Never Give Up, Never Surrender!

 

“Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1).

I was flipping through the channels a few days ago, and ran across the movie “Galaxy Quest.” One of our former youth pastor’s sister, Missy Pyle played one of the aliens in the movie. Their mission was: “Never Give Up, Never Surrenders,” and I am borrowing that mission statement this Sunday for my message title at our church. The movie is a late ‘90’s silly, spoof science fiction film. While the movie was a comedy and make-believe, the mission slogan has a great truth to live by. Persistence is an important factor in prayer. But persistence is a valuable commodity for every area of your Christian life, not just prayer. God blesses those who persist. So whatever you may be facing right now, don’t give up!

God has always honored persistence. I have always appreciated Emmitt Smith. I was glad to see him set the NFL rushing record. He wasn’t as flashy as Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, and he never possessed true break-away speed Erik Dickerson, Tony Dorsett or a Bo Jackson. But his strength lies in his ability to persist–he just kept on running.

He became the all-time NFL Rushing record holder with 18,355 yards. And when he broke Walter Peyton’s record of 16,726 yards with Emmitt’s 16,743 yards at the time. It was calculated that at the time this way. It took him 13 years to run only 9.5 miles. What’s the big deal about that? Emmitt’s average run over those 9.5 miles was 4.3 yards at a time. That meant he has been tackled and knocked down 3,983 times. And do you know what he did after every tackle? He got back up and ran the ball again. Sure, he was injured a few times, but he always returned. I’m impressed that someone would be knocked down almost 4,000 times and still they get up and run again.

Pray to be persistent in all we do for the Lord! May there be no quit in us, that we would be consistent, determined, stalwart, nothing to it, but to do it kind of people for the Lord!

Never give up, never surrender~Barry

 

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Something To Minimize Sexual Misconduct

It has been so disturbing to watch the news daily with the perpetual sexual misconduct allegations by politicians, public figures, actors, producers, directors and news anchors, etc. I asked our staff at the Oaks (11/28/17) to sign and practice the following commitment to moral integrity with the opposite sex. These are not all mine, I took some from our Billy Graham’s “10 Commandments For Opposite Sex Guidelines” and I also borrowed some from Rick Warren’s “Saddleback Staff Covenant With The Opposite Sex.” The Oaks is the third church staff  that I have led to adopt such a policy of moral integrity with the opposite sex. It has been very help! While some of it may seem a little extreme, you can see these days what failure in this area can wreck everyone’s life that is involved. And of course, real integrity involves so much more than just sexual standards and morals! Check these out, perhaps you need to adopt such a policy personally! It would be a lot better than destroying lives, including your own!

All for Jesus~Barry

10 Commandments For Moral Integrity With The Opposite Sex

  1. Thou shalt not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex.*
  2. Thou shalt not have the opposite sex pick you up or drive you places when it is just the two of you. There must be a third-party*
  3. Thou shalt not kiss any person of opposite or same-sex or show affection that could be questioned.*
  4. Thou shalt not visit the opposite sex alone at home.
  5. Thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex alone at the office, without someone else in the office area. You shall not counsel the opposite sex more than once without that person’s mate. If a door is without window, it must be left partially open (at least 6 inches) when counseling a person of the opposite sex. If there is a window in the door, then you can shut the door. If needed refer them.
  6. Thou shalt not discuss detailed sexual problems with the opposite sex in counseling. Refer them.
  7. Thou shalt not discuss your marriage problems with a person of the opposite sex.
  8. Thou shalt be careful in answering emails, text, fb messenger, phone calls, chatrooms, cards, or letters from the opposite sex.
  9. Thou shalt make your assistant (secretary) or other staff your protective ally in these matters.
  10. Thou shalt guard what your eyes see and your heart desires. Do not lust after the opposite sex (in relationships, internet, video, etc.).

*The first three do not apply to unmarried staff.

Violations of these guidelines deemed necessary of report by the Lead Pastor will result in the following process:

  • Confession and correction of the matter.
  • Incident report will be filled out and given to Personnel Committee.
  • If continued and not corrected, you will be asked to seek ministry elsewhere.

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people” (Eph. 5:3).

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Go For The Mountaintop!

Mt.RainierI have made two week long trips to the Seattle area to see one of our daughters, her husband, and our two incredible grandchildren since they have lived there. I also am a topography buff and was so excited to see Mt. Rainier and the Cascade Mountains, but its peak evaded my eyes and camera lens because of the clouds, even though it is an incredible 14,411 feet in elevation. Its peak even remained out of sight when we drove up Mt. Rainier and hiked on it for a few hours. However, as we flew out (Day # 14), we cleared the clouds, and I finally captured a decent picture of the peak from my window! I got it!

