Thursday, March 29, 2012

Guard Your Heart

I was challenged by these words as I read them this morning.  It so easy to allow our hearts to become cluttered with so many things that those things will begin to move us away from Christ rather than toward Christ.  Each of us need to be very careful what we allow into our lives.  The Bible teaches that we have an enemy that seeks to kill and destroy and I am convinced that satan will use whatever means is necessary to accomplish his goal.  But God's Words does contain a solution.  We can cooperate with God and allow Him to have complete sway over our lives.  We can follow the directions from God and allow those directions to influence our decisions.  I trust that you are blessed as you read the following thoughts.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Guard your heart for it is where the Lord gives life. It is truly life, because it bubbles up with tremendous trust in Him. A heart on guard for God deeply desires love for Him, and obedience to His ways. There is a compelling call to follow Christ through the best and worst of circumstances. Therefore, guard your heart from disbelief, so doubt doesn’t become despair.

Guard your heart from un-forgiveness, so anger doesn’t become bitterness. Guard your heart from pornography, so lust doesn’t become lasciviousness. Guard your heart from worry, so fear doesn’t become frantic. Lastly, guard your heart from pride, so your attitude doesn’t become arrogant. A guarded heart increases the probability of good things from God. A guarded inward person makes for a good outward person.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


We are approaching Palm Sunday.  Palm Sunday serves as reminder of the triumphant entry that Christ made into Jerusalem.  Palm Sunday brings us to the threshold of the last week of the life of Jesus and all that He would face as He made His way to Calvary.  His death on Golgotha would open the door of a personal relationship with Christ and this relationship would provide many opportunities for us to celebrate significant victories in our lives.  Let us look at some reasons to celebrate the blessings that can only come from God.

“Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is  found.’ So they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:23-24

Grateful Christians take the time to celebrate the recovery of loved ones. It may be a son or daughter who returns from the foreign country of selfish ambition and immoral living. Celebration could be an appropriate occasion to honor a friend who is recovering from abuse or an addiction. Or, a family member after a long battle with cancer or another debilitating disease is on the road to recovery. Recovery calls for celebration!

A call to celebration makes much of the faithfulness of God and the wise choices of the one in recovery. We know in our hearts that heaven deserves the credit for our blessings on earth. Thus, we take the time to give glory to God for His gracious healing of our soul, our emotions and our body.  Ultimately, Christ causes a transformation of trust in our heart and mind. He loves us back to a place of rejoicing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Personal Blessing

Ann and I were blessed with the privilege of hosting a visit from my parents this past weekend.  My parents live in Alabama and they do not travel out of state very much.  But we were able to convince them to allow me to come and pick them up and serve as their chauffeur over the weekend.  Sunday was an unique day in which we celebrated my Dad's 86th birthday.  My parents have been married over 60 years and my Dad was involved in ministry prior to their marriage.  I grew up in a Pastor's home of which I have no regrets.  My siblings and myself were blessed to see the model of Christian service lived out in front of us on a daily basis.  Our parents modeled a life of caring for people regardless of their financial position or spiritual position in life.  I am truly thankful that I was destined to be their oldest child and I owe much of my development as a man to the influence that each of my parents had and still have on my life.

Sunday was unique in another way.  I asked my Dad to serve as my co-speaker during the Sunday morning service.  He opened the sermon presentation with a powerful exhortation on understanding that God has promised victory through Jesus Christ.  He spent several minutes giving personal examples as well as Biblical examples that would support his understanding of this Biblical principle.  I sat amazed as I saw the anointing of the Spirit come upon His life and for a few moments I relived those moments as a child when I would sit weekly under the influence of His preaching.  The Word of God flowed through His thought process as a "well of Living Water."  These thoughts are not meant to exalt my Dad but they are intended to remind each of us that God can work in our lives regardless of our age or regardless of our circumstances.  I witnessed my Dad share the Word of God from recollection and inspiration.  I witnessed the Spirit of God use him to share encouragement and hope with those individuals who sat in that worship service on this past Sunday morning.  I witnessed the Spirit encourage people to step out by faith and respond to the call from God.  By the way, he did save some time for me to share my heart with the local body of believers.  We concluded with an invitation in which him and I were able to pray with people who came forward for prayer.

