Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

Somewhere along the journey of life each one of us takes a picture of ourselves.  And in that snapshot, we magnify our faults.  We memorialize a moment of failure, a moment of weakness, or an insecure or awkward stage of life.

At some point in time, someone said something, pointed out a fear, or made a judgment about you — and it stuck.  In fact, it is still sticking.

As much as we try to hide, it seems impossible to get away from the flaw-filled person we see in the mirror.  We are all wounded by the damage we have received, and even more, we all fear the damage we can cause.

As personal as our story may be, we are not the only ones who feel this way.  It is a wound common to us all.  Tucked away in the pages of the Bible, we find a man who shared our common pain, our common fear.

Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.  (1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NKJV)

I see three simple, yet powerful connections between each of us and the life of Jabez.  Through acknowledging these three truths, we could each find ourselves breaking the cycles of our past and enjoying the grace of God for our lives today.

  1. We all carry scars.  However hidden or personal our story may be, we are all united by the simple fact that we are not alone.  Everyone around us finds themselves trying to make sense of their life.  We all carry scars of the pain we have received and the pain we have caused.
  2. We all carry fear.  The most damaging impact of the scars we carry is the haunting fear that the pain may not be over, that our past may wound us again in the future.  We carry the fear of being hurt again and the fear of hurting others in the same way we were hurt.  If left unanswered, our fears will box us into a small and unsatisfying life.
  3. We all carry hope.  It is what moves us forward.  Somehow, somewhere, someone has to have more to offer than a life lived in cycles of fear and pain.  Hope invites us to take risks and embrace a life of meaning and purpose.

This was the story of Jabez.  He carried the scars of the wounds he caused as a child and the fear of the name given him that he would continue to cause pain all the days of his life.  But somewhere in the midst of the scars and fear, Jabez nurtured hope, and his hope caused him to cry out to the God who created him, “Bless me, indeed.  Enlarge my territory.  Let Your hand be upon me.  Keep me from evil.  Keep me from causing pain.”

A powerful and faith filled prayer.  A prayer we still connect with on a very deep level.

If I were to summarize my personal connection with the prayer of Jabez, it would be: “I don’t want to keep hurting from the same old wounds, and I don’t want to be the link that causes my pain to become my children’s pain.”

Do you have a personal connection with the prayer of Jabez?  How does his cry touch your heart?  What does it stir in you?

May you be blessed indeed!  May God enlarge your territory, your sphere of influence!  May the hand of God be upon you.  May God keep you from evil!  May you and those you love be free from pain!  Amen.

Read Full Post »

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”  –2 Timothy 2:2

Here it is.  In one verse Paul describes the Christian faith.  A chain of grace, linked together by love and designed for living relationally generational.

It is a verse that demonstrates honoring your fathers and loving your children and grandchildren enough to leave a legacy of faith to those who will follow after you.

2 Timothy 2:2 identifies four people in this faith legacy — Paul, Timothy, reliable men, and others.  These are the people we must have in mind in the development of our spiritual life.  We must take the viewpoint of Timothy in this verse.  From those lenses, it is essential that we identify who fills the role of Paul as a mentor in our life and who fills the role of “reliable men” as the ones we are actively discipling.  And we must disciple those reliable men in such a way that they will be able to teach others.  In essence, we are loving those we may never know through the way we train those who will lead them.

This amazing verse in the book of 2 Timothy paints a picture of very deep and significant relationships.  Relationships which are not to be taken lightly, but must be given prayerful consideration and intentional development.

It is my sincere prayer that you may know where you fit in the chain of grace.  May you know those whom God has placed in your life to coach you along the way.  And may you know and develop those God has placed in your life to receive from the wisdom you have to offer.

May your children’s children be blessed and may they receive an inheritance from your life of faith.  Amen.

 

Read Full Post »

Everyone dreams of living an extraordinary life, of being an extraordinary person.  But, when the moment comes to put on those extraordinary shoes and walk that extraordinary path, we often find ourselves shrinking back.

