Give Him A Call

It has now been 24 days since North Carolina issued their “Stay at home” order that has quarantined more than 10 million people. (Stay at home orders by State)

My wife and I have been honoring that order even though we live just over the border in South Carolina.

Our church in North Carolina has been streaming every Sunday for four weeks now.  I thank God for their service. It has been a technical challenge for the Pastors and the Worship Team, but they have been dedicated including Easter Sunday.

communion SCCC

Communion Service at home. (Click on image and advance to see how the elements were administered)

Some would say we are attending the Church of the Living Room. Some of our friends may be going to St. Mattress of the Springs or Bedside Baptist.

Is it real? Yes… different, but this is our new reality.

It has been weird not being able to fellowship with our friends at Steele Creek Church of Charlotte. Being as relational as I am, I miss it.

Some folks are keeping their home groups intact by meeting on Zoom. Some are doing bible studies by way of video conferencing. That’s impressive.

Our home group hasn’t met since mid-March. I miss them.

isolationThis is a weird time. It is easy to become so isolated that you forget there are other people out there.

Our friends become characters on TV like; Hotch from Criminal Minds and the Reagan family on Blue Bloods.

Our perspective of the world is blurry. Our sense of reality is not real. It feels like we are living in a bubble.

How are you surviving your quarantine? How are you spending your time? Who are you connecting with?

time with GodEven my time with God has dwindled. You would think that since we are sequestered to our homes that we would spend more time with Him, but it is really easy to fall into the traps of the enemy through distractions like Netflix and games on social media or our phones.

A friend of mine put it beautifully in her blog entitled Call Waiting. A graceful reminder that God is always available through prayer.

My prayer today is that we all find time with God. He is not punishing us with this plague. He really just wants to spend time with us.

Give Him a call.

give Him a call with text

Empty Parking Lots

Easter Sunday is here and we are all in our homes… alone…due to the Coronavirus. Or so we feel.

empty lotOur church parking lots are empty, but remember, so is Jesus’ tomb.

Easter reminds us that He is alive and because He is alive, He is with us every minute of every day.

To help you with that reminder, here are a few songs that I find helpful to renew my spirit. Listen to my Easter Playlist or find your own mix. Just don’t let the enemy tell you no one cares that you are home alone. That is a lie. We are all here together… in Spirit and in His Truth.

empty-tomb

Today is the most important day for a Christian. It is because He rose from the dead that we believe. Otherwise we are just another religion.

If you are not a believer that Jesus died for you and that he rose from the dead, please consider reading the Book of John.  Here is a good summary in two parts (Chapter 1-12 and Chapter 13-21). If nothing else, remember that he loves you and always will.

These songs are not listed in any particular order. Enjoy these individually or listen to them on my Easter Playlist.  Note: If interested, check out my Music Playlist for other great Praise & Worship music.

The Lord’s Prayer performed by Andrea Bocelli

 

Forever performed by Kari Jobe

 

We’re You There performed by Michael W. Smith

 

Glorious Day performed by Casting Crowns

 

Because He Lives performed by Alabama

 

He Is Alive performed by Third Day

 

It Is Well performed by Kristene DiMarco

 

What A Friend We Have In Jesus performed by Larry Ford

 

All My Hope performed by Crowder

 

Jesus Paid It All performed by Newsboys

 

Thank you Jesus for sacrificing Your life on the cross, delivering us and by doing so insuring we are never alone.

Easter Is Coming

We all know that Easter is coming and signs of Spring are blooming everywhere.

Coming out of the dark and cold of Winter is energizing with the sun shining brighter and the days getting longer.

Yes, we may celebrate Easter with a Reese’s chocolate and peanut butter Easter Bunny. These reminders are woven into our daily lives as soon as the first petals appear on the Cherry Blossoms.

For me though, this time of year is a great time to reflect on the Cross.

What we tend to forget is how we got here and who saved us.

Jesus Christ was anticipating our freedom and our salvation as Easter drew near. He was excited for all of His believers knowing that we were being given the gift of eternal life.

He also wanted to show His love to the entire world so He chose to extend forgiveness and to offer everyone salvation.

He chose a brutal death in a brutal time in history. Why not by “guillotine” or “lethal injection?” Those methods are much quicker and much humane then wearing a crown of thorns and experiencing excruciating beatings, scourging and suffocation.

Luke’s depiction of the crucifixion (http://bit.ly/2VngHXI) captures the agony of the Cross much like The Passion (http://bit.ly/2CZoHa2) does of the scourging Christ took at the hands of the Romans.

