Thanks again

At least once each year, we are compelled to consider what things we are thankful for, and then to give thanks for them.  But if we only show gratitude for the blessings in our lives once each year, are we truly thankful?  How many times on an average day do you say or type ‘thanks’ to others?  From the time we start talking, we are often prompted by our parents to say thank you, to the degree that it may become automatic.  Maybe even like saying grace before a meal.  Does saying something make it true, even if we don’t feel thankful when we say it?  Possibly.  A practice I have started over this past year is to finish my email or text messages with a simple ‘thanks’, whether I think it is warranted or not.  Especially when some messages could be interpreted as harsh or uncaring, this seems to buffer it a bit.  Also, it does seem to make me a little more appreciative of things such as having a job, working with others, being in the game, and appreciating my family a little more.  What things are you most thankful for that you often take for granted? 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.  His love endures forever.  Psalm 136:1

There are a few teachers and professors who I haven’t seen since I have left school that I have always wanted to tell them how much I appreciated something they had done or said to me.  Does me not telling them something make it any less meaningful to me?  I know some of these school teachers have since passed away, as have other people I have loved and appreciated in my life but didn’t always get to say thanks to them while they were still here.  I found out this past week that one older gentleman my father and I had gotten to know over the past 5-10 years had just passed away.  I shared a story in the card I wrote to his family about an act of kindness he showed to me once that I really appreciated.  Whether now or later, I think it is good to share stories of unselfishness that we have experienced.  Who are some people you have appreciated in your life?  Do they know how much they mean to you? 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

So, as you gather around the dinner table today, or every day, take a moment to give thanks for all the people in your life who have shown kindness and unselfishness toward you.  Think of some small acts of unselfishness that have turned out to be big in your life and your memories.  If you have trouble thinking of any, ask God to show you.  Look for opportunities to share these stories with others and to return the favor or even ‘pay it forward’ to unsuspecting people in your life.  Thank God for new opportunities to love others and grow in your faith as you live out your life with an attitude of gratitude instead of only being thankful when prompted to do so.  May you be blessed as you give thanks in all circumstances you encounter today and always!

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Yours in Christ,


Find Freedom

What do you think of when you think of freedom?  Some might think of the civil war, others William Wallace in Braveheart, and some vacation.  All of us know there are people who are oppressed and are treated as less than.  I was at a pastors conference recently where a black pastor talked about “white privilege.” He shared about how when you a black father and you are teaching your 16 year old son to drive, he will teach him when he gets pulled over to have both hands on the steering wheel and not to make sudden movements.  I won’t have to teach my sons that.  That breaks me to the core.

Jesus died to purchase our freedom.  That freedom is a matter of eternity, spiritual bondage, social equality, and personal. It is bigger than we know and more personal than we realize.  Know this… There is more freedom to possess than you currently do. 

Many of us know…
John 1:If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

This is amazing.  When we confess our sin to God, He forgives us and cleanses us.  If this was all there was, it would be more than we deserve.  But this next one seems to be harder…

James 5:16-17 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.

So if we confess our sin to God we are forgiven, but if we confess them to another person we are healed!  This is way harder but I know first hand this can make all the difference!  This is not confess your sin to everyone!  This is confess your sin to another person so you can experience the healing from the addiction, pain, and struggle.  You see God did not intend for us to do life alone but in community. It is through relationship that we find healing and freedom.

So who do you have in your life to confess to.  I am not referring to a confessional booth with a priest, but a person who is further down the spiritual journey who loves you and can hold you accountable. The Holy Spirit through this person can lead you to freedom you cannot find apart from this person.

So this week what do you need to confess and to who? Don’t wait!  Don’t let fear keep you from doing it!  Trust and find freedom.

Helping People Live a Better Story

Brandon Sereg

Who Do You Think You Are: Ambassadors

I spent most of high school trying to define who I was. At various times I tried to fit in with the sports, popular, nerd, geek, stoner, and music crowds, constantly jumping from one thing to the next to “find myself.” To one degree or another, I think that’s pretty common in high school. But, I also think a lot of us adults spend a fair share of time trying to figure out who we are.  I also think a lot of us try to live through our kids. When I was a youth pastor one of the number one types of counseling I did was helping students convince their parents they should stop playing a sport. In THREE different cases, medical doctors told the student they needed to stop playing or risk permanent injuries, yet their parents wouldn’t let them. That may seem extreme, but if I saw it three times in five years in a town of 650 I’m guessing it happens relatively frequently. On another front, I’m currently working with a lot of very depressed people, mainly men, who have lost their jobs due to the economic crisis in Nicaragua. Like many men, they take a lot of their identity from their job, and now that they are unemployed they are totally lost. Not only is it causing them pain, but also their families, as they are often stressed out, angry, and frustrated with life and God. 

Instead of spending life trying to figure out who we are, trying to convince people that we are something, or having the world tell us who we are, we need to be who God made us to be. Over the next four weeks I want to look at four different things God has called us all to be. Here’s the first one: we are called to be ambassadors of Christ. 

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20

The reasons countries started having ambassadors was that in the days before all today’s communicatory methods about the only way for a leader to discuss anything with another leader was in person. Obviously, the leader couldn’t be everywhere they needed to be at once, so they appointed an ambassador that would speak for them. In most cases this person carried an authority similar to the leader themselves, speaking and negotiating on their behalf as if the leader themselves were in the room. That is the kind of responsibility and authority God has given to us. He calls us to be his ambassadors in this world, sharing the good news of Christ Jesus to everyone we can. This is in no way to say that we have the power to save people, for that is God’s alone. But it is to say that God has called us to be His tool for sharing the good news of eternal life with those around us. Is an ambassador of Christ one of the identities that you have? If not, I would challenge you to prayerfully consider taking on the mantle of ambassadorship God is offering you, and see how God can work through you. 


Healing Inside

2 Kings 5:1 New International Version (NIV)

Naaman Healed of Leprosy

Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lordhad given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

Like most men, Naaman from the outside looked like a valiant soldier, but on the inside, he had leprosy. Naaman was a Gentile in the Arminian Military. He was a men amongst men. He was a true leader and a true fighter, but he had a hole inside of him. The hole was killing him.

Most of us, as men, have an empty place inside. This place is where we either have a father wound or wounds that have hurt our hearts. The sad thing is if we do not get help in healing that wound, we will usually act out from that wound. It shows itself in forms anger, addictions, or solitude.

Naaman needed the Lord to heal his leprosy. The Lord was working in Naaman’s life by giving him victory or the Assyrians. He permitted Naaman to bring home a Jewish girl who trusted in God and know about the prophet Elisha, so she tells Naaman’s wife about the prophet, and she tells her husband.

The general has a choice to either continue and have his leprosy take its course or to travel to Samaria over 100 miles away. So, he makes the journey, but he gets angry and prideful along the way. He finally meets up with Elisha and was told to submerge himself 7 times in the dirty Jordan River.

Finally, Naaman submits to the prophet, Elisha. Then, Naaman is healed from his leprosy. It took one man to speak into the wounds of another for the Lord to do his work. 

Do you need healing?

Ask another man to walk with you and allow Jesus to heal you from the inside out.

Strength and Courage



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March 8-18

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