Up A Tree


This coming Sunday we are starting a new series for Easter, called “What Jesus did for you!” 

Easter is not about brightly colored eggs, wearing pastels, or enjoying a big meal, although it could include these.  For some, Easter will be a great day, spent surrounded by family and friends.  But for others, it will be a sad day, because Easter is a reminder of a loved one who has died and is now desperately missed.

Easter is about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Millions and millions of Christians around the world celebrate Easter every year.  But for far too many of us the story has become boring and rote.  We have the basic facts down.  Jesus was arrested.  He was crucified.  And three days later, God raised Him from the dead.

Death seems so cruel, so harsh, and so final.  That is what the disciples were feeling when they saw their Lord, whom they had left everything to follow, hanging on the cross.  They were devastated.  Death had crushed them.  But if they would have gone back in their memories, they would have recalled an important event and statement Jesus had made.

They would have remembered Jesus standing at the tomb of His close friend Lazarus. They would have remembered that Jesus did something completely unexpected: He wept (see John 11:35 NIV).  Jesus wept, because He knew that death was not part of God's original plan.  Humanity was not meant to grow old, to suffer with disease, or to die.  But because of the sin of Adam and Eve, sin entered the human race, and death followed with it.  And death spread to all of us.  Jesus wept, because it broke His heart.

But standing there at Lazarus' tomb, Jesus also delivered these hope-filled words: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live." (John 11:25 NIV).  Death is not the end.  And the resurrection of Jesus Christ proves it.

Yet we miss something very important.  We miss what turns Easter from a one-dimensional holiday to a multi-dimensional, life-transforming way of life.

Jesus’s earthly mission was to bring salvation to the lost.  He meant people like Zacchaeus, a descendant of Abraham, who worked for the oppressor (Roman Government) as a tax collector.  Tax collectors earned their living by adding an extra surcharge for themselves.  These Jews were considered traitors.

However, they were still Jews, sons of the Covenant and children of Abraham, trying to make a living.  Zacchaeus was not unlike some of us in our own day, separating “what we do” from “who we are”.  “After all,” we may tell ourselves, “we are simply trying to make a living.”  Yet Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus more than he wanted to maintain his economic comfort.  Jesus knew that.  He had come to Jericho that day seeking to save the lost.

He knew Zacchaeus like He knows each one of us.  The “crowds” around Zacchaeus may have deemed him as unworthy of the encounter that was about to occur, but God did not see him this way.  Jesus saw Zacchaeus’ heart and He drew him to Himself.

Then there is Mary Magdalene, a Jewish woman who traveled with Jesus as one of His followers (minus the seven demons).  Let’s not forget about the crowd of people who met Jesus as He came into the city of Jerusalem praising Him, and then a week later, became His judge and jury. Jesus knew the hearts of all of them.

It’s important that we don’t miss that the story of the Resurrection is not just Jesus’ story — it’s our story as well.

You see, you are a part of the Resurrection.  Jesus’ death and Resurrection did not just prove there was life after death.  The Resurrection proves you can have life after death, that there’s life beyond your grave.

Jesus says, if you trust in Him, death becomes a transition, not an ending point.

One day your heart will stop.  That will be the end of your body.  But it will not be the end of you.  God made you to last forever.  That’s why you often have a feeling there’s more to life than this.  Jesus made this amazing promise in John 11:25 NIV “I am the resurrection and the life.”  

The physical resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of our faith.  Without it, Christianity crumbles.  It is precisely because the physical resurrection of Christ is at the very heart of Christianity that it is constantly under attack.  Our culture frequently denies the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ due to a bias against miracles.  It is common for deviant Christianity and cultism to deny the physical resurrection of Christ as well.  For these reasons, we must be equipped to defend this essential of essentials.

Jesus provided the final exclamation mark for His physical resurrection by telling the disciples that His resurrected body was comprised of "flesh and bones." "Touch me and see;" He says, "a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have" (Luke 24:39 NIV).

That’s quite a statement!  Jesus proved He could do it by resurrecting Himself.  Otherwise, we would have no reason to believe it.  If Jesus had not died on the cross and been resurrected more than 2,000 years ago, you would have zero chance of getting to Heaven — no hope of the afterlife and no eternal life.

