Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Midnight Cry

by Tim Howard

When I was a small boy I hated naps with a passion.  My mother – on the other hand – loved naps. I think it was because she needed a break from me. If the truth were known, it may have been her favorite time of the day!  

I recall one afternoon waking up from one of those naps and within a few minutes my mom told me to go back to bed. She said, emphatically, you have a ‘B.A.’ Curious as to why and what that meant, I asked for a reason (in a demanding tone) and she said, “Because you got up on the wrong side of the bed.”  At my young age – that didn’t make sense to me but I soon learned she wasn’t talking about the actual side of the bed nor a Bachelor of Arts degree from some college.  Those letters stood for:  BAD ATTITUDE.

A person’s attitude is connected to his or her focus and perception of life.  The reaction or response to the current circumstances only reveals the perception of life and the attitude that is within that person.  One man calls it the ‘Squeeze’ principle.  The pressures of life that squeeze in upon you – do not create the attitude – just reveal it.  The question is: What comes out of you when you are squeezed?

In Acts 16:22-25 of the Bible, Paul and Silas had a challenging day.  They were being squeezed!  They had been preaching the Gospel in Philippi and the crowd didn’t like what was being said.  Both men were ultimately beaten, flogged and thrown into prison.  About midnight, “Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and praising Him as the other prisoners were listening to them.” 

As I read that narrative recently I stopped and asked myself – Isn’t there something wrong with this picture?  They have been stripped, flogged, imprisoned, put in stocks, and now they’re singing.  What’s going on here?  You might expect this verse to read that Paul and Silas were having a pity party and complaining at midnight or they were blaming God and others for there current dilemma. 

Nothing is wrong with this scenario, however.  These two men simply focused on God through praise and singing and didn’t perceive this to be a major setback. They viewed it as an opportunity where other prisoners could be influenced in a positive way. 

The prisoners listened intently to these two men and were impacted greatly because people with a positive attitude in the midst of dark times – Stand out!

Believe it or not – people are watching you -  when you’re in the midnight hours of life more than any other times! Here’s a truth to remember:  ‘The opportunity to have great impact on a person’s life will often come at the time of great pain.’ 

Maybe you’re in a midnight crisis right now.  How are you handling it?  Are you like all the other prisoners, or is Jesus  giving you the grace to sing when you would otherwise choose to sulk? God can change a Bad Attitude into a Positive Attitude but you may need to go back to bed, call out to Him and start the day over again. 

Someone once said: “Your attitude will determine your altitude.” If that’s true - Make sure you don’t leave home unless you get up on the right side of bed.

By the way… I have learned to love naps.  I wish I could take one each and every day – but can’t!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Kid's Spell Love - TIME

by Roger Watson

This is a chapter title from Zig Ziglar’s book Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World.  The lazy-hazy days of summer may afford your kids with ample extra time for fun and adventure, but it doesn’t add extra hours to most parent’s calendars.My children are grown adults but I remember working full time and attending graduate school when they were young. It seemed like every spare moment was working to provide a living or studying to enhance our future.  I did not have time to invest hours of undivided attention toward them.  It did not mean my love was lacking, it meant I was busy. Can you identify with this challenge in your life?

My definition of love involves making every effort to put the needs of others above your own. Not in place of your needs, but thinking of the other person’s needs first.  In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi he gives some sound advice, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Kids do need our time but they also have other needs that we must be aware of.

Let me give three suggestions that may help in your attempts to love your children and meet their needs:

1) Know the needs at their developmental stage. Pre-schoolers need consistency from their family to build trust, and must be given opportunities to try out their developing skills at their own pace; Elementary children must be allowed to take initiative and be praised for accomplishments they are achieving; Teenagers and Young adults are trying to discover their own identity and develop intimacy. This is not a stage for parents to neglect or fear, it’s a time you get to be a coach in their lives.  They need your active involvement.

2) Affirm their perspectives. Children of all ages need to know that their opinion matters. Find ways to validate their insights. When my children were in grade school I let them plan the vacation route we took from Hanford, CA to Spearfish, S.D. and back. It was the best road trip we ever took as a family. The action communicated their opinion mattered. And finally,

3) Verbally bless their God-given talents and abilities. Proverbs 18:21 says that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Yelling at or constantly criticizing the inconveniences your children may be creating has a way of crushing their spirit and destroying their self-esteem. Investing in their talents and highlighting their strengths 
will produce dividends of joy and delight for years to come.  

