Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Is it an accident if you do it 3,000 times?

When Accidental Becomes Intentional!

By closely tailgating the vehicle in front of him, Rodolfo Sanchez, a New York City taxi driver stealthily slid through the E-Z Pass lane for three years! Time after time he continued this sneaky technique and avoided paying tolls. Sanchez’ justification was that he was saving money for his family. It’s funny how we make excuses to shadow our behavior in self-righteousness. Everything was going well until he got caught. Sanchez reported that his own E-Z Pass device was missing years ago. That story was cool until a Metropolitan Transit Authority employee discovered the missing E-Z pass. After 3 years and 3,017 successful passes, his grand toll total came to a colossal $28,242.50. Sanchez has been charged with third-degree grand larceny, theft of services, and criminal possession of stolen property. If convicted he faces up to seven years in prison.

How many of us can honestly admit to justifying wrongdoing if we feel that the offense is minimal?

You knew it was wrong the first time you did it – yet somehow you got away with it. Therefore, you tried it again. You felt bad initially, but because you successfully escaped punishment, your feelings became obscured by pride. Example. We all get that heart sinking feeling when we speed past a highway patrol car. It doesn’t matter if you are two miles or ten miles over the speed limit, your foot lifts from the gas pedal and some of you push the gear shift into neutral. The anxiety of getting a ticket sends shivers through your spine.  But, as you glance in the rear view mirror, you realize he hasn’t fired up his flashing lights. After a few moments you give a sigh of relief and return to your speed. You escaped.

The problem with this scenario and many situations in our lives is that we have gotten comfortable with our accidents. The accidents have shifted from oops to on purpose. Samson knowingly allowed his wife, Delilah, to deceive him as he was proudly deceiving her. He became overconfident in his success.

Judges 16:20-22 New Living Translation (NLT)
20 Then she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” When he woke up, he thought, “I will do as before and shake myself free.” But he didn’t realize the Lord had left him. 21 So the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They took him to Gaza, where he was bound with bronze chains and forced to grind grain in the prison. 22 But before long, his hair began to grow back.

The final time Samson was shook from his sleep, the soldiers captured him and gouged out his eyes. It was then that Samson actually woke up. Don’t wait until your eyes are removed for you to see that you are sleeping with the enemy (defiantly holding onto to behaviors, actions, circumstances, feelings, etc…).

There is hope! The bible says in verse 22, “before long, his hair began to grow back,” Samson’s punishment was not the end of his story. A little later we discover that Samson killed more Philistines in his death than life. We can make some major mistakes in life but understand this, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28). Your mistakes can make a message that can alter your life and/or the lives of those connected to you.

Be mindful of the minor offenses that can eventually lead to major issues. Correct the action. Also, learn from your accidents and tell your story so that others don’t fall into the same trap.

Here is the link to the taxi driver article.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Final Three Count?!?!?

The Ultimate Warrior Lives!

If you are an 80’s baby or a 90’s kid, you have a genuine appreciation for The World Wrestling Federation also known as the WWF. As a kid, I remember intense Saturday morning wrestling matches with my younger brother. We would leap from couches, pin the other down, and attempt to kick out before the other counted to three. Winded and often bruised from our battles, we kept going until somebody cried or we gave up. We eagerly anticipated every WWF wrestling match, cartoon show, or after school special. The WWF touted larger than life characters. The wrestlers carried 2x4’s, hefty dog chains, and even rip away t-shirts to maintain an image. They also inspired kids to make good decisions, stand up for themselves, and use their imagination. I had several favorite wrestlers – The Junk Yard Dog, Andre the Giant, Macho Man Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan and of course - The Ultimate Warrior. I used to take shoestrings from my Chuck Taylor All-Stars and tie them around my skinny arms. Wanting to be The Ultimate Warrior, I mimicked all of his moves while running around our house.

Recently, a heart attack gave The Ultimate Warrior his final three-count. It was a big weekend for him. He patiently took pictures with his fans, laughed, smiled and enjoyed his triumphant entry back to his place of prestige. Not only was it Wrestlemania XXX but also the induction ceremony for The Ultimate Warrior into the Hall of Fame. Three days later he died.

John 20:1 New Living Translation (NLT)
20 Early on Sunday morning,[a] while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.

Revelation 1:18 New Living Translation (NLT)
18 I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.

Leading to the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, I am reminded about another Ultimate Warrior.  After fasting for forty days and nights, Jesus fought temptation in the wilderness. Throughout the three years of His earthly ministry, Jesus contended to teach salvation, love and grace. The bible says that Palm Sunday, five days before Good Friday, people celebrated Jesus as he entered the city on the back of a donkey. Cheers filled the air as clothing and palms lined the streets beneath the hooves of the donkey. Later that same week, Jesus was tried, convicted, beaten and hung on a cross. His heart was attacked as He experienced some of the same people, who once cheered with support, emitting jeers in opposition of him. Even as Jesus’ accusers gambled for his clothes, He fought for them with a simple and profound statement, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Jesus, whose hands healed the sick, was holding the nails attached to the cross. Knowing that He had the power to get off the cross, He stayed there and died as a sacrifice for present and future sins. But that’s not how the story ends.

