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He Is Still Here — With Comfort

Sep 19, 2014 -- 2:26pm

 

When the inexplicable happens, there is no comfort for our souls like that provided by the Holy Spirit.  For that, I am so grateful. The Scriptures abound with great promises of God’s unfailing presence in dark days, when there are no answers, when life doesn’t seem to make sense.  In those moments, believers can cling to a truth - He is still here. 

He is here in this moment.  And He will help heal broken hearts.  When I first heard the news that came out of Bell, Florida, and the heartbreaking reality of an event more painful than we can imagine, my first thought was the promise that Jesus gave in John 14, where the Holy Spirit is presented as our Comforter and Helper.  He is comfort incarnate.  There is nothing that can be spoken by human lips that compares to the touch of healing that comes when we encounter this amazing reality of God.  In this chapter from John (chapter 14), and the two chapters that follow, Jesus interlaces into this, His last deep conversation with His disciples, words describing The Holy Spirit, and the many ways in which He would be used powerfully in our lives.  He would comfort, help, guide, direct, teach, and remind us of the words spoken by Jesus Himself.  

So powerful would His presence be in our lives that Jesus makes a startling statement in John 16:7 – that it would be for our GOOD that Jesus went to the Father, for if He didn’t go, the Spirit would not be sent.  As hard as that had to be for the disciples to understand, it is nevertheless the truth. 

Today, we have the powerful and abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  He is here – right now, ready to comfort, ready to strengthen, ready to heal.  He cares for those so affected by this tragedy.  He will lead us through even these most difficult days. 

This is a time for all believers to pray and trust the Comfort that comes from the very heart of God.  He is able, and He is here.

Till next time.

 

~ Mike Gilland

Finding a New Best Friend

Sep 12, 2014 -- 11:51am

 

Our church is going through 1 Peter in our Sunday messages, and last week’s sermon included Peter’s charge to not “repay evil for evil” (1 Peter 3:9).  That very thing – the challenge to strike back in anger when we feel that we’ve been mistreated – is a temptation that is common to everyone, especially in days like these.  To say that we are in frustrating times is quite an understatement.  Yet, God’s Word says to not “repay evil for evil.” 

Early this past Sunday morning, I spent some time reading and praying for our Sunday gathering.  I try to follow a reading plan that has you read the Psalm that matches that date (for instance, this past Sunday was the 7th, so you start with Psalm 7.)  After that date, read Ps. 37, then 67, etc., adding 30 to find the next chapter.  The idea is that by following that routine, you will read through the book of Psalms in a month.

As I read Ps. 37, I was struck freshly with the words that lead up to one of my all-time favorite passages, Ps. 37:4 (“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”)  As much as I love that verse, the verses immediately before it really spoke to my heart.  Verses 1 and 2 begin with a charge to not fret over evil doers, for their day is coming.  Yep – in other words, don’t repay their evil.  Don’t even worry about them.  God will take care of them.

But Verse 3 hit me like a lightning bolt.  “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.”  We are called to do good acts, not vengeful ones.  And this “good” that we are to do is empowered by and in the context of a solid trust in the Lord. 

But that is not all…we are to befriend faithfulness.  Again, I was freshly impacted by these words.  I need to see faithfulness as my friend.  Friendship doesn’t just happen.  It may spring up suddenly, but true friendship will not be sustained without thought, work and love.  And in that same manner, we are to approach and respect both God’s faithfulness to us – and our faithfulness to Him – as we would a desired friend.  We are to cultivate faithfulness to the Lord while we live in this land, trusting in Him with all our heart, grateful for His undying love for and faithfulness to us.  Doing this gives us the grace and ability to do the good of which David speaks in this Psalm.

How can I (or we) apply this?  For starters, pray right now for that needed right heart attitude, so that when we are confronted with a situation that makes us want to strike back and repay the evil that has just been dumped on me, we will instead “do good.”  There is a right way to respond.  Now, that doesn’t mean that we are always going to take the passive way out and just continually be run over.  But it does mean that we can bring glory to God in the WAY that we respond.  Our faithful God will help us to do just that.  We can respond rightly.  We can “do good.”

This is a tangible word that David is speaking to our souls.  Together, let’s trust God.  Let’s do good.  Let’s be best buds with God’s faithfulness.

 

Till next time.

 

~Mike Gilland

He Directs My Path...

