This Week’s Audio Sermon

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Archives

Social Media

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On YoutubeCheck Our Feed

When GOOD is Great!

When good is great! Maybe you’ve never heard of it this way but that’s what we are going to discuss today.    

I was at the gym and there was this world class professional athlete that attends our church there. She is a professional trainer, body builder, in great shape and an all-around great person. I asked her if she was in training but she said she was no longer competing but was now trimming down. She told me that she has lost 20lbs of muscle! Most of us are trying to lose 20lbs of fat and here is this professional athlete trying to lose 20lbs of muscle. I asked her how she was accomplishing this and she told me it was similar to when anyone tries to lose weight – cutting down on what she eats, reducing the intensity of her workouts, etc. This made me think how much of a goal-oriented person she is. I wish all of us were more like that in more areas of our lives.

What’s a good goal for you in 2017?  Losing 20lbs of muscle? Probably not for most of us but we should have some goals we are shooting for in 2017.  I think one of the most important goals we should have is to get closer to God.  

What does it mean when good is great?  Back in 2001, Jim Collins wrote a book called “Good to Great”. He spoke about how you can go from being good to being great. What’s interesting is that he highlighted eleven companies that went from good to great. The question is, where are those companies now? Many of them aren’t so great anymore. Many of them aren’t even in existence any longer.  That tells us that sustaining greatness over the long haul isn’t really sustainable. It’s very difficult to achieve.  So, the goal shouldn’t be to work at being great because there are only a handful of people who are truly “great” at what they do and greatness isn’t sustainable long-term.    

In the most recent Presidential election, President-Elect Donald Trump’s slogan was “Make America Great Again”. I like that slogan. When it comes to aiming high kind of l like the saying “Shoot for the stars and if you miss, at least you’ll hit the moon.” But, is greatness really what we’re after?   There’s an amazing verse of scripture found in Micah 6:8 “… the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”  I think one of the most important goals we could have in 2017 is to live out Micah 6:8. To strive to be good is to strive to be great.  

God’s definition of good is really three things. 1) That we do justly – we do what’s right, equitable and fair for ourselves, others and our relationships. 2) Love mercy – that we are compassionate. In Hebrew, it’s “hesed”. The word is used over 250 times in the Old Testimate. It means, “covenant love.”, loyal love. I don’t know about you but I could use more hesed in my relationships. I could be more covenant loving to my wife, my sons, to my friends, my church and ultimately to God. I pray that in this new year we set some “good” goals for our lives. Doing justly, giving mercy and thirdly, walking humbly with our God.   The world talks about greatness. The slogan of the year was “Make America Great Again” and I’m all for that but maybe a better slogan is “Make America Good.”  I think we should strive to be better people in 2017. Maybe that’s being a good father, husband, mother, wife, good child to your parents, to be a good boss, to be a good worker.  American needs to be good again! To be good, God says it takes these three things. 1) Do justly – to be fair and right in our dealings with others 2) Love mercy – have that covenant love. Ex: Jonathan towards David, Ruth towards Naomi. 3) Walk in humility – know any goodness in ourselves doesn’t come from us, it comes from the Lord. Only God is ultimately good. We may have more bad days than good in 2017. Our goal should be to strive and live out God’s definition of greatness.  I pray these three things over your life in 2017. Don’t strive to be great; instead, strive to be good. Not in your own strength but in the Lord’s.   God Bless!  Carl

The world talks about greatness. The slogan of the year was “Make America Great Again” and I’m all for that but maybe a better slogan is “Make America Good.”  I think we should strive to be better people in 2017. Maybe that’s being a good father, husband, mother, wife, good child to your parents, be a good boss or to be a good worker.  American needs to be good again! To be good, God says it takes all three of these things. So act justly and be fair and right in your dealings with others. Love mercy – have that covenant love. Ex: Jonathan towards David, Ruth towards Naomi. Lastly, Walk in humility and know any goodness in ourselves doesn’t come from us, it comes from the Lord. Only God is ultimately good. We may possibly have more bad days than good in 2017. Our goal should be to strive and live out God’s definition of greatness.  

