Archive for December, 2009
Happy New Year! Joy and I wish all of our readers God speed and God’s very best for the New Year of 2010.
1. Words of Wisdom
Thought for the week: “It’s not where you start—it’s where you finish that counts.” – Zig Ziglar
“The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.” – Thomas Carlyle
“The core problem is not that we are too passionate about bad things, but that we are not passionate enough about good things.” – Larry Crabb
“People spend their lives in the service of their passions instead of employing their passions in the service of their lives.” – Sir Richard Steele
“First we make our habits then our habits make us.” – Denis Waitley
“Remember that happiness is a way of travel—not a destination.” – Roy M. Goodman
“You are not called to fix people. You are called to love them. And sometimes, that is the more difficult job!” – Unknown
2. On the Lighter Side
DIAPER spelled backward is REPAID.
Source: Mickey’s Funnies, www.mikeysFunnies.com
3. Just for Today
Today, as we pass from the Old Year into the New Year, may we accept the following advice for a worthy New Year resolution and remember to apply these principles every day of the year:
Smile at a stranger; listen to someone’s heart;
hug a loved one.
Tell someone you’re thinking of them. Drop a
coin where a child can find it. Learn something
new; then teach it to someone else.
Look a child in the eye and tell them how great
Don’t hold a grudge.
Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m sorry.”
Look beyond the face of a person into their
Make a promise and keep it.
Call someone for no other reason than to
just say “hello.”
Show kindness to an animal. Stand up for
what you believe in.
Smell the rain, feel the breeze, listen to
Use all your senses to their fullest. Cherish
all your todays.”1
1. Marcella’s Inspiring Collection,
4. A Reason, a Season or a Lifetime
People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.
When someone is in your life for a reason, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a Godsend, and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.
When people come into your life for a season, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.
Lifetime relationships teach you lifetime lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person/people (any way); and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
Mark Wellman gained national attention in the summer of 1989 by climbing the sheer face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
The face that Mark climbed is not the remarkable part, but the fact that he did so being a paraplegic. Mark climbed for seven days with the help of his close friend, Mike Corbett. Mike would hold while Mark would pull himself up the granite face.
These two men shared a depth of friendship that is hard to find in our world today.
“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17).
Source; KneEmail, http://www.forthright.net/kneemail/
6. What Will Matter
By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (625.5)
Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame, and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought but what you built; not what you got but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage, or sacrifice that enriched, empowered, or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter are not your memories but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom, and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
© 2009 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation’s leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org
7. Happy New Year—Begin With the End in Mind
Sample of Daily Encounter by Dick Innes
It was Steven Covey, author of the popular book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, who coined the phrase, “Begin with the end in mind.”
Most of us know that New Year resolutions we make at the beginning of each New Year usually last until the next setback or challenge we face.
However, if we print a copy of “Steven Covey’s Seven Habits” and tape them to the fridge or other prominent place and read them often, we have a much greater chance of finishing this New Year with a sense of achievement:
Steven Covey’s Seven Habits:
Be proactive. Don’t stand still. Take the initiative and be responsible.
Begin with the end in mind. Start any activity, a meeting, run, day, or life, with an end in mind. Work to that end and make sure your values are aligned with your goals.
Put first things first. Prioritize your life so you’re working on the important stuff.
Think win/win. This is pretty obvious. You get what you put in.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Listen to emphasize, obtain information, and understand the other person’s point of view.
Synergize. Work to create outcomes that are greater than the individual parts.
Sharpen the saw. Cultivate the essential elements of your character: physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual.1
And as Pastor Tod Bolsinger put it, “We need to live every day with the end in mind—and most important of all, live with Jesus’ end in mind.”
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”2
Suggested prayer: “Dear God, please help me every day this year to live, not only with the end of this year in mind but with the end of my life in mind so that, when I stand before you to give an account of my life, I will hear your welcome words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’ So help me, God. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
1. Steven Covey, http://tinyurl.com/39v3r5.
2. 2 Corinthians 5:10 (NIV).
