Saturday, January 29, 2011

What's Your Location

by Andrew Cromwell

Everyday we make a decision as to where we are going to place ourselves. I’m not talking about where we go physically, although that is certainly a part of it. Instead I’m talking about where we place ourselves spiritually. The truth of it is, our physical location and our mental location both directly influence our spiritual location. We are fundamentally spiritual creatures and nothing that we do is merely physical or mental.

This is an important concept to understand. Far too often we buy into the idea that we have little power over our world. We begin to act as if we are simply reactionary beings who are only able to respond to the things that are being thrown at us. This type of thinking is victimization thinking. We become victims of our circumstances, victims of the people around us and victims of even our own shifting emotions.

We are swayed by what we hear. We are worried about the future. We overreact to the smallest things. We are first convinced and then we are doubtful. We are hot and then we are cold. We believe God is for us and then we are not so sure. We are overjoyed that so and so is our true friend and then our worst enemy.

It is easy to identify these tendencies in other people, but all of us are drawn into this kind of instability to varying degrees. The key is to place ourselves in the right location.

Psalms chapter one says, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.”

There are many places we can put ourselves. We can place ourselves in worry. We can place ourselves in lust. We can place ourselves in anger. We can place ourselves in the worship of money or sex or stuff. But according to the Scripture, if we place ourselves where we find joy in following God’s voice and obeying His Word then He places us by a stream of water and makes us fruitful.

So this is the key, we place ourselves in God, and then He places us where we need to be. Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you....” Our location is incredibly important. If we are placed in the right location then we don’t need to worry or fear and we can deal with the cares and challenges of life in a new way.

So where are you placing yourself today? Maybe you need to put yourself in the hands of Father God and allow Him to plant you by a stream of living water. You might just find that the fruit that comes out of your life is better then you have ever experienced.

The pastors in Kings County would love to teach you how to abide in Him. I encourage you to get in His house this weekend; He’s got places all over town.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Power of Presence

by Tim Howard

In the profession I have chosen there are many opportunities to gather with people in a variety of settings. It may be at a conference, a seminar, a party or something as simple as meeting at a restaurant. Recently at one of these meetings, I noticed something others were aware of as well.

The meeting had started with those present and approximately 10 min into the gathering a certain person entered the room. At that precise moment, there was an immediate change in the very atmosphere. It was as though someone had gone over to the thermostat and changed the temperature drastically. It was that noticeable!

As this was happening I realized how one person’s presence could change the climate of a gathering. They can have a negative effect on people or a positive one. Surely you have noticed the same thing at some time. I overheard one employee express great joy when they heard the boss was going to be absent on a given day. His presence evidently had a negative effect on this employee. It reminded me of a sign I recently saw on a desk. It said: “All people bring me joy. Some when they come, others when they go.”

Your presence affects people. The question is: Do people look forward to your coming or your going?

In the Old Testament, Moses said he did not want to continue on his journey unless God’s Presence would be with them. Moses knew if God was with him and the people he served, the outcome would be totally different.

The Bible tells us that God is “Omnipresent”- His presence is everywhere! David in Psalms 139 said, “Where can we go from your presence since you are everywhere?” Jonah realized this truth as well. He learned you can run from God but you can’t hide from His presence.

All of God is present at all times, and in all places but there are those moments when He manifests Himself in such a way that we are acutely aware of Him being near us. This is what Moses hungered for and I must admit this is my great desire as well. His manifest presence and our awareness of His closeness allows for genuine life to happen in the midst of any gathering. According to Exodus 33:16, His presence is what distinguishes His people from all the other people groups on earth.

There are four ways you can position yourself to experience the manifest presence of God.

1. Keep a clean heart! It will welcome God’s presence. Even as you shower daily to cleanse your body, God is willing to cleanse your heart each day if you will simply ask and repent.

2. Develop a seeking heart! It will discover God’s presence. According to Matthew 7:7 & James 4:8, a person who looks for God with all their heart will find Him.

3. Make sure you have an obedient heart! In Exodus 33, when the Israelites were in danger of going it alone - without God’s presence, they repented. Before this, however, they rebelled, didn’t listen, were arrogant, complained and would not obey. As they changed their heart attitude, God decided to go with them.

4. Maintain a humble heart! God resists the proud but draws near the humble.

You may be in need of by-pass surgery on your heart. If so, visit one of the many church families in Kings County this weekend and let God change your heart. His Presence is worth it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dropped Signal

by Andrew Cromwell

People are a lot like cell phones...they are constantly searching for connection. Inside your cell phone is a little chip that demands to be connected to a cell tower and it is always searching, searching, searching to get the best connection possible. You and I are just like that, we have a deep need inside of us for connection. Of course, it’s not a cell tower that we are seeking, but rather the connection of a real relationship.

Instead of bars that indicate signal strength, our connection indicator is a little more subtle. More often than not, we can tell how strong our connection is by paying attention to our inner world. How are we feeling? Is that black hole of depression or anxiety threatening to swallow us alive or do we feel secure and fulfilled?

Often things can be going very well on the outside. We might even wonder why we feel this way when nothing is wrong in our life. But on the inside we feel numb or hopeless or helpless. This is when we begin to search for ways to compensate for what is going on inside. What we are really doing is trying to find something to either substitute or numb the pain from a lack of connection with others. So we act out by returning to our addiction of choice. It might be overeating, a temporary escape into an empty sexual relationship, alcohol or some risky behavior that gives us an adrenaline rush and covers up the pain.

