"THE REASON WE HAVE BAGGAGE FROM OUR PASTS"
5:45 pm cst
There is not a one of us alive, who doesn't carry around weighty baggage from our past. Whether
it was hurtful words spoken to us, relationships that ended poorly, self-defeating behaviors such as addictions or abuse,
or just the pain of the struggles that come along with living.
One day Jesus was tired. He sent His disciples
into town to purchase some food, while He chose to stay and rest awhile by Jacob's Well in Samaria.
rested, He was joined at the well by a Samaritan woman who had come to draw water. Soon a conversation broke out between
them and Jesus asked the woman for a drink of water. Shocked that a Jew would speak to her...since the Jews and
Samaritans didn't associate, He told her something very interesting.
"If you knew the gift of God, and
Who it is speaking to you, you'd ask Him to give you a drink of living water, so that you'd never thirst again."
Although the woman believed Jesus was speaking of physical water...He was talking about the Holy Spirit.
point, Jesus instructed the woman to go into town and return with her husband, to which she responded: "I have no husband."
Jesus...knowing everything, reminded her that she had had five husbands and that the one she was currently with...was not
even her husband. Ouch.
Why would Jesus bring us this woman's sordid past and her "baggage?"
To most people...bringing up someone's past is used as a way to be cruel and remind them of their mistakes...not to help
them. This was not Jesus' intention at all.
What Jesus was really saying...in my opinion...was something
like this: "Woman, you've used marriage and husbands to try and fill a deep void in your life. This has
resulted in lot's of baggage for you...when all the time, the problem was not loneliness...IT WAS THIRST!"
Isn't that true of all of us? How many hurting people have searched to fill the void in our lives by using drugs,
alchohol, sex, relationships, money, work, hobbies, etc....trying to fill the void of spiritual thirst?
thirst is a very real issue with humanity. Inside each one of us is a desire to be fulfilled internally by something
that gives us life, peace, joy and strength. While many religions has sprung from this need...as well as many
harmful other methods to fulfill...only One can fill that thirst...The Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the life-force
that keeps our hearts beating while we sleep...keeps us breathing in air and keeps us alive. Drinking from the fountain
of eternal life of the Holy Spirit does even more. It grants us eternal life, fills the void of our deepest longings...and
even helps us to become free of the baggage of our pasts.
Have you spent your life searching for something to fill
the deep void inside you? Relationships, ambitions, goals, money, success...they are all nice things...but cannot produce
real or lasting peace, joy, love and hope for eternity. On a drink from the fountain of the Holy Spirit can do
Not only did Jesus offer such a drink to that Samaritan woman...He offers it to all of us. "I
am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who
My prayer for you for this New Year...is that you'll open your heart and allow
the Holy Spirit to fill your hearts with a cool, refreshing and eternal drink from the Well of God.
and know...I love you all
"WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU'RE DISCOURAGED"
1:18 am cst
One of the saddest and most painful places to find ourselves is discouragement. As we all
know, this life can be filled with painful experiences, disappointments, defeats, set-backs and trouble, leaving us emotionally
drained, spiritually empty and mentally discouraged.
Although some might say that "good" Christians don't
get discouraged, I believe everyone gets discouraged at times regardless of how hard we try to maintain a good and positive
In fact, if we read the Bible closely, we find that Jesus was distraught and hurt when He literally blurted
out at the Last Supper, "One of you is about to betray Me!" Hours later in the Garden of Gethsemane He was
also discouraged, depressed, lonely and afraid as He asked God, "If it's possible, remove this cup from Me?"
Add to that the fact that His friends could not stay awake to pray for Him must have left Him very discouraged in His hour
of great need.
My point is...if Jesus got discouraged, so will we. It's not a question of being un-spiritual
or weak in faith...it's a natural reaction to overwhelming events transpiring within our lives. Not only should
we realize this for our own good...we should also realize that when others around us are struggling, we should not judge them,
but pray for them that their hour of discouragment will quickly pass.
As a pastor, I've witnessed some of the
greatest Christians I've known, go through times of personal doubt, fear, feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. This
is not a character flaw...it's a normal reaction to a very tough life, in which we all participate.
struggled often with discouragment on both a personal level and on a ministry level. Sometimes it passes quickly...othertimes
it seems as though it will last forever. During these times it's easy to question why God seems silent or unconcerned.
Thinking such thoughts however, only tend to add to the pain.
I've learned that when I feel discouraged
I should go to the pages of the Holy Bible and read encouraging words of faith and hope. This helps me remember that
my struggles are temporary...because my life here, is temporary. As odd as it might sound, realizing that we are on
Earth for a short time can bring comfort when we're feeling overwhelmed by life and discouraged with our situations.
Just today, a precious Great Uncle of mine went home to be with the Lord. He was well over a hundred years old
and I knew from conversations with him that he was ready to go...long ago. He had lived through the deaths of several
of his children, his wife, and most of his brothers and sisters. Without a doubt, he had experienced a great deal of
pain in his life, although he walked through them with a dignity and grace that made him my hero.
struggle is no more. Never again will he know defeat, discouragement, loneliness or any of the other things that torment
us in this life on Earth. His suffering is over. I honestly envy him in that respect.
wondered...as I'm sure you have, why God allows each one of us to experience pain and discouragement in this life, when
He has the power to end it all in a second. Perhaps it's to remind us that "This world is not our home, we're
only passing through." Let's face it...if everything in this life were glorious and care-free...we'd never
long for Heaven and Home...our real home.
My prayer for each one of you today is that you will be encouraged by
the fact...and it is a fact...that one day you're struggles will be over. Knowing and embracing our future with
God can truly help us walk through even the darkest valley's on our way home.
