prayer for a friend

Can you take a minute to pray for Jeff? He is a good friend of mine who is going through a very difficult illness. His is a faithful man of God, is a great husband and father and is one of our key leaders at church. Ask God for some miracles on Jeff’s behalf. We know that God is able.

Thanks, everybody!

sex and marriage

We are in the middle of a very relevant series at Maranatha. I am talking about marriage and our title is Fighting 4 Your Marriage. This Sunday’s topic is sex so I thought that it may be helpful to offer a few more ideas and resources here. Time is short at our services and we can’t go into everything available.

I did mention these bullet points but maybe they are worth a second look.
When it comes to sex:

Face the fact that God created you as a sexual being. Sex is not sinful or dirty. Know what God says.
• Educate yourself (one sermon a year won’t cut it)
• Educate others: in the church, don’t relinquish this responsibility to our culture.
• Educate your children: if you don’t tell them, someone else will!

Understand the challenges of a culture that does not “get it”, has a warped definition of sexuality.
• Don’t buy the lies
• Don’t fall into the trap
• If you do, don’t be offended when God confronts you on it

Commit yourself to living out a God–honoring sexual life.
• Live within the Biblical boundaries
• Enjoy sex as God intended
• “be fruitful and multiply!”

Sex is a gift from God to married couples. Enjoy it! Still single? Lots of prayer, patience and cold showers!

Seriously, here are some sites you can check out:
(I am not agreeing with every point, just suggesting some resources…)

Joe Beam, author of the book, “Becoming One: Emotionally, Spiritually, & Sexually.” Gives the following insight:

Priority One
First, pay attention to your sexual life. While it is true that every part of your life affects every other part, you must make every effort to keep your sexual life healthy. Never forget God’s warning about Satan’s attack that He gave you in 1 Corinthians 7. Sexually unfulfilled people can be tempted through their lack of self-control. Remove that avenue of attack from Satan’s forces by keeping your mate thoroughly sexually satisfied!

Priority Two
Second, keep the bedroom special. Never argue in that room. Never discipline the children there. Never, ever, pay bills in that room. The bedroom should be for sleeping and love-making-nothing else! Don’t let that room be associated with any negative thing in your mind or emotions. Make it the most special room in your house.
Teach your children to respect the privacy of that room. Train them from infancy that when that door is shut, parents are spending special time with each other that is not to be violated. If you fear that they may figure out what you’re doing in there, what better way to teach them healthy attitudes about sex? They learn to associate sex–although, of course, they shouldn’t see or hear anything inappropriate–with love and marriage.

Priority Three
Third, if either of you wants sexual activity that the other finds uncomfortable–or perhaps even repulsive–each should submit to the other. That means that the initiator must not manipulate, cajole, pressure, or punish the reticent mate. But it also means that the reticent mate should prayerfully and purposefully work toward doing what the initiator requests–as long as it fits the principles outlined above.
With time and patience, each mate will get what he or she desires-a loving relationship that doesn’t get stale, doesn’t frustrate, and does fulfill each with great satisfaction.

a week of miracles

This week, I have personally witnessed several events that I would classify as miracles. I would loosely define miracles as “things that God does that no human can do.” My good friend Jeff experienced some very serious health issues which threatened his life. His life was spared and he is recovering from his crisis. Because I was able to be present with the family during some of the process, I was able to witness what the doctors said as well as watch, one by one, as God addressed Jeff’s specific needs. It has been a while since I have seen this kind of faith in action. His family stood by his side and prayed. His church family prayed diligently. And word spread literally around the world and people prayed for Him. Prayer works.

Jeff has a long way to go to be fully recovered so I ask you to keep praying for him. It is an awesome thing to see God is action on behalf of His children.

good stuff

Hundreds Go Barefoot to Raise Awareness of the Global Need for Shoes

Hundreds of people are going barefoot today as part of a nationwide effort to raise awareness about the global need for shoes.

Organized by TOMS Shoes, a company founded by Christian businessman Blake Mycoskie, the One Day Without Shoes event has drawn participants from around the world. The Assemblies of God-affiliated Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla., is serving as a pilot school for what they hope becomes a growing annual initiative.

“The idea for One Day Without Shoes was to kind of raise awareness of what life is like without shoes, to kind of think about the people in the world who are living without shoes and what they are susceptible to as a result of that,” said Allison Dominguez, a public relations representative for TOMS Shoes, which gives away a pair of shoes for every pair sold.

Reporting that 40 percent of people worldwide lack shoes, the Los Angeles-based company has donated 200,000 shoes to needy children worldwide since 2006. In rural areas where people walk through volcanic soil, such as in Ethiopia, going barefoot can lead to podoconiosis, a disfiguring illness that causes swelling and ulcers in the feet and lower legs.

“[One Day Without Shoes] really fits who we are,” said James L. Davis, vice president of development at Southeastern, which presented Mycoskie with its Servant Leader Award last month. “We believe servant leaders are world changers, so the whole premise of giving something away and serving the community and serving the world really fit for us. It was perfect in every way.”

Southeastern hoped to have 100 percent participation today, with students filing shoeless everywhere except to the school’s dining facilities, where bare feet would violate health codes. The Southeastern students are also participating in a documentary that will be used to encourage other colleges to get involved in future One Day Without Shoes campaigns.

“They’re doing exactly what we want to do-spreading the awareness and getting everyone involved in what we’re trying to do,” Dominguez said.

Mycoskie, who won third place in The Amazing Race II in 2002, said the idea for TOMS came after he befriended the children of an Argentine village and found that they lacked shoes. He thought his tech company would help pay for the shoe venture, but a newspaper article generated so much business he decided to sell the tech company and focus exclusively on TOMS, which refers to “creating a better tomorrow.”

