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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

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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

Anything But Average

This last Super Bowl was anything but average. Every one of those athletes that performed in that game was anything but average. Usually, the team that wins is an above average team and we can say that the Patriots are an above average team. Tom Brady is an above average quarterback.    

At the end of the day, when you think of our lives, we’re all pretty average and ordinary individuals. When we give our lives to Christ, we give a lot of things up. One of the things we give up is being average. Yeah, that’s right. Listen, I know all of us feel ordinary and average run-of-the-mill human beings and really, that’s who we are. We serve an extraordinary God. We may be ordinary but the God we serve is extraordinary.God’s plan for us is to be anything but average. He wants you to be anything but an “average Joe/Jane”.

I don’t want to be an average husband. I want to be above average. I don’t want to have an average marriage.  I didn’t want to be an average parent. I wanted to be an above average parent to my kids when they were little. Even today, as my kids are grown adults, I don’t want to be just an average dad.   I don’t want to be just an average worker. I don’t want to be a part of just an average church. I believe God called us to be above average and to give up with simply being content to being average.  

People that are above average go beyond what’s required of them. They go beyond what’s expected of them. It always comes back to them. When you go above and beyond in your relationships, in your career, school, church, etc; it always comes back to you in some way. It’s as though God rewards that effort. Jesus said that if someone compels you to go one mile, go two miles with them. In life it’s sometimes easier to be a “half-miler” or a “one-miler” to do what’s expected of you; to do just enough to get by. Maybe you do just enough in your marriage or relationships to get by. Jesus has called us to go the extra mile; not to be “just enoughers” but “above and beyonders”. There are enough of those in our world. They do just enough to get by, just enough not to get fired but God wants us to go above and beyond.  

I like what Zig Ziglar said, ” There are no traffic jams when you go the extra mile.”  Andrew Carnegie said that the average person puts 25% of his or her energy and ability into their work. Imagine all the average people working around you today (I believe you are above average) who are only giving 25% of their effort and ability in what they do. Carnegie said that the world takes their hat off to those that give 50%, but the world stands on its head for those few people that go far beyond what’s expected and give 100%.  

I believe as Christians we should give 100% and give our very best to what God has entrusted unto us. Don’t just give 25 or 50%, give 100% because you are anything but average. God’s not called us to lead an average life.      The Bible states in Lev 23:25 “You shall do no ordinary work.”  I kind of like the play on words in that verse. God’s not called you or me to do an ordinary job. Why is that?  Because we serve an extraordinary God. We give him our everyday ordinary life and he takes it, blesses it, anoints it and something extraordinary can come out of it.    

The Bible says in Acts 19:11 through Apostle Paul, God did out of the ordinary miracles.  In Acts 7:20, the Bible speaks of Moses; that when he was born he was not an ordinary child.  When you were born, you were no ordinary child. When you are born again, you are no ordinary Believer. I believe that there’s something special in your life and you should believe that too.    

So let’s be anything but average and go out and go above and beyond and be 100 percenters. Let’s not just go 1/2 a mile, let’s go the extra mile and it will always come back to each of us in good measure, shaken together and running over.  

Have a great week. You are God’s best!  

Carl

 

Never Trade Future Blessings for Temporary Pleasures

I want to discuss bad trade deals. Sometimes in life, we make some pretty bad trade deals. When I was in grade school, I traded a classmate a tuna sandwich my mom had made me for his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I don’t know about you, but that was a really bad choice on his part. Once, I traded some baseball cards that if I still had them today, they’d be worth a lot of money. I traded them for candy. Another time, I traded a motorcycle for cash and jewelry. I would consider that a bad trade. I should have stuck with only cash instead of some hand-me-down jewelry. (although it was 14K gold)  

Think about it, sometimes in life, we make bad trade deals. We may trade our faith in future promises for the fear of today. Sometimes we trade our integrity for an immediate temptation or pleasure that presents itself.  “You should never trade future blessings for temporary pleasures.” This quote is a powerful thought. Sometimes, when we do this, we are cheating ourselves. For example, we trade the long-term blessing that God has for our future for the fleeting pleasure of an immediate gratification. We trade the future blessing of good health for the temporary pleasure of junk food. Admit it, we all like junk food! We trade good health for the temporary pleasure of alcohol, nicotine, excessive caffeine, etc. We should never trade future blessings for temporary pleasure.  

Sometimes we trade the future blessing of financial security over the temporary pleasure of immediate gratification which can cause us to go into debt over our heads to buy the house, buy the car or educational choices that aren’t necessarily in the best interest of our future.  

Sometimes we choose the immediate instead of the eternal over our life. For example, we choose the pleasure of late night TV instead of the future blessing of a good night’s rest and getting up to meet the future challenges of the day.  Sometimes we choose frivolous pursuits over goal oriented action in our lives. Read that book, take that class, attend that seminar, pursue that friendship and invest in yourself.    

I think of the story in the Bible of Joseph in Genesis when he refused the temporary pleasure that Potiphar’s wife was offering him for the future blessing that he knew God had for his life.  Or how Job’s reflection about that invitation allowed there to be an immediate rejection. He didn’t look to the immediate gratification, he was able to postpone that gratification for future blessings that God had for him.

