Wednesday, July 1, 2009

When It's All On The Line - Part 2

I must say that I am not a basketball fan at all. I just don't understand it. However, I do love the slam dunk contests. They are so fun to watch. I am terrible at basketball so to see these guys do amazing tricks and get the ball in the basket is too cool.

When I was in high school a group of friends, who very much loved basketball, were watching the greatest dunks of all time on ESPN. I will never forget watching Spud Webb dunk. The guy is 5' 7' and can seriously dunk a basketball in a regulation size hoop! I would later find out he won the slam dunk competition in 1986. Talk about your accomplishments!

Of course you can imagine the "rebounding" he had to do in life. Not being able to play in school because he was too short. Get looked over even after he showed what he was capable of due to his size. Realizing the dream of being in the pro's only to be let go. Here's a guy who kept coming back no matter what was happening.

I think one of the greatest stories was how he trained a fellow "short" basketball player of 5'9' (Nate Robinson) to win the slam dunk contest 20 years later. Who knows if Nate watched highlights of Spud and gained an attitude of "If he can do it. I can do it".

Spud's story is what it's all about.
1. Slam dunking the ball against all odds because you're in it to win it.
2. Having an attitude that keeps driving you to succeed without feeling sorry for yourself.
3. Rebounding to win in life.
4. Passing on what you know to others so they can make a difference as well.

What are you ready to "slam dunk" in your life? What are you ready to rebound from? What are some stories that encourage you when you feel like giving up? Are you ready to win in life?

"To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears". 1 Corinthians 9:25 TLB

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

When It's All On The Line

Father’s Day has always been special to me. Since the death of my father it has become bittersweet. I am so thankful for the 25 years I had with him. My dad was my whole world and the one who always showed me unconditional love no matter what the circumstance. Thinking of my father only brings back good memories.

I think it would be important to add that my dad, no matter what I think about him, was not perfect. He had faults because he was human. Fatherhood is not about being a perfect father. There is no such thing. My dad was just perfect for me. I would love for each dad to always remember that you are going to make mistakes, but it is how you handle those mistakes that matters. It is never too late to say you are sorry, to start making a difference, or to simply “show up”. Love keeps no record of wrong. I have kept no record of any faults my dad may have had. They are forgotten by the love he always showed me and the fact that he was never too proud to say he was sorry.

For others, Father’s Day is just a reminder of the father you never knew or don’t have a relationship with. It can be a time of heartbreak. My prayers are with you. I urge you to celebrate Father’s Day with your heavenly father. The one who will never leave you nor forsake you. The one who gave His life for you. He loves you that much and He can fill any void that you may have.

So how can you be a better father? What are you going to do today that will bring blessings for future generations? Pastor Scott has already given you a couple ways:

1. Lay up the Word of God in your heart. Check the spiritual climate in your home. What are you going to start doing today to lay up blessings for your children?

2. Leave an inheritance. What inheritance are you leaving your family? This is not just about money. Will you leave an inheritance of the knowledge of the Lord so that your future generations will serve God?

3. Watch for the pick off. Are you watching for the pick off? If the Bible tells us that Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy are we on the lookout for these things? It shouldn’t come as a surprise to us. We need to be prepared.

I hope that every dad had a wonderful Father’s Day!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Sickness Within - Bitterness

As Pastor Scott spoke this last Sunday, I was reminded of a poem by Gerard Kelly. It is a powerful statement about the freedom and power and possibility of forgiveness.

I Choose to Forgive

"Though the cuffs of my jeans are muddied from the dirt you dragged me through,I choose to forgive.

Though the nails of my fingers are bloodied from the fighting you forced me to do, I choose to forgive.

Though no book or belief I have studied can make sense of the path you pursue, I choose to forgive.

Though the walls of my heart are broken and the center of my self is black-bruised by the lash of the lies you've spoken and the wound of the words that you've used, though I huddle, a tear-trembling tragedy stripped of the power to trustblocked off from all who might help me by the guilt that came wrapped in your lust, I choose to forgive.

And this act alone breaks the cycle.
This act alonerights the wrong.
This act alone ends the evil.
This act alone makes me strong, heals blind hatred with soft sight, kicks the darkness into light.

I choose to forgive."

Bitterness is a prison that holds us hostage to pain and the shame. While we think it protects us from pain, it really just intensifies and solidifies our hurt, turning our pain into a cancer that infects all our relationships. Bitterness prevents us from trusting, from risking, from reaching out for help. And it walls us off from God, barring Him from turning our pain into His purpose. All things cannot work for good (Romans 8:28) when God's healing grace cannot penetrate our bitterness.

