Thursday, January 30, 2014

Go Climb a Tree

by Tim Howard

There’s one story in the Bible that catches my attention whenever I read it. It’s found In Luke 19 and says: As Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through, a man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house…”

Zacchaeus was a disliked man because he was a high-ranking tax collector. These people were known for their shrewd ways and hated for their dishonest gain. This man, however, was a go-getter. He wanted something and therefore made every effort to obtain it. Maybe that’s why he was wealthy. He was a problem solver and wouldn’t succumb to a challenge. Yes he was short but where there is a will there is a way. He found a tree and climbed it – Problem solved! We need more people like Zacchaeus.

Two things happened in this man that happens to all those who are truly seeking to see Jesus.

When he saw Jesus, he began to view life differently. Some people don’t see Jesus at all due to various distractions or the cares of life keep them busy and unfocused. Others do see Jesus but only as a historical teacher – a symbol of good or a person worthy of study like Mother Theresa. When, however, you see the real Jesus, you start viewing life differently. Zacchaeus gleaned a new perspective because he was willing to change his position. Perspective is important because it not only determines what you see but in turn determines the lifestyle you choose.

The second thing that transpired is seen in his decision. He chose a new lifestyle.
When he saw Jesus and discovered he didn’t hate Him like so many others did  – his motivation to change catapulted him into a new way of living. A lifestyle based on selflessness rather than selfishness, a lifestyle of fairness rather than favoritism and a lifestyle of giving rather than taking. Jesus caused change!

Has your perspective on life become narrow-minded? Are you more and more set in your ways, resistant to see things from a broader perspective? Does your lifestyle focus more on you and yours rather than others? Is it more about getting for you than it is about giving?

If so, I would suggest a change in your position because you won’t get a new perspective sitting in the same place, doing the same things and thinking the same thoughts. Talk to someone who has had a real encounter with Jesus or gather with one of the many church families in Kings County this weekend for a better glimpse of Jesus.

If that doesn’t work out, you might consider climbing a tree. Jesus will pass your way if you’re really seeking to see Him.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Investing Time

by Andrew Cromwell

I am convinced there are only two things we take with us into the afterlife: who we are and the relationships we have built. No one gets to take anything else—no cars, houses, money or clothes go with you. Your job is not going with you. Nor is your favorite reality TV shows (sorry the Kardashians aren’t going with you, neither are the guys from Duck Dynasty). Oh, and your cell phone’s not going with you either.

And yet we spend much of our time on these things and treat them as if they are eternal friends that will carry us upon their shoulders into that far country. They are our constant companions, entertainers and money drainers. We invest in them each day and if someone were going to determine what was important in our lives by how we spend our time and money, they might come to the conclusion that screens and wheels were it.

No one sets out to spend more time with reality TV then with real people. And no one decides that their Harley is going to be more important than their children. It just happens little by little.

It’s not that these things are bad in of themselves, but when they become the focus of our lives, then I think it is fair to say we need to readjust our priorities.

How we spend our time is a lot like a long-term investment strategy. With investing for Retirement, a little bit each month over a lifetime equals an account that pays dividends and offers security. But if you forget to invest, or if you invest in the wrong things—say CDs or DVDs or aftermarket stereo equipment—then you are not going to end up collecting much in the way of dividends when you really need them.

How much are you investing in your relationships? Are you picking up your phone or turning on the TV or even heading out to work on the favorite hobby, when you should be talking to your spouse or your kids? Are you doing the daily work of building up the people around you? 

At the end of our life, if we put our investments in the right places, we just might discover that we are surrounded by smiling faces and, if we’re fortunate, we get to spend time in heaven with them too!

Thursday, January 16, 2014


by Tim Howard

The gift of memory is wonderful – Especially ‘selective’ memory! 

Calling to mind the past can bring tremendous joy and help you recover from darkness and depression. Jeremiah in the book of Lamentations tells us how he was freed from depression – He recalled the goodness of the Lord in times past.

We all forget things occasionally and forgetfulness affects you on some level depending on what it is you have forgotten. I frequently forget where I put my keys and that results in frustration. I have missed some important appointments, which caused embarrassment and one time I forget my tickets to enter an event. 

If you read Psalms 106 you will encounter a people who forgot God’s goodness. Then they forgot all His good works and ultimately they forgot to involve God in their lives. When this happens life is drastically altered.

Of course there are certain things you ought to put out of your mind and cease to focus upon but other things you must not forget. The Apostle Peter nearing death knew the importance of remembrance and says: 2Pet. 1:12-15 “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body because I know that I will soon put it aside as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. 

Someone said: “We need to learn something new less than we need to be reminded of what we’ve forgotten. 

Here are a few humorous reminders I’ve read over the years.

Remember: The only consistent feature of all your dysfunctional relationships is you.

