We Really Do Win!

I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded that we win. Sometimes life, church, family situations and current events get so overwhelming that you just want to say, “I quit.”

The enemy is strong. He turns up the heat and many times it feels as if it is too much to bear and that we are losing the battle. (Please tell me that I am not alone in feeling this way!)

I am then reminded of Matthew 16: 13-19 where the Bible says, “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

It is the context of Peter’s great confession at Caesarea Philippi saying that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the one!  In that great confession, Jesus said, “I am going to build my church” – not your church or my church but HIS church.

This is the first time the word, ‘church’ is used in the New Testament. Jesus says, “It is mine and I am going to do the building.” He continues with my favorite part where he says the gates of hell will not prevail against His church. In Jesus’ day, the gates of a city represented a place of authority. It was the place where decisions were made like our modern day City Hall.

So, Jesus was saying the gates of hell, the place where Satan and his demons meet to set hell’s agenda will not overcome His church. Hell will come against you, try to discourage you, distract you and even try to destroy you but hell will not win! We win because we are His church!

By the way, I hope you notice that gates do not move – they are stationary. He is speaking about being on the offense, not on defense. Gates are always on defense, they protect, they guard and they never attack.

We the church, need to stop playing defense and get on the offense. We win!

So today, if you feel like you are going through hell, you feel defeated and beaten down, rise up! Get on offense. You are a part of God’s church. The gates of hell cannot defeat you…you win! 

We win so let’s start acting like it! Celebrate the victory!

Eye of the Tiger

A couple of weeks ago I preached a sermon entitled, “Eye of the Tiger.”

I’m sure you saw the movie, Rocky 3…Rocky had lost a match to Clubber Lang (Mr. T).  Apollo Creed comes to Rocky telling him that he will train him for a rematch with Clubber. He tells Rocky that he has lost his edge, his hunger, that “eye of the tiger.”

Have you lost it?  Have you lost your passion? You’re not on fire anymore. You used to be a burning inferno and now you barely have a pilot light flickering.

There was a time in your life when you had a genuine hot heart for Jesus. Your prayer life was powerful, God’s word spoke to you clearly, you told others about Christ and you loved His bride, the church.

But now, something has happened…something has changed. You are not the person, you are not the Christian that you once were.

What happened? Today I would encourage you to repent! Ask God to set you on fire again! Get the eye of the tiger back!

Start Taking Action!

President John F. Kennedy said, “there are costs and risks to a program of action, but they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”

When you and I stop talking about action and start taking action, things will start to change. If you take action, you get an effect but if you don’t take action, you also get an effect. The question is, are you getting the effects you want?

Do you want things to just happen to you or do you want to make things happen? If you are tired of making excuses as to why you are _______________________ (you fill in this blank) and you are ready to see real change in your life, then you are going to have to move from a passive position and start being aggressive, start taking action.

The first thing we need to do is take responsibility. You are responsible for your actions so quit blaming everything and everyone.

Do something about your current reality. The “reasons” we give are just a nice way of giving excuses. When you travel down the road of blame, you get farther from where you want to be. Stop and change directions and take action! Until you take ownership of your life, you will always live chasing your dream instead of accomplishing it.

Today, I want to encourage you to take action…make that call, write that letter, send that email, start that project, just do it!

Starting is half the battle. Go ahead and make your move. Take the actions necessary for a better life.

Memory Like An Elephant

I have a good memory. I can remember conversations, I can remember details, I can remember names and events. I have a memory  like an elephant.

How is your memory? Every time you take the Lord’s Supper, you are remembering the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

250 times in the Bible, we have the word “remember.” I think God is trying to tell us something.

In Joshua, chapter 4, we have a great story of God coming to the children of Israel to take 12 stones from the river Jordan and setting them up as memorial stones.

All of us need to be reminded of what God has done in our lives. Memories can be inspirational and educational. Memories can be a rally cry to face the future with boldness.

