Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Don't panic just chill - How to survive a GATOR!

Don't panic just chill. 

Remember what you are taught!

A trapper on Monday shows off the alligator
  that attacked Juliana Ossa in Orlando, Florida.
 WESH / NBC News

Think about the best advice you were ever given. It is probably a profound quote that you will never forget like, “always wear clean underwear”, With God all things are possible”, “look before you leap”, or “mistakes are bruises and not tattoos.” 

These power statements stick with us and remind us how to respond in moments of adversity. 

The other day, I came across a story of a 10 year old girl who was swimming in a shallow body of water in Florida. The story says that while she was swimming, an alligator bit her. The girl beat the head of the alligator but it was to no avail. She calmed down and made her next move. She stuck two fingers in the alligator’s nostrils. Because the alligator couldn't breathe, his jaws opened and the girl was able to remove her legs from the alligator’s grasp.

Following the incident, the girl explained how she escaped. She gave credit to a Florida park called Gatorland which gave instructions about how to respond in a gator attack.

The bible says in 2 Timothy 3:14, “But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.”

It is amazing that the young girl didn't panic. Yet, it is more awe-inspiring that the young girl survived because she stayed calm and remembered what she was taught.

The bible admonishes us about anxiety and mental duality but gives solace that peace is possible through prayer and reliance on a more powerful source. 

Now is not the time to panic. You will walk though your valleys and you can persevere in your mountain peaks when you remember what you have been taught. 

Major tests are going to come, loved one's will pass away, jobs close, and unexpected bills occur. 

When you feel the bite of fear, anxiety, depression, uncertainty, or confusion remember this:

Phillipians 4:13 
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you

Romans 8:28
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Deuteronomy 28:13
If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

In times of trial, go back to your teaching. Panic doesn’t produce positive results. Get calm, get focused and trust your teaching!

Read the full story Here

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Keep The Change! Is change a good thing?

Keep the change! 

Growing up, there were a few things that remained constant. Sunday church service was a non-negotiable. When the Arsenio Hall show came on it was time for bed and Hi-C Orange from McDonalds' was the only acceptable fast food kid drink! 

Recently, McDonald's announced that they are discontinuing an entire drink. Yep! The Hi-C Orange. That's  like telling me to erase my childhood. The craziest part is that they aren't even replacing it with another version - it's a drink completely different from my coveted orange awesomeness! Sprite TropicBerry. It is almost like saying the 90's never existed, ALF wasn't a real alien, and Steve Urkel wasn't a real boy genius. 

But, as bad as I want to resist this travesty and ultimate upset in American fast food history - change is happening. 

To aid me in this transitional struggle, I reached for my bible.

For real! 

Joshua 1:9 ESV 
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:"

It's not a matter of if change will come but how will you respond to it. 

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, "The only constant is change." It's interesting to note that the original manuscript for that quote is in fragments and can't be changed. 

As much as we want to white knuckle grip certain things in life, change is always a possibility. If it weren't for change how would know what better really felt like, looked like, or dare I say tastes like.

Our God is a change agent!
1. Genesis 1:3: dark was changed to light 
2. John 2: Jesus changed water to wine
3. 1 Corinthians 15:33: Mortality is changed to immortality
4. Ezekiel 36:2: A heart of stone is changed to a heart of flesh
5. Romans 5:19: Sinners are changed and made righteous  

Change is inevitable and if we were never meant to experience change why would God permit it? After all, He said in Isaiah 43:19, 

"Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert."

Change will test you, talk to you crazy, tempt you, and toughen you up. 

Even when things are too difficult to determine, your next move is being carved out by your creator. Follow the The leader. At the end of it all, you never have to face change alone. Your Heavenly Father is a comforter that will ease the blow of change and help you get back up. Some thing's aren't forever and that's ok - accept the change and lean in to new possibilities. 

Here's the final thought. Some of the changes we are rebelling against aren't an issue until it's time to change. I haven't had an orange drink from McDonald's since the 90's. 

Give change a try...

Monday, April 24, 2017

If you're hungry enough...You'll eat!


How does hunger influence you?

