Archive for August, 2011

August 14, 2011

Real:

“Owning Up”

Exodus 20:16

Let’s be honest. Telling the truth is sometimes the hardest thing to do…especially when there is the potential of bringing a “less than ideal” situation upon us. This really comes into place when we are talking about potentially impacting our livelihood. Let’s say a potential employment opportunity presents itself, one that could certainly meet needs on multiple fronts, i.e., family, money, time, etc… A no-brainer, right? However, during the process you are asked to come and speak to others in the company, thus taking you away from your current place of employment for the day. Keep in mind nothing has been offered and despite the fact that all has gone very well so far during the process, there is always the possibility an offer will not come. What do you do? Do you tell your current boss you need to take a sick day (if you have one), an unpaid day off, call in sick (even though you’re not), go see relatives at the request of your spouse, etc…? Or do you tell your boss the truth. You’re torn. Your conscience (Holy Spirit) tells you one things but your mind, through the sense of self preservation, tells you something else.

Let’s say we told a small white one (lie), went and talked to the potential new employers, and an offer is not made. Your current boss doesn’t find out and things go on as normal. All good, right? Your boss may not know the truth but Someone does. Let’s say you tell the white one, go talk, and an offer is made. You accept, come back, and turn in your notice. Your boss asks if you went to speak with this upcoming new employer on the day you took off. What is your response? What if a co-worker asks the same question? Let’s change the environment landscape to a school. Your boss is now a friend. The potential new job is an invitation to a concert you really want to go to and that has been sold out for months. Unfortunately, you already had plans with a friend. Because you don’t want to hurt your friend’s feelings, but really want to go to the show, you make up a story that takes you away from your friend but doesn’t put you at the concert. Same scenario as before. Your friend doesn’t find out, you have a great time at the concert, and things go on as normal. Again, your friend may not know, but Someone knows. Let’s look at the flip side. What happens, in both scenarios, if the person on the receiving end of the lie finds out the truth? A job or friend could be lost. More importantly, if you are a Christian, how does that impact your witness?

Challenge:  As Christians, we are called to live lives that are worthy of God, who calls us into His kingdom and glory. (1Thes 2:12, 2Thes 1:11) We are also commanded not to lie. (Exodus 20:16) In Psalm 34:12 (NLT), we are asked pointblank, “Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous?” The way to this life is revealed immediately in verse 13, “Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies.” In today’s world of flexible morality and justified embellishments, there is a lack of honesty…responsibility…accountability…a lack of realness. Don’t take the easy road. It takes a real man to be honest…responsible…accountable…to be real. Guys, choose to be who you were called to be and “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 know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NLT).

Prayer: Lord, You are all powerful, all present, and all knowing. As Your children, we are called to a different standard, a life worthy of You…an all sufficient Savior. Lord, I am so grateful for Your grace and forgiveness as I know that I often let You down. The world makes it easy, in fact encourages, dishonesty. Even when others don’t know the truth…You do. Please help me. Holy Spirit, speak to my heart. Please give me the strength to be honest…to be real…to be the person You have created and called into Your kingdom and glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

For more about getting involved or supporting Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.   

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August 7, 2011

Relevant:

“Lightbulbs”

Mark 4:33-34

Having an impactful message or influencing someone is determined by one thing…the ability to relate to what is being said. There is nothing more painful (or ineffective for that matter), for the speaker or the audience, than to be in the room where a message is not received or understood. You can have the greatest and most applicable and relevant message in the world but if you are not connecting with the audience and getting the nods from the crowd, you had might as well be speaking Swahili to Iowa kindergarten students.  Let me put it into other, more relevant terms. You’re working in a candy store and a 13 year old kid walks up to you and says, “I was in here yesterday and bought some gum for $.25. Today, it’s $.20. Why?” You respond with a full dissertation of retail dynamics, economic theory, and the evolution of the US capitalistic markets over the past 120 years rather than saying, “We wanted to sell more so we put it on sale this morning.” Is the dissertation answer wrong? No. Fundamentally, and if done correctly, we would likely wind up at the spot as the “…we put it on sale this morning” answer. However, which answer is the youngster more likely to relate to and understand? That answer is pretty easy.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He shared the Truths of heaven, eternity, and the will of the Father through parables or stories. In Mark chapter 4, we read a number of parables but more importantly learn why He used parables to teach. In verse 11, Jesus told His disciples, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom – you know how it works. But to those who can’t see it yet, everything comes in stories, creating readiness, nudging them toward receptive insight.” Verses 33-34 sums it up, “With many stories like these, He (Jesus) presented His message to them (people), fitting the stories to their experience and maturity. He was never without a story when He spoke…. ”

Challenge:  A barrier to effective communication is the lack of relatability.  For anyone who has delivered any kind of message, the term “lightbulbs” may have been used. That is referring to the looks on the audience’s faces when the switch is turned on (lightbulb lights up) and they understand what is being said…when they get it. Good teachers become very skilled in the art of modifying a concept and presenting it in as many ways as necessary so that the entire class’s “lightbulbs” light up. Jesus was a great Teacher. As the Creator of the heavens and the earth, He had infinite wisdom and intellect. However, whether He was talking to most or least educated, He shared in a way where the importance of the Message was never lessened and the understandability of it was always maximized. Our challenge is to follow Christ’s example and share what God has put on out heart as well as our knowledge of His word in ways anyone, despite their walk or level of familiarity with Scripture, can understand it.

