Surviving or Thriving?

Mar 31

Surviving or Thriving?

Survive- To remain; to continue to exist. Does this sound like where you are? Our world is made up of people who are continuing to just exist. If we compare the goals and dreams of young children to those of adults who have had to face hardships, we see possibilities changed to practicalities. Our goals have changed to reflect our desire for survival. We all have seasons of survival. The problem is when we take on survival mode as our way of life. It becomes so encompassing that we can no longer recognize that we are living just to survive. Do you find yourself in a time when you are just trying to make it through the day? Do you find yourself saying? If I can only get this bill paid….. If I could only get this project done…… If I could only get through this week…….. If I could only get married………… If I could only get this child to obey…….. If I could only get this promotion………. If only this diagnosis is good…………. If I could only make this person happy……….. If only I could……then things will be good, but is that truth? Do you remember what it is like to do more than to survive, but thrive? The world we live in tells us that survival is normal, and exhaustion is what is best. The worst thing to do is to expect more. The problem with that thought is that God promised us the “more”. Life more abundantly (John 10:10), joy more abundantly (Psalm 16:11), peace more abundantly (Romans15:13) and strength more abundantly (Psalm 138:3) are the promises God gives us. What you will not find in the Bible is the call to simply survive this life. One of the best examples of desiring more from this life is found in 1 Chronicles 4. You have to read verse after verse of genealogy in Chronicles, but tucked away in chapter 4 verse 10 you meet a man named Jabez who was bold enough to want more. He wanted what God would give him, and he asked for it. He asked God to bless him, but he didn’t leave it there. He asked specifically for an enlarging of his...

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“Confession, An Epoxy That Holds Relationship Together”

Mar 21

“Confession, An Epoxy That Holds Relationship Together”

Earlier this week I had started a post regarding the Church. I had shown from Ephesians 2 that the church was NOT a building but rather a Living and breathing organization comprised of many people that God was joining together in Him. Many times in my experiences over the years I feel I may have ‘missed the mark’ in my teaching to really relate and show HOW Bible Truth relates in our everyday experiences.This 2nd part endeavors to show from my own life what ‘Church’ and relationship building means and how vital it is for us.   I just wanted to give a ‘shout out!’ of love and appreciation to Jeff King! He is an awesome servant-leader who I have observed so much positive growth in, in my time at PWC the past couple of years. Jeff is definitely ‘Tuning Into’ the HEART of JESUS and it SHOWS! This past Sunday when Pastor Chris challenged us from the book of JAMES to ‘Confess our Faults, one to another’, I pulled Jeff aside and he patiently and lovingly heard my issue (fault).  The neat thing was I immediately felt so much concern and empathy exuding from him to me, concerning my problem. Though it was a painful process it was easy to pour out my heart because I realized I was safe and secure ; there was no sense of judgment or condemnation coming from Jeff. He gently, yet realistically helped me to face my issue and circumstance, all along ‘feeding my Spirit’ with belief, confidence, and love. Jeff confidently let me know In Jesus I would be victorious and he(Jeff+Jesus):-) would stand with me in my battle. I am thinking today this may be the FIRST time in ‘Church’ I have experienced this kind of love and support— I was left KNOWING  I would ‘Be MORE Than a Conqueror.’(Ro. 8:37) I  read this week in Colossians 4:6 where Paul encourages us to always converse in a way   with others that ‘Provides GRACE’  and is ‘seasoned with SALT’ towards them. Jeff’s interaction with me definitely empowered me, and like salt preserved me to continue to become the Son of God Jesus is making me into. I felt immense Love, respect,...

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“The Final Four and Winning The Eternal Prize”

Mar 21

“The Final Four and Winning The Eternal Prize”

Do you have your bracket filled out? Now if you have  no idea what the question means you are obviously not a basketball fan! This week “The Road to the Final Four!” began in earnst. It’s  the quest for the NCAA championship in men’s basketball. It’s called March Madness! The tournament reminds me that the qualities for success in the sports world are so similar to those we need to acquire as Christians. The apostle Paul must have been a sports fan! Because he frequently used sports metaphors to make spiritual points. Consider these two passages. “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadow boxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” (1 Cor 9:24-27, NLT) “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Phil. 3:12-14, NLT) Contained in these two texts are 7 lessons we can learn from the sports world. (1) Don’t Dwell on the Past Every team enters the tournament was some losses on their record, except the University of Kentucky, who is the favorite to win this year. However, UK cannot bask in the glow of  past victories, nor can those who’ve suffered some tough defeats worry about them. It’s time to move on. Paul is a great example of “forgetting the past.” He persecuted the church. Killed Christians. Was the “chief of sinners” But he forgot the past and...