I think I was in the seventh grade when my hunger dominated my common sense. Grilled cheese sandwiches were my favorite but I was not allowed to use the stove without adult supervision. Well, there was only one other appliance that could provide the heat needed for my sandwich. The microwave. I slathered butter on two slices of bread, slid a piece of kraft cheese between the buttery slices, and smashed it all together. I placed my culinary creation on a plate, opened the microwave, excitedly put my plate inside, and set the clock for five minutes. After I closed the microwave door, I pressed start and walked away. I thought that was going to be the best grilled cheese ever! A few moments later, the house started smelling like burnt popcorn and death! Yep. Death. I ran to the microwave and a plume of smoke billowed out. I nearly destroyed a microwave making a grilled cheese sandwich and I was still hungry!

I asked a group of students about the craziest thing they had ever done because of hunger. One said he ate frozen food, another made a strange combination of food, and a final one said he stole from his mother's purse. It seems extreme, but it is daunting what people will do to satisfy their hunger pains. 

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6 NKJV) 

In East Palestine, Ohio, around eight o’clock PM, an 8-year-old boy and his 4-year-old sister enjoyed a McDonald’s Cheeseburger, Chicken nuggets and fries. That’s about normal until you learn how they got there. That evening, his parents came home and fell asleep after feeding their children. The 8-year-old was still hungry. He grabbed the keys to his dad’s work van, his little sister and headed to McDonalds. The boy made his way down the road with near perfect driving skills. At the fast food chain, they recognized the absurdity of an 8-year old ordering food from a work van alone. The authorities were called but a question was asked before they were released. “How did you learn to drive?” The answer was simple, he learned it on YouTube.

Although it is exciting and entertaining to know that an 8yr old drove to McDonalds, I am more intrigued at the fact that his hunger for physical food was only superseded by his hunger for knowledge. 

Often the greatest deterrent to our dreams is ourselves. Even if everyone else believes in us - it doesn't mean a thing if we don't personally believe it and feed it. 

I have 2 points and then I will get out of your way 

Denzel Washington noted that the same theater that denied him 30 years ago is the same theater he recently starred in for the play Fences. 

Will Smith pointed out, “The most blissful place in life is a place on the other side of fear and terror.”

Michelle Obama admonished, ”Instead of letting your hardships and failures discourage or exhaust you, let them inspire you. Let them make you even hungrier to succeed."

The difference between successful people and stagnant people is hunger. Success is not a straight path - there are going to be some bumps

1. Stay hungry

To this day, my mother says, “If you’re hungry enough you will eat.”  I believe that many of us are undernourished and ok with it. We have had some moments of great accomplishment then wired our mouths shut. The bible says in Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Just as God has more than one plan for you, you were meant to achieve more than one thing in life. You have to stay hungry for accomplishment. Make a career goal, achieve it, and make another one. Make a physical body goal, achieve it, and make another one. Make an educational goal, achieve it, then make another one. Every day is another opportunity to be successful. Yet, the true measure of success is determined by you and not necessarily what people think of you.

 2. Eat right

Any good athlete knows that proper nutrition is paramount for quality performance. You must feed on what will help you grow. Avoid copious amounts negativity and career toxic circumstances. Although I do believe that disappointment can drive you to work harder, don't dwell in destructive behavior. Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (NLT). What you consume spiritually, emotionally, and physically is the fuel you will use to power towards your next goal. Cheap or contaminated fuel won't propel you very far. 

Success isn't achieved by convenience it is acquired through consistency.

In closing, I love how our little cheeseburger YouTube driver not only fed himself but also looked out for his sister. Success is for more than you. 

Hunger for right living, hunger for your career, hunger for your family, hunger for better days.

How far will/can you go because of your hunger? The best is yet to come.

Monday, March 27, 2017

When serving stinks!

When serving stinks...

My family and I went to a popular restaurant for Sunday brunch. The meal was excellent and of course we were all fat full afterwards. Before we exited the restaurant my mother in-love asked me to take papa - the great grandfather of my children to the restroom.

What I assumed to be a quick trip was longer and more involved than I expected. 

Papa is nearly blind, so I had to guide him through the maze of tables to the obscure men's room tucked in a corner of the restaurant. Inside the restroom, Papa tells me that he would prefer to use the stall instead of the urinal. Not a problem. After I walking him into the stall, I helped him find everything then exited to wait for him to finish. 

