Monday, October 31, 2016

Please Don't Feed The Clowns

If you starve it - it will die...

August 21st, 2016 a call came to a police station in South Carolina. A clown had been spotted in the woods just a few days earlier. It was the first occurrence of what soon became a trend of clown sightings across America. 

It was believed that the clowns staged themselves in obscure areas to lure children. Just the thought of it is menacing. Why would an individual dressed as a character created for entertainment pervert that image into something so evil?

As a matter of fact, there were even sightings of clowns in the Houston area. I didn't know if I should go by Home Depot for CLOWN spray or Academy for a baseball bat.

After reading several articles about the clowns, I learned that many of the sightings were inconsequential. When the police went to investigate the clowns, they were nowhere to be found. 

The bible says, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind" (2Timothy 1:7).

A lot of our fears are a battle of the mind. You have the power to overcome your fears. Recognize that true peace is attained when you hold on to the peace maker. Not the weapon, but the one that comforts you with the peace that no weapon formed against you shall prosper. Be careful but also be mindful. 

Secondly, this whole clown situation kind of reminds me of the circus. Everyone gets excited when they discover the circus is coming. Nevertheless the reality is that the circus and its clowns are only temporary. 

There are clowns in our lives and although all of them don't wear make up, they are creating havoc and they need to leave. 

Everyone has a job and some clowns are really good at what they do. Don't be mad that they are good at what they do. (John 10:10) Do a better job at what your boss in Heaven has called you to do! (Romans 12:1-2)

My brother and I use to get in trouble for laughing really loud at inappropriate times. Our mom or grandmother would give a stern look at whoever was egging us on and say, stop entertaining them...they will just keep doing it!" 

You will often discover that clowns have a short life span. Their strength and vitality resides in their need for attention. 

Lastly, the reason the circus and even these clown sightings have received so much attention is that people keep feeding the clowns. 

Worry and Negativity are a misuse of your Imagination!

Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

If you don't want something to survive...stop feeding it!
  • Clowns aren't all real - Dismiss what doesn't apply
  • Clowns are for entertainment - Laugh at them
  • Clowns aren't forever - Allow them to leave  

Monday, October 24, 2016

Are you a good listener?

How often have you heard, "Seek first to understand and then to be understood." You might not remember because you probably weren't listening...

It's interesting that the people we call friend are occasionally unavailable when we need them to answer the phone.

I am forever grateful to have a friend who has never left me in need and is always ready to hear my cries, comfort my fears, and congratulate the accomplishments I have achieved through Him.

Recently a woman in Houston, TX was arrested for simply not listening.

How does someone get fired for refusing to pay attention??

Well...She was a 911 emergency operator who would randomly hang up on callers that she didn't feel like listening to. It is assumed that she hung up on hundreds of individuals and was actually recorded saying after hanging up, "Ain't nobody got time for this. For real." See the article here.

James 1:19, "Understand this, my dear brothers and sister: you must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry" (NLT).

We could all use a lesson in listening skills.  Honing our listening skills allows us to not only be considerate of those who are requesting our attention but also cognizant of God's whispers of direction for our lives.

Here are a few tips for being an active listener.

In Brasil listening to the translator.
1. Focus - Keep the main thing the main thing. If you are privileged enough to be the person that someone reaches out to - honor the moment by paying attention to what they are saying.

"The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said" --Peter Drucker

2. Feedback - listen to hear and not to respond makes sense, but what happens when you are at a loss for words? The blessing of having The Holy Spirit is that He is great at filling in the gaps. Seek God in every situation and allow Him to fill your conversation with what is best to say. If He is quiet - you should be quiet also. "I don't know" is an appropriate answer when you really don't know.

3. Be Fair - Your words carry weight. You can either drag people down or keep them from flying off unnecessarily.  Remember that we have all been in a place of need at some time. Avoid judging others for something you were once guilty of yourself.

Listen up! The cost of paying attention could equal the value of your life or a friend's.

Proverbs 1:5, "A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel."

Where is the creamy peanut butter - The Grocery Shopping Struggle

The Grocery Shopping Struggle

It was simple task. Thirty to Forty-five minutes at max. After all, I have a degree, a mortgage, three kids, and organized events serving thousands of youth. Why was this so difficult? This task right here, this task right here, death...of my pride.

Attempting to greater assist with the family chores, I elected to do the grocery shopping.  My wife e-mailed the list as a handy PDF and sent it as a text. Sounds like a bit extra however given my track record for forgetting things - it made sense.

I had a plan. Start with the items under bread, then dairy, over to meats, slide through the baby section, and wrap it up in veggies. It was too perfect of a plan to fail or so I thought. You see...I had never grocery shopped for my family let alone at this grocery store for these items.

Don't judge me.

The moment the magic sliding doors revealed the acres of food awesomeness and the friendly snack lady offered me a blue-cheese burger bite, I should have known it was going to be struggle city.

The bible says in Romans 12:12, "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer" (ESV).

Ten minutes in, the bread section of my list was done, I'm feeling great! Over to dairy. Danimals yogurt - check. Cheese sticks, milk, - check and check. Easy business. Next up, meat. Salmon. Wait. Does she want fresh salmon or frozen? Skip it I'll come back. Chicken tenders. Hold up! Why are there so many different prices for the same package. Where is the pork tenderloin that's on the list?

My confidence is rocked, my hands are sweating, I'm falling and I'm getting hungry.