Sep 02, 2014 -- 5:27pm

 

I enjoy computers…but sometimes they can get under the skin of even the most techy among us, causing untold frustration!  We often hear computers talked about in terms that go something like, “They are great, so long as they work...”  Truer words are rarely spoken.  But often, it is the user that has erred, not the computer.

Case in point - I was helping a friend today who was perplexed. His dilemma was that he had saved a file to a folder with his own name as the title of said folder.  He was positive that he had saved a particular document in that folder, and he knew the exact name of the file.  When using file explorer, he could see the file, but he could not find it when looking from within another program!  And it was puzzling.

It took a moment to realize what he had done.  Sure enough, he had the right name for the file, and even the right name for the folder.  But the trouble was caused by the fact that he created a second folder, at another location on the drive, with the exact name!  He thought he was saving all his data to that one location, but was actually saving data to two different folders, each bearing the same folder name, but in different spots on his computer.  Once I learned the path to that second folder, I could find the contents, and the problem was solved.  I copied its contents to his main folder, then deleted the secondary folder and files. All was well.

But this experience served me well as an illustration to a biblical truth that is significant.  Pathways are important.  If I am going to succeed in serving God and finding His will for my life, I have to be on the right path.  I have to know where to go to find truth. 

There are plenty of rogue “folders” along the way wherein I can invest my time and energies, my hopes and dreams.  Now, if I am not careful, I can be fooled into thinking that I have deposited my actions correctly, but have it all wrong. My actions, my money, my hopes – they could all be lost if I am not placing them in a sure place that is on the right path.

The really great news is found within this promise from Proverbs:  “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  (Prov. 3:6 ESV).  We don’t have to approach this process alone.  We have the help of our Lord, and His Word.  And, He gives us the comfort and help of the Holy Spirit, Who shows us the way (John 16:13).  He will lead us, and guide us into the way of the Lord.

Yes, I can trust Him, in issues with my family, my finances and my health. And…I can have confidence that He will help me with even those everyday minor needs, like those misplaced documents on my computer! 

 

Till next time.

 

~ Mike Gilland

Living With My Wife...in an Understanding Way...

Aug 21, 2014 -- 3:19pm

We all have our books in the Bible that we could list as favorites, and today I am sharing some thoughts from one of my faves…1 Peter is a very practical book, one that challenges us at heart levels.  It calls us to examine our hearts in such ways as to how we respond to authority and suffering. 

In chapter 3, Peter directs the focus upon married couples, and a scripture that is very meaningful to me is found there in verse 7.  Here, Peter teaches me, and all husbands, to “live with our wives in an understanding way.”   I recently spent some time studying this section of this passage – and I hope these thoughts will be helpful to you.  First of all, here is the verse in entirety:

 

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.  (1 Peter 3:7 ESV)

 

To live in an “understanding way” means that husbands are to treat their wives in such a way as to reflect the love, nurture, compassion, and patience as how we ourselves are treated by God.  Paul also echoed this importance in Ephesians chapter 5, where he instructed husbands to “love your wife AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH, AND GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR IT…”

To live with our wives in an understanding way is so important for the happiness of both spouses.  When a husband is loving his wife in this manner, there are several evidences that should be present…

 

-      He will not be overbearing, short, temperamental, demanding, or demeaning.  To do so is to NOT love!

-      He will value her thoughts and her opinions.  He will express his belief in her, and she will be secure in his leadership.

-      Under biblical leadership, a wife will BLOOM.  She will appear happy, and joyful…because she WILL BE that way!  She is loved, and there is a sense of “rightness” between them.

-      A husband will never threaten to harm his wife in any physical way.  There shouldn’t be any physical domination over the wife.  While most husbands are stronger than their wives, it would be both shameful and sinful for them to manipulate their wives in that way.

-      When a husband is truly loving and leading his family, his wife will feel protected and free from fear under his care.  She will thrive under such loving leadership. 

-      She will feel represented, heard, and a sense that her needs are being considered and addressed.

-      Finally, a husband’s prayers will NOT be hindered.  God so values the wives that He will withhold from a husband that is not in obedience to His commands.  A husband who is living with his wife in an understanding way will have a rich reward in answered prayers.

 

I hope this is helpful to you.  To live in such a manner will bring joy to the couple, and honor to God.  And that should be the goal of every believer.

 

Till next time.

 

~ Mike Gilland

Keep on Running the Race

Aug 07, 2014 -- 5:36pm

 

The Bible is replete with images from real life that help us understand God’s principles and direction for our lives.  One of the most helpful for me is found in Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians to “run the race to win…” (1 Cor. 9:24). 

