Saturday, November 30, 2013

ACE #72: You Are Here

I remember several years ago there was commercial campaign for either an insurance company or an investment company. Anyway, the basis of these commercials was to help potential customers understand that no matter where you are in life, a new one can begin right there with the product of the company. The commercials had a red dot that was under the feet of people, if I remember correctly. The red dot would indicate the situation(s) of that person. The phrase 'You Are Here' was associated with these spots. 

As I think about this, I am reminded of the Israelites and their wilderness 
experience after God had delivered them from Egypt. When the people thought Moses was no longer with them, they pressured Aaron to do things a different way, without God. That's what we do. When we don't see God in our situations immediately, we move to do things our own way. That causes the wrath of a jealous God. But when we look at Moses, after he consulted with God, he told the Lord "If you don't go with us personally, don't let us move a step from this place..." 

Believers, we are here. However we got here or whatever got us here, we are here in this place. It might be a place of struggle. It might be a place of despair. It might be a place of joy. But whatever the place and experience, we are here. But like Moses, let's declare the Glory of The Lord and decide that we are not moving another step unless it is Him and He is with us. 'You are here.' Now what? 

RJL

http://mobile.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+33



Friday, November 29, 2013

ACE #71: Black Friday Blues

It's been rough in many states today...all because of Black Friday.  People have been shot, stabbed, and beaten all for the sake of "deals".  It really shouldn't be this serious, but for some...I guess it is.  I have to wonder how grieved God is at times with the behavior of His most precious creation.  And to think, we were actually made in His image.  What has happened?

2 Chronicles 7:14
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.



 
abcnews.go.com

Thursday, November 28, 2013

ACE #70: Give Thanks

Psalm 100:4 reads, "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name".

Today is Thanksgiving Day.  All we are really asked to do on this day is to give thanks...for all that God has done in our lives - maybe even for the things God has kept us from encountering in our lives.

Say a little prayer for those who don't have a place to eat or lay their heads on this day that they will still believe in God's faithfulness even in their circumstances and that someone will reach out to them to show God's love.

Happy Thanksgiving.  God is good!  Take a listen...

"Thank You Lord" - Walter Hawkins
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FXq1Eff4M4

Verse 1:
Tragedies are common place all kinds of diseases, people are slipping away. Economy's down, people can't get enough pay, but as for me, all I can say is thank you Lord, for all you've done for me.

Verse 2:
Folks without homes, living out in the streets, and the drug habit some say, they just can't beat. Muggers and robbers, no place seems to be safe, but you've been my protection every step of the way; and I want to say, thank you Lord, for all you've done for me.
Chorus:
(It could have been me) thank You,
(outdoors) thank You,
(with no food) thank You,
(and no clothes) thank You,
(All left alone) thank You,
(without a friend) thank You,
(or just another number) thank You,
(with a tragic end) thank You, oh.
(But You didn't see fit) thank You,
(to let none of these things be) thank You,
(and everyday by Your power) thank You,
(You keep on, keep on keeping me) thank You;
And I wanna say thank you Lord for all you've done for me.

 
Take Nothing for Granted
Photo by ourdailyblossom.com


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

ACE #69: The Simple Life

I've always been of the mindset that some things are just not that complicated.  Choices we make don't always have to be a struggle or tug of war.  Decisions don't always require the weighing of "pros" and "cons". Trials come, but they don't have to consume us.  I guess I just desire to live a very simple life from day to day. 

Ecclesiastes 12:13 reads, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man". 

Yes, even in this "overcomplicated" world we live in, we can choose to respond simply to life's challenges and to live simply by following God and keeping His commandments.

Enjoy the simple life...

 
versaday.com

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

ACE #68: Get Out of the Way of Your Gift

Donald Lawrence has a new song out called, "The Gift".  The lyrics are:

The gift it looks good on you..
The systems of the world will try to take your confidence
But these systems were desgined to make you doubt what heaven sent
The systems of the world will try to take your confidence
But these systems were designed to make you sit down on your gift
But the gift God gave to you, give it back to Him
When He sees it operating, it's a compliment to Him
But the gift God gave to you, give it back to Him
For the gift it will make room, position, for great men to see you
The gift it looks good on you...and you wear it well.
God has graced you and you wear it well.

I began piano lessons at the age of 8.  (Let's be clear, I never intended for it to become a ministry or even a job).  I started playing piano for my mother's church choir at the age of 14 for $25.00 every other Sunday.  By the age 16, our beloved church musician died.  I was the only one in the entire church that could even play the piano.  So by default, I became the church musician.  It meant that I was responsible for five choirs before I entered the 11th grade of high school.  I had to have a practice schedule for all of them.  I also had to attend church services at 11:00 a.m. every Sunday and, occasionally, afternoon services at 4:00 p.m.  This was every week, even while I was an undergraduate college student.

People can only imagine the amount of stress, heartache, and challenges I have encountered in this position.  I was a child.  Nobody ever asked me if this was the life I wanted. I didn't!  At times, I must admit, I still don't in difficult circumstances.  I've always said that this has been both my blessing and my curse because while gifts are full of blessings, they are also loaded with responsibility and accountability.