We second guess.  We self-examine.  We sell ourselves short.

The greatest enemy of the extraordinary is fear.  We fear the cost of the extraordinary life.  We doubt whether or not we are the right person for the extraordinary job.  We wonder if God will pull through for us if we really step out on that extraordinary limb.

In Hebrews chapter 11, we see a beautiful picture of the courage necessary to embrace the extraordinary.

By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.  — Hebrews 11:23 (NIV)

It is my sincere prayer that you will find the grace to see the extraordinary in your life and pursue it unafraid.  God is doing the extraordinary all around you, and He is inviting you to participate with Him.

  • In your church.
  • In your spouse.
  • In your children.
  • Through your gifts.
  • Through your passions.
  • Through your prayers.
  • At your workplace.
  • In You.

May you see by faith that you are living no ordinary life, and may you be not afraid.

Amen.

 

Read Full Post »

I sure don’t want to come across as spiritually egotistical, but my Lord is amazing.  Everything about Jesus is wonderful.  My life is better because of Him — and I believe yours could be too!

The book of Hebrews paints some beautiful pictures of the majesty and superiority of Jesus.  Here’s a collection of verses I simply title “Jesus is Better.”

  • So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.  — Hebrews 1:4 (NIV)
  • (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.  — Hebrews 7:19 (NIV)
  • Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.  — Hebrews 7:22 (NIV)
  • But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.  — Hebrews 8:6 (NIV)
  • It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.  — Hebrews 9:23 (NIV)
  • You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.  — Hebrews 10:34 (NIV)
  • Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.  — Hebrews 11:16 (NIV)
  • Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.  — Hebrews 11:35 (NIV)
  • God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.  — Hebrews 11:40 (NIV)

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ fill you with hope.  May you come to know how much better life can be when you yield the throne of your heart to Jesus.  And may your day of discovery come soon!

 

Read Full Post »

The Word of God is clear.  Your relationships with others matter to God.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” –Mark 11:25 (NIV)

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”  –Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV)

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” –Romans 12:18 (NIV)

 

Read Full Post »

So you took that first step!  You put your feet in the water and experienced the power of God’s grace as He opened a way for you through an impossible situation.  You are in the promised land.  You are living the dream!

So, what is that fortified city doing in front of you?  Why is there a Jericho sitting right in the middle of your path?

Joshua chapter 6 tells us that even after crossing into their promised land the children of Israel still had enemies to fight.  But, the feet that got them across the flooding river would be the same feet that marched around the enemy and brought their city tumbling down.

From the battle of Jericho we learn an essential spiritual truth — the step we took at the river to cross the line for God was not our final step of faith, but the first step of a lifetime of steps taken in the marvelous adventure God has planned for our lives.

Every step is a step of faith, and in every step we find God faithful.

…the step we took at the river to cross the line for God was not our final step of faith, but the first step…

 

Read Full Post »

Sometimes black ink on white paper doesn’t do justice to the incredible faith demonstrated by those whose stories are told in the Bible.  It is easy to forget these were real people, in a real place, who had to overcome real fears to walk in obedience to God and fulfill their purpose in their lifetime.

In the book of Joshua chapter three we encounter one of those stories that makes fairy tales seem small and fiction feel tame.  After wandering for forty years in the wilderness, the nation of Israel is now poised to enter their promised land.  One last obstacle separates one million sojourners from setting feet upon their destiny — the Jordan river, in flood stage.

