Saturday, January 26, 2013

Can you See It?

by Tim Howard

If you have every tried to find something in one of those ‘Hidden Object’ games designed for kids you have possibly experienced frustration. These activities are designed to help children search, seek and stretch their investigative potential. The things they look for are not obvious and will not be seen by a casual glance.
Jesus tells us there are some things in life, which are hidden from view but can be discovered if we Ask, Seek and Knock. Matthew 7:7 puts it this way: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. If you are going to discover God in a real way, faith is a major key. 
Faith can be likened to glasses that help you see more clearly. When worn they help you to ask, seek and knock. They open your eyes to see.”
I was impacted recently when I read the narrative found in Mark 2:1-12 because it talked about the faith of four young men who wouldn’t give up. Their faith caused them to see a miracle happen and a tremendous transformation. The one phrase that stood out to me was in verse 5. It says: “Jesus saw their faith!’
People who really believe in something will reveal their beliefs in some visible way. True faith cannot be hidden and if you can’t see someone’s faith in action, it’s not true faith.
These young men revealed 4 qualities of real faith.
1.    Their faith was seen because it was active. Real faith affects your behavior. They believed that Jesus could heal their friend, so they got him to Jesus. Whether it’s faith in a cause, a person, a company or God; real faith will always produce action.
 Allstate Insurance Company recently surveyed Californians in earthquake-prone regions. Sixty-four percent of respondents believe a massive earthquake will hit in three to five years; but only 25% have earthquake insurance. Who really believes?

 2.    Their faith was seen because it was persistent. When the men got to the house and saw the crowd, they were undeterred. They didn’t say “Oh well; we tried. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.” They wouldn’t take no for an answer. They didn’t give up!

 3.    Their faith was seen because it was creative. When the way to Jesus was blocked, they made a new way through the roof! They got creative. People with true faith don’t give up the search until they find a solution.

4.    Their faith was in Jesus. I know that this seems obvious—that their faith was in Jesus. But I point it out because sometimes people mistakenly have faith in faith. When people have faith in faith, everything depends on their faith. “If I just believe enough, it will happen.” Ultimately true faith has to be placed in someone because behind every happening, there is a person responsible. To have faith in the government you must believe in the leaders. To believe in a cause you support, you must have faith in those who are empowered to lead that cause. For these four young men and a host of others including myself, Jesus is that someone! “In God We Trust” is more than a motto on our currency.
People who really believe in something or someone will take action. They will persevere and creatively find a solution. Is your faith showing? Can you see it? 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What Are You Eating?

by Andrew Cromwell

“You are what you eat.” At least that is what we are told. And there is something to the saying of course. As the foods you eat are digested by your body, they are broken down into the basic materials needed to sustain the life of your cells. That hamburger you ate yesterday? Tomorrow it will be in your bicep muscle. That extra serving of dessert? In your butt, gut or thighs. You know how it goes.

One of our greatest challenges in keeping ourselves healthy is eating right. This is particularly difficult when we discover that what we have been eating is actually harming us rather than helping us and we have to change. Suddenly, all of our favorite foods, the foods that give us comfort and the foods that we look forward to at the end of a long day at work are verboten. Everything within us calls out to the 128oz Cherry Coke, the thick slice of extra chocolate double layer cake and the deep fried [you insert your favorite item] goodness that makes it all better.

But for most of those that endure the suffering, say “no” and retrain themselves to eat right, the reward is not only a healthier body but a new appetite. Sure it takes a while, but eventually if you feed yourself the right things for long enough, you actually begin to like them and instead of constantly craving the fat and sugar loaded goodies, your body calls out for fuel that is good and healthy. 
 This is true not only of your appetites for food, but also for everything else we “feed” ourselves in life. Not only do we have a food diet, but we also have an entertainment diet, a family diet and a relationship diet (among many other things).

If we have fed ourselves nothing more than the sugar and salt loaded prime time tv, then we probably will not appreciate the lean and healthy opera or stage play. If we have always feasted on Chuck E. Cheese as our outing with the kids, then going hiking with a picnic seems nearly impossible. If we always give in to gossip about those around us, then we are boared at the prospect of a steady, healthy relationship free of drama. These “higher” foods seem boring and difficult until we dive into them and train ourselves to appreciate them -- only then do we discover that there is a whole other side to life!