What is our fascination with mountaintops? Well, being from West Virginia, I developed a love for the mountains (hills) a long time ago. However, I have observed this same fascination in others, whether they are in a hill or mountainous region or not. I believe we have a strong, innate desire for mountaintop experiences in life! For some it may be the view. For others it may be a conquest, and I think for many of us it is a spiritual high. I do think we desire mountaintop spiritual experiences, and they should be sought. God uses mountaintop spiritual experiences and highs to be real markers and life-changers in our lives!

Mountains in the Bible have been places for powerful encounters with God:

  • In Genesis 22, Abraham greatly demonstrated his faith on a mountain when he took his son and did as the Lord commanded him, preparing to do the unthinkable. But in that critical moment, God came through.
  • In Exodus 20, the Ten Commandments were received by Moses on a mountain. The Bible tells us that when he came down his face radiated the glory of God’s presence.
  • In I Kings 18, Elijah met God on Mt. Carmel and experienced great power in prayer, calling down fire and exposing hundreds of false prophets.

Mountaintop experiences with God are simply awe-inspiring and just incredible!  I like what James MacDonald wrote about them: “A mountaintop experience is a temporary, uncommon encounter with God that is meant to give us a fresh awareness of His reality and nearness.”

  • A biblical mountaintop experience involves your mind: You learn something new about who God is.
  • A biblical mountaintop experience involves your emotions: You feel overcome by a greater awareness of God’s reality and His nearness of your life.
  • A biblical mountaintop experience involves your will. It is so that we would be changed.

In Mark 9, Jesus invited His closest disciples (Peter, James & John) to join him in a mountaintop experience. To have this experience with Jesus, they had to:

(1) Accept His Invitation To Go!

(2) They Had To Have A Seeking Heart (Hebrews 11:6).

(3) You Have To Spend Focused Time With Jesus.

(4) You Have To See Things Through Jesus’ Eyes!

(5) They Had To Stay There Until They Encountered God.

What did they see? They got to see Jesus transfigured! “His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus” (Mark 9:2b-4). Wow, what a mountaintop experience! Spend time, lots of time with Jesus, and there may be mountaintop encounters with God waiting for you just around the corner!

Go to the Mountain with Jesus~Barry

Are You Hungry For God?

Have you ever walked into the Mall and you pass by one of those Cinnabon or a Cookies & Co., and you weren’t even hungry, but all of sudden, you really want one. Or perhaps for you it’s your favorite dish of your mom’s or grandmother’s cooking? How about fresh baked bread? Oh, the aroma and what an appetite charger! You see, Appetite is influenced by atmosphere!  If you want to keep a strong spiritual appetite for God the rest of your life, then: Hang Out With People Who Constantly Seek God!

As Solomon grew old he was derailed from seeking God, “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been” (1 Kings 11:4). Don’t hang out with the wrong peeps!

Jesus tells us that those who are spiritually hunger will get fed!“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

You must make knowing God your top priority in life constantly! Not success.  Not happiness.  You seek God not those things.  Those are the byproducts.  You are to be “congratulated” or “happy” in knowing God and keeping Him first in all you do! Happiness, therefore, is a byproduct of knowing God!

Listen to Jesus about life priorities, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:33-34). Make knowing and growing in a relationship with God your number priority in life.

And why did Jesus call us to this priority? Because we tend to focus on what is created and not the Creator! “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:25-27).

King David had a passion for God in his heart. Listen to this psalm,O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. 4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands” (Psalm 63:1-4). And David wrote this in the desert!

Perhaps you are in a really dry place in your life! Your marriage, career, friendship, health or finances? Seeking the Lord with all your heart is the answer! Remember, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6). He will sustain you and bring you on through burdens!

Be hungry for God~Barry

Living A Life God Blesses! Part #2

theblessedlife“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’

 

But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’

27 The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Jacob,’ he answered. 28 Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome’” (Genesis 32:24-28).

Jacob wrestled (struggled, Hebrew word “Israel”) with this mysterious being, that some have said was an angel, others Christ, and some even God the Father. However, we know the Bible consistently teaches that no one has ever actually seen God. So that would lead us to conclude that Jacob encountered God’s representative. Passages such as Judges 13:18 and Hos. 12:4-5, sure support this line of thought. Don’t lose sight of the big picture here; Jacob struggled (wrestled) with God’s representative for God’s blessings. You should be so determined in seeking God’s blessings on your life!

Here’s our short list of the remaining seven of the twelve “blessed zones” of living:

The Sixth Key To Unlocking Blessings Into Our Lives – A HEART TO WORSHIP GOD – Exodus 23:25 – “Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, 26 and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span. 27 “I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run.”

“Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Selah Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage” (Psalm 84:4-5).

The Seventh Key To Unlocking Blessings Into Our Lives – STAND IN SUPPORT OF ISRAEL – Genesis 12:3“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

The Eighth Key To Unlocking Blessings Into Our Lives – STAND UP FOR THE UNDERDOGS OF LIFE – Deut. 24:19“When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”

“Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble” (Psalm 41:1).

