Saturday, May 19, 2012

Run to Win

by Tim Howard

1Corinthians 9:24 … “You must run to win.” No one plans to fail but it happens! Have you ever heard a high school student say they hope they fail the final exam? A young couple that hopes their marriage ends in divorce or a business owner who tries to go into bankruptcy? No one has. It’s ludicrous, absurd and unheard of. We all want to win!

When Joshua ordered the Israeli military forces to conquer a city called Ai, they failed in their attempt. The odds were stacked in their favor. They outnumbered the city 10 to 1 and had valiant warriors. They had great skill, a proven strategy and a history of success. No one would have bet on Ai but Israel failed and it cost them. Approx 35 to 40 men lost their lives in that battle. It’s recorded in Joshua Chapter 7.

If 35 to 40 men and women were killed in Iraq or Afghanistan today it would be of national interest. Someone would be asking the tough questions. There are reasons behind every failure.

Among other things, Joshua failed because he acted upon bad advice. The details are recorded in Joshua 7. He was told the city was puny and the number of solders was inconsequential. Therefore don’t send all the warriors. Send only a small percentage. 

Lesson One! Whenever you put out minimum effort you set yourself up for failure. You must give it your ALL in everything you do: business, marriage, family, relationships or education. Don’t listen to the voices that say you can get along by giving the least. You ‘may’ fail even after you give it your all but you ‘will’ fail if you invest only the minimum.

Lesson Two: You must listen to people but also discern between good and bad advice.

Who should you listen to?  
1. Listen to people who disagree with you. That’s hard because people who disagree with us tend to make us mad, especially if they have an irritating manner. Think about it though: If the only people you ever listen to are the ones who agree with you - your mind will never be stretched - your actions will never be challenged - and your course will never be altered - even though it might need to be.
2. Listen to those who love you. They have your best interest in mind. 
3. Listen to people who have demonstrated a pattern of wisdom. 
4 Listen to people who know God and love his Word.

God’s Word will give the wisdom needed to help you discern between good and bad advice.  At some point you must receive or reject the advice coming your way. There are a myriad of opinions on every subject and you must sort through them. Discernment happens when you seek God’s opinion more than the human consensus.

When you do fail however, what can you do? These suggestions might help.
1. Don’t react but respond. Failure doesn’t have to be final.
2. Don’t blame God or anyone else for the failures you experience. Joshua did the right thing by going to God immediately but did the wrong thing by blaming him for the failure.
3. Don’t beat yourself up but look up to God for forgiveness.
4. Get to the root cause and deal with it.
5. Don’t focus on what has been done but focus on what can be done now.

If you have failed, you are in good company. We all have! But you must get up and start running again. Run to Win!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Power of a Mom

by Andrew Cromwell

There is no doubt in my mind that one of the most powerful influences in anyone’s life is their mom. Mom’s are the first to comfort us when we leave the cocoon of the womb and enter into this cold and noisy world. They are the only one that could really make us feel better when we scraped our knee or knocked our head. Just last night, my six year old woke up crying and this dad was powerless to soothe his tears, but a few hugs from mom and he was just fine.

Mom’s are our biggest fans and they encourage us to keep trying and not give up when all we want to do is quit. They believe in us when it seems that no one else will. And, when they need to, they give us a swift kick in the behind or a choice word that lets us know that we need to toe the line and do what is right.

A world without moms would be a darker, harsher place full of sharp angles and people who always keep us at an arm’s length. Thank God we live in a world where we can still make mom smile with a little glue and dried macaroni.

So we salute moms everywhere this weekend - those amazing women who do more in a day than any man could ever hope to even understand. Those multi-tasking marvels who juggle the house, the job, the homework, the dinner and the husband — and make it look easy. Those underappreciated giants that live among us and without whom the world would literally fall apart.

And to my mom - who taught me how to find God’s presence wherever I am, how to see the world with eyes of possibility and how to appreciate a good piece of chocolate.  I love you mom!

I love what Proverbs 31 says about a good mom: Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,but you surpass them all!”

The pastors in Kings County will be recognizing moms this weekend, why don’t you make sure to take that special mom in your life and make her heart happy by getting the family together and going to church!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Go According to Plan

by Tim Howard
I’ve appreciated Acts 17:24-29 for many years because it teaches us that God has a plan for us. He doesn’t plan as he goes but goes according to his plan.
Acts 17: 24-29, "The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn't live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn't take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don't make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark. We can actually find him. He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him! One of your poets said it well: 'We're the God-created.' Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn't make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it? MSG
God can’t be contained in any church facility. No matter how beautiful or architecturally unique, God is bigger than buildings. David said it well in Psalms 50 when he declared God is greater than the universe! That’s why he challenges his people to go beyond the walls. Reach out to the neighborhood. Help the community. Invest in the future of our nation. Touch every people group with God’s love.
His plan for you involves more than gathering together on Sunday or one specific day of a week to talk about him. His plan is to use you as a resource for helping solve the pressing challenges of our day. 
Notice that God doesn’t need you, as if he can’t take care of things himself. He involves you in his plan because your fulfillment in this life is connected to your fulfilling your purpose. Many try to find fulfillment through pleasure but God reveals it is only found when we understand our purpose and his plan for our lives. Wise is the person who does what God directs.
Nike’s highly recognized trademark is “Just Do It” but in order to do God’s will and fulfill the purpose we must first ‘see’ it.
You may be familiar with the consummate passage on vision: “Where there is no vision the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18; KJV) Both the NKJV and the NIV use the word “revelation” in place of “vision” and the words “cast off restraint” in place of “perish”. Whatever words you use the conclusion is the same. Serious consequences follow those who don’t see (vision) what God sees and then act upon it.
Some consequences are spiritual lethargy, relational confusion, rampant carnality, and stagnant growth or declining zeal with regards to life. We tend to merely survive rather than thrive.
People need a vision but that vision must be revelatory in nature and given by God rather than acquired by methodology. Vision isn’t just seeing out ahead, it also sees or knows what to do with what is seen ahead. 
What is your purpose? If you left town, would anybody notice? Do you have a plan to reach the goals God has established for you? Do you see how important you are to those who need what you have to give? It’s well worth the effort to discover your design and destiny. There is great reward for you and others when you fulfill your purpose.