Brother Paul Loved Them All

Brother Paul Loved them All

Today’s tip: “People need love the most when they deserve it the least”

Brother Paul loved everybody, and He loved them well, even if they were not so loveable. He just loved with the love of Jesus. That’s a standard we could all strive to reach, to love like Jesus, to be like Jesus.

But we’ve got to get back to the tip and to where the rubber meets the road: How do you love the unlovable? And why would you do that. The second answer is simple: Jesus told us to love others as He loves us – with unconditional love. No strings attached. The first answer might come down to a simple word: choice.

Love is a choice. We choose to love. The feelings may come, or they may not, but love is an action, not a feeling. Some people are easy to love, and others are not. I have been married for almost 24 years, and we love each other deeply, but the feelings are not always there. The commitment is there, to love for life, but the feelings come and go. Love is a choice.

The second thing is that love is not earned or deserved. It is a gift we give to one another based on our decision to love, not based on a qualification checklist that we establish to see if someone is worthy of love or not. Love is freely given.

Unloveable people may be that way because they never received love in the first place, and they are still looking for it. We are not born mean, though some may appear to be. Maybe aggressive, but not mean. People act out when they are hurting. Whatever the cause of the hurt, the heart cannot stay unresolved. We have to get it out. Sometimes the way it comes out is ugly, it is offensive, it stinks.

None of us deserve love all the time, and all of us need it. Jesus commands us to love one another. That is why those that do not deserve our love need it. That is why we all do. 

Right Place Right Time

In 2006 Mike and I had something happen to us that we will always remember and I wanted to tell you about it, as a reminder that sometimes God puts us in the right place at the exact right time.  

You see we lived in El Passo Texas and we were both wanting something to drink, so we decided to walk down to the corner store. It was somewhere around 10, 11 at night. We had made this trip a million times before, but this time as we were walking in, there was a guy on the phone, and he was screaming, and yelling we naturally wanted to get in and out, and avoid the situation.  

Well, we made it out of the store drink and snacks in hand, and made it about half way across the parking lot when I destinctly heard the guy yell loud enough that anyone who was there at the time could have heard him, “mom, I don’t have anywhere else to go!” Well, this changed everything, you see right after that, I heard the voice of the Lord tell me you have some space, you can let him stay the night. I looked over at Mike about to say something, and he said “I just heard the Lord tell me You have some flore space”  

Well, that settled it, not only did God tell me what he wanted, but he confirmed it with my husband.  

I was not planning on having a house guest, but aparently God had other plans. So, we approached the guy on the phone, and offered to give him a place to stay. As it turned out he had just come down off a crack high and he needed a lot more than a place to stay, he needed help, the kind only our Lord can offer. We talked to him, fed him, and told him about the Lord, then prayed. I can honestly say that as Mike and I went to sleep that night, we were praying to God this guy wouldn’t kill us in our sleep or something.  

I wish I could tell you that this story had a happy ending, and that he is now all better, honestly I don’t know what happened to him, you see we took him to a home that helped people get off the drugs and any other adictions in their life, but he did not stay. He was not ready to receive the help that was offered him at the time, and so he left.  

Why do I tell you this story? Not to earn our own glory, but because this is a perfect example of what can happen when you are used by God, he will make cool things happen. Was our letting Jake stay the night a bad thing? No we were serving the King, and that is never a bad thing. And who knows, he may have come to Christ later in life, I don’t know.  

What I do know, is that we were at the right place at the right time, and if you are willing to be avelable, God will do the same kind of thing with you. Maybe, its not letting someone stay the night, maybe, its just handing out a cup of cold water, or a bite to eat. Maybe, its offering a smile and a encouraging word to someone who needs it. The point is, when you do something, do it as if you are doing it for the Lord.  

Jesus even spoke to this, when he said these words. “When I was hungry you fed me. When I was thirsty you gave me something to drink, and when I was in prison you came to visit me.”  

Lets make the choice, and go out and do what we can for our Lord.  

