This Week’s Audio Sermon

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GO HIGHER!

In leadership circles, there is what is known as the hierarchy effect. It is basically this: the higher up you go in an organization, the happier you will be. When organizational life is studied, those at the top levels are usually the happiest. You may think that makes sense but here’s the thought I want to share: If they say the higher you go, they happier you are; I think that really the opposite is true. I think the happier you are, the higher you will go.

We know that happiness is an inside job. Happiness is something we need to determine each and every day, moment by moment and that we don’t need to allow the circumstances in life to rob us of the joy of the Lord. That’s what we have as Christ-followers – this incredible relationship with the living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gives us joy. A joy beyond the certain circumstances or situation we may find ourselves in.    

So think about this, the happier you are, the farther you will go in life.  I really believe that having a positive, faith-filled outlook concerning our lives is half of the battle. Half of the battle is how you see yourself in Christ and in the world.  

Here are two important questions for you to consider:

1) How do you see yourself? When you view your own life, how do you see yourself? 2) Where do you see yourself headed?  What’s your goal? What’s your future and vision you have for your life? Hopefully, you have set your sights high on what you can do and what you can achieve in life.  

Don’t give me this, “I’m too old.” I was doing some research a couple of weeks ago and I was stunned to realize that most people that have impacted the world did so in their 70’s and 80’s. Go figure! Look at those people that get elected to one of the most powerful positions, Presidents; they are normally in their 70’s. Moses was 80 when God called him to go back to Egypt to deliver the Hebrews from the Egyptians.  

So those of you in your 20’s, wow! You’ve got 50-60 awesome years ahead of you!   So you have to dream big. Believe big and know that God can do big things in you and through you. Nothing you are facing in your life right now, no circumstances you may be confronted with is bigger than God. Never compare yourself to the circumstances of life but rather compare the circumstances of life to how big God is. That’s what David did when he was a teenager and that’s how he was able to defeat the giant. So, set your sights high on who you are in Christ and what you want to accomplish and take action.  

Ponder for a moment, if the higher you go, the happier you are; then we should be the happiest people in the world.  I was on Periscope earlier and I had never gone through to look and see what kind of people are on there but this time I did. To me, it looked like there was a lot of unhappy people.  

As a Christ follower, we should be the happiest because we’re the highest! How high are you? The Bible says in Eph 1:20-21 ” we are seated with Christ in heavenly places.” Wow! You are seated at the highest seat in the universe! We are seated with Christ. So, we should be the happiest people, no matter the current circumstances but that doesn’t mean we deny the current situation or deny the current news we receive. I received some extremely challenging news this past week but I know God is in control and He is sovereign. Our hope, faith, and trust are in Him and with Christ, we are unstoppable.  

So get higher by getting happier! I hope you have an awesome rest of the day.

God Bless!  

Carl

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“How Can I?” vs “How Come?”

There is a different perspective you can go through life with. We can go through life with a “How can I?” mentality. For example: how can I get this done? How can I overcome this? How can I get through this or how can we get through this? vs. those that go through life stuck on “How come?” Examples: How come this happened to me? How come this keeps happening to me?  When you think about it, we all want to improve in life and make the positive changes in our lives, our marriages, our walk with Christ, in our relationships, in our careers.  We want to see the positive changes that can make improvement in our lives.    The reality is this that most people miss, change doesn’t come from the outside in but the inside out. Real lasting change doesn’t come because the circumstances in our life have changed but because we’ve changed – something has changed inside us.  If you want your work situation to change, you need to change something inside of you, an attitude or perspective needs to change.   If you want the relationship you are in to change for the better, it needs to change from the outside in.  

So many people in our world are clamoring – “How come this and how come that?” They are all wanting change to occur from the outside that will then affect their own lives. They’ve got this all wrong.  They need to reverse it. Real, lasting, meaningful change happens from the inside out. That’s the lasting change.    