The Ninth Key To Unlocking Blessings Into Our Live – FAITHFUL IN TITHINGMalachi 3:10“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

The Tenth Key To Unlocking Blessings Into Our Lives – A GIVING HEART, ESPECIALLY FOR THE POOR – Deuteronomy 14:28-29“At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, 29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”

“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done” (Proverbs 19:17). Here are some other passages: Deut. 15:10; 16:17, Ps. 37:26, Prov. 22:9

The Eleventh Key To Unlocking Blessings Into Our Lives – WILLING TO SUFFER FOR THE FAITH & PERSEVERE – Mt. 5:10“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“If you are insulted because of name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rest on you” (1 Peter 4:14).

The Twelveth Key To Unlocking Blessings Into Our Lives – WHOSE SINS ARE FORGIVEN – Psalm 32:1-2“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit” (Psalm 32:1-2).

“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” (Romans 4:7-8).

Choose that you are going to live in the zones that God has biblically and historically blessed!  Live your life in the blessed by God’s Blessed Zones!

To blessed to be stressed~Barry

Living A Life God Blesses!

Did theblessedlifeyou know that the word “blessed” or “blessing” or “bless(es)” appears in the Bible some 426 times in 377 passages? What if you could discover a short list of what God has biblically and historically blessed, and then align your life to living out those principles? You would discover God’s “blessed” zone of life! Life at its absolute best!

The First Secret To Unlocking Blessings Into Our Lives – PRAYER – 1 Chronicles 4:10“Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” Isaac Bashevis Singer once confessed, “I only pray when I’m in trouble…but I’m in trouble all the time, and so I pray all the time.” Billy Graham said, “Heaven is full of answers to prayers for which no one ever bothered to ask.”

The Second Key To Unlocking Blessings Into Our Lives – SATURATE YOUR HEART & MIND THE WORD OF GOD – Revelation 1:3“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it.”  Think about another well-known passage, “Do not let this book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8).

The Third Key To Unlocking Blessings Into Our Lives – OBEDIENCE – James 1:25“But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25).

“Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). The Bible also tells us, “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22). Chuck Swindoll wrote, “The very best proof of your love for your Lord is obedience…nothing more, nothing less, nothing else” (Seasons Of Life, p. 131).

The Fourth Key To Unlocking Blessings Into Your Life – TO LIVE A RIGHTEOUS LIFE – Psalm 1:1-3“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yield its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”

“Blessings crown the head of the righteous, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked” (Proverbs 10:6).

The Fifth Key To Unlocking Blessings Into Your Life – HUMILITY IN OUR HEARTS – James 4:6, 10“But He gives more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

Do you have humility like the man who wrote the best-selling books, “Humility and How I Attained It” and “The Ten Most Humble Men in the World and How I Chose The Other Nine.”  Humility, Rick Warren reminds us, is “not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”  More principles that God blesses next week!

Blessed beyond belief~Barry

Faithfulness Is A Wonderful Thing!

While living in Florida, I asked my ministry partner and  Associate Pastor Ron Carter, if he WeedEater3.jpgcropped.jpgcould look for a good, used Weedeater. Ron would frequently go “junking” (yard sales) on his time off, and often found killer deals around in our Space Coast area in Florida. Ron found this used gas powered Weedeater (pictured today) that was at that time 4-5 years slightly used, and best of all, I was only out $20 on the deal. Here is the kicker, I just started my 27th year of using this 31-32 year old Weedeater, with very little maintenance and a few different cutting heads changes along the way. You could say that I have gotten a lot of bang for my $20, and it is still going strong with a couple extra pulls to get it started.

Faithfulness in a product is always highly appreciated by all of us. God is always pleased when we just faithfully serve Him! God is so very pleased when we keep our commitment to Christ, and faithful in our marriages, parenting, vocational witness, sharing the Gospel, reading and studying His Word, persistent in our prayer life, committed to His church and living moral and godly lives.

The Bible tells us, “The Lord rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness…(1 Samuel 26:23).  The Psalmist states, “I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws” (Psalm 119:30). God tells us that he has desired faithfulness from us even from the womb, “Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;…” (Psalm 51:6). John bragged on the faithfulness of early Christians, “It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it” (3 John 1:3). Faithfulness is even included in the Fruit of the Spirit that God’s Holy Spirit is producing in all of us (Galatians 5:22).

Most of you have heard and some perhaps have even seen the featured geyser named Old Faithful, in Yellowstone National Park. The geyser earned its name by consistently erupting like clockwork. Ironically, Old Faithful is not living up to it name. In the 1960’s it erupted about every 64 minutes. However, since an earthquake in 1998, it spews about anywhere from 60 minutes to as long as 110 minutes. Its name hasn’t changed, but it’s behavior has. Christians and churches do the very same thing. The term faithful can define the way we use to be instead of how we are in our walk with God right now.

In contrast, God is always faithful! “Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you” (Psalm 89:8). Be like my Weedeater, be faithful to God until the day you die! God is so perpetually faithful to you!

Be faithful~Barry