Opening the Door of Grace

Opening the Door of Grace

Today’s tip: “Open the door for every person.”

Brother Paul was a kind, sweet, compassionate man and always thoughtful of the needs of others. He was also a servant at heart, which shows in every one of these lessons that he taught and lived by.

Like Brother Paul, our current preacher, Brother Connor, puts a lot of emphasis on receiving and living out God’s grace. Opening the door for everybody is one way to express that grace. What I’ve noticed, and what our preacher, Brother Connor emphasized is that there is a difference between men and women when it comes to opening doors and how we respond to that.

First of all, Brother Connor said, men should always open the doors for ladies. That is just common courtesy, and is definitely a southern tradition. Ladies will generally accept this from a man and will let them hold the door open. They like and deserve to be treated royally, like a queen or princess and graciously accept the offer.

Guys, on the other hand, will usually “help” in some way when the door is held open for them. Either we will say “I got it. Thanks anyway” or maybe we’ll put a hand, a foot, or even a little finger on the door, something to say that “I’m independent. I don’t need your help. I can do this on my own.”

Therein is the rub, guys, when it comes to the grace of God. If we do anything to try to help God save us, to rescue us from our sins, we are cheating grace. Its like we are trying to add to what Jesus did for us on the cross. It’s not Jesus plus something. Its just Jesus. We can totally trust what Jesus did on the cross, dying for our sins, and offering to give us eternal life with him.

Rev. 3:8 says “I know your works. I have set before you an open door, which no man can shut …”.

So men, and ladies, how is it with your soul? Have you opened your heart’s door to Jesus, to receive Him as your Lord and Savior? If not, then now is the time to do that. Just ask Him; If so, then let Him work in your life and fill your life with His grace as you walk with Him and share that grace with everyone.

I know that Brother Paul would agree, and would ask you; “Do you know Jesus?”

God Likes Fixer Uppers

This past weekend, and even this past week has had a myriad of emotions, questions of God, and learning how he works.

Starting the week, I attended a conference the southwest Pastors and leaders conference I also got to meet up with a dear friend and spend some time with her and her family.

The conference was good, in some places convicting, I will likely cover my take always on a future article, or podcast.

However, coming back and dealing with the normal tiredness that comes from travel, and going in to a weekend, our house flooded do to a water pipe busting. By the end of this, we had an inch and a half of water cover over 90 percent of our house.

God protected us however, and we didn’t lose much save some papers and some cardboard boxes.

As it turned out, we had just bought some tickets to see Toby Mac in concert, and our pastor came to check on the flooding situation, and basically insisted that we go ahead and go.

While out of town I found that no matter how much I tried, my nerves were stretched to their breaking point, and I found myself asking How can I be a good witness for God when I keep screwing up?

I kept losing my temper, going off on people, and then feeling like crud every time it happened, because of the burning desire to serve him and show him to everyone I meet.

Yet, even in all this, in all the screw ups, the circumstances that seem to spin out of control, in all of it, I noticed something that is often written in the Bible, yet it is often forgotten.

2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Now, Paul wrote this from a prison cell, and he was asking God to get rid of a thorn in the flesh we don’t know what that thorn was, though many have ideas of what it might have been, due to other things he has written in other parts of the bible.

However, God said My grace will give you what you need for the day.

In other parts of the bible, it says that God has new mercies for us every morning.

What’s the point?

God won’t leave us to scrounge on our own, he has plans for us, every day, plans for us to walk in what he has laid out. Will we screw up? You better believe it, we are fallen creatures, who every day need his Forgiveness. And the fact is, that God every day will extend forgiveness because of his love for us, and his son’s death on the cross.

Yes, but what happens when I Sin?

Jesus covered that by his blood, so when we find ourselves struggling, because we did it again, even if we so hate that thing we did, it doesn’t mean that we are left to our own devices. Nor does it mean that we are too screwed up to be fixed. God won’t leave us to hang, he gets us even better than we get ourselves.