The story that unfolds in Joshua chapter three is one of amazing faith and a demonstration of the power of one step to open a pathway for multitudes to follow.  I believe many of you reading this article may be one faith-filled step from fulfilling God’s purpose for you, your family, your church, and your city.  Here are four keys to taking your first step:

  • PREPARE YOUR HEART

“Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.’”  Joshua 3:5 (NIV)

  • PUT YOUR FEET IN THE WATER

“And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”  Joshua 3:13 (NIV)

  • PROVIDE A PATH FOR OTHERS

“The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.”  Joshua 3:17 (NIV)

  • PARTICIPATE IN SOMETHING BIGGER THAN YOU EVER IMAGINED

“…the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.”  Joshua 3:16 (NIV)

 

Read Full Post »

In the 25th chapter of the book of Matthew, Jesus tells an intriguing story.  He introduces us to two servants who are each given a certain amount of talents by their master.  They each invest the money wisely and double what was given to them.

There is also a third servant in the story, a man who received one talent.  This man took his talent and buried it in the ground.  Listen to the words of the third servant:

“I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground.”

Those are painful words.  Those are convicting words.

As a servant of Jesus, I pray those words will not be my declaration before my Lord.  As a pastor, it is my sincere prayer those words will not be your declaration before our Lord.

My friends, God has made a deposit into your life, a good deposit.  And He is looking for a return on His investment.  He has a right to expect you to bear good fruit.

Have the circumstances of your life caused you to bury the talent Jesus has given you?  “I was afraid…I was too busy…I was hurt…I was offended…I was (insert excuse hear)…and went out and hid my talent in the ground.”

Don’t you think it’s time to break out your shovel, dig up those talents, and invest them in the Kingdom of God?

 

 

Read Full Post »

A recap of the stages of marriage from last night’s Sweetheart Banquet.  It is important to know where you are at, but, more importantly, to know how to move forward.

The Honeymoon Stage:

  • A sweet time of enjoying being together
  • Easy to focus on what is good about the other person
  • Endorphins are released in the brain during this stage that create a feeling of being “high on love;” these endorphins last around 3 years from the onset of a new relationship
  • Very important to be honest during this stage and establish good communication skills

The “What Was I Thinking?” Stage:

  • Reality and disillusionment set in as we realize our spouse is not the perfect specimen we had convinced ourselves they were in the honeymoon stage
  • Other person’s negative habits and behavior patterns become uncomfortably clear
  • Very important to learn about problem solving, conflict management, and better communication during this stage

The Challenge Stage:

  • Life crises factor into this stage, causing the relationship to have to grow in order to accommodate hardships
  • One temptation during this stage is for one or both of the spouses to reflect back on past relationships with other people (often ones that remained shallow and untested), creating unrest and sometimes unfaithfulness
  • Very important to focus on improving the relationship and keeping open communication during this stage, as well as focusing on the good points of the relationship

The Crossroads Stage:

  • This stage comes at a point in the spouses’ lives where they are each asking themselves, “What do I do at this stage of my life?” and the answer to that question must involve the family unit as a whole
  • A big temptation during this stage is to try to force the other person to be different, instead of working to change your self
  • Very important to stay emotionally engaged with your spouse during this stage and to resist withdrawing

The Rebirth Stage:

  • The art of compromise has been learned by this stage, making conflicts last for short amounts of time and without intense emotional backlash
  • People who reach this stage are willing to give each other the benefit of the doubt
  • Couples learn to re-appreciate and re-love each other at this stage, making time together sweet

Marriage Links

 

Read Full Post »

Links

A Collection of MondayMorningReview Christmas posts:

On The Radar

Our youth will be rocking in the New Year at the Red Letter Rock Fest in Snyder, Texas, this December 31.  Check out the Salvage Yard website for more details.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “O Come All Ye Faithful” traditional version
  2. “Desert Song” by Hillsong
  3. “Let Heaven Shout Jesus” Culture version
  4. “Wonderful Maker” Jeremy Camp version 

Family Connection

Check out these resources to connect with our ministry to children and youth.

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, December 26, Pastor Eric will present the fourth message in our “Christmas – The Divine Gift Exchange” sermon series.  The service will close with a special activity for families, so don’t miss this meaningful morning.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »