Thursday, January 27, 2011

Paul Simon - You Can Call Me Al (High Quality)

Love this song. I'm sure that there is meaning to life in there somewhere. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Calling the Sick...

"Healthy people don't need a doctor--sick people do.  Now go and learn the meaning of this scripture:  'I want you to be merciful; I don't want your sacrifices.'  For I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough" (Matthew 9:13).

No doubt about it!  Jesus is a radical!  Refusing to live up to the expectations of the religious elite, Jesus makes his home among sinners.  He hangs out with the sick for they are the ones who need a doctor.  If Jesus was the cure for cancer--then he would surround himself with cancer.  If He was a custodian--then he would go to dirty and neglected houses.  Better than any of these things--Jesus is a Savior, therefore, he surrounds himself with lost, hopeless, and broken failures.  He calls sinners--those who don't already think that they are good enough.  What is the most shameful and embarrassing thing about you?  That's why Jesus calls you!  He isn't calling your good stuff--it will only get in the way.  He is calling the worst in you--the stuff that you wished never happened--the things that you hope no one knows about.  He is calling the sinner in you.  He is calling the brokenness so that he can provide healing.  Why?  For the glory of God!  If I could point to anything in my life that merits salvation then I could glory in that.  But because I am saved--not by my works--but by Christ's gift, there is nothing in me worthy of praise--only God can be glorified!  It's all Him!  "The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Step Seven

Step Seven: "We humbly asked God to remove all our shortcomings".

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

I can't think of too much harder than becoming willing to give up the very things that I have used my entire life to cope with life's difficulties.  "God, would you take away my comfort.  Please remove my support and my coping mechanisms.  Exercise out of me the very things that I substitute for you."  Step Seven is a prayer for change.  It is to beg God to do whatever is necessary in order to transform me through and through.  Step Seven requires great courage and a willingness to embrace great pain.

"Step Seven goes beyond confession and asks God to change us....When we repent, we turn from our sins.  At the same time, we turn to God.  We turn from self-will to his will" (Don Williams, Jesus and Addiction).

This kind of prayer requires courage and but it also takes a great deal of trust in God.  He does not strip us naked of our unhealthy shortcomings just to leave us barren and alone in some far off desert.  He takes away the garbage that we have put our trust in for perhaps our entire lives so that he can replace it with something better--Himself!

"God loves us.  God accepts us.  We are his.  We are no longer worthless and alone, bouncing around in a meaningless universe" (Don Williams, Jesus and Addiction).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Step Six

Step Six:  "We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character".

"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up" (James 4:10).

In my view, Step Six, may in fact be the hardest step to realize when one is honestly working through the steps to realize authentic and transformational life change.  Jesus asked the lame man by the Bethesday Pool, "Do you really want to be healed?"  In the same way, step six causes us to internalize the question, "Do I really want to get better?"  Do I really want to be done with all of the maladaptive coping mechanisms (those things that I do to keep from dealing with life)? 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Step Five

Step Five:  "We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs".

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed" (James 5:16).

Step Five is maybe the scariest of all of the steps.  The thought of confessing sins can intimidate just about anyone.  I've been in the middle of several confessions-gone-wrong and I so I completely understand why the thought of confessing sins would be frightening.  People don't always keep confidence.  People don't always extend Christ's grace and forgiveness.  People don't always represent the gospel very well.  Though scary, confession remains essential and a fundamental biblical principle.  James 5:16 concludes, "Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.  The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much".

Don Williams in his book, Jesus and Addiction, writes, "Confession is the only way we can be free from captivity.  Through confession, we're not only admitting our sins, but also giving ourselves to God to be brought into a right relationship with him through the death of his Son".  It's the sharing of our stuff with Jesus and with His human representatives that allows the murky shadows to become brilliantly cleansed.  It's not an option--it's essential in our spiritual development.  We must confess our sins to each other.  Williams continues, "If we don't seek others out in confession, we will miss an important spiritual, relational, and biblical truth--God ministers to us through others.  They are often the means through which Jesus makes his intercession and mercy effective.  As we confess, our hypocrisy will blessedly melt.  We will no longer be religious but real.  After people see our brokenness and tears they will extend their love and mercy in Jesus' name."

"To be freed from fear is to be free to face our sins and acknowledge our pain before God and each other"  --Don Williams, Jesus and Addiction.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Few Suggestions...

For those of you who read my blog regularly, I would like to suggest a few others:

The history of Grace River Church is being recorded by Amy Fulton at  Amy writes about Grace River from her perspective as our #1 sound guru.  You'll find lots of pictures and commentary dating all the way back to our beginning as a church.

My beautiful and talented young bride Tina writes regularly at  She also has a website at  Tina is a speaker, writer, worship leader and all-around God-gifted individual.  She has a keyboard and will travel if you need a speaker/worship leader for an upcoming event.  She has an amazing testimony and is a compelling teacher.

Our church website is at  In addition to info about our young church, we hope to soon have audio and eventually video of messages and worship segments.  There are lots of pictures in the photo tab that you can check out.  We have worshipped in 5 locations in our first year.  Last summer we baptized 11 people in a inflatable swimming pool right in the middle of Windsor's Main Park.  Exciting Stuff!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Step Four

Step Four:  "We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves".

"Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord" (Lamentations 3:40).

