Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The I's Don't Have It

What do IPad, IPod, IPhone, ITouch, ITunes and IPass have in common? Well, duh, not too hard to figure out now, is it? Psss....it's the letter I. Yes, we are living in a me- first generation, where we need to possess every technological gadget there is to keep up with our friends. Now, don't get me wrong, having some of these gadgets are okay as long as we don't let them consume us and take us away from what's important. (I included the IPass, only because it is a gadget, but a much needed one if you live in Illinois)
  I find it  interesting that each of these gadgets begin with the letter I, as in another form of me, because that is what they do, they distract us from others as we concentrate on ourselves.

Walk in any store and you will no doubt find at least 3 people either texting or talking on their phone while shopping. And I don't mean talking, but carrying on an actual conversation with someone. This distracts us from human contact. What I mean by this is we lose sight of those in need who may be around us. This is very important to those of us who are Christians. How can we be the salt and light of this world and reach others who are in need or give someone an encouraging word if we ourselves are distracted with one of our I gadgets?

I love the lyrics to Toby Mac's new hit song Steal my Show:

No matter who we are, no matter what we do
Every day we can choose to say ...

If You wanna steal my show, I'll sit back and watch You go
If You got somethin' to say, go on and take it away
Need You to steal my show, can't wait to watch You go
So take it away

The message that Toby Mac is delivering here is simple and fits in with today's culture; a culture that thrives on the me aspect of life.
We all want to be in control of our life, and it is my own belief that this is what the I- gadgets do, they give us control. But this song suggests that we give up control of our own life and let God come in, steal our show and let Him obviously do a better job than what we can do with our life.

When we let God have control of every area of our life we can sit and watch amazing things happen. But we need to be willing to give up those reigns, and say, "God I trust you with my life. Your way is perfect. I trust You."

God desires that we dwell in and esteem His presence, because doing so distinguishes us from everyone else.

In God's presence is fullness of joy, peace, grace, strength, and mercy. Nothing and no one can offer you that. God is always there when you need Him.

Wanting to be in God's presence should be our hearts desire everyday.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Mathew 6:33)

In the past year I have probably blogged about us desiring to enter into God's presence numerous times. Why? Because it has worked for me, and if there is something that is working for me that is strengthening me and giving me great joy, I am going to pass it along to others.

One of the new posters I've been selling alot of lately through my Inspiration Through Creation line, carries a simple message:

Turn your worry into worship
and everything will work out fine.

When we begin to make a conscious effort to worship God more with our praise, not because of what we need but for what He has already done for us, our worries and concerns are amazingly turned into great joys and blessings.

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, checkout www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Combating Evil With Love

" Broccoli? Newman, you wouldn't eat broccoli if it was deep-fried in chocolate."

"Vile weed!" as Newman takes a bite of broccoli than spits it out.

-  Seinfeld episode

If only our hatred for broccoli (for some of us) were the least of our hatred in the world. With the Boston tragedy this past week along with other cowardly crimes within our world the past few months, it's an unfortunate reminder of how one word has destroyed our world since the beginning of time.

I recently finished watching the 3-part mini series The Hatfields and the Mccoys, the true story of a feud between two families that lasted for almost 40 years. The feud began when a Mccoy Union soldier was killed by a Hatfield in 1863. The feud escalated 13 years later after a dispute about the ownership of a hog. That's right, a hog!

 What's really sad is that between 1880-1891, the feud claimed the lives of more than a dozen members of both families, and over half of those were children.

When Sally, the wife of the Mccoy clan leader Randall Mccoy, finally figures it's time to end the feud, she gives her husband these powerful words of wisdom:

"You must let your heart break. Only when the most innocent part of you suffers can there be change, or else nothing remains of you."

It is most unfortunate that sometimes it's the sufferings and setbacks that are needed to change our callous hearts. In most cases, the strongest Christians who do the most good toward others are the one's who've been hurt the most.

Renowned evangelist Rick Warren once stated,

"I only hire staff who've been hurt deepily. People who've never suffered tend to be shallow and smug toward others pain."

A good, strong Christian would be one who takes the trials, mishaps, and struggles that they have gone through and uses them to not only build up their own faith, but to help others who are struggling.

Katrin Himmler. a great-niece of Heinrich Himmler who was one of Hitler's chief leaders, says,

"I don't believe I inherited his *badness*. But I live with his name. When the Holocaust documentary first aired, I sat and cried and cried because the Himmler name was repeated over and over again."

When Katrin was asked why she kept the name she simply stated,

"It doesn't change anything if I change my name. The problem is inside."

