What Legacy Are You Leaving?

Legacy...

It is a word that we use as we think about the end of our lives. We think of legacy when we consider someone who has lived a long and meaningful life. However, it is more than that.

Legacy is an active, present word. The legacy that we leave behind is in the making NOW! How we live...NOW...how we act...NOW...what we say...NOW...are all determining the legacy we will leave to others.

Paul writes to the Philippian church "The things which you have learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:9) Paul is inviting them to observe the legacy that he was presently displaying before them.  

Let me rephrase his thoughts in the form of questions. As we look, I believe it will help us reflect on our lives and the impact potential we have...if we will trust the Lord to work through us. Let's consider these questions in light of our own lives.

1.  What are you teaching others?  ("the things which you have learned from me")
    Paul is telling them to observe what he has been teaching them. It is a sobering thought to ask "What am I teaching others by my actions and attitudes?" The answer will give us a first glimpse into the legacy we are leaving.

2.  What are you giving others?  ("the things you have received from me") 
    Another way to think about this one is to ask..."Am I consumed with myself and my needs, or do I intentionally look for ways to give value, love and honor to others?" We are treasured far more by what we give than what we take. In fact, there are two types of people in the world...givers and takers.  Be a giver! Add value to someone's life today!

3.  What are you saying? ("the things you heard from me")
    Words are powerful. The Bible says that the power of life and death is in the tongue. In other words, we can bless someone or we can bind up someone by what we say. What are those around you hearing from you today?

4.  How are you acting, in both attitude and behavior? ("the things you saw in me")
    People see our lives, and learn a great deal from us even when we do not say a word. And if our actions speak, then our attitudes speak even more! Is it time for an attitude adjustment? Remember...our attitude is contagious, so let's watch what we are spreading!

The end of that verse tells us what kind of legacy Paul was leaving. He said that if we would follow his life and legacy that the God of peace would be with us. What a challenging thought to me!  

One last question for us: Are we living in such a manner, that if people follow in the footsteps of our legacy, that the God of peace would be with them? Oh, may we live for Jesus in such a way, that people will see us and hunger for Him!  

Now that is a legacy worth leaving!!

I've gotta run,

Pastor Dave

 

Dealing With Disappointment

Life can be difficult. One of the features of our lives is that we will all experience disappointment at one time or another. Jesus even told us life would be like this when He said, "...In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

It is a given that trouble will come our way. So how do we deal with it? I believe the prophet Habakkuk dealt with disappointment and troubles in such a way that we can learn from his example. In the first four verses of chapter 1 – Habakkuk is overwhelmed by his surroundings and circumstances. Notice the words he uses to describe what he sees around him…

     INIQUITY . . . TROUBLE . . . VIOLENCE . . . STRIFE . . . PLUNDERING . . . WICKED

Sound familiar to you? Do you look around and see chaos and wonder how in the world you can deal with it?

Habakkuk went through 6 Stages of Dealing with Disappointment...

     1. WHY? - Habakkuk 1:1-2

           We have all questioned why at some point. Habakkuk asks why has he prayed and it seems that God has not answered. It is ok to ask why... Our why questions point to God rather than away from Him. When we question why, we are in essence giving a show of faith and not doubt, because we understand by asking why that there IS a God who ANSWERS, who CARES, and who CAN turn the situation around.

     2. WONDER - Habakkuk 1:2-3

            After the why, we begin to wonder...where is God? Has He removed Himself from our situation? If He is there, and I believe that He is, then why hasn't He done something? This is the stage when we begin to focus more on the situation around us and the disappointment that we feel.

     3. WORRY - Habakkuk 1:4

            In verse four, Habakkuk wonders aloud, "Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth.  For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgement proceeds." He begins to worry that maybe the law of God can't make a difference. It is important at this stage to remember:
                              Don't let what happens AROUND you, happen IN you!

     4. WORD - Habakkuk 1:5; 2:2-3

            It is here that God responds with His Word! God tells Habakkuk to look among the nations and watch Him do something so spectacular that no one will believe it. He goes on to say that the promise of His provision and restoration will happen, even though it tarries. Just because God has not moved the mountain for you yet, does not mean that His promise to do so will not happen!  What God promises...He will do! Every...single...time!

     5.  WAIT - Habakkuk 2:3

            So Habakkuk waits...and waits.... "How long Lord will you allow this to go on? How long must I suffer through this ordeal? Lord you promised!" Have you ever prayed like that? I know I have...
            But I am reminded of a truth about the promises of God:
                                      A promise delayed is not a promised denied!
            Note what God tells Habakkuk in chapter 2, verse 3: "For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." Though it tarries...though you have been praying...though you have been waiting...DON'T GIVE UP...God will come through for you!