I am wondering if any of us have a Potiphar’s wife in our life? Something that offers a temporary pleasure that if we aren’t careful, could hold us back from a future long-term blessing?  

Another example is Moses. He chose to suffer the affliction of God and suffer than to enjoy the passionate sin for a season. He chose the future blessing of God over the temporal pleasures that were offered to him by taking a shortcut by ruling over Egypt  instead of going through the wilderness and all of the trials and tribulations.    

In life, there are no shortcuts to God’s best. It may take a little longer to get there but it will last a whole lot longer. The classic example of this is Esau. He chose the temporal pleasure of a bowl of soup over the future blessing of God’s inheritance in his life. What a bad trade! What a bad deal he made!  

I’m tired of making bad deals. I’m tired of choosing the temporal pleasures of this world over the future blessings God has for me. All of us can wise up and become better trade negotiators. Let’s not sell out the future blessing God has for us over the immediate temporal pleasures that may be offered to us.  

I think the final example for all of us is Christ, our Lord, and Savior. When he was in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights, the enemy wanted him to choose temporal relief over the long-term blessing that the Father had for him. Jesus always made the right choice. He can help us to make the right choices too.  

So, never accept a temporal pleasure today and rob yourself of a future blessing that God has for you in your future. If you have, ok, today is a new day and a fresh start, so do it right and wise up!

Have a great day. God bless!  

Carl

It’s OK if….

What do I mean by “It’s ok if…”?  I want to touch on disappointment. Life has its ups and downs. Life has its setbacks and disappointment is a part of it. The meaning of disappointment is – it’s a feeling of sadness and displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations. I think in life, we have to let ourselves know, “it’s ok if…” Everyone has their fair share of disappointments. It’s ok if…I didn’t’ get that promotion. It’s ok if…I didn’t get into my favorite college. It’s ok if…that job I really wanted but I didn’t get. It’s ok if… you’re not accepted in the “In” crowd at school or at work. It’s ok that what I was hoping for or expecting didn’t happen.

You have to be able to tell yourself, it’s ok. That doesn’t mean you lose your sense of purpose, lose your vision, stop striving for your goals or stop being a driven person in a healthy way in order to achieve the best and what is most possible for your life. It doesn’t mean you sell yourself short. It doesn’t mean you lose your sense of purpose, your vision, stop striving for your goals or stop being a driven person in a healthy way in order to achieve the best for your life. It doesn’t mean you sell yourself short.  I think a healthy attitude is being able to let yourself know, it’s ok.    

Do you remember being in a grocery store with your parent as a kid and you really wanted that candy and if they didn’t buy it for you, it wasn’t ok? What do children do when something isn’t ok? They throw a temper tantrum. They tend to pout. That doesn’t work too well as adults now does it?  If you’re not getting your way in your marriage, in friendships, at work, at church or at school, you can’t go through life throwing temper tantrums or pouting. You have to preach to yourself sometimes and let yourself know it’s ok.    

Disappointment can become His appointment. There is deep theology in that statement. Disappointments in life can become an opportunity for a divine appointment by God. We don’t look at things on the surface but we need to see the bigger picture. We have to believe that God is in control. All things to work for good for those that work together for them that love God for them that are called according to His purpose.    Frederick Faber once said, “There are not disappointments to those whose wills are buried in the will of God.” There are no disappointments in life when your ultimate desire is to do the will of God and for His will to be ultimately performed in your life.    

Sometimes we prematurely judge a situation as it will not turn out in our favor. But, we don’t know the full story. That is where God comes in. Another quote I like is “Disappointment is often the salt of life.” If we look at it that way, I think we can allow whatever disappointment to become a divine appointment.    

Dion Moody said, “Trust in yourself and you’re doomed to disappointment. Trust in your friends and they’ll die and leave you. Trust in reputation and some slanderous tongue may blast it. But trust in God and you are to never be confounded in time or eternity.”  I like that.    

Martin Luther King gave a similar testimony when he said, ” I’ve held many things in my hands and I have lost them all but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, I still possess.”  I think that is a good reminder. Take your dreams, goals, and aspirations and lay them on the altar. Let God know that it is His will, not yours that be done. Let Him know you believe this is what He wants in your life and what He wants you to achieve in your life and that you’ll give it your best with all of the ability He has given you. It isn’t by your power but by His spirit but if at the end of the day you come up short, it’s ok. You know ultimately, He is in control. That’s not a defeat us mentality or fatalist mentality. After you have given your best and given your all and trusted in God with all of your heart, whatever the outcome is, you can live with it.    

Some people have some real disappointments. Their marriage has failed, or they proposed and were told no and they go through life so discouraged and disappointed. You have to allow the Lord to pick you up and pick yourself up with HIs help and have this attitude – It’s OK if I don’t get my way.     It’s ok if you disagree with me today because I can’t force you to be right.    

I hope this helps you think about the big picture in your life and what God’s doing.

Have a great week! God Bless!

Carl