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“Where Is The Love?”

August 20, 2014

Love is a very popular theme in songs, books and movies.
From the Black Eyed Peas, “Where is the love, the love, the love?” to Elvis’ “Burning Love,” the theme of love is popular in music.
The movie “Titanic” featured a love story between a very wealthy young lady and a young man named “Jack” who wasn’t wealthy.
Christians are to be known for our love. One of the greatest chapters in the Bible is the “love chapter” found in I Corinthians 13.
Paul writes, “Though I speak with the tongues of angels.. if I don’t have love I’ve accomplished nothing.”
As Christians we are to be known for our love. Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
But instead of being known for love, Christians can be better known for what we are against or even judging people. This is sad, because Jesus wants us to be known for love. Many times we find ourselves asking the same thing the Black Eyes Song asked; “Where is the love, the love, the love?”
Christians, let’s be known for love. Yeah, you can quote a lot of scripture and that’s ok, but today, don’t shove those down someone’s mouth. You may have studied up on Calvinism or other doctrines and you can debate with the best but again, that’s not love.
Maybe you have a beautiful solo voice… I mean, you can sing the stars down.. but again, if your heart isn’t filled with love, you’ve accomplished nothing.
Today, let’s strive to be marked by love.

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“For Such A Time As This”

August 19, 2014

God is sovereign. That means that God is all powerful and God guides the steps of His children. And, as God guides us, there are times when God puts in certain positions because of a specific need.
For example; In the Old Testament, there is the fascinating story of Queen Esther. Due to a series of events, Esther became Queen. While she Queen, a plot was put together that would eliminate the Jewish people. Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, sent word to Esther about the plot and encouraged her to take action and ask the King to destroy the plot.
However, Esther was concerned that she might lose her life if she asked. Then, Mordecai reminded her that she too, was a Jew and, if she didn’t take action, she might die along with the other Jews. Then, Mordecai challenged Esther by saying, “Who know if you haven’t come into the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). When Esther read Mordecai’s note, she determine to take action and she said, “if I perish, I perish.”
You may be in a situation right now that is tough. You may even be wondering why you are there? It may be that God has put you where you are, “for such a time as this.” God may have led you to this place because you have specific skills that are needed at this time.
Today, if you are aggravated, wanting to relocate… wanting a different job… maybe a difference school… back away and ask the Lord for direction. God may have put you where you are “for such a time as this.”

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I’m A Survivor!

August 18, 2014

(One more lesson from Leadership Bartow)
Destiny’s Child used to have a hit song entitled “I’m A Survivor.”
The song went;
“I’m a Survivor.
I’m not gon give up
I’m not gon stop
I’m gon work harder
I’m a survivor.”
Many, many people.. are just trying to survive.
Several years ago, I was at a conference with a friend. At some point, a picture of the Alamo was on the screen. My friend said, “what’s that?”
Being a History buff, I went into a long explanation of what the Alamo was etc, etc… When I finished my friend replied, “who cares?”
I thought, “who cares? Are you serious? This is a major American landmark!”
But, this weekend, I learned that for many people, the Alamo and landmarks like it, mean nothing. Now, before anyone throws me off a cliff… let me explain.
There are many people who are hurting.. As they wake up this morning, they aren’t thinking about the Alamo or other historical landmarks. They aren’t thinking about immigration reform or balancing the federal budget. They are simply trying to survive. They need food. They feel just like my friend, “who cares?”
In other words, if it doesn’t help them put food on the table, put clothes on their kids, put gas in their car… they are not interested.
They are trying to survive.
I admit, before this exercise, I didn’t understand that mindset. But I do now.
Maybe in our churches, we need to realize this. Maybe we aren’t doing enough to help people survive. I’m not talking about eternity. Yes, we help people survive eternity when we preach the gospel. But, I’m talking about daily living.
Jesus met the needs of people. He healed people. He fed people, He delivered people from bondage. He healed one man on the Sabbath which was a big NO NO! for the Pharisees. But Jesus ignored the legalism of the Pharisees and healed the man any way.
Today, as we head out the door, we could cross the path of someone who is hurting. Someone who is trying to get through this day. They will worry about tomorrow… tomorrow. They want to make it through today. Let’s not over-philosophy with these folks. Let’s not berate them because they don’t have a long-range plan. Let’s love them and help them. Did they mess up somewhere? More than likely. But they still need our help.
Let’s help people survive… today… then, we will ask God to help us tomorrow.

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People Don’t Care How Much You Know UNTIL They Know How Much You Care

August 17, 2014

Another lesson from Leadership Bartow…
On Friday, we participated in an exercise that, I don’t need to reveal details about because doing so may spoil it for future Leadership Bartow participants but.. suffice it to say… it was very much an EYE OPENER for me. So much of an eye opener that it will lead me to try to start some new ministries in our church as a result of it.
As we participated in the exercise, I was reminded of the old saying, “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
When someone is hurting, they probably could care less what your philosophical view on life is. They are hurting. In some cases.. they need food or medical attention. When people know that you care, you have an opportunity to Minister.
Now, one side note here… when people are hurting, they are often open to help from anyone… even those who represent cults. If a person isn’t a believer, they often don’t know the difference in good and bad theology and quite honestly, they may not care. They are hurting. And the first person to offer help, gets the opportunity to minister to them.
So, people don’t care how much we know… until they know we care. Lord, helps us look for opportunities to care.

