Leaderology By Jeff Rawlins Launching soon.

Tag: Jesus

“This Dude Again,Seriously?”

“This Dude Again,Seriously?”

I have learned over the years that God has a pretty funny sense of humor. Here is how the story goes…

Back in 2012 when I was a General Manager, I hired a new sales manager based on a recommendation from someone that I really trusted at the time. It started out well enough but then after a few weeks this new sales manager began to rub me the wrong way, he was arrogant, obnoxious and a know-it-all. You know the type.

Well, it wasn’t too long before Mr. Congeniality got himself in trouble with HR for putting his foot in his mouth. Before I know it we had a series of HR investigations ongoing and it was causing a major disruption to the rest of my workforce.

 

So I pulled the sales manager in and basically tell him to stop the insanity or else he was going the way of the Dodo Bird. In the midst of that conversation we began discussing his personal life and the fact that he was a born again Christian.

I begin praying for this guy and soon decide to take him under my wing to help him, so I schedule a series of one on one meetings for us to just talk about anything and everything, I really wanted to help him get some stability in his life. He had a bright future, was pretty good in sales and enjoyed teaching people.

During our first session together I begin to speak with him about God and personal relationships and the next thing I know I was being cut off and told…”You know I used to preach, my father was a preacher I know the bible from beginning to end, you don’t have to tell me about Jesus”.

“ummm, okay”, so I tried another 3-4 times to get him to speak with me, trying to build rapport and coach him up, every single time I was met with being cut off, some rambling of “I know how to manage people, I can sell with the best of them” and misrepresentation of scripture to justify his lifestyle.

So, I stop trying and write the guy off as not coachable and eventually I initiated a transfer to another location-to let someone else deal with him. LOL. Or so I thought…

Five months later we made a strategic decision to close the location I was working in so I transferred to another location. My first day in my new location, in my office walks this same guy! Yep, he’s back! Lucky me!

So, I sit him down, somehow hoping the last several months have seen a change in his personality. No such luck, the only thing that happened was he finally got a divorce and now he was “back in the game-watch out single ladies” was his direct quote. I again try to help him by talking with him about Jesus and how He expects us to live and how we treat other people. This goes the same way as last time only this time something else happens…

He begins to try and start coaching me-giving me advice on leadership, Christian principles and winning and just about everything else he can think of. LOL. He had found a small measure of success in his new location and it went right to his head and now wanted to give me (his boss) business advice. LOL.

I quit trying and began to avoid him as much as possible as this guy was now driving me crazy! I even saw him out once on a weekend and hid behind a rack of shoes to avoid him. I know- not very mature or Christ like-my wife gave me the business over that one. Six months later, I was promoted to Region Manager and transferred to a new location. The first thing I did after thanking the Lord for the promotion was to utter a sigh of relief that I was getting away from this guy, finally!

Two months later, I am sitting in my office and in walks this same guy with a giant box. He walked right up to me, slammed his box on my desk, knocks off my Ohio State Buckeyes football helmet pen holder and says…” Guess who?” I just got promoted to sales manager here and I’m in the office right across the hall!

Are you serious??? I couldn’t believe it-I was angry-no way this guy again!!! I couldn’t get away from him.

After I calmed myself and began to pray, The answer came… As a Christian and business leader, God calls me to be the Salt and Light of this world. I don’t get to choose who I minister to- God does! The people who God puts in your life are those he would have you minister to- regardless if you like them or not. This guy keeps popping up and 4 years later I still share the office next to him, because God wants me to minister to him. When that ministry is finished, God will send us in different directions.

As Christians we can get preoccupied and distracted with so many things, that we fail to slow down and realize that people mean more to God than anything. After all He sent his son to die on the cross for people. The people in your life right now, family, friends, business associates, customers, vendors, etc. are placed in your life at this moment for a specific reason. Whether you want to punch them in the face or not. Whether they are rude or not, it doesn’t matter. The people we want to most avoid are the people that God wants us to minister to the most-you see God knows just how to stretch us.

God uses the foolish in this life to confound the wise. The Book of First Corinthians 1:27 says “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise”.


This is so like God- he loves and has a special place in his heart for the people the rest of the world attempts to silence or throw away, the people we deem obnoxious, the uncool people or  ones who don’t measure up to our level of success or sophistication. You know who these people are-God personally sees to it that you have a few of them in your life right now! Trust Me.

God wants to use you to draw them closer to him, while stretching you and continuing to carve around on your character too :). Once I received this revelation and repented, and I figured out why this guy was still hanging around, it freed me up, I began to see him in a different light, I no longer saw him as obnoxious but I saw him as a guy who needed to see the love of Jesus through me. It vastly improved our relationship. This is what prayer does… my prayer changed me and how I saw the situation.-He hadn’t changed a bit- shortly after arriving to his new office he gave a motivational book and told me to read it. I was the National Sales Director and he is a Sales Manager, (SMH) but I had changed in the way that I saw him and viewed our relationship.

Who has God placed in your life to minister to? How can you better display the love of Jesus to that person? For all Christ Followers, our ministry is to these people who surround us every day and to show them how to live a victorious life in Christ and model for them daily how a Christian should live. Once they see that what you have is genuine, they will want it too! Guaranteed!

People will come and go into our lives but our goal as Followers of our Lord Jesus Christ should be to leave each one of them better than when we found them, while we have them. It is our opportunity to impact this world for Jesus, the whole reason that we as Christians still live and breathe.

Whose life today will you commit to bringing closer to our lord through your ministry? And who will you leave better than when you found them?

 

How does Heaven get bigger? One person at a time!

 

Ephesians 4:32 puts it best: “Be kind to each another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” 

 

Porn: It doesn’t really hurt anyone, Right???

Porn: It doesn’t really hurt anyone, Right???

Many of the choices and deeds in life have quite predictable outcomes and consequences. Look at a child playing near a mud puddle, for example. Chances are that the child will eventually get muddy and wet if left to their own devices, right? Proverbs warns us of such natural, predictable consequences when it comes to sin, in particular lust:

Proverbs 6:25-27

“Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adultress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?”

In other words, if we play with fire, we are bound to be burned. And, make no mistake that lust is a fire that sets marriages in flames of destruction and can easily burn them to ash.

Pornography being so rampant, easily consumed, and anonymous has made it a huge culprit in setting marriages afire in lustful destruction.

Internet Porn Makes Lust A Mud Puddle That’s Easier Than Ever For Christians To Fall Into

We are surrounded by portals for lust daily, but what the internet has done is make these pornography and sexually-charged chat sites seem free of harm through anonymity and indirect sexual behavior, or at least at first. It’s served to remove that predictability of consequences from a tangible, real mud puddle of adultery right in front of the viewer. But, make no mistake that the consequences are very tangible and real.

According to a Psychology Today article, Dr. Jill Manning shared testimony on pornography and marriages before the U.S. Senate in 2004. Her data found that 56% of divorces claim pornography as a ground.

A 2003 poll by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers recorded that two in three polled reported the internet played a factor in their divorce, with half of those specifying online pornography.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming these numbers are reflective of a secular society. A ChristianNet survey actually found that 50% of men and 20% of women who label themselves as Christians are addicted to porn. Do you know what sexual psychologists report is their most commonly asked question amongst Christian seminar groups? – “If both spouses watch and enjoy, then how can porn harm my marriage?”

How Does Porn Destroy Marriages?

1. It’s Emotional, Spiritual, And Mental Adultery.

In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

We are intended to only share the sexual elements and desires of ourselves with a spouse. Inviting third parties via pornography, even if mutual, is still adultery.

2. Porn Destroys Your Spiritual Thinking And Defiles Your Temple

1 Corinthians 6:20 – “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”

3. Porn Rips Your Relationship Foundation Apart.

Dating is like erecting a *relationship* home. Each building material is made of gained relationship aspects that are necessary to the couple moving forward – trust, love, commitment, attraction, spiritual congruency, etc. Marriage is like the final nail in the home. After that final nail, it’s then up to the couple to preserve and nourish what they’ve built.

Porn rips apart the home piece by piece, starting with trust.

4. Porn Creates Dissatisfaction, Ungratefulness, And Comparisons.

1 Peter 5:8 says “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around looking for someone to devour.”

Pornography is often explicit and beyond ‘normal’ intimate acts, some being acts of perversion and blasphemy. It’s inevitable the viewers will begin comparing such fantasy acts and looks to reality and become dissatisfied and ungrateful for what they have in reality.

5. Porn Destroys Your Spouse’s Self-Worth.

Spouses pick up on dissatisfaction, and if they are aware of the porn habits of their spouse, then they’re certain to make their own comparisons between themselves and the porn figures in an attempt to figure out why the marriage bed isn’t enough. Such self-doubts and destroyed self-worth often makes a partner retreat because they feel inadequate.

6. Porn Is A Fantasy That Promotes Unreal, Unhealthy Expectations.

While porn depicts fantastical sexual gratification, the reality is that many of the actors are doing just that – acting. Statistics show that many have drug and alcohol addictions that fuel the fantastical acts being portrayed. Many have had all sorts of surgeries and suffer eating disorders to achieve a sexually alluring look. These are not acts and looks that transfer to realistic expectations for a spouse.

7. Porn Is Addictive And Never Satisfying.

Just as alcohol and drugs, porn can be very addictive. Studies have shown that porn triggers the pleasure centers of the brain much like illicit drugs. The sexual gratification (high) becomes addictive. The viewer begins to require more and more and different applications to achieve that sexual high. It’s an addiction that any spouse simply can’t fulfill or compete against because the porn addict can be married to the most beautiful woman imaginable and still crave different and more in search of the next sexual gratification. This is why pornography viewers often progress to more and more perversion.

