Have you ever had one of those days you couldn't wait to be over?  A day you would never want to relive?  A day you wish you could just forget?  

Sure.  We all have.  We all have things in our past that were so painful we'd never want a repeat.  Yet part of the human experience is stumbling, making mistakes, getting hurt, and suffering.  And if we're all honest, we all suffer from a bit of guilt from past actions.  

There's a person in the Bible that would be the first to raise his hand and say "I have been in dire need of a 'do over'!"  When we first meet him his name is Saul.  He was a highly educated Jewish Pharisee who studied Judaism under a renowned Rabbi.  Saul was so zealous for his religion that he persecuted others who followed the Carpenter from Nazareth.  When Saul was on his way to Damascus to persecute men and women who were Christians, he was blinded by Jesus who asked him, "Why are you persecuting me?"  After this dramatic experience, Saul became a Christ-follower and was given a new mission in life:  he would take the Gospel of Jesus to the non-Jewish world-Gentiles.  You can read about this in his own words in Acts 22.  

God's grace was given to Saul, who became Paul.  And God's grace is extended to you and me.  That's the good news of the Gospel:  God's love compelled him to come to us, die for us, and redeem us.  

So how do we move forward and not stay stuck in our guilt from the past?  Paul writes about this in Philippians 3:12-14, "I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me...one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead."  

Press on:  In the Greek that phrase means to "pursue under strain."  It's not easy to press on when we feel defeated.  However, Christ is our strength and his strength is made known in our weakness.  

Forgetting what is behind:  In the Greek that phrase means to make an intentional decision to pay no attention to what is in the past.  The past is the past and you can't change it.  You can learn from it, but don't live in it.  When you are tempted to feel guilty, let that motivate you to remember God's love for you.  

Straining toward what is ahead:  The only way we can move forward is to focus forward and not look back.  You can't look forward and backward at the same time.  In our straining toward living a fulfilled life, we must remember that we will hit obstacles along the wat.  But Jesus has secured our victory over those obstacles.  We simply need to stay in the fight and fight the good fight against evil that would seek to destroy us.  

Need a "Do over"?  Jesus offers you one.  Take it.  Move forward.  Forgive what you need to forgive.  Forgive who you need to forgive (including yourself).  And don't give up!  

For more on this, watch the full message!

I love the Christmas Carol, What Child is This?  I wonder if the familiarity of the song has overshadowed the question it is asking.  Who is Jesus to you?  Isaiah said Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.  In John's Gospel he said Jesus was God in the flesh.  

Below is a copy of a sermon I recently preached.  I hope you'll take a few minutes to read it and consider again, what child is this?

Who do YOU say this child is?

Is Jesus a lunatic, liar, or the Truth of the ages?
Is Jesus someone you respect and admire or your Savior you follow?
Is Jesus a good man or the Son of Man?
Is Jesus a felt board characture who was always perched on a rock dispensing wise sayings or God in flesh, who lived among his people, was hungry and thirsty and got dirt under his nails because he (according to Scripture) made his dwelling among his people?

O tell me, What Child is This?

