Saturday, January 28, 2012

Your Words Matter

by Tim Howard

How many of you know somebody who seems to complain all of the time? Are you that person? Admit it, all of us complain about some things but some people seem to complain about everything.

The weather's too hot, the weather’s too cold, the service at the local fast food restaurant is too slow. These stop lights take forever; for crying out loud this person is driving 10 mph below the speed limit! I’m sure you have heard them.

Some people complain about their jobs while others complain about not having a job. Some complain about not having enough time to do all that needs to be done while some complain about having nothing to do at all. There is ALWAYS something to complain about.

If there's one group of people who were known for complaining more than any other in the Bible, it has to be the Israelites in the Old Testament. If you know their story, it's an interesting one. They were slaves, in bondage to the Egyptians and they had one prayer: 'God, get us out.' And God answered their prayer, raised up a leader named Moses and did what they asked. Within three days, however, they were complaining. Here’s the record.

Ex. 15:22-24  “Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and came to a place named Marah… but they could not drink the waters of Marah for they were bitter… So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” This account started a pattern of complaining that went on and on and on…

What they didn’t know and what many of us don’t realize is just how significant our words can be. What you put on your lips can open doors or close them.

God’s disposition changed toward the Israelites when they constantly complained. They closed the door on his favor and opened the door for his chastisement. His love for them remained the same but His propensity to bless them was altered. Just like a parent who wants to bless their child with gifts but because of his or her incessant complaining the parent decides to withhold the blessing in order to train the child in thankfulness.

Words put on our tongues are powerful. St. James tells us they are like a fire, which can heat things up in a positive way or set things on fire from hell. Solomon said death and life are in the power of the tongue…

In 2012 I’ve committed myself to living out Philippians 2:14, “Do everything without complaining or arguing…” How can this become a reality?

1. Ask God to purify your heart because the fruit of what you say is connected to the root, which is in your heart attitude.

2. Stop comparing yourself to others because it is often the source for your complaints.

3. Focus on the things that really matter in life. Much of what we complain about won’t matter down the road. The material world will fade away but relationships with God and others will outlast time.

4. Ask God to help you become aware of it when you do it. Often it is so ingrained into our subconscious that we often complain without realizing it.

Here’s a truth. There is ALWAYS something to complain about. Yet, there is also ALWAYS something for which you can give praise. Choose to fill your mouth with praise. You will make a positive difference in those around you!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bring Back 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? 

I believe the key to living joyfully, is to stay connected to Jesus.  If He is the source of joy, then it would make sense that we need to stay plugged into the source!  Just as we don’t expect a lamp to give any light unless it is plugged into an outlet carrying electric current, 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 of is 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 then 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 is not a feeling, it is 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.     

Saturday, January 14, 2012


by Tim Howard

When I was in grammar school my sisters found it amusing to speak with each other in some unknown language. I later learned it was called Pig Latin, which is a language game of alterations played in English. It was a secret way of talking and they used it because they didn’t want me to know what they were discussing. They wanted to be secretive.

The Bible talks about both good and bad secrets. Kind of like a good cholesterol and a bad cholesterol.  A good secret is something positive you do and wonder if anyone notices. Jesus alluded to this type in Matthew chapter 6 when he talked about some religious people who liked doing things for human recognition. He explains the value of not emulating this approach to good works. God sees every good thing we do in secret and rewards us for them.  Every good secret will be rewarded.

Bad secrets, however, are things we want no one to discover. Keeping a dark secret can consume you. Dark secrets lurk in the back of our souls, in the shadows, and gnaw at us. We are burdened by our secrets. And when you least expect it, they often come to light, and the fallout can be catastrophic.

The Bible gives us 4 reasons we shouldn’t keep bad secrets and David the second King of Israel reveals all four.
David was a great man but he had a weakness for women. He committed adultery with a woman name Bathsheba and after discovering she was pregnant with their child, he tried to cover his tracks.
His attempts failed, however, and adultery led to murder, then chaos and ultimately the death of their child.
David thought his secret was safe but soon learned 4 lessons.

Lesson 1:  You can’t fool God! 2 Samuel 11:17 “But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.” David might have kept his secret from everyone else—he might have fooled those around him—but he didn’t fool God. God knew. God always knows. He knows your secrets and my secrets too. 

So really, there are no secrets with God. You can’t fool Him—He knows everything.  Don’t fool yourself!  Stop fooling yourself by thinking that you’ve got a secret, or that you’ve got away with it.

Lesson 2: Your secrets will be revealed. Luke 12:1-3 makes this abundantly clear. We all know about David. It is no secret to anyone who has read the Bible!

Lesson 3. Bad secrets, when kept inside, cost dearly. Listen to how David puts it: Psalms 32:3-4 “When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable; I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.” Bad secrets grow in power when we refuse to confess them but confession brings us a fourth lesson. 
Lesson 4. Living in the light brings the greatest dividends of all.
When a man named Nathan confronted David about his secret sin, he finally came clean. He came to the light. He exposed the evil that lurked inside. He did what John recommends in the New. Testament. 1John 1:9 “…if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” The result? Forgiveness! Freedom!

As you begin 2012, be encouraged to walk in the light. Make a decision to live out loud, in the open, holding no bad secrets. It will be one of your best decisions for the New Year.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Year, New Chance

by Andrew Cromwell

As the calendar turns, we once again wrestle with the realization of how little we’ve changed over the last twelve months. The year passed so quickly. Resolutions that we made with dedicated resolve at the beginning of the year were quickly discarded as we found the rut of our routine too comfortable and familiar. 

And now we find ourselves at the beginning of a new year and we are tempted to give up even before we have started. We wonder, is there really any point? Can I, in fact, change? Or will 2012, simply be a repeat of 2011? 

Let me encourage you not to give up too soon! Change isn't easy and quitters never win. Just because you have failed in the past, does not mean you must fail in the future. I love the Bible verse in Proverbs that says, "the godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again" (Prov. 24:16). The difference between failure and success is often simply the decision to get up one more time and try again. 

The best news of all is that you do not have to undertake your New Year's resolutions all by yourself, if you will simply invite our Heavenly Father to be involved in the process. After all, He wants you to grow and change! He knows what great things are possible in and through you because He created you for greatness in the first place.

So what resolutions do you need to invite Him to be a part of this year? Maybe you have some dirty laundry you need to give up to Him instead of carrying it forward. Perhaps you need to make a few phone calls, ask forgiveness and mend those broken relationships. Or maybe you need to change some old routines and exchange them for new ones. Sometimes we have done things for so long, we just assume that we must do them, but maybe it’s time to give up some of the old patterns of behavior.

One of the best things you can do is be around people who have resolved to grow and change. If all your friends are resolved to stay the same and to keep you there too, it might just be time to get some new friends! The pastors in Kings County would love to encourage you and help you get a fresh start for the New Year. Maybe one of the best decisions you could make would be to get right with God, get in His house and start looking at yourself through His eyes. You’ll be amazed at the wonderful things He has in store for you!