Thursday, August 15, 2013

Why didn't I think of that?

I have a post-it on my desk which simply says, “Etc., Etc.”.   That little post-it has helped me numerous times to be victorious over some of the most difficult times, people and temptations. It is so simple you will be asking yourself, “Why didn’t I think of that?” For example:

  • When I get a phone call from a nasty, angry, bitter person, "Etc., Etc." makes me not fear answering the next phone call.
  • That unexpected dilemma that throws my thought life into chaos.
  • A silly joke about my appearance may be all it takes to break the fantastic day I was having.
  • That gorgeous woman who not only distracts but breaks my attitude of worship.
  • Traffic...need I say more? Bills, kids, homework, pimples, broken a/c, flat tire, etc., etc.

Do you  know how much time we waste thinking about things that never happen?  Etc., Etc. can help!

  • Internet!  A huge distraction that cripples all of us from time to time.  Not to mention a sleezy or provocative ad/picture that takes your thought life into a downward spiral.

The list is virtually endless.  Now let me share with you the secret of "Etc., Etc." that can transform these events to something that draws you closer to God instead of separating you.

2 Cor. 10:4-6 (particularly verse 5)

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every loft opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”

Did you see it?  Etc., Etc. ...take Every Thought Captive to obey Christ.

Etc = Every Thought Captive.  Take every thought captive when you get that phone call, when you are stuck in traffic, when that unexpected bill comes, when co-workers say something against you, when you are surfing the internet, when that gorgeous man or woman takes notice of you - take every thought captive (Etc., Etc.).

At that split second when I am faced with a choice to obey or disobey I literally say to myself, "take every thought captive" and it changes my focus from self and from distraction to God and bringing Him glory instead of satisfying self.  I can do what I was created to do (i.e. give God glory) or I can defy my Creator and choose my own will, exchanging the glory of the immortal God for my own selfish desires.

I have found that if I remind myself to “take Every Thought Captive” at that split second, I do not give into temptation nearly as much as I would have.  It has made a world of difference in my life.  Literally walking into a store the other day I was faced with a big temptation and I just said to myself, “take every thought captive” and my mind was immediately transported to giving God glory, breaking into praise and worship.

Give "Etc., Etc." a try, you might be amazed at the results.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

If he only knew what was about to happen

Fourteen of us gathered together on Easter Sunday to celebrate a meal together.  The big screen TV was locked onto basketball and the men of the room fixed their gazes to Duke vs. Louisville.  Little did Kevin Ware know (basketball player for Louisville) that his life was about to be turned upside down.  It’s not unusual to hear an uproar from my family as they watch sporting events, but the sudden cries that reverberated through the house alerted everyone that something horrific had just been witnessed.  Without warning, Kevin Ware leaped to block a shot, came down on his leg wrong and it snapped.  It was difficult to watch.  The other members of the family came running in wanting to know what happened.  With the new age of TV, it was easy to rewind the live event and relive the horrific injury. 

The comment that stood out to me as we fixed our eyes on jersey #5 was, “if he only knew what was about to happen in the next 5 seconds”.   Wow, that hit me right between the eyes.  We don’t know what is waiting for us around the corner.  All the hopes and dreams and plans we have could be shattered in an instant. 

Sitting in the room among my family was my niece.  Only 8 days before, she had lost her baby at 24 weeks.   This morning as I was taking the kids to work, a fire rescue vehicle followed by a police car passed us at an intersection.  An serious accident had just occurred a block from our house, at the very intersection we use daily.  You don’t know what tomorrow or even today holds. 

Does that mean we shouldn’t risk?   Does it mean we shouldn’t live?  No, it is a great reminder to put our perspective and focus on the One who holds our tomorrows.  It means using every minute you have to please God and be satisfied in Him.  It means clinging to the God of grace when tragedy does strike and resting in His sovereign arms.  It is a stern reminder to live this moment for the splendor of His name, not allowing these next 5 seconds to be wasted. 

“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.” James 4: 14a

“Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Eccl. 12:13b

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Phil. 1:21

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Finding God in a dead car battery

My in-laws had just rolled into town.  They had a tiring flight, too many delays and layovers, but they were finally here.  After a great night sleep, they were anxious to start their vacation time in sunny Florida.  So my father-in-law and I hop into the family mini-van to run a few errands.  Click click click.  Click click click. Click click click click click silence.  The car won’t start.  We do what any two seasoned men would do, we lift the hood and stare into a maze of wires, tubes and motor parts.  I locate the battery, buried in a corner underneath some large bar that appears to give support to the front of the car.  After whipping my old truck around into position, we jump start the car with ease...it’s the battery.  The rest of the story is fairly uneventful, except the part of trying to get the battery out, but I will leave that for another time.  In a short amount of time, the battery is replaced and we are humming along.

I began to think all the places my wife and kids have been in the last 48 hours.  They could have been stranded at some very awkward, difficult and even dangerous places, but they weren’t.  The battery died in my driveway, on a Saturday morning when I was home with a day set aside to spend with my in-laws.  I can’t think of a more perfect place and perfect time for a battery to die.  If battery heaven was based on merits, this one was definitely going to battery heaven. 