8. Porn Is A Gateway Sin.

Many, even those that admit porn is sinful, feel that porn is a harmless sin. Some often use the justification that it’s better than an alternative. The problem with this line of rationalization is that pornography wears away your moral senses inch by inch. If a little is okay, then a little more won’t hurt, and if that didn’t hurt, then a little more should be okay, too. If I’m watching porn, then why can’t I chat sexually with a real life person? Chatting was fine… maybe just meeting someone to talk will be fine? What if I just kiss someone? What if I just do this next step? Before long you’ve justified yourself into a physical affair and divorce.

9. Porn Demands You Be Willing To Lose Everything.

Pornography rarely stays within the confines of a home computer. Eventually, kids and your spouse may find it at home and your boss and coworkers at work. Furthermore, the progressive behaviors and consequences often mean that you’re willing to lose your family, career, church standing, reputation, friends, finances, and relationship with God in pursuit of maintaining these lustful desires and acts.

Sexual Desire Isn’t To Be Confused With Lust

Anger, for example, is a natural feeling we get when someone wrongs us. It’s a temptation, not an act. Anger in of itself isn’t wrongful. It’s when we allow that anger to fester into revenge, hate, an unforgiving mindset, or an act that it becomes sinful. Sexual desires are much the same. We all naturally have sexual desires; it’s what spawns us to procreate and remain intimately connected with a partner.

Faith Hope Healing: Focus Your Body And Mind To Combat Lust

It’s when we allow those sexual desires to be released outside the confines of marriage or engage with lustful thoughts that we destroy our spiritual and marital wellbeing. The faith hope and healing powers of God mean that no sin is without recourse.

Galatians 5:16 “Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the [flesh].”

We have been told how to focus our sexual desires appropriately, just as we do in not looking at immediate family members of the opposite sex in a sexual manner.

In Matthew 5, we are given a calling to both perform external obedience (not commit the act) and to have internal obedience (govern our thoughts and attitudes.)

In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 we are instructed to control our bodies against passion: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”

If you are struggling with Porn in your life and you would like to talk about it or you would just like prayer, please take 20 seconds to fill out the contact form and I will be glad to reach out to you.
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“Hey Dummy, Why did you take off your helmet?”

“Hey Dummy, Why did you take off your helmet?”

 

 

Freshman year of college, day 4 of 2 -a-days(practices), the second day of full pads and contact. I was getting the best of our all-conference nose tackle, who was one of the Quad Captains on our football team. He was a very good football player and he knew it and so did the coaches, he was treated like a God. His role was to get triple teamed if possible to allow the Sam and Will linebackers to roam freely and attack the ball. I was defending him alone, so our two guards were able to peel off and get to the second level to interrupt the linebackers free roam of the field.

I should have seen it coming but I had no idea. After a successful 10 yard run right up the middle and picking himself up off the ground yet again, our beloved nose tackle and captain took it upon himself to shove me in the back while I was walking back to the offensive huddle.

This was college football, it might as well have been a prison and the rules are the same. You are new and fighting for your life and respect. So I walked back to the huddle and the coach looks at me and says: “What are you doing?”, “Why didn’t you hit him?” Shortly after practice, he summoned me into his office and told me that standing up for oneself and fighting back at the older players was the only way to get respect. He told me not to let it go the next time it happens.

The next incident didn’t take too long, it occurred the following day. First play of practice – 52 Center Trap: I destroyed him, he shoved me in the back again and walked back to his huddle. This time without thinking twice, I took off running full speed, I literally left my feet and hit that man harder than anything or anybody I had ever hit in my life! His head snapped back and he dropped, as a matter of fact, he literally flew about 3-4 feet before he dropped! He was down and for a while. He had to be helped to his feet and off of the field and sat out the next several plays.

Everyone knew what was coming next. It was on! As Captain and one of the leaders of our team, this insubordination from a freshman could not go unpunished. The fight was coming.

He trotted back onto the field, we didn’t even call a play in the huddle. The coach walks over and says to me:  “hey man, with your wrestling background, you need to get this to the ground, “his reach is twice yours” He was 6′ 4′ whereas I was 5’9″. Okay, I got it. Pick him up, slam him to the ground and wait for the coaches to pull me off. Done.

As soon as we broke the huddle I could see him tightening his gloves and buckling the 4th snap on his helmet. As soon as I got into my stance, he jumped off-sides and shoved me to the ground and followed it up with a few 4 letter adjectives he used to describe me.

Never one to back down from the fight, I willingly got up, I was ready to nail this dude, so I threw my helmet off to get ready, and then it happened.

A minute or two later I was awakened by our trainer giving me that horrible smelling stuff to wake me up. I had a horrible headache and blood was gushing out of my nose and mouth. For a minute, while lying there I had no idea what happened, so I asked the trainer and he said you got head-butted!

What? Head-butted! Really? After a while I was helped up, my nose was stuffed with cotton, and I saw the coach walking over to me. I remember feeling angry that this guy “wussed” out of fighting me like a man.

Coach walks up and he says: “Hey dummy, why did you take off your helmet?” looks at me, the trainer and asked: “is it broken?” the trainer replies:  “nope” and says “get back to practice, no more fighting.”

Amazing. That was it! As soon as he saw me pull off my helmet, he “leaped” into action from what I had been told. To this day, I have no recollection off the headbutt itself. Although, to date I have had two nose surgeries.

20+ years later, I flashed back on that incident and came to realize that I lost my chance of winning that fight the moment I pulled off my helmet and gave my opponent an opening that he could use to attack, which he took full advantage of. That wasn’t on him, it was on me.

We as Christians give our enemy an opening to attack us when we focus on our problems and not on God’s faithfulness, this more times than not will lead to us speaking words not of faith but of Fear. This is all the opening and opportunity the Devil needs to attack and turn your words of fear into a self-fulfilling curses. “I am never going to find a job”, “All of the good men out there are taken”, “This Cancer is spreading, I am not going to make it”. I cannot begin to tell you how much of my coaching time is taken up by business leaders talking about their problems and how they are struggling. Let’s face it when we hit tough times, it is a natural tendency to focus on the problem and the desire to want to share it with others.

The problem with that is, it only compounds our problems, the issue with problems is not the problem itself but the length of time we suffer through that problem- that is what weakens us. Most of us are strong enough to endure for a short time but any longer than that we become stretched and fear begins to set in and we tend to blame God or others for our current situation.

The question becomes: as Christians how do we handle problems and situations that arise from them? How do we keep our faith in the midst of the marital problems, financial stress, addiction and heath scares?

The answer lies within this scripture!

“We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony” (Rev 12:11). We must realize that the battle was won that day on Calvary through the innocent shed blood of our Savior. If we have the victory through the blood, how do we get it to manifest in our situation? First we need to realize that these problems and situations are allowed by God into our lives.

We know that God will never give us more than we can handle otherwise he would be a liar. “There is no temptation, test or trial on your path but such is common to man. God is faithful, he will not allow you to be tested, tempted or tried beyond what you can endure but will with every temptation, test or trial, make a way of escape ” (1 Cor 10:13) These events are allowed to come into our lives because they will draw us closer to God, in order to see victory we have to come to the end of our own strength so we find the beginning of his. We must take our focus off our problems and place that focus or attention on the solution which is Jesus Christ. Easily said and done, right?

Our enemy would love nothing more than to have Christians holed up having a 24/7 pity party and sharing with the entire world all of their problems, why? It’s very simple, if you lose your testimony, you lose your witness!

What I mean, is the single biggest reason you are still alive is because your ministry (the call of God on your life, whatever he has called you to do and be) is not finished, you still have work to do. If you spend your time focusing on your problems, you have nothing left in the tank for other people.

That is important because as a Christian our lives are designed to be used as living and breathing testimonials of living victoriously through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If all we are doing is confessing our “issues” and living from one problem to another. How does God get the glory from that?

Simply put, he doesn’t. What God gets glory in is our faith and how we respond and draw closer to him in the middle of those storms of life. How I personally do that is to thank God for his goodness and to focus on the past answers to prayers that I have received.

How I do that is I go back and read my Answer Book. The Answer Book is something that my family and I have been doing for years. Every time we receive an answer to our prayers, we write the whole situation down in our Answer Book and date it. We do this to celebrate the goodness and faithfulness of God, to instruct our children in prayer and keep a record of our answers to prayer in order to use the next time those tempting storms of life flare up again to help encourage us and strengthen our faith.

I can’t tell you how amazing and life giving it is to go back and read our struggles from 2010 and see how God showed up and answered our prayers, it is literally an adrenaline shot of faith in the arm that brings instant encouragement! Once I read the Answer Book, I just began thanking God for his faithfulness and I always walk away lifted up because I realize that whatever problem or situation is the flavor of this month, God has brought me through worse circumstances than this. I just need to stay in Faith, confess the victory and wait patiently for the lord and go out encouraging and blessing others in his name.

Your answer to prayers will come, I promise. Focus on God and his faithfulness, thank him in advance for your answer, if you do not already have your own Answer Book, start your own, you won’t regret it.

Once you begin to focus on God instead of your problems, your eyes will be opened and you will begin to be sensitive to the needs of others around you and you can get back to the reason you are still here which is To bless and minister to those people around you who need to have the love of Jesus and the Joy of the lord that you experience daily.

