Tuesday, May 30, 2017

We played tug of war at church - (The little things)

The Little Things

How to get over being overwhelmed!

The alarm rings at 5:30am; after several rough nudges, I throw my legs over the side of the bed and bury my face into my hands. A short prayer is emitted, “Lord help me…” My house moves like clockwork, the infant is crying for attention and the toddler is fussing to be fed moments afterwards.  A little more rest would be ideal but the snarl of traffic grows with each passing minute.

Clothes, breakfast and backpacks are readied and before I know it, it is time to leave.

The hustle of our days coupled with the responsibilities of our careers and extracurricular activities can be daunting. It is easy to become overwhelmed and exhausted.

Yet, just as what we have to do can be overwhelming – what we love to do can be overwhelming as well.

Sunday we did an object lesson using a tug-of-war rope. I held one rope end with one hand and had an elementary student grab the other rope end. Easily I was able to pull the child in my direction. I added another elementary child to the opposite end of the rope.  Once again, I easily pulled the children in my direction. Another child was added. It forced me to use two hands but I successfully pulled them. A fourth child was added and the task became significantly more difficult. I was able to pull them for a moment but they prevailed.

Little tasks individually handled are easily manageable. 

However, when those small tasks multiply, they
can develop the “overwhelmed” feeling.

The Bible compares it to small foxes that spoil a vine rich with succulent fruit. (Song of Solomon 2:15)

We never plan to be overwhelmed. Yet, the incessant addition of school/career work, family needs, body goals, social plans, and life interruptions stack like Legos.  The little things nip at your productivity, your sleep, your strength, and your will.

I know what overwhelmed feels like but I also know whose name overrides any and everything with surrender posturing power.

Be encouraged with these scriptures:

Psalm 46:1-2, 61:2, 119:105 - Instead of just crying about your current situation, cry out to the God who delivers, sets free, and saves.  He is the bird’s eye view to your situation and the guide to get out.

1 Corinthians 14:33 – God is not the creator of confusion. He is a promoter of peace. When there is insurmountable stress, slow down and seek God’s face. Pause and Pray!

Mark 6:31 – Step away from some things. People tend to unnecessarily carry things that have no real benefit to their day or even their life. I have an overstuffed wallet that makes it difficult sit down when it is in my back pocket. That wallet contains my college ID, a couple expired gift cards, some receipts, and various other useless items. The weight of these individual items is insignificant. Nevertheless, when they are combined they cause a problem.  The items carried value at one time but now I’m still carrying things that mean more to me than they do by themselves. Let it go.

In the close of my tug-of-war object lesson, I led the youth to scripture that reminded them that Jesus cares deeply for us. He sees when we are struggling to sustain and the moment we call His name, He steps in and adds supernatural strength to help us hold on and remind us when to let go.

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...