As I've grown older, the responsibility has not gotten easier and the load no lighter. However, the older I get, the more I get out of the way of my gift - meaning I let God use me and let my gift bless others.  Thinking back, my $25.00 every other week was able to pay for lunch for other students who didn't have lunch money.  I was able to put gas in my own car and rarely had to ask my parents for money.  Beyond that, people have walked up to me after Sunday morning worship and told me how much my playing or the choir's singing has blessed them.  I've learned not to fight the gift. 

I've played piano at numerous churches, for many funerals, for a few weddings, for children, for adults, in front of large crowds, at community celebrations, for a dying mother/grandmother in her living room, for clergy, and in front of bishops.  Here's the thing I realized, if I wasn't playing for God - then I really didn't need to be playing for anyone else! HE GAVE ME THE GIFT.  Now, I don't do it to honor people; I do it to honor God because, "A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great" (Proverbs 18:16).  This particular gift has opened doors for me to develop my other gifts in ministry.  My gift has made a way for me in life MANY times.

I've learned to get out the way of my gift.  The result has been God's continuous favor! Learn to say about your gift(s), "It looks good on me!"

"The Gift"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqneZoegA5A

 
hiskingdomprophecy.com




Monday, November 25, 2013

ACE #67: Everyday is a Day of Thanksgiving

Yesterday, I had the responsibility and privilege of doing the "Children's Moment" during the Sunday morning service.  The message focused on the importance of Thanksgiving. I discussed how the history books tell us that Thanksgiving is about the Pilgrims and the Indians coming together to share a meal. However, the Word of God tells us to be thankful for all things, during all times far beyond one day set aside every year.

I asked the children to tell me what were they thankful for during this season.  Here were some of their responses:
1. God
2. My daddy
3. My grandparents
4. My family

Then I explained to them that even during this season, there are people we need to pray for because everyone's Thanksgiving does not look like ours. The responses concerning prayer were:
1. People will learn who God is
2. Homeless people
3. People in India
4. My family

As I concluded the message, I focused on the adults in the room.  Then I focused on myself.

I realized that Thanksgiving should be all year around.  People are in need every day - not just during the holiday season. There are families grieving this season.  There are families fractured.  Someone's bank account is empty.  Some other family might have lost their home in a fire.  Another person could be homeless and out in the cold on a daily basis.  Then there's that one stranger standing on the side of the road who doesn't have family, food, money, or a home.

I challenge each of us to show our gratitude and our blessings throughout the entire calendar year.  It doesn't have to be a grand gesture; it can be something small - once a month - for a complete stranger or someone we know and see often.

God has been so good to us - who are we not to show His love by our generosity to others? It's what we are called to do in the body of Christ. It's what Jesus did...


1 Thessalonians 5:18
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
 
 
redbubble.com
 
 "Everyday is a Day of Thanksgiving"
 
 
 
 
 


 

Friday, November 22, 2013

ACE #66: There is Power in the Name of Jesus

The book of Mark dedicates more accounts to Jesus’s miracles than the other gospel writers.  These miracles were demonstrations of Jesus’s power - his power over diseases, the forces of evil, and even over nature.  People flocked to Jesus to be healed and to be fed.  Some wondered who this Jesus was, while others just simply followed him (NKJV Bible).  Examples of Jesus' power as a "miracle worker" include:

1.   In Mark 1, he casts out an evil spirit, heals Peter’s mother-in-law, and cleanses a leper.

2.   In Mark 2, Jesus heals a paralyzed man.

3.   In Mark 3, he heals a man with a withered hand.

4.   In Mark 4, Jesus calms a raging storm with a “peace be still.”

5.   In Mark 5, he casts out demons, raises Jairus’s daughter, and heals the woman with the issue of blood after 12 years.

6.   In Mark 6, Jesus feeds the five thousand with two fish and five loaves of bread, then he walks on water.

7.   In Mark 7, he casts out a demon from the Greek woman’s daughter and heals a deaf-mute.

8.   In Mark 8, he feeds four thousand and heals a blind man.
 
These are just a few of those stories.  The interesting part about most of these miracles is that they happened "by faith".  In other words, if those individuals who made the request known to Jesus lacked faith, then their healing would not have manifested itself.
As Christians, we struggle when we see people we love and when we, ourselves, suffer from illnesses that are difficult to conquer.  Some people are cancer survivors, while others die from the disease.  I've learned that either way, God is still God.  It's our faith and knowledge of God's Word and His promises that sustain us when we are faced with tragedies and adversities in life - even when we seek healing.   
If you are facing health challenges, continue to pray, seek healing, and do so in the name of Jesus.  Take comfort in knowing that even if it looks bleak, God gets the last say.  Either way, for those who believe, there is glory after this life! 
 
Romans 8:17
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
 

 
 
Jesus Culture
 
 
 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

ACE #65: Scandal Time - Is Jake a Snake?

