Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bigger Just Got Better

This is written for a teacher to use in their class. For visuals, you will need your favorite candy bar in two sizes, a bite sized and the biggest size you can find. The sad thing is you won't get to eat the big one, you will be giving it away. Think of it this way, it’s better to give than receive or you just saved yourself from eating a million calories. Print out three words strips in 125 font or as big as you can make, “Better in God”; "Bow Inspect Give"; and "Believe in God". Fold each word strip so only the letters B I G are showing. Study the story line and have some fun with this illustration. But everything in the biggest bag you can find.

I have two candy bars. (Pull them out of as you talk.) Does anyone here like this candy bar?(Describe the candy bar and explain why you love this one so much!) Would anyone like to have one of these candy bars? (Select a child and offer him/her choose the candy bar.) Which one would you like? (Offer the tiny one and try to convince them to take it.) This little bite-sized one is so good. It has gooey caramel, creamy nougat and crunchy peanuts. Are you sure you don't want this little bitty guy? You want the big one? I thought that might happen. I guess I'll left with the little one. You know big is better.

And what about the rest of you. If you had your choice which would you choose? If you go to your favorite pizza buffet and you see your very favorite pizza on the buffet, fresh out of the oven, do you pick a tiny little sliver or do you go for the big piece? I go for the big one. My favorite is the spinach pizza with lots of jalapeƱos.
Why do we do that? Because most of us believe big is better. We like big amusement parks, big toys, big allowances, big television screens...because we believe big is better, more valuable, more filling, more fun, and more satisfying. 

But somehow our craving for more isn't being satisfied...the more we have the more we want. We want more and more games to play even though the cabinet is bulging with old ones. The bigger amusement parks leave us tired and irritable at the end of the day instead happy. The big pizzas and candy bars leave us fat and unhealthy. I'm not bashing big, I'm just saying maybe the real problem here is not the big we have, but the BIG that we neglect is the real problem. 

Sound confusing? Let me explain...(Show the  BIG strip, then open it to show Better in God.) Things and stuff will never satisfy you...but God can. Jesus purchased your salvation, your joy, your peace. He offers unconditional love and a relationship that is out of this world, literally! Then when He reigns as King or boss of your life, you understand how to really enjoy the things you have. When you understand the Better is found in God, your big just got bigger and better. Not always easier, but better.
How do you take yourself off the throne in your life? Here's another BIG. Bow. Inspect. Give.

Bow: Surrender to God. God I don't want to boss my life. I want to do what pleases you.

Inspect: Father, what is an area that I am ignoring your rules, the Bible? Where am I missing your best?

Give: I give my desires to you. I want to love the things you love and hate the things you hate. 

Understand if you want God's BIG, you must practice another BIG; Believe in God. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. He wants to bless you with things that enrich your life, not drain them. Fill your heart with His Word and His promises. Obey His rules. Purpose in your heart that you will have God’s Big that satisfies and not the world’s greed that robs.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Have you washed in the Golden Laver lately?

In the tabernacle, if you move from the brazen altar and then continue to the next piece of furniture you will come to the laver. For a long time this piece puzzled me. The altar was where the sacrifice for sin was made. It is a picture of the atoning and cleansing power of Jesus, the sacrificial lamb. But the laver was a place of cleansing also. Why was the laver necessary? What was God saying to the New Testament believer through this section of the picture of the tabernacle?

The laver was only for priest, after they had ministered at the altar. The ministry at the altar was messy; fire, smoke, blood and ashes. When the priest finished at the altar, he moved to the laver, which was made from the offering of the women’s mirrors. It was highly reflective, so as the priest bent over to wash his face, he could see his face to wash off anything that might be there.

Ministry can be messy. It’s too easy to walk away from ministry messed up, so God has made a provision for you to see what’s going on so you can deal with it. Reflect. Are you feeling yucky? What is the source of that feeling? "Wash that man right outta your hair", sorry that commercial jingle just took over for a minute, but I'm alright now. Go to the laver and wash with words something like this. "Father, I've served your people. In spite of doing everything I know to do there is confusion, mistrust and dishonor. (Or whatever is happening.) Wash me. Heal my hurt. I release this situation into your hands. Give me wisdom instead of pain. Give me love instead of apathy. Give me joy instead of dread. Pray this way until you feel a release in your heart from the heaviness."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Throw Away Defeat Trophies

It stayed in Wayne’s junk drawer. You know the drawer; filled with all the stuff that you can’t part with, but doesn’t have a real home because it’s really not worth keeping, but you can’t bear to part with it drawer. I have one too. But the law at my house, and I’m an obedient wife, is “Keep Out.” So I do, but, I gotta tell you, one day I peeped inside the drawer. There was a lot of junk in that drawer, but I was shocked to see the cast and contraption that the ER physician put on Wayne’s hand when he severed the tendon on the middle finger of his right hand. (The severed tendon is another story for another day.) It was a huge contraption that held the finger straight until the tendon could heal.

I complained and he got rid of it, but the point is why do we hold on to things that remind us of pain and defeat of the past? Holding on to it doesn’t make it go away or make you feel better. It just takes up space and spreads toxins in your body and emotions.  (Continued tomorrow)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rehearse Your Victories

I can’t begin to imagine what it must have felt like when Goliath criticized David. OK! I’ll admit it was much worse than just a criticism. Goliath loathed this kid and his words were intended to intimidate and humiliate David. “Do I look like a little dog that you can run off with a stick,” was the meaning behind the ridicule of the towering giant.

