Monday, December 12, 2011

Rehab for Quitters

Quitters are not bad people. They are good people who have been given bad advice or simply followed the line of least resistance.

The militia of Ephraim must have been fed “quitters soup” at the mess hall and all went AWOL in mass. It was not for a lack of purpose, tradition or equipment. The Bible tells us that they were “armed and carrying bows.” They had the goods but in a sense they didn’t have the guts.

The fact is this. You will always find 1,000 reasons to quit and “many quit helpers” line the highway of life. But one of the best lessons you can learn in is that there is only one thing that can guarantee your failure, ant that is if you quit.

Michael Jordan learned this lesson well. He was cut from his high school basketball team, but he didn’t quit and is arguably recognized as the best basketball player of all time.

Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times in his career, but he kept going back to the plate. As a result, he hit 714 home runs.

Elvis Presley was fired by the manager of Grand Ole Opry after one performance and told, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.” Maybe he took that advice and drove a U-Haul truck to carry his money to the bank. My heart is pounding to challenge you to hold on, and this poem written by an unknown person about says it all.

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

This devotional is what I will refer to as a REHAB FOR QUITTERS. It is a 5 step plan to get you back on the road to success taken directly from Psalms 78 and 79.

Number 1: REESTABLISH your covenant relationship with God. (Psalms 78:10 – “They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law…”) They broke it, and they must fix it. God’s covenant has not appended or amended or rescinded.. His promises of prosperity, peace and provisions are still in effect. He will keep His end of the bargain if you will keep yours. You quitting didn’t quench God’s love for you or cause God to question his loyalty to you and His covenant. He remembers the covenant that he made with you and waits to honor it.

Number 2: REFRESH your memory of past blessings and benefits of God. (Psalms 78:11-12, 42 – “And forgot his works, and his wonders that he had shown them….marvelous things…”) Quitters forget the unexplainable, unequivocal, unequaled performances of God. They forget that his will is inviolable, his word is indestructible and his works are indescribable. We quit because we forget what he has done and will do for us. In this Rehab session we are reminded that nothing is impossible with God. Philippians 2:13 tells us, “It is God which works in you both to will and to do his good pleasure.” Don’t quit. God is working in you, and he is not about to quit.

Number 3: REBUILD your belief system that has been broken down. (Psalms 78:22,32 “Because they believed not in God…”) You feel like the rug has been jerked out from under you. You want to believe, but it is tough. Preachers fail to live up to our expectations and fall. People disappoint us. Government leaders have proven to be some of the least trustworthy citizens of our country. It should carry us all back to Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning God…” Our faith must rest on God-in the beginning-in the middle and in the end. Rebuild your belief system upon the character, compassion, continuity and cohesion (sticking) of God. He will never let you down nor give up on you. Don’t quit. Help is on the way.

Number 4: REPENTANCE and confession of sin of self doubt and doubting God. (Psalms 79:8,9 – “O remember not against us former iniquities….Help us, O God….and purge away our sins…”) Any rehab plan for quitters must include repentance. The psalmist said, “Purge away our sins.” Sin separates us from God. Sin cancels out the covenant. Sin frustrates God, forfeits my relationship with God and demands forgiveness from God. Repentance gives me a new start, a new beginning. I can start over with God covering me with his presence and connecting me to his power, wisdom and authority. With him, then, we can do anything but fail.

Number 5: RECOVER the attitude of praise and thanksgiving to God. (Psalms 79:13 – “So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give you thanks for ever: we will show forth your praise…”) I would like for you to join me in an old song of the Church which is not the song of a quitter but a song of praise unto God for his goodness. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow; praise him all creatures here below; praise him all of you heavenly host; praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”

We praise you, Dear Father, for a quitter that is back on the road to success. Amen.

Never Give Up!