These are things that God is repeatedly teaching me as I walk with him. Some days I get it, other days, all I can taste is the guilt and failure of my sin and shame and even through this all, God’s love covers a multitude of Sins.

I am reminded of what God tells my husband Mike every time this topic comes up, sometimes Mike will ask God why he likes to hang around us humans? And God’s answer is so uniquely him, and yet I think it truly says it all. “I like fixer uppers.”

I hope this was helpful to you, take heart, God is not done with you, or me, or anyone who has named Jesus Christ as Lord and savior.

In Christ, Teresa Blaes.

Set the Prisoner Free

prison-370111_640e

Set the Prisoner Free

Sometimes we feel trapped and we don’t know what to do. It may be something we did that caused our current situation to lock us in our own personal prison. On the other hand, it could be somebody else’s mistake, and we didn’t see it coming, or didn’t knowhow to avoid it. We are trapped. We are helpless. Life happens, and it seems we don’t have what it takes to respond.

If you have ever visited a jail, you know it is an eerie feeling when they let you in past the metal doors, then they close behind you. You hear that “clink” and you know you are all the way in, and that you are at the mercy of the guard to let you out when you are finished visiting or ministering to the prisoners.

Such was the case when I met John W. He was one of the prisoners that was learning a Christmas program, to be presented to members of our church. When I heard him sing a song that he wrote, I said “I’ve got to meet this guy!” He had a great voice, smooth guitar playing, and a simple but powerful message, like the song below, “I am Free”

“In my dreams I am free. There are no bars that can hold me. I can fly away it seems. I am free in my dreams. I lay me down to sleep at night. I pray the Lord will guide my flight. That great city, that distant shore, the path that leads to Heaven’s door. When I awake every day, I pray the Lord will light my way. He knows every breath I take. He knows the footprints I will make. In my dreams I am free. There are no bars that can hold me. I can fly away it seems. I am free in my dreams.”

There are times we can all relate to this. We are in physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual bondage, of our own doing or others. Whatever the cause, we need help. That help is found in Jesus. Not religion. Not drugs or other crutches, but Jesus. He knows where you are, what you need, and the best path to get beyond the bars that surround your life. Maybe you are a prisoner to your past. I have been there. The past may be full of guilt and regret, but we can’t move forward if we keep looking back. We may be trapped by our circumstances, our past, or our guilt, but Jesus will help us if we ask Him and let Him work in our lives. He is the one that can set you free from the prison of your heart. Waking or sleeping, He is there and will lead us through it all, if we let Him.

Are you a prisoner of your own heart? Your past? Your circumstances? Your hurts and habits? Ask Jesus to set you free. Invite Him in.

Waiter. Oh waiter.

“Waiter. Oh Waiter.”

Today starts an eight week series of devotionals, based on the advice
that our former pastor, Paul Schmidt lived by and passed on to his kids and
grand-kids. These devotionals are in honor and in memory of Brother Paul,
a sweet man of God who led over 1,000 people to Christ.

Today’s tip: “Always be kind to your waiters and
waitresses 
and tip them well.”

When my wife and I were living with her mother (waiting for our house to sell in Kentucky), we often went to a Mexican restaurant that had “99 cent Tacos.” That was a pretty good deal to feed three people for six dollars (we each got two.) While it didn’t take long for us to be seated, it did take a while to place and get our order because of the crowd. We usually knew what we wanted and were ready to order. When the waiter did get to us, we would ask for some water with lemon for my wife and I and water with no lemon for her mom. And then we waited … and waited … and we would wonder where our waiter was. “I know it’s busy, but come on” is what I was usually thinking. I was not very patient.

The thing is, we didn’t know anything about that waiter. We didn’t know where they were coming from, what they have been through and had to put up with that day. Are they sad? Are they lonely? Are they a Christian? Do they have a church home? Do they need some encouragement? What is the boss like? Is the crowd nice to them? I have been told that the Sunday crowd is the worst for waiters, with little or no tips, and lots of dumpy, grumpy attitudes – and maybe a plastic smile or two. The waiter needs Jesus and nobody knows it. Brother Paul never forgot that, nor should we.