As I think about Jake's relationships with both Fitz and Olivia, I have to wonder if Jake is a snake.  I am not convinced he's trustworthy to anyone.  After all, initially, he was supposed to be "keeping an eye out" for Olivia as an assignment for President Fitzgerald Grant, his commander-in-chief.  Instead, Jake pursued a romantic relationship with Olivia so he could have her for himself.  He was also taking orders from Olivia's dad, Rowan "Eli" Pope.  So who was Jake most loyal to in his pursuits?  I would say, himself.  Now, he really doesn't have anyone to watch his back.  (And, by the way, what happened to his high level job working for Fitz?)

This reminds me of how Samuel anointed Saul as king.  During this process, Saul was supposed to kill all of the Amalekites, including the infants, cattle, sheep, camels and donkeys.  But what did he do?  He took King Agag alive and spared the best of the sheep and cattle - everything that was good.  Then he set up a monument in his own honor.  Two very important things happened as a result of Saul's actions - the Lord rejected Saul as King for his disobedience and Samuel never laid eyes on Saul again.  The Word says that Samuel mourned for Saul.  Saul was really only looking out for himself and boasting!

When we are "out for ourselves" and show direct disobedience to God, oftentimes in an effort to get the spotlight, we will always find ourselves, ultimately, in a place of rejection where God is concerned.  Disobedience is deliberate rebellion against God and shows our lack of trust in Him - and there are always consequences for disobedience.  Look at Adam and Eve, their disobedience got them thrown out of the Garden of Eden.  Noah and his family, on the other hand, were spared in the Great Flood.

God certainly calls us to obedience.  God also rewards us for our obedience. 

Study Link:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+15


 
Photo credit etonline.com

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

ACE #64: When God Says "Yes" and Means It

I know what you're thinking! By no means is this an endorsement for "Madea's Christmas" movie.  However, in this season of giving thanks, I am grateful for God's "yes".

The Bible says that we can ask for anything in the name of Jesus. More specifically, it states in John 14:

12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

However, when we ask, sometimes we have to wait - possibly a little longer than we expect or even want. And in the wait, we are to do the work of the Lord. Still there will be moments when we are in a "holding pattern" in life, even after we've heard "no" a few times and we've labored a while.  But God's "yes" is His "yes"!  He is not a man that He should lie...or even change His mind (Numbers 23:19). 

Study Link:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+14%3A1-14

 
God's "yes" is both faithful and true - no matter how many "no" responses we get!






Tuesday, November 19, 2013

ACE #63: When God Says "No" and Means It

How many times have you gotten frustrated or even mad when a situation didn't turn out the way it was supposed to turn out...in your mind?

A few years ago, I applied for a job that I thought was a "perfect fit" for my skills, my background, my education and my interests.  I traveled a little distance away for the interview and even had to make overnight accommodations.  I had prepared thoroughly for the interview and knew the work well.  When I didn't get the job, I was disappointed.  I was kind of haunted by the rejection for quite some time.  After all, I'd done everything I knew to do within my own power and skill to be the best candidate.  Months passed before I finally got it.  It just wasn't meant to be.

I learned that when God says "no" - He actually means it for my good.  I didn't get the job, but I got another job that really was the "best fit" for me.  We didn't have to relocate.  Our child didn't have to get used to a different environment.  And we still had the support of our family and friends nearby.   

My latest motto is, "Trust God's 'no' because His 'yes' is what's best and blessed for you!"  God always has a plan and we need to trust His plan for our lives. 

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, November 18, 2013

ACE #62: Be a Mountain Mover

How can you be a "mountain mover"? No, it's not by magic.  It's not even by strength conditioning, so to speak.

When I was younger, I loved this song, "Let Me Tell You How to Move a Mountain."  It was one of the first gospel songs I learned to play outside of traditional hymns.  The song fascinated me because of the message, but also because it was one of the songs that had been sung during the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. (At least that's what was printed on the bottom of the sheet music).  The mere thought that something that was physically impossible was spiritually possible made me curious.

Our "mountains" are figurative not literal.  Depending on who you ask, the response might be very different.  For some, the "mountain" might be their health or their failed relationships, for others the "mountain" might be their addictions or their debt. 

In the story, "Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Boy," the disciples encounter a situation where they can not drive out a demon from a young boy.  After all, they'd performed many miracles before with Jesus or in His name.  Then they came up against a situation that they could not handle alone...until Jesus stepped on the scene.  And Jesus gave them an 'on the spot' reality check and told them that they lacked faith.

Over the years, I've learned that there are just some situations, or "mountains," that are tough to climb, to conquer, or to move.  Some "mountains" are just stubborn and refuse to get out of the way - so I climb them step by step and day by day. When the climb gets too difficult, too exhausting, or is no longer under my control, I've learned to pray and call Jesus on the scene.  Some mountains are not even meant to be climbed...just moved!

The Word of God says that all I need is the faith the size of a mustard seed and nothing will be impossible for me!  Maybe it's time for some conditioning...of our FAITH!