Pastor Jimmy & Bob

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Sane Question From an Insane Man

“Sir, have you ever thanked God for your reason”, a patient in an insane asylum asked a visitor? The patient had full possession of his faculties except for occasional fits of insanity that would endanger those who were around him. This man who was classified as insane had an appreciation for something that we all take for granted most of the time: our reason.

Let’s face it. We have so many things for which we should be thankful daily, but we take them for granted. King Nebuchadnezzar did until he temporarily lost his reason, but when it returned to him, thanksgiving and praise were some of the first words that fell from his lips.

One of the sad commentaries of the last days according to II Timothy 3:2 is that people of that era will become “unthankful.” They will develop a capacity to take things for granted and in so doing will lose the sense of gratitude.

History records such an attitude in the person of Prince Felix Schwarzenberg, an Austrian statesman and diplomat after a time when Austria was forced to rely on the help of Czar Nicholas I of Russia to crush the Hungarian uprising against Austrian dominion in 1849. After the successful rescue by the Russians someone asked Schwarzenberg if he did not feel under an obligation to the czar. His measure of ingratitude and impertinence was unbelievable. He replied, “Austria will astound the world with the magnitude of her ingratitude.”

It seems that this cancerous behavior of expressing the magnitude of ingratitude is pervading much of the universe. We have a way of ignoring the value of the things that we enjoy until they are taken away.

A couple sat in church one Sunday and observed the solemnity of a couple who had lost their son in War make a sizable contribution to the church in memory of their deceased son. Deeply touched by the grieving couple, a woman in the audience whispered these words to her husband. “Honey, let us give the same for our boy.” Unmoved the husband replied, “But our son didn’t die.” “That’s just the point,” she responded, “let’s give it because he didn’t.”

What an incredible place to begin. Thank God for the things you haven’t lost.

  • Thank God for the children who ran away from home and returned, but don’t forget to thank God for the ones who didn’t.
  • Thank God for the people whom God has healed of debilitating and death dealing diseases, but thank also God for the many who have never been diagnoses with such diseases.
  • Thank God for marriages that have fallen apart and been put back together again, but don’t forget to thank God for the marriages that have stood the test of time and continue triumphantly and happily.
  • Thank God for families who have suffered from horrible car wrecks and walked away with little or no permanent injuries, but don’t forget to thank God for sparing most of us from such tragedies.
  • Thank God for people who have miraculous provisions to feed them when their pantry was empty, but let us never fail to be constantly thankful who have never known the panic of having nothing to eat.
  • Thank God for missionaries who span the globe carrying the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, but do not fail to express gratitude to the pastors everywhere who stay at home and feed the flock week after week.
  • Thank God for the times when people have found employment when they had no job at all, but we must equally thank God for the jobs that was never lost at all.
  • Thank God for orphans who have found a home, but we should also thank God that our children have never known what it would be like to have no home to call their own.
  • Thank God for drug addicts that have been set free by Divine deliverance, but never fail to thank God for those who have never been made captive of illegal drugs.

Psalms 100:4 urges us “(to) enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise; BE THANKFUL UNTO HIM, and bless his name.”

Matthew Henry, the famous scholar, had the right idea after he had been accosted and robbed by thieves. He wrote these words in his diary. “Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”

I ask you what the insane man asked a visitor in the insane asylum. “Sir, have you thanked God for your reason?” If you have your reason, you have many reasons to be thankful. Be thankful unto Him!!!!

Thankful,

Pastor J & Bob

Monday, October 3, 2011

Clearing Up the Mix Up

I can get mixed up and messed up without help from anyone. It seems to be in my DNA.

I have been known to believe lies, trust traitors and swallow the devils bait hook, line and sinker. Honestly, there have been times when bad looked good, right seemed wrong and “the boogie man” pulled the wool over my eyes.

This should not be a fact that is wrapped in a shroud of mystery. Paul sounded the alarm in II Corinthians 11:14. “Satan,” he said, “transforms himself into an angel of light.”

