The Summer of Our Lives

Standard

Could the Summer weather mirror our spiritual health? Many throughout the nation are experiencing a drought. This sparked a connection in my mind between our spiritual condition and our weather. In a song my son-in-law, Josh, wrote, one line appears, “All sunshine makes a desert, you know.” Every time I hear this, I am profoundly impacted by the truth of this line. When we have an activity, we pray it doesn’t rain. When we have a trip, we pray it won’t rain. Get the pattern?

Do you often pray that all “goes well,” that we have no “hardships”? If so, is it as if we are praying for desert to appear? Really? Maybe. Trials, challenges, difficulties are the rain storms in our lives. Thunder storms and hurricanes are greater in scope and degree. But if we do not have such times, then there will be no water for the seeds sown in our lives. (Can they grow without water?)

So in this summer of drought, let us not have a spiritual hiatus—a spiritual drought.

Another song that has often blessed me is by Laura Story, “Blessings”: “‘Cause, what if blessings come through raindrops? What if your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights is what it takes to know Your near? What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?” What if all these are the rain that ends our spiritual drought, encourages growth and brings a rainbow?

Let not this summer of your life continue in a drought. Welcome the rain.

Main Text— —Habakkuk  3:17-18 (ESV)17Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the LORD, is my strength.

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

  Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.James 1:2–4 (NIV84)

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?(Psalm 42:1–2 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, Fill me with the Living Water, the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgive me for drinking from the water that can never quench my thirst for You. I welcome the rains that bring nourishment to my thirsty soul.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Coach Mike

Advertisements

“How tough are the “Tough”?

Standard

Have you ever heard the phrase, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going?” I heard it a lot at half-time or a time out. But I never understood how tough the ‘tough’ had to be to “get going”. Have you?

As a pastor I have never said this to anyone, but as I thought about this morning’s main text, I had to ask myself this very question: “How tough do the tough have to be to get going?” I have seen people concussioned by life: lost of child; a torturous losing battle with cancer; a pink slip suddenly arrives on the desk; and the list goes on. I have marveled how some rape victim become victors while others remain victims. Were the former “tough” enough and the latter “weaklings?”

In my own life’s concussions, I have not always been the victor, but rather wallowed in victim stew far too long. But one thing I have learned, the Lord is tougher still. As the Apostle Paul alludes to later in this harrowing episode late in his life, “Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island” (Acts 27:23-26). It was his faith in the Goodness of God through the tough times that kept him going.

Now to some, this may seem naive and pietistic, but to those who have walked through the tough times of life’s severe concussions—first without the Lord, and then finally yielding to His presence, we understand the truth: It is not my toughness, but the Lord’s faithfulness that gets me through those tough times.

Have you found this to be so, too? Whatever storms, or trials, or difficulties or tough times we may find ourselves in the midst of, join me in remembering, “When the going gets tough, remember the Lord is tougher.” And, if you are like me, we also need to remember what the father whose young son was severely out of sorts said to Jesus after He said, “Everything is possible for him who believes”… “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:23-24 NIV84)!

Main Text— Acts 27:9-12 (NIV84) 9 Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Fast. So Paul warned them, 10 “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” 11 But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship. 12 Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest.

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.— 2 Timothy 4:16–18 (NIV84)

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”—John 16:33 (NIV84)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in hHis mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.— Ephesians 6:10–11 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, be my Shield of Faith. Quench the fiery darts that are being hurled at me. Be my Shoes of  Peace that I may be calm when enduring tough times. In Your Name, Amen!

Pastor Mike

“Not Quite What You Expected”

Standard

My Thoughts:

You’ve waited in line for days to be one of the first to see this promised sequel. As the electricity arcs in the air and the opening day final arrives, You shuffle along with the other faithful into the theater, the lights dim, the expectant hush falls upon the auditorium as the movie begins…. Was it better than you expected or a big disappointment?

Many of us have waited for many promises to be fulfilled from a simple “this dinner will be great” to “honest, I really will change this time.” Sometimes we have been pleasantly surprised, but many times we have been sadly disappointed.

And what is sad is sometimes we carry the perspective of this latter disappointment into those times we are waiting on the promises of God. We have Tommy Smothers’ attitude, “God loves you more than me” approach to the Lord’s promises.  We see others getting “blessed” and, well, we’re still struggling. I have even taught, “It is through the passage of time and the presence of struggle the character of Christ is forged” in us, but somehow when my struggle is prolonged and the wait extended longer than say a friend’s, I start to wonder, “Does the Lord Love them more than me?”

Silly me! Fortunately, I observed in our main text (below) that the Holy Spirit didn’t just light-up the Apostles. Nor did He merely light-up the Eleven skipping Matthias—since he really hadn’t put any real hard time in with Jesus. The Holy Spirit lit up all who were in the room, including our Master’s recently convinced, but formerly skeptical, brothers (see Acts1:14). New-comers and old-timers, former doubters and skeptics and even those of innocent faith: All received the filling of the Holy Spirit. Clearly, I say to myself, the Lord does not love some more than others—more than me! For if He did, this would have been a good place to start demonstrating this!

But Praise His Holy Name He did not. His Love for us is well beyond what we could think or imagine—or figure out. It’s unsearchable. When the wait is over, and  the Lord finally fulfills His promises, it’s just not quite what we expect, is it?

Main Text: — Acts 2:4 — 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.  [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. And even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. — 1 Peter 1:8-9 (ISV)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:“For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  — Romans 8:35-39 (NIV84)

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  — Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV84)

 Heavenly Father, forgive me resisting Your Love. Remove the scabs and callouses that are preventing me from experiencing Your unconditional Love. Heal the pain and remove the shame that have long deceived me, blurring my vision of Your Goodness.  In Jesus’ Mercy & Grace, Amen.

Coach Mike

“Trained By the Pain”

Standard

Date: 9-14-14

(Below are some thoughts I had on James 1:12:  Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.  [NIV84])

One reason we can persevere under the trials (and these are more than slivers; they are crosses), is because of the Joy we have knowing there is a purpose in them. The purposes of a particular trial may have many facets, but one facet is becoming more like Jesus. Because of the Joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross and scorned its shame and is now seated at the right Hand of the Majesty on High. He is no longer wearing a crown of thorns, but He is now wearing the crown of the King of kings! And when we, too, are trained by the pain, we receive a crown, the crown of life.

Lifestyle worshipers, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23 NIV84).“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18 NASB 95). “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Cor. 4:8-10 NIV 84). “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18 NIV 84).

Be encouraged to be trained by the pain. Remember: “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” — Luke 6:40 (NIV84)

A Humble Prayer

Heavenly Father, as You teach me to see through the current trial, let the Joy of Your Spirit flood my soul. Guard my heart and my mind with the Peace that passes all understanding: The Lord Jesus Christ, my Prince of Peace. I bless You, in Your Son’s Name Amen.