Weary or Triumphant?

Standard

I wrote a letter to God about a year ago.  Sometimes I find it helpful if I put my prayers down on paper.  My prayer was my thoughts about a season in my life where I needed to submit to God.  Below is the letter.  It’s short so please read.

Hello, it’s me God.  It’s been a rough few days and I know I’ve been trying to figure this all out by myself.  Again, I confess that I can’t.  You see God, it’s overwhelming at times.  It seems that every day something new comes up and gets heaped upon my shoulders.  The weight is getting unbearable.  Yet, I think I’m superman or something.  I know you didn’t create me to be superman or any other super hero.  But I just seem to forget.

You know those white boards that we keep in our offices to keep track of things that need to be accomplished.  A visual “to do” list?  Well, when I was thinking about all of this before bed a few nights ago, I saw an empty white board in my thoughts.  And then all of a sudden the board was full.  Like there was no more room to add a single task.  It was then I thought to myself, “That’s where I’m at.”  Again, it overwhelmed me.

I’m told that You hear and answer every prayer.  I’m told that You are faithful and that You are able.  I’m told that You never leave my side and that You are my Rock, my Refuge, my Strong Tower.  Well God, I really need You.  I’m at my end and I submit to You that I’m not able.  I need You to help get me through the next moment in time, even if it’s just the next second, because I have no more strength.  Help me God!  Really… help me God!

I have no more to say because I can’t put anything more into words.  So, I’m turning to my faith and my hope in You.  Encourage me along the way because I really need it.

Signed,
Your beloved.

Truth be told, I had forgotten about this letter until this morning while seeking God for help with this blog.  The letter was written during a time of great distress.  I couldn’t continue on my own.  I had to let go.  To be totally honest, I confess that most times I’m trying, in the flesh, to go from day to day.  I know that God walks with me and that He orders my steps, yet in my humanness, I try to go it alone.

Jesus tells us what we are to do in times when we can’t seem to go any farther.  He writes in Matthew 11:28 (NIV): “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Jesus calls us unto Himself.  He calls me, a sinner, to come to Him.  Jesus pursues me…weak and weary.  His desire is that I not remain weak and weary, but whole and restored… equipped to do His will.  Scripture tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV): Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  I have Jesus’ help to become this new creation.  The problem lies within us… sinners.

Some of you may like to listen to Southern Gospel music.  I do.  Especially the sounds of The Cathedral Quartet.  My favorite song of theirs is “Sinner Saved by Grace.”  In the lyrics you find these words:

How could I boast on anything
I’ve ever seen or done
How could I dare to claim as mine
The victories God has won
Where would I be
Had God not brought me
Gently to this place
I’m here to say I’m nothing but
A sinner saved by grace

 God is faithful!  I repeat…God is faithful!  We are reminded of this often in God’s Word.  In fact, Jesus came not for the righteous, but for sinners like me.  It is here where I often fail.  I fail to recognize that Jesus came to seek me out…to call me.  And Matthew understood better than any other gospel writer that the story of Jesus, and the story of Christmas, is a story about God drawing near to those who were withdrawn. That it was about God leaning in toward those who had leaned away from God. Whatever the reason, they found themselves leaning away from God.  During the season in which I wrote this letter to God, I was overwhelmed.  I had health issues, financial issues, and employment issues all of which were weighing on me.  I was being crushed; or at least I felt like I was.  It was exactly the season that I needed.  Yes, I needed this season to realize the faithfulness of God.  God was walking with me through all of it so that I would be strengthened and even encouraged through it. He showed me that in His faithfulness I too could remain faithful.

If you would like to hear a powerful message called, “O Come All Ye Faithful” by Pastor Aaron Taylor, click on the podcast link here: http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=17

Friend, in this Christmas season, do you feel overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle, the burdens of the world being heaped on you to the point where something must change?  Often times the holiday season can be stressful.  We sometimes even grieve during this time instead of being “joyful and triumphant.”  We are weary and burdened.  But Praise be to God, we can find relief in Jesus Christ!  We can experience His faithfulness.  We can experience His grace.  We can rejoice that we are a new creation.  It’s a matter of choice.  Jesus is waiting for you today to make that choice.  In love, I would say to you, choose Jesus.  Allow Him to forgive you.  Allow Him to heal you.  Allow Him to transform you from faithless to faithful.  Oh, Come All Ye Faithful, Joyful and Triumphant.