The Bible says, “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also” (1 Corinthians 6:14 NIV).

As Easter comes our way this year, that’s a truth to hang our lives upon.  It’s great news that Jesus rose from the dead. But what turns that truth from black and white to living color is that one day — if you trust in Him — He will raise you from the grave, too.

That’s the promise of Easter.

Make Every Day Count!


Mark your calendar March 11th through April 1st and come celebrate our Rising Savoir!

Praying Daily


Since the beginning of the year I have been challenging you to set some time aside every day with Jesus.  If you have done this you probably have noticed that when you plan to spend that time reading the Bible, all kinds of crazy things start happening.  You get up in the morning and read the newspaper, every section of it and everything is fine.  There are no phone calls, no disturbances.  Nothing is going on.  But when you say, “I am going to read my Bible”, the phone starts ringing.  Kids start screaming, the dog starts barking because a leaf fell from the tree outside the kitchen window. 

You start again only to remember that you forgot to pick up the dry cleaning because you have an important meeting today.  And that causes you to remember that you forgot to return a phone call to your third cousin twice removed.  Things like this are not necessary evil things that are keeping you from God’s Word - they are just things.  They are distractions.  You need to listen to me; the old devil does not want you to read your Bible or pray.  Did you know that?  He wants to distract you, because the Bible and prayer are crucial weapons for spiritual battle. 

Over the last seven weeks we have been talking about prayer.  Many of you have rediscovered what God can do when we pray.  I love the pictures you have sent me about building your “WAR ROOMS” to pray in.  When we get serious about it our lives are changed.  I don’t believe there is a greater privilege for anyone than being able to personally talk with and speak into the ears of Almighty God.   No church program, religious event, political effort, or humanitarian cause can trump the awesome power of what God can do in response to the prayers of His people.

The topic of prayer has been studied, written about, talked about, and preached on by millions of people for thousands of years.  But in my interactions with believers over the years I have discovered that very few of us understand prayer.  That is why I was so led by the Lord to share a series of messages on this subject.  When people truly understand prayer, that understanding changes how they live, what they pray, whether they pray, and the expectations they have from prayers.

I have learned that for many Christians, prayer is like the national anthem before a sporting event.  It gets the game started but has absolutely no relevance to what is happening on the field.  Prayer can become a mere habit!  Think about that for a moment; when we pray before we eat, we don’t really utilize our minds as we are praying; we just say the same general thing each time.

Let me give you another good example, when we go to bed at night, we simply recite a call for blessing a protection with a little bit of gratitude thrown in for good measure.  Prayer has become a routine.  For most it is like a spare tire; we want it there in case we really need it, but when it’s not needed, we want it out of the way – where we don’t have to deal with it or see it.  In our arsenal the greatest weapon we have against the spiritual forces is prayer.  “To pray diligently is more than half the task”, said Martin Luther.  We may not always understand the how and the why of prayer, but two things are clear: the disaster of no prayer and the power of real prayer.  Real prayer takes the spiritual battle seriously as it joins with the Lord of all and might.

So, I want to share with you 6 prayers that I discovered Jesus prayed.  His prayers glorified the Father and showed how deeply He wanted God’s will to be done, even at the greatest expense.  His prayers demonstrated His deep love for us and His desire for our unity.  Through His prayer, He teaches us how to pray to the Father.  He teaches us to forgive.

The Lord’s Prayer

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.”      (Matthew 6:9-13 NIV)

Glorify Your Name

 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say?  ‘Father, save me from this hour?’  No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.  ‘Father, glorify your name!’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.’” -(John 12:27-28 NIV)

Prayer for Believers

“I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you.  Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name – the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” – (John 17:11 NIV)

Prayer for unity and love

“My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you sent me.” (John 17:20-21 NIV)

Prayer for God’s will be done

“Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.”    (Matthew 26:39 NIV)

Father forgive them

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”    (Luke 23:33 NIV)

Finally, prayer is something that we should all want to do daily.  Whether one is a new believer or an established one, prayer should always be considered as the best way to speak to God. 

Remember the devil is running around looking for whom to devour, but we are to resist him steadfastly and the best way is through prayers.  So, get praying today without ceasing.

Make every Day Count



Sometimes God Says "No."

