Seize the Moment

“The National Football League” – “The NFL”. Of all the professional sports played, my favorite is professional football.  Well, I also love Curling, but that’s another story.  I have been a fan of pro football for as far back as I can remember.  I played intramural football in grade school and around the local neighborhoods.  I was very small while attending school so I did not participate in football in either Jr. High School or Sr. High School.  But that did not deter me.  Sunday afternoons were spent watching the NFL on television.

nfl logo

I guess you can say that I became a student of the game.  I was interested in intricacies of the game.  I wanted to learn both offensive and defensive strategies.  I understand the situations and play calling.  I was into everything.  I read a lot and studied my favorite teams.  I watch the NFL Draft every year.  I look at trades between the teams.  I am a FAN.

Chris Ogbonnaya, Vincent Rey

One thing I have learned is that the entire game of football can be expressed in taking advantage of every moment you get to move forward.  The whole objective of the game is to score points.  In order to do that you have to seize every moment that would produce points.  I’ve come to understand that as a team practices for the upcoming game, they go over everything that they need to have an advantage over their opponent.  They even go over what is called “the fundamentals”.  Those include blocking, tackling, running, catching passes, returning kicks, etc.  They also study play books and look at film.  You might say that this is enough, but many times it is not.  It all lies in the minds of the players.  Are they aware of what is happening on the field?  Do the really know what their opponent will do in every situation.  Good teams, playoff teams know their opponent that well.  Seizing every opportunity is key to success.  Their ears and eyes must be attentive to what is going on.

touchdown

Jesus Christ gave us very important instructions to seize opportunities that He lays before us.  Jesus said, For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17 ESV)  This was Jesus mission.  He said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10 ESV) Jesus was obedient to the end to reach those who were destined to die in their sins.  He looked and moved with one thought in mind.  This gospel that He was teaching must be shared to the entire world.  His plan would give everyone who believed the best opportunity to win.  The Bible says, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15 ESV)   For this is known, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16 ESV) Here in lies the absolute truth.  If we set our ears and eyes on Jesus Christ, we will always win.  Defeat is not a part of those who believe.

We must seize every opportunity to share the gospel with a dying and lost world.  It is our command.  It is spoken in the Word of God and is the absolute and unchangeable truth.  The question is are we focused on ourselves or are we ready to take hold of the utmost prize.  No football game victory.  No Super Bowl win can compare to what is in store for those who believe.  The Apostle Paul said this, “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 ESV)  The game plan you need to have is Jesus.  He is all you need.  Victory in Jesus, on-time every time.  You just need to believe.  It’s that simple.

Calvary

Friend, you may not have thought about the intricacies of the sport of football.  And that’s OK.  Really there are a lot more things to focus your mind on.  But let me tell you this.  There is nothing more important than a relationship with Jesus Christ as your Savior.  I made the choice to follow Jesus and his plan for my life in 1999.  Since then my life, my focus, my priorities have changed.  Has it been easy?  No.  Every day I have to pray for Jesus to give me the necessary steps to take to glorify Him with my life.  If you have never made the step to believe and trust in Jesus, you can do that if you want.  You can simply talk to Jesus and He will listen.  You can then be on the everlasting winning team.  Pray this little prayer.  It’s not the prayer that matters.  It’s your heart and acceptance of Jesus that saves you.

Lord, I know that I am a sinner.  I know that I have made mistakes in my life.  I’m told that if I confess these sins to You and repent from them that I can be saved.  Lord, forgive me of my sins.  Every one of them and I believe that you came to earth, was crucified, and died.  And you rose from the grave to defeat sin and death.  I believe this.  I confess this.  I receive Your saving grace.  I am now saved.  Thank You Lord.  I pray in the Name of Jesus.  Amen.

Glory to God!!!  Another child of God welcomed into the Family of God.  If you prayed and believed, it’s important for you to be fed daily with the love of Christ and the promises of His Word.  Find a local church to attend.  Talk to the Pastor and tell him that you are saved and want to know more.  I am sure he will be excited to walk with you on your journey to eternal life.  God bless you friend.  I will be praying for you.

Don’t believe me. Believe God!

It’s a new day

his mercies are new

Snow White had some companions.  Yes, the 7 dwarfs.  They each had a specific name and that’s how they lived their life.