Study Link:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matt.17.14-Matt.17.21

"Let Me Tell You How to Move a Moutain"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDFz8AblzqU


 
faithgateway.com




Sunday, November 17, 2013

ACE #61: God's Elect

Hey, sports fans. 

Many times, as fans, we look at the make up of a player and then we decide if that is the player who should be in the game. You know what we say...

Player A looks like he can take anybody...

Player B was the top recruit...

Player C has the most experience...

We make our decisions based on looks, a player's experience and from our own opinions of an athletes skill. We don't give other players a chance because of who we think should be in the game. I used sports to create this allegory because many of us can easily relate. 

However, this is also how it is in the body of Christ. We try and make decisions for God. In reality, we can't. God has an elect that He chooses to use. What I have learned is that God's elect does not have a starting appearance. Samuel thought God was looking for someone to play the part. God was looking for someone with a heart. The person after His heart. Rest assured my friends, God knows the heart. It may seem like nothing is happening for us, but the word shows us that if we keep attending to the business in front of us and trust in the Lord; when we least expect it, He will anoint us for something greater. We may be out of the starting line up, but when called on we can change the game. In Christ...RJL

Study Link:

Saturday, November 16, 2013

ACE #60: Worship Medley

Worship Medley: 

Center of my Joy
Ordinary Just Won't Do
Lead Me to the Rock
Never Would Have Made It
God's Got A Blessing

I love gospel music. Well...I also love to sing gospel music, just not publicly. My wife will tell you that, on most mornings in the Lewis household, there is a worship medley sang by yours truly.  In fact, she will say, "sometimes, it gets on my nerves. I can't sleep." That's in her own words. I'll admit - there are some challenges.

I can't get every note right. I don't know all the words to the songs. I just sing. But I am not just singing because I think I can sing or because I love the music; I am singing because I just want to praise God. The scripture tells us that it is good to praise The Lord. The word says it is pleasant and a song is fitting. I just want to let God know in that moment that I love Him and I am praising Him for what has happened, for what is now, and for what is to come. You see, I realize that in this mean and cruel world that is full of trouble and sin, Jesus has to be 'the center of my joy'. I understand that loved ones and close friends will walk out on you in a minute. Therefore, an 'ordinary just won't do,' but I can always find it in You, Jesus. It is always a pleasure to know that when my heart is overwhelmed, God will 'lead me to the rock' that is Jesus. Certainly, I realize that I 'never would have made it' without The Lord. You think I am bad now. You should have seen where I was. In Christ, I know 'God's got a blessing' with my name on it. I sing because it is fitting. I sing because I am happy. I sing because I am free. If it is a medley, that means I have a lot to praise Him for. Praise Him church! 






Friday, November 15, 2013

ACE #59: Scandal Time (Special Edition) - The Unacceptable Acceptance of Rape

If you can't deal with the grit of this subject and the manner in which it will be dealt with honestly, then you should probably stop reading right about now...

No, our eyes did not deceive us on last night's episode of Scandal.  Daddy Grant did exactly what we thought he did - he raped Mellie!  My emotions ranged from being shocked to being disgusted to being distraught to being angry.  All of that!  Some of us thought she should have fought harder and scratched his eyes out.  Perhaps others thought that Mellie shouldn't have been sitting so close to a drunken, old man...but for heaven's sake - he's her father-in-law.  And, yeah folks, that's called "victim blaming," which is part of the acceptance in a rape culture, defined as:

a concept that links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society, and in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape.  Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectifications, and trivializing rape. Rape culture has been used to model behavior within social groups, including prison systems and conflict areas where war rape is used as psychological warfare. Entire countries have also been alleged to be rape cultures.

That scene surprised all of us.  We didn't see it coming...at all!  I can't lie - I cursed during and after that scene because I was appalled. It was heartbreaking.  I can only imagine how this rape scene was a reminder to some victims about the pain, shame, embarrassment, and helplessness of rape.  Rape is rape is rape.  It can't be packaged up pretty because it is absolutely ugly.

It made me go back to the story of "The Rape of Dinah" in Genesis 34.  In reference to Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, it reads "Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, who was chief of that region, saw her, he took her and raped her".  After he did so, "...he fell in love with her and tried to win her affection". Wouldn't it have been more appropriate to have fallen in love with her first, dated her, married her, and consummated the marriage? But that's not what he did.  Jacob, her father, did nothing because he claimed that he wanted to keep his family safe from revenge and such.  But really he wanted to keep quiet to preserve his reputation. Instead, Jacob and Hamor arranged the marriage between their children - a business transaction.  Dinah had to marry her rapist - to keep peace.  Simeon and Levi, Jacob's sons and Dinah's brothers, had a different plan in mind.  They killed all of the men in Hamor's camp because, "We cannot let our sister be treated like a common whore."  This is a situation where the action and reaction both resulted in unfortunate situations.  Let's be clear, the victim is just that - THE VICTIM!  Dinah and Mellie were both victims...and survivors.

