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India – Part I

Jeff Scurlock —  March 24, 2014 — Leave a comment

India

It was the late 90’s. We were serving a church in North West Florida as their pastor.  It was a church of less than 200 people in a small community near Pensacola. The salary was modest.  We had three small children, a dog and one car.

Felicia and I had never even flown on a commercial flight much less left the country.  We were pretty much home bodies, so when our Indian friend Arvind suggested that we should go to India with him to preach the gospel we didn’t really take it seriously.

Some time passed by, we were hosting Arvind and Susan in our home, he was cooking Indian food, helping Adam with his math and chasing our little girls around the house to the sound of squeals in a game of hide and seek.  Our children loved Arvind.  The food was awesome and they loved the way he loved to play.  In a moment of stillness he looked into my eyes and said with his perfect English but with a heavy Indian accent,  “pastor Scurlock you and Felicia should go to India with me to preach.”

“Ok,” I said and he smiled.  While the smile was still large and his eyes sparkled with happiness I’m already having a personal conversation with myself inwardly.   “Jeffrey! What are you thinking? India?”

I was certainly no missionary. As a matter of fact I entered the ministry with the hope and expectation that God would never call me to a foreign country.” I encouraged my church to give to support missionaries, we gave to all kinds of missions endeavors and the monkey was off my back,. I thought.

Arvind immediately began putting the wheels in motion for our trip.  Before I could say “now wait a minute and slow down,” the date was set.  A few days later the phone rang and when I said hello I was greeted with Arvind’s usual telephone greeting,  “Praise the Lord pastor Scurlock.”  Then he pushed us another step closer to India with,  “I have reserved your airline tickets and I need $3000 to pay for them.”

“I don’t have three thousand dollars right now.”

“Pastor Scurlock, God will provide.”

I knew God was a miracle worker but three thousand dollars to me might as well been three hundred thousand.  I agreed with Arvind vocally, “Amen, God will provide,” but I had major doubts. After all I am human and three thousand dollars to fly to India seemed a little extravagant for me.

My congregation knew I was planning a trip to India. What they didn’t know is how little faith I had that it would ever actually happen.

A couple of days later it was Sunday.  Sunday’s are stressful for most pastors. I’m one of those. I’ve often said that my least favorite time of the week is Sunday morning before service begins.  Most Sunday mornings were spent dealing with the anticipation of what the day would bring, some stress usually accompanied by an upset stomach and coffee with men from the church.  The morning rocked along, pretty much normal.  The morning service must not have been anything special because I have absolutely no memory of it.  What I do remember is Betty walking to greet me at the pulpit when the service ended.  She was a middle-aged widow. Her husband had been killed a couple of years earlier in an accident.  She lived a simple life, a small home and old car, a couple of dogs on her front porch and her kids, mostly grown by now. “God told me to help you with your trip to India,” she said while reaching out to me with a folded check in her hand.  I immediately began having one of those personal conversations in my head.  As I’m reaching out to receive the check the conversation in my head goes something like this. “She’s a widow lady! What could she do? I know Betty doesn’t have much so Jeffrey don’t let your expectations of what that check amount is exceed common sense because you might be setting your self up for disappointment.”   As the conversation in my head continued I reasoned in myself that Betty could probably donate a hundred dollars and that would be extravagant for her.

Now with the check in my hand I embrace Betty to say think you and then she walks away.  I didn’t want to seem to eager so I waited until she had exited the building.

frustrated

Yes, it really happened. Years ago at one of our previous churches a little older lady who was not a shut-in called our home. Felicia took the call and had a look of shock on her face as she held the receiver to her ear. Then came her response to the call, “no mam, I don’t think he will do that. I’m so sorry.”  As I wait for the call to end curiosity is getting the best of me. Felicia put’s the phone down and said to me. “You are not going to believe this. That was (name not important) and she wanted to know if pastor Jeff would go to the store and buy her some panties.” It’s funny now but at the time I didn’t take it with such humor. Why? because folks will find any reason to become critical and put their pastors in difficult lose-lose situations. In twenty-nine years of pastoral ministry it never ceases to amaze me what good folks expect from their pastor.

