have to face everyday and my heart breaks.

As I stare at an empty alter, I think about the marriages in our churches and our communities that are hanging on by a thread and it breaks my heart.

As I stare at an empty alter, I think about the people that are hurting and just looking for someone to care and my heart breaks.

As I stare at an empty alter, I think about those that are sick and dying and my heart breaks.

As I stare at an empty alter, I think about those that are lost and don’t know Christ as their Lord and Savior and my heart breaks.

As I stare at an empty alter, I think about those that struggle with addiction everyday and my heart breaks.

As I sit and stare at an empty alter I often wonder, why we are here. Are we really being “The Church”? Are we being the church that God has created us to be? Are we loving those that need it most? Are we reaching out to the lost and the hurting? Are we loving others as Christ loved us?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to sound like I’m all high and mighty and some super Christian. I struggle just as much as anyone else does. I just believe that if we are to be “The Church” that God has called us to be we need to step it up a little bit.

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins… James 5:13-20

I didn’t write this to offend anyone, this is just something God has put on my heart and I needed to share. I am definitely a work in progress myself but I am tired of being just an ordinary Christian. I just don’t believe that God has called us to go sit in a chair in a building and sing a few songs and listen to a sermon then go home. I believe that God has called us to be “THE CHURCH”.

The Miracle in the Tomb

Jesus performed many miracles in his ministry but the one that I have been drawn to the most is when He brought Lazarus back to life. I think the reason I am drawn to it so much that I can kinda relate to the way Mary and Martha must have felt. They knew what Jesus was capable of and that He was the only one that could save their brother.

1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” ..John 11:1-3

The part that stands out the most to me is these next few verses.

5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” ..John 11:4-7

Mary and Martha sent for Jesus, probably in desperation knowing that He was their only hope for saving their brother from death and when Jesus heard the news of His friend, He stayed where He was for two more days. It doesn’t say where Jesus was at but I’m sure it took more than a day to get the message to Jesus and then He still waited two more days before He went to see His friend. After sending for Jesus, Mary and Martha waited for Jesus and then for Him to show up after their brother was already dead. When they sent the message to Jesus they called Lazarus “the one You love.” When Jesus finally showed up after their brother was already dead, I’m pretty sure they were a little confused but Martha still had some faith left in her.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” ..John 11:21

Even though her brother was already dead she still had faith that God would give Jesus whatever He asked of Him. And He did!

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” 40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” ..John 11:38-44

And there you have it, Mary and Martha sent for Jesus out of desperation and waited for a response. When Jesus arrived late and they though that He had failed them He used it to perform one of His greatest miracles.

I saved these next few verses to prove a point.

4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” ..John 11:4

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” ..John 11:11

Jesus Had a plan the whole time. He knew what was going to happen and He knew that the people would see just how powerful God was. He also showed the people that even when it didn’t look good that they could still trust Him.

God has a plan for all of us and He does listen when you cry out to Him in desperation. The part that we need to remember is that God is never late and sometimes we have to wait for the answer but we can always trust Him. The sad thing is there are many times in our lives when we miss out on our miracles because we think Jesus is to late and we give up to soon.

Many times God will us your situation to help you grow closer to Him or sometime to make you grow in your faith. Sometimes I believe that God will let our situation get so bad that when the miracle does happens we see how powerful He really is and He is glorified in the outcome. So, if you are waiting for your Lazarus to be brought back to life, whatever it may be, Jesus in NEVER to late so don’t give up to soon. “The view is always best on the mountain top, but the fruit is grown in the valleys.”

