In his book THE FIGHT, John White says, “Tough times will either make you or break you. If you are not utterly crushed by them, you will be enlarged by them. The pain will make you live more deeply and expand your consciousness of God.”
There are two ways to go through life. We can go through life like a snorkeler, living on the surface and seeing some things at a distance, or we can live like a diver, swimming beneath the waves and experiencing life in a way the snorkeler never does.
Living deeply is our desire. Living deeply means we live more and more in reliance upon God. (Romans 5:3-5)
But living deeply comes with a cost. Avoiding pain and difficult leads us to a shallow life, a shallow character, a shallow faith. We aspire to have the character of Christ formed in us but for that character to be fully formed God must chip away those things in our lives that don’t look like Jesus. The “chipping away” is painful.
Christ taught us how to live deeply in the times of testing. As He hung upon the cross, dying for our sins, the book of Hebrews said “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame…”
Our focus must be on the end result of our struggle, not on the pain itself. It is Christ’s desire to bring us “life, and that more abundantly.” That’s living more deeply. That’s walking with Christ in the fellowship of His suffering. And that’s where we meet Jesus most powerfully.
Most normal people like Krispy Kreme donuts (in my opinion). Some of us like them TOO much! No one, however, would enjoy eating a cold ball of fat and dough which is what a Krispy Kreme really is….before the fire.
These tasteless little dough-balls are placed through an intricate process of preparation which begins by creating a hole in the center with a blast of air. The now circular dough is then placed in a proof box and through the application of heat and humidity made to rise. After the dough has risen, it is then dumped unceremoniously into a vat of boiling oil. When it is cooked through, the newly created doughnut is run through a cascading waterfall of sweet icing. Voila! A Krispy Kreme doughnut is born.
The New Testament books and letters compiled from Hebrews to Revelation are directed to Christians going through the fire. Sometimes we wonder why we’re being blasted, boiled, and “proven.” It is, as Peter said, “… so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7)
As with our little doughball, the result of the fire always brings about a sweeter outcome than we began with. There are things that God can only do with us as He places us in “the proof box” and turns up the heat. We have a choice. We can resent the process and fight it every step of the way, or we can surrender to the greater will of the Father and accept it “with joy.” (James 1:3)
God promises the sweetness will come as He finishes what He started in your life and mine. Hang in there. Don’t give up. The best is yet to be.
Let me take this space to encourage you to complete and return your Giving Beyond Ourselves commitment form this week or next if at all possible.
Again, it is hard to overstate how important it is that we hear from YOU regarding this. It will have an impact on our strategy and planning for some time. EVERY CARD is important even if it contains no financial commitment. We just need to know that you are ALL IN as we continue to grow and as God enlarges our boundaries. Whether through the offering plate, the commitment box, or by mail…your prayerful commitment is important to us. As God leads us onward lets “be strong and courageous” for we know the Lord our God is with us.
Yours for the Victory,
It’s all about perspective, isn’t it? How we view the circumstances, both good and bad, that come to our lives turns on perspective.
Whether a situation is received as preparation or punishment is a matter of our perspective. The trials and traumas of our lives also are seen through a lens called perspective.
What if you were offered the possibility of living the rest of your life pain free, trouble free, tear free with one condition. For a millisecond, you would experience excruciating pain but then you would not be able to remember it? Would you sign up for such a deal? No more pain? Sorrow? Weeping? Difficulty? Sounds too good to be true? Think about this with perspective.
You already have a better deal than that…if you’re a believer in Jesus. For a millisecond, (for some, 70 years or 90…for others less than that) you are experiencing pain, trials, sorrows, suffering…some excruciating. But then, what do we get? An eternity where there is no pain, neither sorrow or crying, for the former things (the pain) have passed away. (Read Revelation 21:6) The pain…the tears… the sorrow pass away even (I believe) from our memories!! The millisecond of life on earth compared to the unending reality of eternity is “not worthy to be compared” to what lies ahead for the believer.
Do you understand? PERSPECTIVE makes pain endurable, sorrow and suffering tolerable, tears no longer terrible. “The former things will pass away.” And all that will be left is…
Today begins a month of commitment to the Giving Beyond Ourselves 3 campaign. Once again, you have or will receive a commitment card. We want each church member to pray about their part of this campaign. Some, frankly, may not be able to do as much. Some can do much more than others.