  • They expect him to know without being told.
  • They expect him to always be there even if He doesn’t know that there is a there where he needs to be because he hasn’t been notified or he needs to be somewhere else.
  • And they expect him to do the outrageous, like errands for panties.

Here are a few tips on some things you can do or not do to be a blessing to your pastor.

  • Don’t expect the outrageous.  Your pastor is not your errand boy, your delivery boy and certainly to the fetcher of panties.  Now honestly I have found pleasure through the years serving folks who needed me. I have purchase the occasional gallon of milk because I asked if they needed anything or was just trying to minister to someone who I knew (because they told me) was going through a difficult time.
  • Don’t expect your pastor to know without being told. It always gets me when I ask someone how they are and their response is,” better.”  Why? Because most of the time I’m wondering, better that what? They have been sick and expect their pastor to know it. They didn’t call their pastor they just expect that some little bird told him.  ‘t your sick let your pastor or someone in the church office know. If you want a visit for prayer say it. Something like this, “I’m sick and would like pastor to come by and have prayer with me.” Or “I’m sick, I don’t want anyone to come to my home or the hospital room but would love for my church family to be praying for me.” It’s really that easy. Communicate with your pastor. Let him know what the boundaries are. Some people don’t like having the pastor or anyone else come into their home or hospital room.  Tell him that! Most of the time pastors are left guessing.
  • Be understanding if your pastor can’t come right now.  Many times I’ve had (even in small churches) multiple situations at one time and must choose where to be based on what limited knowledge I have.
  • If you are missing church services, please, please, please take the responsibility to let your pastor know where you are and why your not attending church. Please don’t expect him to be pastorPI. A simple call, a voicemail, a text even a Facebook message to let your pastor know. That way he can take the appropriate action or non-action.

It all comes down to communication. Our world has never been more connected. Social media, land lines, cell phones, text messaging, email, etc.  Your church may have one pastor or you may attend a church that has multiple staff members.  Regardless of the size of your church communicate with your pastor or pastoral staff. It will be very much appreciated.

It all come from the memory of the lady who wanted me to buy her panties. Blessings!

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YouthteamII

Photo by Jeff Scurlock – Our Youth Leadership Team.

John Buchan said ‘The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.”

At the church where I serve as lead pastor we are going through a staff transition. Two staff members, Chris and Alicia (husband and wife) who have served with us for over six years in extremely capable fashion are moving on. They have accepted the position of lead pastor in another church.  When I knew for sure that they were leaving I began struggling with what would be the best move. What should I do? Should I immediately hire new full time staff to replace them? Honestly it is a stressful process.

Felicia and I had many conversations and agree that we believe that there is enough talent already present within our congregation that hiring new staff is not necessary yet.

The key to leadership is giving those you lead a chance to shine. To discover talents and abilities that you might not have been previously  aware of and then utilizing those talents.  I love the quote from John Buchan that I began with so I’ll share it again. “The task of leadership is not to PUT GREATNESS INTO PEOPLE, BUT TO ELICIT IT,…”

The danger for leaders is trying to put everything on yourself. I struggle with the it’s easier to do it myself than to take the time to teach someone else syndrome and that’s not good.  Leaders must invest time and energy into discovering and teaching. Today is my new administrative assistants first day on the job. She’s being trained to do some bookkeeping by Chris, one of our outgoing staff members because he also did our books. It’s stressful for me but guess what,  I know that as we elicit greatness from her and as she learns and grows that she will shine. Now that’s good.

Our student pastor (Chris) is leaving but we have a young adult leadership team of ten individuals who will work with our new, younger, inexperienced student pastor.  They will all grow together and greatness will come from them.  Our praise and worship leader (Alicia) is leaving but we have rallied the troops and now I’m confident that as we elicit greatness from them that they will shine. They already have.