In Joshua, chapter 3, God had opened the Jordan River and brought the people safely across into the Promised Land. They took 12 stones from the river bed and set up a memorial. The stones were a reminder that their old lives were gone – dead, buried and they were now to walk in newness of life.

That first stone was a stone of new beginnings, a stone to signify a fresh start. We all need that stone. My first stone of new beginnings was July 28, 1985.

These stones were there to remind the people of God’s power and provision. They were there to remind them of the faithfulness of God. They were also a source of inspiration. They reminded the people that God always kept His promises.

We tend to forget that, we have bad memories. Don’t forget that the God who delivered you 10 years ago is the same God who can take care of you today! Have you forgotten so easily how good God has been to you? Don’t you remember how He has come through for you so many times?

So why are you fretting now? Why do you act like the world is falling apart? Don’t you remember ?

Go back to that stone of remembrance. Look through the pages of your Bible and the pages of your life and remember that God is for you!

Know that you have some stones…Remember where they are… REMEMBER!

A Place Called Hell

I know we do not like to talk about it. Some people say they do not believe in it. Most people (including Christians) do not act like it is real but…Hell is a real place!

Every person will spend eternity somewhere. For those who reject Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, their destiny will be, the reality will be, their eternity will be in a place called hell.

Hell is an irreversible, irretrievable place. There is no second chance. There is no purgatory. Hell is a closed door that cannot be opened.

The Bible teaches us much about this place of everlasting punishment. Jesus spoke more about hell than He did about heaven. Hell means separation from God’s presence. Hell means punishment.

Hell is not just a figment of our imagination or a concept used to scare people. Hell is a real place where real people spend a Christless eternity.

One of the key passages is in Luke 16. There are many things that we could discuss about hell but the one that I really want you to get is this: The man in hell was more concerned for people who were still alive than we are. He wanted someone to warn his family. People in hell have a greater burden for lost people than we do.

God help us to be concerned. God, give us a passion, a burden and a desire to tell others about Jesus.

Hell is hot, heaven is sweet. Let’s take as many people to heaven with us as we can!

Free Choice

Genesis, chapter 3 describes the entrance of sin into the realm of humanity. Sin already existed because Satan sinned by choosing his own way rather than God’s way. Now the first humans, Adam and Eve were given the free choice.

The capability of doing wrong was a necessary alternative to Adam and Eve’s choosing to do right. There could be no true choice of good if that was the only option. For God to prohibit sin would also be to eliminate freedom.

The freedom of choice is one of the greatest gifts of God. We are allowed to choose whether we will follow God or ourselves….

When Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit, they transgressed a divine marked boundary; an overstepping of the limits that God had set. Adam and Eve acted independently of God.

The essence of Adam and Eve’s sin consisted of the rejection of God’s word will and ways. An elevation of the will of man over the will of God. Adam and Eve’s sin changed their personal lives when they chose to disobey God’s command and to assert their will over God’s. Their sin changed the course of history and the entire human race.

You have been affected by their choice. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

The result of one’s (Adam’s) trespasses was condemning for all men. Romans 5:18 says, “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.”

Today, you and I have a choice. Today you can choose to follow God or not. You and I have this thing called free will. It is not only a gift, but a responsibility.

What will you do with this gift and how will it impact your life and the life of others?

Direction and Speed

Today is the halfway mark for 2015. Half the year is already gone.  Have you accomplished those New Year’s resolutions? Do You even remember what there were?

Okay, how about a different question…What are your goals and are you on the path to accomplish them?

Take a moment and reflect on both your direction and your speed. Are you moving in the direction of your goals and your dreams? Do you have a deep seeded belief that you can achieve your goals? Do you believe there are endless possibilities opening up for you right now? Have you gotten off track? Have your goals  come to a screeching halt?

Let this half way mark be the inspiration that you need to get going. I know that it is easy to lose your focus and determination. It’s easy to get distracted and discouraged.

Which one of these are you?