I will always cherish the opportunity of ministering along side of my Dad this past Sunday.  I appreciate the local fellowship at New River Worship Center for allowing me this opportunity and I trust that each one of them were blessed through the presence and activity of the Spirit.  Take a moment today and appreciate those individuals who have made a significant impact on your life and a significant difference in your life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Better People

I truly believe that each one of us should seek to excel in offering our gifts and abilities to God. I also don't believe that God is exalted through lethargic or half-hearted service that is offered to Him. I also feel that God is offended when we seek the praises of men more than the acceptance of God. But I am also convinced that our success as an individual believer will come as we seek to share our gifts and abilities through the power of the Spirit and not the power of the flesh. This morning I was reminded of a statement that had challenged my heart many years ago and I want to share it with you today. "The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better people." The Holy Spirit doesn't flow through methods, but through people. God doesn't anoint machinery, but He does and He will anoint people. God can and God does inspire plans, but He anoints people to complete these plans. We must continue to be people of prayer if we desire to walk in the power of the Spirit. We must denounce and resist the temptation to operate the work of the Kingdom of God in the power of our fleshly abilities.

Monday, March 19, 2012


"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Cor. 1:3-4

Great trials produce softened and sensitive hearts. But to those who have never been knocked down, or who have not felt the woes of adversity, the heart is small and insensitive. Indeed, it is on the bed of affliction that human beings find themselves horizontal—looking up to the Lord in heaven. Those moments serve as an opportunity to reflect on the greatness of God! Each of us can remember those times in which the presence of God has brought strength, courage, and comfort during difficult times in our lives. It is possible that each of us can remember those times in which we were able to encourage other people during their times of difficulty and challenge. Our testimony to the faithfulness of God brought a sense of comfort and strength to the person that we were encountering. We need to remember that we have the wonderful opportunity to share comfort and hope to those around us who find themselves in difficult straits. We need to look for those opportunities and make ourselves available to God as we seek to encourage people with words of comfort and hope.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Over the past few days I have personally encountered people who are facing some unique challenges in their lives. I have been both amazed and blessed through their release of faith during these difficult circumstances. The resiliency of their strength and courage has brought a greater resolve in my life to pursue the plans that God has for my life. I was privileged to pray with some of the afore mentioned individuals in the revival meeting at the Crossroads Church in White Bluff, Tennessee this past week. In each service I saw the release of faith in dramatic and life-changing ways. I am thankful that God uses different methods to encourage us and one of the methods is the testimonies of other believers. Each of us need to realize that our test can become a testimony to encourage someone else. I thank God for those people that He has used to encourage me!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Listening To God

Over the past few years I have written about our need to listen to the Voice of God for the direction that we need.  You that have been involved in any service where I have ministered the Word of God have also heard this need being declared on numerous occasions.  The modern day church must commit ourselves to hear what God is saying to us both individually as well as collectively as the Body of Christ.  The Spirit of the Lord has raised this up in my spirit over the past few days and I felt that I must share it with you once more via this blog post.  The Spirit has placed several reminders in my path over the past few days and one of these reminders is from a devotional that I read a few days ago.  Pay close attention to the flow of the story so that you can capture the essence of Truth that is being revealed.

In his book Directions, author James Hamilton shares this insight about listening to God: "Before refrigerators, people used ice houses to preserve their food. Ice houses had thick walls, no windows and a tightly fitted door. In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the ice houses and covered with sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer.
One man lost a valuable watch while working in an ice house. He searched diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn't find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile. A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the ice house during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch. Amazed, the men asked him how he found it. I closed the door,'' the boy replied, "lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking.'' Often the question is not whether God is speaking, but whether we are being still enough and quiet enough to hear. Yes, Jesus assures us that our heavenly Father always listens to us, but do we really listen to God? Do we follow the instructions of Psalm 46, "Be still, and know that I am God"? 

In the midst of all the "sawdust" of our lives will we listen for and to the Voice of God?

Monday, March 12, 2012

God's Influence on Our Lives

I am constantly amazed at the influence of God upon my life.  Some of these influences are very dramatic while others are very subtle and they are woven into my daily living.  I am truly thankful for the presence of God in my life.  God is surely interested in the daily development of my life.  God desires to impact every area of my life so that I can reach my full potential as a human being.  This is the challenge that we all face; "Will each of us be willing to surrender our lives to God so that His influence can fully impact us?" 