The fact that Christ chose to surrender himself to go through this hell is just another example of how much He loves us.

Considering what Jesus went through and how He suffered for us, please remember how He forgave us of our sins, was ridiculed in the process, and surrendered Himself to our Father in Heaven.

And on Easter Sunday morning celebrate His Resurrection because He rose from the dead and today He is alive seated at the right hand of the Father until the day He returns.

Hallelujah.

Glorious Day – Casting Crowns
http://bit.ly/2VvgNMM

Carry My Cross – Third Day
http://bit.ly/2CSu4YL

Forever – Kari Jobe
http://bit.ly/2D1pWpj

GOING DEEP

What is scourging?
http://bit.ly/2CZoHa2

Crucifixion
http://bit.ly/2VkGMGM

How Do We Know That God Has Got Us?

Chris BradfordToday we all said goodbye to an awesome man, Chris Bradford.

He was a loving husband, caring and supportive son, and a pioneer among men advocating for victims of intimate partner violence.

I met Chris in July of 2008 when he showed up at a Domestic Violence Speakers Bureau training I was conducting.  He was hungry to learn and had an overflowing passion to support survivors and victims of emotional, verbal and physical abuse.

Chris was one of only a handful of men that showed up and participated whole heartedly in an effort to engage other men in turning the tide of violence against women and girls.

He had courage and determination to make a difference. And he did.  He leaves a legacy and he clearly touched many lives in his short time with us.

The primary challenge for me today is realizing that even being a champion for others, as Chris was, we also have our own struggles. We can advocate and participate in rallies and gain accreditation, but we are alone with our own internal battles to fight.

Chris, at 42, was apparently so consumed in his own fight that he decided he couldn’t win. He forgot for a moment how awesome he was. It is with a heavy heart to say… Chris took his own life. How? We don’t know. It isn’t important.

What is important is we all (especially men) need to learn how to ask for help.

I keep asking myself how I missed the signs that Chris was struggling. We talked at length about how to help men change their behavior, but we never asked each other how we were doing ourselves.

Chris knew how much I appreciated his help, his support and his courage, but I never told him I loved him. And I do love Chris. He is my brother in Christ and I look forward to seeing him again in heaven.

Yes. Chris was a Believer. But like all of us (believer or not) we can become isolated  which is exactly what the enemy wants. His goal is to steal, kill and destroy us.  For me, this is even more reason why we need each other.

Chris didn’t ask for help from anyone that we know of.  Maybe he struggled like every one of us thinking, “I’m a man. I don’t need help.” Maybe he felt he had his life under control and the enemy caught him at a weak moment.

The bottom line is this. We need to be willing to ask for help and we have to be willing to really dig in to get to know our brothers (and sisters).

Every man (and women) has a story.  We live together. We work together. We have church and Bible study together. But do we really know what each other is dealing with when we are left alone?

Whether we are believers in a risen Savior or not, many of us have experienced the enemy’s tactics; making us feel weak, insignificant and alone. This is why it is so important to realize that we are here to help each other.

In the beginning, God created man so He (our Creator) could be in relationship with us. He loves us completely.  He did not design us to be alone, but to love and support one another.

So today I say to each and every one of my family members, my friends, and especially my wife (who I do not tell enough), I love you.

We all need the reminder that we are loved.  Especially on a day like today.

I love how Chris’ wife Dana shared how God showed her His love in the following post a few days after he died.

Yesterday after seeing Chris for the last time, I returned home just before a big thunderstorm. Within 5 minutes of me entering our home, the rain began. My home was full of guests bringing me and my family love and support. I stepped outside on our deck and let God cry on me. I lifted my face and arms to heaven and let Him wash over me. It’s not often that it downpours (this) heavily with rain and thunder and the sun shining (all) at the same time. God and I wept together and I was the most drenched by His tears. (As I stepped back indoors) I was told my face looked different and that was because I was kissed by God and covered in His tears. I stepped back into the rain (for more).

God does love us so much and He does cry with us now as we say goodbye to Chris.

I choose to believe that our God is so awesome that He is now holding Chris. Reminding Chris how awesome he is in God’s eyes.

Going forward let us remember Chris for his pioneer spirit and his awesome heart for others. Chris always put our needs before his own.

Let us also keep Dana and Chris’ family in our daily prayers and consider helping Dana pay for today’s awesome service with a donation to the Fundraiser for Dana Bradford.

