Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Animal Test

But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." Mark 10:14-15
The following short quiz consists of 4 questions and will indicate how well you think.
The questions are NOT that difficult.
  1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?
The correct answer is: Open the refrigerators, put in the giraffe, and close the door. This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way
  1. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?
Did you say, "Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close refrigerator"? (Wrong Answer)  Correct Answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and then close the door. This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.
  1. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals in the world attend except one. Which animal does not attend?
Correct Answer: The Elephant. The elephant is still in the refrigerator.  You just put him in there. This tests your memory.
OK, even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly, you still have one more chance to show your true abilities.
  1. There is a river you must cross but it is inhabited by crocodiles. How do you manage to do it?
    Correct Answer: You swim across. Remember? All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Conference called by the lion king. This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.
According to Anderson Consulting Worldwide, around 90% of the business professionals they tested got all questions wrong.  But many preschoolers got several correct answers.  Anderson Consulting says this conclusively disproves the theory that most professionals have the brains of a four year old.
Now, before you cry foul on this series of ridiculous questions and answers, consider the basic truth presented here...Uncomplicated minds can solve many a complicated problem because they don’t clutter their minds with extraneous detail. 

While a child-like faith seems to be simple it is truly one of the most difficult things for an adult to accomplish.  Swirling in the midst of our minds are thousands of questions, perspectives, facts, lies and other ambiguities that must be sorted before we can come to an acceptable conclusion.  Because of this, some are never able to settle the deep issues of life, God, eternity and purpose.

How many people do you know who spend more time trying to understand religion and spiritual things instead of merely receiving the message of their spirit?  The Bible is clear ...without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6  Those two words, without faith, block the entrance to Kingdom of God and steal the riches of the Kingdom from others.

Paul saw this as the plan of God through eternity.  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:21-24  Simple faith is the requirement to receive the blessing of the Kingdom of God.  A child can do it.  Can you?

Scripture to Claim:
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2

Monday, July 30, 2012

Attitude is everything

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

I read a story about a manager of a restaurant in South Philly named Jerry.  The writer shared this...
“He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say.  When someone would ask him "how he was doing", he would always reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"  Many of the waiters at his restaurant quit their jobs when he changed jobs, so they could follow him around from restaurant to restaurant.  The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude; He was a natural motivator.  If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was always there, telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious. So, one day, I went up to Jerry and asked him, "I don't get it! No one can be a positive person all the time. How do you do it?"

Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, I have two choices today, I can choose to be in a good mood or I can choose to be in a bad mood.  I always choose to be in a good mood.  Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it.  I always choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I always choose the positive side of life."

"But it's not always that easy," I protested.
"Yes, it is," Jerry said, Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. It's your choice how you live your life."

Several years later, I heard that Jerry accidentally did something you are never supposed to do in the restaurant business: he left the back door of his restaurant open one morning and was robbed by three armed men. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found quickly and rushed to the hospital. After 8 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.

I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Want to see my scars?"  I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place.

"The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied. "Then, after they shot me, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or choose to die. I chose to live." 

"Weren't you scared?" I asked.
Jerry continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the Emergency Room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'He's a dead man.' I knew I needed to take action."

"What did you do?" I asked.
"Well, there was a big nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything."  'Yes,' I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Bullets!' Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Please operate on me as if I am alive, not dead'."

Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude.  I learned from him that every day you have the choice to either enjoy your life or to hate it.  The only thing that is truly yours --that no one can control or take from you -- is your attitude, so if you can take care of that, everything else in life becomes much easier.

Good words for a Monday morning.