Another man walked in the restroom and politely asked me if the stall I was standing near was occupied. I informed him that someone was in there then directed him to the next open stall.

Then, another man walked in. He asked me about the stalls then comments about the restaurant. Around this time, I'm starting to think something is strange.

It was the third man that walked into the restroom and make comments that made me catch it. 

Number one, I realized that papa was not in there for number one. Number two, those men thought I was the bathroom attendant!

That morning, I delivered the message in our adult service, I had to dress like a grown up and not my typical jeans and t-shirt youth service attire. I was inadvertently dressed like the staff of that restaurant. The desire to bust out of there was strong, but I couldn’t just leave Papa alone and come back whenever. True serving is done with few stipulations.

I am reminded of a man named Joseph that served 11 years in the house of Potiphar and subsequently spent a few more years in the prison of Pharaoh. It was those times of serving that set Joseph up for his moments of leading. I am sure there were days that the pain of picking up after others and the discomfort of dealing with other people's problems weren't his best days but they built Joseph a better future.

The Bible says, "So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give upGalatians 6:9 (NLT).

Our giving should not be based on self preservation. Giving is an act of love. After all, didn't God "so love" that he gave knowing that we would act ratchet and not be thankful always. It would be great if everyone that you invested in had a 100% return guarantee. Unfortunately that's not the case. There are those that are truly appreciative of your giving. However, some will accept your giving and ask for more and then there are some that will accept your giving and say nothing at all. How they respond or how quick they respond is not your problem. 

I believe that God has perfect timing for what we need. Just as every planted seed will break through the earth at different yet timely moments, so shall your financial, physical, mental and emotional breakthrough take place at just the divine moment you need it.

Planted seeds take time to succeed and a seed will only grow if it is planted

The good thing to do right now is to serve, to sow, to share, and to send your best when you give. It is true that serving sometimes stinks but i guarantee that you will forget the stench when the pleasant aroma of accomplishment takes place. Your harvest is coming. Be patient and stay consistent. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

cure for ashy hands...

You can’t throw shade with ashy hands

Monthly, I take a few students from our youth department on a campus tour of local colleges and universities. If you have ever traveled with teenagers, you know the types of adventures that can ensue.

Recently we toured a beautiful campus in Houston, Texas. While on the trip, one of the teens asked another teen for some lotion. Instead of just handing over the lotion, the lotion came with all sorts of side comments. It was the response to the comments that created this message.

As my teenager accepted the lotion and the side comments, they responded by saying, “You can’t throw shade with ashy hands!”

The bible tells a story of a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. There is no uncertainty that she was wrong. The challenge occurs when her accusers seek punishment for her actions.

As Jesus was teaching a crowd of people that day, the accused woman was thrown into His and the crowd’s midst. Partially clothed and fully embarrassed her intimate exchange was publically exposed and a punishment demanded.

Those who are hurting commonly hurt others and will look for open opportunities to publicly assert their vengeance.

The woman’s accusers not only planned to malign the character of Jesus they also wanted to murder the woman.

The religious leaders’ intentions were steeped in personal gain and deceit without regard to how the outcome looked on their part.

Romans 3:23 (NLT)

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

Because making mistakes is common we should be cautious about crucifying others for something we have either done or could do ourselves.

As the men continued to accuse the woman of her offense Jesus simply kneeled down and wrote in the loose earth beneath him.

We never discover what Jesus wrote yet His words brought a certain conviction to the accusers and is applicable today. Jesus, with strong admonition, declares, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”

Soon the accusers dropped their stones and started slipping away.
The men had secret sins of their own that deemed them worthy of the same punishment they wanted enforced. Before you destroy someone, look at your own dirt. You can’t be messy and be messy.

Finally, when the overwhelming desire to physically defend every accusation arises, remember who not only has your back but also your comeback plan.

Romans 12:19 (NLT)
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Truth is, I am addicted to all shows about fitness and amazing body transformations. One of my favorites is the very popular NBC show “The Biggest Loser”.  For years I have been amazed at the terrific transitions of the competitors and the training techniques of the coaches.