I recently read these thoughts from Charles Stanley and I would like to share them with you.

"In our culture, God’s name is oftentimes mentioned with little reverence. In fact, many people actually use it as a curse. Even among those who love Him, it is far too common to use His name casually, without taking time to ponder who He is. When you say a blessing at mealtimes, for instance, do you realize that you are talking to the almighty Creator God who rules over all things?

Our view of the Lord impacts three areas of life.  First, it affects our prayers. As we come to know Him better and better, our desires will start to look like His goals for us, and our petitions will align more closely with His purposes. Furthermore, as we recognize His greatness and power, we’ll become more confident that He can accomplish mighty things—and we will venture to “pray big.”

Second, our understanding of His righteousness and goodness influences our behavior. If God has these attributes, surely it is in our best interest to obey gladly. We will desire righteousness and be quick to repent of sin.

Third, our faith is impacted. Grasping that Jesus is holy, good, and powerful grows our trust in Him. Knowing our awesome God and remembering His great works will further build our confidence in Him.

Do you personally know our loving and holy heavenly Father? He invites you into an intimate relationship with Him. But, as with any good friendship, time and intentionality are necessary to understand Him and learn His ways. The more you do that, the more your prayers, behavior, and faith will be impacted."

Friday, March 9, 2012

Follow-up to Yesterday

I am convinced that God is calling us to listen to Him and the direction that He has for our lives.  Is it  possible that we (humanity in general) have the ability and in some cases the desire to follow after our own plans rather than the plans of God?  After all God has chosen to give man the option of obedience rather than Him forcing our obedience and surrender.  We can call that "free will" or the the freedom of choice.  Choices bring responsibility.  Responsibility affords us the option to base our decision on which option has the most sway or influence upon our lives.  We face many influences each day of our life but we must guard our choices and make sure that our decisions are based on the influence of the Spirit. 

The wise man in Proverbs 14:12 spoke this warning; "There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death" (NKJV).  We must recognize that there is the possibility that I can choose to follow my way rather than the way of Christ.  The way of man can appear right but we must ask ourselves "What is the end result of that way?"  Will it lead to life or will it lead to spiritual death?  Will it lead me closer to God or will it lead me farther away from God?  Will it cause my life to reflect the principles of Christ or will it cause my life to reflect the work of sin and rebellion in my life?  These choices and many other similar choices must be factored into our decision regarding our walk through the journey called life.  I pray that each of us will make the correct choice and that we will place our lives into the Hands of God and allow Him to direct our path. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Listening to God

This devotional reading spoke to my heart a few days ago and I wanted to share a portion of it with the readers of this blog.  I sincerely believe that it is very important to take the time and make the effort to listen to God.  We may not hear Him speak in an audible voice but I believe that He will reveal direction to each of us if we will desire to hear His voice in our lives.  It is true that each of us need His Divine Direction for our lives.  It is true that He knows the road that we are traveling and that He is aware of our individual set of circumstances.  It is true that He has a plan for our lives and that plan includes spiritual success.  "Will we listen?" is a question that must be answered.  God may feel like my youngest grandson felt a few weeks ago.  He looked at me and plainly asked the question, "Poppy are you listening to me?"  He must have felt that my listening had become distracted by other events taking place around me.  Has your attentive listening to your Heavenly Father been distracted by other events taking place around you?  Let us hear what God is speaking to us today!

"You people that hear me, listen! Think carefully about the
    things you hear. The way you give is the way God will give to
    you. But God will give you more than you give."
                            -- Mark 4:23-24 (ERV)

KEY THOUGHT:  We must earnestly, attentively, pursue the
truth of Jesus. The only way to do this is by paying attention to what
he says! That means re-acquainting ourselves with the Gospels and
focusing on His words. Only as we apply ourselves to listening to our
Master will we be able to grow in our ability to perceive, to
understand, and to know the full will of our Savior. The old RCA Victor
logo had a picture of a dog listening attentively to the "speaker" of a
gramophone with the title "His Master's Voice." Jesus is saying to us
that we must have our ear to Scripture and listen for our Master's