But, here’s what we do sometimes; we practice avoidance.  We avoid that crucial conversation with that important individual in our lives. We avoid solving the problems in our lives because many times we are unwilling to acknowledge them, unwilling to name them or identify them. We think, if we ignore them, maybe they’ll go away. That’s the avoidance problem. When we avoid those things, they don’t just go away.  For example, if you keep spending money on that credit card even though you don’t have the money to pay it off at the end of the month, ignoring it and avoiding the reality isn’t going to make it go away.  

When I was a teenager, I did some really dumb things.  I had a few speeding tickets. I got my license when I was 15 yrs old. I thought the city of Albuquerque would be so busy with all the business of the city that they would forget about my outstanding traffic tickets that I didn’t pay. I thought they would get lost in the computer system. So I avoided paying those speeding tickets. Guess what happened? I got stopped and it registered that I had an outstanding traffic violation and I got arrested!! See, avoiding something doesn’t make it go away, it can actually make things worse.

Refusing to take action diminishes your opportunities and minimizes your options. We need to make a shift from “How come all this is happening?” or “How come this happened?” outlook, and it will empower us. A “How can I?” outlook gets us to stop blaming our circumstances and looks at how we can begin to do in order to make the changes in our life that are necessary with God’s help.  

I want to encourage you. If you’ve been stuck in the “How come?” outlook; make a shift and start asking, “How can I?”  Scripture says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” When I start to look to God and not my circumstances, look to God and not to others, it’s amazing the things that can begin to happen for the better in our lives  We can begin to make progress in the areas that we want to make progress in.   I want to encourage you if you’ve been stuck in  the “How comes?” in life, to make a shift today and start telling yourself, “How can I?” Let that become a prayer you offer up to God. It may be related to a relationship or marriage. Start saying, “How can we start making the changes necessary?” “How can we move forward?”

No one wants to live in the rearview mirror. You can only move forward in life when you’re looking straight ahead.

I pray you go out and live God’s best today!  

Have a great week!  

Carl

Three Beliefs That Matter

I want to talk to you today about three beliefs that matter. These are three things in our lives that are very important. You’re probably not going to hear anyone talking about the three things that matter at work, at school or on TV.  

Here they are:

First, “What I presently have is better than what I don’t have.” I think the best way we could go through life is by adopting this mentality. A lot of people feel their lives are meaningless and don’t have a purpose or that their lives aren’t fulfilled. The reason being many times is because they’re not looking at what they have in their life but what they don’t have. Society is always reminding us of what we don’t have. Ex: the body we don’t have, the marriage we don’t have, the house we don’t have, the car we don’t have, etc. Every commercial is basically saying that your life is incomplete unless you buy this, drive this, wear this, look this way, etc. So, we are constantly looking at what we don’t have instead of looking at what we do have.  

Apostle Paul said, “I’ve learned in whatever state I’m in to be content.” He said, “There’s been times I have had plenty and there are times when I’ve been without; there are times I have been hungry and there are times  I have had plenty.” He said that whatever state he has been in, he learned to be content.   Imagine how your day could be much better and your life could be better if you begin to adopt this outlook? Don’t be duped into thinking that the next best thing is what you need to make your life complete.  

I challenge myself and you today, if you have Christ in your life, no matter what may be missing; God may want to bring into our lives as we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, that you have everything you need right now.    

The second big belief is “I don’t need more to be happy.”  Once again it’s like culture is always telling us that we have to have more. Social media is always posting – “Look where I’m at!” “Look at what I’m eating!” “Look at who I’m hanging out with!” It makes you feel like your life must be pretty boring and you should be living theirs. I think the Oscars and the Academy Awards, which I never watch, have all of these people making a big “to-do” about these actors, granted they’re talented, but many times they’re empty on the inside. They seem to have everything looking on the outside, but nothing on the inside.  

