Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Do It

by Andrew Cromwell

In Jesus’ best known sermon—the Sermon on the Mount—he concludes by reminding his listeners that the key to experiencing life in His Kingdom is to not only listen to His Words but to do them. He says, “everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock” (Matthew 7:24). This type of person will be protected from the storms of life.

The connection between hearing and doing is an important one. Those that have children know what it is to tell your child what to do and then to watch them do the exact opposite. It is even worse when you take time to explain to them why and they still ignore you. In my home, there is a major difference between the child who did something wrong and I had told them not to do it, and the child who did something wrong but hadn’t been told. The former is in much BIGGER trouble than the latter.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like doing what other people tell me to do. I want to do my own thing. I’m pretty good at smiling and acting nice and pretending like I’m going to do what they tell me, but in my heart I know I’m not going to do it. And this little person that stands up inside of me and shakes its fist at the world also seems to do the same thing even when it comes to the stuff that even God tells me to do.

I can read Jesus’ words and even say that I want to live by them, but when it comes right down to it, I don’t want to do what He says. I don’t want to forgive someone who has wronged me. I don’t want to serve someone who doesn’t deserve it. I don’t want to go out of my way for others. I don’t want to admit that I need help. And the list goes on and on.

And yet application is the the key to life transformation. The great secret to living a life in the Kingdom of God—and if Jesus is telling the truth living life in the Kingdom is WAY better then living any other way—is to actually do what He says.

You can spend all the time in the world studying about the effect and treatments for dehydration. You can read personal accounts of what it feels like and how to prevent it. You can learn how to read the medical tests. You can stare at pictures of clear crystal springs and bottles of the good stuff. But until you actually drink the water, it is all just theory. You’re still dehydrated and you’re still going to die.

Application, application, application. You and I have to do what God says if we want to really live.

So what do you need to do? What is God whispering in your heart that you have been resisting? How much longer will you keep yourself from His living water?

The pastors in Kings County would love the opportunity to help you both to KNOW the way that Jesus has given us to an abundant life as well as how to DO it. Why don’t you start drinking some of His water?  You might just find it’s what you’ve been looking for.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Change Agents

by Tim Howard

Have you ever met someone who changed your life for the good? Someone you can point to who made you a better person? My mother and father gave me life and shaped my life but there are a handful of people I can point to who changed my life. My wife being one of them… Because of her I am a better man. 

Jesus came to change people and it’s not because He doesn’t like who we are. He’s not mad, uptight or dissatisfied with us. It’s not because He finds us unappealing or distasteful but because He loves us. After all, we are created in His image. He loves us enough to accept us on the basis of who we have become but loves us too much to leave us in our current condition. 

When God created the world, everything was good. You can read about in Genesis chapter 1 and 2. We were designed in His image with the objective of having open communion with Him on a personal basis. In Genesis Chapter 3, however, mankind decided to rebel and didn’t want to follow His lead. From the beginning of time, people have wanted what they want, when they want it and how they want it. 

That rebellious streak plays havoc in relationships and caused a breach in our communion with God. You cannot be self-centered, self-willed and selfish without causing damage. Relationship of all sorts will suffer. We were designed for good but damaged by evil.

We are all broken! We are all damaged! There is not one of us who has it all together. But under all the damage and debris, there is an original creation. There is a Real You!

You may have watched the news cast on TV a couple of weeks ago about a man who purchased a $4 painting at a yard sale. A few days later when he was trying to reframe his purchase, he found an original painting by Andy Warhol worth an estimated $5.5 million.

Jesus wants to change you back into your original condition because you are worth much more to Him than that painting is worth monetarily. He wants the real you to be revealed.

He does this by changing four things. He changes our relationship to God. We became His enemy when we rebelled. He didn’t turn on us but we turned on Him. He starts by reconnecting or reconciling us to God because without a genuine relationship with Him, long lasting change is not possible. John 15 tells us that apart from God we can do nothing.

He then seeks to change our character, followed by our relationships with others and ultimately our destiny - both short term and long term.

For those who plug into Him, there waits an eternity with Him after death. There isn’t a long-term plan longer than that!  He also changes our short-term destiny. Rather than just survive life and eke out a living, we are invited to change the world by partnering with Him. 

In 1983, Steve Jobs was trying to lure CEO John Scully away from Pepsi to come run Apple. Scully resisted Jobs’ overtures, citing his lack of experience in technology. Finally, Jobs asked, “Do you want spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do want to change the world?”

You can change your world by discovering the Real You! You were created to have relationship with God and be a change agent. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Those Things That Only You Can Do

by Andrew Cromwell

Recently I was reminded that of all the things that I do in my life, there are only a few things that I and only I can do. No one else can do these things for me. In virtually every other area of my life, I am replaceable — but not in these few things. No one can "step in" for me in these areas.

Wayne Cordeiro calls these areas the "last 5%". This is true for all of us. He breaks it down like this:

Eighty percent of what you do, anyone can do — answer the phone, check your email, take notes at the meeting, fill out reports, etc.

Fifteen percent of what you do, anyone with some basic skills can do — run your software program, deal with clients, operate specific machinery, etc.

But the last five percent, no one else can do — be your spouse's mate, be your children's mother or father, build your relationship with God, etc.

This last five percent is what is truly worth our time. The other things might be good, but these things are great. These things are worth investing your life in.

Only you can grow spiritually. Only you can open your heart to Jesus Christ. You are responsible to shepherd and guard your own heart. 1 Timothy 4:7 says, "discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness." No one else holds our spiritual future in their hands. You are the one who decides whether to follow God with all of your heart, or just with your spare time. This is the one thing that can truly set all of your life in order and put you on the road to great success.