Do you know what it's like to ask God for something and to keep receiving a "No"?  I do.  And it hurts.  But I have learned through the years that God's "no" is often a gift greater than what I had originally asked for.
Whether I was trying to better myself, trying to land a new job, or trying to pray open a door of opportunity, every time I received a "no" I later learned what God was really saying was "Wait - I have something far better for you than you thought to ask for." Yet all I could see in front of me was a rejection letter.  More waiting.  Another closed door.  Discouragement!
They I realized that God answers every single prayer.  Now, He does not answer them the way you like it every time.  But it's an answer.  No is an answer.  Wait is an answer.  Grow up is an answer.  In a little while is an answer.  In my way is an answer.  God never leaves a prayer unanswered.  Every prayer is answered.  Not every prayer God says yes to.  And there are many, many reasons for that.
And there are a lot of examples in the Bible where God says no to great men and women of faith.  Prayers that were prayed by Abraham, God says no. Moses, no. Daniel, no. Job, Jonah, no. Elijah, no. Peter, Paul, God said no to them too. Jesus, yes, even God's Son.  There are prayers that were "unanswered", meaning they were not answered the way Jesus asked.  Even His own Son, God said no to.
Now, that can be confusing.  And I didn't want to close this series without dealing with when God says no.  Because you are going to have many no's from God in your lifetime. That can be confusing. It can be, well, if God is truly loving and if God has the power to control everything, why is my request denied? Good question. It can be confusing. It can be frustrating. Why do some people get miracles and others don't? Why when we pray for people who are sick, some of them get well and some die? I've prayed for a lot of people who got well. I've prayed for a lot of people who didn't get well. That's frustrating.
Why do some people get relief from their pain and others don't? Why do some couples pray for a child and they get a child and others just as sincere, claiming the promises of God, they don't get a child? And their hearts are broken by that. In other words, why does God sometimes say yes and why does God sometimes say no?
Well, when you think about it, there are some mysteries but there are also some obvious things. For instance, one thing that's obvious is this: When two people are praying for the opposite thing, obviously God can't answer both. If a child is praying for it to snow so they don't have to go to school, and the parent is praying for it to be clear weather, so they can go to work, God is obviously gonna say no to one of them.
Several weeks ago, before the football season ended, all over America at football games people were praying for the opposing team.  Half of them were disappointed.  I don't really think God cares who wins the Super Bowl.  I am not sure that He answers a prayer for a team.  But even if He did, only 50 percent would get the answer they wanted.  It's like I am praying for my candidate, you are praying for your candidate.  Clearly, obviously, a lot of fervent people are praying for opposite things.  That's not gonna work.
There is a great example in the Bible shown to us through a lady named Hannah.  In her case she became so desperate to have a son that she poured out her heart to God in prayer, promising to give her son back to God if he were to finally give her one.  It was then, after Hannah came to that place of complete surrender, that we read God's gracious, yet timely response: "And the Lord remembered her.  So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son..." (1 Samuel 1:19-20 NIV).
Hannah got her long-awaited son, but years later than she had anticipated.  The apparent "no" from God was really "wait."  And the wait turned out to be the best blessing of all.  Hannah did not have just any baby.  She had a son named Samuel who became one of Israel's greatest prophets and priests.  He not only anointed Israel's first two kings, but he helped turn the nation's heart back toward God.  Wow!  Hannah simply asked God for a baby.  But God wanted to give her - and a nation - so much more than she asked.  So, He waited and did it in His timing, not hers.
Scripture tells us that God can do "all things.  No plan of (His) can be thwarted" (Job 42:2 NIV).  Scripture also tells us that "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17, NIV).  So, if every gift is from God, and you are praying for a "gift" and it's not arriving, God is the One who, for some reason, is deciding to withhold that gift.  And, I have learned through the years that some of God's "gifts" to us are the very things He decides to withhold.
God's "gifts" sometimes take the form of difficulties, losses, frustrations and outright pain.  We don't originally see them as gifts, but more like disappointments, aggravations, or even rejections.  But they are gifts, nonetheless, that are given to us to grow us to a new level in our spiritual life or to prepare us for something better that God has in store for us, or perhaps to even help us see something extraordinary about God that we could not see before.
Make Every Day Count!
Come this Sunday, don’t stay home!

