Saturday, February 25, 2012

Heart Transplant

by Tim Howard

If you’ve ever been driving your automobile in heavy traffic and a red dash light comes on you know something’s up. When you suddenly hear a loud sound and see a cloud of dark smoke billowing from your exhaust pipe, you know trouble is brewing. When your engine conks out and the motorists behind you start honking their horns because they apparently feel your pain and really care, you know things aren’t looking good. By the way, when anyone honks at you when you’re in trouble, it helps tremendously! If only honking could fix the problem.

After having the vehicle towed to a mechanic for his or her appraisal, they tell you the engine is blown. It’s beyond repair and can’t be fixed.  It needs to be replaced. You were hoping for a simple fix - something like a smoke problem but the smoke wasn’t the problem - the problem was the engine.

In Matthew chapters 5-7, Jesus is constantly getting to the root of our problems. He knows the problem isn’t merely our deeds but it’s the motivating factors in the heart that fuels those deeds. He says things like this: 

Matt. 5:21-22  “You have heard it said long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.”

Matt. 5:27-28 “You have heard it said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Pretty radical huh? But then again, radical means to get to the root of something and bring about transforming change. We murder people physically because we harbor anger in our hearts. We can murder people in our hearts and with our tongues long before it happens physically. We cheat on our mates sexually and practice a sexually active lifestyle outside marriage because we carry around something called ‘lust’ in our hearts. Lust is self-centered, and is often translated ‘evil desires’ in the Bible. We look for satisfaction in pleasure rather than finding God’s purpose for us and when it doesn’t fill the void, we sing the song by the Rolling Stones: "I Can't Get No Satisfaction".

A lot of us know things aren’t right inside our lives because we see ugly stuff coming out. We erupt in anger like a volcano and spew devastating pain to those around us. We criticize and complain to such a degree that a cloud of negativism is created. Our attitudes often stink and we become an odor to avoid rather than a fragrance to enjoy. We emit enough black smoke from our lives to choke those who trail behind us.

God says our hearts are too darkened and hardened by sin to ever quit polluting life as we know it. Just like a blown engine, it needs to be replaced rather than repaired.

I’m glad for heart transplants. It’s God’s specialty! Ezekiel 36:26 - "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you a heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit in you."

Our only hope for this life - and for eternal life - is a new heart. We can't perform heart surgery on ourselves! Only the divine surgeon can do that!  Why not visit one of the many Church families in Kings County this weekend. If you are ready, they can introduce you to the Doctor who can give you a new heart.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What Direction Are You Moving?

by Andrew Cromwell

A very common question I hear is “How do I get closer to God?” I believe this is a universal question that everyone — teenager or adult, new to faith in Christ or long-time Christ-follower —  asks from time to time.

How do we get to know the God of the universe? How do we learn to hear His voice? How do we grow into the people He created us to be? All of these questions are simply versions of the central one. The good news is the answer is very straightforward. There are no secret handshakes you must learn, no special antennas you need to put on your roof and no codes you need to break.

The Bible lays it out very simply in James 4:8, it says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” It sounds pretty simple and in many ways it is very simple, but then again, sometimes the simplest things in life can be the most challenging.

I believe it helps to think about this in terms of a relationship because, after all, we are talking about a relationship with God—not a set of religious rules and regulations that, if followed, make everything wonderful. Any relationship, if it is going to grow, requires time, communication and commitment. If you don’t give the relationship these three things, then you cannot expect it to grow.

When it comes to a relationship with God, we need to spend time with Him, talk to Him and be committed to His purposes. When we do these three things, He promises to do the same with us!

Anyone who is married or in a long-term relationship can pretty much tell you this list, but actually DOING the list is something entirely different. The question is not one of KNOWING what we should do when it comes to getting closer to our Father in heaven, it is one of PRACTICING what we already know.

If you are anything like me, I get distracted or lazy or busy or complacent, and before I know it the relationships in my life grow stale. I have to pick myself up, get back on the wagon and go back to doing the things that build my relationships.

The same thing goes for my relationship with God. At the beginning of the year, I’m excited and I rededicate myself to spending time with Him, reading His Word and getting around people that encourage me to do these things. But before I know it, I get busy and lazy and I find it has been several days since I last talked with Him and gave Him time to talk with me. So it’s time to get busy again doing the things that I need to do so I can get closer to God.

