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The power of the number 1

One can seem so insignificant. Who picks up one penny anymore? When you find a $1 bill in your coat pocket you rarely jump for joy. One minute is hardly enough time to do anything. Our world focuses a lot on trying to be number one but we overall view the number to be rather insignificant.


That is until one comes knocking on your door. It is amazing how powerful one text can make, one smile, one hug, one encouraging word. In our ever-busier world think about how one note, one phone call and one wave can brighten your day and make all the difference. Ask the hungry what one meal means, ask the homeless what one night in a bed would mean. You see the number one does have significance. The number one can impact the person showing or the person receiving in life changing ways. How many would give much for one true friend, one more conversation with a loved one who passed away or one more chance to change that past failure?


We may not be able to use one, in the past tense, but we can use one today. Be the one who uses the small opportunities to make big impacts. You are a valuable creation in Christ and the devil loves to destroy His creation one person at a time. If you have been positively impacted by a one then you know what you need to do. Be the one that will make a difference on another one. You may just impact that one but you might start a domino effect that impacts the world. You never know, so be the one.


Are you crazy?

You may not be stuck in a room with padded walls and you might not be wearing a strait jacket, but that does not mean you’re not crazy. I am not talking about, “Wow, she drives like a crazy woman!!” or “That guy is crazy if he thinks I will pay that!” I am talking about Christians who are willing to pray crazy prayers. Crazy prayers like Hannah and Elijah did. Prayers that are crazy to humans but music to God’s ears.


Daily God keeps the delicate balance of all creation in motion. That task alone should let us know that our God can do some pretty wild things. Now God does not always answer our crazy prayers the way we may want Him to, but He hears them and works out more of them than we will ever fully understand until we get to heaven.


I encourage you to take those really crazy things to God that you might even be embarrassed to verbalize. Pray for that loved one, who seems to be as anti-God as Voltaire, that he or she might come to know Christ. Pray for that wayward Christian, who seems to think that there is new revelation in the bible and has chosen to follow some wrong teaching, that their eyes would be open to truth. Pray prayers for the physical, financial and relational brokenness that you just don’t see with your earthly eyes how they could ever be answered. God is waiting and eager to hear you say them. Can I let you in on a little secret? He already knows what you want. He wants to hear you ask. Make a list, date it, and start writing out and praying those crazy prayers. You never know when or how He will answer them. Make sure when He does that you shout to all who will listen how your God just answered that wild, cannot be talked about, crazy prayer.


Spoiled Rotten!!

I think we have all seen at one point or another a child throwing a fit. In fact, some of us have even seen adults throwing a fit. It is never a pretty sight and it is uncomfortable to watch. You see people lose control and act like they have no thought of future consequences. We usually attribute these tantrums to people who are spoiled rotten. They are so used to getting their way that when they are told “no” they just cannot handle it.


If you are one who names the name of Christ as your Savior then you to are also spoiled rotten. Your immediate reaction to that may be shock, surprise or even rejection. You know the pain, struggles and difficulties of life, so how could anyone say you are spoiled? You don’t live in a mansion, have garages full of cars and banks full of money, so you are certainly not spoiled. You may be struggling with a debilitating illness, broken relationship or job loss, so you are the last thing from spoiled.


The problem with that mindset is what we as Christians view as spoiled. We may not be physically or materially spoiled but we are spoiled in so many other ways. The greatest of which is that when I die physically I will wake up in heaven with my Savior greeting me. That is not some brief little side note in our life. This guarantee is life changing and we should consider ourselves spoiled if that is all we get, but it isn’t. On top of the fact that my life at death is just beginning, I have the Holy Spirit to daily comfort, strengthen and guide me. I have the Word of God to instruct, encourage and educate me. I have fellow Christians that are there to fight alongside of me in the daily warfare of life.


Christian, you are spoiled. Stop judging your life based on the temporal and start embracing, with gusto, the eternal. We are spoiled by our good, good Father who loves us and daily gives us so many blessings that we in our “spoiledness” have become desensitized to His provision and instead of cherishing and praising God we complain to Him. How sad. Just like the child screaming on the floor of the grocery store because they cannot have that sweet treat at the checkout, we internally do the same.


Brother and sister, take time today to thank God for all you have in and through Him. Keep your eyes on the prize and daily be grounded in the person of Jesus Christ and not the circumstances of this fading and temporal world. Yes, we are spoiled but we do not have to act rotten.   Change your perspective and this will change your attitude and actions.


What if you could only blink your eye?

Editor, father and human being. Jean-Dominique Bauby suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed except for his left eye lid. Can you imagine if you were trapped in your own body? Jean’s mind worked fine but his ability to communicate with the world around him was limited to what he could say with his left eye lid. Yet with only that one means to communicate he worked out a system to talk and even write a book. There was no warning. No opportunity to choose what one last thing he would do.


What would you do if something like that happened? I read about Jean in a Readers Digest about 20 years ago and I still am drawn back to his story. I think of it most when I have an ailment or injury that I complain about, but there are other times it invades my mind. I think of it when I hug my children, when I watch the changing seasons and when I drive my car on the winding, tree covered Pennsylvania countryside. It especially hits me when I have time to just stop and really breathe in my environment. Last evening, I was all alone on my back deck. I breathed in the scent of the flowering vines that grow up my deck. As I enjoyed their fragrance, I saw a bat flying up in the sky snatching its evening fill of bugs. The spider that calls my outdoor light its home was crawling about its web waiting for the next morsel to uncannily get stuck in its trap. These all seemed to be magnified as I reverberated with the amazing awe of the hand of God in creation.