Two of my beloved friends are advocates and counselors for victims of rape. They are doing an awesome job every day as employees of the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center (BRCC).  What I wanted, and maybe needed, from Shonda Rhimes was a public service announcement for victims of rape & sexual violence, just like I wanted a public service announcement about drug abuse on the Glee episode about Finn's death.  My friends, they don't love their jobs; they wish these types of jobs didn't have to exist, but are grateful that they do!

When we remain silent about rape - it makes the acceptance of rape a lot louder...

Resources:
http://bluegrassrapecrisis.org/

Study Link:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+34&version=GNT


 
msmagazine.com






Thursday, November 14, 2013

ACE #58: Scandal Time - Your Commander in Chief

How many of you cringed every time Fitz answered Olivia's questions with, "You are speaking to the commander-in-chief"?  You could see the hurt on her face, in her eyes, almost in her heart.  She wanted to know if the man she has loved for some time was responsible for her mother's death.  Even when she said that she was only a teenager when her mother died, he still responded to her in this formal manner - such deception and secrecy!

By definition, "a commander-in-chief is the person or body exercising supreme operational command and control of a nation's military forces or significant elements of those forces".  This individual has control of a lot of things that matter...most often in life or death situations.

Throughout the Bible, God's chosen people have always been led by Him.  He gave them specific instructions in times of both military and spiritual warfare.  Some of God's chosen people, or "spiritual warriors," include: Adam, Moses, Noah, Abraham, Joshua, Jacob and Jesus.  God specifically told Joshua to "be strong and courageous" as he stepped into Moses' shoes as a spiritual leader.  It is difficult to allow anyone to be in control of your life, or your destiny.  Because of who we are, oftentimes we really think we are our own individual commander-in-chief rather than being God's spiritual warrior.

Submit to God being your commander-in-chief. Let Him be in "supreme operational command and control" of your life. He  never loses a battle...

Study link:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+31&version=NIV





Wednesday, November 13, 2013

ACE #57: And the Last Shall Be First and Vice Versa

Some time ago, I got mad at work over something that the Lord had already confirmed to me.  I wasn't happy about a situation where I felt I was not being treated equitably.  And the Lord spoke the words to me "the last shall be first and the first shall be last".  I heard it clearly.  Then a friend of mine said to me shortly after, "The Lord will give you something more, something better.  He always does!"  And still...I got mad over the situation anyway.  I pouted and fussed...a lot. 

In the "The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard" the landowner paid the workers who had worked only one hour the same as those who had worked all day.  There was grumbling and complaining from those who had labored all day.  The landowner asked the question, "Didn't you agree to work for a denarius (a day's labor)?" In other words, am I not honoring my commitment to you?

Here's the lesson - when the Lord speaks a Word to you - receive it.  Don't block your blessing by staying angry because you didn't "get your way".  Notice I said "staying" and not "getting".  Make no mistake about it - Christians get mad too!  It's all about how we respond to the situation. The response impacts the testimony - good or bad! 

Do what you are hired to do, put in your labor...and go home.  And the last shall be first and the first shall be last...even at work. Keep the faith!  You will get your reward.

Study Link:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+20%3A1-16


 
gloryknowledge.com
 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

ACE #56: The Name Above All Names

Such a simple song can mean so much.  "How Great is Our God?" will always be a timeless classic.  Why?  Because God is great! He sent his son to be a living sacrifice for us.  We will never be able to comprehend how truly great God is. 

What I do know is this - in times of despair and times of gratitude, I can call on the name "Jesus" and be comforted.  His name is the name above ALL names!

Here are my favorite lyrics to the song:
Name above all names
Worthy of all praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God


Study Link:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+2%3A8-11&version=NLT

Link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2y3Zot4tE0


Monday, November 11, 2013

ACE #55: Fight the Battle

Today we celebrate Veterans Day.  We honor those who have served in the armed service for the protection of our country, the United States of America.  It takes an extra amount of courage and commitment to serve in the military.  I have friends and family who have given of their time and their lives for this cause. And I honor them!

Joshua was the commander of a great army.  He fought many battles, but the battle at Jericho was one of the most famous in the Bible.  God sent the commander of the army of the Lord before Joshua with special instructions. Joshua followed God's instructions precisely - that's why he was victorious. The word says that God was with Joshua.  Joshua's obedience won the battle!

As part of God's army, let's always endeavor to take God with us wherever we go...in and out of "spiritual battle".

Study:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+5%3A13-6%3A27&version=NIV

Hymn - Joshua fought the battle of Jericho - Lyrics
Refrain
Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho.
Joshua fought the battle of Jericho,
And the walls came a tumbling down.

You can talk about your men of Gideon,
You can talk a-bout your men of Saul,
But there's none like good old Joshua and the battle of Jericho. Oh!
Refrain

Joshua rose early in the morning,
That is when the trumpets blew.
They marched around the city, at the battle of Jericho. Oh!
Refrain

Right up to the walls of Jericho,
He marched with spear in hand,
He commanded the children to SHOUT! and the walls came a tumbling down. Oh!
And the walls came a tumbling down!



