An INVITATION Can Change A Life

The lasting impact of the apostles who were the first followers of Jesus can only be imagined in statements like this from Jesus.   Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  Matthew 19:28 ESV

One of those apostles was named Nathanael and it was a simple INVITE to “come and see” from his friend Philip that led him to Jesus.  Check it out.

43 The next day Jesus decided to go into Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me [as My disciple, accepting Me as your Master and Teacher, and walking the same path of life that I walk].” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the One Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote about—Jesus from Nazareth, the son of Joseph [according to public record].” 46 Nathanael answered him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip replied, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Here is an Israelite indeed[a true descendant of Jacob], in whom there is no guile nor deceit nor duplicity!”48 Nathanael said to Jesus, “How do You know [these things about] me?” Jesus answered, “Before Philip called you, when you were still under the fig tree, I saw you.”49 Nathanael answered, “Rabbi (Teacher), You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” 50 Jesus replied, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe [in Me]? You will see greater things than this.”  John 1:43-50 Amp

I’ve been using my PEEPS to invite different people in our community to our Easter Services at Grace, and I’m believing God is going to change lives as people have a chance to experience Jesus during those services on Easter weekend.  I INVITE you to join me and INVITE someone to Easter Services at Grace – or if you attend another church, INVITE them to your church.

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One of my favorite narratives in John’s eyewitness account of Jesus life is found in John 4.  I love the translation of John 4:4 in the KJV of Scripture.  Of Jesus, John 4:4 KJV says: And he must needs go through Samaria.  Most other translations say He [Jesus] had to pass through Samaria, but the words translated “must needs go” show intent or purpose.

I believe Jesus intended to have a divine appointment with a woman who was an outcast in her community.  She had been married numerous times and was living with a man who wasn’t her husband.   Jesus “must needs go” through Samaria in order to meet the deep spiritual need missing in her life that had resulted in so many broken relationships.  If you read the entire story, you’ll see the infinite grace, mercy, love and forgiveness of God; and a woman whose life was radically changed.

In light of that change – she did something significant.  She went back to her town & INVITED the people to come and see a man who changed her life!  The result was phenomenal.

39 Now many Samaritans from that city believed in Him and trusted Him [as Savior] because of what the woman said when she testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” John 4;39 Amp

41 Many more believed in Him [with a deep, abiding trust] because of His word [His personal message to them]; 42 and they told the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; for [now] we have heard Him for ourselves and know [with confident assurance] that this One is truly the Savior of [all] the world.”  John 4:41-42 Amp

We went to lunch with Dan & Lisa Hill today and Dan used a PEEP Invite to invite our waitress to Easter at Grace.  I hope you’ll be PRAYING for Easter with Grace and INVITING people to attend.  You never know what a simple INVITATION to join us on Easter and experience Jesus might do!





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If you missed Sunday, February 18th, at Grace – I hope you’ll go to and listen to THIS IS US – Part 3 – THIS IS LIFE which deals with forgiveness.  The message was based on a story told by Jesus in Matthew 18 which is included at the end of this blog.

The following includes some things related to forgiveness.  Remember, these are very simplistic while forgiveness is not.

Some of you may need the help of a Christian Counselor to get past the hurt you’re experiencing in order to forgive the wrongs you’ve experienced.  If you live in the Wise County area,  we support and recommend Wise County Christian Counseling in Decatur, Texas; Beverly Ross and her team are great.  Jimmy McLeod is a private practice Pastoral Counselor who does counseling at Grace Fellowship on most Wednesday afternoons and has his private practice in Roanoke, Texas.  I also use and recommend Dr. Ed Laymance at Impact Counseling and Guidance Center in Arlington, Texas.

Remember that forgiveness doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be consequences for someone’s actions.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation will take place.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean you act like nothing happened.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean trust is automatically restored.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean you stay in an abusive or dangerous situation; get some help!

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Colossians 3:13 NLT

What do you do when you are the one needing forgiveness?

Ask God to forgive you and to help you as you open up to the person(s) you hurt.    Ask anyone you’ve offended to forgive you.   Don’t add excuses to your actions.  Don’t play the blame game and blame others for your mistakes.   Admit what you did that was wrong – clearly and specifically.  Make restitution if necessary.  If you broke or destroyed something, fix or replace it.  If you damaged someone’s reputation, do your part to admit this and to help restore their reputation.  You’re not responsible for their response, you’re responsible for your obedience to God.