May the Lord bless you indeed this week and show you His faithfulness!

George Leonhardt

Advertisements

2018 Discipleship Initiative

Standard

We’re already excited for what’s coming in the New Year! God has been challenging us to take a look at our current Sunday Morning Sunday School structure and time frame to see if there’s a more effective way to reach and disciple believers. We believe that there is and there’s a time frame that’s already been pointing to success! Check out the video below to hear what God’s been speaking to Pastor Aaron’s heart and get ready to jump on board with us and grow deeper in Christ!

Classes Beginning January 3 – March 28

OLD TESTAMENT SURVEY
Many people consider the Old Testament to be complicated, mysterious, and far removed from current thought and life. A study in the OT should not deepen these attitudes, but work to replace them. In this class, we will address the writings of the OT in simple language and in a personal style that speaks directly to you. You will discover how portions of the OT fit together with one another to see God at work, redeeming His people.

TEACHER: KEVIN GARLAND // LOCATION: ROOM B6

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: A 3D REALITY
Demons, Satan, the powers of darkness – they’re real and they are actively at work in our world. The question is do you know how to recognize them – and, if need be, go to combat against them? In this class we will look at Biblical examples of Spiritual Warfare and discover what it is and what it is not. We must never forget that our promise is simple: “…to he who overcomes.” The 3D portion will be how we apply these truths to body, mind and spirit and learning how “to stand.”

TEACHER: THOM MARTINO // LOCATION: ROOM B4

NEXT (4 WEEK SESSION)
Do you want to know more about PAG’s mission, vision and ministry? Are you interested in getting more connected or involved in serving? Then NEXT is the first step for you. During this class you will get to know Pastor Aaron as he walks you through how to get connected to the church. It’s a great time to get your questions answered while getting to know others who are on a similar path. We look forward to helping you take your NEXT step in becoming part of the PAG family!

TEACHER: PASTOR AARON TAYLOR // LOCATION: ROOM B5

PRAYER & ALTAR FOCUS
Do you desire to pray and seek the Lord? Are you longing for more time to intercede for our church, community and world? Do you desire to linger at the altar? Then the sanctuary will be the place for you! Beginning at 7:30P remain in the sanctuary for a time of prayer which will include personal time for intercession, receiving prayer for your needs, pray with a small group, and intercede together for corporate needs. Join members of our prayer ministry for a concert of prayer each Wednesday evening.

FACILITATOR: GEORGE LEONHARDT// LOCATION: SANCTUARY

BEGINNING IN FEBRUARY!
GIFTS DISCOVERY
At PAG we desire to have a church filled with people who are:

  • Equipped to fulfill God’s purposes
  • Have great ministry enthusiasm and impact
  • Serving with more affirmation, love, and commitment
  • Competently using their spiritual gifts in their area of passion
  • Expanding ministries and extending the church’s reach into our community
  • Avoiding ministry stress, boredom, and burnout!

In other words, we want to help you discover your spiritual gifts, personal style, and God-given passion for serving within the Body of Christ!

TEACHER: PASTOR CARRIE GARLAND, 6-WEEK SERIES // LOCATION: ROOM B5

SIGNUPS BEGIN THIS WEDNESDAY AT CHURCH! DON’T MISS OUT!

SILENCE

Standard

In a little less than a month, my whole world is going to change. As I prepare for a four-month journey in another country to finish my undergraduate degree, I cannot help but wonder what I will do once I get back. It’s not like I will be spending the summer at home and then returning to Malone in the fall. Not this time. This time… I graduate. I walk across a stage to receive a slip of paper telling me I am now eligible to live in the real world and become an adult.

As I think about what I want to do after graduation, I am completely lost. I have a passion for just about everything that has to do with serving people and sharing the Gospel, but I also want to further my education, get my own apartment, and get a job. I have considered joining a mission’s agency, such as YWAM, or even join the Peace Corp. I have a list of schools that offer the graduate program I need and have started some of the applications. I have spent 30+ minutes (in one sitting) looking up jobs in my field and saving them in case I want to apply. All in all, there are about what seems to be a thousand paths I could take, and I have no idea which one is the right path.