So while you are trying to find those extra minutes to invest in your children to show your love, focus your energy into areas of need in their lives and make the most out of the time you do have.  And have a great summer, you need it!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Divine Appointments

by Tim Howard

Have you ever been on your way to a specific location, with a specific goal in mind and a set agenda – when you meet someone who alters those plans?

This happens to me often. If I’m going to a store for an item my wife sent me to purchase or simply shopping for something I need – it’s not uncommon for someone to say ‘Hello and then ask: “Do you have a minute to talk?” (That ‘minute’ usually turns into many minutes) In my chosen vocation these encounters are recurring occurrences that happen without notice and frequently.

There was a time when I perceived these encounters to
be intrusions and interruptions to my pre-planned schedule but I have learned that on many occasions – they are Divine Appointments.

Divine appointments impact a person’s life and influence them in a significant way. God sets up divine appointments and they always have a purpose.

They can happen at church – In a coffee shop – On a college campus – In a mall or virtually anywhere.  You definitely don’t want to miss a divine appointment but you can if you have no margins in your life.

Not only does God arrange these appointments with others – He wants to have a Divine Appointment with you. Revelation 3 tells us that He is knocking on the door and wants to talk.

I can remember times when my boss would knock on my door and ask me to step into his office – to have a talk.  I feared the encounter because I assumed the worst.  

Some people may experience that feeling when someone says to them: “ God wants to speak with you.” They may wonder:  Why would the Creator of the world want to speak with me?  Am I in trouble?  Did I do something wrong?  What does He want to correct?

Let me assure you - His main desire for setting a daily appointment with you is to express His love and to help you navigate life’s journey.  That’s why I encourage you to accept His invitation and keep your appointment with Him.  All you need to do is show up!

God wants to set regular appointments with you and orchestrate divine chance encounters for you to meet with others. There is someone He wants you to help, a person who has some important part to play in your life. Make people your priority.

Making and taking time for people can be difficult. Especially if a person has a full schedule – lots of plans – goals set in cement and a personality that resists change. I’m not suggesting we do away with our plans but simply make room for adjustments.  

Some of the greatest things to happen in your life and some of the greatest encounters you are yet to experience will happen outside your ‘plan.’ They will not take place because you plot a wonderful course to follow but because you were willing to alter your plans and follow the lead of the one who knows what is important.

Prov. 19:21 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”

My suggestion: Don’t schedule your day so tightly that there’s no room for God to insert an unexpected opportunity to touch someone’s life or experience something out of the ordinary. Those unscheduled and unplanned happenings may open a door to a divine visitation.

Saturday, June 4, 2016


by Andrew Cromwell

You get what you expect. I know that’s not always true. Like you, I’ve been disappointed plenty of times when I expected one thing and got another. I expected a great steak and instead I got shoe-leather. I expected perfect weather and got rain. I expected to win and I lost.

But there is something powerful about expectation and we all realize it. I have heard it described like an energy that is sent out and draws that which is expected back toward you. I don’t think that is exactly how it works, but I have seen my expectations influence people. I can see my expectation affect my kids. When I expect them to succeed and they know it, they try harder and succeed more often. When I expect them to fail, they barely even try.

When our outlook on life is one of positive expectation, things often turn out positively. But when we have a negative expectation, I can guarantee you, we will find something to meet it. When I go to Wal-mart I tend to drive right to the front and look for parking spots close by. Probably 80% of the time I find one. My expectation is that I am going to find a spot. But if my expectation is that there probably will be no spots, then I don’t even bother driving up front because “there won’t be a spot anyway.”

It is a choice to view the world in a positive way. Pollyana said it well when she said, “If you look for the good in people, you will surely find it.” Those with positive expectation can always find something good in every situation and in every person.

Now, I think this is the way that everyone should live. The world would be a better place. As a pastor, I believe this is the way that God wants us to live. Because He created the world and made it good, we should expect that we will see good in it. And because He created human beings in His image, we know that we can always find something redeemable in everyone.

Romans 8:28 says that God works all things together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. This means that if you are a follower of Christ, then the Father will work everything out in your favor. You can’t lose. Even when you lose, you can’t lose! Talk about a positive expectation!

So if life has beat you up, you need to know that God has a plan for you and that He wants to work things out in your favor. All you have to do is cooperate with Him. You need to put yourself in a position where He is on your side. If you’re far from God today, it’s an easy fix, come into His corner and let Him go to work for you. He has good things in store!