From the category archives:

Esteem

Hope Community

Raise your hand if you want tomorrow to be better than today.

Raise your other hand if you would rather God give you prosperity than calamity.

Good.  I’ve got you where I want you.  Now give me all your money.

You and I were hard-wired for hope. Something in our DNA makes us want to believe that tomorrow can and will be better than today.  When times are easy, we tend to presume on that.  When times are tough, we go looking for it.

Maybe that’s why Jeremiah 29:11 has become such a popular verse in recent years. Go into any Christian book store or gift shop and you’ll see it on coffee mugs or on some idyllic painting or poster:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Doesn’t that do something for you?  It certainly does for me.  It tells me something about the heart of my God for me as an individual, and for the people I care about.

Trouble is, we take it completely out of context. [click to continue…]

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Sundet Prayer 2

Beyond the riot of the noise and the fury of the storm
I hear Your voice, and all else is peace and quiet.
Above the swelling of the sea and the tossing of the waves
I hear Your voice, and everything becomes so still.

Within the darkness of despair and the sinking in my soul
I hear Your voice, and rise again to living hope.
Against the doubts of unbelief and the questions in my mind
I hear Your voice, and rest in knowing You believe. [click to continue…]

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Baptism

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22).

They’re called watershed moments.  Critical turning points.  They’re moments in time when nothing that follows will ever be the same as before. And for the most significant of those, we may spend a lifetime unpacking what actually changed.

The watershed experience in the life of Jesus described above – when He was baptized – reminds me of the most significant watershed experience you or I could have – the day Jesus comes to indwell our lives.  And just as the experience of Jesus was a triune experience, with the Holy Spirit descending and the Father affirming, so, too was mine.  And the same is true for you, if you have trusted Him as your Lord and Savior.

Just what did you receive at conversion? [click to continue…]

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Celebration Worship

Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable (Psalm 145:3).

Lots of comfortable, well-worn words here.  Sometimes familiarity can hide the truest meaning of the language.

For example, God is “great.”

(God is good, let us thank Him for our…)

Hang on a minute. [click to continue…]

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bettyCrockerOkay, time for a little famous brands trivia.

Without Googling for answers, see if you can guess how many of the following brand names were/are actual people:

Aunt Jemima

Ben and Jerry

Betty Crocker

Chef Boy-Ar-Dee

Duncan Hines

Marie Callender

Martha White

Orville Redenbacher

Sister Shubert

Uncle Ben

Answers are below: [click to continue…]

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Uninhibited

I will give You thanks with all my heart;
I will sing praises to You before the gods (Psalm 138:1)

Gratitude is not for the half-hearted.

It’s all-in…mind, will, and emotions.

And it’s a choice, regardless of our current state. [click to continue…]

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Speechless LoveThere are over 3,000 words in the English language to describe some kind of feeling.  According to design student Pei-Ying Lin that’s about 21 words short. Lin, in working with colleagues from London’s Royal College of Art, identified 21 words from other languages for which there is no English word.  Example: The Russian word, Tocka, which means “Great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause…ache of soul, a longing with nothing to long for.”

You can find out more, and see Lin’s infographic, by clicking here.

Of course, what Lin has accomplished, while significant, is no real surprise – especially for anybody who’s ever found themselves not knowing how to express exactly how they felt.

Sometimes the gratitude is too great. [click to continue…]

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joylessThis morning I have the privilege of preaching at Shadow Hills Baptist Church here in Lubbock.  After dreaming about hearing John Piper preaching in my head all night long that “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him” (and I’ve never actually listened all the way through to one of his messages), I believe the Lord was “instructing me in the night watches” (Psalm 16:7) to preach on joy, and specifically how we can lose it.  Here’s a quick summary of what I’m sharing there…

The most joyful people on the planet are believers in Jesus Christ.

The most joyless, miserable people on the planet are Christians, too.

Those who don’t have a relationship with Christ don’t know any better, and as they say, “Ignorance is bliss.”  But those of us who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, then somehow lost that sense of His presence, know there is something missing.

I’d like to show you how that’s possible.  How can someone who has experienced this amazing joy suddenly find themselves without it? [click to continue…]

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American 1Of all the nations who have drawn some borders and set up shop, perhaps none has a shorter and more mixed (some would say mixed up) pedigree than the United States.  If the planet was populated by nothing but dogs, we’d be the mixed breeds – the hardy, loveable mutts who may not be able to point to a long pedigree, but will probably live the longest, love the hardest, and fight the fiercest of anybody in the pound.

To be an American is to be a delightful, maddening mix of contributions and contradictions, possibilities and problems.  We’re a living demonstration of what can happen when you let “the help” run the kingdom.

To be an American is to believe in the power of the people.  Your people, that is.  It is to believe that authority resides in the will of the majority, even though at any given time the Commander-in-Chief was elected by less than 21% of the population. Or if that doesn’t work, maybe power can reside in the rulings of some Federal judge who can see things your way until the majority gets with the program. [click to continue…]

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Violin 2Hey.  Come on in.  Shut the door behind you.

Ha!  No, you aren’t in trouble.  I just wanted to show you something important, without a lot of distractions.  You doing OK?

So, just curious… how’s your praise life?

Yeah, that’s probably what I would have said, too.

Yes, actually, that is what I wanted to talk about.

I wanted to share an experience that actually happened several years ago, but it totally changed how I approach my relationship with God – particularly praise and worship.

Well, yeah, praise and worship at church with the music and all that.  But more importantly, praising God in my prayer time.  You know that old hymn that says, “Tune my heart to sing Thy praise?”  Yeah, well, the Lord showed me how to do that, and it was pretty life-changing. [click to continue…]

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