Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Try Love - He never runs out...

Try Love.

For decades little candy hearts embossed with catchy phrases has popularly dominated as a Valentine tradition. The hearts come in all sorts of colors, say just about everything from I love you to I miss you and make your heart’s confessions a little easier to share.

The original candy heart was a combination of concepts by two brothers, Oliver Chase and Daniel Chase, which turned into the invention of the first candy maker and the formation of the New England Confectionary Company or NECCO. Each year 100,000 pounds of the candy is made and 8 billion Sweethearts hearts are sold in six weeks.  

This year, there are a few less hearts available.
NECCO was sold and there was not enough time to create sufficient amount of hearts to meet demand.

Scripture says:
“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.” (1 John 4:7-10 MSG)

What happens when what is expected is no longer available? True joy is the appreciation of what you own. We can miss out on a great thing trying to make it something it was never meant to be. Have you ever considered the ramifications of losing what was common? I believe that there are so many things we take for granted when there are those who wish for what we waste. Remember when you prayed for what you are now attempting to discard?

Love is not only from God but it absolutely is God. He is the very essence of Love. He loves but He is also more than the verb and the emotion. If He were a fragrance, He would not only be the scent He would be the oil. He is the root of our accomplishments, the strength in our success stories, and our platform to stand on.

But, what happens when we experience pain, rejection, disappointment, or great challenge. Is God not there also? It is in these places that we feel that God has removed His Love and we retreat from our celebration of His goodness and our pursuit of His presence. When we aren’t receiving the tangible blessings we tend to disappear.

You see, the interesting thing about the popular conversation hearts that seemed to exist infinitely is that despite their lack of physical presence love still exists.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”  Romans 8:38 (NLT)

God is Love in the excitement of great days and the lulls of tough times. Instead of basing His love for you on what you can physically see. Love Him in the midst of it all. You didn’t see the car that missed you, the relationship that could have hurt you, the opportunity that could have bankrupted you, the food that could have poisoned you but His Love was there.
The Sweethearts will be back next year and God’s tangible blessings always return.

Side note, I learned that there are other versions of the original candy hearts that will suffice while the original rebuilds its stock. But, there is nothing like the original.

I challenge you to take note of God’s endless love.

God is Love.

He is more than what you see, feel, taste, or touch. He simply is everything. He is.


Try Love He never runs out…

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Is it worth it????

What is it worth?


Growing up I would notice when random pieces of furniture would end up missing around holidays, birthdays, back to school or when things got financially tight but I never thought much of it. I would also notice how my mother was meticulous about our school clothes, church clothes, food and anything that she had to pay for. 

Recently I traveled to speak at conference in Tampa, Florida called FlavorFest. My ride from the airport told me that the area of town was called “suitcase city”. 

We make sacrifices and we stretch ourselves for what we value. 

My driver continued to say that he fully understood the name “suitcase city” when he went into a pawnshop and noticed shoes on several shelves. These weren’t the fancy red bottoms or the ultra exclusive basketball shoes they were every day loafers, pumps, and work boots. The sight of these “regular” shoes made him question the mental space the seller was in to even pawn their shoes…what necessity did they have in order to palm them?

Their need had to be greater than their comfort!

The bible tells a story of two brothers who were at odds from birth. Esau the older brother and Jacob the younger brother. One particular day the oldest brother came home from hunting and was extremely hungry. The younger brother was in the kitchen cooking and when the older brother asked for a bowl of the younger brother’s food – the request was met with a demand. Jacob asked Esau for his rights as the older brother and Esau quickly obliged. The last scripture in that verse stands out to me. It says that Esau despised or had no value for his birthrights.

It is easy to give up what we haven’t earned or what we don’t value.

But when you have gone through something to get what you have – it will take more than a little bit of effort to remove it from your hands.

Some of you all have sacrificed the most for this present moment. The value of playing for a team, working for that company, owning your own business, having a family in this moment has great value. 

DO NOT LET SOMEONE STEAL WHAT YOU HAVE WORKED FOR!

If you value it – KEEP IT. If you value it – PROTECT IT. If you value it – DEMAND RESPECT FOR IT!

My mom valued my brother and I so she sacrificed for us. Those families valued something so they gave up what mattered to them.

What have you given to get here and what will you do to maintain what you consider valuable?

I heard a motivational speaker say, “Easy come – easy go and the opposite.” 

That’s good teaching! Anything that was difficult or took great effort for you to obtain will be difficult for you to release.