I don’t need more to be happy, that’s the second big belief.  It doesn’t mean that you don’t want more or that you’re not striving to have more love, more friends, more meaning, more influence, and even more money. God not only wants to meet your needs but He wants you to help the needs of others. But, I don’t need more to be happy.    

The third big belief is “If I’m not happy now, I won’t be happy when…”  That’s important. If I’m not happy right now in my life, I won’t be happy with that next job,  with that next goal or that next accomplishment that’s ahead of us. We should have goals and things we are striving for but if we’re not happy now, when?  

I know that was an important lesson that I learned when I was single. Sometimes, when you’re single, all you think about is getting married. This is especially true when all of your friends are getting married or are already married. I had to learn that if I wasn’t fulfilled and content as a single man, then I wasn’t going to be fulfilled and happy as a married man either.

I had to realize that before I entered into my calling in life, full-time ministry, I had to realize that if I wasn’t happy working for UPS, then I wasn’t going to be happy going into full-time ministry. So, if I’m not happy now, I won’t be happy when…  

It’s really all about contentment like the Apostle Paul said. We have to learn to be content in all situations and all circumstances.    Maybe these three beliefs can challenge some of the things you’ve been thinking about.  

Go out and have a great rest of your day!  

God Bless!  

Carl

Life Doesn’t Bend

Life is a tough schoolmaster. It tends to repeat the same lessons over and over again until we get it right. The sooner we learn the lesson of life, the quicker we can move on. I believe that the challenges we face repeat themselves because life is a test. It’s a lesson that has to be learned. Until we learn it, we will keep on visiting it.    

So, life doesn’t bend. It doesn’t give. Life isn’t flexible. That’s one of the reasons I believe Jesus said in  John 16:33 “In this world, you’ll have trouble, but be brave. I defeated the world.” I love this translation.  I’m going to give you a real nugget here. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is this: If you change before you’re forced to change, things will be much easier in life. Do you hear that?  Some of the problems in our lives will continue to intensify until change occurs. Until we initiate with God’s help to change, our persistent money problems, marriage problems, health problems, spiritual problems will persist. We must realize that and make the necessary changes in order to bring about new outcomes in our life and new results.    

The problem is, we trick ourselves into thinking that the pain of staying the same is better than the pain associated with change. There is pain in change. We defend the status quo.  So we continue to perpetuate the status quo in our lives. As Jesus said, problems or troubles are to be faced bravely and with a new perspective that Jesus has defeated our worst enemy which is death itself! Without the fear of death, what could be possible? Without the ultimate failure, what could be possible in this life?    

Here’s another nugget I want to share: Have you ever heard the term “complementary opposites“? Chinese philosophers interpret this one way but we want to apply it from a Biblical perspective. God created in the world complementary opposites. Ex: There is light and darkness, there’s cold and heat, there’s night and day. All of these are complimentary opposites. You’ll probably end up marrying someone one day, or if you are already married, you may be married to someone who is a complimentary opposite of yourself because opposites attract. This is the design which God created our world.   God has predesigned, in his creation, these complimentary opposites.  

So what does that mean in our lives?  For every bad thing that may have happened in our lives, or every bad thing you may be going through right now, there is a complimentary opposite by the way of God’s grace.  On the flip side of that, good can come out of it. Underneath every weakness that we struggle with as humans, there’s a strength waiting to come to the forefront.  Behind your consistent marital conflict is deeper intimacy. On the other side of your money issue is financial freedom.  

We have to look for the complimentary opposite and move towards the unforced changes in our life. Most people only change when it’s too late. Or, they only change when it’s thrust upon them.   Wisdom dictates and scripture teaches that we should change before we are forced to change. Begin to see the problems in your life as a pathway to greater potential. If we see them with a new perspective, we can get ahead of the curve.  

So, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is this life is: if you change before you’re forced to change, things will be much easier in life.

Remember, life doesn’t bend. We need to. We need to be flexible.  

Go out and win today! God’s on your side.