I pray these three things over your life in 2017. Don’t strive to be great; instead, strive to be good. Not in your own strength but in the Lord’s.  

God Bless!  

Carl

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Blogger PostDiggDeliciousEmailPrintShare

Miracles Come in Cans

What kind of miracles and what kind of cans are we talking about?  It is really about a can that is in one of the most famous Bible verses, Phil 4:13 ” I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That’s one of the most outstanding statements in all of the world because Paul focuses on what he CAN do. Sometimes in life we focus on what we can’t do. I really do believe that miracles come in cans, but the kinds of cans I’m talking about are the “I cans” instead of the “I can’t”.  

Of all the things in life that we get to do, there are two that are completely unavoidable – 1)You have to die some day and 2) you have to live until you die. Between those two realities, hopefully through many years, we must decide to live. Every day that you get up, you must decide that you will live the best life you can with God’s help. That’s the decision that determines what you are going to do in this world with your life.

Paul’s attitude was “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” That’s a stunning statement. You could finish the statement for yourself. “I can do ___?___.” “With Christ’s help, I can achieve my goals. I can lose weight. I can live a healthier lifestyle. I can finish my degree. I can love my neighbor. I can break free from addiction. I can have a better attitude. I can have a Christ-like attitude. I can better myself. I can better my marriage. I can make a difference in my community. I can rise to the top in my profession.”  Fill in the blank.  

This is more than a “just think positive” message like the Little Engine That Could. Thinking is important but what Paul is focusing on is action.   He didn’t say, ” I think all things through Christ who strengthens me.” NO! He said, “I can DO all things through Christ…” It’s action! Granted, thinking plays a role. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” We need to fill our minds with good, Biblical thoughts and positive thoughts but thinking isn’t enough. You have to do. What are you going to do today that’s going to move you closer to your goals and your dreams for your future? It’s an action.  

So miracles come in cans vs can’ts.  Sometimes we go through life saying – I could never do that, it’s too late for that, or I can’t do that. How do you know you can’t? Have you tried?  Maybe in your own strength you can’t but the miracle behind Paul’s statement is it’s not just human effort or your ability, it’s what God can do in you and through you.  

I want to challenge you – What are some of the things left undone in your life? What are some of the dreams that maybe you’ve forgotten? What are some of the goals you’ve set that you have given up on? What are some of the challenges that you may be facing in your life right now?  A can do attitude is a winning attitude.

I hope you find Christ’s strength in your life this Advent season. I hope this challenges you to rise to that next level in your life. Don’t accept what everyone else is saying about you or some of the thoughts you are thinking about your life. May you have a moment of breakthough and you begin to realize that miracles do come in cans. They’re in the I can’s of life. Start focusing on what you can do and what you can become.  

I hope you have a Merry Christmas season! Until next time!  

God Bless!

Pastor Carl

Resilience

I want to talk today about Resilience. Here’s the definition: “The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape, having elasticity.” This is like a bamboo tree. They tend to bend but not break. In life, I think it’s important for us to bend but not break. Sometimes the storms of life hit. Sometimes things hit all at one time and it feels like everything is dumped on you all at once. To be resilient means you have the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and tough times.

I declare over your life today that you are resilient. If you haven’t been resilient then you will become resilient. Prov. 24:6 “Even if good people fall seven times, they will get back up.” I love that. They will get back up. You will get back up. Being resilient isn’t about the first part of that verse where a righteous person or a good person may fall seven times but between the righteous and the unrighteous person, the righteous get back up!

I want to encourage you today, if you have fallen or slipped, if your feet have been cut out from under you in your marriage or in a relationship, at work, emotionally or financially, GET BACK UP! When we learned to ride a bike, we have all fallen. When we learned to play a sport or activity, we have all slipped but we don’t stay down. We get back up! That’s what Solomon says in Proverbs.

There’s an interesting tree, an Elm tree, that represents resilience. Twenty-two years ago, in April of 1995, the terrorist bombing attack in Oklahoma City took place. One hundred and sixty-eight people were tragically killed and hundreds were wounded and yet survived. In front of that location, the Alfred P. Murray Building, there sits a 40 foot tall Elm tree that survived the bombing. Now that Elm tree represents something to everyone that walks by and remembers that terrible day and what evil was committed at that spot. The Elm tree speaks of resilience.