Your effort reflects your values. Hold on to what you value!




Monday, October 29, 2018

Will You Cross The Road?!?!

Saved by Grace...


**Warning Explicit Content**

There is an area of town near my job that is a non-traditional graveyard for stray animals. It’s non-traditional in the sense that no one intentionally buries the animals there. The deceased animals are casualties of life that are left in the roadways and medians. For a while, my biggest concern was that I would contribute to the atrocity. 

Then came Sunday. I was moving at a good rate of speed when all of a sudden a cat darted into the street. There was a vehicle to my left, a wall on my right, and no time to stop. The only choice was to grab the wheel and prepare for the worst. 

Bump! 

My heart sank as I knew that sound could only mean the worst. I glanced to my rearview mirror and shockingly saw a perfectly well feline rapidly continuing his journey across the street. 

Whew!

The bible says in Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” (NKJV).

As cheesy as it sounds, it's true! Every day is a gift - that’s why it’s called the present. What most excites me about the gift is the gift giver - He has the best intentions. 

In life we have a beginning and an end. What happens in the middle are the “if’s” we must take while crossing the road.

Having the intention to move and not the initiative to step out will destroy you just the same. We all have the same finish line to cross. I would rather run to mine than have it just show up. 

You will live through what was set up to stop you - by His grace.

Using my youth ministry mindset, I have a few thoughts.

1.   You Must Move! 
How many of us have endeavored to move from one existence to another but have paused in our progression due to the sight of previous travelers that didn’t make it? A friend’s divorce, a colleague’s failed attempt at a promotion, a parent that never beat an addiction, a teammate that didn’t get picked, or a friend who dropped out. We are aware that there is a better way on the other side of our journey but for some reason or another the proverbial death of those that quit, were detoured, or mangled by the journey has developed an overwhelming fear and stagnation in our attempts. 

Remember that we all have a story and each individual’s story is as unique as our matchless fingerprints. Just because you have similar looking books doesn’t mean your stories will match!

You can read their story without living it. 

Proverbs 3:5-6powerfully illustrates that our surroundings can scare us but the spirit living inside of us should spur us on. It’s good to look before you leap but you have got to move. 

2.   Count on Finishing!
It is interesting how much effort people put in to keeping tally of their trials. Count on finishing! I once heard that Muhammad Ali had a ridiculous exercise regimen. He would do a certain exercise until he was fatigued and then he would start counting his reps. He was more concerned with what he achieved when he didn’t feel like it than what he accomplished when everything was all good. Crossing the road to your future will have some trials but you were built with the end in mind. A Preacher named Stephen Clay said, “Until we confront what is challenging us, we will continue to combat what is conquering us!” The challenge will be there whether you start today or next year so you might as well face it now!

3.   Don’t die in the fight of faith!
Beyond crossing the road of life’s challenges into the land of goal accomplishment, there is the journey of our faith. In the same vein of this road analogy, I think Christian believers can get stuck or struck while crossing as well. My good friend Jeremy explained that some believers get saved and never use their faith. The excitement of committing to Christ wanes the moment they leave the altar and their faith remains shelved like a travel souvenir. Then there are those who step out on faith only to have a giant obstacle, addiction, disagreement, or fear scare them from fully pressing through in faith. Stuck in the middle, the obstacle crushes them and their faith. Your faith is a muscle that must be worked and trained. Step out and stay believing that your God is watching you along the way and He will step in to save you.
1 Timothy 6:12 (NKJV)
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

If children are taught to look BOTH ways before stepping out then you too need to look both ways before taking your next step.

1.    Look to God for the right time to go. Just because you have the ability doesn’t mean you have the permission.
2.    Look to yourself. Everyone won’t approve of your every move but you must be confident that your decision is right for you.

Finally, I am not encouraging you to jump into oncoming traffic or to illegally jay walk but I am challenging you to walk with Jesus. You can move on when everything seems lost. God knows your destination, will hold your hand, and will pick you up WHEN you fall along the way. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sit down!

Hold Your Seat

How to eat when you're starving...


This summer I had the joy of traveling to Memphis, Tennessee with both of my boys. While there we visited the National Civil Rights Museum at the historic Lorraine Motel. Standing where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated made me speechless. We have been to several museums but this was unlike any we had previously visited. The very first exhibit displayed the middle passage and slaves tightly packed on ships. From there, the museum exhibits categorically traveled through time. Every display brought us face to face with the energy and emotion of the civil rights movement.