Are you a leader? I hope this helps. What do you think?

beer

 

Note: As the readership of this site increases  I like to perodically repost articles that received a lot of attention. This is one of them. The subject of Christians and alcohol use is a hot button, especially in my part of the country. 

I’ve given a lot of thought recently about the subject of Christians and alcohol. And I want to share with you my personal conclusions. This is in no way an exhaustive paper on alcohol. It’s a brief description of how I feel.

First of all you need to know my culture and my heritage. My Spiritual heritage is this. I am a third generation Pentecostal Christian. I understand chances are that many who read or hear the title Pentecostal immediately envision snake handlers, miracle spring water and someone rolling on the floor in church.  That does not describe my heritage. As a matter of fact it grieves me that most crazy, weird, money grubbing false teachers identify themselves with Pentecostal circles.

I did grow up in an environment where Christianity and alcohol did not mix. My culture is the Bible belt. I grew up and continue to live and pastor in south Alabama, which many refer to as the buckle of the Bible belt.  In my culture growing up Alcohol was considered evil, a tool of the devil.  I was taught that if you drank that you were living in sin and losing out with God.

In my years as a pastor I have grown in my relationship with God and have a much greater understanding of the grace of God that I had growing up.

Where in my past the subject of alcohol was a subject of heaven or hell I now understand grace and know that this subject is not a heaven or hell discussion.

I recently preached a message in my church on this subject and the line of thought in this blog follows closely what I said in that message.

I am not a holier than thou preacher and this message is not meant to be judgmental or condemning.  It is not my desire to run people who drink away from my church. Our church is for everyone. None of us are perfect and all of us are still trying to grow.

The question might be posed, if your going to deal with a subject why not one that the Bible is clear on like gluttony, gossip, backbiting and sexual sins, all of which the Bible clearly deals with?  Those are all subjects that preachers need to address but this blog is on the subject of alcohol.  Note: IF I HAD TO CHOOSE BETWEEN A CHURCH FULL OF GOSSIPERS OR A CHURCH FULL OF DRINKERS I’D TAKET THE DRINKERS EVERY TIME.

After giving this subject much thought, reading, praying, etc., it is my personal opinion that alcohol has become an extremely negative force in our society.  In my experience as a pastor every time I’ve been told of the sexual molestation of a child, alcohol was involved. I’ve counseled with females through the years who have become pregnant outside of the bonds of marriage and most of the time they blame alcohol.   Alcohol in itself is not evil. What people do under the influence of alcohol most of the time is.

According to a government web site (nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov) over 100,000 deaths a year can be blamed on alcohol. How?

  • 5% of all deaths from diseases of the circulatory system are attributed to alcohol.
  • 15% of all deaths from diseases of the respiratory system are attributed to alcohol.
  • 30% of all deaths from accidents caused by fire and flames are attributed to alcohol.
  • 30% of all accidental drowning’s are attributed to alcohol.
  • 30% of all suicides are attributed to alcohol.
  • 40% of all deaths due to accidental falls are attributed to alcohol.
  • 45% of all deaths in automobile accidents are attributed to alcohol.
  • 60% of all homicides are attributed to alcohol.
  • About 5,000 teens die every year due to teen alcohol use.

When it comes to alcohol use the readers of this blog have a variety of experiences as to the use of alcohol.

  • Some of you have never tasted an alcoholic drink in your life.
  • Some were taught to not drink alcohol. You did. You went through what you would call a rebellious stage, did your drinking for a season of life and then stopped.
  • Some of you were raised in homes where alcohol was abused and it caused you to either become an alcohol user yourself or to run from it and call it evil.
  • Some of you were raised in homes where moderate drinking was part of life.

I understand that for some this is a cultural issue. I also understand that in some cultures of the world that alcohol is as much a part of life that in my world drinking a glass of iced tea is.