It is one of the oldest tricks in the Book. Eve fell for it. She believed that a bad thing looked good and acceptable even if God told her differently. (Genesis 3:1-6)

As a result, she got mixed up and messed up big time, and we have inherited those genes.

We see it all the time. A good marriage begins to look like a piece of dried up, stale, molded bread, and in the mix up we toss it carelessly into the garbage can.

Judas got so mixed up and messed up that he questioned if his Boss recognized his worth and was convinced that he was underpaid and under appreciated and took matters into his own hands and made a shady deal under the table. The story ended at the end of a rope tied around his neck.

It all starts with the same cancerous cell that we will label discontentment. Tattoo this in your memory. Discontentment may originate from different venues, but it almost always leads to the same tragic end….being mixed up and messed up.

A wealthy father decided to take his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live. After spending a night or two on the farm of what he considered to be a poor family, they packed up and headed back home in the city.

As they rolled down the highway, dad turned to his son and asked, “How was the trip? Did you see how poor people live?” The son replied, “I sure did.”

Inspired by the answer his son gave him, he then proceeded, “So, tell me, what you learned from the trip?”

The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden, and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden, and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard, and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on, and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us; they have friends to protect them.”

Then he added these sobering words. “THANKS, DAD, FOR SHOWING ME HOW POOR WE ARE.” One trip to the farm cleared up the mix up and set things straight.

Jesus also went down to the farm in a manner of speaking but for a different reason. He came down here from heaven to show us HOW RICH WE ARE, but we are so mixed up that we don’t even know it. It is recorded in these words in II Corinthians 8:9. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be rich.”

If you have areas in your life that are mixed up and messed up, I have great news for you. He who can fix any fractures, correct any curses, patch any punctures, and mend any messes is on the job today….ready and willing to meet you in your personal emergency.

You can discover the process in Psalms 51. This chapter could be labeled: The Master of Messes. This is how it can work for you.

Number 1: Count On God’s Mercy To Turn Things Around For You.

(Psalms 51:1 – “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness…”)

Number 2: Take Ownership Of Your Bad Decisions.

(Psalms 51:3 – “I acknowledge MY transgressions; and my sin is ever before ME…”)

Number 3: Ask God To Give You A Clean Slate For A New Beginning.

(Psalms 51:7 – “Purge me…and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”)

Number 4: Recapture Real Joy In Living.

(Psalms 51:12 – “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation…”)

You got yourself into the mess, but God has given you a plan for clearing up the messed up and mixed up life you are in. May I suggest that the best time to get the mess fixed up is between yesterday and tomorrow? That means today. The next move is yours. God is waiting.

Clearing Up Our Mix Up

Pastor J & Bob

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chill Out

Chill out or crash!

Unfortunately, crashing has almost become a national pass time. Stress stretches us beyond limits.

Anxieties are eating us alive.

  • 1,000,000 Americans have a heart attack each year.
  • We consume 13 billion prescribed doses of tranquilizers, barbiturates, and amphetamines annually.
  • 8,000,000 Americans have stomach ulcers.
  • There are an estimated 50,000 stress-related suicides or suicide attempts each year.
  • 48% of Americans report lying awake at night due to stress.

We don’t need a diagnosis. It’s how am I going to make my mortgage payment this month to avoid a eviction notice? How can I have dental work done on my kids teeth? Will the transmission on our old clunker last another six months? Will I pass the final examine to graduate? How can I face the bullying at school or work? Most of us know we have it, but we don’t know how to get rid of it. We need deliverance and relief.

Stress comes from so many different directions and never seems to have a holiday. It can happen at a grocery store as one lad discovered. He was strolling past the store when his eyes caught glimpse of a basket of apples being displayed on the side walk. The storekeeper saw the young guy eyeing the apples and ran outside to chase him away screaming, “Trying to steal one of those apples?”

The startled guy replied, “No, I’m trying NOT to.” You see, stress doesn’t just come from the things we do but also from the things we struggle with not doing.