 
Photo credit: Hatleeband


Sunday, November 10, 2013

ACE #54: Leave It With Christ


This morning I visited a family member in the hospital. It is so tough to face the reality of a place that is full of sickness, suffering and defeat. In so many ways, it seems like a place where help doesn't exist and situations are impossible to restore. 

After my visit, I was discouraged. Why? Because a place like this is where we all may have to go in our emergencies and sickness. Also, there is nothing we can do about it except take your pick as to which one you will have your family take you to. Of course, this is if you have that luxury. Just discouraging! Well, it is. It is when you look at it in the natural. But The Lord doesn't operate in the natural. He knows what every patient, doctor, nurse, assistant and machinery needs in these facilities.

As I walked down the long hallway to exit, I asked The Lord to cover the place. I asked Him to visit every room and every situation and let His will be done in it. His supernatural Will be done. 

In the hospital, some situations appear impossible to overcome. There is no way. Well, that depends on how you leave it. All things are possible in Christ. 

RJL





http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+10%3A27&version=ESV


Saturday, November 9, 2013

ACE #53: No Pressure in Him

After hours of preparation and waiting, the time came for the show to start. Here's the thought process...

What can go wrong?

I tested everything, right? 

Everything seems to be working.

Well...it is what it is. 

That's right. It will be what it will be. If I have done everything I know to do as a professional, then there should be no pressure. 

This was last week when I was the audio technician for a major event. I was under some serious pressure. I wanted to make sure everything was on point. I did not want to fail. 

But who would I have been failing? 

I had made the correct preparations to make sure this event went off without a hitch. I did everything I knew to do as a professional in the business. Why was I under so much pressure? 

I admit. I wanted to please man. In doing so, I allowed the enemy to plant seeds of doubt concerning the gift that God graced me with. This brought about all the pressure. What I failed to mention is that I prayed before the event started as I always do. So why doubt? Why the pressure? 

David says he called on The Lord in distress and The Lord set him free. There was no need for me feel the pressure for this event. The Lord had already set the order of how the event would go. He is in control. 

There is no pressure of what a man can say about you or do to you when we are in The Lord. He has plans for us to prosper. When He is for us, it doesn't matter what we are up against. There is no pressure in Him. He sets us free from the pressures of life. 

RJL



http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+118%3A5-6&version=NIV

Friday, November 8, 2013

ACE #52: Refuse to Risk Your Relationship with God

Snatched right out of the headlines, "A Kentucky high school student refused to run in a regional cross-country race after she was assigned bib No. 666, according to LEX 18 in Lexington" and it made the national news!

She refused to wear the number "666," which is known as the biblical sign for "The Number of the Beast" (Revelations 13:15-18), representing the antichrist. And I couldn't have been more proud!  This is a young person who took a stand for her Christian beliefs.  So often people are quiet about their faith because it makes others uncomfortable.  "I didn't want to risk my relationship with God and try to take that number," Thacker told LEX 18.  What an awesome stance for the cause of Christ!

The reason Christians HAVE to spread the gospel, the word of God, is because of this:
"The Kentucky High School Athletic Association said it was not made aware that the request was based on Thacker’s religious beliefs, and says it would have accommodated her had it known".  Sadly, nobody on the committee even knew that "666" was offensive to Christians...

Stand firm!  Be bold enough to REFUSE to risk your relationship with God...no matter what the cost!

Matthew 7:21-23
I Never Knew You
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’


Links:
http://msn.foxsports.com/other/story/high-school-runner-refuses-to-wear-666-daily-buzz-110613

http://www.latimes.com/nation/shareitnow/la-sh-cross-country-runner-666-20131106,0,5445171.story#axzz2k4Aox7e9


 
I used to watch the television show "666 Park Avenue".
I had to stop...







ACE #51: Scandal Time - The Judas in YOUR Camp

Everybody has a Judas in his/her camp.  Look at Fitz, he has many - Cyrus, Sally, Jake, and even his own wife – Mellie.  That’s a ridiculous amount of people who he doesn’t trust, can’t trust, won’t trust, and actually shouldn’t trust.  Sometimes Fitz acts calmly; other times, he completely turns it out when they each betray him.

In thinking about the Last Supper, I imagine that Jesus could have completely caused a huge, perhaps explosive, scene.  After all, He had traveled with His disciples for a number of years by this time.  He knew these men weren’t perfect, but to go as far as betraying Him for as little as 30 coins…come on.  Jesus’ response to Judas was pretty kind though.  He didn’t really trip on him.

In John 13:26-30, Jesus dismissed Judas from his presence by telling him to “go quickly and to do what you have to do”.  He gave Him permission even.  I firmly believe He did so because the Word says that Satan had taken control of Judas.  That means that Jesus didn’t just dismiss Judas so that he could betray him, but also so that his other disciples wouldn’t get entrapped by Satan and would, therefore, not get caught up in sin as well.  We constantly act surprised when people betray us.  Betrayal is biblical! 
 