Bashful — Long beard — Brown top, green hat, long eyelashes
Doc — Short beard — Red tunic, brown hat, glasses
Dopey — Beardless — Green tunic, purple hat, big ears
Grumpy — Long beard — Red tunic, brown hat, scowl
Happy — Short beard — Brown top, orange headpiece, smile
Sleepy — Long beard — Green top, blue hat, heavy eyelids
Sneezy — Short beard — brown jacket, orange headpiece, red nose

I think that I have been a little bit like all the dwarfs.  Really.  When I first saw the Disney movie, “Snow White” I enjoyed all of the dwarf characters.  Dwarf Dopey was the cutest to me.  I liked his big ears.  Doc was wise and commanded respect.  Happy is what I always wanted to be.  But sometimes, well more often than the rest, I was Dwarf Grumpy.

From an early childhood, I had trouble getting out of bed and getting ready for school.  Mom often lovingly called me Grumpy.  As the day progressed, the grumpiness left me and the day was a lot better for me.  I began to take the likeness of Dwarf Happy.

Those are childhood memories.  Life goes on and we all grow up and have to live an adult life.  I don’t think any longer at the dwarfs but rather look at these kinds of things.

Pain – We all have it from time to time and it is dressed in both mental and physical

Despair – Colored in the garment of No Hope

Turmoil – Sorry but this one should be also named, “Ugly”

Sickness – His clothes are torn and tattered

Focus – He is also called “The Wanderer”

Purpose – He has a lot of questions and some of them seem never to be answered.

Family – Another name for this one could be “Joy” or not

It quite a change from the Disney film isn’t it.  Our lives take so many different paths.  Each day is filled with choice and change.  Success and failure.  Joy and Sadness.  I can go on and on but I think you get the picture.  But friend, there is hope in the chaos of the world.  We can get back on track and fulfill our specially designed purpose.  The Bible says this, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

You might be saying that “it can’t be this simple because you don’t know what I face each day.  I wake up frustrated and then the day goes from there.  Somedays I’m OK, but most of the time I am either blasting off in anger or cuddled in a corner of despair.”   I tell you friend, I’ve been there.  But I’ve learned that there is a way for you to start over.  And that is with guidance and direction.  Hope renewed in the Name of Jesus.  Yes, that’s the way.  Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:48} and Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)  I believe that this is what gets me from day to day.  You see, it’s not my garment that I put on every morning, but rather the garment of Jesus Christ.  It is a garment of praise“The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” (Isaiah 61:3) 

Friend, we don’t live in a fairy tale.  I know that.  But what we have is a Way.  We can face each morning with the promises of God or not.  I choose God’s Holy Word to start my new day.  Do I forget sometimes?  Yes.  I’m not perfect.  But God…does not hold it against me because He is merciful and His grace has me covered.  Let me pray for you.

Heavenly Father.  Thank You for Your new mercies each day.  There is hope in You and the promises of Your Word.  Lord, turn our eyes and heart towards You each day.  You order our steps, may we remain in Your hand and walk with You.  Give us strength to face each day as we trust in You.  In Jesus Name. Amen. 

Don’t believe me. Believe God!

There ain’t nothing like a two-lane road

There ain’t nothing like a two-lane road

two lane road

Where am I “going” with this?  (bad pun)  But maybe not so much.  I have lived in the inner city, the glorious suburbs, and now in a quiet little town.  I’ve watched race riots as a boy. I have lived in apartments that don’t qualify for being called a place to live.  I’ve lived in a suburban home with my parents that brings back some great memories. And now for the last 18 years or so, I have lived in a quiet little town. Not much happens here. I’ve witnessed growth in this town.  I’ve seen housing developments being started and new homes being purchased.  I’ve noticed an increase in traffic in my small town.  But yet, right now, I love it here.

We are filled with so much junk that being busy is the norm.  I can’t remember the last time when I looked at my calendar and found it empty.  This week, as I write, my schedule and commitments are many.  The only day open to relax is tomorrow.  That’s it.  Again, being busy is the norm.  This isn’t new to many people. We hear it in conversations all the time and we get excited sometimes to tell anyone who will listen that we can’t believe how busy we are and we don’t have time for anything more.