This is truly where the Maturation process in our relationship with Jesus is formed, can we in the midst of our own struggles, issues and problems still allow the Holy Spirit to use us to bless other people? The young or immature Christian cannot get beyond their own issues to see the needs of others around them. They shut down, lose their fruit, stop tithing, going to church, reading their Bible and before you know it, they are living in sin and fall further away from the lord. This is one of the biggest reasons why Christianity has fallen on hard times in the world today. Too many Christians focused on themselves and caught up in the things and worries of the world (otherwise known as the Laodicean Church spoken of in the book of Revelation 3:14).

God always shows up for his people! Creating your own Answer Book will ensure you never forget that in the future. It will help you increase your faith and witness in tough times, something all of us can use.

Tomorrow will be a better day. I promise! God is bigger than any problem or situation that you are facing. You don’t have to face it alone.

If you are struggling, just need someone to talk to or prayer, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. It takes only 30 seconds to fill out your info on my contact age. I would love to pray for you.

 

A Clear and Distinct Advantage.

A Clear and Distinct Advantage.

10 Leadership Awards and 7 promotions in 20 years, As if it could have been anyone or anything other than God! The successes and victories over the years have not been a surprise to me. The game is a little rigged, the competition not fair. As a Christian, I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me, he is the Game Changer!

 

I have been successful because of God’s favor and blessings in my life. Yes, I must show up, work very hard, make intelligent business decisions and motivate associates. The difference that I have seen in my personal relationship with the lord over the last 20 years is how we are molded into the image of Jesus over time.

 

I didn’t start out successful, I started out with a chip on my shoulder and spent the majority of late teenage years and early 20’s comparing myself to other people and becoming bitter when I perceived they had a better life than I did all while blaming God at the same time.

 

Then something changed- I began to change. As I spent more time reading the Bible and proclaiming and speaking out loud the promises of God, I literally began to view things/situations in a different light. My situation didn’t change, I changed.

 

The more time we spend in the word and in prayer the more we change and begin to see things differently. In most cases, when we pray we ask God to change our circumstances and situations but more often God changes us.

 

At the point of conversion or when we invite Jesus Christ into our lives as our Lord and Savior and ask for forgiveness of our sins, The Holy Spirit comes and lives within each of us. His job is to reveal the character and love of the father and to lead and guide us until the time we are called home.

 

The Holy Spirit is the difference maker in our lives! The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 2:26 “For God gives to a man that is good in his sight, wisdom and knowledge and joy.” If that is not a competitive advantage in our lives, I am not sure what is!

 

To realize that competitive advantage in our lives and receive the wisdom, knowledge and joy that God promises us there are a few things required on our end and here they are…

 

 

  1. Stop the sin in our lives. Nothing will stop the favor and blessings of God in your life and business quicker than sin. We cannot expect God to bless us if we are cheating on our spouse, lying on our tax returns, gossiping about others, being deceitful in our business transactions. Sin stifles the voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
  2. God has to be # 1 in our lives.If God is most important in our lives that will be shown in the amount of time we spend with him in prayer, supplication, thanksgiving and praise. God should be our first and last conversation every day.
  3. Giving. Tithing and giving regular offerings is non-negotiable with God. According to the Bible everything we have belongs to God, he doesn’t need our money to spread his word, he gives us a free will and allows each of us to choose what we do with that money. I have been both a tither and non-tither in my relationship with God and based on my personal experience it’s a no-brainer. Show me a Christian who doesn’t tithe regularly and I will show you a Christian who has a Luke warm relationship with God at best! We can also give of our time which is also very important.
My Scripture Cards
  1. Speak the Word. God’s word is powerful. The bible says that the “power of life and death are in the tongue”. We have a choice we can speak the life giving words of God over our lives and businesses or we can speak the world’s word over them. Which do you think will have a greater positive impact? The moment that I began to speak God’s word over my life, I changed. I saw things differently, become more patient, and began to evolve more into the image of Christ in terms of how I lived my life. The word of God as I spoke it out audibly over my life changed me. What I did was I went to the Bible and created Scripture cards on various promises of God for our lives and I wrote them down and created a rolodex of Bible promises that I have been speaking out over my life, family and business for the last 20 years. Mine have coffee spilled on them, been ripped, had 3 different kids drawing on them over the years yet they still survived and are used daily, There is nothing in my opinion that has brought me closer to the lord (except fasting) than using and speaking these scripture cards over my life. They travel with me everywhere, I now have two sets with over 350 different promises of God. I speak them out in the car, at the office, in the airport whenever I get a chance. They work! It takes less than an hour to create them.

 

 

As a Christian, God is on our side, he searches for ways to bless us and draw us closer to him. Think about that it terms of the advantage that we have over Non-Christians. Where do they go when the “storms of life beat upon them?” Who do they turn to when they are sick? To whom do they look to for strategic business advice or favor when an important budget meeting, interview or Dr. Appointment has the ability to be life changing?

 

We have hope and faith that our God promises to never leave us nor forsake us! A clear and distinct advantage over the competition. A difference maker in our lives! When I think about this I think about an experience I had when I was in High School at a wrestling tournament.

 

Each year we had a 30-team dual tournament from across our state where we had Class A (the big schools) and Class B (the little schools) wrestle each other for the only time each year. There had been a huge rivalry for years between the fans of the different classes, each thought they were superior. We could not wrestle each other at Sectionals/Regionals/State because of the different classes so this tournament because it had many of the top teams was as close to being fully loaded as you could get without the State Tournament.

 

The dual tournament featured the top teams in the state in my sophomore year. The top in Class B was a small town about 100 miles from where I lived. Their entire town was consumed with High School wrestling, the whole place closed down and everyone traveled with the Team. It was eerily similar to the basketball movie “Hoosiers”. Not only did this town have the top wrestling team in Class B they also had one of the top heavyweight wrestlers in the state who had already accepted a college wrestling scholarship to a division 1 school. Oh, what made this more interesting was this was also the town that my father had moved to when he remarried a few years earlier.

 

My brothers and I had travelled to that town many times over the last few years, so I was well acquainted with the wrestling team. For the last few years, every time I went to see my dad, I ran into someone connected to the wrestling team including my 3 step brothers who every visit proceeded to tell me that if I ever had to wrestle “Marcus” (the best wrestler they ever had) I would be beaten quite badly and pinned within a minute. LOL.

 

My father was no stranger to wrestling as he had seen my brothers and I wrestle for years and he knew how good I was, but he had to hear it every day in his new community. This tournament was huge a 4 day meet, day 2 into the meet my team found itself in the same bracket as this team! It was on! The Top class A and B teams with the two best heavyweight wrestlers finally going at it.

 

That night, I got a knock on my hotel door around 9pm. It was my dad, he looked at me said “Jeff, I need you to go out and kick that kid’s a _ s tomorrow, If you lose I will never live it down”, do you hear me? I don’t even know to this day, how he found where we were staying, I think he drove to every hotel in the city 😊. When my team arrived to the gym the next morning, it was almost like overnight it had turned into a home match for this team, they literally packed about 1,000 fans into the tiny section that their team had roped off.

 

 

Almost immediately, I was approached by Chris, a junior wrestler who lived next door to my father and step brothers. Chris was the 125-pound wrestler on their team. Chris looked at me and said, “Marcus is going to destroy you today”, I just laughed and told him to take a hike.

 

You see what no one else understood except my coach and I already knew, that I was the much better wrestler, I had been on the biggest of wrestling stages, had beaten many wrestlers much better than him and his wrestling style matched up perfectly against mine. Marcus was 6’3″ and I was 5’9″and the only chance he had of beating me was to not tie up and try to take me down and keep me on the mat. I knew Marcus was way too arrogant for that, He was going to try and “throw me” to make a big show of it. If he tried that would be his downfall. I wrestled year around and had a Freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling background and with my low center of gravity if he tied up he had no chance.

 

This would have made for a great Made for Television movie, as heavyweights ours was the last match. The score was 32-27 going into our match. We needed 6 points or a pin to win. If Marcus beat me or if I won by decision my team would have lost the dual. In order to win for the team, I need a 6-point pin.

 

As I walked out onto the mat, all I could hear was “Marcus, Marcus” . As we shook hands at center mat, he purposely held the hand shake longer and tried to squeeze, in an attempt to intimidate me. I laughed. I caught my dad in the 5th row eyes glued staring me down, three shades white like his life depended on the outcome of my match. The whistle blew and the rest was history…

 

The next thing I knew, my dad literally leaped from the fifth row landed on the center mat, practically knocked over the referee grabbed my arm almost ripping it out of the socket raised it as high as he could and then proceeded to “shoot the bird to crowd and said,” I told you, I told all of you”. Class act dad! Class act. LOL

 

He next looked at me and said, “I am proud of you” the only time in my life my dad ever said it!

The match went exactly like my coach and I knew it would, Marcus wrestled the type of match that did not favor his style, and he put himself at a major competitive disadvantage against an upper body wrestler like me. After tying up with me, Marcus was launched for a 5-point throw called a “lift lateral drop” that saw his feet clear all 5′ 9″ of my height right onto his back and was pinned in 42 seconds. The match was over and so was the debate of class A versus B, at least for that moment.

 

The Non-Christian world or the Christian who is not living for God is a lot like Marcus trying to wrestle my style of match, its fruitless and puts them at distinct disadvantage although they are incapable of seeing it. I want to encourage you today as a Christian that we have big advantages over the rest of the world and those advantages began 2,000 years ago on a cross. Our lord willingly died on the Cross to give all who belong to him that significant advantage.