What if the person you need to forgive has died?

Have an imaginary conversation with them, go over the details in this conversation and confess that you have forgiven them and canceled any debt you have against them.  Another option is to write them a letter with the details of the offense and why it hurt you, then write DEBT CANCELED on it and SHRED IT or DESTROY IT.

There are dozens of resources that can help you.  Here are a few that may help:




Matthew 18

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, when my fellow believer sins against me, how many times must I forgive him? Should I forgive him as many as seven times?”22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, you must forgive him more than seven times. You must forgive him even if he wrongs you seventy times seven.

23 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who decided to collect the money his servants owed him. 24 When the king began to collect his money, a servant who owed him several million dollars was brought to him. 25 But the servant did not have enough money to pay his master, the king. So the master ordered that everything the servant owned should be sold, even the servant’s wife and children. Then the money would be used to pay the king what the servant owed.

26 “But the servant fell on his knees and begged, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything I owe.’ 27 The master felt sorry for his servant and told him he did not have to pay it back. Then he let the servant go free.

28 “Later, that same servant found another servant who owed him a few dollars. The servant grabbed him around the neck and said, ‘Pay me the money you owe me!’ 29 “The other servant fell on his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything I owe.’

30 “But the first servant refused to be patient. He threw the other servant into prison until he could pay everything he owed. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were very sorry. So they went and told their master all that had happened.

32 “Then the master called his servant in and said, ‘You evil servant! Because you begged me to forget what you owed, I told you that you did not have to pay anything. 33 You should have showed mercy to that other servant, just as I showed mercy to you.’ 34 The master was very angry and put the servant in prison to be punished until he could pay everything he owed. 35 “This king did what my heavenly Father will do to you if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”


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42 Years of Valentines


Janet & I celebrated our 40th anniversary this past year and we’ve shared 42 years of Valentines Days together. During an anniversary dinner this past year, we talked to our waiter (who was in his late 20’s or early 30’s) and when he found it was our 40th, he had an amazed look on his face and said “I hope my wife and I can make it at least 10 years”.

As I thought about his words and the surprised look on his face,  I tried to think about the things that have helped us get this far.  A couple years ago I posted 10 things that can help your marriage, so this is a re-post of some of those.  This isn’t “pie in the sky” kind of stuff because we’ve had our share of ups and downs, and times when we didn’t feel close at all. But here are a few of the things I thought about that have helped us.