This weekend, the pastors of Kings County would love the opportunity to help you develop a new taste for the things of God. Perhaps you have developed a diet that excludes God altogether or simply relegates Him to the place of an occasional appetizer. It might be time to retrain yourself. It might seem strange and difficult at first, but you will soon discover what you have been missing.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Identity Check

by Tim Howard

Identity theft is a major problem and a serious crime.

It happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission. They pretend to be you! It’s a serious crime that can wreak havoc with your finances, credit history, and reputation — and can take time, money, and patience to resolve. I know because it happened to me.

We all have an identity and when we forget or lose track of who we are, the havoc created can go far beyond finances. If I forget I am a husband, if I forget I am a Pastor, if I forget I am a father of two and a grandfather to one, devastating decisions can be made and lasting ramifications experienced.

Our distinctiveness is evidenced in our fingerprints and not merely our names. Our personal DNA speaks about who we are and identifies our uniqueness in the midst of 7 billion people. Failing to understand your identity: ‘who you are’ and your purpose: ‘what you are called to do,’ will result in busyness but no real progress or accomplishment.

King Solomon put it this way in one of his Proverbs: If people can’t see who they are and what God wants them to do, they stumble all over themselves and run in circles. When you know who you are, however, you know what you are to do.

 When people are uncertain of their identity and purpose, they miss out on what God has for them—just ask Moses. Having led the Israelites out of Egypt, he was unable to take them to the next level. Even though he was one of the greatest leaders of his time, he couldn’t take them into the Promised Land, because they weren’t confident in their calling. Rather than seeing themselves as God’s chosen, they decided they were inferior when compared to those currently settled in the land. That uncertainty took the Israelites on a 40-year detour. A lack of identity stalled the establishing of God’s kingdom and the fulfillment of their purpose.
In our culture we tend to seek fulfillment through pleasure. Maybe that’s because we have forgotten the identity of our creator and the purpose to which he has called us. If you seek to find happiness through pleasure, I fear you will sing that old Rolling Stones song: ‘I can’t get no satisfaction.’ For those who have chosen to follow Christ, they are challenged to seek satisfaction through fulfilling their purpose.

God created you and knows you best. His plan for you still remains. You are special to him and He has something significant for you in 2013. He doesn’t want you to miss it.

 A friend of mine showed me something that his new I-phone 5 could do. He pressed a button and then asked this question. “ What is your purpose?” The phone responded by saying:  “I’m here to help. Just ask… and I’ll show you what I can do.” Then my friend asked: “Who created you?” the phone responded,

“I Siri was designed by Apple…”

If this technological machine knows who made her and what her purpose is, how much more must we! Who do you think you are?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Start Little

by Andrew Cromwell

The New Year is upon us.  Tis the season of life resolutions, gift returns and personal reflection.  Every year we collectively decide to join the gym, get back in church and work a little harder.  And that is as it should be, a new year is a wonderful time for a new start.

But a new year can also be a bit overwhelming.  If we are not careful, we start to focus on last year’s failures and all our unfulfilled resolutions.  We become jaded and stop believing that next year can be different.  But it does not have to be so.

Last week I was reflecting on the New Year and I wrote the following:

 Don’t be satisfied with yesterday’s success.
 Don’t be discouraged by today’s failures.
 Don’t be overwhelmed by tomorrow’s challenges.
 Instead, remember that growth happens little by little.

It has been said that we overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a year.  It is not that our new year’s resolutions are too big, rather that our will to whittle away at the goals is too small.  More often then not, we get overwhelmed, even before we begin, and quit.

Remember, new beginnings don’t need to be grandiose, they just need to begin.  Zechariah 4:10 says, “do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” The key to having a wonderful 2013, is to recognize that growth in our life usually happens little by little and to just begin!

I’m reminded of an old phrase that says, “Little is much when God is in it.”  God doesn’t need much, He just needs something to work with.  I am resolving to give Him something to work with in this New Year.  I’m starting small, but I’m starting.

What are you giving Him to work with in 2013?  What new beginning will you start?  Perhaps you need to get back in church?  Maybe you need to rekindle your love for your spouse? Or maybe you need to start chipping away at those educational goals?  Whatever it is, just remember to get started!

So as we enter the New Year, let me remind you that God wants to meet you in a new way in 2013.  He has good things in store for you and wants to release new blessing in your life.  The key is to get moving in the right direction!