God’s Voice

Have you ever heard the voice of God? The Bible is full of stories of people who God spoke to personally. God spoke to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He spoke to Noah, To Abraham, and we can’t forget God talking to Moses through a burning bush. I’m not really sure how Moses stayed there. I don’t know about you but if I saw a bush that was on fire but not burning up then a voice came out of it, I’m pretty sure I would be out of there pretty quick and would probably need some new pants. Whether it be through a burning bush or just hearing God’s voice directly it had to be pretty awesome to have those personal conversation with God. I know I would definitely have some questions for Him that’s for sure.
The fact is we can have a personal conversation with God and we can hear His voice, it just may not sound like we thought it would. Today God may not speak to us the way He spoke to the men in the Bible, but He does still speak to us. God speaks to us in many ways. I think the main way He speaks to us is through His word, the Bible. There have been many times in my life that God has used a certain scripture to speak to me. Its pretty amazing when you are reading the Bible and out of no where a particular scripture will just jump off the page and speak directly into your heart. I was taught by a very good friend of mine and one of my biggest mentors(Bishop Gary Earls) that if you really want to get the most out of God’s word you should pray before you read and ask God to open your eyes and your heart to Him. Trust me if you do that, He will show you things that will completely amaze you and sometimes freak you out. It’s like getting a personal text message directly from God.
Have you ever heard that still small voice in the back of your mind that tells you over and over again to do something or when you are doing something that you know you shouldn’t and you hear the voice telling you not to. I can’t say all the time but most of the time that still quiet voice is the voice of God. God also speaks to us through our hearts. Have you ever felt that pull on your heart like you are being lead to something or somewhere? That’s God speaking through our hearts.
God can and will speak to us in many ways but if we want to hear Him we have to take the time to listen. Me personally, I have found that the best way to hear Gods voice is to just sit and be quiet. Find you a nice quiet dark place, turn off the outside world, and ask God to open your heart and your ears and just listen. Take some time today and listen to what God may be trying to tell you. You never know, there may be something He has been trying to tell you that you haven’t been able to hear.

Prayer

Have you ever felt like God isn’t listening to you? Have you ever wondered why some of our prayers seem to go unanswered? Just because God seems to be quiet and our prayers don’t look in our eyes like they are being answered but God is always listening and He always answers every single one of our prayer. I was always told that when we pray God will give us one of three answers. The one we all want to hear, the “YES” answer. The one that we don’t like to hear but sometimes don’t understand that God knows what’s best for us better than we do, the “NO answer. And the one I believe to be the hardest answer we get sometimes, the “WAIT” answer. I have never been very good at patience and sometimes I think God knows that and really likes to put me to the test. Not to mention when I was new to my walk with Christ I once Prayed for patience, I really wish someone would have told me NOT to do that. That was one of those prayers that was answered with a “YES” and a “WAIT”. God said yes I will give you patience but it has to be learned so you will have to wait for it. That was a nice lesson about hind sight is 20/20!

Since I gave my life back to Christ and began my walk with Him 7 years ago I have always struggled with prayer. I have always tried so hard to spend as much time as I can in prayer but it doesn’t always seem to happen and I fall short in my prayer life. I hate to say that I’m often guilty of letting other things get in the way of my time with God, and sometime I’m guilty of making excuses about being to busy or to tired to pray. I am also guilty of treating God like a genie who is there to give me what I want or what I think I need. The fact is God is there for us when we need Him but He also just wants us to spend time with Him as well. Sometimes He wants us to just be quiet and listen to what He has to say. It’s pretty amazing to know that the God of the universe, the God that created the world and everything on it wants to spend time with us. He craves that time with us just as we crave that time with our family. One of my greatest joys in life is spending time with my kids, I love to just be around them and that’s the way God feels about us. He wants to hear us tell Him that we love Him just as much as we love to hear our wives or our kids tell us.

I know my kids are going to get to a point where they aren’t gonna want to spend as much time with me so I guess that helps me to understand how God feels when we don’t give Him the time we should. He is a Heavenly Father that wants to meet the needs of His children but He also sometime just enjoys us to come for a visit.

I challenge you, go give your Heavenly Father a visit and spend some time on His lap and you will see blessings in your life like you’ve never seen before.