     6.  WORSHIP - Habakkuk 3:17-19

           As Habakkuk realizes and remembers the promises of God, he changes his perspective. Instead of looking at the bleak circumstances and seeing disappointment, he focuses his attention on the God that can do the impossible. Note the faith and trust in the simple statements of Habakkuk in chapter 3, 17-18: "Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation."
           Instead of focusing on the disappointments around him, Habakkuk changed his focus to the Lord and what He could, and would do.
                           His perspective changed even though his situation did not.

Today, allow your focus to shift from the disappointments around you, to the God who can save you!  Yes, we will have trouble, but look up...Jesus has overcome the world!!!

I've gotta run,
Pastor Dave

After Easter Thoughts...

Now that Easter Sunday has passed, what now? Some of Jesus followers experienced those same thoughts. In fact, the Bible mentions two of them that had an encounter with Jesus that totally changed them forever.

 

Luke 24:13-35 records the story. Two disciples, or followers, of Jesus were walking from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus. This was a seven mile journey away from the other disciples, from the center of their worship, and from the events of Jesus' death and resurrection.

Have you ever been through something that left you wanting to walk away from all of the things that could help you? If we are not careful, we tend to isolate ourselves from others when life gets tough. We walk away from friends, family and even God when we need all of them more than ever.

Three thoughts about this encounter encourage me today, and I hope they do the same for you...

1. Jesus will meet you even when you are going the wrong way.

     -- These two followers were going in a direction away from everything and everyone that could help them. 

     -- His love is not bound by direction.

     -- His focus is on you and your future...because He has been there.

 

2. Jesus is after you even when you are not before Him.

     -- The disciples had left Jerusalem. 

     -- They were no longer before, or in front of Him.

     -- However, Jesus was still "after" them...pursuing them with love and care.

 

3. Jesus will stay close when He is asked...

     -- They urged Him strongly to stay.

     -- Oh, that we would urge Jesus strongly to stay with us...

     -- Let that be our prayer.  God, let your glory, your presence, stay close to me!

 

Be encouraged today!  Jesus loves you!  He can turn around any situation you face. Give it to Him today.

I've gotta run,
Pastor Dave

Overcoming Anxiety

How many times have you worried this month?...this week?...today?

It is extremely difficult to not worry about something or someone in our lives. The cares and struggles that we experience in life seemingly give us a reason and a "right" to worry. If we are not careful, that anxiety can consume us to the point that it hinders our ability to function.

In the Bible, Paul speaks to some of his favorite people about this very issue. He says to them, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

Jesus also said, "Do not worry." (Matthew 6:25)  The word Jesus used is merimnao, which means "a divided mind." Isn't that what worry does to us? No matter where we may be, if we are in a state of worried frenzy, then our mind is a million miles away..."divided" from our current situation. We then find it difficult to truly experience and live in the moment with the people that we love, because our mind is taken somewhere else by our worries.

So how do we stop the cycle? How do we get off of the roller coaster of emotions that come because of our worry?  Again, it is not easy (surprise!), but I believe it can be done if we act on the Scriptures above...

Here are a few quick thoughts that can help (I know they have helped me):

     1.  Do not worry about anything.
         
Wait a minute, that is redundant isn't it? Well, think about what Paul is saying. "Do not be
         anxious" implies that you have a choice. One way to begin to quit worrying is to not buy
         into the idea "well, that's just the way I am." No, you have a choice how you will respond!
         Worry is a sign of misplaced trust...place your trust in the Lord, not your ability to solve
         the problem.

     2. Pray about everything. 
         Being transformed by the renewing of our minds is to allow the Holy Spirit to literally
         change the form or formulas of thought or being. Let your heart and mind be consumed
         with thoughts of God. Let nothing in your life be hidden from the reality of prayer. Invite
         Jesus in!

     3. Pray with supplication.
         This is more than making requests. It suggests an intensity of earnestness in extended
         prayer. This is not to gain favor with God, but rather to transfer the entire burden of our soul
         into the hands of the Lord.

     4. Pray with thanksgiving. 
         Tell God and yourself how He has come through for you in the past. He doesn't change, so
         as He has come through before, He will do so again!

      5. Make your requests known to God...ALL of them.
         Put everything out on the table! We worry about what we do not bathe and cover in prayer.
         Let Jesus know everything! Not just the small stuff; not just the big stuff; everything!

The result?  The peace of God will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus! I cannot think of a better "guard" for my mind than that! Jesus, the Prince of Peace, will guard my mind when I give Him all of my anxieties.

I think that this may help you...but I worry that we may not put it into practice. Oh dear, there I go again...I told you it was difficult...I think I need to give some more things to the Lord...

I've gotta run,
Pastor Dave

Be a "First Responder"

As I write this on a Monday, I am well aware that THIS. IS. A. MONDAY.  After the weekend, which is usually filled with wonderful activities and opportunities to worship with the family of God, Monday always comes.