All of these behaviors are attempts to compensate for lack of connection with others. And they are all lousy substitutes. There is something about connecting with another human being that actually changes the way that we feel. It is amazing what happens when we open up to others and let them know what is going on inside.

I am not suggesting that when you share your inner life with someone else that they will give you an answer and this will solve all of your troubles. Instead, what I am saying is that by simply sharing your inner thoughts, worries and concerns with a close friend that listens without judgment (and without an attempt to “fix” you), your connection signal strength rises and that healthy connection feeds your inner need to be known. Suddenly you begin to find that your desire for unhealthy substitutes for connection lessens.

So the next time you feel like self-medicating with your preferred vice, why not pick up the phone instead and talk to a friend? Tell them what you are feeling. You might be surprised at the result.

The pastors of Kings County would love to help improve your signal strength and connection with Father God. And there are many wonderful people who are seeking Him as well who would love to encourage you on your spiritual journey. Why don’t you give church a try this weekend? You might be surprised at what you find.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lighten Up

by Tim Howard

It’s only January 8, 2011 and I have already lost approximately 25 pounds! Some of you might be wondering how I did it in such a short time. Maybe I should consider being on that T.V. show Biggest Loser…

The truth is I didn’t lose physical weight but emotional poundage. It happened when I decided not to carry some of the hurt, pain, shame and disappointments of the past into the future. I left some of my emotional baggage behind!

A man by the name of Dick led a group of 12 men into Africa on a mid-life adventure. They traveled 7000 miles on this expedition to come face to face with Africa and themselves. As leader of the trip, Dick purchased an ultra-light backpack that was designed for maximum cargo-carrying efficiency. It was packed with eating utensils, cutting devices, digging tools, direction finders, various garments in various sizes for various functions. It had medical supplies, remedies and cures. Little bottles inside little bottles inside little bottles… You name it and he had it. When they came to Magaduru, a small Maasai village they were met by a tall lean Maasai man who stood proudly with nothing more than a loincloth, a spear and a stick used for cattle tending. As they talked together, this man became very intrigued with the large, awkward and packed to the brim backpack. He proceeded to ask a very simple question but with great intensity:

Does all this stuff make you happy?”

All of us have material stuff but we also have emotional baggage, which is a part of our personal history. Like this Maasai man, we periodically need to ask ourselves a few questions. Does all this stuff help me become a better person or is it hindering me? Do I really need this stuff or should I leave it behind? As I entered 2011, one week ago, I decided to unpack and repack my bags. The result? A much lighter load!

Unpacking simply means taking a long, hard look at what we’re carrying and why. Seeing if our possessions, responsibilities and relationships are still helping us move forward or if they are dragging us down. Repacking then is the ongoing activity of reevaluation and reinvention. Rearranging our priorities, reframing our vision of life and recovering a new sense of being alive.

The Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung talked about the morning, afternoon and evening of a person’s life. He said: “ we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning - for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.”

Maybe this is a time for you to do some house cleaning. Maybe it’s time for you to take a hard look at what you are carrying and why. Maybe you need to unpack and repack your bags as well. If you do this, you can go through 2011 seeing life from the lighter side.

I love the invitation Jesus gives to each of us in Matthew 11:28-30:

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." The Message.

In other words: Lighten up!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year's Blessing

by Andrew Cromwell

The New Year is here. Today alternately marks the end of the holiday season and the beginning of a new calendar. Today we turn from reflecting on the past year and we look forward to what the new year brings. Traditionally, this is the day that our new year’s resolutions begin too—to lose that extra poundage we gained during the Christmas season, to make those phone calls and stay connected better, to get out of debt and to spend more time with family.

This year, rather then give you another strategy on how to keep your resolutions; I decided to simply write a blessing for you and yours for the new year. Scripture says that giving a blessing to others is part of what we are supposed to do as followers of Christ (1 Peter 3:9). Speaking a blessing over others is powerful because you are bringing your words into agreement with the One who is the Father of all blessing and life.

So here goes:

In this new year, may the Spirit of the Living God sustain and strengthen you. May His wisdom guide you with clarity in moments of confusion. May His hope encourage you in moments of despair. May His power gird you up when you are weak. May His light shine in every dark place and bring life to that which has long been dead.

I pray that the eyes of your heart, your spiritual eyes, would be opened to see His goodness and that as you reach out to Him, you would find Him. May the riches of His glory fill your heart and home. May you find His favor extended to you daily as you encounter the challenges of life.

May your children be blessed. I pray that they would excel among their peers and have favor with their teachers and administrators. I declare a new sensitivity in their hearts and minds to the words and ways of the Living God. I speak protection over them wherever they are—on the playground, in the classroom, on the school bus and at home.

I pray that you would have a new resolve to do that which is right and good; that your speech to others would be seasoned with grace and love; that your actions would flow from an open and giving heart; and that your steps would be ordered by the Lord.

May this year be a year of great blessing and great increase. I pray that in Him you would find the resource for all that is lacking and that it would not only fill you but that it would also supply the needs of those around you to the glory of our God and Father. Amen.

The pastors of Kings County would love to have the opportunity to teach you how to walk continually in the blessing of God. One of the greatest blessings you can give to your family this year is to start them off right and help them get under the umbrella of God’s blessing.