This is difficult for me because I have always had a plan, with a backup plan that has a backup plan. I have never struggled with gaining vision on where I am to go next or how to achieve it. I wanted to get my associates degree when I graduated high school, so I did. I wanted to spend my summer interning at Focus on the Family without an income, so I figured out how to make it work. I wanted to publish a book, so I wrote one and self-published it. My dad calls me a “go-getter”.

But right now? I am not that. I cannot recognize what I want to do and I can’t figure out how to achieve it. I’m lucky I even remembered to write this blog and go to class this morning. So, naturally, or maybe not so naturally, I took this to the Lord. I said, “God, what do you want for me? Show me your will so I can pursue it”. I said that back in April. Here I am though, in the same position. Nothing has changed. Just when I think I figure it out, I’m unsure again. I keep asking God to show me and open the right door and guide me and give me vision. But God is not saying “this is the path, walk in it” (Isaiah 30.21). In fact, it doesn’t seem like he is even hinting in the slightest direction as to what I am to do. God is silent.

One consistent thing I have noticed during this silence are the specific events that have been taking place. Somehow, I have ended up encountering things that I am passionate about that are reminding me what I truly love to do. A speaker at chapel shared about the importance of aid and development all over the world. I have been learning about Southeast Asia in my geography class. I went to an open house for a grad school… etc., etc., etc. The list goes on and on and on and on. Through it all, I learned to just be silent with God and allow Him to cultivate the passion in my heart that will help lead me to make the decision I need to.

This is not the only time God has been silent. For instance, look at the gap between the Old Testament and New Testament. Where in the world was God then? This is an important question. Silence from God is something we all encounter at some point in our lives. It is something that we, most of the time, cannot avoid. But we have to realize, that even in the midst of the silence, God is acting. Even when the still small voice is not speaking, God is present. Pastor Aaron, in this year’s Christmas series, “Carols”, shares about the incredible works of God in the gap between the Old Testament and New Testament that prepared the way for our new born King. During the 400 years of silence, God dropped the curtain and rearranged the world stage so that when Jesus arrived, the world would be ready to receive His message. You can check out the podcast here: http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=17

I’m not entirely sure I will ever hear a voice from above say: “Jenny, you need to go to grad school at Case Western University”, but I am confident that he will give me peace if that is the decision I make, just like we receive peace through Jesus Christ.  So remember, when God is silent, He is not absent… He’s simply dropped the curtain and is working behind the scenes of your life, resetting the stage, so when the curtain opens, you’ll be ready for what He has next!

Trusting in the waiting,
Jenny Bushnell

What Are You Drinking?

Standard

I woke up this morning with a question running over and over again in my mind…

What well are you drinking from?

During Sunday’s sermon, “Wired for Worship: Barriers to Worship”, we visited a familiar story in John 4, The Samaritan woman at the well. What a powerful story showcasing God’s great love and pursuit of “the one”! This woman had drunk long and hard from the well of wrong relationships. She was seeking love, acceptance, and purpose in all the wrong places. But then she met the One who, rather than walking around Samaria, which was accustomed for Jews to do, walked straight into her heart. Scripture said, “…he (Jesus) had to go through Samaria.” (Verse 4) Jesus was not running from the Pharisees. He was running to the Samaritan woman. He was on a mission to reveal himself to this woman he loved so much. He wanted to help her identify her barriers to true worship. They met at Jacob’s well in the heat of the day.

Jesus is pursuing us, as well. Where will he find you? What well will he find you drinking from? There are so many wells this world offers us… The glitzy, bedazzled well of materialism, the well of performance and perfection, and even those deep, dark wells nobody likes to admit that they dip their cup into… the well of busyness, the well of anxiety and fear… etc. I think our wells can be identified by what we spend the most time and energy on, or what we spend our money on. All of these worldly wells are full of empty promises and lies, fleeting satisfaction, and temporary fulfillment. I’m pretty sure I have drunk from them all.

The wells of the world will never satisfy. But Jesus invites all of us, just like He invited the Samaritan woman, to come and drink of the living water he offers. He’s willing to walk right into our dehydrated mess, and give us a fresh revelation of himself and who we are in him.

I recently had a similar encounter with Jesus. He wanted to reveal some barriers in my life that were preventing me from resting in him and receiving living water.