Jesus is God revealed throughout the entire Bible...
Genesis – Jesus is our Creator and the Breath of Life
Exodus – He is the Passover Lamb
Leviticus – High Priest
Numbers – Water in the desert and Fire by Night
Deuteronomy – He is our Eagles wings of deliverance
Joshua – Commander of the army of the Lord
Judges – He is the Lord of Peace
Ruth – He is our Redeemer
1 Samuel –He is the Prophet, Priest and King
2 Samuel – Rock of Salvation
1 Kings – Builder of a temple that will never fall
2 Kings – He is the reigning King
1 Chronicles – Son of David that is coming to rule
2 Chronicles – the King who reigns eternally
Ezra – Priest proclaiming freedom
Nehemiah – the One who restores what is broken
Esther – Protector of his people
Job – Mediator between God and man
Psalms – He is our song in the morning and in the night
Proverbs – our Wisdom and Strong Tower!
Ecclesiastes – our meaning for life
Song of Solomon – Author of faithful love
Isaiah – He is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace
Jeremiah – the weeping Messiah
Lamentations – He assumes God’s wrath for us
Ezekiel – Son of Man
Daniel – He is the Son of God with us in the fiery furnace
Hosea – Faithful husband even when we run away
Joel – He is the baptizer of the Holy Spirit
Amos – delivers justice to the oppressed
Obadiah – He is Mighty to Save
Jonah – The great missionary
Micah – He casts our sin into the sea of forgetfulness
Nahum – He proclaims future world peace
Habakkuk – He crushes injustice
Zephaniah – He’s the Warrior who saves
Haggai – He restores our worship
Zechariah – He is Lord and King over all the earth
Malachi – Sun of righteousness who brings healing
Matthew – The Messiah who is King
Mark – The Messiah who is a Servant
Luke – The Messiah who is a Deliverer
John – The Messiah who is a God in the flesh
Acts – The Spirit who dwells in His people
Romans – The Power of God unto salvation
1 Corinthians – He is the Power of Love, our conqueror over death and Our resurrection!
2 Corinthians – He is the down payment of what’s to come
Galatians – He is our inheritance and our Freedom!
Ephesians – He is our peace at the right hand of the Father
Philippians – He is the God that supplies all our needs and the Servant’s heart
Colossians – He holds the supreme position in all things
1 Thessalonians – He is our comfort in the last days
2 Thessalonians – He is our returning King
1 Timothy – He is our Crown of Righteousness
2 Timothy – He is Christ our Helper
Titus – He is our Hope
Philemon – He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother
Hebrews – He is our High Priest
James – He is the Great Physician
1 Peter – He is our hope in times of suffering
2 Peter – He is the restorer of all things
1 John – He is our Love and Light
2 John – He is Christ come in the flesh
3 John – He is our prosperity, health and peace
Jude – Jesus is the Lord coming with 10,000 of his believers
AND in the Revelation, in the very end, when it's all over, said and done, when time is NO MORE. He is and will always be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who will make all things new, Prince of Peace, son of Man, Lamb of God, The Great I am, Alpha and Omega, The Beginning and the End, God and Savior He is Jesus Christ the Lord HE IS EVERYTHING THAT YOU NEED!

Oh let me ask you again: What Child is This?

He is the First the Last, the Beginning and the End.
He’s the Keeper of creation and the Creator of all.
He is the Architect of the universe and the Manager of all time.
He always was, always is, always will be. . . unmoved, unchanged,undefeated and never undone.He was bruised, but brought healing;
He was pierced, but eased pain;
He was persecuted, but brought freedom;
He was dead, and brings life.He is risen to bring power and He reigns to bring peace.
The world can’t understand Him, armies can’t defeat Him, schools can’t explain Him and leaders- they can’t ignore Him.
Herod couldn’t kill Him; Nero couldn’t crush Him.
The New Age cannot replace Him and Oprah cannot explain Him away.
You can remind yourself that: He is life, He is love, He is longevity, and He is the Lord.
He is goodness and kindness and faithfulness and He is God.
He is holy and righteous and powerful and pure.
His ways are right, His Word eternal, His will unchanging and His mind is on us.
He’s our Saviour, our Guide, our Peace, our Joy, our Comfort, our Lord, and He rules our lives.

Oh, what Child is this?

Priscilla Shirer answered this way:

He is the One whose bond is love
His yoke is easy
His burden is light, and His goal for us is adundant life.
He’s the wisdom of the wise
the power of the powerful
the Ancient of Days
the Ruler of rulers
the Leader of all leaders.
His goal is a relationship with me.
He’ll never leave you, never forsake you, never mislead you, never forget you, never overlook you,and never cancel you appointment in His appointment book. . . .never.
When you fall,He’ll lift you up.
When you fail, He’ll forgive you.
When you’re weak, He’s strong.
When you’re lost, He is your Way
When you’re afraid, He’s your courage.
When you stumble, He will steady you.
When you’re afraid, He’s your courage.
When you stumble, He will mend you.
When you’re hurt, He’s going to heal you.
When you’re broken, He will feed you.
When you face trials, He is with you.
He’s everything for everyone, everywhere, every time and in every way.
And if YOU have made the decision to follow him, and not just be a fan that admires him from a distance, then He is your God and THAT, dear friend, is WHO. THIS. CHILD. IS!!!!

But just as important it is to know who he is, equally important is how you answer this:

DO YOU KNOW HIM?

I mean really know him!

Not evidenced by the words you speak or the church you attend

Not evidenced by how much money you have or how well you’re liked by others

Not evidenced by the country in which you live or the flag you salute,

Not evidenced by your family heritage or how many good deeds you’ve done

BUT EVIDENCED by you BEING A NEW CREATION, WITH A NEW HEART AND A NEW WAY OF THINKING AND A NEW WAY OF LIVING!

Are you CHANGED?

Do you LOVE or do you HATE?

Do you GIVE or do you TAKE?

Do you FORGIVE instead of SEEKING REVENGE or HARBORING HATRED?

Do you SERVE or do you MAKE DEMANDS?

WHO OR WHAT do you run to when you’re hurt and need comforting?