We all know the routine. Trying not to doubt and keep a positive attitude. Trying not to get up tight about dismal economic realities globally. Trying not to explode when I get angry.

Jesus was well aware of the stress dilemma, and encouraged us to chill out. It is expressed plainly in Matthew 6:34 (The Message). “Don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

Moses found therapeutic value in the wise counsel of God who said, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be…the eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…” (KJV – Deuteronomy 33:25, 27)

This passage may not be my candy stick, but it is one of my favorite passages of Scripture to which I quote frequently to find relief from stressful situations. As a matter of fact, I would like to ask you to recite it with me verbally right now. “As MY days, so shall MY strength be…”

This assurance from God provides me with chill out incentive and assurance. Then I apply Paul’s words in Philippians 4:4-7 to my situation. I like to think of it as God’s “5 B’s” for chilling out.

Be fearless

(Philippians 4:1 – “Stand fast in the Lord…”)

Stress is often linked with the absence of hope and the presence of despair. And, consequently, is the incubator of fear. Fear provokes us to run from our problems to leave the stress behind us, but it doesn’t work. Fear sticks to you like a leech, and the more you fear the more you feel stress.

Paul has the answer. His command is: STAND FAST IN THE LORD. Henry L. Gilmour, a hymn writer of many years gone by, expressed it so beautifully in the words of this sacred song.

“I’ve anchored my soul in the Haven of Rest,I’ll sail the wide seas no more;

The tempest may sweep over the wild, stormy, deep, In Jesus I’m safe evermore.”

Take shelter in “the Heaven of rest” and chill out.

Be thankful

(Philippians 4:4 – “Rejoice in the Lord…”)

Rejoice in the Lord!!!! Not your circumstance. Your circumstances change, and sometimes it is from bad to worse. But Jesus is the same. He never changes. He never vacillates. He never amends His promises and with draws His presence. That’s what we are thankful for. We rejoice in the Lord. He is steadfast, sovereign, significant and always sufficient. Chill out by rejoicing in Him. It will get your mind off of your pressures and remind you of who God is and what He is capable of doing regardless of the bleak situation you are facing. Rejoice in God without regrets.

Be optimistic

(Philippians 4:5 – “The Lord is at hand…”)

What a relief it is to know that the Lord is at hand. He is near and never far away. Where is God? He is HERE. Seeing our needs, sensing our pain, shaping our destiny, sanctifying our hearts and settling any claims the devil levies against us.

Psalms 46:1 gives me reason for optimism. “God is our refuge and strength, a VERY PRESENT HELP in trouble.” Don’t crash. Chill out. God is with you.

Be prayerful

(Philippians 4:6 – “In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God…”)

Joseph M. Scriven and Charles C. Converse explained how we can chill out in the words of an old, old hymn of the church titled: What A Friend We Have in Jesus. If you know the song, sing it now.

What a friend we have in Jesus

All our sins and griefs to bear

What a privilege to carry

Everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit

O what needless pain we bear

All because we do not carry

Everything to God in prayer!

Pour your heart out to the Father, and He will pour out blessings to you.

Be calm

(Philippians 4:7 – “And the peace of God….shall keep your minds and hearts through Christ Jesus.”)

Cool in a crisis. Serene in times of storms. Unflappable in unpleasantness. Poised under pressure. Paul refers to it as “peace that passes all understanding…”

God give us that inexplicable peace in our hearts today that will help us to chill out and not to crash under stress is my prayer.

Chilling Out

Pastor Jimmy & Bob

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Normalcy Bias

Normal is good enough for most people. No surprises. No sudden impact changes to the world round about them. No deviations.

They are comfortable with the routine and have little tolerance for anything to take place out of the ordinary. They are stuck in a rut which is a grave with both ends busted out.

We have a “DO NOT DISTURB” sign hanging around our neck, and any WAKE UP calls are ignored. That’s what Peter was writing about in II Peter 3:3-4. People were comfortable for things to continue “as they were from the beginning.”

