A Week Of Firsts

Turning 50

This last week has held two different firsts in my life. The first was that I turned 50. That did not really seem like that much to me. It is just a natural part of life. I have been bald on top since I was 17, so that did not mean much to me. And I have had some grey hair for several years already, nothing new either.

Getting older has never bothered me in any way. I guess having eight wonderful children has kept me young, even though I am getting older and slowing down. I can no longer run as fast, or as long as I used to be able to.

The other first for me this week did have a major impact on me. My oldest daughter got married and I had to be the one to give her away.

I am not one to cry very easy or at every little thing that comes my way. Although there have been movies that have brought tears to my eyes, and I am not ashamed or afraid to cry, when needed.

Over the last few months, since she got engaged, I have been ready for this wedding to happen. I never cried or was sad about it. I was very excited that she was getting married. It never bothered me that she would be leaving the house now, after 23 years.

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However, Saturday, when I began to walk my daughter down the aisle, the emotions started to overwhelm me. It was tears of joy, but tears none-the-less.

One of the things I had to do, as part of the ceremony, was to stand up in front of everyone and pray for her new marriage. She and her husband held hands, the pastor had his hands on them also, and I put my hands on top of hers when I prayed.

I have spoken in front of many people, many times over the years. I have also acted and sang in front of hundreds of people. I have even been the pastor over a wedding and over a funeral. Never once have I been afraid, or unable to speak, till that day.

As I was getting ready to speak, my mind went blank for the first time ever, another first in this past week. What I planned to say completely left me speechless. When I tried to speak, I had to really force the words to come out of my mouth. At that moment, my heart was overwhelmed at what was happening. It was overwhelmed with joy and pride. I also knew the value of the prayer that I was getting ready to pray. It was to be a blessing upon the new marriage.

I knew that the man she was marrying was the one God had for her. If I were to list everything that I would want in a man to marry her, he had it all, and then some. Over the last ten years, I have watched him grow up and become a great man of God. He has a heart to pray for and be a witness to anyone and everyone, anytime and every time. He has a servant’s heart to serve any person in need, no matter the cost to himself. He came from a family that serves God with all of their hearts, souls, minds, and strengths.

My daughter had desired to be married since before she graduated high school. She had continually prayed to God for the one that she was to marry. She constantly asked God where that man was and when would she get him. Although my daughter and her husband had grown up together, for most of that time, they were not together or even considering each other. God, however, was building both of them up to be who each one needed the other to be. They are the perfect helpmates for each other.

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As I prayed that prayer of blessing upon them, I knew that God is going to bless their marriage and ministry together. I am looking forward to the ministry that God will do through them, now that they are together in marriage. Both have great ministries of their own, but now together they will work together building God’s kingdom for His glory and honor.

I did pray a blessing over them. God filled me with His overwhelming peace of His Holy Spirit to say the words I prayed. As I prayed, I also had tears of joy welling up in my eyes. Afterwards, my wife was very surprised, because that is not something normal for me.

While I was watching the wedding, and watching it again on video, because it was recorded, I had the same feelings I had when I married my wife 25 years ago. I knew then that my wife was the one God had for me beyond any shadow of doubt. And I still know that to this day with no doubts. As I knew my wife was the one for me, I knew that this man was the one for my daughter. I also know that they will keep God at the center of their lives and their marriage.

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For those who are still single and want to get married, keep your eyes focused on God. He will bring the right person to you at the right time. Wait on His perfect timing.

For those of you who are married, also keep your eyes focused on God. Keep your marriage centered on pleasing God and He will do great things in and through your marriage.

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Staying in the center of God’s will, will always have many firsts in it, but God will strengthen you to do whatever comes your way or make it through whatever comes your way..

 

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Be Ready, Without Fear

hurricane harvey

Over the last few weeks weather has played havoc on the lives of many people in the United States and several island countries nearby. Two major hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, have hit the coasts and created a lot of damage.

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The first hurricane, Harvey, hit land only a few hours from where I live in Texas. Houston, itself, is only about 1 1/2 hours from my place. I had many friends who live in some of the coastal cities and the Houston area that were hit very hard. Several completely lost their homes, others had their homes completely flooded out. It was a very bad storm.

flooded homes

During the last 2-3 days before the hurricane hit, people started running to the stores to purchase food and water. In the days before, till several days after the hurricane, many of the shelves in the store were bare. As fast as the stocker could pull water off a cart and put it on the shelves, the water was snatched up and purchased by someone.

bare shelves

Along with the shelves becoming bare of food and water, there was a run on gas. People quickly ran to the gas station to fill up. This occurred even more, once they heard that the oil refineries were broke down. There was a great fear of a shortage of gas. Gas and food prices started to rise in the fear.

Even now, after a week of Harvey being gone, there are gas stations that shut down nightly because they are out of fuel. People are still lining up at the stations to get gas. Talk is everywhere about the fear of the shortage of gas and prices going higher all the time.

I will not try to spiritualize the hurricane and say that God is judging America. He did not tell me that, so I will not say that either. It may or may not be true. God does use natural disasters to punish a nation. And there is sin in this world, so there are also natural disasters that will take a toll on human life.