I started seeing a new physician this past February. I’ll never forget what he said to me the day we reviewed the plethora of lab results that had come in. The doctor looked in my eyes and said, “Physically speaking, you are pumping an empty well.”

You see the wells of busyness and false expectations had left me physically exhausted, weak, and empty, and spiritually, I was feeling kind of the same.

And Jesus met me right there.

I was reminded of the words the Lord spoke to Jeremiah, “My people have committed two sins: they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

The things I had been relying on to satisfy me, bring me life and peace and give me purpose were not the right things. Jesus was inviting me, fresh and anew, to “Come to me and drink”, and he’s inviting you, too.

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:37-38

Spiritual dehydration is dangerous. And Jesus says, “Come to me and drink”. He is enough. He gives us all of himself and says, “Eat, drink, and be filled!”

And that’s what the Samaritan woman did. The little detail from the story that I love, is that she left her water jar when she went back to the town to tell the people about Jesus. She had tasted the living water, and suddenly she was no longer concerned about being able to draw water. Her thirst had been quenched!

May we, like her, leave our water jars behind as testimonies that the things we once relied on for satisfaction, fulfillment, and purpose cannot compare to what Jesus offers us!

You see, our lives when satisfied by Jesus, the living water, have profound effects on other people. As we drink from the Source of life, drink till we’re full, then what overflows out of our saturated souls is Jesus!

Receive Jesus’ invitation today… Come and get a drink of living water!

*Consider taking a moment to listen to this song by Casting Crowns entitled, The Well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKioQPEW4do&feature=youtu.be

Jenny Gallion

What Has Your Attention?

Standard

“Old World Style” was a slogan of a product that graced the table of countless homes for decades.  The Ragú brand of spaghetti sauce was first sold in 1937 and in 2014 was the bestselling U.S. brand of pasta sauce.  The Ragú pasta sauce line consists of smooth Old World Style sauces, Chunky sauces, bold Robusto! sauces, as well as organic and light pasta sauces. While most well-known for selling jar packaged pasta sauce, Ragú also purveys a pizza sauce and an Alfredo sauce.

In its first several decades, Ragú advertising and sales broadened the appeal of Italian-American food in the United States, with slogans like “That’s Italian!” and “Ragú brings the Italian out in you!” Americanized Italian cuisine is now the most common “ethnic” cuisine served in U.S. households, followed by variations of Americanized Mexican cuisine. Current advertising highlights the natural ingredients and “full serving of veggies” found in the sauce.

My love for good pasta sauce was birthed by my mom’s Ragu.  Yes, we were one of the American homes that used jar pasta sauce.  For a very long time, that was the only sauce I would partake in.  Then in the 1980s, a friend of mine changed my focus.  She lovingly shared her authentic recipe for “Sunday gravy”, or as we like to call it “Homemade Spaghetti Sauce.”  I was changed.  My internal attitude changed.  I thought for many, many years that I already knew what was good.

Focus is all about what has our attention or, what we give our attention to.  All of us develop hypotheses about everything, all the time.  Whether we realize we’re doing it or not. We then look for evidence to support our hypotheses and ignore evidence to the contrary.  Now, this blog is not going to be a debate on spaghetti sauce.  But, I had to make this point, if you decide that you don’t like something or someone, you will notice everything that is wrong with the thing or person.  We see what we are looking for.

This hypotheses can be applied to our relationship with God and our time we spend in Worship.  There are things we do when we look at our focus.  That includes Worship. Worship begins with a Pre-Decision.  A worshipper makes a pre-decision to look for something to praise God about even in the direst of circumstances.  The focus of a worshipper should be on Worship and not on external circumstances or what the immediate situation seems to look like.

We find this happening in the Book of Acts, Chapter 16.  If you have ever had a bad day, you need to read Acts Chapter 16.  Paul and Silas are in a prison cell in Philippi. Paul casts a demon out of a fortune-teller. Her master doesn’t like it because she loses the ability to predict the future so he has Paul and Silas arrested.  They are thrown into prison.  Now if this was me, that would be the epitome of a bad day.  Acts Chapter 16 and verse 25 (NLT) says, “Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.”  Singing praises to God!  Their focus was not on what they saw, but rather on Worshipping God.  They had made a pre-decision regarding the calling on their lives and the work of God that they were called to do.  Worship takes our eyes off of our external circumstances by focusing on God.  One of the most pure forms of worship is praising God even when you don’t feel like it because it shows God that your worship is not based on the circumstance, but rather it’s based on God’s character.