The possibility and probability of the return of Christ was absurd. They had heard He would come back, but it had never happened. Skepticism was the result. In sociology, it is referred to as one disbelieving one’s situation when faced with a grave or even imminent danger or unsettling circumstance. It can best be seen in recent years in what happened when Hurricane Katrina struck with vengeance on New Orleans. They had never seen the dykes break before and never expected it to happen as it did. They assumed that everything would be alright because it had always been before and refused to evacuate. When faced with alternatives, they chose the normal and stayed behind many losing their lives. The normalcy bias took its toll.

In 1945 Admiral Leahy predicted that the atomic bomb would never be detonated. Why? It seemed impossible and had never happened before. But ask Japan, and they will unveil the wreckage and ravage of reality of the bomb that Mr. Leahy said would never happen. Normalcy bias backfired in his face and left a permanent scare on the face of mother earth.

Normalcy is numbing.

It

  • desensitizes us to disturbing prophecies;
  • makes us indifferent to the need for an intimate relationship with God;
  • apathetic to lack of signs and wonders in the church
  • lethargic to the need for prayer and fasting
  • satisfied with the hum-ho routine of preaching, programs and perfunctory rituals at church

Believers need to break out of the normal and with great excitement and anticipation look forward to the return of our Lord. It will put the spark back in singing, power back in preaching, passion in praying, the WOW back in worship and fervency back in fellowship.

Skepticism will never mute the voice of Scripture. Jesus is coming. It is not a matter of if but when. Believers are destined to rule and reign with Christ. The shadows of night are going to fade in the light of the eternal dawn.

Expect God to break through the normal and routine to do the unusual. I pray that we will be challenged by the words of Phillips Brooks who challenged his Boston audience with these words. “It is time for Boston to get out of the peck measure into the bushel measure.”

Don’t cower before critics and be dismayed by disgruntles. They are normal bias nuisances, but LOOK UP our Redeemer draws nigh. The natural and normal will be swallowed up by the manifestation of the Supernatural. GOD WILL BREAK THE SILENCE WITH THE TRUMPET BLAST AND THE TRIUMPHANT SHOUT OF AN ARCHANGEL and OUR LORD WILL BE STANDING ON THE CIRCLE OF ETERNITY BIDDING US TO COME HOME. (I Thessalonians 4:16)

  • It will happen suddenly. I Corinthians 15:52 describes the event dramatically in these graphic words. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised, incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
  • It will happen unexpectedly. Jesus explained how unexpected it would be in Matthew 24:44 in these riveting words. “Therefore be you also ready for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man cometh.”
  • It will be like surreal. It’s unimaginable. It will be like a bad dream for those who are not prepared to meet the Lord, but it will not be a dream. It will be real. His predictions will be validated. His presence will be convincing. His power will be compelling. He’s coming. I know He will because He said so!
  • It will be ultimate Supernatural invading the natural and normal. He came the first time to ultimately be killed as the Savior of the world. He will come the second time to be crowned King of Kings and Lord of lords.

Don’t get caught in the trap of normalcy bias. Apply this simple formula to your life, and you can avoid it and its consequences.

Number 1: LOOK for His coming. Most don’t. It seems bizarre and to far out for them to accept, but the Bible tells us that Jesus is coming back for the ones who are sincerely looking for and expecting Him to return. (Hebrews 9:28, Titus 2:13))

Number 2: LOVE the thought of His coming. The Bible explicitly addresses this issue in II Timothy 4:8. There are those who will literally love the anticipation of His coming back again while others abhor or ignore it. Love means to have passion for, intense emotional excitement and craving. May the anticipation for the coming of Jesus be like fire shut up in our bones that all the normalcy bias pessimism can not put out.

Number 3: And finally, LONG for the return of Jesus. John closes out the Book of Revelation with an expression of His longing. He said, “EVEN SO, COME, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20) Amen and Amen!

Refusing To Be Normal!

Pastor Jimmy & Bob