Thursday, December 30, 2010

When Life Throws You A Curve

For most, if not all of us, it is not a matter of “if” but “when.”

Paul had dotted all the “I’s” and crossed all the “T’s”, but the Bible tells us that “(they) hit a reef, and the ship began to break up.” This remains a big mystery when you follow the sequence of events carefully.

  • Paul had prayed.
  • Paul had made a positive confession of faith.
  • Paul had seen heaven come down in the middle of the violent storm.

However, life threw him curves even though he seemed to be doing all the right things. His life reflects many episodes that remind me of mine.

Take note of this.

  • This storm and sinking ship was not in their original plans.
  • It came totally unexpected to many on board.
  • When they finally saw it coming, they did every thing that was humanly possible to avoid the tragedy, but it happened anyway.

Learning to deal with life when it throws you curves is one of the most important lessons you will ever learn, but we avoid it like a plague or sink into a devilish denial.

It reminds me of the young man who walked into the office of a psychiatrist with a fried egg on top of his head and a piece of bacon dangling over each ear.

Calmly the doctor greeted the young man, and then asked the logical question. “Now, young man, what can I do for you?”

Startled and surprised the young man replied, “Oh, no sir. I don’t need anything. I’m just here to get some help for a friend of mine.”

I get the impression that he was a member of the SS Fraternity. No I don’t mean Social Security or Secret Service. I mean the Super Spiritual Society. They ignore facts and call it faith. They are pretenders not contenders who spend their lives in a state of denial.

Living under delusions and illusions can and will usually have devastating conclusions! Denying that you will not blister if you sit out in a torching 100 degree sun will not isolate you from a sun stroke or deep burns and blisters.

Building a boat was not a dreadful, shameful lack of faith on Noah’s part. It was the very opposite. He saw a curve coming and prepared for it. The Bible states this clearly. “By faith Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house…” (Hebrews 11:7)

Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) He didn’t promise to keep us out of tribulation (curves in life), but He did promise to give us peace in the time of tribulation!

Paul discovered that peace when curves came into his life. The ship was sinking, but his faith was soaring. Battered by winds and soaked by a monsoon he shouted, “Be of good cheer: for I believe God…” (Acts 27:25)

He had a feisty, fighting faith that refused to quit. Curves could not crush him. Disappointments could not destroy him. He set an example for us to follow when curves come our way.

Always accentuate the positive.

That goes against human nature and takes some glamour off the headlines. Sinking ships; howling, winds; hidden rocks; the trauma of seeing and feeling the ship underneath your feet ripping apart; cascading end over end into the swirling water; sinking beneath the water and rising again like a human cork; desperately fighting to keep your head above the water and the water out of your nostrils. That’s what grabs attention and sympathy.

But the really big story was summed up in just 6 fantastic words: “Everyone made it to shore safely.” (The Message 27:44) It’s the success story of survival. It’s the triumphant song that rises above the tragedy. We made it! That’s the positive side of a horrible story.

I admit that roses have thorns, but thank God thorns have roses. Don’t spend your time looking for thorns when curves come your way. Start counting the roses, and accentuate the positive.

Acclimate (adjust) to existing circumstances without seething in hostility.

Curves that come in life do not usually leave us the same as we were before they came our way. You must not hold on to the memories of the past regardless of how good or bad they were. Things may never be as they were again. Turn them loose. Let them go without slipping into a sloppy slough of hostility.

Hostility ordinarily does more harm to the person who insists on being hostile than it does to the person to whom hostility is directed. Don’t let hostility make you an emotional basket case.

Paul could have been angry at the world. He lost everything, but he didn’t lose his cool. He could have been in a rage, but he adjusted to what life brought his way. Of all things, he began to do something for others. He refused to have a self pity party. He became involved in serving people that he didn’t even know and whether intentionally or unintentionally this kept his mind off of himself.

If you need hope, give someone hope. If you need love, give somebody love. If you need a hug, give a hug. The Bible declares, “Give and it shall be given unto you…”

Affirm your faith in God when your ship is falling apart

Paul said, “I believe God…” (Acts 27:25) Say this with me now. I believe God is near not far away. I believe God is Sovereign and in charge of my life right now. I believe by God’s help I will survive and thrive regardless of what I see and feel at this moment. When curves come my way, I still believe God!

Believing God Together!