If My People Will Pray


We live in unusual times.  In America, our economy is currently doing great, but nothing else is.  America is reeling again.  Families have been ripped apart and individual lives have been torn apart.  One day we are reeling from devastating hurricanes, the next day we are torn apart by racial divisions, the next day we are ripped apart by another shooting.  The pain is palpable, the shock tangible.  Can America still be healed?

It’s a time of economic prosperity but moral poverty.  America needs a national healing: in our government, in our schools, in our businesses, in our neighborhoods, in our families, in our homes, in our bodies, and in our hearts and minds.  But how do we do it?  How do we pray for healing and restoration?  

God is calling out to us, "America, you need Me!"  There is no political solution.  There is no social band-aid that can be applied.  There is no law that can be passed that will heal our sickly land.

Instead, we need to get on our faces before the Lord acknowledging our own sins and shortcomings, not pointing the finger at others but rather at ourselves.  And whatever our views on climate control and gun control and immigration reform and President Trump and social justice may be, we need to implore the only one who can heal our land.  What else is needed to get our attention? 

Like it or not, our nation was founded on biblical principles, with God at the center of our nation, and America can only be great if America is good.  Without Him, our condition is terminal.  With Him, there is hope—but we must act now.

In 1952 President Harry Truman signed a bill into law, making the National Day of Prayer for America an annual event on the first Thursday of May, encouraging millions across our nation to unite together to pray.  We have come a long way since that day.

And now, more than ever, maybe America needs more than a National Day of Prayer, however great and needed that is.  Maybe America needs days of prayer, hearts that are continually shaped and changed by prayer, lives that are loving and bold because of prayer, a nation that comes back to our God with a spirit of prayer, that is continually asking for His grace and healing.

Sometimes it's hard to know where to begin or how to pray.  We just know we have a deep ache in our hearts that cries out for God's mercy, and a longing to see Him heal our land.  And maybe other times we wonder how effective our prayers even are.  

Yet God is faithful, no matter how we feel, and over all that swirls around us in our nation today.

That same power that broke prison chains, raised Lazarus from the dead, and parted the Red Sea, the same power that healed the blind man, and delivered the delirious from demons, that same power is at work still today.  He is the same. Yesterday, today, and forever.

May we stand together and pray for God to heal our land and strengthen His people. May we pray for all those in authority.  May we pray for God’s miraculous intervening, for blind eyes to be opened, for many to see the power of our Lord as never before.

And for times when it’s difficult to know even what to pray, we can trust these words as a place to begin, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”   Romans 8:26 NLT

We are never left to fend for ourselves, wrestling in worry, consumed with fear, or driven towards hate.  He reminds us He is with us, He will help us, that He has not lost control, but has a plan.  And His purposes will prevail.

He hears our prayers, He knows our needs.  There's great power in uniting together, turning our hearts towards God, and praying on behalf of America, our nation. 

Remembering today this powerful truth upon which this nation was founded.  We are "One Nation Under God."  He is where our real hope is found, not in our leaders, not in our economy, not in the condition of our nation today, or any other day.  "...my hope comes from Him." Psalm 62:5 NRSV

What is our part?  What can one person do?  In, Luke 5 there is a great story of a group of guys who took a friend who was paralyzed and in need of healing to the feet of Jesus.  In this account, we find three characteristics that this guy’s uses to help their friend get to Jesus.


  This man was healed because his friends cared.  It all starts with us caring about people who are hurting.  Romans 15:2 NLT says, “We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord”.  God used these guys because they were sensitive to a friend’s need.  Believe it or not He will use us when we are not preoccupied with our own needs and start caring more about others than we do ourselves.


The men believed God would heal their friend.  Take a look at Luke 5:20 NIV “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’”  It was not the paralytic’s faith that made him well; it was the faith of his friends.  How many people do you know who are so paralyzed they cannot believe in God?  That’s when we have to believe for them.


These friends did not just pray for their friend; they took action as well.  It’s not enough just to pray for someone who is hurting.  We must act!  Jesus says in Luke 14:23 NLT “Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.”  There is a slew of examples in the Bible of people taking others to Jesus.

Make Every Day Count!


Come Sunday and be a part of Healing for a hurting World!