Saturday, July 28, 2012

What's Your Perspective?

by Tim Howard

Have you ever witnessed something with several other people present and when asked about the event, everyone shared a different perspective? It’s amazing to me how several people can experience the same thing and yet have several unique interpretations. How two children can be brought up in the same household with the same parents at the same time and develop such different philosophies of life is very intriguing.

There was a time in history when a man named Moses sent 12 of his military personal out on a reconnaissance mission. It’s recorded in the book of Numbers Chapter 13. They were given these instructions: “Go through the desert and into the hill country. See what the land is like and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? Do their towns have walls or are they unprotected?

The purpose of this exploration was to help the Israelites develop a strategy for acquiring that territory since God had given it to them as their inheritance. Here’s the report they gave to Moses.

“We arrived in the land you sent us to see, and it is a magnificent country but the people living there are powerful, and their cities and towns are fortified. We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are! We even saw giants. We felt like grasshoppers next to them, and that’s what we looked like to them!” But Caleb tried to encourage the people along with Joshua as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” 

Twelve different people and two very different perspectives! Ten saw things in a very negative way and only Joshua and Caleb saw things in a positive light.

In my early years of life and even into my mid thirties, I was an extremely negative person. If someone came up with an idea or a suggestion, I could give 10 reasons why it wouldn’t work. I was so good at being negative; I thought I had a special gift! My philosophy was simple: expect the worst and you won’t be disappointed. This philosophy seems to guarantee a certain level of stability but it also keeps you from experiencing a whole lot of joy.

A pessimist has a tendency to see the worst rather than the best and this is witnessed by the way they talk. Everything is negative!

If you have a negative perspective, you may need to change your position. When standing on the ground, things can look overwhelming and intimidating but when you get into a plane and fly a few thousand feet above land things look a lot smaller. You gain a new perspective by simply changing your position. 

If you know God, Ephesians 2:6 says: “you are positioned in the heavenly realm with him.” High above all things!  In other words, you can see with God’s eyes. He has a greater vantage point and a much broader view. The Israelites would have done better had they put their faith in God and viewed things through his eyes rather than their own. 

When you try to see God through the myriad of problems you encounter rather than seeing your problems through God’s eyes your perspective becomes skewed. If you tend to see things in a negative light, it might be time to put your faith in God and get some new ‘spiritual glasses.’ It will be amazing how your perspective will change. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Keep On Keeping On

by Andrew Cromwell

We’ve all seen the cartoonish depiction of the frog who is choking the neck of the stork even while he is being swallowed whole. The caption reads “Never Give Up.” There is something about that image that speaks to us because we frequently need to be reminded to keep fighting and never quit.

Life is difficult. I’m not saying that it doesn’t have its wonderful moments, but because we live in a fallen world, death, disappointment and disease are part of our reality. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way we think they should. Sometimes that job doesn’t work out. Sometimes people let us down (or we let them down). And sometimes tragedy strikes.

But have you noticed that there are some people who just keep floating to the top? Life might throw them in the drink again and again, yet they find a way to float back up and start again. I believe it is these people, more often than not, that in the end are the winners in life. They have learned the secret of not giving up. If life deals them a bad hand, they take the blow, shake it off and get up and move on again.

Too many people quit too early. They get discouraged—and we all understand why—because the wait is too long or the pain too intense or the cost is too high. But when you quit you take yourself out of the race and only the ones who stay in win the medals.

There is an interesting passage in the book of Ephesians where the Apostle Paul talks about the battle of life. He says, “and when you have done all else, stand.” Listen, sometimes you have done all the work, you have paid all the bills, you have talked to the right people and you have put in the time—but you are still not seeing the victory. That is not the moment to give up, that is the moment to stand. Don’t sit down and don’t turn your back or walk away. Keep on keeping on.

What is it that you are tempted to give up on right now in your life? The dream of your college degree? The beauty of a love-filled marriage? The joy of a significant relationship with your kids? Success at your work? Don’t give up just yet! Keep pressing, keep trying, keep working—victory is around the corner!