Forgiveness really does "kick the darkness into light." I see that image so clearly, God's healing light pouring into the areas once filled by bitterness and pain, filling our hurting souls with Him who is the Light.

Kay Stringham - Mid Week Minder Team

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Sickness Within - Control

I really felt for Pastor Scott on Sunday when he said he wasn't going to reveal any more stories about himself. When writing the blogs I feel the same way. Being a controlling Christian is such an oxymoron and sometimes I feel like the biggest moron. Think about it, as a Christian we are confessing that God is in control of EVERYTHING. Yet we still try to control what we fear instead of giving it to God.

So we know we have to do 3 things to lose our issues of control:

1. Surrender our fears.
2. Surrender the details.
3. Surrender our lives.

What is it that you fear? What are you so afraid of? I know so many times whatever I feared turned out to be nothing. In my mind I had made the circumstances, or possible circumstances, to be way more that what they were. I was truly making mountains out of mole hills. So much of what we fear isn't based on anything we've experienced. We say things like "what if" or "maybe", "just preparing for the worst". Instead of saying things like this so we can try and control the outcome that hasn't happened yet, why don't we start quoting the "Fear not's" in the Bible? There is one for every day of the year. That should keep us busy.

Do you worry about the details? I do. Ironically, I am not even a detail oriented person. I'm the person that notices a year later when you move the furniture around. Even still, when it comes to how my prayers might be answered, I wonder if the details have been thought through. One day when I was reading my Bible the Lord spoke to me about how He is in the details. I was reading about the Ark of the Covenant and how the Lord was instructing the Israelites to make it. I am not a handy person, so I usually get lost when reading the instructions. That is when it hit me. God totally blows my mind when He starts explaining the details to me. If you ever wonder if God is thinking about the details just start reading the Bible. All through the Bible the Lord is concerned with every detail. Trust that God has the answers, especially when you don't.

Have you surrendered your life? That's what serving God is all about. Dying to yourself daily to live for Him. Realizing that God is always in control. Knowing that He reigns over everything and that He is not surprised by anything. When could we have ever said that about ourselves?

Melissa Smith - Mid Week Minder Team

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Sickness Within - Pride

When I was a little girl I saw an Alfred Hitchcock episode about a couple who believed they were so attractive that mirrors covered every inch of their walls, enabling them to enjoy their own beautiful reflections every minute of the day. They couldn't see anyone but themselves, no one else existed. And of course, they haunted the home after their death by still appearing in the mirrors, admiring their images forever. I was scared of mirrors for years!

Pride is like that. It looks in a mirror and admires only itself. No one else can be seen.

Paul, in Romans 12:3 cautions his readers to "not to think of himself more highly than he ought." Pride is that exaggerated opinion of one's importance that Paul is speaking of. Scripture tells us that God "opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (James 4:6) Our pride can truly put us in a prison of our own making, keeping us from experiencing God's grace and favor.

Humility, on the other hand, is having a modest opinion of one's worth; it is acknowledging that I need God. Pride keeps us from admitting our need for God. If I believe that I alone am responsible for the good things in my life...I earned them, I deserve them, I am entitled to them, I made them.....then what do I need God for?

C.S. Lewis, the great Christian philosopher said, "A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you're looking down, you can't see something that's above you." Pride keeps me from acknowledging that God is God and I am not.

Pride is haughty. It says, "I am better than other people. I deserve more. Because of my intellect, my beauty, my education, my success, I stand above others." Humility says everything I have is from God, including my smarts, my looks, my abilities and talents. They are His gifts, not my accomplishments.

Pride is a prison, preventing me from meaningful and deep relationships. It keeps me from admitting that I truly need other people. It prevents me from apologizing. Pride is not tender or sweet. It is a wall of mirrors that prevents me from seeing another's viewpoint. Pride can never admit it is wrong. Maybe that's why Paul says, "love is not proud." (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Humility listens and hears. It is gentle and kind. It sees another's point of view. It compromises and sacrifices. It opens doors to heal old hurtful relationships and it always looking for an opportunityunity to bless.

Pride and its twin, arrogance, easily excuse wrong. No one can tell pride what to do. And pride feels entitled. It excuses sin, by saying, "I deserve this."