I don’t believe in “throwing people away”, but I certainly believe in dismissing them. Sometimes you have to in order to protect your inner circle (and maybe your ministry). Here’s the kicker - before Judas left, he still took the bread from Jesus.  Such is life.  People will betray you, use you, talk about you, and still take from you with no problem at all.  The challenge - to still function in love after a heartbreaking betrayal.  Jesus didn’t talk about Judas after he left the building…He just let him go.  Learn to spiritually discern the “Judas” in your camp.  However, be sure not to be the Judas in someone else’s camp. 
 
Study Link:
 
 
 
"The White House Crew"
Photo from scandalmoments.com
 
 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

ACE #50: Churches and Liquor Stores

We have so many reasons (or maybe excuses) why we do not attend church.  Here's a few:
  • Sunday is the only day I get to sleep in
  • "Church people" are so fake and hypocritical
  • All the church wants is money
  • I can't find a "good" church
  • I do not trust pastors/preachers
  • There's more hell in church than there is Jesus
  • Religion doesn't help me at all
  • "They" hurt my feelings
  • If "Harry" is going to church and I know what he's doing, then church can't be for me
  • Church is too long
  • Sunday is my family day (maybe I should remove this one because church is open other days of the week too now)
  • I'm a good person; I don't need church
  • "Church folk" are always in your business
  • I just don't want to go
Honestly, I can't even argue that some of this is not true.  However, Hebrews 10:25, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching." The King James Version uses the word "forsake" (rather than give up), which can mean "to turn away".  There's a level of commitment to attending church regularly and becoming a part of kingdom building. We are committed to our jobs, our homes, our image, our reputations, our friends, and our families.  There's also a level of accountability.  We "play by the rules" of the world, but are hesitant to do the same when it comes to God's word and The Ten Commandments.   Then there are things or behaviors we'd either have to change or, at least, evaluate.

But what's the real reason we should find a church home?  We can learn and grow from our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can also receive spiritual support.  And it is a place where we are supposed to learn more about God. Every now and then we need someone to pray for us and to present us at the altar when we don't have the strength enough to do it ourselves! We need to have prayer and accountability partners as we grow in our faith. It keeps us balanced and will help us restore order when we go astray. I know people who think that watching church on TV is the same.  How?  What are we giving back to God if we are sitting on our couches? How are we blessing someone else? How are we showing faithfulness to God? To truly worship God in spirit and in truth, we must have a servant's attitude.  What servant was ever permitted to sit on the couch and watch TV?

There's really no valid reason not to find a church that fits who you are...if you're willing to invest the time in looking for one.  I constantly remind myself, "Don't be less faithful to God and more faithful to the world".  Your "church" might be a traditional building, someone's home, a gymnasium, under a shelter, or wherever people gather and set time aside intentionally and collectively to praise and worship God on one accord.  Many churches are doing awesome missionary work in the community.

If you don't have a church home, don't use that as an excuse not to go to a house of God for worship at all. If you still choose not to go to church, the word of God is still, and will always be, available and valuable.  However, it is our prayer that you choose to unite with a church family.  You don't agree with everything your Facebook friends and Twitter followers post.  So keep in mind, you might not always agree with what the pastor says, but you shouldn't expect to.  Read the word of God and pray for God to lead you to your "best fit".  After all, there's a church (and a liquor store) on every corner.  They're both everywhere... 


 
Image credit:  Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

ACE #49: When You Need to Hear from God

All you hear is...silence!  Not a peep.  You've prayed.  You've sought godly counsel.  You've asked your friends.  You've asked your family members.  You've even consulted your spouse.  Yet, you still hear nothing.  Maybe you're trying to get a new job.  Maybe you want a new car or a new house.  Maybe this guy/gal is the one...or not.  Maybe your health is "up in the air".  Maybe you're trying to expand your family and it's not working out like you thought it would.  You just need to hear a word from God.
 
It's not that He's not necessarily speaking...we just have to adjust how we are listening.  Sometimes He talks through other people - the messenger.  Sometimes the answer is right in front of our faces, but we have on blinders or have in our ear plugs. Or maybe we are distracted by things that add very little value to our daily lives. Other times, He's just waiting to see how much He hears FROM US.
 
I have several friends who have dealt with "church hurt" over the years.  They've felt disappointed, disengaged, unwelcomed, offended, empty, and just plain hurt.  With one particular friend I had to just break it down in the most simple terms, "When you find peace with a situation and surrender to Him, that's usually when God moves.  Pay attention to the 'little things' around you...He'll make himself known".  And, HE did make himself known.  With another friend, God showed up through her child.  It was the child who told the parents - in her small, soft voice - this is the church where we belong.  Now they are in fellowship with a church family that had prayed for God to send them "help" to build their ministries. While they were praying, they were the answer to someone else's prayer!  Prayer and the Scriptures are key to hearing what God has to say.
 
God can use anything and anybody to send you a message and to make Himself known.  He even used a donkey once!  The saying goes, "Sometimes when you wonder why you can't hear God's voice during your trials, remember the teacher is always quiet during the test".  I contend that maybe we can't hear God's voice clearly because we're too busy talking...to the wrong person. 
 