Nearly 200 One Day Without Shoes events are being held nationwide, with attorneys at an Ohio law firm putting aside their wingtips to go barefoot for the day. Five events are being held internationally.

In addition to going without shoes today, Southeastern students purchased TOMS’ canvas slip-ons to sponsor shoes for needy children in the U.S. and abroad. Davis said a team of students also will accompany TOMS representatives on a “shoe drop” later this year

(Source: Charisma News Online)

Christians Called to Reject Consumer Lifestyle

LONDON – A U.K.-based network of Christians geared towards living more simply is calling on believers to use the recession as an opportunity to follow a less-consumerist lifestyle.

Breathe, whose tagline is “Less Stuff, More Life,” is inviting Christians to take the “Promise of Life” pledge to live more simply over a 12-month period. Christians who take the pledge commit to “savor what we have, pray for what we need,” “tread lightly on the earth,” and “share freely our homes and our things.”

Breathe’s annual conference on April 25 will further explore how Christians can live less consumerist, more thankful and more generous lives.

“When we started Breathe four years ago, we had no idea how global events would unfold,” said Mark Powley, associate pastor at St. Paul’s Hammersmith and co-founder of Breathe.

“We’ve talked to Christians across the country and have found a growing desire and need to live more simply and to find support and practical ways out of materialism,” he added.

The Rev. Simon Downham, vicar and senior pastor of St. Paul’s Hammersmith, said there was a need for the church to develop an effective response to recent research indicating a shift in British society away from the importance of material possessions.

“There is a new vocabulary of crisis and response,” Downham said. “Climate change, credit crunch, G20, carbon offset, fiscal stimulus, quantitative easing … At the very least, our lust for consumption lays exposed for want of proper limits. At a time such as this, Breathe is more crucial than ever.”

The Breathe conference is being held in partnership with Tearfund, Stewardship, A Rocha and Formation. The keynote speaker will be 24-7 Prayer’s Pete Greig.

(Source: The Christian Post)

9 questions to ask about your marriage:

These questions connect with our new message series at Maranatha: Fighting 4 Your Marriage. Whether or not you are involved in the series, work your way through these…

(ask yourself, not your spouse)

1. Is my marriage worth fighting for?
2. Am I 100% committed to making my marriage work?
3. Do I put my spouse before myself?
4. Do I bear any responsibility for the issues that my marriage is facing?
5. Am I willing to put in the work necessary in order to have a healthy marriage?
6. Am I willing to sacrifice in order to make my spouse happy?
7. Is God first in my marriage?
8. Can God heal my marriage?
9. Am I obedient to what God tells us about marriage?

If you answer “yes” to all of these questions, you are doing very well and your marriage is probably healthy.

If you find yourself saying “no” to any of the above, I would suggest charting a course of action:

• Reach out – to your spouse. Communicate your concern and desire for the health of your marriage.
• Work together. Stop fighting each other and start fighting as a team. Your spouse is not the enemy.
• Get help. Seek out a qualified (not a friend who only gets her advice from Oprah!) Christian professional to consult and work with. It will cost money but it is well worth the investment. Many times, financial arrangements can be made.
• Submit and commit to God. A marriage that is centered upon God and the principles He gives in His Word will survive. If you are not there yet, work on it!

Come to Fighting 4 Your Marriage. This week we talk about money. Next week we will discuss everyone’s favorite topic: Sex!

greatest strength?/greatest weakness?

I am not especially fond of talking. I know that is probably hard for people to believe who hear me ramble for 45 minutes every Sunday. I speak because God requires it of me. When in a group, smaller or larger, I would just a soon someone else do the talking. It is not important to me to be the one doing the dialogue. Even when I am at home, it is no problem for me to not be real verbal.

That being said, I make a living talking. People expect me to have something to say. In fact, they tend to get a little nervous when I don’t say much. Lots of times in my life, I have heard comments like, “You sure are quiet, something wrong?” or “what are you thinking? You must have something to add to the conversation”. Truth be told, I would rather just be quiet sometimes.

That is not typical of a preacher in our culture. Lots of loud talking, that is pretty much what we are known for. I guess I am lacking some of the natural gifts that preachers are expected to posses, and I am OK with that. In fact, one of the more annoying tendencies of many preachers I know is the need to be the center of attention. I am not being critical of these guys, it seems to work for them. But I don’t need a microphone to be happy.

Someone said (James in the Bible), “Be quick to listen and slow to speak…” One of the leaders I respect most is Moses. This poor guy got stuck leading a bunch of rebellious, complaining people for 40 years through a nasty desert. And he got blamed for everything. They wanted to kill him. Talk about a tough gig! He maintained his integrity through it and had the honor of “speaking face to face with God as a man does with his friend”. But the thing is, he was a reluctant talker. He spoke when necessary but he was glad when his larger-mouthed brother did the speaking. And God seemed to be fine with the arrangement, in fact, the whole thing was His idea.

The next time you hear a leader waxing eloquent, enjoy it. When she or he drones on and on about what they think, appear interested. But if there is a leader who prefers to be the silent type, cut them some slack. Maybe they know what the infamous Run DMC said in the 1985 old-school rap: “You Talk Too Much! (You never shut up!)” They may just be tired of talking. They may have nothing to say at that particular moment. And they may be exercising some real wisdom. I think it was Abe Lincoln who said, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and appear as a fool than to open it and remove all doubt”.

I think I’ll go on a mission to reduce my spoken words and see what happens. Besides, nobody likes a bigmouth!