God makes His promise to never leave us or forsake us.  (Hebrews 13:5-8)  God has a proven track record.  The heroes of faith found in Hebrews Chapter 11 are proof of that.  Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  If God did it for Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah, he will do it for you.  “And all of these people were still living by faith when they died.   They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.” (Hebrews 11:13 NIV)

Friends, I still make my “Sunday gravy” the same way that I was taught to make it from my friend.  It tastes exactly the same each time.  I have even passed the recipe on to my wife, Nancy and her sauce tastes the same as mine.  My focus was on packaged pasta sauce.  It was changed by a friend.  Don’t let your focus remain on packaged, world made merchandise or beliefs.  Turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in His wonderful face.  And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

If you would like to listen to a powerful and challenging message from Pastor Aaron Taylor on “The Focus on Worship” click on this podcast link:   http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=16

This week, I pray that as you focus your worship on Almighty God, you begin to understand there’s no better place than in God’s Glorious presence… that you will experience the richness found in the depths of Worship!

God bless you.  If you want the recipe for my “Sunday gravy”, you can ask me and we’ll talk.

George

Your Attitude Drives Your Worship Response

Standard

This semester in college I have the privilege of being on a travelling worship team. We have services almost every weekend at youth groups across Northeast Ohio to help usher students into the presence of God as well as share more about our college. Last weekend we had an event that took up the entire weekend. It was a middle school retreat at a camp in the middle of nowhere (cue the Christian summer camp flashbacks).

While I love playing bass guitar, and worshiping, I was not excited for this particular weekend. I was not excited that I had to pack my bag for the weekend and stay in a cabin. I was not excited to eat camp food. And lastly, I was not excited to be around excited, screaming middle schoolers all weekend (I remember what I was like at that age). But, I had made the commitment, so there I was, standing on a small stage at Camp Carl in front of screaming middle schoolers.

One thing that aggravated me was that we had to use headphones that were plugged into the system in order to hear each other play. I did not know this when I left, but the headphones I grabbed were broken. I could not hear unless our sound guy turned on the whole system; I felt like a nuisance. I was probably aggravated because I did not want to be there in the first place. The leader of our worship band kept telling me how fun it was, but I did not believe her.

After the first and second sets (out of four) I was basically wallowing in my own misery because of how bad I did not want to be there. So, naturally, I retreated to my bed in my cold cabin to nap. Bundled up in my flannel, sweatshirt, and sleeping bag, I decided that instead of napping, maybe I would try to spend some time with God. So, I pulled out my Beth Moore devotional and let Jesus speak to me.

Beth (actually, the Holy Spirit) must have known what I was feeling because she picked a good day to write about what she did. She mentioned some stuff about doing everything we do for the glory of God – and with a good attitude. I was immediately convicted. Certainly, I had not been doing that during this weekend worship gig. I may have been “worshipping” during the sessions on the stage, but I had not been worshipping Jesus with my life and with my attitude.

You see, sometimes we let ourselves take on this attitude that worship is just when you go to church, or a concert, and the band plays these songs that eventually hit you in the right spot and take you into the presence of Jesus. We think of it as throwing our hands up to God in surrender, or maybe getting down on our knees. While this is very true, I would like to argue that it is just one form of worship.

If we believe that God is almighty and all-powerful, then shouldn’t we worship Him with our whole lives instead of just on Sunday mornings before the sermon? Think about it, God is not almighty and all-powerful only when our knees are bent, arms are surrendered… at church. He is almighty and all-powerful all the time. The Holy Spirit does not just come and go, in and out of our lives, as He pleases when a certain song comes on; He is always with us, in fact, He lives within us.

As a Church, and witnesses of Jesus Christ, instead of just handing our lives over to God during the altar call, we need to live as if we truly have given our lives to Christ. It’s easier said than done. We need to live a worshipful life. Everything we do should point back to the fact that we acknowledge God as almighty and all-powerful, as the Lord of our lives and the God of creation, as the one who holds our futures.