What do you need to do? How long has it been since you gave God a chance to get close to you by getting close to Him? This weekend, the pastors in Kings County would love to encourage you to keep your relationship with your Heavenly Father growing and strong. Why don’t you take your family to church? I bet you’ll find that God takes a step towards you the moment you do.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Happy, Happy, Happy!

by Tim Howard

Are you happy? We hear the word frequently. Happy New Year, Happy Holidays, Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary. But are you happy?

For many of us the answer to that question would vary because our happiness is deeply connected to external situations and circumstances. The weather can change your mood and we all know how frequently the weather changes. News about receiving a surprise financial gift can create elation and euphoria while a surprise bill requiring prompt payment can rob you of whatever joy you had.

Jesus talked about happiness but not in the same way as our culture does. When we use the term, ‘happy’ we think about being cheerful, merry, jovial, untroubled, delighted, smiling, in a good mood, lighthearted, ecstatic, euphoric… That’s how the dictionary defines it. Jesus however, talks about a happiness that’s connected to something more solid and less changeable.

In Matthew 5:3-12, Jesus uses the term ‘Blessed’ nine times as he speaks to those who gathered on a mountainside. It means to be happy, fortunate or supreme bliss. He says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”

Happy is the one who’s broke, poor as all get out - They can’t afford anything!
Happy is the one who cry’s all the time and has nothing to laugh about.
Happy is the one who get picked on all the time and people lie about them.

Sounds crazy doesn’t it!

In May of 2011 while tying to help some struggling people in Ethiopia, I noticed thousands and thousands of people who had nothing except the clothes on their back and a hut to live in. Food was scarce, conditions were difficult and life was hard. Yet, there was great laughter, singing and happiness all around. Their mourning had been transformed into rejoicing because Jesus gave them a different way of viewing life.

Jesus talked about a type of happiness that doesn’t have to elude a person just because they may be poor. You may be going through a season of difficulty but the light still shines beyond the clouds of darkness. Even though things may look as though they are falling apart, Jesus is able to work all things together for your good as you put your trust in Him. He gives people eyes to see beyond the visible and experience the eternal. He calls it “Eternal Life.”

Someone said God is more interested in your holiness than your happiness. I disagree! I think happiness is the byproduct of committing yourself ‘wholly’ (holy) to God. The most miserable people seem to be those who are trying to be happy. They don’t realize happiness is connected to something. For those in Ethiopia, their happiness is connected to Jesus. It lasts in the good times and the bad. The happiness Jesus talks about doesn’t change like the weather. You can be happy, no matter what, if you are connected to Him. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012


by Andrew Cromwell

It has been said that the busiest day in people’s lives is “tomorrow.” To one degree or another, we all have a problem with procrastination.

Recently, I put off taking my car to get smogged. I kept telling myself I would do it, but I just didn’t. When the last day came before the late registration penalties kicked in, I started up my car to drive down to the smog shop. Wouldn’t you know it, the check engine light popped on as if to teach me a lesson. Needless to say, it was a challenging day and all because I procrastinated.

For some of us, procrastination is an art. We have become so good at waiting to the last minute, we don’t even know how to do life any other way. But even for those who would not consider themselves to be chronic procrastinators, there are always some things we keep delaying and putting off. Maybe we do it because we just don’t know how to begin, we are afraid of failing, we are stubborn or we are just plain lazy.

In and of itself, procrastination is not the worst thing in the world. The real question is are we procrastinating about the wrong things? The truth is, some things can wait. Whether or not I wax my car this week or next month is probably not that big of a deal. On the other hand, the conversation I need to have with my spouse or my kids is vitally important.

Some things need to be done now. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey My commands.” He didn’t say, “If you love me, obey me when you get around to it!”

I believe there are three things we need to do now and not delay. First, we need to get right with God. No one is guaranteed tomorrow and no one knows how long his or her life is going to be. The most important and vital thing for us to do is get right with our Creator.

Second, we need to get right with others. In Matthew 5, Jesus tells us it is more important to go and fix broken relationships then it is to go to church! If you have offended someone, go and ask forgiveness — stop delaying. Broken relationships do not fix themselves.

Third, we need to get busy serving others. We have this constant tendency to think our life is about making us happy. It’s not. Jesus said that the way to get life is to give up yours. True life is found when we invest our lives in serving others. James, the brother of Jesus, said, “true religion is to visit the orphan and widow.”

Sometimes we are so busy doing things that are unimportant, we fail to do the things that are really important. Maybe you need to change your life around so that you can do the stuff that really matters. I know I do.

The pastors in Kings County would love the opportunity to encourage you to get focused on the right stuff this weekend.  Why don’t you stop putting off what you need to do?