Does the Bible adorn your living room coffee table or HAVE YOU HIDDEN GOD’S WORD IN YOUR HEART SO THAT YOU MAY NOT SIN AGAINST HIM?

When others investigate the FRUIT of your LIFE what do they see?

Do they SEE:
LOVE
JOY
PEACE
PATIENCE
KINDNESS
GOODNESS
FAITHFULNESS
GENTLENESS
SELF-CONTROL

When others TASTE the FRUIT of your LIFE do they shy away from your SOURNESS or SAVOR YOUR SWEETNESS BECAUSE THE HOLY SPIRIT REIGNS IN YOUR VERY BEING?

My friend, we’ve clearly answered the question WHAT CHILD IS THIS?

NOW let me ask you: WHOSE CHILD ARE YOU?

Ephesians 5:8 says we once walked in DARKNESS, but now we are LIGHT in the LORD, so LIVE AS CHILDREN OF THE LIGHT…

If we reject Christ we belong to Satan himself.

If we accept the free gift of salvation, we are CHILDREN OF THE KING!

Whose child are you?

To watch the message, click here.  Merry Christmas!

Of all the wonderful Christmas carols, Silent Night, Holy Night is my absolute favorite.  The last line of the first verse intrigues me: sleep in heavenly peace.  Certainly listening to this carol congers up images in our minds of serenity and peace surrounding the nativity.  The King of Kings lying in the manger that glorious night came to give you peace in your life.  He came that you might sleep in heavenly peace.  

Have you ever suffered from insomnia?  If you have ever been so tired that you couldn't stand yourself and you were finally able to sleep, you know what a blessing sleep really is!  As a matter of fact, sleep is a gift from God (Psalm 127:2).  But many don't sleep well because they lack peace in their life.  So how can we sleep in heavenly peace?

Proverbs 6 addresses areas of our life where it is essential we walk in Godly wisdom.  If we don't get these right, we'll spend many restless nights fretting and worrying. 

  1. Money Matters and Personal Financial Management - Proverb 6:1-5.  The Bible warns against making unwise financial decisions such as co-signing for someone who hasn't shown maturity in financial matters, making emotional decisions and promises your bank account can't support, and not living with financial boundaries (a budget) that could protect you from financial ruin.  Our giving should be led by the Holy Spirit and our charity we show others should be within the boundaries of being financially wise.  Jesus even warned that we should count the cost before we invest in something that has the potential for causing us financial hardships (Luke 14:28-30).  
  2. Our Jobs and Work Ethic - Proverbs 6:6-11.  To work is honorable.  Whether we are employed or not, we should work and be productive.  How we work reveals our true character and reputation (what others think and say about us) and our testimony (what others think and say about God).  The Bible uses an ant as an example of how we should approach our work: take initiative, work with excellence, be diligent and plan ahead, be honest, and do your best work for those who have put their trust in you.  
  3. Our Purity and Character - Proverbs 6:12-19.  The Bible warns against living a life of sin that eventually overtakes you.  Dishonesty, unfaithfulness, cheating, stealing, gravitating towards that which will eventually destroy you, are traps that people fall into and ones which rob people of peace.   Jesus said Satan seeks only to steal, kill and destroy us.  However Jesus offers abundant and quality life (John 10:10).  We need to exercise Godly wisdom in our thought life and life habits lest we ourselves fall into the sin trap that robs us from sleeping in heavenly peace.  
  4. Our faithfulness - Proverbs 6:20-35.  When we begin breaking commitments to those we've made commitments to, peace escapes us and instead we're filled with guilt and shame.  God wants us to be faithful to him and to those relationships we've made promises to.  How we handle our earthly relationships is how we handle our relationship with Jesus.  Therefore, we need to be faithful and use Godly wisdom in navigating through our relationships.  

My prayer for you is that this Christmas season you'll not only sing about sleeping in heavenly peace, but you'll actually sleep in heavenly peace.  For more on this, watch the full message!

A favorite Christmas Carol is "O Come All Ye Faithful".  I love the first line in that song: O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant.  Notice those 3 words - faithful, joyful, triumphant.  This song beckons the faithful to come and adore Christ the Lord.  

A natural outflow of being faithful to God is to have abundant joy and to be victorious (triumphant) over sin.  From our faithfulness that leads to joy and victory comes our worship of Christ our Lord.  

Proverbs 6 warns us to remain faithful and not to go down the path of an adulterer.  Throughout Scripture when God's people were unfaithful to Him, worshiped other gods or chased after their own lusts, God would rebuke them as harlots and adulterers.  In Ephesians 5 the Apostle Paul says human marriage is a signpost pointing to the relationship between Jesus and His followers, the Church.  In other words, when we are unfaithful to our spouse, we're cheating on Jesus.  If we can't keep our commitment to our spouse, how much more will we break our commitment to Christ.