 

Have you given up your advantage as a Christian? When we do not live in the right relationship with God, we struggle to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit whom comes and lives within us the day we are saved. We have zero chance of “winning” in this world without being able to hear clearly his voice which gives us a “Clear and Distinct Advantage” over the competition. When is the last time you not only Read but actually studied your Bible? Does your language and behavior line up with Scripture?  If you give up your advantage by not placing God as #1 in your life, you become no different than the Non-Christian world and you will never truly fulfill the plan, purpose and destiny that God has for your life. What a waste that would be.

You have a chance to hit the reset button today if you have not made God the #1 focus in your life. Ask today for his forgiveness and that your priorities align with his will and he will be faithful to forgive you and help you. The first place to start is in prayer, the second is begin speaking his word out over your life, take it one day at a time. God and the Holy Spirit will help you. I promise.

As Christ followers we must allow our light to shine in the darkness! Home, Work, the locker room, grocery store, on the phone- everywhere! Continue to thank him daily for his blessings and strive to make a difference in people’s lives the same way Jesus made a difference in yours and always aim to leave people better than when you found them!

Should our Lord decide to return today we want him to find us faithfully serving and living for him! I would love to pray for and with you. If you would like prayer please contact me.
Thank You!

 

The What Commandments?

The What Commandments?

Whether it’s to remember, prioritize, or focus us on what’s important, we humans love to make to-do lists to divide and conquer the elements of life. These lists often separate the must-do checkmarks from the things that are just optional. Your grocery list, for example, usually is a list of the items you must have to successfully run your home and feed yourself. It’s when you stray from your list and add items, or by essence break the list’s rules, that you suffer negative effects. Have you ever thought about where this to-do list concept originated?

The Ultimate To-Do List: The 10 Commandments

The first documented to-do list is by far the most important, universal, timeless, and of dire need to accomplish – The Ten Commandments. These are the rules that God has provided to help us remember, prioritize, and focus our deeds toward spirituality. When we don’t follow them, we suffer negative effects.

Sadly, The Ten Commandments is a must-do, to-do list that often falls by the wayside to worldly lists. In today’s society of political correctness and using social norms as a justification tool, we often try to tell ourselves that these commandments just aren’t applicable today or do not apply to ‘modern sins.’ And, since many sins can now be committed virtually with little more than a few keystrokes, we aren’t even viewing sin as sin sometimes.

Why The Ten Commandments Still Apply Centuries Later?

Jesus clearly stated in Matthew 5:17-18:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” In other words, God’s commandments were applicable then, now, and all the tomorrows to come.”

“Until heaven and earth disappear” it’s as straightforward as possible. God’s laws for us apply today just as they did yesterday and will for all the tomorrows of this earth.

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

Clearly, straying from your grocery to-do list can lead to a number of tangible and immediate consequences, such as breaking your budget, health losses, and weight gains. The immediate visibility of these consequences usually keep us adherent. But, because the consequences of straying from our spiritual to-do list are not always immediate cause and effects, we often fail to remember its importance as a means to divide and conquer sin.

Use The Ten Commandments To Divide And Conquer Sin

1. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

God has asked of you to hold nothing higher and to fully give yourself to Him. Such requires a deep, devotional relationship with God through prayer. It should be one where you seek him above all others in both good and bad times.

If you think about it… God has given you the tool to prioritize your entire life in this first commandment. By putting God first in every thought and deed, everything else falls into an orderly, rightly place.

When we allow naysayers and those with beliefs contrary to Christianity to cause us to doubt God in our hearts, minds, and souls, then we break the first commandment. There are people who believe all sorts gods exist and will try to persuade you to either affirm their beliefs or believe as they do. As a pacifist society, we tend to hide the might of our words in order to be accepted, liked. But, by not using our words and actions to affirm our beliefs, we are not loving God with all our might.

Keep in mind that love is a verb – an action. I can say that I love you, but if I deny your importance to others or have non-loving actions that aren’t congruent with my loving words, then would I really be loving you?

2. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them” (Exodus 20:4–5).

The second commandment isn’t just about the graven statues of gold and mythology that our ancestors falsely worshiped. Anything that you honor, prize, or prioritize over God is a graven image – your job, home finances, possessions, philosophy, hobbies, peers, and even yourself.

The world is more vain, narcissistic, and self-indulgent than ever. A simple scroll through social media shows that we too frequently idolize ourselves and our possessions to the point that many are willing to alter their bodies, break various other commandments, degrade others, and die before appearing less than “perfect.” But, by recognizing and worshiping the single almighty power of God, we gain perspective that He is the only perfect being and we are but the vast individual grains of sand to the ocean’s body of water.

3. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain”

How many shows and movies do you watch where the Lord’s name is used in a profane way? It’s a happening that society is almost desensitized from even recognizing. By supporting it on air and standing silent in person, we are complicit in the language. Be an example that His name is only to be used in reverence and respect.

Profanity is not the only way the Lord’s name can be taken in vain, or misused. After baptism, you’ve taken upon yourself His name. You’ve professed to be a Christian and to strive to do nothing that would dishonor God. If this vow isn’t upheld, if our following deeds do not match our baptismal profession, then we have taken upon ourselves his name in vain. If we use God to justify our misdeeds, then we’ve taken his name in vain.

4. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God” (Exodus 20:8–10).

Of the seven days, God has only demanded one be used for worship and rest. It’s the clarity opportunity we need to depart from all worldly pursuits to focus on our pursuit of spirituality.

We live in an age of 24/7 connectivity through smart devices, computers, and abundant and quick transportation. It enables us to stay focused on our jobs and social lives at all times. Look around your congregation at how many have their minds and eyes on a phone between the pages of the hymnal instead of on their church service. How many then leave their service to shop, play, surf social media, or work instead of connect with God through rest, prayer, and study.

Research actually shows that seven-day workweeks are associated with mental and physical health issues. A non-religious publication in Scientific America looked at innumerable studies about the brain’s need for downtime and found that periods of rest from worldly demands of life are mandatory for attention, motivation, productivity, introspection, creativity, memory, identify affirmation, and creating an internal code of ethics. But, science is only telling us what the fourth commandment has long ago directed us to do – take a day of rest.

5. “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12).

While the first four commandments are to-do lists on how to love and honor God, the fifth commandment begins to guide us on how to love and honor others, including our Heavenly Father.

The internet and the need for many parents to both work or work multiple jobs, means that children are left to their own devices, literally, a lot. It makes it’s easier than ever for children to disobey and disrespect their parent’s instructions. A child can make a few taps on a smartphone or computer and be in a virtual world of sin and danger. Parental guidance and children respecting it has never been more important.

In Matthew 15:3-6, we are instructed to carry on this honor of our parents, meaning that it’s our responsibility to care for them as they did us in old age. How often do we see parents abandoned in old age as we are off living our own lives for ourselves? On the other hand, how often do we see children disrespect their parent’s end of life wishes, for such as life support?

Obedience to parents in of itself is a childhood life lesson that will follow throughout adulthood. Respect for and obedience to authority is necessary for a functioning society throughout every phase of every lifecycle. Submission to authority will be necessary for success in everything from school and church to employment, relationships, and parenthood. It’s a necessary learning curve to develop personal safety limits, social boundaries, and healthy concepts of family culture, and it all begins with following parental authority during childhood.

However, where much has been given, much is asked. Parents are likewise instructed to use this authority for good in Ephesians 6:4: “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord”

6. “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13).

Clearly, God values all the lives he has created. With the exception of defense and dire circumstances, the Bible repeatedly instructs us not to take life. Killing not only takes from God. It also takes from your fellowman, whether that be directly his life or the effects his absence has on those around him, such as a fatherless child being orphaned. With that life, you take all the support and good it could’ve accomplished.

Yet, we live in a society where human life is valued less and less by the day. We see violence and fail to respond; sometimes we even become cheering spectators. We let our own angers fester and become of greater importance than God or life. We justify indirect killing, such as abortions, by scientific timestamps verses the word of God himself. We overwork and undervalue employees, slowly killing their health and wellbeing.

“Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15). Hate is the great predecessor to murder.

In James 3:5-8, we are also shown that our tongues can be deadly poisons. Bullying is a perfect example. How many children take their own lives because of the defamation they suffer from their peers?

And, in Matthew 5:43-45, we are told the alternative path to killing; we are to pray for those who persecute and use us and allow God to be their judge.

7. “Thou shalt not commit adultery”(Exodus 20:14).

Faithfulness was one of the first instructions given to the first couple on earth. Adultry is mentioned over 50 times in the Bible, and with good reason. Commitment is essential to a healthy, strong, spiritual marital relationship, but it’s also essential to the entire family unit. Children from broken homes are statistically more apt to be high school drop outs, resort to criminal behaviors, become sexually promiscuous, and engage in substance and alcohol abuse. Infidelity has a widespread collateral effect.

Many with modernistic codes of marital conduct only view adultery in terms of sexual intercourse, meaning that having a sexual conversation with a stranger online is harmless. But, this isn’t what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:27-28:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Long, close-contact work hours often blur the lines between a friendly, professional relationship and one that’s lustful for emotional, physical, or mental support that’s a spouses only to give. Lustful thoughts lead to lustful actions.

Likewise, the internet is full of married dating sites, polyamory sites, pornographic sites, and such that are not only spiritually degrading, but are destructive to marriages.

8. “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15).

This commandment goes beyond the taking of physical property. Anything you gain dishonestly is stealing, whether that be intellectual property a friend shares with you or your employer’s time by not clocking out properly. And, again, the digital age makes it ever so easy to take from others from behind the anonymity of a screen – from plagiarizing online content to hacking a credit card company. The action is still the same. You’re taking what isn’t rightfully yours and harming your fellowman.

9. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Exodus 20:16).