Prayer: Lord, You are all powerful, all present, and all knowing. You were there at the beginning of time and have infinite knowledge and wisdom. Yet, You lower Yourself to us and speak to us so we understand Your life changing and eternal message. I don’t deserve Your grace but I am grateful for Your blessings and Your unconditional love. Lord, please help me share Your love and Message in ways that those I talk to can understand. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

For more about getting involved or supporting Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.  

“Hanging With Sinners.”

Posted: August 1, 2011 in Articles

Hanging With Sinners  by Jeff Searcy

 

Welcome to August…the third quarter hump and the beginning of the off ramp into fall. For so many of us, however, summer has not let loose its grip and continues to bring us to the question we have asked more times than we care to admit, “Can it get any hotter?” Of course, the answer usually ends up being, “Yes”, as it never fails to…”get hotter”. Okay, enough about hot weather.

There have been times in my life where I have been cautious myself and cautioned by others about “hanging with the wrong crowd”. In fact, one thing that my mother always told me was that “I am known by the company I keep.” How true that is. And I have held that as a tenet of mine throughout my personal and professional life. However, I am so thankful that Christ didn’t hold that sentiment as His mantra.

Earlier this year, I received a message from a friend warning me about an individual that I had had a conversation with. According to the information my friend was given, I was going to be affiliated with the individual in question. The person I spoke with told me of their serious lack in judgment that led to some really bad choices. And despite the fact the person had repented and was not condemned but forgiven by the only One worthy of casting judgment, the scarlet letter remained.  The information my friend received regarding my affiliation was inaccurate. And despite the fact that I appreciated the spirit in which the warning was sent, it really struck a nerve in me…so much so that I was compelled to write about it fueled by the Holy Spirit’s fire in me and His conviction in my heart.

As I sat and thought about the warning from my friend, who was only looking out for my best interest, I came to grips with some hard realities in my own life. How often have I come across or hear of people who have made bad choices, lied, cheated, broke the law, even murdered or raped, and casted them aside? Rather than seeing them as someone that should be cast aside or condemned, I should see them as someone who is in need of experiencing and knowing the grace and unconditional love of Almighty God. I don’t have to condone the sin to love the sinner (a label that I carry as well). I must accept the reality that if I am going to be true to the calling God has put on my heart, to reach men of all ages, where they are, share with them the love of Christ, and love them as He loves them (which we are commanded to do), then I don’t get to be particular about who I reach out or minister to. Do I engage or take part in what the other person is doing? If it breaks the law or goes against God’s Word, absolutely, not. Do I pray for them and do what I can to show and share with them the love of Christ? Absolutely.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He didn’t spend all of His time with “church” people. He spent time with and loved, only as an all sufficient Savior could, those society deemed outcasts, unclean, unworthy. In fact, when the disciples were asked by the Pharisees why Jesus ate with tax collectors and ‘sinners’, Jesus overheard and responded by saying, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt 9:12 NIV)  We are assured “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” (Rom 8:1) and are told, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matt 7:1-2) Know this: The wrong we see in others, Jesus sees in us. Our challenge today, and every day, is to be open to opportunities to share the grace and unconditional love of Christ and the Message with other sinners.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for Your love and grace, neither of which I deserve. Forgive me for judging others. Please help me to look inward before I look outward. Please give me a humble heart and spirit so that I see the plank in my eye before I see the sawdust in my brother’s. Help me love as You love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.        

Love as He loves. Keep it vertical. Armor Up.

From the August 2011 edition of Power Source Magazine. 

July 31, 2011

Relentless:

Don’t Die Stupid

John 14:6

 

Don’t Die Stupid is a saying that has been used by the military for decades. It is simply a statement that makes the point of, well, don’t end up dead because you did something you knew you shouldn’t or didn’t do something you knew you should.In other words, don’t get shot in the head while holding your helmet in your hand. Don’t get shot in the chest with your body armor lying on the floor next to you. Or, don’t get shot in the backside because you didn’t dig your hole deep enough and half of your body could be seen by the enemy. Need I continue?  It is about making sure you do the things necessary to reduce the chances of getting killed in battle. But at the end of the day, dying is inevitable and when God calls us home, we go. However, He also gives us the sense not to assist in a premature earthly exit.

The most important statement ever made…period…by anyone…was made by Jesus Christ when                                                       He told His disciples, “…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. The Bible is the inerrant and inspired word of God. Spending time in it is how we grow and strengthen our relationship with God and it is how He speaks to us. Bottom line, if nothing else is obtained from time spent in God’s word, you had better get the fact that Jesus is the only way to heaven or else an eternity in Hell will be your fate. Period. End of story. Do not pass go and do not collect $200. Do not let the somewhat lighthearted nature of the Monopoly reference reduce the severity of the dying without knowing Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Needless to say, its importance cannot be overstated.

If I may, I would like to share some important research findings. Fact: One out of one people die…with the overwhelming majority having no idea when or where death will occur. Fact: Death is not optional. However, how one dies is. Of course, I am not referring to the manner in which death occurs, but the state of the heart. So…Don’t Die Stupid.

Challenge:  In his letter to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul said, “Even though I am free from demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized – whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ-but entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-22). Our goal is to reach anyone and everyone and share with them the most important thing they could ever learn…that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, the life, and the ONLY way to heaven. (John 14:6). Join in that mission.

Prayer: Lord, You are sovereign. I thank You for Your grace, Your blessings, Your love, and Your forgiveness. Thank you for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sins. Lord, You clearly tell us in your word that no one get to You, the Father, except through Jesus. Please help me be bold in spreading that message. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

For more about getting involved or supporting Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.