Study Link:
 
 


God speaks! Get into position to listen.
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

ACE #48: Even On Our Worst Days...

Not every day will be a good one.  Life just isn't designed that way.  We will encounter a person or a situation that gets us bent out of shape.  We might even receive bad news.  We might get rejected by someone.  We might fail a test.  We might even go through trying circumstances that challenge our faith. 

There have been days when I just couldn't wait for my head to hit the pillow at night because I wanted the day to be over!  However, when I am most discouraged I am reminded that I am called according to God's purpose for my life.  Even on my worst days, God is still faithful. 

When trouble comes and we encounter what seems to be one of our "worst days", we MUST remain steadfast.  We serve a God who gives us strength in our weakness.  Remain in prayer.  Remain in faith. Remain in Christ - who strengthens us.

Study Link:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+4&version=NIV








ACE #47: Fire with Fire

The pastor spoke today from the book of Daniel chapter 3 and he raised a question.

"Can you handle the fire?"

Well, I thought about it. Can I? Or, am I? That is the better question for me. When I look at the chapter, I see the 3 Hebrew boys who have decided that no matter what decree the King has issued there is nothing that can stop them from worshipping The Lord our God. This King laid the command that everyone will worship the image of gold at the sound of the different instruments and the punishment for not worshipping it. But, these men of God did not allow this decree to hinder their faith. Of course, I am abbreviating the experience and I encourage you to read it for yourself. But, these 3 boys decided that they worship The Lord and The Lord only. The command is not for them. So they were punished by being sentenced to the blazing furnace. You know the rest. If not, you should take the time and read it. 

My point is this. In Christ, we have a fire and a Holy Spirit that is given to us when we accept Him as the savior. Is that not what John the Baptist said during his baptisms? Through faith and belief in Christ, we have the power to withstand the hell that is happening on earth. Our fire is greater than any fire the enemy has. 

When the King opened the furnace and found 4 instead of 3, he wanted the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You see, the fire we have in Christ can out power any fire the enemy can put us in. As we are living in these last days and our lives seem like a living hell on earth, we know from the experience of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego that Jesus is with us through our faith in Him. Match fire with fire. 

RJL

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel+3



Saturday, November 2, 2013

ACE #46: Church Tripping

So, I am in the church van headed to Nashville for a church conference, with a group of church members. Now, I know that may not seem like exciting news, but here's the thing. I never thought I would have the desire to take a church trip and fellowship with believers alike. 

The last time I did large group travel it was for worldly pleasures. In the old man, traveling as a group meant I was going to kick it in the streets. You know: Circle City Classic, Black Weekend in ATL (aka Freak Nic), Derby and numerous other festivals in various cities across the country. It meant traveling to these locations to satisfy my own desires. It meant establishing my reputation as who I thought I was. The reality of it is that I looked forward to those trips. 

Now look! The new man in Christ. This is why I am excited. God is awesome. I am looking forward to this trip. I am looking forward to the fellowship and the good time in The Lord. Different from the past, this is not about me. It is about Him. We are headed to this conference to worship The Lord Jesus and experience ways to bring glory to His name. I am expecting a good time in The Lord. 

The scripture tells us that when we are in Christ we are a new creature. The old thing that I used to do is no more. I am new in Him and my desires are not the same. I used to look forward to traveling from city to city on a mission to find worldly pleasures. Well, I still look forward to traveling. Now, it's missionary! Church Tripping!

#onlywhatwedoforChristwilllast

RJL



Friday, November 1, 2013

ACE #45: Why Our Kid is Way Cooler Than Any Disney Princess

For Halloween, our daughter dressed up as the Disney character, Hua Mulan, or Mulan for short.  Last year, she was Rapunzel.  The year before that she was Minnie Mouse.  And her very first Halloween, she was Winnie the Pooh.  This year, however, I believe being Mulan was her favorite costume and character. 

I wanted her to be Tiana, but the reality is...she's just not that into her.  Let the world tell it, she looks more like Princess Tiana than any of the rest of the princesses.  Here's the thing though...she is way cooler than any of those characters.  She's never a damsel in distress.  Why?  I'm glad you asked.

She has a daddy who would move the world for her and "fight a bear" for her just like Merida's parents; no doubt, he would sacrifice himself or fight a wicked sea witch too like Ariel's dad.  She has a mother who dotes over her and brushes her long, thick hair with love and genuine affection  (very unlike Rapunzel's capture in "Tangled").  I will also make sure she has a gown for the "ball" because she is my little Cinderella after all.  She has four grandparents who spoil her rotten and feed her healthy fruit (very unlike Snow White and that awful, poisonous apple). With her great charm and infectious smile, she could certainly tame any "beast" like Belle.  But it's something else that makes her way cooler...she is fearfully and wonderfully made!  And she knows it very well.  Any knight that ever comes her way should probably check his armor (Ephesians 6:10-18)... 

Study Link:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+139%3A14


 
Disney Princesses