1.    You don’t expect to succeed so you’re defeated before you even get started,

2.    You always find more reasons why something will not work than why it will.

3.    You look forward in resignation and look backward in regret.

4.    Your glass is half empty but only for a little while, evaporation happens!

If you find yourself identifying with one or more of these, then try these on for size.

OR

1.    Success is never a matter of “if” for you, it’s a matter of when – begin today.

2.    You know that anything is possible – now, go do it!

3.    You can’t wait until tomorrow because every day puts you closer to your dreams.

4.    Your glass is half full, but only for a little while…you are going to need a bigger glass!

You have had six months to think, pray and plan.

Now, take action and let the rest of 2015 be your greatest year ever and achieve your goals!

Interpreting Failure

Every person’s life is filled with mistakes, errors and failures. Failure isn’t the problem. We all fail.

How we interpret failure is the problem. How you view failure will be one of the most important, life altering practices you ever put in place.

Failures do not reflect your overall character, competence, intelligence or identity. You are going to fail…you are going to make some major blunders. I certainly have had my share of misjudgments, bad decisions and emotionally driven rationalizations.

Failure is a part of life. It’s a part of the learning process so make the most of your next failure! Learn from it! The key is learning from our mistakes.

There is a major difference in “I failed” and “I’m a failure.” If you are not careful, you will wallow in past failures and never recover. You can allow what happened to you a year ago, five years ago, even 20 years ago to affect the way you live right now.

You must move on! Failure is not fatal and it is not final!

Failure Isn’t Final

Every person’s life is filled with mistakes, errors and failures. Failure isn’t the problem. We all fail. How we interpret failure is the problem. How you view failure will be one of the most important life altering practices you ever put in place.

Failures do not reflect your overall character, competence, intelligence or identity. You are going to fail…you are going to make some major blunders. I certainly have had my share of misjudgments, bad decisions and emotionally driven rationalizations. Failure is a part of life; it’s a part of the learning process so make the most of your next failure! Learn from it! The key is learning from our mistakes.

There is a major difference in “I failed” and “I’m a failure.” If you are not careful, you will wallow in past failures and never recover. You can allow what happened to you a year ago, five years ago, even 20 years ago to affect the way you live right now. You must move on! Failure if not fatal and it is not final!

Let me share a great story that deals with failure: It happened on baseballs opening day in 1954. The Milwaukee Braves and the Cincinnati Reds played each other, and a rookie for each team made his major-league debut during that game.

The rookie who played for the Reds hit four doubles and helped his team win with a score of 9-8. The rookie for the Braves went 0 for 5.

The Reds player was Jim Greengrass, a name you probably haven’t heard. The other guy, who didn’t get a hit, might be more familiar to you. His name was Hank Aaron and as you know, he went on to become one of baseball’s biggest legends.

You need to start swinging again. Stop allowing your history to control your destiny. Every past failure is preparation for some future opportunity that God has for you.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” That is an incredible promise!

If you think you are finished and there is no life after failure, let me assure you…there IS life after failure! Jesus said, “I have come to give you – LIFE!

You blew it, it was major, it was bad, really bad, so repent and claim I John 1:9 where Jesus says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Move on failure isn’t final!

Over the Wall

Last week it happened again. I sat down with a young Pastor and listened to him ask a hundred questions. I could see the hunger in his eyes to learn and grow and to reach people for the kingdom.

God led me to launch a non-profit organization called “Over the Wall” that has a commitment to radically transform the spiritual condition of the world and the landscape of the local church through growth, development.

My Pastor put in me a love for other pastors. It thrills me to see a pastor filled with vision for his life and his church. A vision for the kingdom of God! Right now I am working with 4 pastors in a coaching, consulting, encouraging relationship. I start with number 5 next week!

We started Over the Wall Ministries to give back what God has poured in. As I said earlier, Over the Wall is a non-profit organization. It exists by gifts from individuals and churches, and through the various resources that we offer such as CDs, DVDs and devotional books.

Please pray for Over the Wall Ministries. It is exciting for me to watch God doing some amazing things through this ministry.

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