Approaching God With Confidence

a-place2wrshpIt seems almost daily that I am hearing of great hurt in the lives of those around me. Families on the brink of divorce, battles with cancer, loss of loved ones…the list goes on and the occurrences seem to be on the increase. For those struggling, each prayer request is unique…seeking relief from the pain, anger at the loss, crying out for peace in the turmoil, understanding from the trouble, strength in the fear and uncertainty. Yet for those that know the Lord, despite the affliction, many are comforted by the One on the Throne. Although we all have our own stress and strain, perhaps not as deep as others, we are assured that our requests can be made to God and that we can seek refuge in the One who created and knows us. He knows both our strengths and weaknesses and yet he still invites us to come boldly to the throne.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NIV

Another translation says “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 NLT

Isn’t that great news! That we can come boldly to the throne with confidence, remembering who we are approaching, the Creator, the Alpha and Omega, the Omniscient God. He knows our needs and loves us so much that he offers us his mercy and grace.

I often can’t even begin to understand the suffering of those around me. Nor can I imagine enduring my own stress and strain without my Savior, but I am confident in the One on the Throne and I know that I can seek him with confidence in my time of need. I am comforted in the fact that I can boldly call upon him in prayer lifting up those who need additional comfort and support.  I can seek Him with sureness, knowing that he hears each request, sees each tear and feels each heartache. It is with this assurance that I know I will receive his mercy and grace. What a blessed assurance!

He Will Reign

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” – Revelation 11:15, NIV

imagesI love this verse, from which Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus originates, because of the definitive message that God is in charge and a day is coming where we will be united with all the saints in a glorious celebration of eternal life. And I look forward to the day when we all live in the real life Hallelujah Chorus. Where pain, sorrow and death are no more.

In these verses, we read that God has won the battle over evil and when our struggles will be over. In the meantime we have our work before us. To know what that is, we have to stay connected through worship, prayer, Bible reading and in community.

For the day is coming and the time is short. God’s kingdom is at hand…now is not the time to stop and wait. Now is the time to press on and show our joy and rejoicing with all those we meet, so that all will hear of the name of Jesus.

An Enduring Faith

I just had to share this post, from my good friend Charles. He has given me permission to repost this inspiring story of faith, hope and love…

549869_10200807855348065_337195721_nOn March 17th 2013, my wife Sandra completed her 7th LA Marathon. This year she had the honor of being chosen by the ALS Organization Orange County Chapter to represent them. Sandra was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in October 2010. It’s fatal with no cure. Most people die within 3-5 years of diagnosis.

Just six weeks prior she was hospitalized for three weeks with pneumonia, and her ALS condition had progressed to a point where she had to ultimately get a PEG feeding tube put into her stomach for her survival. She was down to 90 lbs and was extremely weak. Her body and neck severely atrophied. In complete faith and reliance on the Lord, we and countless others (friends, family, church, caregivers and many others) prayed for her to be able to physically withstand the race. God answered. She had a smile on the entire race and amazingly endured the whole event. Absolutely amazing.

Yesterday, God taught me and Sandra a little something about faith and hope. When we step off the “cliff of fear and doubt” in complete faith that the Lord will catch us…He does. There is hope in the Lord Jesus Christ Almighty. There is nothing He can’t do. Nothing. All glory to Him.

Sandra crossed the finish line yesterday in the supportive arms of the Lord. He was cradling her the whole time; it was clear as day. Thank you Lord Jesus for being in mine and Sandra’s lives.

To God be the glory!

Love Builds Up

tumblr_m98r37c2F01qdxd12o1_500We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. – 1 Corinthians 8:1-2, NIV

As Christians, we might be well qualified to give the right doctrinally correct response in any given circumstance, but as Paul tells us, our response needs to be done in love. Do we genuinely care about the person we are giving advice to? Or are we only interested in how wise and clever our advice sounds? Paul tells us knowledge alone puffs us up and makes us proud. If we genuinely want to help someone, we need to do it in love.

Rick Warren often quoted as saying, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” One of the best ways we show we care is by listening. Mostly people can work out for themselves what they should or shouldn’t do. What people really need is a sounding board so they can talk through the issues with someone who is prepared to listen objectively and then allow the person to come to their own conclusions.

The Amplified Bible puts it like this: “Yet mere knowledge causes people to be puffed up…, but love…edifies and builds up and encourages one to grow [to full stature]. If we respond with love, not information, we encourage others to grow into their full potential.”