My desire is to hear SOMETHING from every individual and family. Maybe it’s a relatively minor commitment financially. For others, your commitment may be to pray for the ongoing effort to eliminate our debt. As we give to Giving Beyond Ourselves 3 we are giving to help move toward lowering our debt to free us for the next level that God is calling us to participate in. Your gift may be a one time gift. It may be a weekly or monthly commitment.
I hope, as you have been a part of this, that you may choose to move to the next level of giving on a weekly or monthly basis. So many have been deeply committed to helping us get beyond by giving beyond ourselves. We are blessing Kingdom work and Kingdom purposes as we do this.
Please pray about your part. As we Give Beyond Ourselves in this campaign, we can give more of ourselves to God’s Kingdom and the harvest to which He has called us. Thank you for your genuine consideration and your generosity that will result in thanksgiving to the Father. I pray God’s richest grace to abound to you as you obey Him in this important campaign!
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray my Cuisinart to keep.
I pray my stocks are on the rise. And that my analyst is wise.
That racquetball won’t get too tough, That all my sushi’s fresh enough.
I pray my iPhone 6 still works, That my career won’t lose its perks;
My microwave won’t radiate; My condo won’t depreciate.
I pray my health club doesn’t close. And that my money market grows
If I go broke before I wake I pray my Volvo they won’t take.
This little poem offered by Steve Farrar outlines a problem for each of us today. It begs the question, “What is really most important to you in life?” What are you priorities…what’s in first place?
We can find over and again in the Scriptures references to getting first things first, of not getting our priorities out of order, of “seeking first” the Kingdom of God, of following first the Commission of Jesus, and loving God first and best.
Priorities are important. The little poem above captures just about every misplaced priority we could imagine, but I’m sure there are a few that may challenge you that didn’t get mentioned.
The process of correcting priorities BEGINS with an awareness of what we are REALLY seeking with our lives. And we use two ways to communicate what we are REALLY about: Our TIME, and our MONEY. Where does your time go…where does your money go? I’ll answer for us all:
to that which is most important to us.
Where is the challenge for you today? Things? Work? Bills? Family? House? Cars? Boats? Or can you honestly say, “I am seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness?” That is where priorities begin to get rightly ordered. And then, “all these other things” can find their proper place in your life.
The parable we call the good Samaritan which Jesus told addresses the issue of the genuineness of our profession….the truth of our religious practice. (James 2:15-17) In fact I believe there are three kinds of people talked about in this parable:
1) The thief. What’s yours is mine, and I’m going to take it.
2) The selfish. What’s mine is mine, and I’m going to keep it.
3) The giver. What’s mine is God’s, and I’m going to give it.
Your life orientation is found in one of those scenarios. You are either taking from others what doesn’t belong to you, or you are keeping from others what could be a blessing out of self-preservation, or you are giving to others because God has put someone in your path for which you can make a difference.
Our church is voluntarily affiliated with three mission organizations….one called the Jacksonville Baptist Association, another called the Florida Baptist Convention, and the third is called the Southern Baptist Convention. The Jacksonville Association helps us stayed focused on local ministry needs. The SBC helps us see the nations and send people and go ourselves to the uttermost parts of the earth as Jesus commanded. The Florida Baptist Convention helps us mobilize to meet the needs of our State. Why do we partner with them?
In addition to reaching out to churches through giving low interest loans to rebuild after disaster, the convention also mobilizes Disaster Relief units to areas hit by natural disasters. We reach out to neighboring nations like Cuba and Haiti Brazil and the Cayman Islands to help plant churches and meet needs there. We are engaged in partnerships with unreached states like West Virginia and Nevada and Indiana. The convention’s ministry helps us reach out to migrant families who work the farms and fruit crops here in the State, and provides camps and ministries for their children…including Haitian, Korean, and Hispanic camps.
In recent years, Florida Baptist churches have been called to reach out to the prison population around our state not only by going behind the walls of the prisons but by developing ministries once the inmates are released back into society. The Florida Baptist missions strategy also includes ministries of church-based health care and a mobile dental clinic that targets urban centers and low-income areas.
These are ministries that are driven by one reality: God has put them in your path….and mine. We have to help them. We have the second largest lost population in America …largely centered in Miami and other urban centers across our State. Just a little commercial but a big ASK to request that you to be generous in what you place in the envelope entitled McGuire State Mission offering. It will go to help those bleeding alongside our highways and byways in Florida.
We can’t pass them by and do nothing.