  • Forgive each other. There are times when we’ve hurt each other and gotten ticked off and said things that we shouldn’t say, but we’ve always come back to the fact the we’re not each other’s enemy and we need to forgive each other just like Christ forgave us. We’ve both made a personal decision to trust and follow Christ, which influences every decision we make.
  • Take regular breaks from the routine. Marriage can easily become routine and difficult; especially during the child raising years. We determined years ago that we’d strive to have a regular date night away from the kids.   We also decided to try and take a vacation together at least once a year without the kids when possible. Yes, most of our vacations in the child raising stage were family vacations, but we tried to find ways to get away by ourselves. Even if we weren’t able to get away for a week, we at least tried to do something special for a few days every 5 years on, or around, our anniversary. We often had to celebrate “around our anniversary” because many of them were spent at Youth Camps when I was a Student Pastor
  • Give each other space. It took some time, but we’ve both grown to the point where we’re good giving each other some space; which includes short periods of time alone or away from the family. For me, I get recharged in nature or away from crowds and where there are few demands on me. Janet likes to be with people and do things. We trust each other to spend some time away; for me it may be a spiritual retreat or hunting trip. For her, it usually meant going somewhere to be with her family.
  • Develop great friendships. We developed great friendships with people who were moving in the same direction as us. Friends who wanted to grow in their relationship with Christ too. That made it easier to talk to our friends and keep each otheraccountable since we’d built relationships of trust. We also learned the value of consistently being in a small group designed for spiritual growth with friends and people we trusted.
  • Be on the same page. We decided that we’d always strive to be on the same page when it came to discipline or making decisions that concerned our children. We didn’t air our differences in front of the kids or let them play us against each other, but rather had a unified front in what we decided.
  • Realize some expectations won’t be met. We had to grow to the point of understanding we are very different (not wrong – just different) and always will be. 40 years into our marriage – we’re still different!  Our responsibility is to try our best to meet each other’s needs and guard our hearts against being selfish. That’s a whole lot easier to write than it is to do. This also means we realize some expectations we had coming into our marriage were unrealistic and we had to grow through releasing these.
  • Recognize marriage is a journey.   There are ups and downs, hard times and good, times of prosperity and times of want. It’s a journey, an adventure, and we’re in it together for the long haul which means we’ll walk through a variety of things that are good and bad along the way.  In the bad times it’s always unwise to make life-changing decisions; especially decisions that are emotionally charged.
  • Remember our impact on our family and others. There’s a type of inbuilt accountability for us because we value the example we set for our children and grandchildren, as well as our extended family, friends and others. This doesn’t mean living a life of hypocrisy, but the desire to set a good example means we strive to work through the problems and issues we face and are honest about our struggles. Note: that doesn’t mean airing all our dirty laundry; it just means we’re real people like everyone else and we realize we have a responsibility to those who are watching our example.
  • Handle Finances Well. We made a decision when we got married to do our best to handle our finances in a way that honored God. We continue to practice tithing to the local church, giving over and above the tithe to build the church, and we continue to support a variety of missions and several children in foreign countries. The only way this has been possible was by building margin into our finances. We learned this the hard way by making a number of mistakes, but over the years we learned to limit debt (we’ll be totally debt free this year!) and be on the same page in how we give. We also learned the blessing of generosity!
  • A common commitment to Christ. We’re both committed to growing in our relationship with Christ even though we mess up time after time.   Striving to keep Christ as the center and Lord of our lives and home has helped us through tough times when it would have been easier to give up. This commitment includes a consistent commitment to involvement in our church, serving in ministry, staying connected in a small group through our church, and having a regular time alone with God in the Bible and prayer. This is one of the key reasons I believe we’ve been able to work through the difficult times and remain committed to one another.  By the way, learning to work through difficulties and hurts in a local church is part of the journey, but being connected and involved in a local church is crucial to your marriage and family!

PS: Yes, that photo is pre-marriage!


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Marriage Resources

The following are some resources I recommend and believe can help you build a stronger marriage. As you consider them remember YOU LOVE YOUR SPOUSE BEST WHEN YOU LOVE GOD MOST.

BOOKS/CD’s – some of these are available in an another audio format.

Love And Respect – Emerson Eggerichs

His Needs Her Needs – Willard Harley

The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman

Enemies Of The Heart – Andy Stanley

The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages – Shaunti Feldhahn

Covenant Marriage – Dr. Fred Lowery

Sacred Marriage – Gary Thomas

Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts: Seven Questions To Ask Before – And After – You Marry – Les and Leslie Parrott

A Lasting Promise: The Christian Guide to Fighting for Your Marriage –
Scott M. Stanley and Daniel Trathen



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15 Minutes of Silence

It’s amazing what you hear when you get still and quiet.  Early this morning in a 15 minute period of quiet I heard a dog barking in the distance, wind chimes in the breeze, the horn of a train, the distinct sound of the nails of my dog’s paws as he walked across our wooden floor to lay down beside my chair – his relaxed breathing that followed, the creaks & popping noises of our house, the growling of my own stomach and my relaxed breath, sounds of sleep from another room, the starting of the refrigerator compressor and sounds of distant traffic.

While this was going on I was trying to listen for one other sound.  The sound of the Spirit of God speaking to my heart.  One thing I’m doing in my time alone with God is learning to be quiet and listen, so in addition to reading and reflecting on Scripture and praying, I’m spending at least 15 minutes in silence to listen.

Psalm 46:10 has become a life verse for me.  In it, God says:  “Be still, and know that I am God;  I will be exalted among the nations,  I will be exalted in the earth.”   In the Message paraphrase it reads: “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”   So as a part of my morning, or sometime during my day if I miss it in the morning, I’m adding 15 minutes of silence to focus on and listening more intently to God.   

Oh and BTW – my mind wanders too.

And as an added bonus, I’m trying to add several times during each day where I do this by finding a place to get quiet for additional 5 minute periods of silence.

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Love Letters

When Janet (my wife) and I were dating, we both spent a summer serving students and children as missionaries.   She was in south Texas and I was in central Florida.  There were no cell phones or home computers then so our communication was through letters.