I hope that I never have to face anything like Jean faced but I will say that I am overwhelmed at his story – a successful man that chose to enjoy what he could rather than be overcome by what was lost. I have no idea if Jean had a personal relationship with Christ and yet I do know that I have one. Since I do, I need to strive to more frequently breathe in God’s creation with all my senses. I need to thank Him more for the little things that I skip past on my way from one hurried destination to another. Let’s not pity Jean but be inspired by Him and take more deliberate steps to live life on purpose rather than having life lead us.


Three benefits to being critical and lazy

Yes, I know what I wrote. Yes, I know it sounds wrong. No, I have not been hacked. In my many years of experience I find, in retrospect, that there are distinct benefits to being critical and lazy. Three that I am aware of.

First, you don’t have to be concerned with God trying to get you to serve His Kingdom. Yes, He will convict you of sin. He will direct you to be obedient but if you have chosen a life style smothered in a critical spirit you will not have the Spirit of God” bothering” you and prompting you to go out and be a soldier in His army. He knows the damage you will do as you attack His plans, undermine His ways and brag about how “others” do it better than He does.


Second, He won’t be calling you to lead His church, a small group or any other organized Christian group. You will have loads of time to binge on your Netflix account, go shopping for endless hours and maintain a look of disdain when asked to do anything with a quick “I’m too busy” response to boot.


Last, no one will come pestering you to pour into them, counsel them or in any way impact them to be a better disciple of Jesus Christ. You can instead focus on people who are critical with you and who enjoy laying around glued to their tech device watching countless videos of kittens and homemade misadventures.


So those of you with a deep seeded critical spirit or desire to mindlessly waste your life – rejoice. You can now unequivocally point to the benefits of your wayward life style.


Off the Wall east is birthed!!!

Two Sundays ago, we laid hands on a young single man and a couple and prayed over them. One of our Elders was in tears as he thanked God for allowing us to see this new ministry birthed here at UPCC. It was hard to believe this day had come, but before I get ahead of myself let me share with you the beginning.


I met Don Stubbs about ten years ago. He was a Godly man who had gotten so passionate about discipleship that God led him to leave an established inner-city youth ministry to go to the hinterlands of Ohio and start Off the Wall. Off the Wall is a deliberate 24/7 discipleship ministry where 18 to 24 year-old men and women learn how to be disciples of Christ by living, growing and serving together. As he shared his desire and fervency I grew excited.


Our paths did not cross much over the next couple of years. His ministry was just starting. Little did I know that the time I had left at the ministry I was in was ending. As OTW (Off the Wall) got started my oldest son joined the ministry in its second year. I was just starting a church and growing in life-on-life discipleship, so I reconnected with Don and the OTW staff. As we talked, Don told me that he would love to see another location of OTW start but it would have to be at a church that bought hook, line and sinker into what OTW was focused on. We chatted but I did not want to say much. I was not sure if UPCC would even be around to dream a dream that big.


As the years passed, God decided to sustain and grow both UPCC and OTW. I grew to love Don and the OTW students and staff more and more. I joined the board, UPCC began supporting OTW and relationships deepened. As different mile markers were met, what at one time was just a dream became a reality.


Fast forward to Sunday September 10 – the Sunday I was describing to you. It was the official launch of OTW PA!!! Wow!! I encourage you to dream dreams, set mile markers and pursue Christ. You never know what God might do. As a church that is just 8 years old we have seen an exciting ministry begin because UPCC was here to help birth it. To God be the glory, great things He has done!!


Scardy cat

I remember vividly the day I was dared to eat a bug as a child. My “friends” gathered around as we held a hard-shelled black bug. “Just eat it!!” they shouted. I could feel my heart pumping as I contemplated what I should do. Should I eat the bug and gag and get who knows what kind of disease or not eat it and be called that accursed phrase…. Scardy cat!!? I grabbed the bug, my palms sweating, the chants and yelling growing louder, and I quickly shoved it in my mouth and crunched down. The taste immediately gagged me and I not only spit it out but threw up on some of those crowding in around me. Never again, I thought, will I do something out of the fear of being called a name or looked down on by others.


I would love to stay that I held to that, but over the years and even into adulthood I am haunted at times with “What will others say?” One big area as an adult that I face fear in is speaking truth. I know I should do it. God tells me to do it. If I really loved the person I need to talk to I would do it. So why don’t I automatically do it instead of wrestling with it?


Fear is a powerful deterrent. We all want to be liked and accepted.   Instead of doing what we know we should do we cave in. We lie to ourselves, make excuses and ignore things instead of doing the right and good thing. Christians, we need to stop being ruled by self and start letting the Spirit really control what we do. Our brothers and sisters are owed it, God calls us to it, so now we need to step up and do it. In a world, full of outright lying and deceptive practices, we need to be the unequivocal and dependable voices of truth. It should be the hallmark of not only how we talk but also how we live. Let’s stop worrying about how we might be viewed by others or names they might call us and get on our big boy and girl pants and share lovingly the truth we all so desperately need to hear.

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