This ultimate warrior was buried in the grave, heard His three count, and got up! He even left his clothes in the tomb. As much I enjoyed and emulated the human ultimate warrior of the WWF – I am so glad that I serve and consistently believe in a savior and soldier who continuously fights for me. I will always be a fan of Wrestling. The memories of James Brian Hellwig, The Ultimate Warrior and professional wrestler, will keep his legacy alive. Jesus is my Ultimate Warrior, and after the three count He was given – Jesus GOT UP and STILL LIVES TODAY!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Do it for the vine!

Do it for the vine!

John 15:5
New Living Translation (NLT)
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

A viral Internet video or Vine that has captivated people of all ages showcases a young girl dressed in a dance leotard and an older girl making beats on a chair. The older girl commands the younger girl three times to, “Do it for the vine.” The younger girl responds twice by saying, “I ain’t gone do it!” On the third request, the little girl breaks out in a full-out dance to the rhythm of the older girl’s chair drumming. It’s quite hilarious!

The bible teaches us that Jesus is our TRUE vine - the source for all that we need to grow and be vibrant. Yet, when we are challenged about our blessings, we cower or try to take full responsibility. Like a child who wants to claim independence without full understanding – a face plant is soon coming.

Catch these three points and you will not only recognize your source but also proclaim his dominance and serve him joyfully at a moment’s notice!

Reject & Accept
John 15:2 New Living Translation (NLT)
2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.

A great parent allows their children to grow but they are careful to prevent them from growing wild. Parents want their children to be successful but they do not leave them to grow unmanaged. There has to be correction and redirection. God, who is the vinedresser to your source, wants to see you achieve great success so He will correct you also. Just as a flower without sun is dead – you without the son are absent from the sustenance you need to survive. Reject anything that will block you from your source and accept God’s challenges that are pushing you to grow.

John 15:4 New Living Translation (NLT)
4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

Your personal and professional success is rooted in your sustainability. Jesus easily relays that unless you remain in me you cannot be fruitful. Our relentless tenacity to trust and tie to our source is paramount. The great thing about hold on to your source is that aggressively He holds you even when your grip is loose.
John 15:7-8 New Living Translation (NLT)
7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

What father with a loving relationship denies his child? When your ultimate goal is to please and magnify your source – the rewards are endless! Fruit never ask the vine to feed them, it does it automatically. However, when the fruit is matured, if it does not give back, its seed, the possibility of more fruit being made is diminished. When you are blessed – you must acknowledge your source and inform others about your source. The vine is for you and anyone that connects to it.

Do it for the vine! He has saved, delivered, healed, provided, secured, and more – that’s enough reason to dance and tell it all! 

*side bar* Parents don't like telling their child to do a task more than once - the next time God prompts you to do something - do it the first time. It will save you time and trouble...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Let it gooooooo!!!

I witnessed the most intriguing occurrence while looking out the window at work. A woman, wrapped in several layers of clothes, was slowly but deliberately moving two shopping carts. I wasn’t sure how far she was going, but I was certain it was going to take two times too long. After wiping her sweat filled brow, she placed both hands on the push bar of her first at capacity shopping cart. One foot in front of the other, she moved her cart about thirty yards, parked it, and walked thirty yards in the opposite direction. Waiting for her was another at capacity shopping cart. She placed her hands on the push bar of that cart and moved it thirty yards to join the previously parked cart. She continued this back and forth action several times as she made her way down the street. She seemed unaffected by neither the heat of the day, the weight of her baskets, or the distance she was traveling. Yet, I was perplexed at her methodic and time-consuming efforts.

I can’t judge which of her possessions carried value – but it was a lot of stuff and wherever she was going it was going to take a long time to get there! There is a popular colloquialism that says, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” As true as the statement appears – I challenge whether the person carrying the perceived treasure is cherishing a bit of trash also. Let it go.

Daily we pick up and hold on to unnecessary items that could be discarded if we really think about it. I have a horrible habit of collecting receipts under the notion that one day I will put them in some spreadsheet to “write off” on my taxes. In actuality, I’m just building a paper nest in my wallet that causes me to sit lopsided in my vehicle. Let it go.

The bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged” (NLT).

In what ways have you been wronged, disappointed, upset, mistreated, overlooked? The first time bothered you but when it happened again, you held on to it. It became a piece of trash that when held long enough will become toxic. The more you amass these negative feelings based on your experiences you are setting yourself up for nuclear meltdown. Holding a grudge hurts you more than it bothers them. Let it go.

“You will never be called upon to give anyone more grace than God has already given you.” – Max Lucado

I was talking with one of my kids from the church about ordering something to eat and then it being more food than he could handle. I asked him what he would do if he only had a few bites left but was already full. He said, “I’ll save it for later – I spent money on that!” Some of us invest in people/things and although we have every reason to let it go we can’t.

Don’t hold on to things tighter than you hold on to God…

They/it may not be leaving you – God could be taking it away.

Let it go.

My son, who is starting to sound a lot like the voice of reason, popped in on me yesterday while I struggling about a big decision. He simply sang to me, “Let it gooooo daddy!”

Clearly, Frozen is his favorite movie but in that moment – his words pulled me from that stagnant place and helped me to move on. Let it go.

What are you holding on to? Have you realized that it is taking you twice as long to get somewhere close? What can you let go? I dare you to let something go – I am certain that if you asked God about it, He has already showed you what it is. Let it go.

Hebrews 12:1
New Living Translation (NLT)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.