How do we know that God has got us? He shows us by revealing His love for each and every one of us… through… each and every one of us.

Chris said it perfectly when he said goodbye. “Be awesome to each other.”

Be awesome to each other

So now what?

So the Easter holiday has come and gone, lent has passed, and my bracket is done. Now what?

Well it appears to me that all of those are simply opportunities to get spiritual. They heighten our awareness of what we perceive is important to God or they replace God with religion or a worldly passion. Instead of Living On Target. (by Pastor Kelvin Smith > http://tiny.cc/vkzuuw)
05-09-48_basketball_original
For me, going to church on Sunday is like half time of the big game. It is time to regroup, get built back up, and be encouraged to go out there and do it again. For me we are called to be “the church” every day; all day. Why? Because “we are the church” and we are here to help all in need around us, not just a select few.

Now, I have a personal relation with Jesus. You can too. God doesn’t want us to come by for a visit. He sent His son to die for us because He wants to spend time with us. He created us to be in relationship with Him. He is my friend, my helper, my Deliverer, my Savior.

We are not designed to go it alone. The world tells us “we can do it ourselves if we put our mind to it.” When you ask Jesus into your life, the wall between you and God comes down and the promise of Jesus is your’s. He said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Religion cannot alleviate your loneliness. Beliefs can’t do it either. Only a person can do that; a person who will never leave you, never forsake you, no strings attached. That person is Jesus Christ.

We might like to think that our lives are all about us, but the reality is that all of our choices in life influence not only us, but the people around us. In the end our lives (and deaths) speak loudly of our love for, or rejection of, God.

Having troubles? God, our Father is standing there ready to help as only He can, but we have got to release any bitterness that is making our burden so much heavier. Why carry that load? Your Father wants to trade your troubles for His grace.

Yes, it’s a lonely world out there. And yes, you may walk on Lonely Street again? But the day you come to Jesus Christ is your last day alone. God never looks away from us or ignores us. He is always there watching over us and working things out in accordance with His plan. You may even feel that He is chasing you. He is, because He loves you and He wants you. He doesn’t need you. He wants you.

Once we come to know Jesus, it becomes all about Jesus and not about us. “Us” gets us in trouble. We are our own worst enemy in many cases. When you make choices with Jesus in your life He intercedes and helps you make those tough decisions. Remember, He will never leave you.
Empty-Tomb-Picture-07
Easter is the greatest day in a Christian’s life. Without His resurrection we are ALL lost. When we invite Jesus into our hearts, repent of our sins (and we all sin), and surrender our lives to Him, we are assured life… not death. By simply believing that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead, we are guaranteed eternity with Him in heaven.

Won’t you consider giving your life to Him and begin living every day… all day with peace and harmony? If you are willing say this prayer. Either aloud or quietly in your heart. Be open and honest and say…

“Jesus, I am lost without you. I am sorry for my sins and want to follow you. I believe you God that you sent your son to die for my sins. I surrender my life to you and ask that you live in my heart. Change my heart. Thank you Jesus.”

If you prayed this, know that you are now a new believer in Christ. Your past is your past. That means it is behind you and there is no need to look in the rear view mirror.

Now, get connected with a local church. Remember, we are not wired to go it alone. There are people that God wants to connect you with all day… every day.

May His peace be with you and I’ll look forward to seeing you in heaven if not before.

In fact, maybe I’ll see you at half time. Go Saints!

Where was Jesus on Holy Saturday?

Sometimes I wonder when the Bible has gaps in time and isn’t very clear what really took place. Like Jesus’ childhood between His visit to the temple at age 12 (Luke 2:41-51) until His ministry started at age 30.

So what actually took place on Holy Saturday? (the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday)

Was this a day of rest for Jesus where He lay in a tomb? Or was He in a fight with Satan in which He clearly defeated death?
Guards_at_the_tomb
The only biblical reference to what happened on the Saturday in between Jesus’ death and resurrection is found in Matthew 27:62-66. After sundown on Saturday—the end of the Sabbath—the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pontius Pilate and asked that a guard be placed at Jesus’ tomb to prevent His disciples from removing the body. They remembered Jesus saying that He would rise again in three days (John 2:19-21) and wanted to do everything they could to prevent that. We know from the succeeding accounts that the Roman guards were inadequate to prevent the resurrection and those who returned to the tomb Sunday morning found it empty. The Lord had risen.

What is your take?

Reference > http://www.BibleGateway.com (pick your translation of choice)