The essence of this to-do checkmark is not to lie and to do no harm. From Big Foot ate my homework and rumors and gossip to wrongfully suing someone, the commonplace of lying in society would put Pinocchio’s nose on its trillionth trip to the moon by now.

Lies, rumors, gossip, defamation, slander… they all do great harm to others and have significant secondhand repercussions. A simple rumor being spread, for example, can destroy a marriage or lose a job. And, the victim, may turn away from the liar’s environment, even if that’s a church one, which would mean that this little rumor just deterred someone’s spirituality.

In today’s world of social media, rumors, lies, and such can spread at the speed of lightening. Once shared and shared some more, these bits of information become permanent record for all to see and assumed to be fact.

10. “Thou shalt not covet . . . anything that is thy neighbour’s” (Exodus 20:17).

This doesn’t mean that you can’t save and work hard because you like your neighbor’s camper. Simply put, you just shouldn’t make worldly items your priority. If your focus is on your spirituality, you will not covet what your neighbor has in worldly possessions because we all have the exact same spiritual possessions – flesh, bones, and soul to love our Heavenly Father.

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for [God] hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

We are promised that God will always provide what we need and will never forsake us. That’s a huge promise that should provide peace and comfort and soothe jealousy, contempt, pride, and covetous feelings.

In closing, when we neglect to check off just one of these to-do commandments away from sin, we often resort to negating them all as unimportant, not applicable. For example, when we covet what others have, it creates a toxic mindset that may lead us to resort to stealing to get an item, adultery to gain a lover, idolizing secular viewpoints to make employment gains, and so forth and so on. Each of God’s 10 commandments are not only applicable in today’s world, no, they’re absolutely more imperative than ever to follow.

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Reaching the Millennial Generation for Jesus

Reaching the Millennial Generation for Jesus

People age 18-34 comprise Generation Y, born between 1981 and 1996. The name “millennials” refers to the first high school grads among them in 2000, a millennium year.

SPIRITUAL TRAITS

study by Pew Research Center found that only 27 percent of millennials attend church weekly. While these young people don’t consider themselves religious, they are spiritual. On a weekly basis, 51 percent report feeling profound peace, and 76 percent are deeply grateful. Roughly half contemplate the purpose of life, and two-thirds believe in heaven.

With such evidence of spirituality, why aren’t millennials coming to church?

DISHEARTENED SOULS

Barna Group survey provides insight. When asked questions about faith, 59 percent of millennials who were churchgoers as kids said they’d since stopped. Only 20 percent stated that church was important to them, continuing to attend as adults. Those who rejected church gave three reasons:

  • hypocrisy among Christians
  • immorality of religious leaders
  • irrelevance of religion to real life

In April 2017, Fox News expanded on why church has lost favor among millennials. Most see Christians as judgmental, especially toward gays. Conversely, millennials have liberal views. Sadly, this generation comes from fragmented families, torn apart by divorce. Without fathers as role models, they can’t conceive of God as a heavenly father.

In school, kids were taught that man evolved from apes, refuting God as Creator. Additionally, this age group shies away from tradition.

MILLENNIAL MINDSET

As followers of Christ, we want to share the blessings He brings to our lives. To reach this generation, we must understand their values, beliefs, and needs. Here are distinguishing characteristics of most millennials:

  • sociable, craving community and collaboration
  • adaptable, embracing change
  • honest, desiring frank communication
  • appreciative, needing recognition of their talents and skills
  • altruistic, driven to support social causes
  • digitally savvy, expert in technology

CHANGING CHURCH

We need millennials in our pews, pulpits, and social outreaches! Our churches can use an infusion of their attributes – flexibility, zeal, transparency, ingenuity, open-mindedness, capability, and social conscience.

To draw this generation to church, we must satisfy their spiritual thirst. Millennials seek practical application of faith, religion grounded in reality. Jesus, as both God and man, fully understood this need. As you’ve experienced, His teachings are the keys to successful living. Infused with power, they mold us into noble human beings. He has the secret to happiness – loving God and neighbor.

To make our churches millennial-friendly, here are ministry areas on which to focus.

1. ONLINE PRESENCE

Website – Since millennials spend much of their time online, design a modern church website. Narrate a brief history of your church, highlighting what makes it unique. Post your bulletin, documenting parish news, special events, church services, and ministries. Feature plenty of photos, showing active, enthusiastic parishioners! To track new visitors to your site, create an “I’m New Here” page, inviting responders to leave their contact information.

Blog – Discuss local and global issues from a spiritual viewpoint. Spotlight topics that directly affect Generation Y,such as college debt and unemployment. Encourage young adults to email their opinions, and use them to spark ongoing blog conversation.

Social Media – On Facebook, you can announce church events, launch prayer chains, introduce new worship songs, and share inspiring articles and quotes. Here are details on logistics.

Suggestion Forum – On your website and bulletin, provide an email address by which youth can specify how they’d like to worship and serve. Include a note stating that all suggestions will be considered. Then, discuss the proposals at regular meetings of your church council or administrative board. Those that pass a vote can be forwarded to your Board of Trustees, to actualize ideas involving finances, church property, and legalities.

2. REALISM

Millennials want proof that a relationship with Jesus enriches life. They seek personal and practical examples. Pastors can take this approach in sermons, giving their testimonies. A powerful form of evangelism is witnessing, telling others what Christ has done for you. Likewise, during Bible studies, urge people to share how the Holy Spirit guides and teaches them.

Ensure a variety of social groups, by which parishioners can talk about their faith experiences with young adults. Consider holding breakfast meetings and communal suppers. Or you might offer seminars, citing how Christ’s teachings apply to marriage, raising children, working, finances, and family life.

3. FAMILY MINISTRY

Worship – During services, give young people leading roles, such as greeters, ushers, acolytes, readers, cantors, and choir members.

Bulletin – Teach faith to kids through your church bulletin. On pages in the back section, print activities that portray the Sunday scripture readings. For example, for older kids, you can design a Word Search and Crossword Puzzle. Young ones can color, trace letters, find hidden objects in pictures, navigate a maze, and match images. Children too young to participate in worship can still benefit from it while quietly engaged with the bulletin.

Programming – Consider having “Social Sundays.” Designate one Sunday per month when families meet after services for games, fellowship, and refreshments. For parents with tykes, offer a weekly “God Time” program, during which they collaborate on crafts, hear Bible stories, and sing simple hymns.

Target teens with monthly retreats, each with a specific theme. Vary the time frame, from a few hours to overnight. If your church doesn’t have adequate facilities, contact a local school, and discuss using the building and grounds.

Parent Newsletter – Address parental concerns with informative articles, such as how church involvement empowers teens to reject drugs and alcohol. Include a church calendar, highlighting events designed for families and kids.

4. WORSHIP FORMAT

To reach teens, you may need to modernize church services. Some communities with substantial funds are either upgrading buildings or investing in new ones. Such churches have a contemporary design, with new sound systems, lighting, and technology. However, if your budget can’t handle major changes, small tweaks can make a huge difference.

You might institute a separate Sunday rock service, featuring a band and contemporary hymns(I am not a fan of Christian Rock and am very opinionated about it) I am all for anything that gets these kids into a good solid Bible and Jesus preaching church. Talented kids can play electric guitars, percussive drums, and electronic keyboards. Another option is folk music, with acoustic guitars, piano, flute, and violin. These worship styles may be governed by your denomination’s administration and music director.

Some churches are shortening services. On average, young people have a 10-minute attention span. Pastors popular with millennials usually preach brief sermons, illustrating messages with stories, practical examples, and personal experiences. Since millennials are visual learners, ministers do well with using props. Another successful format is Question and Answer Sessions with the pastor.

Begin with minor modifications, and assess the response. Don’t be afraid to test-drive a new setup. Worship can take various forms, provided they’re respectful.

5. SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES

Millennials want positions of responsibility by which to channel their skills. Let them lead outreach efforts in your community, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, clothing drives, garage sales, recycling drives, health fairs, and blood drives. Perhaps young adults can give free rides to senior parishioners for doctor appointments and shopping.

Allow millennials to organize and supervise fun projects, such as:

  • free meals to honor firefighters, police, or EMTs
  • planting flowers on the church grounds
  • Vacation Bible School
  • Game Day
  • delivering toys to the Children’s Ward of a local hospital
  • visits to nursing home residents

Allow young people to manage church fundraisers, such as car washes, bake sales, craft fairs, and potluck suppers.

A very effective form of evangelism is social outreach. People meet Jesus in Christians who regard them compassionately and want to meet their needs. Use outreach activities to subtly preach the Gospel. Design a leaflet, introducing what Christ offers, and have copies available at your service activities.

6. MENTORING

For the most part, millennial kids from broken families want to connect with mature adults. Ensure this opportunity with a church youth group and weekly Bible study.

Another avenue for mentoring is scouting. Programs emphasize outdoor adventure, life skills, and community service. Scouting cultivates virtues like courage, integrity, and reliability. By earning badges, young millennials receive recognition. Moreover, scouting programs have religious roots, acknowledging God and the duty to serve Him.

Adults benefit from “reverse mentoring,” becoming more fluent in digital technology. Reciprocal sharing fosters supportive relationships.

Barna Group advises that young millennials are most inclined to be active in church when they have friendships with Christian adults. By bonding with a young millennial, you’re contributing to the growth of your church.

WARM HOMECOMING

Let’s commit to inviting millennials to church! Maintain a Web presence, and use social media. Expand your family ministry. Upgrade your worship format, and share how the Holy Spirit helps you. Provide service opportunities with leadership roles. Mentor a millennial in your community.

