Tag Archives: Words of Wisdom

Come Follow Me….

“Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.” Matt. 4:18-22

So guys, the inspiration for this post came to me today when I was working on my Bible Study which is due this Friday. The theme of my Bible Study is to step outside our comfort zones, the walls we place around ourselves to keep us safe. Comfort zones aren’t necessarily bad, in fact sometimes they are good. I know I like my comfort zone…maybe a little too much. But I digress…

Comfort zones help show us where and where we should not go. They define clear boundaries of what is normal. But when we stay inside our zones, we do not grow, learn, experience, or change the world around us. In fact, we do nothing at all…we don’t change. We stay the same person that we have always been.

So my Bible Study was on that topic and a thought occurred to me. How many times does Jesus beckon to us and says, “Come, follow me,” and we do nothing at all. I believe God is always calling us to new things. He wants us to always be discovering Him and diving deeper into His heart. But He also wants us to be actively serving Him as well. In fact, service to God is just an outward expression of our love towards Him.

I can’t help but think of how many times Jesus has called me to follow Him and I turned away because it called me outside my comfort zone, my normal. You see, God is the type to rock our worlds because if He didn’t shake things up every now and then, we would slowly sink into complacency. That is not to say that God is responsible for every earth shaking even that happens in our lives. He WILL NOT hurt us in any way, but at the same time God doesn’t want us comfortable in our relationship. A comfortable relationship is often times a complacent relationship. When we fail to strive to dive deeper into God’s heart, we are telling Him that we don’t want to learn about Him any more, that we think we know enough.

I wonder if Peter and Andrew when they had heard Jesus say, “Come, follow me,” turned the other way and dismissed Him as a raving lunatic on the beach if Jesus would have asked them again. I also wonder if Jesus calls me to something big and I dismiss Him will He ask me a second time?


What Is Fear?

So, like the title says, what is fear? What defines fear? Or even a better way of wording it, what makes an object or a place fearful? Is it associated with a bad memory, a traumatic experience or even just something unearthly creepy that sends chills up and down your spine? Well, this post is based on a video episode by a man named Neil T. Anderson and hopefully, this will encourage you to see the truth behind some of your fears.

Well, fear can be sometimes seen as something that is sometimes irrational. Some phobias, for example, such as the fear of spiders or the fear of tight spaces can seem to some silly and even downright stupid except for the person experiencing the phobia. While the reason you have a phobia is sometimes unknown, some are brought on by traumatic and abusive circumstances or situations. For example, if as a child you were locked in a small, dark closet for being bad, chances are, you will associate small, tight places and even darkness as something bad.

The point is, we cannot really know what defines fear or what makes one thing scary to someone else and not to another. Or can we?

Isaiah 8:13-14, “13 “It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread. “Then He shall become a sanctuary…”

This verse clearly says that God should be the one thing we fear. He should be the one we “dread”. Not because He is mean or even a cruel God but simply because He is God and we are men. He WILL NOT squish us like bugs but He is a jealous God and deeply desires a relationship with us. Fearing God means respecting and honoring Him for who He is; the Maker of Heaven and earth. Once we develop that mentality — that God is God and we are not — then He will become our safe place, our refuge. God ALWAYS takes care of His own.

So then, what is fear? Or rather, what should fear be? Based on that passage, our fear should be a deep and healthy reverence for God. Easier said than done, I know. In fact, I am probably the last person who should be talking about fear. I have feared many things. When I was a child, I was scared of the dark. But even then, my mother always told me that God is with me and when He is with me, who can be against me?

The Year of Jubilee

Hello all,

Well, another year has come and gone. Looking back over the last 12 months, I am almost astonished at how far I’ve come. The Lord has really been showing me things about myself, about my future, and about who I am in Him. If you have known me for an extended period of time, you will know that I have had struggles with who my identity was. I think almost everyone can understand what I am talking about. But this past year, I have learned not only who I am, but how much I am worth. So this little email is about a few things I have learned on my journey to become, well, me. 🙂

First off, the Year of Jubilee…well, I would ask for a show of hands on how many people know what that is but, obviously that wouldn’t work. The Year of Jubilee is the year at the end of the seven sabbatical years. So it would occur at the every 50 years. In the Year of Jubilee, an Israelite was required to return any land that he had purchased and set free any of his slaves. Being a slave in the biblical Jewish term wasn’t like the picture of slaves we have today. In Bible times, if you had borrowed money from someone but couldn’t repay it, you were required to sell yourself to your debtor to work off your debt. (Jesus alludes to it in Matt. 18:21-35 with the parable of the unforgiving servant) But every 50 years you were set free. That is the biblical context of the Year of Jubilee. (On a side note: Just because in the Old Testament under the old covenant the Year of Jubilee happened only every 50 years doesn’t mean that today, after the death of Christ every year cannot be a Year of Jubilee. In fact, I firmly believe that we can choose whether or not our year will be a good year or a bad year. It all hinges on perspective)

