Saturday, May 28, 2011

You Are Chosen

by Tim Howard

Back in grammar school my favorite class was “Recess!’ I know now that it’s not really a class but it was always something I looked forward to. My least favorite thing during recess, however, happened whenever the teacher lined the students up, selected two Captains and had them choose teams. It was horrible! I was usually the last to be chosen and then the two Captains would fight over me. “You take him!” and the other would respond, “No you take him!” This would go on until the teacher made the final determination and assigned me to a team. What a confidence builder.

God‘s not like that! He wants to connect with you. He wants you to be on His team. He has chosen you to have an ongoing relationship. 1 Peter 2:9 says: “…you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a Holy Nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

The Bible makes it abundantly clear that many are called but few are chosen. Everyone is invited to have relationship but those who respond positively to the invitation are chosen to experience, develop and enjoy fellowship with God.

Paul the apostle gives a little insight into the motivation behind God’s choice. 1Cor. 1:26 - 29 “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And He chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important, so that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.”

His choice of you isn’t based on your skill set, your intellect, your abilities, your position, and surely not your past. He sees your potential. His focus is on what you can be and not what you have been.

Not everyone can see potential! Sometimes it’s hidden from view. Like an automobile that loses it’s luster because of the mud that covers it - the dirt of life can cover the treasures hidden within. God, however, never loses sight of them. He isn’t surprised or shocked when the hidden treasure is revealed because He’s the one who put the potential there in the first place. When He views your life, He sees something wonderful and with delight in His voice says, you have possibilities!

God chose you in order to help you find your way back - back to the original you. He originally created you in His image but the hurts of life, the daily grind, the pressing problems and pressures of the day have hidden the real you from view.

I recently saw a restored 1957 Chevy, which was beautiful. But it‘s a million times more wonderful when you see a person restored to their original condition.

Have you ever looked at a married couple and wondered how they made a connection? Why did he marry her? Why did she marry him? From your observations you conclude that they don’t seem to fit together. Yet, they are together.

You may not be able to comprehend or understand this simple truth but one thing is certain: God could have chosen anyone, but He chose YOU!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Don't Be Boring

by Andrew Cromwell

Life is too short to be boring. Life is also too fantastic to be boring. God has created this incredible world in which we live. He is so amazing He has actually arranged things in such a way that we each have a destiny and a purpose. But far too often we take this wonderful, challenging and awe-inspiring spark and turn it into a dull and dreary existence.

More than ever, it is creativity that can make the difference. A little creativity can transform something ho-hum into something memorable and fun. Because as humans we are creatures of habit, we fall into routines that get old and stale. The love that used to crackle between your and your spouse, has fallen prey to the old routine. Your job that used to be fun (okay, fun may be stretching it a bit), has reverted into the old grindstone that we can turn without even being awake.

Some people are masters at the creative. They just make life fun. We all want to be around these individuals because they put that little twist on life through their humor, their work, their smile and their conversation that makes all the difference.

You see, the creativity we all need is not the kind of creativity that resulted in the painting of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or the design of the Taj Mahal. That type of genius is granted to only a few. But the creativity that can take a dull situation and turn it into a fun moment is something we can all find.

The dad that decides to do something spontaneous with his kids every once in a while instead of allowing the family to repeat the same old routine. The co-worker that decides to change up the office gathering so that the people attending aren’t mistaken for corpses. The homemaker that moves the furniture, “just because.”

I think we actually work at removing the creativity from our lives. Our education system certainly does its best to turn creative, vibrant children into mind-numbed robots that can spit out the right answer for a test. And somehow we get older and decide that it’s easier to be boring than to be creative.

We serve a creative God with a sense of humor. He made you, didn’t He? He is the most creative person in the universe and according to the Bible He has made each one of us in His image. That same creative spark is inside us; we just need to use it.

The pastors in Kings County would love to help you learn more about our creative God and the incredible oh-not-boring-at-all destiny He has for you. Let me encourage you to visit church this may not be as boring as you think.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Jesus, the Change Factor

by Tim Howard

There’s a scripture in the Bible that gives a lot of hope to people who are stuck. It communicates the incredible possibility of change and how it can happen. It’s found in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” NIV

Everyone gets stuck between a rock and a hard place throughout his or her journey. When it happens, you may feel like you’re trapped, locked in, powerless to change things and the possibility of real transformation will seem to be only a dream.