I hope there’s an Elm tree in your life. If not, an Elm tree can be planted that speaks of God’s faithfulness, His redemptive work that speaks of your resilience; not in yourself but in Christ. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – the Apostle Paul once said.

What is resilience? “It’s when you give up on quitting.” – Carl Toti. Or when you quit on giving up. You aren’t going to throw in that towel. Instead, I’m going to bounce back and be flexible but not breakable. “Resilience is the capacity to prepare for disruption, recover from shocks, and stresses, adapt and grow from a disruptive experience.” Does that describe you? If not, it can and it will.

If you’re going to be resilient, it’s going to take three things:

1) Hope – There’s a powerful scripture in Zach. 9:12 “Return to your fortress oh prisoners of hope.” If you’re going to be resilient, bounce back and bend but not break, you are going to have to have hope. You will need to return to your fortress of your prison of hope. You do have a bright future even though what is behind you may be some carnage.

2) Have a vision – Proverbs 29:11″Without a vision, the people perish.” You don’t want to be without a vision. You want to be able to have a hope, a picture of what your future can be with God’s help.

3) Have a plan – God’s comeback plan for your life. Jer 29:11″ I know the plans that I have for you. A plan to give you a future and to give you hope.” There is a comeback plan that God has for your life. You can be resilient.

Some of you may have lost your job recently, had some setbacks, the storms of life have come your way; but like the Bamboo tree when the hurricane winds are blowing in and everything is being ripped apart, that tree bends with the wind but doesn’t break. It’s resilient. I hope you take this word in your heart today and ask God to help you become more resilient; to help you have the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and setbacks.

Have a great rest of the day.

God Bless!

Carl

Success or Perfection?

Do you want perfection or do you want success? Sometimes people give up success because they are striving for perfection. Some people invest so much in a project or even a goal in their life and they end up wanting it to be perfect before it can be completed. Sometimes you have to choose – do you want perfection or success?

It is said that the closest someone gets to perfection is when they fill out an application or resume. In this life, there really isn’t anything that measures up to complete perfection. We know that all success has a measure of perfection. For example, if you’re a neurosurgeon or any kind of surgeon, you need to be flawless. You should be next to “perfect”. If you are an opera singer, you need to have a voice that is near perfect in order to make it big in that field. If you are an Olympic gymnast who’s competing for a gold medal, you have to perform near perfect. So there is a measure of perfection in success.

I like what A.J. Gordon said, ” I would rather aim at perfection and fall short than to aim at imperfection and fully attain it.” In our pursuit of being successful and succeeding in what God has called us to do, there is this striving for perfection; but not being a perfectionist. Life is about making mistakes and not faking perfection. No one is perfect. The only one who is perfect is Jesus. We know that. He perfected perfection. But we are not and we are going to make mistakes. The key is, what do you do with those mistakes? How do you learn from them and bounce back? You don’t have to be a perfect spouse to have a successful marriage. You don’t have to be a perfect parent to be successful at parenting. You don’t have to be a perfect friend to be a successful at relationships. A lot of times, we are going after perfection.

Maybe some of you are single adults and maybe you are delaying marriage because you are looking for perfection. So that means you are not yet successful in that area of your life. Maybe you need to be a little more realistic. Maybe what you are looking for in someone else, you, yourself begin to perfect those qualities in your own life.

Do you want perfection or do you want success? Sometimes striving for perfection prevents us from experiencing success in different areas in our life. I heard someone say, ” It doesn’t have to be perfect in order for God to bless it.” That’s the good thing about grace and serving God with all of your heart. It doesn’t have to be perfect in order for it to be blessed. God can take the imperfection of our lives and what we offer Him and with His grace and mercy, He can still bless it.

So, be more realistic. Aim for perfection, knowing you’ll probably fall short but it’s better to aim for it than not and reach a lesser standard. Go out and be the best you can be. Strive to do everything that God has placed in your heart to accomplish this day, week or month. Keep in mind, there is a difference between perfection and success.