Above all, embody warm Christian virtues – compassion, patience, humility, and honesty. When a young person sees kindness in your eyes, they’ll want to know why you care. Loving service is the best Christian witness!

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The Best Tasting Pretzels Ever!

The Best Tasting Pretzels Ever!

It was April in 1996 and I was standing in an airplane bathroom on a NWA flight from Minneapolis, MN to New
York City on my way to Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, when we hit some crazy turbulence that literally created a mini panic on board and forced me to rush back to my seat.

While rushing back to my seat and trying to squeeze myself in I caught the back of the armbar of the seat in front of me and it caused a deep, lacerating gash about 2 inches long in my side, ripping right through my shirt.

I love to fly but I also hate to fly. Here is why… I very much enjoy people watching and traveling to different places and being on the go, but the thing I dread most is the tiny little coach seat. The good lord did not seem fit to give me the fastest metabolism in the world- a slight understatement.

I have a 22 inch neck and wear a 56R Suit Jacket! I like to think of myself as big boned or husky- but never fat. Actually I am just a big guy- I played Football and wrestled in College- so there!

Needless to say, in a coach seat, I get very uncomfortable, break out into a sweat and it is just a miserable experience for me and not to mention the poor soul unlucky enough to be seated next to me. Now I fit in the seat and can put the arm rest down and buckle up- but that leaves me zero room to breathe and if the person in the row in front of my puts down their seat I’m really screwed. This particular trip I was with a group of folks from our church in North Dakota going on a mission trip. Keep in mind this was the DR before the DR became a world class tourist destination.

When you live in North Dakota, you have one flight option, fly out of Fargo to Minneapolis and to your destination, this trip was about 5 hours each way- a complete nightmare when your crammed in your seat, bleeding with a gash in the your side trying to find a happy place in your mind to prevent yourself from flipping out. I mean after all, this was a mission trip, I was here for the Glory of God to be a support and blessing to impoverished people in a remote jungle village, how christian would it be to flip out on a plane? LOL. That flight was brutal!

Well, we had finally made it to the DR and I feel sick with a 102 fever the second I got off the plane, the flight and two hour bus ride through jungle literally made me sick for the first two days I was there. On day three I was feeling much better and we got to the business at hand which was scouting the area to a place to show the “Jesus Movie”. We were very blessed and led by theLlord to find a small tiny village in the middle of the jungle that had a place where we could show the film.

Shortly after we watched the film, we met a very very young man, his wife and infant child. The man’s name was Pastor Mao and he came from a nearby village when word traveled that “Gringos” were showing a movie. After spending some time with Mao, he invited us to his home a short 3 mile walk in the jungle away :).

Upon arriving at Mao’s home, I soon discovered it was an old, vacant building with only half of a roof and a door that did not close all of the way. We asked how he got here and he told us the story on how he believed that God sent him to this remote village and wanted him to start a church in this jungle community, We asked if he had any money and what were his plans, his response was that God was going to send “gringos” to him from a far away place to help build his church. Interesting, huh?

We were the first and only “Gringos” that were coming. After a time of prayer and deliberation, our pastor decided that we would help Mao build his church, so we made plans to return on a future date.

Shortly before we left, Mao asked if he could pray for us, while we were praying I felt an incredibly strong urge to give him some money out of my own pocket, I decided to give him $50 which in DR pesos was big coin, but I kept having this sense that I should give more “everything you have in your pocket” was what kept coming to me. That would be crazy give all the money I had left for the trip??? We still had two days left, plus $250 was a lot of money. What would I do with no money? It would be in poor taste to borrow, right? The sense that I should give him everything I had came again and I recognized it as a leading from God-so I did it, I gave him every last cent I had, all $250.

At this time in my life I was fairly new in my walk in the lord and was just learning how to hear his still, small voice, so it took him getting my attention a few times.

Fast forward 24 hours later and we had one day left on the island before we flew home and all I could think about was the dreaded flight home and how miserable I was going to be sitting in that small, narrow seat. Literally I was up all night worrying about it. So I prayed and asked the lord to intervene for me.

The day of fight home arrived and I was walking up the steps to the plane, as I was headed back to the coach section, I handed my ticket to the flight attendant (back them you gave them your ticket when you boarded the plane) she grabbed me by the arm and asked me where I was going? I told her to my seat and she said your ticket has been upgraded you are in row 10-D. This is a first class ticket, sir! I couldn’t believe it, all of the uneasiness that I was sure that I was destined for over the next 5 hours had me so rattled I never even bothered to look at the ticket until that exact moment!!! I looked down at my ticket and it said 10-D, I was the only person in our group to be upgraded to first class, I had no status, no frequent flyer miles, nothing.

As I sat down in my seat, I suddenly had that same feeling and urge that came over me only a few days before when praying with Mao that asked me to give him all of the money I had left and this time, A simple sentence came up from the inside of my inner being and here is what I heard…

“You can’t out-give the lord, I know how to take care of my own!” WOW! God set me up He wanted to bless Mao and used me to do it! The first class upgrade was his way of saying that he loved me, he heard the cry of my heart and despair that I felt about flying in the coach seat on the way home and like any good father, he wanted to bless me. He heard and answered my prayer.

One of my favorite versus in all of the Bible says…”The eyes of the lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are perfect toward him”.

God desires to show himself strong on your behalf, he wants to be invited into your marriage, your business deals, your sales meetings. He stands at the door and waits patiently, looking for that invitation that can only come from you. What are you waiting for? Invite God into every area of your life-I promise you will never regret it! I don’t!

Five minutes after I sat down in my first class seat, the stewardess came by and handed me a bag of pretzels, they were the best tasting Pretzels that I ever had. As a matter of fact, I kept that pretzel bag and that day placed it in my Bible where it has been sitting for the last 22 years, as a reminder of the faithfulness of  God. I have pulled that bag out often over the years as a fresh reminder that Jesus Rocks! You can see the picture of it on this blog. My wife has instructions that one day when its my time I will be wearing a black suit, underneath my Ohio State #75 Jersey and this empty bag of Pretzels taken from my Bible and placed in the inner pocket of my suit.

We serve a living, breathing God who loves to take care of his people. 22 years ago the THE GOD OF ALL OF THE UNIVERSE, heard the prayer of a Husky kid about an insignificant airplane seat and moved Heaven and Earth to bless him. Talk about Love!

God is just looking to bless you too, he stands at the door of your heart and waits patiently to be invited in. What are you waiting for???
In God We Trust

In God We Trust

As I pulled into my parking spot at the airport my “ADD COOLANT” light came on. No big deal, I will deal with it when I get back at the end of the week. Four days later as I got back to my car, the light was still on, no big deal just coolant.

I live about 50 miles away from the airport and told myself that I will just keep an eye on the temperature gauge and if any issues arise I will just add coolant.25 minutes into the trip home my Gauge spiked and car became very hot, so I pulled off, found a QT gas station it was the only thing open at midnight.

Unfortunately, the coolant didn’t work, I knew the car would have to go to the shop. Early the next morning I dropped the car off at the dealership, picked up my loaner and off I went. It was about 3 hours later when I got the call…” Man are you lucky!!!, Your warranty expires in 3 days”.

It turns out my car needed a new thermostat and electrical water pump, which was 100 percent covered by the warranty. I asked my service concierge how much would this has cost 4 days from now? The answer was $3125! WOW!

Lucky, Right??? Wrong! This sort of thing is very common when you tithe and honor the lord in your giving. Many people have the misconception that when you tithe all your financial issues/struggles go away, that is not biblical nor accurate. The difference is that when you tithe the money or resources will always be there when you need it. When you do not tithe the money and resources will not be there when you need it.

God knows how to take care of those who honor him by obeying his word and who live according to his Godly principles. The Bible says in 2 Chronicles 16:9… “The eyes of the lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are perfect toward him”. Giving is an act of faith, can you give during financial difficulty? Do you believe God is big enough to take care of you and meet your needs?

I’ll never forget the time several years ago when we had two kids in daycare and one on the way it was Christmas time and we had just sponsored 3 little children who were not going to have a Christmas and we went a little overboard buying them clothes, bikes, the whole 9 yards just did not have enough to cover gifts for our extended family that year, we were tithers and we prayed and asked God to help us. A few days later we received a check in the mail for $1200 from some class action lawsuit that I didn’t even know that I was a part of. My wife and I needed $1150 to cover the gifts. LOL. Coincidence? Luck? No-Just God being God!

Giving and acts of Faith will always catch the eye of God as long as it is done with the right motive!

For me this whole thing goes to my biblical worldview and faith. What is the reason that God created us and what is the mandate/plan that he has for our lives?

GODLY LIVING AND GODLY GIVING!

Simply put, God blesses us for three reasons:

  1. He is a joyful giver and a great father who loves his children.
  2. To meet our needs.
  3. To be a blessing to other people. Bless others in his name eventually they turn to him.

It amazes me the number of Christians out there who do not tithe! The moment we invite Jesus into our lives we grant him access into every area of our lives. The reason that Christen non tithers struggle financially (and they all do!) is because they are living in rebellion to God in the area of finances.

My wife and I have these friends that are Christians but they live from one financial crisis to another. They have a curse on their finances because they refuse to tithe. They know they should tithe but they refuse, living in willful disobedience to God. Just when they think they have made it through one crisis another pops up again and again and again. Eventually they will hit rock bottom.

God will allow (he doesn’t cause it but will allow it) financial struggle into your life as many times and as severe as necessary to get your attention so you are forced to turn to him for help.

He has to bring us to the end of our own strength so we can find the beginning of his. That cannot happen friends when your living in rebellion to his word.