But now to apply that to modern day terms…there are a couple things that we can learn. The first is:The Year of Jubilee is About Receiving Forgiveness. That is ultimately what Christianity is about, receiving forgiveness and erasing the debt or wrongdoing. Basically wipe the slate clean. At the beginning of a new year, people all over the globe promise to change, promise to work out, promise to be good — and whatever. We always say, “I’m going to start with a clean slate!” But so often we don’t realize how hard that is. Starting with a clean slate requires us to clean out all the gunk first!

(John2:1-11 “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each.Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.”

These servants can represent us. We are commanded to follow Christ instructions just as Mary commanded the servants “whatever He says to you, do it”. Now these stone water pots were filled with dirty water. These were the water pots that everyone washed in. And life back then was dirty and hard. Jesus commanded them to fill them with water. But to do that, they first had to be emptied. They had to be emptied of all the yucky and nasty stuff that had built up inside in order for them to be filled with fresh, pure, clean water.

In Bible times, wine was almost a necessity. It became symbolic of sustenance and life. In order for us to be filled with life from the Holy Spirit, we must first empty out our “water pots” and clean out all the gunk inside. What better time to do that than the New Year! The New Year symbolizes new beginnings, a fresh start. If we truly want to start off 2014 with a bang, we must empty out all of the ugly baggage and stuff from 2013. (Phil. 3:13 “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead”)

The second thing is: the Year of Jubilee is About Obtaining the Promises (or Inheritance of God). If for some reason a family needed money and they sold their land which was also their family inheritance, at the end of the sabbatical cycle, they would receive it back. That is a firm promise of God, that He WILL restore. (Joel 2:25 “Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten”.) You see, the year of Jubilee is not only about cleaning out our lives and receiving the forgiveness of God, but it is also the year that we receive back what has been taken from us. Whatever has been stolen from us, health, finances, etc, God promises restoration. So, I pray that this year will be a year of healing and restoration. I know I have had a few large bumps in 2013 where sometimes I wondered what the heck I was even doing. Sometimes someone or something I counted on let me down (and believe me, when I am let down, I am let down hard 🙂 ) I would wonder what the heck was going on. But now I can see that it was all part of the restoration process. The years of the locust has ended and I feel like God wants to restore His people. We just have to be willing to clean out all of our junk.

So these are a couple things that I learned in 2013. Hopefully I have been able to encourage you as well. 🙂 Remember to smile and keep pushing on! It’s the Year of Jubilee!

Shepherds and the Nativity


Many of the Christmas stories and tales revolve around the Virgin Mary, Baby Jesus, the glorious Star and even the gifts that the wise-men brought. But not many tales are told about the Shepherds. The shepherd who were the first to witness Jesus after his birth. So in this blog post, I am going to share some little known but interesting facts about the shepherds that, hopefully, will give you, my readers, a new look on the Christmas story.

Several people have told me that the reason why both shepherds and wise-men were present at Jesus’ birth is because God was making the point that Jesus was not just for wealthy people but poor people as well. However, the shepherds were not poor. In fact, if Jesus had wanted poor people at his birth, he could have invited several of the beggars that sat near the gates of Jerusalem. These shepherds tended the flocks of the priests. They watched the lambs that were used during the sacrifices in the temple and were paid very well for their services.

So if they were not poor, what was the reason they were there? Well, even if being a temple shepherd in Bible times was a fairly decent job it did have its drawbacks. One of them being that they smelled. Now sheep are actually very dirty and smelly creatures and not the fluffy, happy and WHITE illustrations portrayed in children’s books. So the old song, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”….well, you get my idea. 🙂 But the biggest drawback to being a shepherd was that they were forever in a state of ritual uncleanliness.

In Leviticus are the laws laid down by God for His people to follow. And among those laws were ones that forbid making contact with feces and dead things. Whenever a Jew touched either of those things there were several strict purification rights that needed to be observed. So being part of a culture that focused largely on cleanliness (cleanliness is next to Godliness right? 🙂 ) it was impossible for these shepherds to get clean. Because of their defiled conditions, they could never enter the Temple, offer a sacrifice, go to a synagogue. Now a days, as Christians, we can enjoy a relationship with God through prayer and Bible reading on our own. However to these Jewish shepherds in the time of Jesus and especially the Temple authorities the idea of worshiping God apart from the Temple was thought to be anathema. True religion was a corporate effort and not a singular relationship.