One of the most misunderstood Beatitudes of Jesus may be one of the most important for you to master in 2010: “Happy are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
Let’s be honest. It sounds ludicrous. You’d think to inherit the earth you’d have to climb over everyone else first. But we’ve lost the true meaning of meekness. Meek doesn’t mean weak. Jesus and Moses were described as meek, and they certainly were anything but weak. Meekness really means strength under control. The Greek word referred to a wild horse tamed or medicine that could tame a fever.
Strength under control is an important characteristic of any Christian leader. A leader who can’t control his or her strength can’t lead others to do likewise.
Here are five ways to keep your strength under control in 2010.
1. When someone serves you, be understanding not demanding.
Philippians 2:4-5 (GNB) says, “Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others too, and in what they are doing. Your attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ’s.”
We’re interacting with people who serve us all the time. Waitresses, secretaries, clerks, bank tellers, and fast-food servers, for example. One of the best marks of a Christian leader is that he treats those people with dignity and respect. Are you understanding or demanding? Do you demand to see the manager every time your order is wrong? Or do you respond with grace?
Good leaders aren’t measured by how others serve them, but by how they serve others. It’s easy to respond to those who serve you with demands and a critical spirit. We’re called to do the opposite. Forgiveness should be quick. Respect should be the rule.
2. When somebody disappoints you, be gentle and not judgmental.
Paul tells us in Romans 14:1 (GNB), “Welcome those who are weak in faith, but do not argue with them about their personal opinions.” Happiness comes when you can accept people as they are. They shouldn’t have to reach a certain standard to be loved.
Pastor, how do you react when someone messes up in life? Are you the first to level judgment and criticism? Here’s the sad part. Many of us are secretly happy when others blow it because it makes us look like the super spiritual giant. But meekness means you are gentle and not judgmental when people disappoint you.
What angered Jesus more than anything else were self-righteous religious people who were always judging others.
3. When someone disagrees with you, be tender without surrender.
As a pastor, you’ve probably realized by now that you can’t please everybody in life. Just about the time you get Crowd A satisfied, Crowd B gets upset. One minute you’re the hero; the next minute you’re the zero. We must be tender without surrender. One of the most important tests of spiritual maturity is how you handle people who disagree with you, contradict you, and irritate you. You have three alternatives:
You can retreat in fear.
You can attack in anger.
You can respond in love.
Meekness doesn’t mean compromising your convictions. Don’t be passive and always let other people have their way. That’s not meekness; it’s weakness. You also don’t need to react in anger. Don’t explode when someone disagrees with you.
The third option is always the best. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:24-25 (NLT) that meekness is a qualification for spiritual leadership: “The Lord’s servants must not quarrel…They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will believe the truth.” Pastor, how are you doing in this area? Are you quarrelsome? We are to gently instruct our people and hope that God will give them a change of heart.
4. When someone corrects you, be teachable rather than unreachable.
Meekness is a teachable spirit. Many of us who spend our lives teaching others struggle to be teachable ourselves. That’s sad. Christian leaders who are meek don’t pretend to know it all. They know they don’t have to.
James 1:19 (GNB) says, “Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Pastor, everyone means you too.
When someone from your congregation makes a constructive suggestion to you, how do you handle it? Do you get uptight and defensive? Meek people don’t have all the answers. In fact, you should be very wary of people who think they have all the answers.
Meek leaders are also open to new ideas. They’re willing to change when they learn something new.
5. When somebody hurts you, be an actor not a reactor.
You will be hurt in ministry. It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when. How you respond to being hurt will make a monumental difference in your ministry. Romans 12:21 (GNB) says, “Do not let evil defeat you; instead, conquer evil with good.”We must respond to hurts with love, not retaliation.
To retaliate is to react. But to respond with forgiveness, even when the other person hasn’t asked for it, is to take the initiative.
When someone says, “You make me mad!” they are admitting that the other person has the power to control their emotions. That’s a position of weakness – not meekness. The moment that you start seeking revenge, you give up control of your life. Jesus said the meek person knows how to let it go.
What did Jesus mean when he promised, “Happy are the people who can control their reactions, for they will inherit the earth”? You’ll be in control of your situation because you’re not being controlled by it. If you are a meek person, you are no longer a victim. You control your choices.