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“Relationship, The Glue that Holds The Church Together”

Mar 18

“Relationship, The Glue that Holds The Church Together”

Ephesians 2:18-22 (NASB) 18)for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19)So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20) having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21) in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22)in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.   The Church of Christ is NOT a cold austere building that Christians meet in several  times  a week, but rather a  living and breathing organization, really much like a living organism. The very Creator God, dwells in that building because as Paul says in Ephesians, collectively as a group we are being BUILT TOGETHER INTO a DWELLING of GOD IN THE SPIRIT. I so LOVE Paul’s words here that give us a beautiful WORD-PICTURE of this Building that God is constructing with each living   Saint being formed and fitted together as a habitation that God will be pleased to Live in and through. A ‘LIVING Building’ of Saints to be BUILDED, or as the Greek language coveys constructed and ‘HELD’  together to contain an ever growing and powerful Presence of God. In  the above passage from Ephesians 2 we can find 3 important qualities that bring about the completion of this Holy Temple. The Blood of Jesus That Was Shed For Our Sin: In verse  13 of Ephesians 2 Paul states ‘That now we that were once FAR OFF were brought NEAR or Close by the Blood of Jesus”, in other words, because Jesus eliminated our sin we can now Come into a CLOSE Relationship with God and other Saints. We are Now fellow Citizens TOGETHER With Like-minded Saints: This important Truth is stated in verse 19 where Paul says  we are no longer STRANGERS and Aliens but we are citizens TOGETHER in the community of God. We Now Know God personally THROUGH a RELATIONSHIP with the potential for closer intimacy with Him, as well as Our Fellow citizens who have this same experience. You could...

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“Just DO IT!”

Mar 04

“Just DO IT!”

Nike, the brand that Michael Jordan built, is still flying high. The famous shoe company announced the release of their new Flyknit Lunar3 this month. It’s lightweight. The colors are bright. But most of all wearing them will put you in the winner’s circle! Nike is the most innovative shoe company of our time. And their slogan, Just Do It, captures our interest, captivates our imagination and creates a desire for kids to wear their brand. But did you know that Nike is a Bible word? It’s found in one of the great verses of the Bible, I John 5:4. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. In Greek mythology Nike was the goddess of victory, who presided over all military and athletic contests. The Greek word nike” (nee’kay) is the word for victory. There are three important words in this verse that are necessary for a successful Christian life .(1) Born This birth is a spiritual birth, not a physical one. Jesus said it occurs through water and the spirit. And this birth puts us into the Kingdom of God. The promise of this passage is to those born again. (John 3:3-5) Those born of God will face conflicts, controversies, and confrontations. We can either be conquered or we can be the conqueror. But because we are born of God and belong to God, we have the resources to be victorious in our various contests. Consider these three applications. Victory over Temptation. The same writer warned about the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:15). Many a Christian has fallen prey to these foes. But through our faith in the Faith we can achieve victory. Sometimes our surrender to temptation is excused with the refrain, “I am only human.” True. But through faith, God has given us super human resources to fight and find victory. God has promised a means of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). You can win the battle with temptation. Just do it! (2) Victory. Those born of God will face conflicts, controversies, and confrontations. We can either be conquered or we can be...

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“Can You Teach Compassion?”

Feb 22

“Can You Teach Compassion?”

I was sitting at a local restaurant recently enjoying breakfast with some former work mates, spinning the dream of spending time in a third-world country with my granddaughters in the near future. I was waxing lyrical of the benefits to my granddaughter’s character development and hopes that such an experience would instill compassion in them in a relevant and tangible way. Then someone said, “You can’t teach compassion to a child.” We bounced the statement back and forth for a bit before the conversation moved elsewhere. But that proclamation stayed with me and hasn’t let up. Can you teach compassion? Various studies have shown that compassion is like a muscle. Yes, some of us are born with good muscle/compassion tone but those of us who weren’t so lucky can still improve with hard, dedicated exercise. The word comes from the Latin ‘compati’ meaning to suffer with (com- “together” and pati “to suffer”) or to take pity. “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” Luke 6:31 reads as a compassion imperative, if rather brief. After all, isn’t that what compassion is: putting yourself in another’s shoes, feeling with them, suffering with them, laughing and crying with them? You may know the story of the Good Samaritan. Perhaps it’s not so well known that the narrative belongs to Jesus, as detailed in Luke 10:30-35. A man was robbed, beaten and left for dead by the side of a road. The first two people who passed by ignored him and continued on their way. The third, a Samaritan, “took pity on him” and not only bandaged his wounds and helped him to safety, but paid for his accommodation and care. “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” Jesus concluded. The “expert in the law” who Jesus was telling the story to replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” And Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” Can you teach compassion? I think so. Jesus obviously thought so. Compassion, after all, is the language of...

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