Paradigm Shift

I know many people have heard this story:

This man goes to his pastor one day and says, “Pastor, I’m at the end of my rope. I have lost everything!” The pastor listens as the man breaks down and tells the story of what happened and how he suffered financially. After awhile the pastor looks at the man and says, “I’m sorry you have lost your salvation.” “No,” said the man, “I haven’t lost my salvation.” “Oh,” the pastor says, “well, I’m sorry you have lost your hope in Christ.” The man said he hadn’t lost that either. The pastor goes on to say how sorry he is to hear the man lost his faith, God, the Spirit within him, his health, etc. The man hadn’t lost any of that. The pastor concludes and says, “Well, it seems to me you really haven’t lost anything.”

Isn’t this just like us though. When something does not work out the way we had intended or planned for it to work out, we begin to speak and think negatively. I am not saying here that positive thinking is the answer and will fix our “problems.” What I am saying here is there is another way to look at problems; firstly, by calling them “challenges.” This way we can begin looking for a solution to the “challenge,” rather than just complaining about the “problem.”

“Where are all the people? Why don’t we have more people here?”

We all have heard questions like this in any organization or group we are part of. The intent of the question is really asking and showing, or at least I hope it is, a genuine concern for the ones that are absent. But, what we do not realize is that we actually demean or devalue the people who are there. It’s almost as if a person might be saying, “You’re not good enough without the others here.”

Now, I know (or I hope) this is not what is meant; but this is how it can sound. If we take the time to look at who is there and see the giftedness they can bring, imagine the work that can be done. Instead of taking valuable time complaining and trying to think of what “other people” should be doing to bring in more people, we could simply look at who is there, thank God for each person and bless each person, then allow them to do what they know needs to be done.

This would require a drastic paradigm shift. We live in a culture that says higher numbers (money, people, projects completed, taller buildings, large stadiums, etc) are the answer and show success. I propose that we take some of the examples that come from the Bible and see what is really able to be accomplished with a “small” group of people:

  • Gideon (in the book of Judges) led an army of 300 Israelites (after an angel from God told him to) and defeated a larger Philistine army
  • David’s smaller group of soldiers was able to defeat larger armies than King Saul’s army was able to
  • We cannot forget the 12 apostles that went out into the world and turned the world upside down spreading the message of Christianity to everyone.
  • There are other examples in the Scriptures as well

The point is that we have much more going for us than we have going against us. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Just because the size of the group, bank account, task list, etc. is not where we would like it to be, doesn’t mean it has less value or is immobile.

I challenge each one of us (especially me) to look at what we do have and focus on that. This way we are not coveting or being jealous over another person, group, organization and we free ourselves to allow God to work through us (large number or small number) and see the great impact God, through us, will have in this world.

Last Saturday, I was able to preach a message called “Lasting Legacy.” We explored a few ideas from John Wesley’s life and final days to help us understand how his legacy is still revered the world over and how we can leave a legacy behind that outlives us and our family. I invite you to check it out.

May God continue to richly bless you in order to make an impact in this world for the Kingdom of God. We have all we need because we have the very presence of God with us and in us.

Real Strength

One of the traits I have observed people attempting to show is being a “strong man” or “strong woman.” I believe it is important to be a strong person; however, it also seems that people may have somewhat of a wrong idea about what it means to be strong. These are some qualities that may provide some idea that show true strength (emotional, mental, social, etc). I invite you to study this list and see if something should be taken off or added.

A “strong man” or “strong woman” should:

  • be compassionate toward others
  • be able to listen
  • realize there are things we can learn from anyone
  • be able to learn from other people
  • not think anyone is beneath them
  • be the most loving person (without allowing others to “run over them”)

These are just some of the qualities and traits of strong people. What else would you add?

Lord, I

How many of us have started our prayers with, “Lord, I…” and precede to tell God everything we want God to do for us? Last week, as I was praying, I noticed the prayer started with, “Lord, I…” Yes there were legitimate things I was praying about; but I asked myself, “how does this phrase really place God in my life?”

This was a hard question to think about because I realized that whether I knew it or not, there were times when I doubted God’s faithfulness, or sometimes it seemed that my faithfulness to God depended on how much God gave me.” The truth of it is, people’s faithfulness sometimes depends on circumstances and how much they get. God’s faithfulness depends on his devotion to you.

I’m not sure where you are today, or what you are going through. I can promise you that God’s faithfulness to you and to me goes way beyond understanding. In fact, God proved his love and faithfulness to us on the cross when Jesus Christ hung there for our sins. With this in mind, we can look at this verse from Luke, “If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:13 CEB)

How is your personal prayer life? What kinds of things do you pray for? The disciples only questions they asked Jesus to teach them about was, “Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1)

Because we have a high priest in heaven right now (Jesus Christ), we have a constant intercessor for us. Jesus prays for each one of you and for me. (Hebrews 7)

So, as I continued to pray, I felt in my heart the prayer begin to change. No longer was it, “Lord, I want…” or “Lord, I want you to…” or “Lord, please help or be with…”. The prayer focus became more about the relationship I have with God through Jesus Christ. The prayer became, “Lord, You…”

Lord, You are the giver of all good gifts.
You are the source of life.
You provide my needs.
You are with those who need you.
You are my rock and my strength, a very present help in times of trouble.
Lord, You are faithful to me, even when my faithfulness to you runs dry and disbelief and unbelief seep into my thoughts.
Thank You!
Thank You, Lord!
It is amazing what is done in the power You have provided.

May our prayers and prayer life give God the glory and keep him in the right place in our hearts.

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Why?

There is a simple question most children will ask and it consists of three letters–“Why?”. They are curious and are simply seeking out answers so they can try to learn what’s going on or the reason behind a particular question or statement,  etc.

As I have grown older, “why” has become a favorite question for me to ask simply because I enjoy learning the “behind the scenes” instead of what’s shown. Seeking answers to this simple, three worded,  question has helped me understand people and situations with a clearer view than just taking it at face value.

This question also teaches me and reminds me I do not know it all and that I still have much to learn. This excites me that I get to learn something new all of the time!

How often do you ask “why?” and listen to the answer? This simple question also helps us keep a childlike attitude when it comes to viewing the world and seeing people as they are. Not just their skin color or what they have; but as someone we can learn from and see how much value they have.

Communication & Prayer

It is easier to internalize everything than talk about it. We find it easier to talk with people than to speak to God.

“Just pray about it.” We hear this a lot, but why?

*What is prayer? How do I know what to say?
*What posture should we use for prayer?
*Public or private prayer?
*How can I live a life of constant prayer?

This is the video about Saturday worship. Hopefully these thoughts can help us improve or begin a deep prayer life with our Creator.

Click here for video message.

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