A few weeks ago, Bob Harper, one of the trainers turned host experienced a severe heart attack. It rocked me! How could the quintessential definition of health have health problems? Bob is only 51, he trains for a living, he eats well, he lives well, and yet the personification of fitness fell from cardiac arrest – WHILE WORKING OUT.

Through greater investigation, Bob’s family has a history of heart disease and Bob’s mom passed from a heart attack.

It wasn’t his lifestyle it was his lineage. Generational issues can be addressed. 

The Gospel of Matthew states, “In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” (5:45 NLT)

Bad things happen to good people. Salvation is not an impenetrable force field for future problems - it is confidence that you can face and defeat whatever may occur.

Here are my two points and a close.

Firstly, good people still have the capability to make bad decisions.

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” (Deuteronomy 30:19 NLT)

God is a great Father. He knows what’s right for us, gives us direction in places of trouble (1 Corinthians 10:13), and He still gives us free will. The challenge with free will is that the opportunity to pick wrong is an option when right is simultaneously available.

I don’t know the details of celebrity trainer and health guru Bob Harper’s week, but Bob knew his family history and I wonder if his body was giving him signs before it gave him a heart attack. Did he choose to ignore the signs or did he choose to delay action for a more convenient time? I don't know exactly - but I believe the best. 

Yet and still, people will avoid solutions if they don't fit their convenience. They are still good people but they intermittently make bad decisions based on selfish desire.

Here is my second point. God is still a great God and you are still a great person even on your worst days. Your worst days are often opportunities to prove that your God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, and far above your thoughts or actions.

Outside of God, success is relative. I contend that great success is not only achieved but also better enjoyed when you are in relationship with Jesus.

"In Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28)

The Gospel of John tells a story about a man who was born blind but encountered Jesus. The disciples questioned Jesus regarding what instigated the man’s blindness. Jesus’ response is a life lesson.
It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins…This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” (John 9:3)

The blind man was surviving while blind but his encounter with Jesus changed his physical view and the spiritual view of anyone who knew him as a blind man.

Your situational setback will allow God to do major miracles for you and anyone who knows your story.

Life is a great teacher and every lesson learned should't come from your own experiences. You can learn from other’s lessons.

Finally, latch on to the fact that God’s thoughts for you are never evil and it is not His willing intention to afflict or grieve you. (Lamentations 3:33)

Strength, growth, and greater awareness will grow from this place when you believe that through it all God has a plan for your life.

Monday, February 20, 2017

your accident is His purpose

6:45AM, I pulled into my normal spot, pushed the gear shift into park, adjusted my neck tie and prepared mentally for the day. No special prayer or anything today. It was Friday, my mind was on Saturday, and the next eleven hours couldn’t pass fast enough. Although I wasn’t the greatest fan of my job as a rental car assistant manager, it paid the bills. 

I opened the door and noticed my boss standing in the manager's office. It wasn't unusual for him to pop up but it felt strange seeing him there. 

Then, it happened. They let me go. Wait. What?! I wasn’t prepared. I mean I told God I wanted to leave but I had no formal exit plan. All I could think about was my mortgage, my car note, my motorcycle note, my student loans. My creek was dry and I didn’t know my next source.

Recognize that God hears and answers prayers. Your perceived rejection is really the release He created for your next blessing.

I cried and complained but beneath what i assumed to be an unannounced annoyance 
God was pushing me into my purpose.

Genesis 28
“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it. ” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!””

Jacob tricked his brother Esau, confused his father Isaac and was sent out the door. Wondering and wandering, Jacob chose a spot he believed to be random then found a comfy rock pillow and laid down. 

When Jacob awoke from his dream of ladders and angels, he had a new view of his random location.

Catch this. Your seemingly sudden place of pain or turmoil is intentional. God can and will use what your think is an accident to reveal your purpose. It will be the gateway to your future.

When I left my job that day i was lost but i returned to the place that always made me happy - youth ministry. Remember, God doesn’t deal in accidents. There was an opening at the church i was attending and thirteen years later I am still in youth ministry.

You thought you were a temporary substitute -  God led you to teaching
You thought you were just a great listener - God led you to counseling
You thought you liked cooking - God led you to become a chef
You thought you liked planning - God led you to become a professional planner
God showed you a need because He knew that you could fix it

Your accident is His purpose!