 

God Bless!  

Carl

Winners vs. Losers

“I always turn to the sports page first. The sports page records people’s accomplishments. The front page, nothing but man’s failures.” – Earl Warren.      

One thing we love about sports is that there is a winner and there is a loser. I think one of the things we like about politics, as gruesome and cruel as it is, there will be a  winner and a loser.  Tomorrow morning, all things being equal, we will wake up and there will be a winner in this election and there will be a loser.  If I can just be candid with everyone, either America is going to win or America is going to lose based on one of the two candidates that’s going to be elected. This is a serious moment.    

We have one candidate who is 100% for abortion (the killing of innocent life in the mother’s womb). We need to take that to heart for those of us that call ourselves Christians.    The other candidate is 100% pro-life. Whether he’s being honest or not, we can only wait and see. But, at least we know one is definitely for abortion all the way through the 3rd trimester, just before the baby is to be born. They approve abortion on demand with no restrictions or limitations. That’s unconscionable and we can not stand for that.  

I don’t endorse candidates as a pastor or as a public figure but I’ll let all my friends and family and church family know that I voted for Trump. That doesn’t mean I’m endorsing him or that I support everything he says or believes.    I believe America is going to be different tomorrow no matter who gets elected.  We have two roads we are going to go down and I hope it’s the right road.    

I want to talk about winning and losing in your own life and in my own life.  We aren’t running for public office, although some of you may be. But, we are all running for something, aren’t we?  We are wanting to win in life. We want to win in our relationship with Christ. We want to win in our marriages. You want to win as parents. If you are a business person, you want to win. You are competing with your product or service and you want to offer that to others. You want to be a winner and at the end of the day, we all want to stand in the winners circle.    

Here are a quote I came across, “Winners find a way to make things work. Losers find excuses as to why they didn’t work.”  I hope we go through life not using excuses but finding opportunities and seizing them and making the most of those opportunities.  Winning doesn’t come easy. If it did, everyone would be winning.  For us that are Red Raider fans, it’s been a tough season for our Texas Tech Red Raiders. To get a win isn’t easy in Division 1 Football. For those of us that are Dallas Cowboy fans, winning is coming easy this year.  Seven in a row! That’s good.  But in life, we also want to win and help find ways to win.

Prov. 24:6 “Strategic planning is the key to warfare. To win, you need a lot of good counsel.” I think that’s a great word. God has really destined us to win. Some of you are competing against debt and you want to win. Some of you are competing against weight and have a goal to get healthier. You want to win against your opponent. Some may be competing to reclaim your integrity. You’re competing against your component of whatever that weakness may be or that sin that may be in your life. You want to win and know how to win. You can and fight the good fight. You can run the race to win as the Apostle Paul speaks about.  

As I was thinking about being a winner, as in sports and politics – you have winners and losers. In most other areas of life we don’t call winning or losing, we tend to mix it all up. What we really know is that at the end of the day, in life, it is whether we are winning or losing and I believe God wants us to win    

If you are going to be a winner it takes 3 things:  

1) It takes Attitude – you’ve got to have a winner’s attitude. Winners have an attitude that they belong where they are at and they are going to win. They are going to do everything in their power, leave it out on the field, but they’re going to win. (Kind of like the Cubs this year – they had a winner’s attitude).  You need to be like Christ. You need a Christlike attitude. You have to have a positive and upbeat attitude.  

2) You need intentional Action – you need to be doing something, moving towards that goal. You need an intentional, determined and calculated action. Set goals for you to move towards and you have a biased towards action.

3) Accountability – Every great athlete has a coach and a system in place. You need a pastor, life coach, a mentor or team around you that are willing to speak the hard truth into your life and can give you positive feedback. Winning teams or athletes have a system in place that holds them accountable so they can continue to improve.   I hope you go out and win! Even if you lose, it isn’t the end. Get back up and try again! Keep moving towards your goal for the high calling God has for you in Christ Jesus. I declare to everyone reading this – You ARE a Winner so keep on winning!  

God Bless!    

Carl