Waiters and waitresses are servants (not slaves) and could be considered “the least of these” Jesus mentioned in Mat. 25:40. “Whatever you do to the least of these, my brethren, you do it unto me.”

Prayer: “Lord Jesus, help me to love others as much as You love me and to be a shining light to a lost and hurting world. In the name of Jesus. Amen.”

Tough Topic

 

Tough Topic

We need to talk about a difficult topic and I need to start with a confession. No, I have not done any huge sins, at least that I know of, but I do sin. What does that mean? It literally means I “miss the mark”, like basketball, shotput, or other sports. I don’t reach the goal. I mess up. To be human is to fully capable of missing the mark – a lot of marks. The fact is, everyone has done that, but why do you and I do that?

For myself, I would like to say I mess up because of my upbringing. I was raised in a home where my parents didn’t know how to get along and fought all the time. I was 17 when they divorced. I went through experiences that were traumatic in body, mind, and soul. Yes, that shaped me, but I still have a choice about how to respond to that. Do I need to get the pain out of my heart and soul? Yes. Do I need to deal with it and call it what it is? Absolutely. But even if all that could be worked out and resolved, there is still something in me that pulls me in the wrong direction in attitude, actions, or words.

Okay, well maybe genetics make us do bad things, think bad thoughts, have bad attitudes? Nope. I’m afraid not. True, there are personality types and there are strong tempraments. These things may make it very tough for us to behave, but we can still make right – or wrong – choices. “God just made me mean” is not going to cut it when we stand before God and give an account for our lives.

But there is hope, not that we will be perfect in this life (we all have a fallen nature), but because we can be forgiven. Our God, our Father, longs to forgive us. He is just waiting for us to ask. His love and forgiveness are unconditional.

Like you, I struggle with past hurts, hang ups, and habits. I wrestle with them all the time. Like you, I don’t always deal well with these messes of the soul. I struggle with self-condemnation, doubt, and false guilt, and sometimes lashing out. And like you, I am a sinner and need God’s help to rise above the sin, be forgiven, and move on in victory and peace. Jesus makes this possible. When I mess up I can come to Him and receive forgiveness, and so can you. God gives us the grace to make the next move. What will we do with that opportunity?

Accepted!

Approved!

We all want to be approved by others for what we do, what we say, and a thousand other criteria. We want people to like us and to tell us we are going good, by one standard or another. We want people to tell us that we look good, are good at what we do, that we have a compassionate heart, or that we have a sharp mind. Who doesn’t like getting credit for what they do and who they are?

If we’re honest, we want God’s approval too, especially if we have been hurt or disappointed by others. The song “I am Acceptable” deals with that longing, and leads us to understand this one fact: the gospel makes approval by God possible. To be clear, that doesn’t mean he approves of everything we do. When we sin, He doesn’t like it at all. God hates sin, but He loves sinners and provides a way for them to be forgiven. With that in mind, let’s look at this song.

Vs. 1: “The kids at school made fun of me when I was just a lad. They laughed at me and called me names and acted really bad. They said that I was not too cool, that I did not fit in. But then I met King Jesus, and found my worth in Him.”

Chorus: I am acceptable in Christ. I am acceptable in Him. Thou I may not always live it, still the Bible tells me so. I am acceptable in Him.

Vs. 2: As I grew up I found out soon my confidence was gone. I could not find the courage or strength to carry on. While others were successful, it seemed that I had none. Until I met the Savior, and He made me His own.

Chorus: So I am confident in Christ. Yes I am confident in Him. Though I may not always feel it, still I know His hand is sure. So I am confident in Him.

Vs. 3: When I accepted Jesus, my sins were paid in full. Even though I mess up still, His blood still bought my soul. I cannot change my status now. I stand complete in Him. I know I’m bound for Heaven, and am forgiven of my sin.