What I do want to talk about is being ready without fear. Panic had risen in the hearts and minds of many people. This had caused the people to run to the stores and buy as much as they could, as fast as they could. This was all done out of fear and lack of preparation.

Many people live their Christian lives in the same way. They react to situations in their lives out of fear and lack of preparation.

Some negative situation happens in the life of a person and immediately he runs to God, crying out in fear and desperation for help. He then opens the Bible and scours it for verses of hope dealing with his situation. Prior to this situation, he never prayed, except at an occasional meal, or at church when the pastor asks everyone to bow their heads and pray, and he never opened the Bible, unless the pastor asked him to directly. The Bible sat on a shelf, collecting dust all week, until Sunday.

dusty bible

This is not a picture of someone who is ready. It is not a picture of someone who is prepared for whatever may come his way. It is only one of fear and desperation, just like those running to the stores to get food or gas during and after the hurricane.

2 Timothy 4:2 New International Version (NIV)

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

Paul had told Timothy to preach the word and be prepared at all times. Although Paul was talking about directly preaching to people the gospel message, it can be seen in preaching the Word of God to situations in your life.

As a believer you must study and know God’s word in your heart and mind at all times.

Psalm 119:11 New International Version (NIV)

11 I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.

Hiding God’s word in your heart and knowing it all times will keep you from sin. Running in fear is not trusting God. Not trusting God is a sin.

Time in Gods Word

The only way you can know God’s word and have it hidden in your heart is if you spend time in His word. The only way you can know God’s will for your life is if you spend time talking with God about it. And if you talk to God about it, you must listen to what He has to say.

God is a God of peace, not fear and panic. He is always in control of every situation in your life. Whether the situation is of hurricane size, or a bump in the road, God is still there with you. Know this before you hit that situation and you will have His peace and comfort in the storm. Spend time with God and His word, before life gets rough with a bad storm.

Do not place yourself in a position of running in fear to God’s word, drastically searching for some help. Know it before the time of need comes. Then you will be able to confidently go before God with your needs, knowing that He is there and in control. You will be ready for anything and not have any fear.

Prayer

Today as you think about this, please be praying for those affected by the hurricanes in Texas, Florida and any other states or countries in their path. Pray for their peace, protection, and restoration.

Isaiah 56:6-7 Joy In Prayer

And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant–these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. Isaiah 56:6-7

Some things that have to be done in life are not always the most exciting or joyful things to do. For each person that list is different. Some people find great joy weeding a garden, while the other person finds it an extreme torture. Some find it challenging to work with little children, while others get great joy in it.

Prayer is something that many believers find as a great chore, often with very little to no joy. When a pastor calls for a prayer meeting, often very few show up for it. It is common to hear of people say that when they try to make a prayer time with God, they end up falling asleep. You may find this challenge sometimes or, maybe, all the time.

Yet, God says that He will give them joy in His house of prayer. Keep in mind that you are the temple of the Lord. Your body is God’s house. And is house, is one of prayer–communication with Him.

Think about how much joy it gives you to talk to your best friend. Most people find great joy in that.

It should be the same way, and even more so, with God. God is better than your best friend could ever be. He truly knows every little detail about your life.

Prayer is just communication, talking with God. It is not some solemn, spiritual act. It is talking and listening to each other. You do not need to use fancy church words, speak in your own words. He does not need doctorate degree words.

As you talk and listen to God, you will find great joy. You will learn God’s heart for you and this world. You will learn what God has for you each day.

Spend time talking to God. Don’t look at it as  just prayer, but a time to chat with God. And do it all throughout the day and night, not just on Sunday and meals.

I pray today that you will find joy in prayer to God; that you will know God hears your prayers; that you will find time to talk and listen to God; and that God will work through your prayers.

Not The Wrong Number

My 18 year old son, Kyle, had this situation occur to him a few days ago. This is what happened and he wrote about it.

Yesterday I got this call from a random person.
Apparently he got the number wrong. Normally I would just ignore things like this. But he left this message saying that he was trying to contact his mom. I could tell by the sound of his voice that he was a full grown man.

So I felt it necessary to call him and inform him that he probably shouldn’t be expecting a call back from this number. He apologized and said you know the thing is. I’m about to go into surgery. Then he says so if I called you it was purely by accident.

Then I simply replied to him I don’t think it was an accident. I said this may seem a little weird. But do you believe in God? He replied to me that he did. So I said then we’re praying right now.

So I began to pray for him on the spot not knowing anything about him the mistakes that he made the regrets that he has or the victories he has accomplished. But I knew that God knew his name and knew every part of this situation.

Afterwards he thanked me and told me that I made a difference that I could never know. And I simply replied to him it’s no big deal it’s what the church is supposed to do.

As a human being I understand that it is necessary to have a healthy body you must exercise and have a proper eating habit. As a martial artist I understand that practice makes perfect. When you practice a specific skill you become competent in that skill. When you possess the competence of the skill it reaps confidence.

