Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Bells are Ringing - I'm hungry!!!

Repetition is a powerful teaching tool. Think of all the test questions and song lyrics you have memorized through repetition and repeated hearing.

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

My son ran into the kitchen after finishing his dinner and exclaimed, “spoon!” I was confused. He had demolished a bowl of ravioli, some applesauce, and a banana – what more could he want? Again he said, “spoon!” Bewildered but intrigued, I handed him a spoon. He took a few steps back, placed the inside of the spoon on his nose, and then slowly pulled his hands away. He actually hung the spoon from his nose! After applauding and telling him well done, I nearly busted up the kitchen reaching for my phone just to take a picture.

It took a minute, but I realized that he learned this cool trick from repeatedly watching a kid from one of his favorite television shows.

There was an experiment in 1902 by a Russian Scientist named Ivan Pavlov. He concluded through using a bell to cause his dogs to salivate that a behavior could be learned. In the experiment, he would ring the bell every time he fed his dogs. Soon, he discovered that just the sound of the bell would increase salivation in his dogs, even before he handed them food.

The constant and consistent repetition of Pavlov can teach us a life lesson. Everyday we will experience good and bad things. The way we react is solely determined by the solutions we are frequently exposed to.

If we regularly see our leadership breakdown in a crisis – then we will break down in a crisis. If we see faith and trust in God from those we esteem in times of circumstance then our reaction will be the duplication of their actions.

Life will give you several moments to be the teacher or the pupil. In either case, you must be aware of what you are instructing others to do and what lessons you are allowing yourself to learn.
The bells of triumph are ringing. What will your reaction be? The bells of tragedy are ringing? What will your reaction be? Will you wallow in sorrow or salivate for the peace of your savior?
When we earnestly thirst for right living in everything we do and experience – the bible says we will be filled! The dogs had a physical reaction to the bell that ignited their hunger. The bell rang and they were filled with food from their master’s hand.

Like everything else, relying on the master takes practice and repetition.

Bruce Lee said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

When you practice trusting God above all else in every circumstance you will strengthen you spiritual muscles. When anything occurs, you will have muscle memory to immediately do what you have trained your body to do.

As the bells of your circumstances ring, will you trust your master to satisfy your needs? Practice pursuing God in everything, because, WITH GOD, all things are possible!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bruised apples have good seeds!

2 Corinthians 4:7-9
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—

A young boy’s father gave him a bright red apple to take to school with his lunch. The boy placed the apple in his brown lunch sack, threw the sack into his backpack, and ran off to board the school bus.

During the coarse of the day, the apple tumbled around in the lunch sack. When it was time for lunch, the boy pulled the apple eagerly from his bag. When the boy saw the apple, his happy feelings immediately deflated. The apple, once brilliantly red and round, was now misshapen and covered with dark bruises. 

Disappointed, the boy slid the apple back into his lunch sack and tried to forget about it.
When the boy arrived home from school, he carried the bruised apple to his father. With tears in his eyes, the boy lamented over the demise of the apple’s beauty. The father then took the apple, sliced it in half, and handed it back to his son. He said, “ Son, the life of your apple is not over because inside of it are seeds that will make fresh new apples.”

Think about this. People are like the little boy’s apple. Life gives them bumps and bruises over time. Life experiences can make an individual feel worthless. Even worse, other people will cast someone off if they are too battered and misshapen for their liking.
Yet, there is hope! When you accept Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit plants a seed of regeneration inside of you. You will face hard days. Friends and family will turn their back on you. But you will not pass away. 

The Holy Spirit will give you the power to rejuvenate and flourish once more. Bruises will heal, true companions will return, and your God always lives. He gives beauty for ashes and a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness! (Isaiah 61:3)

Be encouraged – you may feel down, but the healthy lady at the opera isn’t about to hit her high notes. You have an encore performance coming soon. Plant yourself in Christ and allow him to not only renew you, but also help you encourage others to be renewed.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Jesus is a TEXAN! He does everything Big!

Celebrate the small stuff! Every blessing from God is a big deal!

James 1:17 (NKJV)
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
A vibrant “Hallelujah” echoed through the office like a Sunday church bell. I rushed over to my friend to see why he was experiencing such jubilation.
“I found my sunglasses.” He was beaming uncontrollably as he waved the sunglasses in the air.

I was both confused and surprised. “What?! That was it?”

After the initial surprise of the moment had passed, I realized that life was full of fragmented blessings.

Others may view your personal blessings as small, but it is perfectly okay for them to be a big deal for you! On top of that, small blessings often accumulate into bigger ones.  I rarely pass up the chance to pick up fallen change because my grandmother once told me that if you collect enough pennies, eventually you would make a dollar. Many of us are waiting for that one big blessing from God – when, in actuality, every blessing we receive is not only good, but also a part of a giant and perfect plan for our lives. We must learn to celebrate every gift we receive from the Lord.

Take some time today to tell God “Thank you!” You have received some great gifts from the best giver. Everything adds up, so count all of your blessings and be grateful!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The 2nd Strongest Man Ever!

Exodus 20:12 (NKJV)
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
Standing on the side of a hospital bed comfortably sandwiched between two bunk beds in a second floor apartment, I heard the most profound statement. 

One of my teens from church that is unreservedly fighting for his life, rested under a Spiderman blanket sipping water through a straw and talking after a few swallows. His body is emaciated and each word that loosely falls from his lips is barely over a whisper. Despite his physical condition, his heart and attitude are stronger than Floyd Mayweather in an unfair fight.

The boy’s father and mother are also in the room with me when he asks for us to unite hands in prayer. The teen boy directs his father to hold his hand. As the warmth of his father’s hand pressed into his son’s hand, the boy admits to his dad, “You are the strongest man I know - next to God.”

His dad isn’t a millionaire nor is he the cover model for a muscle magazine. Yet, the fact that he is consistently in his son’s life, taking care of him, praying with him, and loving on him, his strength is beyond measure.

As a parent, I want my son to see me that way. I want to be his picture of strength. I used to hang from my dad’s arm as a child and marvel at his strength but I was more impressed by his love. It doesn’t matter how many hours you spend in the gym, how many supplements you take, or how powerful you are as a business professional. Your strength as a dad, a parent, or caregiver is in your compassion and love.

The young boy’s mom told me something also while I was visiting. She expressed that her son has outlived many other youth who carry her son’s same sickness.  I now believe that that boy’s strength to survive is in God as well as in the way he honors his parents who love God and have given him a reason to live. 

Your love helps your children live!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Coverage for Falling Rocks!!

Psalm 3:3

Amplified Bible (AMP)
But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.

Recently, there was a story in the news about a group of hikers that were buried under falling rocks. Because of torrential rain, the once stable paths of six hikers became unsure. Boulders tumbled from their broken positions and fell at a rapid pace. There wasn't enough space or time to escape. A father instinctively leapt to cover his daughter as the others attempted to shield themselves. When rescuers arrived at the scene, they were unable to locate five of the hikers. However, they discovered the one young lady whose father shielded her. He was not located.

Although this is a tragic story, there is a message in the mess of those fallen rocks. In life, we could be traveling a familiar path without fear of impending danger. Yet, right when we feel that our steps are secure, the floor could fall out and we can see the proverbial world collapsing upon us. There is hope though!

Just as the father of that young lady instinctively leapt to cover his daughter, our Father in heaven is shielding us with His love! God sent His only son, Jesus, into this world to protect from all hurt, harm, and danger. He is proof that His love is our shield and strength to survive. Be encouraged - YOU ARE COVERED!