Victor Frankl, the famous psychiatrist who went through Auchwitz said, “They took my clothes, my wife, my kids, my wedding ring. I stood naked before the SS and I realized they can take everything in my life but they cannot take my freedom to choose how I will respond to them.”
That’s real freedom. What more could you want in 2010?
For the vision… will surely come…
Habakkuk 2:3 KJV
Fulfilling your God-given vision depends on having a vision; which calls for waiting on God until He reveals His plan for you. Dedicating time and energy to it; which calls for patience and discipline. Knowing how to overcome obstacles; which calls for good management. The Bible says: ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish… ‘ (Proverbs 29:18 NIV). Remember South Pacific’s lyrics, ‘If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?’ A vision gives you direction, motivation, creativity and resilience. Without one you become passive, aimless, bored, and vulnerable to quitting. God can give you a vision instantly but its fulfillment will require a lifetime of learning, practicing and managing life’s daily challenges. For the next few days let’s look at some vision-fulfilling principles:
Visions come with obstacles and opportunities! After decades in America, Raymond Dawson inherited his English grandparent’s estate. Returning home he found a run-down farmhouse and barns on land covered with rocks. Disappointed and about to return to America, he decided to walk his worthless inheritance one final time. Pausing on a remote corner of his property he noticed a stream coming from beneath some rocks. He investigated, uncovered some hot springs, and guess what? Today he’s the owner of a lucrative resort, right on the sight of his former disappointment! When you ask God for a vision, you’re likely to be placed in a field of opportunities concealed under acres of obstacles; a place of possibilities hidden beneath piles of problems. Then He will stand back and watch how you engage in the ministry of obstacle management!
Obstacles can’t steal your dream without your permission. Winston Churchill rallied blitzed, beleaguered Britain from the edge of defeat with these memorable words: ‘Never give up! Never give up! Never, never, never, give up!’ Obstacles are inevitable; quitting is optional! When you walk in faith and refuse to quit, God guarantees your obstacles won’t prevent your vision from being fulfilled. Though they were enslaved, Israel received the strength to overcome Egypt’s efforts to break them. The story of their survival and success reads: ‘the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew… ‘ (Exodus 1:12 NKJV). Paul’s dream of evangelising the world met roadblocks at every turn. Tightening his grip he declared, ‘We are hard-pressed on all sides, but… never frustrated; we are puzzled, but never in despair. We are persecuted, but… never… deserted: we may be knocked down but we are never knocked out!’ (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 Phps).
Joseph’s journey to the throne was a long one. It led him through betrayal, persecution and loneliness. His dream, still alive and unsurrendered, was put on hold for years. Now prime minister of Egypt, vindicated in the critic’s eyes, his dream at last realised, he recalls the amazing way in which God accomplished it. ‘”For” he said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction”‘ (Genesis 41:52 NAS). Joseph refused to surrender his dream; it’s what kept him alive. He looked for opportunities in his obstacles, and God made him fruitful, not by exempting him from affliction but by promoting him right there, ‘in the land of my affliction’. Your obstacles can’t stop God; don’t let them stop you!
Between your dream and its fulfillment you’ll be tested. You’ll face some of the same things Joseph faced, like:
1) The faith test. He had to maintain his faith in a hostile environment, and believe in a dream nobody else believed in. He had no dreamer’s support network cheering him on, he had to stand alone
2) The patience test. His dream wouldn’t happen quickly. A boy at its conception, he would be a mature man before its fulfillment. Every frustrating day he’d have to hold onto it or risk losing it. Patience isn’t just hoping things work out; it’s persevering and believing what God said. ‘Ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise’ (Hebrews 10:36)
3) The strength test. For a while Joseph’s circumstances made the critics appear to be right. He was, after all, in a pit, frightened, alone, in a strange land without family or friends, in prison with an unearned criminal record. He must remain strong in his conviction that his dream was really from God
4) The focus test. With enough emotional baggage to derail a freight train; sibling resentment, abandonment, false accusation and compound losses, he must constantly control his focus. Fixating on his problems and obstacles would have produced disillusionment. Maintaining dream-focus would be his salvation
5) The readiness test. When God finally began opening doors he had to be ready for action! Discouragement or negative thinking would blind him to opportunity. So he kept his spirit and his gifts honed, took every occasion to use them, and watched as God turned his vision into a reality.