For me the subject of alcohol is not one of sin, heaven or hell. It is a subject of what my lifestyle says about my relationship to God.  What does that person who may be on the fence with God think if they saw me drinking or heard me say that I do drink? In my culture even those who do not claim to be Christians frown on Christians who drink. Does that mean that I have to let non-believers dictate how I live my life? No!  However I should be concerned how my lifestyle affects those who are new in faith or those who are considering making faith in Christ their life.

If you, as a believer drink alcohol I am in no way saying that you are a sinner, calling you a hypocrite or trying to judge you. Your decision to have alcohol in your life is between you and God.  As a pastor I have told my congregation that I wished they wouldn’t drink alcohol. I have also told my leaders that I expect a higher standard and that leaders at our church were not to be drinkers. If they have been drinking they are to stop with no questions asked.

Why do Christians want to drink anyway? Is it the taste? Is it an attempt to be socially accepted? Maybe it’s because they are an alcoholic and don’t even know it. Maybe it’s because they like getting even a small buzz. It could be the need to feel just a little bit naughty. I don’t know.

Question: WAS THE WINE MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE FERMENTED OR JUST GRAPE JUICE?  After much research I believe that the wine in the Bible was in fact fermented wine.  When Jesus turned the water into wine, it was wine.  I have learned that it is believed by many scholars that in Jesus’ day that wine was diluted with water but I’m not going to try to make that my case.

Wine was wine. Yes it was fermented. Why then do I have a problem with Christians and wine? It is absolutely because alcohol plays a completely different role in our culture than it did in Bible times and like music I believe that satan has taken something innocent and perverted it for his uses.

Question: ARE THERE ANY SCRIPTURES THAT SPECIFICALLY METION ALCOHOL THAT LEAD US TO BELIEVE THAT DRINKING ALCOHOL IS A SIN?

NO! For those of you who were raised like me I hate to tell you this but I cannot find one scripture that specifically says that drinking alcohol is a sin.  The Bible does mention being drunk. There are several scriptures that tell us not to be drunk.

Question: Jeff, in light of your answers to the previous two questions do you believe that Christians should abstain from the use of alcohol?

YES!  WHY? Culture and the possibility that one drink could lead to destruction and your Christian witness.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but it’s end is the way of death.

Every person who gets drunk starts with one drink.

  • Every person who becomes an alcoholic begins with one drink.
  • Every person who killed other people in an auto accident because they were drunk began with one drink.
  • Conservative estimates of sexual assault (molestion to rape) prevalence suggest that at least 25 percent of American women have experienced sexual assault, including rape. Approximately one-half of those cases involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim, or both. Alcohol contributes to sexual assault through multiple pathways, often exacerbating existing risk factors.
  • According to the National institute of health the consumption of 1 Liter of alcohol per year raises the chances of divorce by 20%.

In closing I want to share with you 1 Corinthians 8 from the Message. As you read it I ask that you read it in light of today’s culture and with alcohol in mind.

1-3The question keeps coming up regarding meat that has been offered up to an idol: Should you attend meals where such meat is served, or not? We sometimes tend to think we know all we need to know to answer these kinds of questions—but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all.

4-6Some people say, quite rightly, that idols have no actual existence, that there’s nothing to them, that there is no God other than our one God, that no matter how many of these so-called gods are named and worshiped they still don’t add up to anything but a tall story. They say—again, quite rightly—that there is only one God the Father, that everything comes from him, and that he wants us to live for him. Also, they say that there is only one Master—Jesus the Messiah—and that everything is for his sake, including us. Yes. It’s true.

7In strict logic, then, nothing happened to the meat when it was offered up to an idol. It’s just like any other meat. I know that, and you know that. But knowing isn’t everything. If it becomes everything, some people end up as know-it-alls who treat others as know-nothings. Real knowledge isn’t that insensitive.

We need to be sensitive to the fact that we’re not all at the same level of understanding in this. Some of you have spent your entire lives eating “idol meat,” and are sure that there’s something bad in the meat that then becomes something bad inside of you. An imagination and conscience shaped under those conditions isn’t going to change overnight.