Only you can keep yourself motivated to obey God and to seek Him. The bottom line is that you alone are responsible to bring motivation to the table. You must keep yourself motivated by keeping your eyes on the prize and your heart full of hope. The circumstances of life are are always waging war against your belief that life can be better and that God is faithful. In the Old Testament we read that "David encouraged himself in the Lord" (1 Samuel 30:6). Sometimes we have to stare the ugly facts of life straight in the face and decide that instead of allowing those things to discourage, destroy or distract us, we instead will encourage ourselves. We will choose to remember that God is greater than any circumstance and that He is always faithful.

Only you can love your family as their father, mother, husband or wife. No one else but you can play this role as well as you. You are responsible to play the role in your home that God has created for you. If you are anything like me, far to often you find yourself spending time on things that take you away from being the best you can be for your family. Instead of putting your family as the priority, they get put on the back burner. But if you cho0se to embrace this important role, then you will discover that the investment pays incredible dividends.

Time is short in life. We have to decide where to invest it. There are many great things to do, but there are only a few things that only you can do. Choose to do these things and you will never regret it.

This weekend, why don't you grab your family and head to church? The pastors of Kings County would love the opportunity to encourage you to invest your five percent in the best way possible.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


by Tim Howard 

Three weeks ago my grandson’s kindergarten teacher contacted me about his recent behavior. She said he has been so busy critiquing everybody else and pointing out his or her faults that he has lost sight of his own shortcomings.

I was instantly reminded of Jesus when he taught the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 7. He said: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

Those words were spoken in the context of a discussion about judging people for what they do or what they don’t do. Jesus simply said don’t do that! Matt. 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged…” Ultimately, that’s what the teacher told my grandson. Stop doing that - focus on yourself first.

The desire to judge people starts early in life and I’m convinced we’re all susceptible to the temptation. We like to put people in their place before putting ourselves in their place. Someone said: “Never judge a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes.”

If you are going to judge anybody, however, start with yourself!  Matt. 7:5 “… first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” We tend to focus on the foibles, faults and failures of others before we clean up our own act. Maybe that reveals how highly we view ourselves and how lowly we view others. Maybe our thoughts say: If they were just like us then the world would be a better place. Really?

Maybe, just maybe the best idea is to let God do the Judging. After all, He is the only one who sees clearly. He sees the past, present and future. He not only looks on the exterior of mankind but inside where the motives and attitudes reside. The Bible says He is the only one qualified to bring all mankind into accountability when everything comes to an end. Further more, Jesus didn’t come to judge but to rescue those who call out to him. John 3:17-18.  You will win the favor of a lot more people if you try to help them rather than hurl your opinions at them with a derogatory attitude.

Jesus didn’t mean we should not draw conclusions or evaluate things around us. We must make judgments between good and bad; right and wrong as well as what is good and best. The person who believes all he or she hears and accepts everyone who claims to be true will experience confusion and great loss. They must make judgments. They don’t, however, have to be judgmental and that’s at the crux of this teaching found in Matthew 7.

Being judgmental is to point out something that is wrong in someone else’s life, making the person feel put down, excluded and marginalized. When your tone becomes condemning and condescending the door to being judgmental has opened. If you equate your personal preferences with God’s truth and add your opinions to God’s word, you have a recipe for a good batch of judgment that’s gone astray.

If you want to live at peace with others, take the words of Jesus to heart. 
Use this as a rule of thumb: Judge things but let God judge people!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Winning Entry

by Andrew Cromwell

Sometime last month an 81 year old lady walked into a store and purchased an ice cream and a lottery ticket. Little did she know that she held a winning ticket worth $336 million—after all, the odds of winning the jackpot were 1 in 175,000,000. And yet, somehow, against impossible odds, her entry won the day. The day she bought the ticket was a day that changed everything for one little old lady from Rhode Island—and she didn’t even know it until weeks later.

This weekend, the Christian church all over the world celebrates Palm Sunday. It is the day recounted in Matthew chapter 21, when Jesus (who had been traveling through the countryside as was His custom), returned to Jerusalem. In most Bibles, the heading over that section reads “The Triumphal Entry.”

On the outskirts of the city, Jesus had His disciples bring him a young donkey and they laid their cloaks on the animal’s back to form a makeshift saddle for Him. As He began to ride through the city gates, crowds of people who had heard of the great teacher’s arrival began to form and line the streets along his path. There was a buzz of intense anticipation. Some wanted to get a glimpse of this teacher that, according to the stories, was not only a very wise man, but who healed the blind and the lame. Others had sat with him on the hillside as He taught them the principles of the Kingdom of God. Still others had been there when he brought the dead man Lazarus back to life.

Suddenly and spontaneously, people began cutting branches from nearby palm trees and they lined the road before Jesus with them. Others couldn’t find palms, so they took off their jackets and spread them out so that the feet of the colt would not touch the ground. The crowd began to shout, “Hosanna” which today would be, “Long live the King!” As He passed by, many fell in behind Him and began to march along shouting at the top of their lungs, “This is the prophet Jesus who is worthy of our praise!”

We don’t know how long this time of celebration went on, but it is clear that it was an entry fit for a King. Little did the crowd know, that day would change everything. By entering into Jerusalem at precisely that moment, exactly one week before the Jewish Passover celebration—a holiday where they remembered God had spared them from the Angel of Death—Jesus had set into motion a series of events that would change the very course of history.

In a matter of days, the same crowds who had celebrated His entry and proclaimed His Kingship, would cry out for His death. In a matter of days, He would be humiliated, whipped, beaten and crucified on a cross. And in a matter of days, the power of the Angel of Death would be crushed forever. And they didn’t even know it.

What do you know about Jesus? This Palm Sunday, why don’t you gather your family and attend services at one of the churches in Kings County? You just might discover that Jesus is better than even the biggest winning lottery ticket you could ever buy.