Pastor Aaron in our recently started series: “Wired for Worship,” shares about a few characters from the book of 2 Samuel that we can learn from when it came to their attitude towards worship and the presence of God. Check it out! http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=16

After I encountered Jesus in my cabin, I took a long nap, and was ready to worship God and lead the youth into His presence. And after that service, my team and I debriefed and spoke about the goodness of God and how beautiful it was to see middle schoolers worshiping the Lord. I had decided that it WAS a lot of fun and wished I could redo the first two sessions over again. Had things gone differently though, I wouldn’t have learned the valuable lesson that I did… so for that, I am grateful!

Worship with abandon this week, God deserves it!
Jenny Bushnell

Sunday Supper

Standard

Sunday Supper was something that was very important when I was growing up.  Gathering around the table with family and sharing a meal was something that I looked forward to as a young boy.  The words Sunday Supper had one meaning to me.  That meaning, or should I say the reason it was important to me, was that I’d be able to eat what smelled so good as it was cooking.

Mom cooked our meal from what we had, but the smells of a piece of meat roasting in the oven are still memorable to this day.  If I sit still and close my eyes I can relive those days and smell the Sunday meal.

I took some time to look up the Best Smells of the World.  Scientists have found that smell is the sense that’s most tied into memory, and this makes one contemplate the possibility that a person’s favorite smell is tied into a favorite memory. Whether it’s your mother cooking breakfast on a Sunday morning, or the memory of a beach vacation, these sense memories are waiting in your subconscious to be awakened with one sniff of a candle. All of the scents and pleasant odors on this list of the best smells in the world are connected to important parts of life, and you likely feel the same way about more than one of these smells on this list.  Here we go:

10. – A Sea Breeze
9. – Barbecue
8. – Freshly Popped Popcorn
7. – Cinnamon Rolls
6. – Freshly Ground Coffee
5. – Bacon Frying
4. – Freshly Baked Bread
3. – Vanilla
2. – Cookies Fresh from the Oven

And the #1 smell according to this survey is “After it Rains”.

Of the 81 items on this list, a roasting piece of beef in the oven doesn’t even make the list, but the smell of permanent markers does come in at #45.  Why would our teachers and parents tell us not to do that if it made the list of Top Smells?

My point is this, when I was a young boy, the smells of mom’s cooking had great impact on me.  I found comfort and joy in those smells, but even more so in the finished product. Mom made a great roast beef dinner.  Sunday Supper was something I worshiped.  As I grew older, the things that I worshiped changed, naturally.  I thought less of mom’s cooking and more of what was predominant in my life.  I worshiper things of the world that gave me pleasure; that made me happy.  Some of those things were success, bragging rights, and being on top of the mountain.  I had the desire to be the best and worked very hard to achieve it.  I’d have to say that I was wired to worship the things of this world.

Did you know that God Himself has wired each and every one of us to worship.  As His creation all of us have been made to glorify God.  Whether we know this, or even believe this, doesn’t matter.  The Bible says in Romans 11:36, “For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.” We have been created and wired to worship.  The question is not whether we will worship or not worship.  The real question is who or what will we worship?

I’m not telling you that all of the things I worshiped were good for me.  Some choices I made, I suffered from.  When my back was to the wall and things were not going well, what did I do?  I regressed to those things that made me feel good; feel like I was in control.  Old idols in my life that I thought poured into me… like greed, deceit, alcohol and drugs, were not satisfying me.  I was choosing my gods and bringing my offerings.  At the end, the real offering was me.  I was burning up on the altar of sacrifice.  Remember this: “Worship is our response to what we value most.”

Today I can tell you that I choose life and the Lord Himself.  It’s really the final option for me. In the Bible, Joshua chose the same and spoke to the Israelite’s saying, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,” Would they choose to serve Almighty God or would they choose the golden calf.  There are always options when we choose anything.  Again, it’s what’s important to us.  Other options may look better; even more promising, but they don’t satisfy and quench our thirst.  When the deck is stacked against me, I can now say as Joshua said, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Josh. 24:15).

Friend, what are you worshiping?  What is so important to you that you find yourself placing all of who you are into it?

Everybody worships something.  You know what you worship when you examine where you sacrifice.  What do you sacrifice your time and money for?  What gets your attention and focus?  Is your relationship with God a priority in your life or is it part of a list of Top Ten items?  This week, let’s examine our hearts and ask the Lord to reveal any idols that may lie in our hearts and stand in the way of us fully worshiping the Lord.

Grace and peace to you this week,
George