8-9But fortunately God doesn’t grade us on our diet. We’re neither commended when we clean our plate nor reprimanded when we just can’t stomach it. But God does care when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a fellow believer still vulnerable to those old associations to be thrown off track.

10For instance, say you flaunt your freedom by going to a banquet thrown in honor of idols, where the main course is meat sacrificed to idols. Isn’t there great danger if someone still struggling over this issue, someone who looks up to you as knowledgeable and mature, sees you go into that banquet? The danger is that he will become terribly confused—maybe even to the point of getting mixed up himself in what his conscience tells him is wrong.

11-13Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn’t you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him—because, as you say, it doesn’t really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin! When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ. A free meal here and there isn’t worth it at the cost of even one of these “weak ones.” So, never go to these idol-tainted meals if there’s any chance it will trip up one of your brothers or sisters.

I’m interested to know what your feedback is. Good or bad! Love yall, Jeff!

 

Get your .99 cent Kindle version of my book, The Eye of A Needle here.

 

 

Killing Jesus

Jeff Scurlock —  January 22, 2014 — Leave a comment

Killing-Jesus

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My latest read is the book Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard.

ISBN: 0805098542  305 Pages

The current Kindle price is $6.49 and the Amazon hardback price is $14.00

I read Killing Lincoln soon after it was released and enjoyed it very much and was very intrigued by this one, Killing Jesus.   It took me a while to read this book simply because it is so heavy with history, imagination and stories from scripture that I could only take a few pages at the time. Having said that I don’t want to leave you with the impression that it was boring. It was not boring.

The writers make no attempt to make this a Christian book. It is written purely as a historical account. I do have to say that the line is blurry between what is true historical fact and the imagination of the writers.  The absence of footnotes led me to believe that much was their imagination. That’s ok with me as long as it stays true to what the Bible does say.

For the preacher and teacher I would say that this book might help you be more creative when discussing the gospels in a sermon or teaching session. I’m sure many of us could use some creativity. LOL!

Remember this when reading this book. Bill O’Reilly is a Catholic and some of what you read will be from that perspective.

On a 1 – 10 rating I would give Killing Jesus an 8.

Follow this affiliate link to order your copy of Killing Jesus.

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best

At the church where I serve as lead pastor we are in our annual stewardship emphasis time.  For the fourth year in a row we’re watching the video series The Blessed Life by pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church in Southlake Texas. It’s an awesome series and now in our fourth year as become part of our church.

This past week I heard Robert say something that had not previously jumped out at me when talking about putting God first. He said and this is most likely not an exact quote, “God is perfect and cannot accept second best.” That statement hit me like a ton of bricks.

In this post I’m not going to debate the correctness of the statement. The point I want to make is wrapped in a question.  Why wouldn’t we want to give God our best? He gave us His best.

The subject in the videos is tithing. I believe in tithing and that any Christian who has been taught tithing and still refuses to do so is rebelling against the Word of God. I know it’s a strong statement but I believe it.  The Bible says that if we don’t tithe that we’re robbing God.  As Morris points out tithing pre-dates the law and is also found in New Testament scripture. As far as I’m concerned there is no room for any debate so I’m not interested in debating it with you.  When you put God first you do so with your finances too.

The statement, “God can’t accept second best” also hit me in other areas.  I had to ask myself a lot of questions and continue to do so. Why? Because I want God to have my best in every area of life. I’ve begun to ask questions such as.

  • Do I give God my best in my daily behavior?
  • Do I give God my best in how I keep my home?
  • Do I give God my best in how I participate in a worship time at church?
  • Do I give God my best in my church attendance?
  • Do I give God my best when I prepare to teach a class or preach a sermon?
  • Do I give God my best in how I relate to my wife?
  • Do I give God my best in how I raise my children?
  • Do I give God my best in how I treat other people?
  • Do I give God my best in how I dress?
  • Do I give God my best in the tidiness of my vehicle?
  • Do I give God my best…………..

