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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Did you hear that?

I didn't either:-).
I have been studying the spiritual disciplines of the Christian Life for a sermon series I am preaching and so far we have looked at a few. Out of all the ones covered so far, silence and solitude seem to be the most difficult. Phones ringing, neighbors house getting reroofed, school let out and all the kids walking by, texts, email, breaking news, family time, where does it end?
In and of themselves these things are harmless and undoubtedly important, in varying degrees. So why is it that I can't get some peace and quiet?! If I am honest about it, it is because I am lacking motivation to leave to a quiet place. By that I mean, I physically need to get up, and go to a quiet place to be with the Lord. Sound like anyone else you know? We read in Matthew 1:35 that Jesus got up, left the house and went to a secluded, literally lonesome, place. He took action to secure a time away from everyone else to be with God. We know He used some of this time at least to pray, but the value of the time away from all distractions to just be silent and have silent is of great benefit to everyone, Christian or not. Time to prepare for the day, prepare yourself and think. It may just be what the doctor ordered. So why not give it a try? start small and try just an hour or so, leaving your phone, iPod, and other distractions at home. Go for a walk even if that is what gets you away from everything.
Good luck and I would love to hear your stories of how you observe silence and solitude, or what works for you.
Till next time.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Too Little Time

Whoa, Let me off the ride! I don't know how long I can keep holding on! Have you ever felt that way? Maybe that explains exactly how you feel right now. Well your not the only one. I have been talking to people all week and I am hearing the same thing from all over the place.
What most of us don't stop to realize is, this is an extremely effective form of spiritual attack. If you are busy, stressed and frustrated, searching for enough time to even catch your breath than you are certainly in the midst of war. When all of our time goes into trying to keep our heads above water, then the enemy has the upper hand. No longer are you able to pick the things you enjoy or know God would have for your day, but instead you do what it takes to survive. After all the squeaky wheel gets the oil.
So here is the good news. You have the authority and the ability to set things right and put your priorities in order the way you know they should be. Here are a few helps for you.

The first step is to acknowledge your situation and accept responsibility for allowing it to get this way. Its not that you meant for it to turn out this way but regardless it is what it is.

Secondly is to give yourself permission to rectify the situation. You know there will be hard decisions ahead and it will not be easy. You know at some point you will disappoint someone and that's never easy, but you cannot please everyone and live for their expectations.

Thirdly is to ask God for forgiveness for losing perspective and ask for His sovereign hand to fix it.

The fourth step may very well be the most difficult, stop everything! that's right absolutely everything. On the up side you will be immediately putting some things back in immediately, the down side is you will have to fight the urge to put the things that monopolize your time in a negative way back in right away, don't do it. Send out an email, text people, call them or do whatever you feel peace about but let people know you will be out of commission for awhile. You may want to give a brief explanation to help them understand its nothing personal but you are drowning in a pool of over commitment.

Make a list of all the things that you feel need to go back on your calendar and put an "A", "B", or "C" next to them. Simply put you are separating good, better, best. Consider the consequences and the benefits as well as the draw backs by putting these on your calendar. Discern what things will honor God, build your family and leave you time to do the things that bring you enjoyment.

As you put things back into the mix, place them on a calendar and only put the "A"s back on to begin with. If two of these contradict one of them must be placed on the "B" list. Maintain the attitude that you cannot continue to over commit yourself.

As a personal note, may I recommend that you place daily time with the Lord on your A list? Place family on the A list. Don't forget to put priority on these areas.

You have probably already figured out the plan of putting things back on your schedule but here is the catch. Operate on an "A"-list. Some of the items on the "B" list will make your calendar but be choosy. You can add things as you go and I would highly recommend not putting the entire "B" list back on. be patient and be confident before adding things. Your "C" list things may not ever make it to your calendar again. That's ok, in fact that's the goal, right?

I think if you take the time to evaluate how you spend your time and you make the necessary changes, follow it through, you will emerge victorious and find more enjoyment in life. Isn't it worth a try?

Keep your chin up and your calendar open.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Just read a great book and wanted to share it.