All God wants is your heart! Once he has your heart he has you. Its starts with your checkbook. The Bible says in Matthew 6:21    “Where your treasure is so is your heart!”. The treasure our Lord is referring to here is twofold:

 

Time and Money!

All one must do is look to see where you spend your time and money to see what you love in life! What does your calendar and bank account say about you? Do you love truly to love the lord by spending time with him? Do you truly love the lord by giving and blessing others?

We say we love the lord but spend more time watch Netflix then reading the Bible. We say we love the lord yet we have people in own families who struggle financially yet we never give a dime.

Therefore, God blesses us, so we can bless others. There comes a point in your walk with the lord that you come to the point where you become a cheerful giver and you see how much better it is to give than to receive.

We can’t take it with us, right? Your money/home/car/watch collection/stocks/bonds/timeshare stays here when you die and enter eternity. Don’t get me wrong, those things aren’t bad unless you value them over your relationship with God and Godly giving.

What helps me is my definition of wealth:

“Having enough to meet all of my needs and the needs of others over and above my tithe”.

As a Christian, the mandate on our lives is to love Jesus and bless others. We don’t give because we expect to get anything back (that is a very dangerous theology called the Prosperity Gospel-God is not mandated to do anything for us, he and he alone chooses to whom he will bless. We do not command and order God to return our giving 30,60 and 100-fold).

When you give to people-do not give with strings attached so you can control-that’s not Godly giving. Give because you are blessed and want to bless others in the name of Jesus.

If you a Christan non-tither and have fallen on financial times, things will never get better financially until you do the following…

 

  1. Go to the Lord and repent for not honoring him in the area of your giving.
  2. Thank him for what you have every single day. (job/home/family/car/salvation). Doing this will allow you to develop an attitude of gratitude which is essential to your maturation in giving and Christianity in general.
  3. Write out a tithe check as soon as you finish thanking him in step #2.
  4. Follow step #2 every day.
  5. Follow step #3 every time you get paid.
  6. Understand the difference between pre/post tithe. Financial issues will come up- pretithe, the resources were not there to meet the need. Post tithe-the resources will be there to meet the need. I have lived it for 20 years-trust me.

I never worry about finances, I have had so many times in my life where I needed God to come big and he did every single time! Giving is an act of faith and our faith moves the hand of God!

My wife is one of the most generous people I have ever known. Literally every single week we are buying someone shoes, clothes, whatever needs that God allows to find my wife. I kid around that my wife is a giant magnet that attracts every need within a 50 mile radius to our doorstep. LOL. I love it, she inspires me with her generosity and I know that God is well pleased when we bless others. After all, we have what we have in life only because of God’s generosity and grace in our lives. Who are we to not bless others in need?

There were times in my life before I tithed that I struggled financially and that is a tough way to live. The stress and worry over finances can take years off your life, destroy marriages and tear people apart. That’s what the Devil wants, he will do anything he can to separate you from God. One of his major tactics is in giving, if he can create a financial storm in your life maybe he can keep you from writing that check. Remember, giving is an act of worship and faith for the Christian. 

You don’t have to live that way. You can decide right now to change. You can choose today to honor the lord with your giving, he stands at the door and waits patiently for you to invite him in, what are you waiting for???

UNFORGIVENESS- The Well Laid Trap for your Destruction.

UNFORGIVENESS- The Well Laid Trap for your Destruction.

The strongest person in the earth is the person who does not take ownership of someone’s irresponsibility. It is an irresponsible act when a person willfully hurts another person. However, it is also an irresponsible act when a person allows the hurt or pain to continue to live. When you allow hurt or pain to continue to live, it multiplies to the point where everyone is a victim you come in contact with. The responsible thing to do is to quickly disown the act so that it will not have access to you, your family, your friends, and society. You see, the outside you is controlled by the inside you.

Here’s a question for you: What do you think you look like internally when you give your heart and peace away because of unforgiveness issues?

Looks can be deceiving! A person can appear to be one way while they have double standards. A person who has double standards, is a person who is battling with themselves. This person is unstable due to their inner battles.

The bible tells us in Proverbs 20:23 NLT, “The Lord detests double standards;
He is not pleased by dishonest scales.”

And

James 1:8 KJV; “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

The spiritual side of a person is the side that wants to forgive, but the natural side of a person is the side that feeds on the hurt and pain. For this reason, many of us are out of shape internally even though we appear to be in shape externally. A person who runs from peace or freedom will never be fit. This run is meaningless since it takes you nowhere.

Your energy is of most importance. Protect it. You protect your energy by not allowing anyone or anything to steal it. It is very difficult to function as you are supposed to if your energy level is zapped.

An unforgiveness issue is darkness. It is an offense that puts out your light. It zaps your energy. If your light is out, who benefits from you or your presence? Not even you will benefit from you or your presence if your light is out.

The very first thing God spoke into existence is light. Why? Because, “the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” {Genesis 1:2 KJV}.

Let us be honest with ourselves. The description of the earth, in the beginning, is the same description of a person who refuses to forgive. The earth was in a chaotic state in the beginning, and a person who is dealing with unforgiveness issues is also in a chaotic state.

If you are the kind of person who just “LOVEs” chaos then you are in the right lane. Hold on tight like a pit bull to the hurt and pain. However, if you desire to be free from the imprisonment, please do what God did. Speak light into your situation by simply saying to yourself aloud…

“I Am not a victim of this situation. I will not take ownership of anything that does not serve me, my family, my friends, and society any good. I release myself and the person who has offended me from this unprofitable situation. I will be the responsible party at this point by not giving life to something that should be dead. I choose Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Self-Control instead. I chose to feast on the Fruit of the Spirit {Galatians 5:22-23 NIV} instead of the unforbidden fruit.”

God is so mindful of unforgiveness issues, and He addressed this poison all throughout the Bible. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles” {Matthew 5:38-41 NIV}.

Earlier I spoke about getting in shape. Well, these Scriptures are the best way to obtain emotional, financial, mental, physical, and spiritual health. Going the extra mile is the best way to deal with an offense. God knows it requires a level of fitness in order to forgive; therefore, He has given us the following instructions. I believe it is safe to say, God is into your overall health. The question is, are you?

It is proven that your overall health impacts the length and quality of your life. How long do you want to live and to what degree do you want to live?

So many of us are alive and yet dead. Why? Because, we are stuck in twenty years ago, ten years ago, last month, or last week – of unforgiveness. Is that the way to live? Would you recommend this way of living to anyone?

Here’s the story of a person who was out of shape emotionally, mentally and spiritually. (Name removed for privacy reasons.)

I once was ruled by my emotions. I had serious anger issues. The Incredible Hulk and I had lots in common with the exception of me turning green. I once had a boss who said I lacked integrity and displayed questionable leadership behavior, after two employees lied about me in an effort to save their jobs.

I was so upset because of how he spoke to me and how he handled everything, after a 20 year career that saw 10 leadership awards and 7 promotions by 6 different managers and a flawless reputation, this was how I was treated. What shocked me even more was this was three weeks removed from him asking to be my spiritual mentor and wanting to help me become a servant leader.

My first thought was to get even. I wanted to inflict multiplied pain to him. I wanted to punch him, sue him, slander him, but for some reason, I had no peace concerning my roller coaster feelings. The inner battle was one of the worse that I have ever experienced. The resentment I had towards him controlled my life for the next two weeks. I was literally in a dark place.

One day, God spoke to me. He stated, “How much longer are you going to remain in this place? Do you want to be healed? If so, forgive him.”

Forgiveness was the farthest thing on my mind, so I ignored His instructions and remained in the darkness for another week or so. I must confess to you, I was tired of being in that weak place. Therefore, I asked God to help me get over this issue. I did not know where to start or how to get it done.

God then instructed me to, “Pray for him aloud every time you think about the situation. Speak blessings over his life, his children’s lives, his household, and everything he places his hands to do every time you think about that conversation. Say something good about him aloud every time you think of the situation.”

I prayed for him aloud, spoke blessings, and repeatedly stated good things about him every time as God had instructed. With time, the anger stopped, and the more I prayed and blessed him the more liberated I became. Wow! Talk about graduation. Talk about change. Talk about freedom.

The deal was sealed when I saw he recently won an award and felt no anger, malice or discontent. Believe it or not, I did not have any bad feelings towards him at all. Actually, I felt bad for him, because I sensed all along that he was operating on his own private agenda and sold me down the river to curry favor and place himself into a better light. Wrong doing, has an effect on the perpetrator. Do not allow it to have an effect on you. You are not a victim once you decide to be victorious by forgiving any and all offenses.

Conclusion:

Renewing of the Mind

In order to accomplish what you desire, your mind must be renewed with God’s principles.  We must be “washed clean” from negative, self-doubt and destructive thinking.  When you are living with negative thinking in your mind, you will not be able to succeed in your life the way God intends for you to.  All your efforts in life to do anything positive or effective will become very hard to achieve because of your mindset.

Romans 12:2 reads: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Negative thinking causes just about everything in your life to be unstable, including your spiritual life.  The knowledge of God and His wisdom will be very hard to comprehend when you possess an unstable thinking pattern. God has bestowed upon you a sound mind, but negative thinking patterns corrupt the gift. Your thought process contributes to your choices and your choices make your life what it is. This truth is found in the bible. Proverbs 23:7 says “as a man thinketh in his heart so he is.”

Therefore it is imperative that you take a “truthful” look at what’s really on the inside of you and what your thought patterns are like.

First:  Examine Your Heart – Have you inspected your heart lately? If not, it’s time to start. Ask yourself (and be prepared to accept and be honest with the answers), like what things are dwelling within your heart? For each thing you come up with, also ask yourself these questions:

  • Why is it there?
  • Is it helping me or holding me back?
  • How is it helping me?
  • How is it holding me back?

