Passion….

“I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.”
Ephesians 3:7-8

Recently our pastor spoke to us on understanding our passions and burdens as we attempt to reach our world with the good news of Jesus Christ. It was evident many people were examining their own lives as he spoke. It will be interesting to see how the Holy Spirit challenges and leads in the lives of many who were there.

As he spoke, I reflected on my own life. Have I invested in things that are important? Have I chosen to avoid conflict, to stay with what is most comfortable? Have I given in to things that are not pleasing to God?

Let me reflect with you on my journey in hopes it might help you reflect on yours.
First, even as followers of Jesus we can be jerks. We live in the flesh and sometimes unfortunately we feed the flesh. We all know that, so let’s move past guilt into what God has for us now.

My personal passion:

My passion is to see others experience salvation! I want to reach as many as I can with the gospel of freedom in Jesus. Too many people have heard a gospel that combines the Old testament and the New…grace plus law. As a result they think that to have a relationship with God they have to perform. I have a burden to see people set free from religion and understand that salvation is in the person, Jesus, not in a set of rules. (Eph. 2:8-9) I want to communicate in a way that is understandable and not complicated with Christian jargon.

My personal burden:

My personal burden is that new followers of Jesus would understand how to live in freedom. Once a person has come to a saving grace in Jesus, I love teaching them how to follow HIM and and allow HIM to transform them. To me, my personal burden follows my passion. I’ve said many times that I’m a ‘second grade teacher,’ meaning that I love teaching new believers ways to live out their faith and not be burdened by it.

For those who desire deeper teaching I usually direct them to other sources. Although I’ve had a good education, it has been so freeing for me to know that I am free to pursue my passion to reach out to those who are young in their faith.

So now it is your turn. How would you answer these two questions about your own life. What is your passion and what is your burden? If you don’t know, ask. I believe Jesus will reveal it to you.

Have a great Easter…may you come alive to your purpose for being here!

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WHY I LOVE FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS!

McdonaldsI call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me. Psalm 120:1

I love McDonalds, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Culvers, etc.
Some of you may be disappointed in me. You have read or seen information that tells how these fast food restaurants are a major cause of obesity in our country. Tasty items like french fries, greasy cheeseburgers and ice cream may taste good but are not supposedly good for the ol’ ticker.

Before you jump to any conclusions, let me explain my new found love for these easy access food establishments. I cannot tell you the number of times while traveling I have needed a place to “relieve” myself. Lately it seems it is a greater challenge to go less than two hours without a potty stop. Have your kidneys ever been so full it makes your lower back ache?

It’s nice to know that just off any highway there is a good chance of passing a golden arch or a “have it your way” billboard. Many times I have been thankful for these establishments!
It gives a whole new meaning to the verse:
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7

Not a heavy topic this week, just a little comic relief. Have a great week:)

Jigging for Jesus!

In January I invited four other men to northeastern Wisconsin to go ice fishing. It was a UPI alumni event. Most of these men had never tried ice fishing and they were curious about what it would be like and what kind of fish we would catch. The answer to a few of their questions:
Yes, it’s cold, but it’s warm in the fish shanty, and yes, the ice on the Green Bay side of Door County is safe to drive on at 25″ thick! The rest of the questions I left for our guide to answer.

We showed up at the bait store at 8:00 am and the guides provided all the equipment, including ice shanties and lunch. We boarded dog sleds pulled by snowmobiles to get to the shanties. The shanties were already warm with fishing holes already drilled through the ice with an augur. Compared to the outside temperatures it sometimes felt like it was 90 degrees in the shanties!

We were told we would be jigging for whitefish.
Two more questions followed:
What are whitefish and what is jigging?
Whitefish. Rather than describing them I’ve posted pictures. whitefish
Jigging. My layman’s description is sinking our fishing lines go to the bottom of the lake and bobbing the hook and bait to attract the fish. We were fishing at about 60 feet so a lot of line was in the water.

This got me thinking. There is a lot of time to think when you fish! Am I jigging for Jesus? In my head I am aware we are all sinners. We all have issues, needs and hurts. Am I fishing at that level? At the deep level of sin and hurt? Or am I just touching the surface? How do I approach people? Do I represent Jesus in a way that would attract hurting people to Him? Am I someone they trust enough to listen?

My analogy breaks down when it comes to intent of fishing — to fool the fish into taking the bait. The gospel is not intended to fool but to bring us into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

It was a fun day on the ice and a good time of reflection back on land.

I sin everyday!!