Do you get the point. I just typed the question in no particular order as they came to me and could have kept going.  Do I as a mature believer, follower of Christ seek every day to give Him my best?  I should.

I will fail at times but God is a God of grace.  I should accept His grace, not beat myself up and continue to do all in my power to give Him my best.

This is not a message of works. It has nothing to do with salvation.  You can’t be good enough to be saved. This is a message of a Christian realizing that God deserves our best because He gave us salvation.

Are you giving God your best? If not will you?  Let’s all try together.

Follow this link to my book, The Eye of A Needle.

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expectations

I looked up the word Expectation and was surprised at the depth of the definition (I’m being a little sarcastic). The word Expectation means the act of expecting. Wow. Isn’t that deep. Then I looked at the word expect and it means “to look forward to; regard as likely to happen; anticipate the occurrence…..”

God’s Word is full of scripture that encourages us to expect.

In Mark 9:14-24 we see the story of a man who came to Jesus wanting his demon possessed son to be set free. He told Jesus “I brought him to your disciples so they could cast him out and they could not.” Jesus’ response was directed to those disciples. “O faithless generation….” Jesus wanted his disciples to face this situation with faith and expectation. They didn’t.

One of the biggest challenges in Christian leadership is getting people to believe that no matter what their circumstances are that they can/should be expectant about the future.  If things are bad, they don’t necessarily have to stay that way.

I’ve often spoke of those who have what I call a Doris Day theology. I hate to blame Doris but she did sing the song, Whatever will be will be. The future’s not ours to see.” The fact is… it’s easier to live with that mentality than to believe and stretch for things.  It’s easier to just have no anticipations, no desires, no belief that anything can be accomplished beyond where they are.

We see more in more in our western culture, able bodied men and women giving up or not ever trying at all to be anything. They are quite content to wait for someone else to give them everything they need. They would rather trust welfare that to step out in faith and accomplish something.

Our society has become so un-driven. Young men and women who should be in school preparing for the future or should be in the work force by now still living with parents, refusing to grow up. The problem is made much worse by parents who enable their lazy, un-undriven children by giving them what they need and requiring nothing of them.

Don’t think that the problem is age specific to young adults. It’s not.

There are more than enough scriptures and stories within those scriptures that teach us to reach beyond where we are. They are lessons for us.  With all my heart I know that God wants us to have expectations in our life.

Mark 11:24 Jesus said, “whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”  It takes expectation to pray. So many just don’t bother to pray.

Matthew 21:18-21 herein is the story of the fig tree cursed by Jesus. Jesus’ instructions were “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, “be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Do you see how loaded verses 21 and 22 are?

  • Assuredly, I say to you. Jesus was sure of what He was saying.
  • If you have faith and do not doubt. You will do what was done to the fig tree, but ALSO if you say to this mountain, ‘be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done.
  • And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.

I understand that there was repetition in the previous two paragraphs but that repetition is warranted. There is no expectation like speaking to the mountains of life and commanding them to move.

Luke 8:41-55 includes two separate story lines within the same text taking place at the exact same time.  First is Jairus a ruler of the synagogue who had a daughter dying and knew that if Jesus would come to his house that his daughter would be healed.  The second person is a women (no name given) who had an issue of blood. That means that she had female bleeding and it had been taking place for twelve years. This lady was expectant. She said to herself that she knew that if she could just touch Jesus’ clothes that she would be healed.  Guess what. The story ends with both getting what they expected. Jairus’ daughter was actually raised from the dead and the woman was healed.

Isaiah 54:2-3 is a scripture about being expectant. It says, “Enlarge the place of your tent, And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, And your descendants will inherit the nations, And make the desolate cities inhabited.”

The missionary William Carey preached form Isaiah 54 and said the message was two fold.