Finding God in the strangest of places.  Pray today that God’s Spirit will fill you, will control you and surrender your will to Him (Eph. 5:18).  The Greek verb “being filled” is one of ongoing action, it never stops.  You’ll be amazed where you will find God today if you surrender to him now.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Guaranteed Key to Effectiveness

I have to confess, it 's hard to write what’s on my heart without sounding like a motivational seminar.  Bravo to John Maxwell, Zig Ziglar and so many others who have inspired and motivated us to be better at work, home and even in our spiritual lives.  My wife worked 10 years for the largest Success Motivational company in the world, so I have been exposed to heavy doses of the success motivational community.  However, what I am about to share is not hype, it is not a prelude to sell a book and it will not require you to pull out your wallet.  But, if you adopt these seven qualities I can guarantee success.  Better yet, the guarantee is not mine, it is from the only One who can make such a promise and deliver, almighty God.    

That being said, I have come across seven qualities that can be so life-changing that I must share them with you.  These qualities guarantee you will be effective and fruitful.  The key to these qualities is that you must keep them and you must continue to increase in them.  Otherwise, you will become ineffective and unfruitful.  You would be compared to one who is so nearsighted that they are in effect, blind.  That’s how critical these seven qualities are to your Christian life. 

Ready? Here they are.

1) Virtue
2) Knowledge
3) Self-control
4) Steadfastness
5) Godliness
6) Brotherly affection
7) Love

"So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.  
So, friends, confirm God’s invitation to you, his choice of you. Don’t put it off; do it now. Do this, and you’ll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ."1

“Faith must express itself in action (goodness) and this experience deepens our knowledge of God. Knowing him will deepen our knowledge of ourselves and where we need to exercise self-control. This in turn calls for perseverance, which is developed by keeping in view the worthwhile goal of v 4—godliness. This attitude to God facilitates a new openness to our fellow-Christians (brotherly kindness), and this in turn blossoms into unreserved and unrestricted love—the coping-stone of the whole edifice (cf. Col. 3:14).”2


The choice is yours.  Increasing in these qualities will grow your relationship with Jesus and produce fruit.  Ignoring these qualities will make you forget from where you have fallen (Rev. 2:4-5) and render your Christian life ineffective.  It seems so obvious, so simple, yet Peter reminds us because just like the Church of Ephesus, we quickly forget what Christ saved us from and abandon the love we had.  It is epidemic.  It takes ongoing effort and conscious choice to add or keep growing these qualities in your daily life.  But here’s the reward, “if you keep these qualities you will never fall.” 2 Peter 1:10

How will you implement these qualities in your life today?  How will you remind yourself of these qualities a week from now?  Who can you share this with to keep you accountable a month from today?  Keep increasing in these qualities!

Read 2 Peter 1 today and make plans how to keep these qualities alive.

                                 
1  2 Peter 1:5-11, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language by Eugene H. Peterson.
2  New Bible commentary: 21st century edition. 1994 (D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer & G. J. Wenham, Ed.) (4th ed.) (2 Pe 1:5–9). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Great quotes on Faith

Great faith trusts God when there is nothing in the cupboard to eat and no money to buy food. Great faith trusts in God when health is gone, work is gone, reputation is gone, or family is gone. Great faith trusts God while the windstorm is still howling and persecution continues.

Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man's power ends. ~ George Muller

The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith. The two are opposite sides of the same coin. ~ A.W. Tozer

Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe. ~ Augustine

The true, living faith, which the Holy Spirit instills into the heart, simply cannot be idle. ~ Martin Luther

God does not expect us to submit our faith to him without reason, but the very limits of our reason make faith a necessity. ~ Augustine

Faith is a voluntary anticipation. ~ Clement of Alexandria

Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that thou mayest believe, but believe that thou mayest understand. ~ Augustine

Faith has to do with things that are not seen and hope with things that are not at hand.  ~ Thomas Aquinas

God our Father has made all things depend on faith so that whoever has faith will have everything, and whoever does not have faith will have nothing. ~ Martin Luther

"Most of us go through life praying a little, planning a little, jockeying for position, hoping but never being quite certain of anything, and always secretly afraid that we will miss the way. This is a tragic waste of truth and never gives rest to the heart.  There is a better way. It is to repudiate our own wisdom and take instead the infinite wisdom of God. Our insistence upon seeing ahead is natural enough, but it is a real hindrance to our spiritual progress. God has charged Himself with full responsibility for our eternal happiness and stands ready to take over the management of our lives the moment we turn in faith to Him....
With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack? Surely we are the most favored of all creatures."  A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, 97, 99

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A story of Faith

  "Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man's power ends." ~ George Muller

 This story is told by the captain of a ship on which George Muller of Bristol was traveling.

 “We had George Muller of Bristol on board,” said the captain. “I had been on the bridge for twenty-four hours and never left it and George Muller came to me and said, “Captain, I have come to tell you I must be in Quebec on Saturday afternoon.” “It is impossible,” I said. “Then very well, if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way. I have never broken an engagement in fifty-seven years; let us go down into the chart room and pray.”
 “I looked at that man of God and thought to myself, “What lunatic asylum can that man have come from, for I never heard of such a thing as this?” “Mr. Muller,” I said, “do you know how dense this fog is?”
 ““No,” he replied, “my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God who controls every circumstance of my life.” He knelt down and he prayed one of the most simple prayers. When he had finished I was going to pray, but he put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to pray. “As you do not believe He will answer, and as I believe He has, there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.”
 “I looked at him and George Muller said, “Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years and there has never been a single day when I have failed to get an audience with the King. Get up, Captain, and open the door and you will find the fog has gone.”
 “I got up and the fog indeed was gone, and on that Saturday afternoon George Muller kept his promised engagement.”