Being unemployed at the best of times, is difficult …
and … when you actually want to work …
… being unemployed is simply frustrating!
“Luckily I am not unemployed …”
But … are you not perhaps the cause…
… of someone else being unemployed?
“Me? … never!”
Are you sure?…
Then consider this …
What have you given your angel assigned to you …
… TO DO … TODAY…?
But to which of the angels said he at any time,
Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?
Are they not all ministering spirits,
sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
— Heb. 1:13-14
“But I’m not supposed to do that …
… God tells the angels what to do!”
Think again …
… what do angels respond to …?
Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength,
that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.
And … who is supposed to voice God’s Word here on earth?
“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”
(that is, the word of faith which we preach)
— Romans 10:8
God sent forth His angels, “ministering spirits” …
… to minister to the needs of His children …YOU!
… but …
Whether or not they do minister to your needs …
… is completely up to YOU…!
Unless YOU tell the angels …
… what Word of God’s you want them to do for you …
… they can do nothing for you …
In fact …
… your angel is UNEMPLOYED … with nothing to do!
… Read …
1 Kings 19:5-8
The fruit of the Spirit…
Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV
Notice three things about fruit:
First, fruit is visible. Remember the ‘show and tell’ method of learning in school? James writes: ‘Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works’ (James 2:18 NKJV). It’s not enough to ‘talk a good game,’ you must ‘live it’ before others every day.
Second, fruit reflects the character of the tree on which it grows. If it’s an apple tree it’s going to produce apples. The more you submit your life to Christ, the more like Him you’ll become.
Third, fruit is always borne for someone else’s benefit. You’ll never see fruit chewing on itself, or saying, ‘I don’t want to be picked.’ Good fruit makes someone hunger and reach for it. The Holy Spirit wants to produce fruit in you so that others can feed off you and be nourished. In contrast, all deeds of the flesh are selfish. The flesh says, ‘You made me mad. I’m not happy. You have what I want. You are irritating me.’ But the fruit of the Spirit is Christ-centred and others-centred. Notice, the word ‘fruit’ is singular, even though Paul lists nine different kinds of spiritual fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, but they all come from the same tree. This tree can produce everything you need for every area of your life. You don’t have to go to the Holy Spirit for peace, and some other place for love. Or go to the Holy Spirit for patience, and somebody else for self-control. It’s all on the Spirit’s tree. So, are you bearing fruit?
God is not a respecter of people! … God is a respecter of faith!
Faith is what gets God’s attention … Faith is what moves God to act!
By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death;
and was not found,because God had translated him:
for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
— Heb 11:5
God will NOT overcome problems and pressure for you …
… but God will enable YOU to overcome the problems and pressure yourself!
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
— Isa 40:31 (Ps. 23, Ps. 91)
You cannot have a testimony … without having passed a test…!
James 4:7 tells us that …
Only as we resist the devil (in God’s strength) does he flee from us …
… So …
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
— James 1:2-3
You cannot have a victory, without having fought a fight!
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art
also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
— 1 Tim 6:12
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
— 2 Tim 4:7
You cannot reap without first having sown!
Ask any farmer … if he ever reaped a harvest without first having sown?
Like it or not … it is a law of God, both physical and spiritual!
While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat,
and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
— Gen. 8:22
AND … you will only reap what you have sown!
… In type, variety, quantity and quality …
Be not deceived; God is not mocked:
for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
— Gal. 6:7
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly;
and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
— 2 Cor. 9:6
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down,
and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.