As a pastor I am always looking for great resources to pass on to folks that are spiritually based and don't treat the symptom but get to the root of the issue at hand in a practical way. I just finished one such book on a topic every person I know can benefit from. Depression affects so many of us, our family and friends that it is important to have a practical help that treats the whole person. The name of the book is "Turning Your Down into Up" by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD with Ann McMurray "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."
  click here to read a chapter
This book has found its way to my highly recommend shelf. This is the first book I have come a crossed that helps you to reveal the symptoms, isolate the causes, and gives practical steps to fix including thought provoking questions to personalize and come up with a plan of action. From diet and exercise changes, to scriptural promises this book thoroughly looks at every angle. Pick up a copy of this book and equip yourself to combat depression. Rather it is you dealing with it or someone you care about, you'll be glad you added this book to your arsenal.
Till next time
Pastor Mark

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Are you under authority?

As I have been considering more and more my role of obedience to government vs obedience to my Lord, I have felt like a haze has consumed me. Not in an overwhelming cant find the tree from the forest type of haze, but at what point do I say enough is enough. In fact even as I write this I think of the eye of "big brother" watching and listening in. I know many of us have "files" to keep all our important information in so it is only logical to conclude that those of us who call our selves Christians, get anti communism newsletters, conservative, value voting, joy casting, state hopping, cell phone using, people such as myself have a file as well. Register a gun, well that needs to be documented, call a known tea party attender, that's another line item, and the reality is we dismiss this as the governments need to keep us safe even if we have to give up a little freedom. A "little freedom" is merely the beginning. The Jews took sin seriously and attempted to make it impossible to sin by a group of people called Rabbis, that just means teacher, who began to write laws. And they wrote laws, and some more and again, you get the idea. The thought was if the Rabbinical code had enough laws and addressed every area of a persons existence they would no longer be able to sin and if they did they would fall into the hands of the church. Eeeekkkk, what a horrible idea!! Guess what you and I live in a very similar world where even the idiots that used to wipe themselves out, survival of the fittest, are safe and reliant on the government. As a kid I used to ride in the back of a truck bed going down the road, travel to the store without a seat belt on, spill a cup of hot coffee on me and know that it was hot, because that's what I ordered not just because the cup says so. I could go to town and walk around, eat lunch drive through busy intersections and never be on camera. Today you are filmed hundreds of times every day!
Listen I'm not just griping about these things, my Bible tells me clearly to obey the laws as if I'm serving Christ Himself. But the question burning in my consciousness is the same, "at what point do I say no more?" Then just like a proverbial 2x4 crossed my head it clicked. I've heard people say that you are to obey God and obey government, obey your boss and today's generation has had enough and refuse in many cases to obey any of the above. We see it in our houses, our workplaces and our churches to mention a few. But here is the final word, You are to obey the authorities in your life. So your boss asks you to do a menial job that the new hire, in your opinion, should be doing. Do it! Quite complaining and do it. You see lesson number one is you cannot be over until you have been under. You and I are under authority whether you admit it, like it or refuse it, it is a fact. When you learn how to be submissive, then and only then will you be able to be over. Lesson two is that you are to obey your authority up to the point it is contradictory to Gods law and what is expected of you scripturally speaking. This is the point I have been struggling to clarify in my mind. I must obey until I am asked to defile my character or go against God's holy teachings because that is the point my earthly authority over extends his/her authority and has no authority over me. It belongs to God and Him alone. Many times the authorities try to extend their authority over our lives in areas they have not been given authority, and this is the point we must say no.
So what is that area in your life right now? What area is it you know you have obliged the authoritarian and gone along with them, rather than saying this is where I stop?
That being said here are a few questions to take seriously to heart and ponder.
1. where do your tax dollars go and are they used to honor God?
2. How is your work ethic? Are you just doing the bare minimum because you don't get the appreciation you deserve?
3. Do you honor your parents, regardless of what age you are?
4. What areas of your life are you living out of fear of the authorities because you don't want the consequences of standing your ground?
I'd love to hear what's going on in your life and what areas this affects you so drop me a line!
For the King