Many lives have been ruined because of unfaithfulness.  In this incredible book of wisdom, Proverbs warns us to avoid the path of unfaithfulness and to pursue the wisdom and righteousness of God.  When we are faithful to Him, and live our lives above reproach (blameless - charges against us and accusations don't stick!) we guard our reputation and character - what people think and say about us, and we guard our testimony - what people think and say about God.

For more on this, watch the full message!  

My first car was Volkswagen Beetle and oh how I loved that car!  From the moment I saw it, I wanted it.  The body was in great shape and it was the color I desired.  However, as nice as the car looked on the outside, there was one problem: the engine didn't work!  As nice as it looked, it was useless.  

After buying the car and having it towed to my house, I eventually had the motor rebuilt.  As I reflect on that car, I can't help but think there are many people who look good on the outside, but on the inside there is a heart that is useless...it's hardened, full of bitterness, incapable of loving or receiving love.  Truth is, without Jesus, given enough time and turmoil, any of us could develop "spiritual heart disease" and become useless. 

In Proverbs 4:23-27 we are told that in order to have a quality life we must guard our heart, for it is the wellspring of life.  Scripture goes on to say that we are to:

Guard our mouth.  Words are powerful.  I don't know who ever said "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me."  Apparently that person never went to my middle school!  Nothing could be more wrong: words can and do hurt.  Words start wars!  As Christ-followers, we need to guard our words and make sure that we don't murder others with our words.

Guard our eyes.  That which you look at long enough you begin to desire.  Recently I was at a friend's house hanging out with others and was offered some pie.  I first refused, but after watching everyone else eat pie, I caved and got myself a piece.  What happened?  I looked at the pie long enough and what I first rejected I began to desire.  Be careful what you watch.  Guard your eyes lest you feast upon that which could destroy you.

Guard your "go".  In other words, be careful where you place yourself.  Your path will determine your direction in life.  You go down the wrong path, you'll end up in a place you never intended to be doing what you swore you'd never do.  

When you guard your heart, you're in a great position to guard your mouth, your eyes and your path.  For more on this, watch the full message!  

In the midst of all the tragedy over the past few months: a hurricane season that destroyed much property and displaced thousands of people, innocent people killed on a walking path in Manhattan, mass shootings in Texas and Nevada, it's easy to wonder, "God, where are you?"  If we're not careful, we can let our feelings misguide us.  

So how do we navigate through these issues in a way that honors God and keeps us healthy emotionally and spiritually?  The answer is found in Proverbs 3:5-6.  We are to trust God and not lean on our own understanding.  Trusting God, even when things around us do not make sense.  Trusting God, even when our emotions attempt to lead us down a dark path.  That kind of trust is called faith, and we must have faith in God if we're going to call ourselves followers of Jesus.  

Here are 5 traces of a person with a trusting heart:

  1. A person who remembers God's word and is obedient to His word, even in the darkest of times.
  2. A  person who is full of love for God and man, and faithfulness to live out God's plan.
  3. A person of tremendous trust in God.
  4. A person who gives freely as the Lord leads.
  5. A person full of honor, honesty and integrity.

If trusting God were easy we wouldn't need Jesus.  If you find yourself saying, "It's hard to have faith," then you need to pray and ask Jesus who is the author and perfecter of your faith, to strengthen you and give you wisdom.  

Please watch the full message

The Bible says there are 3 kinds of people who refuse wisdom:

  1. The simple.  These are ones who have no moral direction and are open to anything.  These are the spiritually immature who have no desire to grow or learn.  
  2. Mockers.  These are ones who refuse correction or rebuke and sit in the seat of judgement of others.  
  3. Fools.  These are ones who think they know it all and don't have a teachable spirit.  

What is the end result for these?  They will self destruct.  What is the end result for those who accept God's wisdom?  A quality life filled with God's blessings.  We must remember:

Godly wisdom = Quality life.   Relying on your own wisdom = pain.  You want a quality life?  You must receive God's wisdom that come about by reading and applying his word, the Bible.  

I hope you'll take a few minutes and watch the full message!  

Have you ever taken a walk through a cemetery?  Most of us who have would say that while it's peaceful, it's also sad.  People who once lived and breathed, had families and careers, now buried.  Unfortunately, many went to their grave with unrealized dreams, relationships that never healed, and potentials that were never maximized.  What's sad about a cemetery is not the people buried there, but what's buried inside the people buried there.   