For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
— Luke 6:38
Yes … God is a good God … He loves to give …
But it is up to us … to respond to His goodness …
By being ready to do, ready to act and ready to stand in faith…
That pleases God … and that gets His attention…
Be filled with the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18 NKJV
The new birth doesn’t automatically eliminate the old nature. We live in bodies that are susceptible to sin, so we must stay filled with God’s Spirit. Paul says: ‘Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh’ (Galatians 5:16 NAS). Then he gives us a familiar illustration: ‘do not be drunk with wine… but be filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18 NKJV). Notice:
First, Paul’s talking about yielding control of our life to God’s Spirit. When someone’s drunk we say they’re ‘under the influence.’
Second, Paul’s statement is a command. ‘Be filled.’ He didn’t say, ‘If you’d like to,’ or ‘It would be nice.’ No, if you are going to please God then you must be constantly filled with His Spirit.
Third, this applies to every believer. Sometimes we look at someone and say, ‘They love Jesus so much; why can’t I be like that?’ You can. The difference is the filling of the Spirit, not the fact that they have something you don’t.
Fourth, you can’t fill yourself. Like filling your car, you must regularly pull up to the pump. ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled’ (Matthew 5:6 NIV). Are you hungry? Are you thirsty?
Fifth, it’s a continuous action. You can’t run your car on a single tank of petrol; you’ve got to keep going back to the source. The Spirit’s filling is a dynamic, moment-by-moment experience. Why is it that way? Because we live in a world that depletes us spiritually and contend with a core of carnality that seeks to defeat us. So, ‘be filled with the Spirit.’ (Ephesians 5:18 NKJV).
For who hath despised the day of small things?…
Zechariah 4:10 KJV
DL Moody became a spokesman for God and a changer of nations. But if you’d met him early in life you wouldn’t have thought it was possible. Although he was raised in church, he was spiritually ignorant. When he moved to Boston he began attending a Bible-preaching church. In April of 1855, a Sunday school teacher came to the shoe shop where he worked and led him to Christ. A month later, when he applied to become a member of that church, it was clear that he knew nothing about the Bible. One of his Sunday school teachers later wrote, ‘I’ve never met anyone who seemed less likely to become a Christian of clear and decided views, much less fill any place of public usefulness.’ So they asked him to take a year of Bible study. During his interview with the membership committee a year later, his answers were only slightly improved. He was barely literate and used atrocious grammar. Nobody on that church committee thought God would ever use him. But they were wrong. And the people who say you will never amount to anything for God, are wrong too!
Every oak tree starts as an acorn. Jesus began in a stable but He didn’t stay there. David was a shepherd boy with a slingshot but he became Israel’s greatest king. Joseph was a prisoner but he became prime minister. Understand this: you are a seed capable of producing a harvest for God. So take all that you have and all that you are, place it into God’s hands and be willing to start small.
I am the way…
John 14:6 NKJV
Judaism sees salvation as a judgement day decision based on morality. Hindus anticipate multiple reincarnations in the soul’s journey through the cosmos. Buddhism guides your life according to the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eight-fold Path. Muslims earn their way to Allah through the Five Pillars of Faith. Many philosophers deem life after death as hidden and unknown, ‘a great leap in the dark.’ Some people clump Christ with Moses, Mohammad, Confucius, and other spiritual leaders. ‘Jesus said… “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”‘ John 14:6 (NKJV).
Many object, ‘All roads lead to heaven.’ But how can they? Buddhists look toward Nirvana, achieved after no less than 547 reincarnations. Christians believe in one life, one death, and an eternity of enjoying God. Humanists don’t acknowledge a creator of life. Jesus claims to be the source of life. Spiritualists read your palms. Christians consult the Bible. Hindus perceive a plural and impersonal God. Christ-followers believe ‘there is only one God’ (1 Corinthians 8:4 NLT). Every non-Christian religion says, ‘You can save you.’ Jesus says: ‘My death on the cross saves you.’ All roads don’t lead to London, all ships don’t sail to Australia, and all flights don’t land in Rome. Every path does not lead to God. Jesus blazed a stand-alone trail void of self-salvation. He cleared a one-of-a-kind passageway uncluttered by human effort. He offers us a unique invitation in which He works and we trust, He dies and we live, He invites and we believe. ‘”The work God wants you to do is this: Believe the One he sent”‘ (John 6:29 NCV).