Just for Today

Today

I woke up this morning feeling less than enthusiastic about going to work, or even getting out of bed for that matter. My feet still hurt from the uncomfortable dress shoes I worked in all day yesterday. I was feeling cranky in part due to the lack of sleep I got the past few nights, and I wasn’t looking forward to going back into an environment that can be extremely negative.

I reluctantly rolled out of bed, and started my morning routine. That’s when it all changed. The thirtieth chapter of the book of 1 Samuel records an event where King David and his men returned from battle to find that there town had been plundered and their wives and children had been taken captive. The Bible says that the people were bitter in soul and even thought of stoning King David. Remarkably, when all seemed lost, and David was in this great distress, the Bible tells us that David encouraged himself in the Lord. That is what I decided to do this morning.

AA has a wonderful saying. It is, “Just for today.” The idea is this, “Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once. I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt I had to keep it up for a lifetime.” al-anon.org

The Lord taught a similar principle in the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In other words, “God give me today, what I need today, to get through today. Then I will come to you tomorrow and pray, “Give me today my daily bread.” I love how the NLT translates Matthew 6:34 where Jesus said, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

With these thoughts in mind I began to encourage myself by praying something like this, “Father in Heaven, when you called the Apostle Peter out of the boat to join You as You walked on water, You were calling him to join Your holy presence for a miracle. Despite the circumstances of the wind and waves around him Peter stepped out in faith and did something no one on earth had ever done. May I have the same faith to step out today and join You for the miracle that You have planned for me today! Just for today I choose to put all of the negativity behind me and focus on the good that You desire for me. I pray you bless this day according to Your glorious riches in Christ Jesus. I pray in Jesus Name, Amen!”

I’m not going to say that my face shined with the glory of the Lord the way Moses face did when he came off the mountain having spent time in the presence of God. I will say that I faced the day with optimism and a renewed sense of the presence of God having acknowledged Him and prayed for His abundant blessings. May each of us continue to acknowledge the presence of God in the everyday situations in life and choose to live, Just for Today!

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The Opioid Crisis Hitting America Today – Is There Hope?

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Originally posted on The Christian Post:

By Brian Fontaine |

The drug problem in America and around the world has truly grown to epidemic proportions. President Trump stated in his State of the Union Address on Jan. 30, 2018, “In 2016, we lost 64,000 Americans to drug overdoses: 174 deaths per day. Seven per hour.” It is rare to meet anyone who doesn’t know someone affected by substance abuse.

Many people point in all directions looking for solutions. President Trump stated, “We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge. My Administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need.”

William J. Bennett and Robert L. DuPont suggested in their June 30, 2017 Newsweek article, “But the main unaddressed nature of the opioid crisis is focus and energy on prevention.” Robert Charles also suggested in the Washington Times, “The current opiate crisis is traceable, in large measure, to false messages. States are promoting drug abuse — especially of marijuana — with false narratives. They must stop. Narratives suggesting drug abuse is relatively harmless, non-addictive, generally reversible, medically sustainable, or socially acceptable must stop.”

Part of the solution no doubt is to get tougher on drug dealers and pushers as well as helping get treatment for those in need as Trump suggests. Prevention too has its place on the table of solutions as suggested. Education is also part of the overall solution to the drug crisis. Still, I believe there is major piece of the puzzle that is missing from the national dialogue on this subject.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless amidst the growing number of lives lost to drug overdose each year but there is hope. Countless people have begun to find freedom as they came to believe that a power greater than themselves could restore their sanity. In a culture with an adversity to the 10 Commandments and where the Name of Jesus is offensive the power of God has been reduced to meaningless, “Christian,” platitudes and lifeless cliché sayings fit for greeting cards.

As followers of Christ may we never lose our faith in the power of God to change lives. The same Jesus who made the lame to walk and the blind to see, who caused the deaf to hear and raised the dead to life can bring resurrection power to the lives of those in bondage to addictions and compulsive behaviors. The Apostle Paul offered this word of encouragement to those in the city of Corinth sometime around A.D. 55. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God,” 1 Corinthians 1:8 (ESV). These words ring true in 2018. The message of the cross of Christ, His death and resurrection, the message of hope for a new life through the power of God is to our culture foolishness. Yet to those of us who have tasted His goodness, have experienced His grace and mercy, who have begun to live by His strength, this message has proven to be the very power of almighty God.

The late Charles Colson, former insider of the Nixon White House, turned Evangelical Christian leader and founder of Prison Fellowship International said, “I meet millions who tell me that they feel demoralized by the decay around us. Where is the hope? The hope that each of us have is not in who governs us, or what laws are passed, or what great things that we do as a nation. Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people, and that’s where our hope is in this country; that’s where our hope is in life.”