We wrote each other “love letters” almost every day for 10 weeks.  I guess I’m a hopeless romantic at times because I still have all those letters she wrote me.  Sorry men, guess I just lost my man card.

That summer I lived in a small room off the back of a Pastor’s home behind the church where I served.  I can remember the steam rising off the unpaved road that led from the house to the mailbox on the main road in front of the church because it rained almost every day.  I’d make a daily trip to that mailbox with expectation in my heart because I was expecting a love letter from Janet.

When I’d get to the mailbox I’d almost always be surprised and filled with joy.  My surprise was that junk mail followed me to Florida.  The joy came from seeing a letter from Janet.

You can imagine my excitement as I tore into that junk mail, reading every detail!  No way!  But I did tear into my letter from Janet; opening it before I even left the mailbox.  I read her letter on the way back to my room, again during the day and usually once more before I went to bed at night.  I didn’t want to miss a thing!  I wanted to understand and reflect on every detail as I thought about her.  WHY?  Because I knew the author of the letter loved me, and I loved the author of the letter.

One of Satan’s biggest temptations is to get us bogged down in junk mail while disregarding God’s love letter to us.  I love to read the scripture while trying to understand and reflect on every detail because I know the actual author (who moved men to write it) loves me and I love Him.


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Reading through the Bible chronologically this year.  From my reading yesterday it’s interesting to see the relationship between sin and shame.  Genesis 2:25 says that Adam & Eve felt no shame; however the moment they turned from God & did their own thing (sin), Genesis 3:7 says “they suddenly felt shame”.

Sin still results in shame which causes us to fear God and miss out on who God created us to be.  Shame is a powerful emotion in destroying relationships and its precursor is our choice to sin.

From my reading today, the Lord told Cain (Genesis 4:7) “Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you.  But you must subdue it and be its master.”

If you are a follower of Christ, you have the power to subdue sin.  Ephesians 1:19-20 says the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to those of us who have believed in Jesus.

As a follower of Jesus you also have a new identity – you are a new person – 2 Corinthians 5:17.  Live according to your new identity – stay in close fellowship with Christ – surrender to Him daily and you’ll have power to say no to sin.  When you do, you can be set free from the shame the enemy wants to use in your life to destroy your relationship with God and others.

By the way, restoration of closeness and fellowship with God and others comes through confession of sin and asking forgiveness which works against the power of shame in your life.  (1 John 1:9)

Just a few thoughts as we begin a new year.

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One of the best ways to experience more JOY & CHEER is to develop and grow in your relationship (connection) with Jesus.  Jesus said when we stay vitally connected to Him (read John 15) the results are amazing.  In fact, He said: I have told you these things so that you can have the same joy I have and so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy.  John 15:11 NCV

As we began our series Christmas Cheer, we talked about a simple PATH that will help build your relationship (connection) with Jesus and increase your JOY/CHEER.

PRAY – Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.  And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7 NCV

APPLY – But the truly happy people are those who carefully study God’s perfect law that makes people free, and they continue to study it. They do not forget what they heard, but they obey what God’s teaching says. Those who do this will be made happy.  James 1:25 NCV

THANKSGIVING –  Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. Psalm 100:4 NASB

HELP – For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another.  Galatians 5:13 Amp

The Underlying Principle:   3“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:36-40 NLT

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Hope our GF Peeps are reading through PROVERBS – the book of Wisdom this month.

From my reading in Proverbs 6 this morning I came across a passage I’ve read many times, but it grabbed my attention again and contains some significant warnings and a very significant ERROR to avoid.    (see previous post on how to ENSPEC a passage of scripture)

In spite of the fact that the very character of God is LOVE (1 John 4:7-8), there are some things that LOVE can’t tolerate – things this passage says God HATES…

16 There are six things which the Lord hates,
Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that run rapidly to evil,
19 A false witnesswho utters lies,
And one who spreads strife among brothers.

This passage is tied to the previous verses (12-15) which clearly state there are people whose body language contradicts what’s actually in their heart.  Even though a person may act and seem sincere in what they say, underneath there is what God calls a “perversion” that creates discord, strife and dissension.  They often take some small piece of truth (which may or may not be related to what they’re saying) and weave it into their deception to make their words seem more legit.  This type person may seem very sincere, but is good at crafting words and questions to cast doubt or suspicion on people, organizations, or churches.

The ERROR to avoid — is the PERSON who does this.

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