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Lesson from Life

Yesterday was a day in which God taught me a wonderful lesson concerning encouragement.  Monday, March 5th was my birthday and I was overwhelmed with the number of birthday wishes that I received via phone calls, cards, text messages, emails, messages on Facebook and even personal visits (all of the various means of communication can be a blessing).  These wishes came from people of all ages as well as people from various stages of my life.  I heard from my parents (which is a blessing for anyone my age, not that I am old man). I heard from friends from High School. I heard from former members of congregations that we have served through the years.  I heard from individuals that have attended revival services over the past few years of my journey with Christ.  I heard from members of the present congregation that we are serving and last but not least I heard from my immediate family that mean so much to me and have assisted me on my journey through life.  I realize that I have gone into great detail in the list that I have provided but I truly believe that there is a valuable lesson that God desires to teach each of us.

We live in a world in which we feel overwhelmed by all of the "stuff'" that we face on a daily basis.  There are times in which we tend to forget those people who hold us dear to their hearts.  There are times that we tend to forget those family and friends who mean so much to us and our journey through life.  We don't mean to fall into the trap of taking for granted those "special" people who have made such a difference in our lives.  The attitudes of the culture seem to help us identify what we don't have in such a way that we fail to identify what we do have in our lives.  Is it possible that we need to stop talking about those things that we don't have and appreciate those people that God has placed in our lives?  A line from an old Southern Gospel song came into my mind yesterday as I reflected on the birthday wishes that I had received.  The words from the song declares, "I am one blessed man..."  I can offer a strong and passionate AMEN to that declaration today.  I have always known that God has blessed me but there are those moments in which God drives home that reminder to each of us.  God uses gestures of kindness, words of encouragement, and even the warm embrace from your family or friends to share HIS LOVE with us.  Take a moment today and allow God to encourage you.  That revelation may come from an unlikely source or it may come from someone that you encounter on a daily basis.  It does not matter what vehicle that God may use to speak to you but remember to remain open to His presence and allow Him to speak strength, hope, joy, and life into your hearts.  You may be surprised to see what will unfold in your life today as you look for signs of encouragement from God.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekend Review

I am sure that each of you can identify with a busy weekend.  It seems that each week just rushes by and you find yourself looking at the beginning of a new week.  I am learning the valuable lesson of time management and it seems that the older I grow the more that I need to manage my time so that I can continue to be effective in my personal life as well as the Ministerial side of my life.

Friday was a very tragic day in the area of the country in which we live.  A severe outbreak of deadly tornadoes struck both in Kentucky and across the Ohio River in Indiana.  We were thankful that our immediate neighborhood and much of Louisville was spared any major damage.  But that was not the case for our neighbors north of the Kentucky border in Southern Indiana as well our fellow Kentuckians east and south east of Louisville.  Over 30 people died and much property was damaged as a result of the horrific encounter with the fury of nature.  This tragedy also revealed many testimonies of the miraculous intervention and protection of God.  It is amazing how often we hear the name of God mentioned in the aftermath of difficulties.  I am reminded of a statement made by a preacher many years ago; "You can't have a testimony without a test."  Just as nature spawned the outbreak of the destructive forces of winds so did these same events spawn words of praise and thankfulness for the Hand of God being stretched out over the lives of individual people.

I want to briefly share a story that was shared on the news last night.  I am unsure of whether this story will make the national news but it is certainly worth re-telling over and over.  An Indiana school bus driver left school early to take some children home.  She noticed the storm was moving toward her and she said that she stopped the bus, bowed her head and asked "The Lord to let her know what to do." She feels directed to go back to the school and she arrives around 1 minute or two before the storm hits that area of Henryville, IN.  The principal assists her in unloading the children and they head for the safety of the school building.  Just seconds after the bus was unloaded the empty school bus became a projectile that was catapulted across the road and deposited in the side of a restaurant located across the road from the school.  The bus driver believed that it was God who got her back to the school and off the road and out of the destructive force of the tornado.  There were eleven students plus the driver on the bus.  Can you imagine the devastation of those families if their children had been on the bus as it was "shot" across the road almost like a missile?  In the midst of the test there arose a testimony and that lady bus driver has been sharing that testimony with those who took time to listen.  Each of us will face our own set of tests.  Your test may not be a school bus that has become a missile but in the midst of your test you can see the opportunity to share a testimony.  Be encouraged today and remember that "God is not dead but He is still alive" and that He walks in the midst of your tests and trials.