Chorus: I am forgiven in Christ. Yes, I’m forgiven in Him. Though my heart may say I’m guilty, still Christ’s blood has bought my soul. I am forgiven in Him.

Vs. 4: You’d think that when God sees me, He see a sinner true. He knows that I’m not perfect. Well, hey neither are you. His grace is so amazing. I cannot understand, how God could look through Jesus and see a clean pure man.

Chorus: Still I look clean to God in Christ. Yes I look clean to God in Him. For God looks straight through the blood of Him who died to save my soul, so I look clean to God in Him.”

Have you asked God to forgive you of your sins and come into your heart? If you haven’t turned to Him for eternal life, you can today. Where are you with Jesus?Have you given your heart to Jesus and asked him to give His heart to you? If you have, you are forgiven and accepted in Him. Let Jesus have your heart and hurt.

True Friends

 

True Friends

“There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” – Pr. 18:24

For some of you, this writing will be troublesome, though it is meant to be encouraging. As with last week, I will be using a song as a springboard. I wrote “God is Not a Child Abuser” many years ago. Read on, and you will get the connection between the scripture and the song.

Here is the chorus:

“God is not a child abuser. He doesn’t send His children to Hell. When we’re His sheep, then we’re His sheep, and with our soul it is well.”

There are all kinds of abuse, and there are untold numbers of victims. Physical abuse, which is disgusting, is visible. Sexual and emotional abuse are not as visible, and a sense of false guilt and fear keeps the abuse bottled up inside. Lord help all of us who have been through such abuse to get it exposed to the light and dealt with. But here’s the point – the abuser is the guilty party, not the victim, and the abuser will never be your friend – a friend would not do such things.

And Jesus wants to be your friend. He really does. He wants to listen to you, care for you, love on you, spend time with you. What you have been through is not God’s fault. Why does He allow such things? None of us know. It is unresolved. But what is resolved is this: God is there with us in the trenches, in the pain. He understands, and He knows what to do to help, if you and I will let Him. Friends will stay with you through it all. Jesus is a friend that will help you.

Whatever your unresolved issue is – abuse, neglect, confusion, pain of body, mind, spirit, broken dreams, hopes, families, heart … whatever it is, Jesus loves you and is waiting for your call. It is possible for friends, family, or others to let us down, but Jesus never will.

Blessings,

Pastor John

The Holy Spirit brought to my mind today the picture of Jesus holding a little lamb in His arms.
I kept that image in my mind all day.
So many times, in my life I have felt like that little lamb when the LORD has had to carry me through the difficult times in my life.
I remember well the suffering. I remember the pain and emptiness of the darkest hours.
I was often ashamed of being the broken and weak one, when others seemed so strong.
I questioned God at times asking if He was punishing me for something. I could not understand why He did not treat me more gently, and why I seemed to be given pain instead of peace when I needed it most.
As I thought on this, God began to speak to my heart:
“The little lamb is you Todd! You were wounded, hurting and suffering. I took you up into My arms and bound up your wounds.
I soothed you with My Healing Hands. I held you so close to me while you were crying out in pain.
You didn’t always know I was there, but I held you with such tender care.
I gave you strength and love through it all. And so many times, I just loved holding you tightly because I wanted you near me.
It is only my injured lambs that I strengthen like this. For the sleek and strong I will destroy.
The weak ones, I have laid down my life for. Do not ever be ashamed to be the weak one, for my strength is made perfect in your weakness.
I have held you right next to my heart as we walked through all the trials. So close you could hear my heartbeat and know my voice when you stilled yourself to listen.
So close that you would always know my voice, and I will always know you. Nothing can separate you from me now.
I have always been your good shepherd.
I sit at the center of the throne where I will be your shepherd throughout all eternity.
———– Lord I thank you tonight! ———–
“Thank you for allowing me to see that being the broken one, made me Your treasure. I am so thankful that I needed you Lord more than others needed you.
Your strength has truly been made perfect in my weakness, and you kept me through it all. You are the Holy Lamb of God! You are worthy of all praise my good shepherd, and I give you all the glory!”