God Bless,

Carl

Love

I hope you had a Happy Valentine’s Day. I told my wife I loved her, called my mother, called my sister; so I checked off my list. I hope you have plenty of people in your life that you are loving and that are loving you. Everyone, on some level, needs to experience love. Love really does make the world go around.

On this Valentine’s Day, it’s good to be reminded of what love is. God is love. God so loved the world that….BOOM…he gave his only begotten son. That to me is what real love is. We all need to know, experience and share love. We are creatures created by God, in his likeness, and without love, we die on the inside.    In our world today, there’s not a whole lot of love.

I hope on Valentine’s Day you were reminded that God loves you. Our relationship with Jesus Christ isn’t based on fear but on love. The Bible says that perfect love casts out all fear. Where there’s love there’s no fear, where there’s fear, there’s no love. We know a couple of things about love. First, love is a verb. Love is something we do. It’s an action.  It’s not so much something we feel, it’s something we do.  Sometimes, you may not feel like loving others; like loving your family members. It’s the acts of service and kindness you act towards them that helps make that feeling come about.    

There’s a story about a king who had three daughters. He asked each of his daughters how much they loved him. The first daughter said, “I love you more than all of the gold in the world.” The second daughter said, ” I love you more than all of the silver in the world.” Then, the youngest daughter said, ” I love you more than all of the salt in the world.” The king thought to himself, “salt?” He was disappointed. But the cook overheard what the youngest daughter had said and he intentionally left the salt out of the king’s food. So, when the king started eating his food, he realized it didn’t taste good. It then dawned on him, when his daughter said she loved him more than all of the salt, she was basically saying, I love you so much that nothing is good without you. You know, God loves you, and we are to love God so much that nothing is good or makes sense in the world unless we are experiencing his love and loving him in return. Maybe you’re single right now and didn’t have a Valentine. Don’t fret because love is something we can all experience whether it’s through the love of a parent, a child, or a friend, but most importantly, through the love of God.    I remember when I first realized that God wasn’t mad at me and didn’t hate me but that God loved me.  It melted the hardness of my own heart.    Here are some thoughts I wanted to share with you to give you an idea of what love is and making sure you are experiencing it and sharing it with others:  

“Love looks through a telescope but envy looks through a microscope.” I hope that when it comes to the people in our life we are loving and learning how to love; sometimes you have to love by faith. Hopefully, we are loving others through a telescope and not a microscope.  

“Love at first sight, they say, is often cured by a second look.”  

“Love is an ocean of emotion surrounded by an expanse of expenses.” We know love can cost and isn’t cheap.

“Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs” is what the Bible says. It doesn’t tally up how others let us down and how they have failed us.

“True love is willing to help others, even when helping them sometimes hurts us.” True love is what you’ve been through with someone. Love is made visible, not so much by what we say, but by what we do; by our actions.

“The measure of love is what one is willing to give up for someone else.” That’s how we know that God loves us. He loved us so much, he was willing to give up his son. Christ loved you so much that he was willing to give up his life for you. That’s powerful.

It’s been said, “You’re not loved because you’re special. You’re special because you’re loved.” You are loved by God. That’s what makes your life matter. That’s what gives meaning to our life. That’s what makes YOU special today. It’s because God loves you. He doesn’t love you because you’re special, no, you are special because God loves you.    

Let me give you something to think about. The early Latin writer, Tertullian of Carthage said that the one thing that converted him to Christianity wasn’t the arguments others gave him for the faith because he could always find a counterpoint or counterargument for everything they threw at him. He said, “It’s when these Christians demonstrated something he didn’t have.” The one thing that converted him to Christianity was the way that they loved one another.

Jesus gave us a commandment that we need to be reminded of, not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day – that you love one another.    

I want you to know that I love you through Christ. I hope you are experiencing God’s love and sharing his love regularly.  So go out and share the love! Experience the love and let’s thank God that we are the objects of his love.  

Have an awesome day!  

Carl