Saturday, March 21, 2009

Running on Empty

Pastor Tim Howard
March 21, 2009

Are you tired, exhausted and depleted of all your energy at the end of the day? Do you face times of weariness, weakness and lack the motivation to do another project? Maybe you’re exasperated, troubled and even stressed out because you lack what you really need. If so, we have good news for you! Those were the words I heard as I listened briefly to an infomercial that was trying to promote a specific product.

Even though I’m not peddling a product, I can relate to those statements about being exhausted, tired and weary. There are times when I feel like I’m running on empty. My personal gauge is registering below the red line but I continue to move on regardless. I continue to go through the motions of life but then the inevitable happens. I shut down! I can’t go on! I am out of gas! If you have ever run out of gas in your automobile you know the feeling. It’s not fun to have this experience in your vehicle and it sure isn’t a time of rejoicing when it happens in your personal life either. If you run on empty for long periods of time, you open the door for all the symptoms mentioned in the infomercial. It is a bit funny though, when you realize that much of this could be avoided if you would just take time to fill your personal tank.

God created you to function best on a full tank. In Ephesians 5:18, He makes it clear that everyone needs to be filled with His Spirit. Being filled is not a one-time experience relegated to the past but an ongoing need that requires regular attention. In this chapter the Apostle Paul tells us to be wise and not foolish. Even as a wise person wouldn’t put diesel fuel into a vehicle designed for gas, a person who wants to avoid burnout shouldn’t fill up on things that are designed to destroy them. Have you ever heard the phrase “You’re full of it”? I won’t attempt to define the term “it” but when you encounter a person who is full of hatred, bitterness, anger, lust, resentment, envy, and jealousy, fear and such, you can be assured they have been filling up on the wrong things. What are you full of?

Jesus was full of compassion, grace, truth and love. He desires to fill you with His life, His joy and His peace. How is that possible? David gives us a clue when he writes these words in Psalms 16:11, “…In your presence is fullness of joy”. In His presence means you are following Him closely and not following at a distance. It means you are close enough to God to hear him speak and pick up on His heartbeat. Unfortunately, many people attend church services thinking they are close to God because of their geographical location. Scripture tells us, however, it is possible to draw near to God with our lips while our hearts are far from him. It’s like looking through binoculars. You have the allusion of closeness but in reality there is a gap. Maybe that’s why so many church-going people aren’t experiencing the fullness of His Spirit. Church attendance alone can’t fill you with the right stuff but Pastors can lead you to the one who can and will. His name is Jesus! Is your personal tank running near the empty line? Are you experiencing some of the symptoms listed in the infomercial? If so, why not drive into one of God’s filling stations this weekend and fill up the tank?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

For Better or For Worse

Pastor Tim Howard
March 7, 2009

On February 16, 1973 I spoke these words to my wife. “ I, Tim Howard take you Donna to be my wife. To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse. I promise to love you the same way Jesus loves me. I promise to support you, cherish you, respect you, and be faithful to only you for as long as we both shall live.”
At the age of 22, I didn’t fully understand the meaning of that phrase ‘for better or for worse’. After 36 years of marriage to the same woman, I am beginning to understand the value of each. We have had our share of bad times! We have both thought about quitting. The word divorce has crossed our minds. When we thought it couldn’t get much worse, it did. It’s laughable now but it was painful then. Maybe you have had some bad times in your marriage or possibly you are in a difficult season right now. I want you to know that God can use your bad times to build character. Rather than allowing difficult moments to destroy you, turn to God and let Him define and develop you.

Life is not just about growing up! To succeed in life you must grow down as well. Trees that grow high will not stand against the winds of time unless they have deep roots. God uses the ‘worse’ times to develop a deep root system in your life. The roots that are developed in dark seasons will sustain you and build character that will keep you from crumbling under adversity. Paul the Apostle conveys this truth in the New Testament. Romans 5:3-5, We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us…
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t look forward to bad times and I am very thankful we have experienced far more of the ‘better’ years than ‘worse’. If, however, you embrace the good along with the bad and turn to God in both seasons, your love can grow stronger. Divorce doesn’t have to become a reality! Here are five directives that can turn the bad into better. Maybe even from better to best!

1. Never Quit! When things get tough, don’t stop doing the little things that made your marriage wonderful. Remember, long before a divorce is ever finalized, someone quit doing the right things.

2. Look for the gold in each other and don’t focus on the dirt. No one finds gold without going through some dirt and no one finds gold if they focus on the dirt.

3. Love from your heart and not only from the emotions. In the ‘worse’ times, you need to decide to love your mate even though you may not like them. Love is a decision. New emotions will follow.

4. Don’t hide things from each other. Read Psalms 32 to see how devastating this can be.

5. Make God and His desire your first priority. When He is first, things fall into place. Check out Matthew 6:33 and discover God’s promise to you.

Why not visit a church this weekend and expect a miracle? If God can do the miracle of turning water into wine (Mark 2) He can surely turn your ‘worse’ into ‘better’.