  1. Expect great things from God.
  2. Attempt great things for God.

 

In 1 Chronicles 4:10 Jabez prayed what some would characterize as a bold selfish prayer. I would say, it’s a prayer of expectation.

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, hand that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” so God granted him what he requested.”

So now I will leave you with one last scripture. One that i recommend that you commit to memory.

Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you gray and mighty things, which you do not know.”

Expectation!

What is it that you are believing God for in the days, weeks and months to come? Please click the comment button at the top of the page and leave your comment here.

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Photo courtesy of ©ShutterStock.com/ditty_about_summer

Great blog by Michael Hyatt the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing on why you should write your goals down.

Michael Hyatt is author of the New York Times best selling book, Platform:Get Noticed in a Noisy World. AFFILIATE LINK

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Photo by Jeff Scurlock

Life as a believer is awesome. I wouldn’t trade my relationship with God for anything. The joy, peace, assurance, victory, overcoming power, etc., etc., etc.,  It’s all phenomenal. There’s only one problem. We are human. We are human beings living in a world that has been flawed by sin. Because of sin and because of the battles we have with the flesh not all days include a victory march.

I know I’ll get some flack for writing this.  I guess I’m just not spiritual enough for some.  The truth is, in over thirty years of pastoral ministry I have learned that people need me to get down in the trenches with them and understand where they are.  There are so many preachers who are nothing more than glorified motivational speakers who refuse to acknowledge that as a believer I can find myself at rock bottom, emotionally, financially, spiritually, physically and more.  Or maybe they will acknowledge it but there answer is always the same. It’s either sin or Jeff you didn’t have enough faith. Ok, maybe I didn’t have enough faith but you telling me that is not what I need to hear.

What you may need to hear or read is that your not the first. Your not the first to have a bad week or a bad month. Your not the first to lock yourself into a room and cry into a pillow. Your not the first to feel like the world is caving in around you. Your not the first and you won’t be the last.

I think of three people right off hand when it comes to the subject of rock bottom

First: The author of Lamentations.  The book of Lamentations is the lamenting over the destruction of Jerusalem. Look at what this author says in chapter three.  “Those who were my enemies without cause hunted me like a bird. They tried to end my life in a pit and threw stones at me; the waters closed over my head, and I thought I was about to perish.”

Second is a young, rich boy named Joseph who found himself naked and in a pit because his brothers were jealous of him.

Third is the prodigal son who took an early inheritance from his father, spent it all and found himself eating with pigs.

These tree individuals were at rock bottom and they were all there for three completely different reason.  The first was there because life was just going terribly wrong. The second (Joseph) was there because his brothers hated him. The last was at rock bottom because of sin.

So many things can cause life to take such a turn. Sometimes it just life. Life happens and sometimes it’s not good. You may find yourself shrouded in hopelessness. Proverbs says that “hope deferred makes the heart sick.”  You fight for a thing, believed for it, spoke it, got weary and quit. You may be disappointed. Disappointed because you thought things would be different.  Sometimes our low places are because of the actions of others or wine there is sin in our life or we made a bad decision.  It happens!

There are three simple things that I want you to remember when your at the bottom.

1.  You may be exactly where God wants you.  God used the pit in Joseph’s life as part of his journey to the palace.

2.  When your at the bottom the good news is you can only go up from here.

3.  When your at the bottom, God is with you there.

What did our three examples do when they were at rock bottom?

1.  The writer of Lamentations said in verse 55 that “he called on the Lord.” Don’t underestimate the power of calling on God.

2.  Joseph couldn’t do much but wait for what was next. A pastor fiend of mine says often. “When your in trouble just get you two handfuls and            hang on.”  Get you two handfuls of God and hang on.

3.  The prodigal son repented.  Do you have sin in your life?  Are your troubles the result of you living apart from God’s plan for your life? If so tell God your sorry and repent (change directions).  Begin your climb out of the low places right now.

 

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Fight all of your battles on your knees and you win every time.

Charles Stanley