This scripture doesn’t tell us that God will change or remove all our difficulties but if we turn to Him, He will change us! I can’t speak for you but that is very encouraging to me. Even though I may be powerless in the midst of a difficult situation, God has the power to change my heart, change my perspective, change my attitude and change my future. All He needs from me is my attention, adoration, a willingness to seek Him and responsiveness to His directives.

Many people in the Bible have experienced this type of transformation when they responded to Christ. Mary Magdalene had a very sordid past. It is even said she struggled with demonic forces and was considered possessed by demons. Then she met Jesus and was transformed from being possessed to a passionate follower of Christ. The disciples went from being fearful to ones filled with faith when they encountered the risen Lord. Thomas was a doubter but after his encounter, became a full-fledged believer.

Paul the Apostle was a religious person but hated Jesus and those who proclaimed their belief in Him. He’s an example of those who go through the motions and do a lot of religious stuff but don’t have any real relationship with Jesus Christ. You can read his story in Acts chapter 9 and see how he went from being a persecutor of Christians to one who preaches the truth to people.

God wants to change you! Not because he doesn’t like what He sees but because He does. Someone said: “God loves you just like you are but He loves you too much to let you remain as you are.”

There are four ways God uses to bring about change?

1. He first starts with kindness and blessing. Rom. 2:4 God’s kindness, tolerance and patience… leads you toward repentance. God wants you to recognize his goodness and volunteer to be changed by Him. The word repentance means a change.

2. If there is no response, He will convict you. Your conscience when trained by the Word of God functions like our modern day GPS system. It will correct your course and keep you on track if you follow its advice. Check out John 16:8.

3. God counsels you. Psalms. 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. The Bible, books, seminars, small group meetings, one on one fellowship, classes, DVD, CD teaching series and weekly church family gatherings are a few ways God provides direction and the possibility of change.

4. If all else fails, God will confront you. The author of Hebrews calls it: ‘Chastisement’ or ‘Discipline.” Heb. 12:10 “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.”

Can you identify any attitudes, beliefs, expectations, thinking or behavior that needs to change? If so, there’s someone who can help you. His name is Jesus.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Where's the Joy

by Andrew Cromwell

I am constantly reminded of how unnatural Jesus’ words sound when I compare them to my life. In the book of John, Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you.” When I read that statement and look at my life, the reality is that I often do not feel joyful. Anxious, fearful, frustrated, impatient, fatigued — these are the feelings that seem most natural to me.

So how do we experience His joy in our lives?

The key to living joyfully, is to stay connected to Jesus. If He is the source of joy, then we need to stay plugged into the source! We don’t expect a lamp to give any light unless it is plugged into an outlet, so we shouldn’t expect joy to bubble up in our lives unless we are connected to Him.

One of the reasons we don’t stay connected to Jesus is because we don’t trust Him. Either we don’t believe that He could really forgive us for all we’ve done or we’re afraid that He is going to ask us to do something that we don’t want to do! Either way, we keep ourselves from giving ourselves fully to Him and we unplug. We must remind ourselves that Jesus is all about lavishing His love upon us! He looks for ways to have a relationship with us and to express His love to us. His plan for our life is more wonderful than anything we could ever even imagine.

Another reason we don’t stay connected to Him is that we don’t know how. We tend to overcomplicate things. The best way to stay connected with Jesus is to read His Word, talk to Him and get around people that are doing the same thing. If we do these things regularly and with a heart that desires to know Him, then it’s hard to miss.

Now, it is important to know that you can stay connected to Jesus, but still not experience joy. This is because joy does not start with a feeling, it starts with a choice. We have all seen people choose to be angry. You know how it goes. Something happens that is negative and that person decides to focus on it. They think about it, they talk about it, they brood on it. Soon they are consumed with anger. They decided to be angry. In the same way, you must decide to be joyful. You do this by putting your mind in the right place. You refuse to take up offenses. You recall who God is and His wonderful plan for you. You put a smile on your face. Before you know it, you are filled with joy.

The pastors of Kings County would love to help you live joyfully. Why don’t you visit one of the many wonderful churches available in our community this week? It’ll help fill you with joy.