The best news is that Father God wants to see you find victory as well, and the greatest joy is discovering that true success can only be found through and in Him. The pastors of Kings County would love to encourage you and your family to keep on keeping on this weekend. Why don’t you visit one of the many wonderful churches in our community....don’t give up just yet!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

In Due Season

by Tim Howard

I was brought up in Maine, a state that offers four distinct seasons. While talking with a person who visited this state recently for the first time, I was told he was thinking about relocating to Bar Harbor, Maine. My council to him was simple. Don’t make any decisions until you have experienced all the seasons. Each one is totally different than the ones we experience here in Hanford.

I have my favorite season and possibly you do as well. God, however, is the creator of every season and there’s something positive about each one.  Maybe he gave four seasons for our pleasure or possibly to afford us some variety. But one thing is sure, He uses each season of our lives to develop character and make us more like him.  

“But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be people who are perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.” —JAMES 1:4 

James encourages us to patiently walk through every season of life. Don’t be in a hurry to move on. Enjoy and even endure if necessary where you are currently planted because God is at work in you! When you are working on something - That something is working on you!

Things happen in “Due Season.” Note, It’s God’s season, not ours. We are in a hurry; God isn’t. He takes time to do things right—He lays a solid foundation before He attempts to build a building and we are God’s building under construction. He is the Master Builder, and He knows what He is doing. We may not know what’s happening, but He does, and that will have to be good enough. 

Some seasons are more difficult than others but all seasons are significant and play an important role in our overall development. Paul tells us: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time (in due season) we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 

In order to bring forth fruit you will need to plant, cultivate, water and work. Some blood, sweat and tears will be required. These seasons are not necessarily fun or as glamorous as the fruit-bearing season but without them, there will be NO fruit. 

David gives a promise to those who put God first and choose to follow him closely in every season of their lives. “They will be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit ‘in season’ and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he or she does prospers.” Psalms 1:3

What season of life are you in right now? Is it a season of new beginnings? Exhausting labor? Great difficulty? Tremendous fruitfulness? Abundant Joy? Whatever season of life defines your current situation, one fact remains true. A new season is on the horizon!

Learn to relax in the current season. Even as you change from sweaters to short sleeve shirts for the summer heat, adjust your thinking to enjoy your present circumstances. 

Rather than asking God to deliver you ‘from’ the season, ask him to deliver ‘to’ you the necessary tools to make this season fruitful. If you do, you will Bloom Where You Are Planted. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lay It On The Line

by Andrew Cromwell

It seems a strange paradox to humans that when we seek to be happy, we rarely find happiness, but when we seek to bring happiness to others, we find it ourselves. Life is full of such upside-down realities. A well-known author said, “When I was young I used to try and be an interesting person, then someone told me to stop trying so hard and just start being interested in others.”

The thread common to both being happy and being interesting is the focus on others. Albert Einstein said, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” There is something about getting outside of the continual focus we have on ourselves that makes us bigger and better people. When we begin to ask what we can add to the world rather then ask the world what it can add to us, then we begin to enlarge the very quality of our souls.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends.” If we desire to live a life that is great, if we want to have our life mean something, then we must stop living for ourselves. We must start to live and think differently.

When everyone else is trying to figure out how they can get a raise so they can get a bigger house, car, boat or RV, we need to be thinking about how we can get a raise so we can make a difference in the lives of kids who are hungry and need an education. When everyone else is thinking about how to make themselves look better, we need to be thinking about what we can do to make someone else look better. And when everyone is busy complaining about how bad things are, we need to be rolling up our sleeves and doing something about it.

People who are willing to lay it on the line are people who are willing to be smaller so someone else can be bigger. We spend a lot of time talking about the generation that went to war in the 40’s—we call them “the Greatest Generation”. We talk about them because they sacrificed for others.

The challenge to all of us is that greatness costs. Greatness costs your comfort. Greatness messes up your schedule. Greatness requires blood, sweat and tears. Great parents are willing to put their kids first. Great employees are willing to put their co-workers first. Great friends are willing to put their friend first.

All the world seems to be saying “me first.” But the great ones say, “you first.” What do you say?

The pastors in Kings County would love to help you know more about the one individual who redefined greatness by willingly choosing to die for you and me. Perhaps the road to your own greatness begins with Him?