I’ve never been a great runner, but I love this analogy from Paul.  Running is a sport of endurance and determination.  It brings both pain, and, when those endorphins kick in, euphoria (well, at least that is what I am told!!!  :)

The great thing about running the race with Jesus is that we are not running alone.  He has promised that we will be guided by the Holy Spirit, who was sent to be our guide, our strength, and our comfort. 

One of the most amazing stories that I’ve ever read is the account of Derek Redmond, a British runner in the 1992 Olympics.  Derek was competing in the 400 heat, and was on the back stretch, only 175 meters from the finish line when disaster struck – Derek’s hamstring in his right leg popped, and down he went.  Struck with immense pain, Derek struggled to get back up on his feet.  He HAD to finish.  His dream of a winning a medal was clearly dashed, but he refused to not finish this race.  But the pain and struggle was great.

Watching all this unfold from his seat in the stands was Derek’s father, Jim Redmond.  Instinctively, Jim jumped to action, cleared through security, and ran to the track.  He helped Derek up to his feet, and said to him, “I’m here, son. We’ll finish together.”

Derek put his arms around his father and sobbed, and he was not alone.  65,000 people who were in the stands stood to their feet, crying and clapping.  A few feet from the finish line, dad released his grip, and Derek crossed the line on his own, to the cheers of everyone in the stadium.  It was an Olympic moment that will never be forgotten.  Without a doubt, it was the most celebrated last-place finish in Olympic history.  But…he finished the race.

Jim Redmond’s help and love for his son serves as a wonderful illustration to the kind of support that we can give to others, and more importantly, to the great help that we as believers receive from our Heavenly Father.  Jesus told us to run, and to run in such a way as to win.  What a comfort it is to know that we are not running alone.  He is there – with arms around our shoulders, telling us that we will finish…together.

 

Till next time.

 

~ Mike Gilland

The Heart and Soul of Community

Jul 25, 2014 -- 2:40pm

 

You just gotta love Facebook!  Pardon my bad grammar, but that is a truth nonetheless.  I never cease to be amazed at the power of social media.  It has the ability to keep us close to those we love, it reunites us with those we once knew, and revives memories that were shared together. 

For example, the current phenomenon called “Throw Back Thursday” is being practiced by more and more in my circle of friends on Facebook.  I am constantly amused at the pictures that are being posted – in some situations, I knew that friend during that era, and the posted photo brings back a flood of fond thoughts of events and times shared with that friend.  In other pics, I find that I didn’t know my friend at that point of time – and seeing his posted picture gives me a window into his or her past activities that I would never have known or shared.

Facebook, and Twitter, and other social sites will sometimes use the word “community” to describe their network.  I prefer to think of Facebook as a “tool” for community, as opposed to being a “community” in and of itself.  Let me explain…

What makes these virtual portals so useful to me is that they are new connectors to my existing community.  Facebook is a great way to connect to someone with whom I am already related!  This distinction is important, for Twitter, Facebook, etc. – can never serve to produce real community from scratch.  Social media, as good as it is, will never replace a good chat over a cup of coffee, or a personal visit to someone who is sick, or hurting.  It will never be as good as your hand on a friend’s shoulder, or a prayer that is actually prayed for someone who needs encouragement.  As much fun as they give us, these programs pale in comparison to the impact of living real life with real friends, spending actual minutes, face-to-face - together

One of the sad and very negative results being produced by our computer-driven and social media-saturated culture is a real sense of isolation…an acute loneliness.  Merely posting a status update will not prevent one from having a sense of separation from real relationships, or meaningful interpersonal communication that is genuine, direct, and up-close.

Real community demands real relationships.  And relationships demand time spent together, side-by-side, face-to-face.

Make no mistake, I enjoy the fact that I have Facetime at my disposal, and it is a great tool that connects me to my children who are now in other cities.  While I cherish those conversations, I would never want to imply to my kids that an online chat is as good as time spent together at home, or sharing a meal together.  Facetime is great, but I want to give my kids an actual hug around the neck!

Parents, and children too…make it a priority to spend time together.  Laugh, talk, play games.  Ride bikes, go to parks, throw Frisbees. Those times, and many others like them, are the building blocks to love, fellowship, and true relationship.  The kind of relating that builds real community.

 

Till next time.

 

~ Mike Gilland

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