My mind said, "Forget the plan - go rogue!" It felt like the grocery gods were hiding everything I wanted and laughing at me. Where is the creamy peanut butter - not chunky, not mixed with jelly, just plain creamy?! My determination was getting defeated. But somehow my pride wouldn't let me call home. I would just make up a story and blame the blue-cheese burger bite lady! All of a sudden, I realized I had been in the grocery store for 45 minutes and all I had was a loaf of bread and some dairy items.  My anxiety was off the charts!

Where did the time go?

I abandoned the grocery cart on a random aisle, closed my phone with the list, and ran in search of a protein bar and an exit. Game over. Grocery store - 1 Enterprising Dad - 0

It's a crazy true story - nevertheless that is a lot people's reality... well made plans that didn't go as planned.

Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with the plan. - Tom Landry

As bad as I wanted to give up that afternoon, I had to remember why I started in the first place. I wanted to take care of my family and help with the house chores. After a small search and rescue mission for my abandoned grocery cart I said a small prayer and began again. (Philippians 4:6)

Stop limiting your prayers to to your major issues. God cares about it all, even the disheveled dad on the wrong grocery aisle. (Proverbs 3:5-6).

So, yeah it was the longest grocery shopping experience ever (2.5 hours) but I made it.  You know what, you will make it too.

Make a plan.
Make allowance for you plan not being perfect.
Make sure you pray the entire time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Why Keep Praying...Does Prayer Really Change Things???

Our lives are filled with plans, promises, pains, and picturesque moments. In every one of these emotions and circumstances we are encouraged to thank God because it is His will (1 Thessalonians 5:18). But have you ever been in a place where you just didn’t know if you should be thanking God or fussing at him.

In Romans 8:26, Paul writes, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”

So, even when we don’t have the right words, we have the Holy Spirit who pushes our broken and unintelligible utterings from our hearts, beyond our lips, and toward God.

Prayer is one the most powerful tools a believer in Christ carries. Prayer calls down angels, calms stormy situations, and sees us through both the cool and the crazy moments of our lives. Yet, given the outstanding benefits of prayer – our prayers are often suffocated by impatience or fear.

I heard a preacher once say that our God is old school. God doesn’t own a microwave. He prefers Crock Pot blessings. Microwaves heat from the out side and will leave parts undone yet stoves and crock pot heat food patiently and thoroughly.

How does a believer develop the patience to hold on and maintain faith when they feel their time is limited?

How does a believer dismiss the fear that God won’t answer when they are praying with all of their might?

(Matthew 26:39)

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Matthew, Mark, and Luke explicitly detail Jesus’ prayer at the Mount of Olives.

In our greatest moments of agony understand that everyone is not going to understand what you are going through. The bible says Jesus traveled with his disciples only so far before He pulled away to be alone. Your family and friends may have been through something similar but its still different from your personal experience.

Luke 22:40 Jesus tells the disciples, “Pray that you will not give into temptation”

On of our greatest challenges is not that we won’t pray but that we will be tempted to GIVE UP on our prayers. 

Jesus says don’t give into temptation…

Then, Jesus walks away approximately 50 feet, drops to his knees and lays on his face. He is about to face an extreme circumstance. In this moment, similar to Jesus tears at the grave of lazarus, we once again get a glimpse at the human side of our Lord and Savior.


We receive REAL answers when we recognize and appeal to a REAL savior

It’s hard to talk to someone who is invisible

Jesus says, “My Father, Father, and Abba, Father” in the Gospels – each denotes that He is speaking to not only the Father of all but also his personal Father. This shows the closeness of their relationship. We have to realize that when we pray, we aren’t praying to an ATM machine, genie, or magic being in the sky. We are praying/communicating to someone who knows us intimately.

How many of you all are in a relationship
What is a reasonable amount of time you would expect to hear from them per day?
What is a reasonable amount time that your Heavenly Father should hear from you?


We receive REAL answers when we are REAL honest

The bible says in Isaiah 65:24: "Before you call I will answer, while you are still speaking, I will hear."

How cool is it to serve a God that knows exactly what we need even before we ask.

Yet, I believe we just aren’t upfront about our needs. We only want Him to fix the issue but not the root cause of the issue. We want quick solution instead of complete healing. Tell Him everything and allow Him to fix everything. Everything? Everything!


We receive REAL answers when we wait for REAL answers
If God puts you on hold don’t hang up...

The human nature of Jesus was torn. The arduous task He was about to embark upon would torment His mind, body, and soul. Yet, He declares that God’s will is paramount.

The split second decision of Jesus to fully trust God is sometimes way too long for us to reach.  

In the darkest part of the storm Jesus cried out, Peter cried out, Moses cried out. Each was delivered. Why is your mouth still shut?

God won't give us what we can’t handle and He gives us what He wants us to grow in to.

You are given bigger shoes because your potential for growth is expected.

We I train people at the gym, I tell them, "If you are persistent you will get it – If you are consistent you will keep it"

It's biblical - check out Luke 18:1-5. Your resilience in faith is not begging - its consistent asking with confidence through faith. Begging is done in fear not faith.

The moment Jesus began to pray He was strengthened by the angels and every moment following that God never left his side. You have the Holy spirit in you and God has declared he will never leave you. Stop leaving him when your prayers aren’t answered your way. 

He knows, He gives, and He is on time.

Isaiah 41:9,10:
"You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, You are my servant, I have chosen you, and have not cast you away. Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."