So for all practical purposes even the most pious shepherd was labelled unclean and could never come into the presence of God. But it was these shepherds that God chose to unveil His only Son first. It was these shepherds that God invited personally to come into His presence and see Him face to face. Why? Because in Christ, there is no clean or unclean. We cannot NOT come into His presence because we are “unclean”. We can enjoy a relationship with Him that is both personable and intimate. Christ was for all mankind. He removed that barriers of cleanliness because in our sinful state, no amount of ritual cleansing can make us clean. Oh physically yes, we might be spotless, but inside, we are dirty. Only the blood of Jesus can make us clean, inside and out. 🙂

I think it is pretty amazing that God chose the unclean shepherd over the Pharisees and priests to witness His birth. But the religious leaders knew about Jesus’ birth. They had read the prophecies and counted the years. When the wise-men showed up at Herod’s doorstep he called all the teachers of the law together and they were able to tell him where and when Jesus would be born. However, these Pharisees and priests were unclean too. For all of their ritual cleansing, they were white washed tombs. (Matt. 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”) They were unclean because they were dead inside.

They missed their long awaited Messiah because they were too focused on keeping the Law. They let their rituals replace the relationship. So this Christmas season, I want to encourage you to not forget the reason for the season. Yes, that is a phrase that is thrown around a lot this time of year but really, how often do we actually think of what it means. Because of Jesus’ birth, there is now no distinction, no male or female, no Jew or Gentile and no clean or unclean. We are all equal in the sight of God. If that isn’t a reason to celebrate, then I don’t know what is!

Lessons From Our Founding Fathers…

     In my previous post, I had mentioned that I will be going to the East Coast for a mission trip. The theme of the Mission Trip is Revolutionize and it is about training up this generation to becoming the next generation’s leaders. As I was putting together the Bible study for the trip, I stumbled across four lessons that I think we can all learn from. These lessons were portrayed by our founding fathers as they “Revolutionized” America. They are, as follows… 🙂

The courage of convictions: Our founders clung to and fought for the cause of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” With years of hindsight and the benefit of our modern comforts, it is hard to comprehend their sacrifices. Leadership in a global economy requires steady conviction in the face of incredible challenges. To say that our Founding Fathers were men of conviction would be an understatement, but all great leaders are. What will be the measure of your leadership?

The sanctity of sacrifice: In the formation of our republic and in signing the Declaration of Independence, the Founders pledged to one another, “our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor.” The leadership principle of sacrifice is not new. Our Founders understood it well. And to that end we understand that sacrificial leadership is selfless, not self-serving. The commitment made 236 years ago reminds us that no great accomplishment comes without sacrifice and that causes greater than self are the lasting ones. Time tested through two centuries, today’s best leaders understand the power of sacrifice when it comes to making a lasting impact.

The fulfillment of faith: To their credit, the Founders understood and valued the practice of faith. In their wisdom the founders recognized the truth that we are all “created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” by which we live our lives and practice our faith, whether or in a higher power or ideals greater than ourselves. Stepping back to contemplate allows us to see the world around us, and the people entrusted to our leadership, in a more meaningful way. The philosphy a great leader should have is today is not so much an “independence from” mentality as it is a “responsibility toward” philosophy. We are not independant from our peers but rather, we have a responsibility towards them. Remember a leader cannot be a leader without followers. The difference between a “thoughtful leader” and a “wise leader” is this: Thoughtful leaders seek to be a blessing and to serve causes greater than self; wise ones remember the source.

The power of purpose: It was through persecution, hardships, and struggles whereby the Founders rallied and mutually pledged their “reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” in declaring our independence. The innumerable lessons our Founders taught us transcend political ideology and religious creed. The rally today is for leaders with purpose, backed by the power of their convictions, faith, and sacrifice, to make a difference in the world. Just as the Founders were men of clear purpose and mission, successful leadership today charts a clear course with the right women and men in place with the necessary tools to achieve their goals.

Proverbs 11:14 “For lack of guidance a nation falls,but victory is won through many advisers.” You see, where there is no leadership, the people will fall. But in “abundance of advisers” there is victory!” You guys are the “abundant advisers”. Each and everyone of you are leaders in your own way. It is up to us to step up and help shape the next generation or step down and let it fall!

     Those conclude my thoughts for the day! 🙂