AND THEN… let’s talk about the time it takes to go from one appointment to the next.  Sometimes we don’t have a lot extra time to spare.  So our option is to hit the Interstates and drive as fast as we can, sometimes exceeding the speed limit. Driving recklessly. Our schedules and appointments dictate what road we use.  The Interstates have some advantages but sometimes very busy.  They are multi-lane extensions of our day that enable a multitude of vehicles to travel all at the same time.  It’s an efficient way to travel. Many travelers use the Interstates.

I, on the other hand, use two-lane roads to travel. It’s because of where I live and what I need to do.  I am retired.  My schedule, though busy, keeps me off the Interstates unless my wife and I are taking weekends away or even vacation.  We feel much safer driving.

What’s my point?  The point is where is our attention.  When we’re driving along the multi-lane highway, the extension of our day, there is more to be aware of.

It can be very stressful.  We continue down the road watching our left and our right.  We’re using the rear view mirror.  We’re watching our rear and certainly our front.  We see detours.  Closed lanes.  And then the crazy drivers.  Sorry.  And then, when we need to exit we find ourselves in the wrong lane.  HELP!!!

On the two-lane road, there’s not as much going on around you.  Now I know that I am a different kind of sample.  My living in the rural country enables me to stay away from the highways.  I am privileged.  Yes, I’ll even call it blessed.

My dissertation of road travel is a microcosm of life itself.  Our lives are busy.  Daily travel lines up with the craziness of our schedules.  The stress is the same if the choice is to move at the fastest pace possible.  Busy = Use the Highway.  That’s the only way.  Our attention is held hostage. We’re looking left and right and then left again.  So that is why I say, “There ain’t nothing like a two-lane road”.

When our lives get so busy that our attention is consumed by the “stuff”, that should be a problem not the norm.  It can even infiltrate our spiritual life.  Our relationship with God is affected in lots of the same ways.  We have less time to read our Bible, to meditate on the Word of God.  And yes, we take less and less time to pray.  And isn’t that what this blog page is all about?  I think, at least for me, it’s time to get off of the high speed interstate and get back on the two-lane road.  Slowing down is ok.  Really. It gives us all the time to enjoy God’s presence.  I can talk to Him knowing full well that He listens to me.  It’s a great time to pray.  Now it’s a good idea not to close your eyes when praying.  All kidding aside, the two-lane road opens us a lot of opportunities.

Friend, we need to slow down and realize there are other options in my very busy life.  One of those is to remain in a close relationship with Jesus.  Jesus said in the Bible in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

As we find ourselves burdened with whatever is taking our eyes and attention away from Jesus, get off the highway and move over to the two-lane road.  There’s lots to experience when we focus on Jesus.  And there’s lots to see when we take the time to look.

Don’t believe me. Believe God.

What can I do?

say-a-little-prayer-banner

A few nights ago, I wasn’t able to sleep. So I thought that I would finish some work for my church. I sat down to my computer, logged in, and the screen went black. I dropped my head in sorrow knowing that my completing this work was important. I tried numerous times to reboot my computer but nothing worked. It was without life. Then I thought about what God’s Word says.

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—” John 14:16 NKJV

So I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to help me. I asked Nancy to join with me in prayer of agreement. After a few minutes of prayer, I attempted again to turn on my computer and it came alive. Nothing was lost. Everything was restored. Thank you Holy Spirit.

Why do I tell you all this? Isn’t this like our lives? We are broke down sometimes. We try and try and try but feel dead in our efforts. We’re lost. But God loves us so much that He gave.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 NKJV.

We also have access to our “helper”. Who resides in us to help and intercede for us to bring us back to life. Jesus is Alive and His Holy Spirit is in us ready to guide us along the path to fulfill God’s purpose.

Yes. My computer works again. Seems small and it is but the Holy Spirit not only helped me but took me through a life lesson. I pray you too will rest in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is your helper, but there are so many people lost who are wandering around dead. We can show them the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And they too can receive from God eternal life and His Holy Spirit. They’re living with a black life but can be restored and come alive in Christ and be a bright beacon of love and hope to others.
Goodnight.

Don’t believe me. Believe God!