Scripture to Claim:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing;  Philippians 2:14

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Please Be Patient; God's Not Finished With Me Yet!
Philippians 1:6
Do you know some Christians who don't enjoy Bible Study, don't pray alone, feel bound by the "thou shalt nots" of their religion but continue on because that is what they "ought" to do.  Such a life is a tragic loss in comparison to the man liberated by Christ.  Paul says we should trust ourselves to Him to make the changes in His time and through His power
The battles we fight are not always won but keep us aware of our weaknesses and dependency on God.
You will never satisfy the religious crowd. Matthew 11:15-19
I.  Paul Rejects the Life of Religious Comparison.  Philippians 3:1-7
Some are very comfortable in the religious rut.
·      The trap of Jewish Pharisaism (following men) and Roman Catholicism (follow the church) also has retained its grip in modern day Christian legalism (follow the law).
·      The religious works of men are utter futility when compared to the acceptance by God of those who come in Christ’s righteousness. v.7
Such comparative living always creates guilt; for we always compare our weakness to another person’s strength.
II.   Paul Received the Acceptance of God in Christ.  Philippians 3:8-11
Jesus Christ is our righteousness. 
The effect of grace is not merely a desire for obedience but a sense of Divine acceptance.
Real Christianity does not flaunt its righteousness, but God’s forgiveness.
III. Paul Realized the Weakness of His Flesh.  Philippians 3:12-15
Real Christianity realizes its humanity as well as its divinity that leads to humility.
How do we maintain our balance? 

1. Acknowledge our weaknesses.  v.13a

2. Forget our past.  v.13b

3. Focus on the future.  v.13c

4. Commit to the goal. v.14

5. Listen to God, not man. v.15

Jesus UnderstandsHebrew 4:14-16

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fresh Fire

…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.   Ephesians 3:17-21

This time of year, as the youth are coming back from camp, is always a special time for me.  As a mother, my heart absolutely overflows listening to the enthusiasm and passion in my kid’s voices as they tell me all about the pastor and worship services, the sharing and decisions, and best of all, their own personal transformations that occur during the week of Intensity.  I have seen the evidence first hand that Intensity Youth Camp is a life changing experience.  I love that for them and listen with longing for that new fervor they have.  I vaguely remember feeling that once in my life.
For some of the youth that have been before, this a repeat experience.  Every year they go back, the fire is richer and deeper.  When they come home, they truly are different creatures.  They listen to different music, and willfully turn away from things that are not glorifying to God.  They are so compliant and helpful, considerate and respectful too.  You can hear the growth in their conversations and the deeper relationship with Christ is easy to see.  My heart breaks as I watch the reality of life outside of camp seep in and try to steal the joy and excitement they had when they got off the bus. It is always hard to come home after a mountaintop experience. 
Keeping the fire fresh
After you have been to the mountaintop and seen the face of God, you must come back down.  But coming back down doesn’t mean you have to lose everything you experienced at the top.  Of course the intense feelings will not stay around forever.  Life gets in the way and we get distracted – distracted by frustration and pain.  Everything in life conspires to keep you from being passionate.  And it dissipates your energy.  As time goes by you begin to lose your steam.  You begin to lose your zip, your zest, your enthusiasm for spiritual things.  What happens? Why does that happen? Satan would love for us to forget altogether where we have been but we can keep our spiritual fervor fresh by fueling it every day with "wood" such as:
  • God’s Word
  • Prayer
  • Worship
  • Service
  • Fellowship – support of friends and accountability
It is much easier to slip back into old ways that require no effort.  It takes desire and determination to keep the fire fresh.  Passion must be kept alive through action.  If all we do is read books, attend church, listen to podcasts, go to conferences, attend prayer meetings, purchase Christian music, and have discussions with our Christian friends, we will lack vibrant passion in our faith.  Taking the growth and putting it into action in everyday life is where the rubber meets the road.  Use the gifts God has given you and spur each other along. 
This mother is so very thankful for the call that God placed on Jim Garner’s life, as well as the call on each adult that helps make everything possible.  I am thankful that they are not ignoring God’s voice. They are keeping the fire fresh in their lives so they can pass it on to our youth. The activities they provide for the youth help to keep their fires going.  Fuel, UFO, Monday Munchday, and the other activities are important to maintain and sustain the passion that God has lavished on their lives. 
Be in prayer for Jim and his family.  This week they moved the rest of their belongings as well as the rest of the family here to Weatherford. They are settling in here and trying to sell their house.    
Scripture to Claim:
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Romans 12:11

Devotional Archive