Pastor Jimmy & Bob

Monday, December 6, 2010

An Invisible Wall

Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier and its “invisible brick wall” on October 14, 1947. Scientist adamantly maintained that it couldn’t be done, but Yeager revved his aircraft up to an air speed of 700 miles per hour and three weeks later accelerated the craft to an incredible 1,612 miles per hour. The invisible brick wall was no more an insurmountable problem.

In his autobiography, Yeager wrote, “After all anxiety, after all the anticipation, breaking the sound barrier was really a let down. The sonic barrier, the unknown, was just a poke through jello, a perfectly paved speedway.”

The myth of the invisible brick wall in space was settled once and forever, but many of us are still crashing into invisible walls down here on earth.

We can find them anywhere and for any reason. They stunt our growth, spoil visions of success, resist constructive change, mishandle opportunities and cause fretting over the anticipation of failure.

Gideon is a classic example. Opportunity knocked, but when he opened the door all he could see was obstacles-invisible walls, impossibilities and failure. He like most pessimist would look at an oyster and could not imagine that he would find a pearl but rather get a bad case of ptomaine poison.

He was mad at God and argued with angels. He worked in the wheat fields and few opportunities crop up out there except allergies and sweat soaking labor under the scorching, burning sun. He probably had a smelly, dusty tunic wrapped around his sweat soaked body and sported a rough hairy growth all over his face and neck and had little time or patience even for an angel from God.

I get the impression that when the angel did show up that Gideon hardly slowed down enough to give the angel time to talk to him. The Bible says, “One day the angel of God came and sat down under the oak….” (The Message - Judges 6:11) This was no shade tree mechanic from Paradise. It was the captain of a demolition crews from Heaven that specializes in tearing down invisible walls. He sat down. He was not in a hurry to run on to his next assignment. He was not impatient. He was not peeved at Gideon’s response.

One by one he begins to tear down the invisible walls until Gideon was able to take advantage of an opportunity that God made just for him. Gideon was special. Gideon had potential that was beyond his dreams, and God will show up anytime and take the time to tear down our invisible walls that keep us from God’s best. This is a side view of some of Gideon’s invisible walls and how God tore them down.

The first invisible wall for Gideon was the wall of feelings that did not agree with facts.

(The Message-Judges 6:7-10 “God, the God of Israel says, I delivered you…I freed you…I rescued you…I pushed them out of your way…and I said to you, I am God, your God….”)
Those were the facts, but his feelings drowned out the fact of God’s faithfulness. The cloud of gloom and doom hung so heavily over his head that the future only looked bleak and black to him. In Gideon’s mind, God was frozen in the library of history. His feelings were so raw and sensitive that this wall which separated him from facts had to be broken down.

Take careful note of the words, “I AM God, YOUR God…” It’s the way God told Moses to introduce Him to Pharaoh. He wants to be our present tense God, the ever present, ever active, ever miraculous God…..the here and now God regardless of our feelings. Our feelings must never negate the fact. GOD IS. That’s the first invisible wall we must hurdle.

The second wall that must go is the wall of intimidation.

(The Message – Judges 6:10 “Don’t be afraid…but you didn’t listen.”)

Fear is a toxic emotion that is like a little dark room where negatives are developed. Listen to what the angel said to Gideon. “You didn’t listen.” The Bible says, “I will fear no evil for thou art with me.”(Psalms 23:4) None. Nada. Zilch. Nothing and no one!!!! Faith is a fact. It declares, “God is with me” regardless of the circumstance.” Fear is not my master. Faith is. Faith waits without wavering, functions without faltering and confesses victory without concessions. Don’t be intimidated. The Fearless One walks beside you.

Gideon had another wall that we identify as the wall of hereditary limitations.

(The Message – Judges 6:15 “Look at me. My clan’s the weakest in Manasseh and I am the runt of the litter.”)

It’s pretty fair to say that he did not have a very good opinion of himself and where he came from. He was the runt, the least desirable, and the most unlikely one to succeed. We all have a past, but our past can not dictate where we are going in the future. I heard someone say that the devil is always telling them where I came from, but in his defense, he reminded the devil where he (the devil) was going. No pit has ever been deeper, no prison ever so wide and no hopelessness so severe as the pit into which the devil is destined to be confined forever.

You must not identify with your past but with the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Learn to repeat what Paul declared in Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I am a child of the King and the King and all His Kingdom is behind me. Let the invisible walls that have been holding you back come tumbling down.

Breaking The Walls,

Pastor Jimmy & Bob

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Total Trust In God

Some people live on a steady diet of doubt. They expect the worse and usually get it.