Where are we going today, Lord

Crowded people on a bus

Life is a challenge.  I think everyone would agree.  The times we live in are ever-changing.  There are things happening in the world that sometimes shock and amaze me.  I read the news via electronic means (no more newspapers) and find something new or outrageous every time I log in.  I don’t necessarily think that is weird.  It’s just the time of the season. The one thing that fascinates me the most is how we get from point A to point B.

Movement and travel from place to place has gotten pretty easy nowadays.  And it seems everyone is in a hurry.  Got to go, now!  I don’t have time to talk to you.  I got to go!  I’ll meet with you later and we can talk.  Ask my assistant to make an appointment for you.  I’m sorry, but that time won’t work.  Can you make it tomorrow?  I’ll have more time.  I have a meeting to attend and I can’t reschedule.  Life goes on and on and on and on.  Where is there time to stop and take a breath?  Should there be times of rest?  Maybe there isn’t time to rest.  Is that normal?  Is that the standard?  I hope not.

I find choosing not to sleep at night.  Why?  It’s not because I have insomnia or a sleep disorder.  I do wear a C-PAP mask.  It’s very attractive.  Just ask my wife.  Seriously, my time to take a breath at the end of the day is when everyone else is sleeping.  Now you might say that this sounds ridiculous.  If it’s the only time I have to desensitize myself from the world, why not just put on the mask, settle down, close my eyes, and go to  sleep.  It’s because this is my time to spend talking to  God.  Don’t read into this.  I talk to God all day.  He is on my mind all day.  I talk to Him while I’m walking, driving, sitting at a table.  I talk to Him while watching television.  We just talk.  I even at one point had an old chair on my front porch and that’s where I would go to chat with God.  The chair finally broke and had to be sent to  the trash, but I think you get my point.

So why do I say that at the end of the day I spend time with God and not sleep.  Because as a prayer intercessor, I feel His presence over me.  In the darkness of the room, I see His light.  I feel His touch.  I hear His voice.  That’s my life as an intercessor.  It may not be something that you would do, but this is my life.  I do this every night.  Without fail, I lay in bed and begin to get with God.  It’s funny.  Just ask some of my friends who get a text message from me after midnight asking them if they are ok.  That’s because I felt the Lord tell me to pray for them.  It’s  amazing how God works and my friends tell me that they were really struggling with something and wanted someone to just listen to them.  That time is the most precious to me.

Recently, I have been feeling God leading me into a deeper understanding of intercession and the deep levels of praying and travailing before God.  I even sense a feeling that God is leading me into a greater understanding of His Throne Room where I can boldly come to Him in my times of need. (Hebrews 14:6)

So you may ask, “What is intercession?”  Well, briefly it’s a relational time spent in prayer with God seeking His response to prayer for another person.  Yes, it’s relational.  Prayer is worship and is completely relational.  Jesus demonstrated this clearly in John Chapter 17.  This is where Jesus prays at Gethsemane.  Jesus prays for Himself, but also prays for His disciples and for all believers.  He intercedes.  He fully knew what was ahead of Him.  He knew of the torment and torture He would face.  He knew that the Cross awaited Him.  He knew, yet He set aside His needs to intercede for others.  That my friend, is intercession at its deepest level.

So that’s what I’m hearing from the Lord.  God gave me a dream the other night of me on a bus.  The bus would stop and go and stop and go.  Over and over again.  The bus was filled with people of the world from all different backgrounds.  They were waiting to get off the bus at their stop.  Finally, God told me to get off the bus.  Look for the sign with your name on it.  When you find the sign, you’ll find me.  So I got off the bus and the Lord said to me, “Follow me.”

Friends, my life calling is to pray.  Do I get tired of carrying loads and circumstances of others so that I can effectually pray?  Sure I do.  But God says this.  “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  (James  5:16)  I’ve decided to take the narrow road into deeper levels of prayer with God.  I don’t know what I will encounter.  I don’t know what the enemy will do to try to  stop me.  I only know I must go.  I must go into the deep, deep, realm of prayer.  Isaiah said this,  Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)  I am crying out to God the same answer.  Send me.  

If you have a calling for the ministry of prayer, I beseech you friend to go deeper.  Go to where it’s only you and God.  Hear His voice and move in obedience.  I love and appreciate all of  you who have taken the time to read this.  God bless you!

Don’t believe me. Believe God.