After all of these years our hope remains the same. The Apostle Paul told the Philippians, “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure,” Philippians 2:13 (ESV). The hope that each of us has is in the power of God who works with in us to heal, restore, and to revitalize broken hearts.

Lewis Edgar Jones penned the words to this now famous song in the 1830’s, “There is power, power, wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb.” May we never lose our hope in the power of God who still heals the sick and raises the dead. Perhaps then the words of Trump will come to pass, “The struggle will be long and difficult — but, as Americans always do, we will prevail.”

Race Baiting, and I’m sick and tired of it!!!

Race 

The Washington Post headline today illustrates so much of that which is wrong in America.  The headline reads, “Korryn Gaines is the ninth black woman shot and killed by police this year.”  The headline suggests that the Korryn Gaines was a victim of racial discrimination along with eight other, “Black woman,” who were, “Shot and killed by police this year.”  If you take the time to read the article you learn that tragically Korryn Gaines pointed a shotgun at police who had come to arrest her on a warrant for failing to appear in court after a traffic violation in March. 

Every story has a purpose.  The purpose of one story might be to inspire.  Other stories might be intended to instruct, explain, or simply to humor.  The purpose of some stories is simply to disseminate information.  News organizations in America have long held a position of integrity claiming long before Fox News officially coined the phrase, to be, “Fair and balanced.” 

Yet headlines generate, “Clicks,” and clicks are valuable in the new world of internet news.  This causes some so called, “News Organizations,” such as the Washington Post, to not worry so much about being fair and worry even less about being balanced.  The purpose of many articles, such as this one, is clearly to generate traffic.  The tool used in this particular article is race baiting. 

No right thinking American is going to conclude that the police are targeting black woman to kill in cold blood after reading the Washington Post article.  However, that’s exactly what the headline of this article suggests.  Shameless!  A once respected news outlet, The Washington Post, has stooped to the level of tabloid news in an effort to stay competitive in an ever changing internet news market. 

The other problem is this.  This headline clearly misrepresents the facts of the story suggesting a racial discrimination that in this case does not exist.  Yet, the Washington Post was willing to sacrifice the truth on the altar of profiteering.  Further, this kind of headline only fuels the very real fire of racial tensions in our country today. This is race baiting, and I’m sick and tired of it!!!

Keep in step with the Spirit!

Spirit

Have you ever read through the New Testament account of the mighty and powerful way God moved in the early church and had a sense of longing for that kind of Holy Spirit fire in the church today?  Have you noticed how in the early church miracles were an everyday occurrence and lives were impacted by God through His people in ways that forever changed their lives?  Have you ever wondered why God is not moving in the same way through the church today?

Our Vision at Washington Church is to connect to the heart of God individually, together and in the community.  Sounds good on paper.  Very holy.  Very appropriate!  I’m sure God must be proud.  But without actions they are just pompous empty words.  Without movement and momentum they are just dry and decayed lifeless desires.

Where does the passion and the power, the motivation and momentum to love God and love His people come from?

So what is missing in the Church today?  What can we do to bring life to the vision God has given us to connect with His heart personally, as a church family, and impact the community with the life altering message of the love of God?

If I were to ask you what you want for your life what would you say?  I’d like to grow in my love for God and others.  I want to grow in my understanding and experience of God’s love toward me.  I’d like to grow in joy.  I’d like to grow in peace.

If I were to ask you what is your desire for your Church what would you say?  I’d like our church to… “Grow?”  Likely you would say something like this.  I’d like our church to grow.  I’d like us to grow in numbers.  I’d like us to grow in our love for one another.  I’d like to see growth in the number of spectators getting involved in using their gifts to serve the church and the community.  I’d like to see us grow in our outreach to the community where we are showing God’s love and shining His light.  I’d like our church to grow in spiritual fervor!  May God kindle a fire in us that moves us to action, that we might begin as a congregation to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of us!

So what needs to change?  What needs to change in us that we might have that passion needed to move us toward a heartfelt love and hunger for the living God?  What needs to change in us that we might have a passion for the people of this world for whom Christ died?

Where does the passion and the power, the motivation and momentum to love God and love His people come from?

It doesn’t come from our hearts.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

We know that!  We desire to be the people God created us to be but our hearts don’t always follow.  Our spirits are willing but our hearts are so, so week.  We love the idea of loving God heart, soul, mind, and strength but sadly too often it remains only an idea.  We desperately need a heart change.

It doesn’t come from our minds.

We have such a hard time with putting into practice the command from Colossians 3:2 where the Apostle Paul instructs us saying, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

Paul says in Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.

The question for us today is this: If our hearts are desperately sick and our minds are need of renewal than where does the passion needed to fulfill God’s vision come from?

The answer, as we will explore today is this: The passion need to fulfill God’s mission comes not from our own hearts and minds, but from living in relationship with God the Holy Spirit.