Love is different. It trusts God always, everywhere, everyway and under all circumstances. It defies doubt, sabotages suspicions and subverts skepticism.

James Joyce, an Irish novelist, had no appreciation for monuments. A friend, who was aware of this, saw Arc de Triomphe with its eternal flame burning brightly as he and Mr. Joyce rode in a taxi in Paris. The friend asked Mr. Joyce how long he thought that the flame would burn. To which he quickly replied, “Until the Unknown Soldier gets up in disgust and blows it out.”

Jesus, similarly, had little or no tolerance for doubt and doubters and voiced it emphatically with this soul searching question. “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) Who will extinguish the flame of doubt and ignite the eternal flame of faith?

Doubt must go. Doubt cripples hope, corrupts anticipations and crushes trust. It is not the absence of believing. It believes the wrong things. It believes that the worst things will happen not the best. It believes that God’s plan and purpose for my life will fail. It believes that the adversary will prevail. It believes that the promises of God are for someone else. It believes that the power of God is inadequate to meet modern day needs. It believes that prayer is in vain. It believes that miracles are limited to the past.

God wants to blow the flame of doubt out in your life, and kindle the flame of trust. Hebrews 4:6 declares, “It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.” (The Message)

The Psalmist did just that and prayed, “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered…” (Psalms 68:1) Trust gave him the courage to face the present with confidence and the future with expectancy.

There have been times in my life when I felt the same way a little girl must have felt when she came to the realization that she was lost and did not know which way to turn. After some time past, a friendly farmer found her wondering around in the meadow and said to her, “Do not cry; I’ll take you home.” As the little girl snuggled up to him, she smiled and said, “I knew you would; I was waiting for you.”

“Waiting for me,” said the man, “What made you think I was coming?” “I was praying you would,” she replied. The startled farmer replied, “Praying? When I first heard you, you were saying A B C D E F G. What was that for?” Well, I’m just a little girl and I was praying all the letters of the alphabet and letting God put them together the way He wanted to. He knows I was lost, and He knows how to put them together better than I do.”

She was expressing her total trust in God and leaving all the details up to him. She trusted him completely, and the answer came.

Let’s put our trust in Him today, and begin to believe the right things.

To begin with, let’s trust God to always hide our sins.

No one can do it but Him. He is the only Savior and Redeemer. He takes our sins away and hides them so perfectly that no one can ever find them again. James 5:20 declares, “He which covers the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” In Psalms 32:1-2 the Bible says, “Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be---you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean. Count yourself lucky---God holds nothing against you…” (The Message)

Trust God always to hide your sins and never find them again.

Secondly, we need to trust God to always guide us.

It’s not enough to know where you want to go. You must know how to get there. We have a GPS in our car for that very reason. When we begin a journey, we type in the address to which we are headed, and the invisible woman inside takes it from there.

She talks to us all the way and even scolds us when we have gotten off track and guides us back until we are on track again. I trust her even though I have never seen her or know her name.

Likewise, I have never seen God, but He guides me, and I trust Him completely. In Isaiah 48:17, He tells me that He will lead me in the way I should go and be my Guardian. As my Guide, He shows me the way. And as my Guardian, He protects me all the way. He goes before me, walks beside me, follows behind me and watches over me. He is the unerring Guide who I can always trust.

Number 3, let’s trust God to always provide for all of our needs.

Where He guides, He will provide. He promised. In Philippians 4:19, the Word says, “My God shall supply ALL YOUR NEED according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” He is our Source.

Heaven is the supply center and will never be receded by recession, depleted by depression or crash from excessive consumer demands. “Though troubles assail, and dangers a fright; Though friends should all fail, and foes all unite; Yet one thing secures us, whatever betide: the Scripture assures us….THE LORD WILL PROVIDE.”

And finally, let’s trust God always to be with us at grave side.

One of the most quoted verses in Scripture has to do with death and the grave side. It reads, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me.” (Psalms 23:6) Praise God. He will be with us at graveside and beyond. Charles Spurgeon described it beautifully. “Death in its substance has been removed, and only the shadow of it remains….Nobody is afraid of a shadow, for a shadow cannot block a man’s pathway for even a moment. The shadow of a dog can’t bite; the shadow of a sword can’t kill.” We walk right through the shadow with our Savior and Lord walking by our side.


Trusting HIM Always,

Pastor Jimmy & Bob