One of the most moving displays was an era accurate bus you could actually walk through.  There were many open seats, yet one particular seat and passenger stood out. Near the front of the bus sat a statue of a woman ominously staring out the window. She wore glasses and a hat with an oversized bag next to her. 

It was Rosa Parks. Thank God for my mom. Her quick thinking allowed us to capture the moment.  She told my boys to stand next to her. Confused, they obliged and gave an awkward smile while she snapped a quick pic with her IPhone.

When they exited the bus, my oldest asked about the significance of Rosa Parks sitting in that seat.

While sharing the story of Rosa Parks with him, I started wondering about the seats that people have given up and the individuals who were affected by those decisions.
 
The Bible explains this concept through the story of two brothers named Jacob and Esau. A little bit of reading teaches us that Jacob’s name meant trickster and therefore his character was indicative of what he was called. Esau meant hairy which, true to form, was accurate about his body. We also discover that Jacob was the homebody who loved to cook and Esau was the tough and manly hunter.

After an entire day of hunting, Esau was extremely hungry. When he returned home, guess who was in the kitchen wrist flipping like its stir-fry? Jacob.

29 Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called [g]Edom.

31 But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.”

32 And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?”

33 Then Jacob said, [h]“Swear to me as of this day.”

So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. (Genesis 25:29-34 NKJV)

WOW!

At first glance it looks like Esau politely requested some of his brother’s cooking. But the Hebrew translation of Esau’s request was a harsh demand for food. He wanted to devour it as an animal would. 

1.  You’re not yourself when you’re hungry


Esau had full right to be hungry based on his day’s activities. The problem wasn’t his need. The problem was how he decided to fulfill his need. How many times have you made a bad decision because of need? It is important that we recognize our ability to make rash decisions when we are malnourished. Some people call it “Hangry”. It is the emotional/physical reaction to being in lack. 

Esau spent the day hunting. Given that he was known for his hunting prowess – I believe that he caught something to eat. However, he didn’t want to wait for his catch to be prepared. Esau preferred what was quick and convenient. 

That’s how temptation and trouble wins. It encourages us to want what we think we need only for us to realize we’ve had what we needed already.

In those moments of EXTREME hunger for love, attention, affection, or accomplishment – think before you eat.

2.   Protect your power


Some of our greatest attributes are intangible. It isn’t the house you own, the title you carry, the vehicle you drive, or the size of your bank account that gives you your power. Your power resides in who you are and the Holy Spirit living on the inside of you. Can you be consistent with your character even when everyone else is adlibbing and changing scenes?

Truth is – we hold on to what matters. I am confident that there is some piece of memorabilia from your childhood tucked away somewhere. Why do you still own it? Deep down that item has memories and meaning to you even if no one else cares about it – you care and you aren’t letting go. 

And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. (Genesis 25:34 NLT)

These last few words give us great insight into why Esau gave up his birthright for a bowl of beans. 

The birthright of the oldest son had great responsibility. That distinction meant that he had precedence over his younger brothers and that he would not only receive a double portion but also become the priest of the family when his father died. That’s a lot!

So why give up all of that for a bowl of beans???

When we are careless about who we are we will care less when people take advantage of us. I heard someone express that we can’t ask for God to be a fence and still leave the gate open. Be responsible for your space. You have the ability to make a difference with what you have, who you are, and where you live. 

You may not like it but you can make something of it. If the blues weren’t profitable – we wouldn’t have so many people making records about it. 

Make effort to truly care about where you are and what you possess. If you give it away – getting it back may be at a price you can’t afford.

Esau gave away what should have been permanent for something that was only temporal.

Quick question? Was it/he/she worth it?

Here is my last thought 

98% of people who quit will work for 3% that decided to stick it out.

Have several seats sir or ma'am!

Rosa parks’ resistance to move was not the final destination and your seat in class, your seat at the boardroom table, your seat in this stage of the marriage, or your seat in athletics isn’t the last seat you will take. 

Whatever your seat is – Hold it. Your ability to remain consistent when the opportunity to quit comes around will pay off for you and those who are depending on you. 

Hold your seat.


Temptation will happen whether you go to church every Sunday, just on holidays, or don’t go at all. Your defense and deliverance from temptation dwells in your relationship with God.

Our problem isn’t our needs – it is how we meet those needs. Everyone has desires – consider how you meet yours. 


Choose wisely.