Second: Examine Your Mind – How much “junk thinking” do you do? How about your life, is it going the way you want it to or need it to? If not, there is most likely a connection between your thoughts and the results you’re seeing.

If you live long enough, you are going to hurt someone by design or by mistake. How would you like to be dealt with? Would you want to be forgiven or would you like to be un-forgiven?

Here is a Scripture I “HIGHLY” recommend you meditate on:

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” {Matthew 6:14-15 NIV}.

You might ask the question:

You: “Lord, why should I have to forgive for the same thing again?”

“Because I’ve forgiven you for repeated bad behavior on more than one occasion”, says the Lord.

You: “Oh, that’s right”

It’s not as difficult to forgive, when you know you’ve been forgiven for much.

If you are not a runner become one today. Run a marathon if you have to run one. Go the extra mile as God has instructed you. It will secure the real you. It will secure the healthy you. Run, I tell you. Run!

Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and
realizing you were the prisoner!
– MaxLucado

God has so much for each and every one of us. By choosing not to forgive we put a padlock on the door to your intended blessings. It may appear open at times but it’s not. You may get blessed here and there. But in order to walk in the full abundance of what God has for you, forgiveness must completely take place in and through you. Not in mere words, but in actions.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32)

Did you know that the Greek word for forgiveness is: aphesis?

  • Short Definition: deliverance, pardon, complete forgiveness
  • Definition: a sending away, a letting go, a release, pardon, complete forgiveness.

One of the most important lessons that you can learn about forgiveness is, it is not for the other person, it’s for you!

“Many promising reconciliations have broken down because, while both parties came prepared to forgive, neither party came prepared to be forgiven.”
Charles Williams

 

 

Forgiveness Test

Answer the questions honestly. Take an assessment of where you are and do the work to become whole.
How do you respond when that person’s (who hurt you) name is mentioned?

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Can you sincerely pray for them? Yes / No

If No, Why? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Would you feed them if needed? Yes / No

If No, Why? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Would you clothe them if needed? Yes / No

If No, Why? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Do you want them to hurt the way they hurt you? Yes/No

If Yes, Why?

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
If No, Why? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Would you give them a ride to YOUR church if needed? Yes / No

If No, Why? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If the Pastor told you to turn to your neighbor, hug them and tell them you love them, could you do it without being fake? Yes/ No

If No, Why? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

Forgiveness Scriptures    

The Letterman’s Jacket

The Letterman’s Jacket

It was an unpleasantly cold afternoon one Thursday in February, 1990.  I was busy cleaning out my locker, just the day before I had finished off my freshman year of wrestling. I had a good season since I went 38-6 with 29 pins, I was very excited as the next day we had our Annual Wrestling Banquet where I was going to officially be awarded a Varsity Letter in Wrestling.

Now you have to understand that back then being a Varsity Letterman and wearing that Letterman’s jacket meant that you had arrived, you were now “the man” other guys  will be jealous, girls would fall over themselves to hang out with you, and you would be a legend. Any Sophomore, Junior and Senior would have given just about anything to win a letter and be able to wear that jacket!

However, I was a freshman and not yet attending the high school. Our high schools back in those days ran grades 10-12, I was still in junior high one year away from attending. So you see where I am going with this, right? I really was going to be “The Man!”

I was literally about to become an icon, a man among boys, period. No Freshman prior to this had ever lettered in a varsity sport in my school. I had been picturing it in my mind all season long, had dreamed about and talked about, I visited the sporting goods store numerous times to make sure they had my size. It was my Destiny.

Then, it happened! As I was placing my headgear into my bag, Coach Mortan walked by and asked me to see him in his office, I followed him to his office and sat down. What happened next was pretty much devastating. He said: “You had a great freshman year and a bright future in front of you. However, I know you are expecting to recive your letter  but I  will not be able to award you a letter at Tomorrow’s night award banquet, we don’t award Varsity letters to Freshman”,

At that point, I went numb, I reminded the coach that I had 50 letter points based on wins, pins, tournament placing etc. and to qualify all I needed was 40 points. He said it doesn’t matter, awarding a varsity letter to me would demean the program for all of the upperclassman who had been in the program for several years who still had not earned their varsity letters. He apologize and told me to keep my head up and  I will make it next season.

I was devastated, I ran all the way home, slammed my door and just started crying. I laid there for the next several hours on my waterbed (they were very popular back then) and finally fell asleep. I woke up about 3 AM still devastated and quite bitter. All I could think of was the fact that everyone was expecting me to walk into school the following Monday with that Letterman’s Jacket. What a loser I was going to be now!

I began to think of excuses to avoid showing up on Monday, then suddenly as if In a deep sleep, I had a flashback to the previous Sunday and I had remembered a saying that I had heard my mom say countless times before about how Jesus loves us and wants a personal relationship with us. But this past Sunday she said that God is a gentleman and will never force himself upon someone or into any situation, but that he stands at the door and waits for us to invite him in.

I was 15 years old then and I had grown up going to church but at this point in my life, we went because we had to since my Mother was the Senior Pastor and we lived in the church Parsonage which was right next door to the church so was it wasn’t open for debate.

I grew up in Sunday school and knew all of the Bible stories but didn’t really care, I was too busy having fun and hanging out with my friends.

At this point, it was about 4am and I was desperate, so I decided that I was going to pray and here was my exact prayer: “Lord, I always hear my mother talk about how wonderful you are and how you desire to have a relationship with us and take care even about the smallest details of our lives, so I am asking that if you do exist, I want to make you a deal tonight. If you give me my Varsity Wrestling Letter tomorrow night I will spend the rest of my life serving you and spread the word to everyone of how great you are”.

Immediately after uttering that prayer, I called myself an “idiot” and cried myself back to sleep. The next day was the worst day of my life up to that point. I dreaded the banquet that night and just felt sad and like such a loser.

When the banquet time arrived I was filled with butterflies, and just knew I wasn’t getting my letter, I sat there for the next two hours while stories and special moments from the season were shared, video clips were being played and I just sat there literally biting my lip so I would not cry, I was devastated.

After all the awards and letters were handed out, the coach took to the microphone and said: “I have one more thing to give out and I would like to award Freshman Jeff Rawlins with his Varsity letter! “ I was so surprised, looked up and couldn’t believe it! Did he just say it? He asked me to come forward and get it. I slowly walked up there in somewhat of a daze, did this really just happen? Coach looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and said: “I woke up at 4 in the morning and couldn’t sleep, wrestling with this decision, congratulations!” Goosebumps and a very strange warm sensation ran instantly through my body, unlike anything I had ever experienced before.

As I sat in the car on the way home still numb, I kept replaying these events in my head. There was literally no way I got that letter because this coach never goes back on anything he says, ever! Then it hit me, it wasn’t the coach, it was Jesus! He(the coach woke up at 4am, the exact time I made my deal with the lord(just coincidence, right???), I immediately told my mom the whole story and guess what happened! She told me that God had a specific plan and purpose for my life that one day he would reveal it to me but in the meantime, I needed to thank him.

When I arrived home, I placed my letter on my desk and began to thank the lord for answering my prayer. As I was doing that I had a very strong feeling that God was going to hold me to our deal. It wasn’t an audible voice but a strange inner knowing from within me.

A few months later at Summer camp, I invited Jesus into my heart and became a Christian and its crazy but literally during my confession and praying the sinner’s prayer, I had a vision of exactly what happened that night that I made the deal with the lord about my varsity letter and I was reminded that I promised God that I would spend the rest of my life serving him and telling others about him.

That was over 27 years ago, but I still had in mind my deal with God. After all this time, I am still amazed, that the same God who created the Heavens and the Earth, The same God who parted the Red Sea, The same God who delivered Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the Fiery Furnace is the same God who hears and answers our small, insignificant prayers.

But don’t you see? God loves us and wants us to have a personal relationship with him though prayer.  Prayer is how we communicate with God. The Bible says in Job 22.27 “Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him and he shall hear thee”. God promises us in his word that he will hear our prayers.

I am amazed as I travel throughout this country and speak with sales and business leaders who look at me crazy when I ask them if they pray over their sales, businesses and employees. “Why would I do that?” is the response I often get from them. My reply is always: “Why wouldn’t you?”

This is where we miss it. God wants to be invited into every area of our lives: our marriages, homes, finances, businesses, sales transactions, etc.

When we invite God in, we invite his blessing, favor, wisdom and protection. Why would we not want those things in every area of our lives?

I want to challenge all of you this week to personally invite God into a new area of your life where you have not invited him before. It can be your finances, marriage, other relationships, business, sales or whatever area you are lead to invite him into.

In my 20 years in the business world, I have seen God move mightily in my business, I have seen God change hearts, increase sales, reduce cancels, drive EBIDTA margins into 200% flow through on additional Revenue, calm storms from arrogant CEO’s, heal, save and deliver countless times and so much more.

In all of these years, God has never left me, even when he should have. I have had highs and lows, I have known wealth and poverty, and through it all he has been right there, watching over and protecting me, providing for all of my needs, comforting me, giving me wisdom and guidance, whatever I have needed Jesus has been it!

He desires to do the same in your life. I stepped out in faith 27 years ago because I was a desperate,  broken boy who in blind, ignorant faith needed something only God could do-change a man’s heart. Through that prayer I suddenly found and discovered a whole new world and it changed the course and destiny of my life. His name was Jesus, and he was waiting patiently for me-just he he has been waiting for you.

He will do the same for you, I guarantee it!  WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???

 

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