I love, love this part, David wasn’t intimidated. He was like the proverbial duck that enjoy a good splash, because the water can’t penetrate the well-oiled feathers. Goliath’s words didn’t penetrate David’s armor.

I know you know this story and your mind probably just ruffled in protest. Maybe you’re thinking, “David was not wearing any armor.” But I disagree; he had the shield of faith. How could he wield that shield of faith so skillfully? Little comments seem to demolish my ego? He faced a formidable foe that had the entire Israeli army wilting and cowering in fear. What was his secret?

Two things kept him cool, calm and collected. First, he knew the source of his faith.  “…but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” (Daniel 11:32) Secondly, he rehearsed his victories. When King Saul complained that he wasn’t mature enough to handle the job, David rehearsed defeating the lion and the bear.

I don’t know about you, but somehow I forget the good things I do, but I can remember stinging criticism for years and years. I remember the complaints far longer than the changed lives and the people ministered to in the altar. But, if we want to experience greater victories, we must lift our focus from the defeat to Jehovah Nissi who always causes us to triumph, even in the face of criticism, lack or disaster.

One way I have discovered to rehearse my victories is by rereading letters, cards and praise reports from a file in my office. I re-read them today. They didn’t puff my ego. They made me want to pray harder, touch more people, and win more victories through the power of God.  (Continued tomorrow)

Monday, August 8, 2011

What Do You Do With Criticism?

I'm sure you've felt it too...the sting of criticism. Whoever said "... but words can't hurt me" was lying or delusional. They do hurt...and like it or not, it is a part of life and ministry. So, what do we do with it?

First, don't just dismiss it. Process it. It could be that the other end of that thorn is a rose. It could be a valuable gift wrapped in rough paper. The revelation hidden in the criticism could be a key to the growth that unlocks your future.

Move past the manner in which the criticism was given and the personality of the one it was given through to the thing that is being criticized. Is the criticism warranted? What can you do different? Ask God to let you see the situation through that person's eyes. What can you learn from their observation? How can you grow?

If the criticism was totally unwarranted, then just dismiss it and forget it.  Let it slide off like water off a duck’s back. Let it go. Don‘t dwell on the criticism because that can drain you of productivity and sidetrack you. Refocus on your priorities and keep moving toward what God has called you to do.

Everyone is not going to agree with you or even like you for that matter, but then everybody doesn’t like coffee either. It is just beyond me that anyone could not enjoy a hot cup of coffee! Sorry for the segway. The Bible actually carries this point farther, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you…” (Luke 16:26 NKJV) Scripture plainly warns us to be wary if everyone is bragging about you. I’ve never had that problem, how ‘bout you? (Continued tomorrow)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Red Mercedes

It was Pittsburg Steelers coach, Ray Horton’s last day on the job. His new assignment is with the Arizona Cardinals as the defensive coordinator. One of the people on his “Say Goodbye To List" was a cook Maurice Matthews. Maurice was always a fun guy, always teasing Horton that he was coaching in “his” position or “When are you going to let me drive my car”, referring to Horton’s shiny red Mercedes.
Horton’s always teased back, “Man, you can’t afford the gas for that car!”
But Horton had more than a final goodbye in mind. His question probably surprised Matthews. “Man, can I borrow whatever money you got on you?” Regardless of the questions rattling in his brain, he pulled out a twenty and surrendered it to the coach.
The car keys jingled as Horton handed them to Matthews with the explanation, "sold for $20!"
Don’t ya just love the generosity of this coach! There is another reality that I love even more;  Our God is a generous God.
The prophet Elijah asked the widow woman a similar question, “Give me what you have.” From the burning bush, God asked Moses what he had in his hand. Oh, and Jesus asked the rich young ruler the same question. I believe it is the question God is asking believers today, “What do you have in your hand?”
What ya got? The widow woman had a little meal and some oil.  Moses had a stick, The ruler had money. Whatever ya got, give it to Him; move to a place of surrender. That place of surrender positions you to receive from God. That act of obedience releases blessings. It 's in more areas than just financial. I’m not talking about how to get a car. I’m talking about releasing the blessings of God into your life. Releasing His favor, His joy, His peace and His abundance into your life.
What is your talent? Are you stewarding that talent? Are you developing, using and surrendering it to God. What about your money and your time?  Have you surrendered them to God’s plan?
I am so glad Matthews surrendered his twenty dollar bill to Horton; and I’m so glad God is even more generous and capable than Horton. Thank you Mr. Horton, you made my day. Thank you God, you make me able to enjoy every day.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The King is Here

Hugh Latimer was an influential leader in the reformation; a very dangerous time to be trying to influence people that "we are saved by grace and not works." Queen Mary was the daughter of Henry VIII and was known as “bloody Mary” for killing Christians. However, King Henry VIII actually killed more Christians than she did. Bishop Latimer understood the cost of his commitment and shares his personal thoughts at the beginning of one of his sermons in his role as the royal chaplain. " Latimer, Latimer, thou art going to speak before the high and mighty king Henry VIII., who is able, if he think fit, to take thy life away. Be careful what thou sayest. But Latimer, Latimer, remember also thou art about to speak before the King of kings and Lord of lords. Take heed that thou dost not displease Him."

How would your ministry be different if every time you prepared for a service, if every time you spoke or touched people, you reminded yourself "I am about to speak before the King of kings and Lord of lords and I must be careful that I don't displease Him"?

The Biblical  Treasury The Sunday School Union 1882