I Thank My God

Phil 1:3The pastoral team at SeaCoast Grace Church did this piece over three years ago as a part of our weekend worship service. It was our way of saying thanks to those who were making an eternal difference through the ministries of the church. Seeing it brought back special memories with this incredibly talented team. While most of us have now moved on, I thank God for the time we shared together…

 

Best Commercials of Super Bowl XLVII

NFL_SB47_Primary_National_Feb_Year_RGBSince last year’s Super Bowl commercials were a little anti-climatic for me, I purposed this year not to watch any commercials in advance of the game. And that made a world of difference in my overall SuperBowl experience!  However, in hosting a Super Bowl party this year, I didn’t catch every commercial, and I have to admit that I wasn’t impressed with many of the commercials I saw in the first half of the game. But in the second half, the commercials came alive or maybe it’s the fact that the 49ers finally came alive, that changed my interest in the game and the commercials.

What was interesting to watch this year, was a lot of advertisers decided to tug on our heart-strings with ads that celebrated the America’s patriotic spirit and the people who make this nation great. Personally, I was encouraged by this sense of pride and patriotism that I saw reflected in these ads. However, on the flip side, I was disgusted by advertisers like GoDaddy and Carl’s Jr, who continue to demean men and women as sex objects in their ads. Yet overall, I was happy with the sense of family values reflected in this year’s line up.

So in review of this year’s Super Bowl ads, here are my picks for the best of Super Bowl XLVII:

Best Overall: Dodge Ram Commercial

Funniest: Tide Commercial

Most Entertaining: Pistachio Commercial

A 6 X 6 Plan

imagesAs a leader, what do you struggle with everyday? For most of us, our answer would be time! However, at the 2012 Global Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels challenged leaders to consider that its really our work habits that leaders struggle with on a day to day basis.

Watch as Bill Hybels talks about an exercise that helps his daily work habits. We can’t sprint for 6 months, but we can for 6 weeks. What would your 6×6’s be?

Our Owner’s Manual

Honda-Accord-2012-02Yesterday, I planned to take my 2012 Honda in for its first service. The dealer we had bought the car from in So Cal, had called to remind us that it was time for its three-month service. So I figured, I was well overdue and needed to get in to a dealer right away.

When I called AutoWest Honda in Roseville to schedule my three-month service, they informed me that they didn’t do a three a month service on a 2012 Honda Accord. “What do you mean,” I asked. “I received a call from our old dealer reminding me I needed to get in. And I already have 5,000 miles on my car. Surely, I at least need an oil change?” The man on the other phone proceeded to tell me about the monitoring features of the newer Honda’s and that unless I had a “red wrench” warning light on in my car, that it wasn’t due for a service. Confused and a little dumfounded, I asked, “Well how long do I go on before getting my car serviced?” And he went on to say, “Well that depends on how often and how far you drive your car! It could be a whole year before the service light goes on.” “You’ve got to be kidding me!,” I said and thanked the man for his time.

Since my SoCal dealer was so nice to give me a year’s worth of free oil changes, I thought surely the AutoWest dealer’s service department didn’t know what they’re doing. And in my doubt, I called the SoCal dealer’s service desk and got quite the opposite reaction. When I spoke with them, I got a scolding for waiting so long to bring my car in for service. “Sir,” the man said, “you should have brought your car in over 1,000 miles ago.” No mention of the warning light, no mention of the new monitoring system. So I asked him, “Well who am I to trust? I am getting two different opinions from two different Honda dealers!” He didn’t have an answer for me, so I thanked him for his time and hung up the phone.

To tip the scales, I decided I would call a third dealer! However, as I prepared to call another, my wife suggested I open up the glove box of my car and read this little booklet known as an “Owner’s Manual” and see what it might have to say! Brilliant, I surmised and I immediately went to the garage to get the manual. Sure enough, the service people at AutoWest Honda were right! They were following the manufacturer’s suggested service plan. The SoCal dealer, not so much!

As I considered my experience that day, I thought, how often it is in life that we are quick to seek man’s opinions when trying to make significant decisions that can have significant impact on our lives. For me, I was ready to call and ask for another man’s opinion about the maintenance of my car, while the Owner’s Manual, written by the manufacturer of the car, sat in the glove box. As Christians, aren’t we a lot like that? We’re quick to seek out the thoughts and opinions of our friends and family, when it comes to decision points in our lives, instead of pursuing what God has to say. Like me in this car service scenario, the manufacturers’ manual was readily available, but I was still looking to man’s opinions. Likewise, as Christian’s we forget that God has given us His Word, in order for us to live productively in this life! And like my Owner’s Manual’s, for many of us, God’s Word sits on a shelf collecting dust.

Well I don’t know about you, but next time I’m reading the Owners Manual! That’s God’s Word to us, written by the one who knows us best!

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