Mondays bring the realities of life in clear view for us. If we are not careful, daily life with its mundane redundancy can begin to draw out the joy of our lives. I have often said, the problem with life is that it is so daily. The same routines tend to take away our excitement, joy, and zest for life!  Even worse that that, are the unknown surprises that often happen as we begin a new week that steal away whatever hopes we may have had.

Can I encourage you today? Don't let that happen!!! (I can hear some folks now... "That's easy for you to say") Actually, it is not that easy, but we have a choice. We can choose zest! We can choose joy! We can choose excitement! These are not things or activities...they are attitudes!

I love the verse of Scripture in Philippians 4:8 that says:

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

In other words, choose what you are going to think about. I understand life may be tough, and it may throw some hard days and situations our way. But we can experience joy in our everyday lives!

How?...I am glad you asked...

Typically, when things come our way, when things happen in our lives...that is the moment of decision.  And if you are like me, on most days, we REACT to what happens. Instead of being a "reactor" (which can blow up, by the way), let's become a "responder" when life hits us between the eyes.

Whatever happens TO you, do not let it happen IN you!

     1.  Instead of "reacting" to things, let's (I know I need to...) adopt a posture that greets every day as a "First Responder." 

     2. To put it another way, let's take each day, as the first act of our day, to the Lord in prayer. 

     3. Give yourself and each day, again first thing, to the Lord as an act of worship. Ask for His guidance and direction for the day. Ask Him to order your steps according to His will for you.

     4. Choose, by an act of your will and with the Lord's help, to have an attitude of thanksgiving and joy no matter what happens within the day. 

Becoming a "responder" instead of a "reactor" begins before stuff happens. First responders train before the situation gets bleak. Begin your training today. (I think I just heard someone say, "I have, and I didn't make it that far..." - wait, I think I said that)

I've got good news! It's never too late to begin again!!!  I'm rooting for you! You can do this! I promise...it won't be easy...but it WILL be worth it. Your Heavenly Father will make sure of it!

I've gotta run, 
Pastor Dave

One of "THOSE" Days...

Have you ever had one of those days? You know...one of those days when you wish you could just crawl back into bed and start all over?  You know...one of THOSE days...I’m talking about the kind of day where it seems that if anything can go wrong, it will.

It’s always one of those days when someone will ask you “How’s it going? How are you doing?”

You are faced with a decision...thoughts flash through your mind faster than a race car on a superspeedway...“Do I really tell them?” “Do they really want to know?”...nah, “I will just take the easy route.” And then seemingly without much thought, you hear the words coming from your own mouth... “Today is a good day. I am doing fine.” 

All the while, you want to scream that this is a tough day and you just HOPE it gets better.

Hope is not a synonym for “wishful thinking” though. No, the biblical meaning of the word hope is a confident expectation of something good based on the solid certainty of the character and nature of God.

I love the phrase in Hebrews 6:19, “This hope we have as an anchor for the soul.” An anchor is only as strong as that to which it is tied. This hope is in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The love and forgiveness He gives brings a confidence that no matter what we experience, the end result of His purposes in our lives is one that is for our ultimate good!

The hope, confident expectation of God’s goodness, that I have in Jesus means:

       1. A promise delayed, is not a promise denied!

Just because I haven’t received what God has promised me yet, that does not mean that He is going to deny me that promise. He will fulfill His Word!

       2. A detour is not your destination!

If the place you are in does not look like what you thought it was, don’t give up. God is still working in your life even if it looks like nothing you thought it would!

       3. A diagnosis is not your destiny!
It doesn’t matter what label someone else has tried to put on you. God has the final say over your life! He loves you and has a destiny that only you can fulfill!

Be encouraged today! Even if it is one of THOSE days...We have hope in Jesus!

I’ve gotta run,
Pastor Dave

"IN" Everything Give Thanks

"IN everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Paul wrote this verse to the church telling us to give thanks in all things. Notice his choice of words. He specifically uses the word "IN" instead of the word "FOR." 

There are many things in life FOR which I am NOT thankful. I am not thankful FOR disease, discouragement, pain, or suffering. I am not thankful FOR the pain of children suffering in hunger, or as victims of abuse. I am not thankful FOR the suffering of friends and family when a loved one dies and they experience deep grief. I am not thankful FOR the pain of broken relationships that are not reconciled. I am not thankful FOR many of the difficulties of life.

However, I am thankful that Paul used the word "IN" when he commanded us to be thankful. I am reminded by this, that no matter what difficulty or struggle may come, "IN" that struggle I can remain thankful.

I am thankful IN all things that Jesus promised to be with us always! Whatever we face today, we can rest, assured of the presence and power of the Lord with us. No, we do not need to be thankful FOR everything, but through the peace and presence of the Lord we can be thankful IN everything.

