From the category archives:

Esteem

Praying at sunrise

Cesar Malan was a famous minister from Geneva.  He showed genuine interest in the spiritual welfare of anyone he met. And get this!  He would actually ask them about it!

Once Malan asked a woman he had just met about her relationship with God.  Caught off guard, and somewhat annoyed by his question, she curtly said she didn’t care to discuss the matter.

Apparently this wasn’t the first time Cesar had faced such a response.  The minister kindly assured her that he would be praying for her salvation.

It wasn’t long before circumstances brought the two together again.  As they talked, it became apparent to Pastor Malan that the Lord was responding to his prayers.  The once-antagonistic woman had recognized her spiritual need.  Now she was asking him what was required to become a follower of Christ.

The preacher replied, “Come to Him just as you are.” [click to continue…]

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stained glass 2

How was church today?

That’s a pretty common question in my family.  With four households all involved in some sort of ministry, all living and attending four different worship venues, it’s not unusual for me to ask.

But it’s also important for me to remember that I’m asking a consumer question.

I’m basically asking somebody in my family to evaluate their experience.  To interpret an event.  Yes, to tell me what they got out of it or whether they liked the goings-on down at the church house.

Is that wrong?  Not necessarily.  But it’s a pitifully limited – and limiting – question. [click to continue…]

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Horseshoe

In one of old his “Peanuts” cartoons, Charles Schultz has Linus bringing manager Charlie Brown a statistical report on the baseball team.  “In twelve games,” he said, “we almost scored a run and in nine games the other team almost didn’t score before the first out.  In right field, Lucy almost caught three balls and once almost made the right play.”  Then Linus concluded in the cartoon’s last frame with this classic statement:  “We led the league in ‘almosts.’”

No doubt about it – Linus is prime preacher material.   How many times have you heard a pastor say, “We almost met our offering goal?”  Or, “We almost reached our attendance goal.”  How many people have you known who almost came to church, who almost decided to follow Christ, or who almost trusted their situation to God?  It happens – er, almost every weekend.

Come to think of it, we almost do so many things, we could start a whole new church – the First Church of Hand Grenades and Horseshoes.  [click to continue…]

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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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