Remember: When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there's no end to what you CAN’T do.

Don’t forget: Education is what you get when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don’t.

Here are five significant reminders that might be helpful for you to remember as you walk out 2014.

1. What gets your attention ultimately gets you. 

Since this is true, the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4 tells us to focus on What’s true, noble, pure, positive etc… Your success and fruitfulness in 2014 will largely depend upon what you focus on. 

2. Even though you may be ‘IN’ pain, you don’t have to be ’A’ pain. 

All of us encounter some form of turmoil and pain but we don’t have to let it create a bad attitude. When this happens you become an odor and not a fragrance to others. 

3. You can give without love but you cannot love and not give. 

Therefore, make sure your giving isn’t based on pressure or guilt but love. Paul says: Cor. 13:3 “If I give all I possess to the poor…that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

4. The smallest act of obedience is better then the best of intentions!

5. What’s right isn’t always popular and what’s popular isn’t always right! 

Remembrances come in many forms. Don’t forget the important things of life!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Year, New Chance

by Andrew Cromwell

As the calendar turns, we once again wrestle with the realization of how little we’ve changed over the last twelve months. The year passed so quickly. Resolutions that we made with dedicated resolve at the beginning of the year were quickly discarded as we found the rut of our routine too comfortable and familiar.

And now we find ourselves at the beginning of a new year and we are tempted to give up even before we have started. We wonder, is there really any point? Can I, in fact, change? Or will 2014, simply be a repeat of 2013?

Let me encourage you not to give up too soon! Change isn't easy and quitters never win. Just because you have failed in the past, does not mean you must fail in the future. I love the Bible verse in Proverbs that says, "the godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again" (Prov. 24:16). The difference between failure and success is often simply the decision to get up one more time and try again.

The best news of all is that you do not have to undertake your New Year's resolutions all by yourself, if you will simply invite our Heavenly Father to be involved in the process. After all, He wants you to grow and change! He knows what great things are possible in and through you because He created you for greatness in the first place.

So what resolutions do you need to invite Him to be a part of this year? Maybe you have some dirty laundry you need to give up to Him instead of carrying it forward. Perhaps you need to make a few phone calls, ask forgiveness and mend those broken relationships. Or maybe you need to change some old routines and exchange them for new ones. Sometimes we have done things for so long, we just assume that we must do them, but maybe it’s time to give up some of the old patterns of behavior.

One of the best things you can do is be around people who have resolved to grow and change. If all your friends are resolved to stay the same and to keep you there too, it might just be time to get some new friends.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bobble Head

by Tim Howard

Do you remember the ‘Bobble Head’ figures that some people put in the back window of their cars? As the automobile moved down the highway, the body of the little figure would remain stable while the head would bobble back and forth. Well, they’re making a comeback… Just check out Duck Dynasty or America’s Funniest Video.

If you aren’t careful, you can live your life like a Bobble Head. You can move through the days, weeks, months and even years without focusing on anything while looking at everything. If you want to develop a shallow and superficial life then keep on doing that. Look at everything but don’t focus on anything.

King David said in Psalms 103:  “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.” He was committed to looking straight ahead and maintaining focus.

At a certain age many people notice a change happening in their vision. To correct their problem and see clearly they often need to embrace glasses. Whether you are old or young, however, the need to see life and maintain a clear focus is extremely important, especially at the beginning of a new year like 2014. What you focus on will direct your steps. Someone said: “ What gets your attention will ultimately get you.”

Without focus you will spend endless amounts of energy engaging in things that are very unproductive.  Your schedule will be busy but progress will be minimal.

Paul the Apostle described his focus this way in Phil 3:12-16 “ …I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus.  I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.  So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us.”

As 2014 has already commenced, you’ll benefit greatly if you set your sights on those things that are worthy of your attention. Like David, Paul the Apostle focused his attention on becoming all he was created to be.  He knew God had a plan for him and he was committed to fulfilling it.  It was the focal point of his life and in so doing; he developed a deep, stable and satisfying life.  If it happened for Paul, it can happen for you too.

 Here are 5 things the Bible tells us to look at and focus on:

1.     Look to Jesus for your help and strength. When times are difficult, keep your eyes focused on Jesus.

2.     Look for people to help. God has gifted you with talents, abilities and resources for the purpose of assisting others. You are created for a purpose and when you help someone in need, you are fulfilled.

3.     Look at what a person can be rather than what they are right now. It will free them and help you maintain a right attitude.

4.     Look at what you have rather than what you don’t have. It will create a spirit of gratitude and dispel negativism.

5.     Look for the good and not just the bad. There’s an abundance of both so don’t forget – there’s always a sun behind the clouds.

The effect of 2014 will largely be determined by what you choose to focus on so take the words of David and Paul as words of instruction and don’t focus on anything that is worthless. Don’t be a Bobble Head.