Pastor John Bavere says that the Holy Spirit is the most ignored person in the church today.  Have you ever considered that?  We go through our lives at home, at work, and in the community and for the most part we are in our own little self-absorbed bubble.  Then all of sudden something from outside of our bubble encroaches on our peace, safety, or comfort and we suddenly become very holy.  We begin to pray.  The point is not that we can’t pray in our greatest times of need but that God is with us all the time, in every situation, in every joy, and in every struggle.  He is with us as we are getting ready for our day, on the drive to work, when we are on the phone, and checking email.  He is with us when we are visiting family, enjoying our lunch, or just reading a book.  God is with in everything we do big or small.  Yet for the most part He is largely ignored.

Where does the passion and the power, the motivation and momentum to love God and love His people come from?

“The passion and the power, the motivation and momentum to love God and love His people, to connect to His heart individually, together, and in the community comes from living in relationship with the Holy Spirit.”

Galatians 5:16-26 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

When we understand the Holy Spirit is a person :

We walk by the Spirit: Walk by the power, influence, and direction of the Spirit.   Live day by day enjoying His presence, learning from Him, being empowered by Him

We are led by the Spirit: We follow His leading what to say, and what not to say, what to do and what not to do

We bear the fruit of the Spirit: He begins to grow in us and produce fruit that is a blessing to us and others through us

We live by the Spirit: It becomes a way of life

We keep in step: This is a picture of intimacy.  We can only keep in step with someone we are walking very closely with.

We have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires: 1 Corinthians 15:31b “I die every day.”

Many of us today need to die to our:

  • Discontentment
  • Anger
  • Pride
  • Hurt
  • Jealousy
  • Fears
  • Sin

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Walking in the Spirit brings Freedom:

  • In our minds, thoughts, emotions
  • In our marriages and family relationships
  • In our homes, work places, and in our communities

“Let’s begin experiencing the passion and power, motivation and momentum of God working through us in the Holy Spirit!”   

Blessed be Your Name!

your Name

Some of you know about the trials my family has been going through over the past month.  I can’t say enough how much your prayer has meant to us and has encouraged us to press on!  Thank you!  I recorded a personal message that I pray will encourage others who are suffering hardships in this crazy world.  Please listen and share it with others who are going through a hard time.

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All you need is LOVE!

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God’s love is amazing!  But, have you ever considered the fact that we don’t even comprehend it?  Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened that they might see God for who He truly is.  He went on to pray that they might know the Love of GOD that surpasses knowledge in such a way that they might be filled with the fullness of GOD!

Ephesians 1:15-19 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.

Paul prayed that the eyes of our hearts might be enlightened that we might know Him.  There is a parallel between this deeper knowledge of God and the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us!

Ephesians 3:14-21 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Paul ties the abundant life God desires for us with being rooted and grounded in and comprehending God’s love.

What does it mean to be rooted and grounded in Love?

It has to do in part with how we see God with the eyes of our hearts. 

*** Click Here to Listen to the Podcast ***

His Kingdom Come??

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kingdom

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I confess it can be so hard being the man God called me to be.  I struggle.  Even as a pastor, believe it or not.  Yes, I want to do big things for God.  I want His will to be done and His blessings in my marriage and family, and His blessings in my ministry.  However, I, like the rest of the world can get tangled up in the things of this world.  There are so may things calling out for our attention and devotion it is easy to get distracted.  We may even find that we are building our own kingdom instead of the kingdom of God.

How we build our kingdom: This is where we are naturally prone to invest.  This is the kingdom we are naturally prone to build.  Of course it is our Kingdom, not His.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

Lust of the flesh:  ungodly ways to please our flesh such as overeating, drug or alcohol abuse, and sexual encounters outside of marriage.   Numb the pain of the day on the TV, computer, or cell phone, live in the fantasy because it is better than the reality.

Lust of the eyes: Things of this world I believe will make me happy, cars, boats, RV’s, motorcycles, computers and cell phones, gadgets and gizmos, trinkets and toys.

The boastful pride of life:  Seeking acceptance, approval, and adoration from others through our ability, achievements, possessions, or our position in life.

The encouragement for us today is to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirt to invest in and build God’s kingdom.  This requires us to turn our focus outward and invest in others. 

In Matthew 25:14-30, we are encouraged to invest in God’s Kingdom!

“For it,” (The Kingdom of God,)  “will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Did you notice that Jesus said that the servant who had nothing, that is no interest on his investment, was worthless.  Can you imagine if the Lord said that of you or me?  We would be devastated!  Yet the Holy Spirit prompts us everyday to come outside of ourselves and invest, not in ourselves, but in God’s kingdom!

Want to hear more?  ***Click here to hear the Podcast***

God bless you!  And remember, if you wright me I will right you back. 😉

Pastor Brian