Christ Like Commitment

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…Ephesians 5:25

I have written about this scripture before but this is something that God has really been putting on my heart a lot lately. I’m sure it probably has something to do with the way my marriage has gone the last nine months. I try to be transparent in hopes that some of the things that I have experienced and the way God has helped me can help and encourage someone else that may me going through the same thing. The last nine month my marriage has definitely been pretty rocky and for the most part hanging on by a thread. We have been separated for pretty much the whole nine months and it has been a pretty wild ride. There has been more ups and downs then any roller coaster I have ever seen. I’m sad to say that my wife and I have both done things to hurt each other and has have both broken each others trust. The good thing is that God has been with us every step of the way keeping us together when most people would have given up. I am so very thankful that my wife and I started out our marriage built on the foundation of Christ. There have been times when my wife has given up and many times where I’ve wanted to do the same and give up myself but God always seems to remind me of this verse and how He NEVER gave up on me so I should NEVER give up on my wife. This verse says that I am to love my wife as Christ loved the church. Christ loved us so much that He gave up His life for the very church that crucified Him. Christ loves us no matter what, He loves us even when we fail Him, He loves us with all our faults and weaknesses. As a husband I am to show my wife the same unconditional love that Christ shows me each and every day. Someone that I look up to very much once told me that when Christ gave up His life for us, He was betrayed, beaten, spit on and nailed to a cross and the whole time He could have given up and called down an army of angels to rescue Him, but He didn’t. He went through all the pain and suffering for us. I couldn’t imagine the rejection He had to have felt that day but He went through it anyway for you and me. Now that’s sacrificial love! So the next time you feel like giving up remember that Jesus never gave up on us. Jesus felt the worst pain and rejection ever and still didn’t give up. I know that my marriage still has a long and rough road ahead but I know that we will not be going about it alone. Ecclesiastes says:

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken..Ecclesiastes 4:12

I have to say that the foundation of Christ that we started out on was the best thing we could have ever built. On Nov 11, 2011 I made a promise to God that I would love my wife as Christ loved the church and I will be keeping that promise.

When you feel like there is no hope and you can’t see a way to make it, always remember that you have a God that can and will make a way.

Be a Mighty Sycamore!

1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way..Luke 19:1-4

As I was reading this Scripture, it really made me think a lot about my kids and the people I come in contact with everyday. It says that Zacchaeus was trying to see Jesus but was to short to see over the crowd. It got me thinking about the people today that are trying to see Jesus but the crowd of the world is blocking their view and my kids that are forced to grow up in a world that is trying to block the view of Jesus. As a believer we have the choice to be a mighty sycamore tree and lift people up to be able to see Jesus or we can be the crowd blocking the view of those trying to see our Lord and Savior.

As I have mentioned before, one of my biggest goals in life is to be a godly father to my kids and have them grow up loving Christ. They say that the best way to lead is by example and I hope and pray that I can be the example that lifts my kids up and they can see Christ through me. I hope and pray that when it comes to seeing Christ I can be the sycamore and not the crowd.

Are you a sycamore or are you the crowd?

What Am I Teaching Them?

One of my biggest goals in life is to be the best husband and father that I can be. To be the husband and father that God wants me to be. I have been able to spend a little extra time with my children the last few days and one thing God has laid on my heart is “what am I teaching them?” In Proverbs it says:

Direct your children onto the right path,
and when they are older, they will not leave it…Proverbs 22:6

I have had to ask myself, what path am I directing them? I have always tried to encourage my kids. I have always tried to push them to be the best football players they can be. I’ve pushed them to be the best basketball players or the best soccer players they can be. But the question is, do I push them to be the best person they can be? Am I teaching them to follow Christ? Am I teaching them to Love others as Christ loved them?

I have spent many hours in the yard or at the gym with my kids with either a basketball, football or a baseball, but how much time have I spent with them reading the Bible or praying with them.

I think the hardest thing I’ve come to realize and open my heart to is, “what am I showing them?” What do my kids see in me? Do they see Christ in my actions? Do they see Christ in the way I react with others? How often do they see me spending time in the Word or spending time in prayer? We as parents and as followers of Jesus are supposed to lead by example.

But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea…Matthew 18:6

That scripture right there is pretty hard for me to swallow. How many times have I caused my kids to sin? How many times have I had my kids tells someone a lie to keep me from having to do something? If I’m supposed to be a Godly example for my kids I’m afraid to admit that I sometimes fall short. Probably a lot more than I think.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting your kids to be great athletes or to be successful academically, the problem is when we push sports and success over teaching our kids to live Christ centered lives. If we don’t teach our kids then someone else will. I’m sorry but I refuse to let the world raise my kids. A world that says its ok to have sex with whoever you want, its ok to divorce you spouse because they don’t meet you every need, a world that says you can’t talk about your faith because you might offend someone. Nope, not on my watch! God gave us our kids and gave us the responsibility to raise them right. I know that one day I will make my trip to see my Heavenly Father and I want more than anything in this world to one day see them there as well. I would much rather see my kids in Heaven than on the cover of Sports illustrated or on the cover of Forbes magazine.

I’m asking you the same question, what are you teaching you kids?”

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