Have you thanked the Lord today?

Whatever life is throwing at you today, you can be thankful IN the middle of it. Life can be difficult at times, yet we can still have a spirit of thankfulness in the roughest of times.

And...if we just look around...we will see that we might just have a lot to be thankful FOR as well.

I've gotta run,

Pastor Dave

Simple Help for Husbands...(and wives)

I’ve been married for 26.5 years. (amazing woman, she is…)  During those years I have learned a few things, and most of them because of mistakes that I have made.  Example?…who needs a GPS when you know where you are going?  I would rather get lost when we are driving somewhere than to stop and ask for directions.

Out of the many lessons, I have one that is a simple yet life-changing thought for husbands.

Ready for it?…here it comes…

“I’m sorry, you’re right. Please forgive me.”

Life-changing, huh?  Well, at least it was for me.  When it comes down to where the shoe leather meets the road, I don’t like this statement. There are two reasons (actually, several…but two I will mention) that I don’t like this:

1.  I must admit that I am wrong.

I don’t like to admit that I am wrong or that I have made a mistake.  In fact, most of us don’t.  I think it must be something in a man’s DNA or something, but we have a difficult time admitting we were wrong.

2.  I must ask for forgiveness.

If I must ask someone, especially my wife, to forgive me, then by definition I have said or done something that is either hurtful or stupid.  (In my case, usually both…told you she was an amazing woman)  It is difficult for us to ask someone for forgiveness.  To do so we are admitting our failure and also that we have damaged the relationship, even if it is in just a small way.

So how do I do it?  How do I say, “I’m sorry, you’re right. Please forgive me.”? (For one thing, get plenty of practice…I know I have. Just kidding. Well, I wish I was kidding)

Here are three quick things to help you as a husband the next time (and there will be a next time) you must apologize:

1.  Be quick to say I am sorry and I was wrong.

Profound, huh?  Delaying the truth, or not stating it at all, does not make it go away.  We messed up. The quicker we admit that, the better. She knows it anyway…

2.  Be sincere and ask her to forgive you.

Don’t apologize in order to earn some points with your wife.  It doesn’t work. Trust me on that one. Apologize without expecting anything in return. Just admit the obvious.  You have hurt her, and even though you may not deserve it, you are in need of forgiveness.

3.  Ask her to help you change in the future.

If you are serious about #3, it will open up communication between you both like you have never experienced. She will help you in a good way.

When I think about it, these three things work well with our relationship with God too!  Try them out and see hope rise in your situation.

Well fellas, there they are...Some simple, yet sometimes difficult, ideas to help us in our relationship with our wives.  Oh, and by the way…ladies, these ideas are for you also.

I gotta run,

Pastor Dave

"I've Gotta Run"

We have often heard these words in some way or another. Whether it is a reply from someone on the phone, or a response from someone we meet, "I've gotta run" is a phrase that most of us are familiar with.

For me, it is not about being busy. No, this is a phrase that is much deeper. The reason for that is that it is extremely personal. 2016 was a great, but difficult year. We as a church were growing and undergoing a building program of a new worship center (Praise the Lord!),  I watched my dad lose his battle with cancer, and our youngest child graduated from high school and joined his sibling in college (to name a few). It was just one of "those years" on a personal front.

Fast forward to 2017! The Lord dropped in my spirit that 2017 was going to be "The Year of Restoration" for us as a local church body. As such, I was reminded by the Lord something He spoke to me years ago, "Dave, you must become what you want to see in others."

So, this year I am personally making the decision (and it's not easy) to attack 2017 for all it's worth. One of the areas of attack for me will be in the area of physical health and well-being. That is the reason "I've gotta run" is so personal for me. I don't necessarily like to run, but it helps me stay (or in my case, get in) shape. In fact, I sense the Lord calling me to this...and I must answer that call. 

What is the Lord speaking to you about in 2017? Here are some ideas to help you in your growth in Christ this year.

  1. Pray. 
    Everything begins and ends with prayer. Ask God what He wants from you this year...and then...listen for His answer. He is speaking...we are often just too noisy to hear Him.
  2. Be Intentional.
    Growth in Christ doesn't just happen. Be intentional with your good intentions. Act on them. Then watch what God will do in your life.
  3. Be Accountable.
    That is one of the reasons for this post. I am "putting it out there" in a sense that will hold me accountable to change. Who do you trust to ask to help you grow this year?
  4. Keep at it.
    Keep after what God has put in your heart. Whatever that is, continue to be faithful to pursue His will for your life. While the timing may not be what you desire, He has told us in His Word to not "allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit." (Galatians 6:9 - The Message)

So, join me! It is a "Year of Restoration!" Allow the Lord to renew, recharge, and refuel you this year.  Remember, "we must become what we want to see in others."

Well, that's all for now... I've gotta run!

Pastor Dave