Do We Brag About Our Sin Or Gloat Over It?

August 17, 2014

(This is a re-cap of my message this morning…)
There does not seem to be much shame in America today.
What do I mean by that? Our sin doesn’t bother us. Instead of being bothered by sin, we laugh about it… post it on facebook… brag about it.
I mean, you may have gotten drunk and done some crazy things but I don’t think I would hold it up as a badge of honor. Yet, that’s what happening today. Sin doesn’t bother us.
Instead of gloating over our sin, we should mourn our sin.
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn.” The word “blessed” means “happy.” So, Jesus is saying that mourning leads to happiness.
Now, that doesn’t seem right, does it? Mourning… leads to happiness? Not quite the image of happiness that comes to our mind. But, the reason it does lead to happiness is, we must be sorry for our sin…mourn over sin, before we can repent of our sin and receive Christ as Savior.
So, question; are you mourning your sin or gloating over it?
Sin put Jesus, God’s Son on the cross. Sin is an offense to God. We shouldn’t brag about our sin. We shouldn’t gloat over it. We shouldn’t publicize it. We should repent of our sin… and be thankful for a Savior who forgives us of all things.

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The Anxiety Of Visiting A Church For The First Time

August 17, 2014

(Another lesson from Leadership Bartow…)
I am a very out-going person. I love meeting new people. But this weekend, I was the new person in a group.
As I participated in Leadership Bartow, I was getting to know mostly all new people for me. I knew one or two people before the weekend, but not many more. And, while I stress that enjoyed the weekend and enjoyed meeting new people, at times, it was a little intimidating and that’s saying something because I’m a TOTAL extrovert.
Yesterday, at one point, the Lord seemed to say to me… “think about how you feel… that’s how new people feel when they attend church for the first time.”
During Leadership Bartow, we all wore name tags which helped us to get to know one another better. And, we were always put in new groups to force us to meet new people. This helped lower the anxiety level a little.
Now picture Sunday morning at church. You drive up… park in your normal spot.. walk in the door and immediately find a friend. You grab a cup of coffee and start talking about your week. While you are talking to your friend, a new family walks in. You notice them.. you think you may know from somewhere but you continue with YOUR conversation… and there is a family not twenty feet from you who is nervous about going to a new place and wants someone to make them feel comfortable.
Today, as we go to church.. this week as we go to work… think about the person whose coming there for the first time. Think about how you felt… and do your best to make them feel comfortable.

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I Learned A Lesson In The Hunger Needs That Many Have

August 15, 2014

Sometimes, life lessons, spiritual lessons, come from unlikely places.
Today, I participated in a retreat with others from our area. We participated in an exercise that helps you understand how a society is built. I honestly still don’t understand everything that was involved in it. But, in the midst of the haze in my mind, the Lord taught me a valuable lesson.
Bottom line, everyone was divided into four groups. Of the four groups, our group was impoverished. We had nothing. And I stress; NOTHING.
There were no chairs in our room. There were no tables. We had no money. We had no food. We had NOTHING.
When you have NOTHING, what do you need? You could say “you need a job.” True. But let’s say you can’t find a job. Even more basic than a job; you are trying to survive. You need to eat.
Just outside our room, hamburgers and hot-dogs were being cooked for lunch. Our lunch…I thought. And, as lunch was being served, a tray of steaks were “mistakenly” brought into our room and then, taken out to the correct room.
Then, someone came in our room with several plastic bags and sat them down. I honestly didn’t think much about it for a few minutes. But then, I realized, that was OUR lunch. The plastic bags had peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches… pudding… oatmeal cakes. THAT was our lunch. Again, we were impoverished. We had no money to buy food. We had to make do with what we could afford and we couldn’t afford much.
I admit; I was aggravated for a few minutes. I didn’t say anything but I was a little ticked. Then.. it hit me… just down the hall, a group was eating hamburgers. Just down the hall, a group was eating steak. WE were eating peanut-butter and jelly.
Then it hit me.. this is the same thing that happens in our world every day. While I enjoy a sandwich or a hamburger or mexican food, someone else is getting by on peanut-butter and jelly. Now, I eat pbj sandwiches myself… but that’s what I choose to eat. It’s not because that’s all I have.
The Lord taught me a lesson there. There are lots of people who are just barely getting by… every day… While and I and others like me, eat pretty much what we want. One young lady in our group said she could remember as a child, that at times, her Mother didn’t eat and her and her siblings ate their meal was maccaroni & cheese.
Because of this lesson today, my attitude toward hunger has changed. The church needs to be doing more… much more.. to help hurting people. I don’t know where this is going in my life, but I’m asking the Lord to show me. Join me as we try to care for others better than we have in the past.

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