Humility submits to God, knowing that our behavior, as well as our attitudes, reflect the God we love. It's not all about me. There is a bigger picture.

And even if we do acknowledge our need for God in some way, pride masks our faults and keeps us from letting the Holy Spirit show us those areas that He wants to alter with His gentle prodding.

Humility says, "Show me the error of my ways. Reveal those things that don't please God. Mold me into your image."

As we reflect on Pastor Scott's sermon, let's remember that God is always willing to guide and teach, to correct and help....if we will admit we really need Him.

Pride is the mask of one's own faults.

A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you're looking down, you can't see something that's above you. C. S. Lewis a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.

True humility is a matter of knowing that we need God's forgiving grace in our lives.

Romans 12:3 (Amplified Bible)3For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.

Psalm 25:9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way

Kay Stringham - Mid Week Minder Team

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Sickness Within - Envy

Who hasn’t been envious at some point in time? Pastor Scott was correct in saying it starts when we’re young. I remember my dad comparing being envious to feeling sorry for yourself. He always taught me that no matter how bad you have it, someone else has it worse. And no matter how much you have someone will always have more.

When I was young the big show to watch to find out how “the other half” lived was Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Now everywhere you turn you are trying to be sold a life that you should want. Even MTV has a show targeted towards kids called Teen Cribs. When I see that kind of stuff on TV it really makes me ill. I am truly happy for them. The adults and teens have some really cool stuff. I would rather that they do a show about teens giving to worthy causes, or using what they have to make someone else besides themselves happy. No one is privileged just for their own purposes.

I do believe that a time when people can get envious, who don’t normally struggle with envy, is when it seems that someone else is receiving the prayer request they have been praying for. I know that I have had to check myself in this area. I can remember vividly seeing a woman in church and wanting something she had. I didn’t really know her, I just knew of her. I had no idea the life struggles she had been through and was currently going through when I thought her life must be perfect. A year later I did get to know her and found out I didn’t want her life. It wasn’t that she was a fake or putting on a face for church. Her life wasn’t without heartache she just chose not to feel sorry for herself and put her faith in God.

Isn’t that the greatest thing about God? He can give you peace in the midst of the storm that others don’t even realize you’re facing. He can put a smile on your face when the world says cry. He restores you inside and out.

Do you struggle with envy? Have you identified an area of your life that you didn’t even realize had envy? Remember that envy is unearthly, unspiritual, and of the devil. Talk about your triple threats! The challenge for those who struggle in this area to:

Not compare yourself to others.
Celebrate the blessings in someone else’s life instead of being resentful.
Embrace God’s goodness in your life instead of ignoring it.
Be thankful right now, wherever you are at. If you are reading this you have a computer, which means you have electricity. You have the opportunity to blog about what your read, which means you have freedom of speech. That’s a lot to be thankful for!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Sickness Within - Anger

Was anyone else as guilty as I am about anger issues on Sunday? Like Pastor Scott said, "You can be a Spewer or Stewer". Which one are you?

I think I might be the worst kind. I was once a "stewer", keeping all records of any wrong doing. Then I became a "spewer". I no longer kept a record of wrong doing. Instead I became the shotgun Pastor Scott referred to. I just blew up all over the place and if I stayed around long enough then I would pick up the pieces later. I might be a better comparison to a cannonball than a shotgun.

I think the first step is really admitting you have a problem. I can't tell you how long I've been a "spewer", but my family could. I really can't remember the beginning of it because I didn't realize I even had a problem. The last couple years my husband and children confronted me on it and I have been working so hard to control my temper. Although, I am far from perfect at least they are able to talk and tease me about it now.

For me the scariest part of my actions is that I am trying to raise two children. Do I really want them to grow up and be like me or even marry someone like me? No! However, if this is what they grow up with, they will begin to think my actions are "normal". I may be able to hide my temper from some people and you might be able to as well, but you cannot hide it from your family and especially your children.

Pastor Scott says often, "The question is not whether or not you are being watched. It is whether or not you should be followed". I want to be followed as a Godly woman. I don't want to be followed as someone who has control issues, but can't control her own temper. We have to admit our faults and work on our weaknesses. "The LORD is compassionate and gracious; slow to anger, abounding in love." Psalms 103:8

I pray that God will continue to work on us all. I pray that we take this kind of wrong anger and turn it into sanctified anger that leads us to do righteous acts. I pray that we may all become more like Him.

Melissa - Mid Week Minder Team