In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus tells a story about a man who was going on a journey.  Before he left, he entrusted money to three of his servants.  To one he gave 5 talents, to one he gave 2 talents, and to one he gave 1 talent.  While the master was away, the servant with 5 talents invested the money and gained 5 more talents.  The servant with 2 talents did the same.  But the servant with 1 talent buried his money and did nothing with it.  When the master returned home, each servant gave an account for what he had done with what he had been entrusted with.  Overall, the master was pleased.  But he was furious with the servant who buried his money.  In fact, he threw the servant out of his house!

Notice, the servant didn't steal from the master.  He probably wasn't a bad guy.  So what was his crime?  Laziness.  And what was the reason for his laziness?  Fear.  

Fear holds many in bondage.  Fear keeps us from pursuing our dreams and sticking to our goals.  Fear aids us in giving up when things get tough or we meet adversity.  And most of all, fear keeps us from change!

There is no growth without change.  There is no change without loss.  There is no loss without pain.  

God has a plan for your life.  He's entrusted you with certain resources: your health, your family, your job, your possessions, even your church.  What are doing with them?  Are you maximizing your full potential for God's glory or are you stuck in a rut, resisting change, because of fear?

Our willingness to change positions us to embrace God's plan for us.  Our willingness to change affects our children and others who come after us.  We must live with an awareness that there are 3 enemies of change: fear, ruts, and idols.  We need to resist all three!

For more on this, watch the full message!

Years ago I burned my hand really bad while working on a construction job site.  Thankfully, we were working across the street from the local fire department.  Before going to the emergency room, I was able to go across the street to the firehouse and get help.  After washing my hand, one of the paramedics put ointment on my hand and wrapped it.  

Later at the hospital, I was told that putting the ointment on my hand so soon after getting injured saved my hand from long term scarring.  

Forgiveness is the healing ointment that needs to be applied to our "burns" soon after we're hurt.  Many people struggle with forgiveness because they have a false understanding of what forgiveness is.  Before I tell you what forgiveness is, allow me to state what it is NOT: 

Forgiveness is not condoning what happened to you.  When you were lied to, gossiped about, cheated, stolen from or abused, it was wrong then, it's wrong now, and it will be wrong tomorrow.  

Forgiveness is not reconciling with the offender.  It takes two willing parties to reconcile.  The fact is some of the people we need to forgive are not even living now!  

Forgiveness is not ignoring your pain.  Your pain is real.  You need to deal with it, but you need to deal with it in a constructive way.  Forgiveness is the first big step towards that healing.

Forgiveness is not forgetting!  If that were the case, I wouldn't be able to forgive a lot of people because I still remember the offenses!  God doesn't forget our sin.  He just doesn't remember it against us.  He placed our sin on Jesus, who died for our sins on the cross.  The Bible says that he (Jesus) who knew no sin became sin for us.  

So what is forgiveness?  Letting go of your perceived right to hold on to anger, hurt, hatred or bitterness towards another person, persons or situation.  Forgiving is acknowledging God's forgiveness towards you.  Therefore, every act of forgiveness is an act of thanksgiving to God for his mercy on your life!

Jesus connected prayer and forgiveness in Matthew 6:9-15.  Immediately after giving us the model prayer, he instructs us to forgive.  If we can't forgive, we can't have an effective prayer life.  

Don't live in the prison of not forgiving your offenders.  Don't drink the poison of unforgiveness and expect the offender to die.  Extend forgiveness to others that God extends to you.  

For more on this, watch the full message!  

Of all the commodities in the world, time is probably the most precious.  And yet, so many waste it.  My experience has shown me that in making a list of priorities I'm not deciding between that which is good and bad.  It's really about putting good things in their proper place.

For example, jobs are good.  Working is honorable.  But when our jobs take precedence over spending quality time with our children, we have put that which is good, and even honorable, in the wrong place.  Jesus touched on this when he asked what does it profit a person to gain the whole world and yet lose his soul?

In Matthew 6:33 Jesus gives a simple solution to overcoming our struggle with priorities:  seek first the righteousness of God.  Notice, when we put our relationship with God first in our life, everything else falls into its proper place.  Abiding in Christ teaches us what really matters: faith, family, relationships, and our legacy.  Those are the treasures we should focus on.  

Are you chasing that which is only temporary or are you pursuing the righteousness of Christ and enjoying the life he's given you?  Are you investing in what is temporary or what is eternal?  What is at the top of your list of priorities?  All you have to do is look and see where you've spent your #1 commodity: your time!

For more on this, watch the full message!