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Everyone sins every day. Trust me. I know from first hand experience! (James 4:17) The bible sets the mark pretty high and we all miss it. Praise God eternal life is based on faith in JESUS rather than good works! (Ephesians 2:8-9) (Romans 8:38-39)

On a good day, when I sin overtly, I try to go to HIM immediately to ask forgiveness, much like being called for a foul in basketball and raising the hand to accept responsibility. Sin does not change my position with Christ but on this side of eternity my condition is continually changing. At those times I need to admit, confess, and believe I am forgiven. I need to quietly listen to Him speak to my soul, over and over, that he loves me unconditionally and that he wants me to live close to HIM. (1 John 1:7-9)

There are other times when I am too busy to stop and confess because I am on my own agenda. It seems like that is the norm rather than the exception. Sometimes I get ‘cleaned up’ spiritually at the end of the day, confessing sin right before bed. I may sleep all ‘freed up’ but when the next day begins and I sin again, I live in the same slime until I ‘wash up’ again. I’m still one of his kids, but I’m living in my own strength, running on 4 cylinders rather than 8. (Proverbs 28:13)

It is in those times of forgetting HIM when God tries to get my attention. This virus called sin will eventually slow me down, like a computer virus. I can still function, but the spiritual communication is clogged. I tend to run on my own knowledge and strength. I leave God’s Word and the Holy Spirit out of the equation.
To get my attention my loving God usually uses:
• Other people
• His Word
• Preaching
• Worship songs
• Mishaps
• Even Depression

HE uses All this to get me back to looking to HIM and walking with HIM. HE does not punish me, but calls me back into close fellowship. Why?Because Father knows best.
What are some of the triggers God uses in your life to draw you back into living clean and staying focused on what is most important?

Tattoos …what are your thoughts?

What are your thoughts on tattoos? As a youngster I remember seeing them on returning servicemen. Then after Vietnam it seems tattoos were the badge of bikers and rock stars. But in recent years they have become a mainstream fashion statement. It seems almost everyone, from athletes to models to the girl next door is adorned with permanent ink.
It was interesting to me to learn that Paul had them.

Check it out:
“Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;…” Hebrews 11:24-26

Wow. His tattoos were deep. He gave a lot so that we might experience freedom in Jesus!

Tatoos

Wow. His tattoos were deep. He gave a lot so that we might experience freedom in Jesus!

Living in freedom!

There is now no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear. Because fear involves punishment ,and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because HE first loved us. 1 John 4:18-19
boatmanfla

Recently a friend gave me The Gospel in Twenty Questions, written by Australian author Paul Ellis. In the book the author takes a chapter to discuss what happens when Christians stray.

He identifies ten bad things that can happen if we get distracted, seduced, deceived or led astray. We are sheep, you know J

1. We may end up enslaved to a rules based religion. (Col.2:20)

2. We may feel unworthy and disqualified. (Col.2:18)

3. Our conscience may condemn us and sabotage our faith. (1 Tim. 1:18-19)

4. We may miss out on all that God has in store for us. (2 John 1:8)

5. We can get bogged down in time-wasting, life-sapping discussions. (1 Tim. 1:6)

6. We might live a life of regret. (1 Tim. 6:6-10)

7. We won’t mature in our faith. (Luke 8:14)

8. We will look less like Jesus. (2 Tim. 2:16-18)

9. We will fear God’s punishment. (1 John 4:17-18)

10. We will be ashamed (but NOT condemned) when Jesus returns. (1 John 2:28)

God does not want us to live like that. He loves us and wants us to function on all cylinders. The key is listening and following the true shepherd. Live free this week, friends!

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Sin

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“For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” 1 Corinthians 3:3

As I read through the New Testament I wonder what sin is the most harmful. We know from 2 Corinthians 6 that sexual sin is sin against our own bodies and God gives a number of warnings to flee from sexual sin. Although the scriptures say that sin is sin, the ramifications of our sin can do harm to us, to others and to our walk with Jesus.

It could be that the sins that do the most harm to many of us, including me, are jealousy, pride and arrogance. We can sometimes conceal these sins with ‘Jesus talk,’ and maybe even deceive ourselves for a while. But underneath we all know how much these sins affect how we think and act and how much they harm our spiritual lives.

Here are a few questions I have to ask myself to guard against these self centered sins:

· Am I disappointed when others do well?

· Do I ever talk negatively about others?

· Does it make me feel ‘better than’ when I hear something negative about another?

· Do I use private information shared with me to gain advantage?

· When I enter a room do I have a “Here I Am” attitude or “There you are?”

· Am I humble enough to ask forgiveness if I have harmed another?

· Do I respect others?

· Do I use anger to manipulate?

· Do I want my own way or do I ask others what they prefer?

What would you add to my personal list?

“Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” Proverbs 16:1