Step Four is perhaps the hardest of the steps to accomplish.  It involves taking an honest and sober look at everyone and everything that has happened in one's life--the good and the bad.  For me, it is a detailed record of my sins, my relationships, my failures, and my successes.  It is to answer the question, "Who am I?"  What have I done?  What has been done to me?  Don Williams writes, "Jesus comes to free us from the past.  This includes our bondage to Satan, this fallen world system, sin, the law, and the flesh.  As we make our 'searching and fearless moral inventory,' much of this will be specifically exposed.  It will include the hurts that we've inflicted on others as well as the hurts that have been inflicted upon us".  The fourth step takes time, it takes courage, it takes honesty, and it takes the searchlight of the Holy Spirit shining into the dark places of our heart that we would rather avoid.  It's also a step not to take alone.  It's advisable to have a counselor, mentor, or accountability partner that you can share your stuff with.  A moral inventory can be extremely painful at times.

To find a Celebrate Recovery group in your area click here.

Monday, January 03, 2011

The Storehouse Principle

The primary text for "The Storehouse Principle" is found in Deuteronomy 28:8, "The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your storehouses and in all that you put your hand to..." Only two other times in the Bible does God "command" a blessing. In this case, the blessing is commanded upon our storehouses. So what exactly is a storehouse?

King David created one in order to gather supplies for the building of the temple (1 Chronicles 27:25). Nehemiah had storehouses for the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 7:70-72; 13:12-13). Hezekiah had storehouses (2 Chronicles 31:6-10; 32:27-30). Of course, Joseph was made famous for his storehouses (Genesis 41). A storehouse is simply a place of savings--a place where you put your surplus. It's like a savings account.

Here's a couple of things that we need to grasp in order to have a complete biblical understanding of finances. First of all, God has already provided more than we need. He is the God of more than enough! He has never done anything without providing more than enough. There are numerous examples throughout scripture. When the Israelites were picking up manna in the desert--there was always more than enough. When Jesus fed the 5000--everyone ate until they were full and then 12 baskets of leftovers were collected. God is not limited in His resources. The second thing to understand about our finances is that we tend to either hoard or spend if we believe that resources are limited. People, however, with an abundance mentality are able to wait and save. You and I will be able to set up a storehouse only if we come to believe that there are plenty of resources. A third thing to understand about your finances is that God blesses us so that we can bless others. He doesn't give to you so that you can just selfishly use His blessings just for your own purposes. We are stewards (managers) of all that God sends our way. God owns everything and He allows us to simply manage a portion of His resources.

How do you begin a storehouse? A storehouse begins with anything that we set aside to save. If you find a penny--pick it up and put it in your storehouse. If you get a extra money--out it in the storehouse. You can have a garage sale. You can sell stuff that you no longer need on Craig's List or something like it. You can dedicate a percentage or an amount of each paycheck to go into your storehouse. When you get enough money collected you might want to take it to the bank and open a "Storehouse Account". Don't worry about starting small--just start! Then once you've begun, ask God to "command a blessing" upon your storehouse (Deut. 28:8).

When can you spend your storehouse? Only when God says that you can. Consider it His money. Never use it unless you are absolutely sure that God has asked you to.

Here are some New Testament passages that might provide a bit more insight: Luke 16:10-13; Matthew 25:1-13; Luke 19. You might want to look these up and read them and ask the Spirit to give you some application in regards to starting a storehouse.

Now, go and get started!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A Year of Ones

Welcome to a brand new year!

Today's date is all ones: 1-1-11.

God's list of "ones" is found in Ephesians 4:4-6: "There is ONE body and ONE Spirit, just as also you were called in ONE hope of your calling; ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all". If you count the "ones" you will find that there are seven of them in this passage. Seven is the number of perfection. Therefore, these are the perfect "ones"!

Ephesians 4 contains another list of seven--located in the first three verses. It's a description of how we are to live our lives. "(1) Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, (2) with all humility (3) and gentleness, (4) with patience, (5) showing tolerance for one another (6) in love, (7) being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace".

Just for grins, let's match up these two lists of seven found in Ephesians 4 and make some application.

#1: If we all "walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called", then we will have "one body" (one church). In other words, when we all do well what we are called to do in the church, then our church is strong and unified. We are the unified body of Christ.

#2: When we serve each other in the church with "all humility", then the "one Spirit" is able to show up and empower us. Pride is the biggest threat to unity. And without unity--there will be no Spirit working among us.

#3: "You were called in one hope of your calling". Live out your calling in "gentleness". Remember that we are all broken and damaged and therefore need to be handled gently. We need to do what God has called us to do without leaving a wake of damaged people behind us. Serve the church gently.

#4: Serve with "patience" because there is "one Lord" and you're not Him . Things will not always happen in your timing. They will always happen in God's timing. Be patient and wait upon the Lord.

#5: We are to, "show tolerance for one another" because we have "one faith". What is our faith? It is the belief that we are all sinners saved by the grace of God. Resist the urge to quickly judge each other by remembering that we also can be easily judged. None of us are perfect (yet).

#6: We can serve, "in love" by remembering our "one baptism". We are baptized into Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. Each of us is sacrificially loved of God and can thus give and receive love from each other. I guess that you don't have to love the person that Christ didn't die for--but since He died for everyone--get busy loving!

#7: Finally, we are to, "preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace". It's easier to do if we remember that there is only, "one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all". He is in everyone and He is over everyone. God is using each of us to accomplish His purposes. It's bigger than any one of us could ever accomplished--that's why He called us together at Grace River.

Let me finish this up as Paul did in Ephesians 4:7, "But to each of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift". You have a gift of grace. I have a gift of grace. When we all come together and combine our grace-gifts, we become God's River of Grace! May 2011 become the "Year of Ones"!

"Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with scoffers. But they delight in doing everything the Lord wants; day and night they think about his law. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper" (Psalm 1:1-3).

May you bear much fruit this year and prosper!