I love you all,
"NEGATIVE WORDS AND THOUGHTS DESTROY FAITH"
10:04 pm cst
If the Bible teaches us anything, it is that faith is the key ingredient to an empowered life through
the Holy Spirit. Faith is like one of those thick, vault doors that are in a bank. If we can just get it open,
the riches on the other side are amazing.
So why is it so difficult sometimes to open our faith?
In a word: negativity.
Whether or not we realize it we live in a very negative world. We are surrounded with
negative words and negative actions that fill our minds with negative thoughts and emotions. The very serious problem
with that is...faith works in a "positive atmosphere," rather than in a negative one. In order to open our
faith...which can move mountains...we must learn to push past the negative thoughts and emotions that can easily fill our
As a counselor, I learned early on that what a person "thinks" they begin to "feel."
What they "feel" they will eventually say or act upon. Therefore, when our lives become inundated with negative
words...our minds begin to fill with negative thoughts and that produces doubt and feelings of defeat. In short...negative
words and emotions severely hinder our faith.
The Bible is full of stories that show us how negative words and
feelings crippled God's people. When Israel became negative toward Moses, they ended up making the Golden Calf to
horrible results. When Aaron and Miriam became negative against Moses, they nearly lost their lives over it.
When the disciples became negative during a storm at sea, Jesus had to rebuke them...even before He rebuked the storm.
Our newspapers and our news channels are filled with so much negativity...it seems there is rarely something positive.
Bad news on the economy, the war, terrorists, etc. can keep us feeling overwhelmed and full of fear and negative thoughts.
If that's not enough...everyone of us have our minds filled with negative words that have been spoken over
us our entire lives...some worse than others. Being labeled as ugly, dumb, useless, etc...can cause life-long tendencies
toward negative self-thoughts, crippling faith.
My prayer for each of us is that we can ask God to deliver us from
all the negative thoughts, words, actions, and emotions that might have crippled our faith...even a little. Why?
Because as I said, faith works ONLY in a positive atmosphere of hope and trust. Negativity lacks both of those ingredients.
I want you to know I'm praying that God will take every negative thought and emotion out of you...washing you
clean from the destructive forces of them. My prayer is that you'll do the same for me.
3:35 am cst
There have been many times in my life that I've wished desperately that I could take back something
I said. Unfortunately...words can't be "unsaid."
The Bible tells us that "the power
of life and death is in the power of the tongue," and I am sure we could all agree with that. Words are powerful
things that can inspire, encourage, uplift and bring great comfort. They can also hurt, offend, bring defeat, tear-down
and even ruin lives.
I've seen words elevate a person's level of hope and faith to enormous heights and
I've seen words tear a person down to complete despair.
As a family counselor, I witness almost daily the destruction
left by uncaring, thoughtless or mean words. They can leave lasting emotional and mental scars that leave people hidden
in shells of pain and fear for the remainder of their lives.
I've spoken with couples on the verge of divorce
that have called each other names that are atrocious...leaving cuts so deep they are almost irrepairable. Words accuse,
identify falsely, and even lie. Words can be lethal.
Many of you might recall a recent news story where a
group of people got together and pretended to be a handsome young man courting a girl on "Myspace." It was
not a handsome young man at all but a vicious group of teenagers AND THEIR PARENTS who set about to be mean to this young
girl. After pretending to desire a relationship...they suddenly turned very ugly with their words and the result was,
the girl committed suicide. THAT'S HOW POWERFUL WORDS CAN BE!
The Bible tells us that we will be judged
by "every idle word we speak." That alone should tell us how seriously God takes what we say and why we say
As a pastor, I've had many awful things said to...and about me. I've been ridiculed, scolded,
lied about, insulted and once in a while...praised. I can tell you that some of these hurtful things have left me so
wounded at times that I literally became sick and couldn't get out of bed for days. Words can be so painful.
I've also witnessed the wonderful message of Christ being mis-used as a way of controlling people, which is so
mean-spirited and something I would not want to be judged for. I firmly believe that mis-using the words of Christ to
control or condemn people is the worst of all. It completely misrepresents our loving Savior.
Once in a while
I've met some people who actually take pride in their ability to "tell people off." If they only knew
how incredibly bad this makes them, surely they would stop?
My precious friends,
Please be careful what
you say to others...or about others. You can never take your words back, and oftentimes the damage is done...even when
forgiveness is asked for and given. Words can heal or they can kill. Let your words be full of mercy, grace, truth
and love. It will draw people to you and it can literally save lives.
I love you all,
"Christmas in the Country"
1:17 am cst
One of the most moving scripture passages in the Bible...in my opinion, is where Jesus is talking
about the final judgment and where He separates the "Sheep from the Goats," reminding us that reaching out to the
hungry, the sick, the lonely, the imprisoned and so forth is what determines the difference.
This Thursday and
Friday nights, Trinity Christian Center Church will host our ninth annual "Christmas in the Country" benefit concert
to raise money for "Meals on Wheels," a charitable organization that feeds shut-ins.
I'm so thankful
that over the past several years we have been able to raise upwards of $30,000.00 dollars to provide meals to shut-in's
through this effort.
Years ago...after reading this passage of scripture, I began to think of ways we could actively
participate in feeding the hungry and the idea for this concert was born. Now in our ninth year, the concert is a well
attended event and features some wonderful Christmas music from fine Christian artists.
I just wanted to take this
time to thank all of those who work so hard to make this concert a reality. The musicians and singers rehearse for months
in advance to put on a top-notch professional concert that would be enjoyed anywhere in America.
Also all the other
workers who help park cars, treat our guests to refreshments and those who work tirelessly to decorate the Church in such
a beautiful way.
Knowing that hungry people will be fed as a result of this effort is such a fulfilling thing,
and I know God will bless you each one.
I love you all,