If you are apart of the church and the church is the body of Christ I must ask you this question. As the body of Christ do you exercise exercising is the means of tearing down a muscle so that it will build back up stronger. Christ is the coach so when he wants you to exercise do you do it? Do you as the body of Christ practice what the coach wants you to practice.
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. – Mark 16:15
So the question is do you practice what you preach? As the body of Christ do you have a proper eating habit? In other words do you monitor what you listen to what you watch where you go? What is it that you let influence you?
Now I am not the judge. But I think it’s high time we put the money where our mouth is.

Psalm 72:15 Pray For And Bless The Leader

Long may he live! May gold from Sheba be given him. May people ever pray for him and bless him all day long. Psalm 72:15

This psalm of Solomon is one in which he is talking about the king. His prayer is that God would bless the king in many ways, and that the king would live to honor God in all of his ways. In this verse, he specifically wants the people to pray for and bless the king on a continual basis.

Leaders at every level have a heavy load to bear. They are responsible for leading and guiding people correctly. Leaders can make or break people very easily  by the decisions that they make.

One thing that is easy for every person, who is not a leader, to do is to criticize the leader. Watch the news, Facebook, Twitter, and other sources of media, and one will see all the “discussions” about various leaders.

When looking from the bottom of the leadership pole, it is easy to find faults with a leader. It is easy to find reasons to not like some leader. People do this with God all the time. God allows something in their life, and they get mad because it happened or something did not happen.

People who are not in leadership do not always see the reason for the choices made. Leaders often see a bigger picture. God is the only one who sees the picture perfectly all the time, but God has placed leaders in position for a reason.

Whether you agree with or disagree with a leader should not stop you from praying for and blessing a leader. This does not matter whether the leader is of a business, a small community or the leader of a nation.

Take time daily to pray for your leaders. Pray that God will guide each one in the path He has for them. Pray that their hearts and lives will be touched by and led by God. Pray that they will make decisions that will honor God. And pray that God will pour out blessings on your leaders.

God can bless and lead even those who do not desire to follow Him. Do not just pray for removal, but show God’s love and compassion for your leaders.

I pray today that you will pray for every leader you have; that you will seek God’s blessings on your leaders; that you will show God’s love for your leaders; and that every leader will honor and live for God.

See You At The Pole

September 28th was the day set for the 2016 See You At The Pole prayer time. It is a time for students, teachers, and anyone else who desires to meet around the flagpole of their school to pray. They take the time to pray for their school and all of the students and teachers in the school.

Prayer had been removed from public schools in 1962. In 1990 some students in Texas started to gather around the flagpole at their school on a set day in order to prayer for the school, their classmates, and teachers. Over time it has grown nation-wide and internationally into several other countries.

While many groups of people and organizations desire that the meeting be banned, it has been given clear allowance by the supreme court under the freedom of speech for the students.

At the middle school that I work at in central Texas, they had a group gather for the See You At The Pole prayer. There were approximately 12 students, plus about seven teachers and myself. It was my first time to be involved with this prayer time, though several of my children had been involved in the past.

During this time everyone had held hands while standing around the pole. Our flagpole is located right outside the main front entrance to the building and next to the parking lot, where students are dropped off for school. As we were praying several dozen parents had driven up to drop off their children. Many other students came walking up that walk to school. Along with all of those people seeing us, the school sits on the edge of a major four lane road running around the town, and all those people driving by could see us as we prayed.

Several of the students were brave enough to pray out loud while there. One of the girls prayed a prayer that was several minutes long. She prayed for the students, teachers, and their families. She had prayed that they may know Jesus, be safe, learn or teach, and work together. It was a very beautiful prayer.

Along with the students several of the teachers also prayed a prayer for the school and students.

Later in the day, I had several students that said they had seen me standing there praying. Several said that had forgotten that it was going on and wished they would have been there. One student even thanked me for praying for them.

When you read the news, you hear a lot of bad, negative news happening all the time. One thing that is very common is the idea of separation of church and state, that God is not allowed in the public schools. However true that may be in some places, I know that in the town I live in, God is not kicked out of the schools. There are many students who are not afraid to take a stand for Jesus. There are many teachers that make it clear that they believe in Jesus.

Although the world would like to make you think that God is not real and not in control, it is not true. God is still alive and He has believers everywhere. There is no place that there is not a believer. As I walk through the school I am in, I see many students with Christian shirts on, I hear many students talk about various aspects of God at times, and see some with Bibles.

Even though our government may attempt to block God from being in our public schools, it cannot stop God. God is a Spirit that lives in the lives of His people. His people have access to every school in this nation. As long as there are still believers, God will still be in the schools. Despite the false teachings that can go on in a public school, there are many students who know the real truth and are willing to let that truth be known.

I ask that every time you pass by a school, or think about a school or student, or see a school bus, please pray for the students. Pray that every believing student will stay strong and true to Jesus and will be a bold witness for Jesus. Pray for the believing teachers to stay true to Jesus, and have opportunities to be His witness in the school. Pray for their protection and learning, that they will learn the truth in every subject.