Hatred begins in the heart. But thankfully so does love. If there is any hatred, judgement of others, or jealousy of others within your heart, that can easily be changed by just asking God,

"Create in me a clean heart, O God. And renew a steadfast spirit within me." (Psalm 51:10)

When you get the chance, read Romans 12:9-21 where Paul gives basic instructions such as:

"If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink."

Paul gives us through these specific verses instructions on how to deal with those who persecute you, do evil toward you, and are your enemies. We are to bless those who persecute us, not to pay evil for evil, and not to be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Some strong instructions. Now if only us Christians can get our act together, change our hearts and show more love toward those in need, then maybe little by little the hatred within our world may diminish. And those that are on the receiving end of our acts of love, may they themselves in return begin to do the same.

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, click on my homepage link to: www,biblegateway.com, for more of God's encouraging Word.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How to Grow Like an Olive Tree

The uncanny resemblance between a person's growth in Christ and the growth of an olive tree will either: fascinate you, blow your mind, or literally freak you out. The olive tree is mentioned several times throughout scripture, and probably the more familiar verse to those who read their Bible:

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit, for without Me, you can do nothing."
(John 15:5)

Some other mentions of the olive tree in the Word of God are:

1. But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God (ripe);
I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.
 (Psalm 52:8)

2. The olive branch is a symbol of abundance, glory and peace.

3. Olive oil has long been considered sacred; it was used to annoint Kings.

4. A dove brought back an olive leaf to Noah to demonstrate the flood was over. The olive leaf
    represented life.

5. In Revelation it is mentioned that 2 olive trees and 2 lampstands will be found standing beside God.

6.  Abraham was the root of the church. Jews continued as branches of this tree until as a nation they rejected the Messiah. Then their relation to Abraham and God was cut off. The Gentiles were grafted into this tree, multitudes were made heirs of Abraham's faith.

So, why is the olive tree used so much through the Bible in reference to the church, to Abraham, and to us? One of the more fascinating facts about the olive tree is:

The olive tree is very hardy; it is drought resistant, disease resistant, and fire resistant. It's root system is capable of generating the tree even if the above ground structure is destroyed. There are olive trees today that are 2,000 years old.

So, the root that we are grounded in, the foundation of Jesus Christ, can withstand anything the enemy may throw your way.

And now, here is how to grow an olive tree:

1. Growing an olive tree falls into the category of delayed gratification. Under proper conditions olives don't begin to bear fruit until they are about 5 years old.

In our growth process in Christ, sometimes it takes a few years to grow into the person Christ wants us to be, before we see any fruit in our walk in Him.

2. There are two types of olive trees: fruiting and fruitless. Some olive trees produce fruit, others don't and are grown solely as an ornamental plant.

Do you want to grow into the person Christ wants you to be? Or do you want to just look good before others as an ornamental piece?

3. In the fruitless category, one variety is majestic beauty. It is slow growing but has all the beautiful attributes you'd like in an olive tree.

Our growth process in Christ is just like the potter and the clay mentioned in the Bible. We need to allow God to work out the yucky stuff in our life and shape us, so that we may grow into something beautifully made and used by Him.

4. One of the fruiting variety, the Arbequina, is slow growing and has a weeping habit. It produces inch long fruit that can be picked green or black. It responds well to harsh pruning, so it would be a good choice for someone who doesn't feel good about their pruning skills.

This is why we need to allow God, the Potter, to mold us and shape us into who He wants us to be in Him. We need to accept the pruning process, which is our trials and tribulations, in order for us to  grow.

If you are going to grow an olive tree, remember, they love full sunshine, but allow them to dry out a bit in between waterings.

If you want to be the person God wants you to be, one full of joy and sunshine, allow God to prune you in those dry seasons where you may find yourself struggling a bit.

Written by Dave Montei

Feel free to share this post or use it in a class environment.

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, click on my home page link to biblegateway.com, for more of God's encouraging Word.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Get to Know Me

The little girl was no older than seven as she casually held her floppy eared teddy bear, and walked down the median strip of a major two lane road. Many of the cars in both directions had paused in disbelief and confusion as to what this innocent child was doing in the middle of a road. She appeared to be lost but her face said otherwise, as she would smile at the drivers of the cars that paused in hesitation at what to do.

My first reaction was, "Oh, my God", and as my car inched closer and I rolled my window down, I was ready to pull to the side of the road when a gentleman in a business suit ran out to the middle of the street to grab her and bring her to the side of the road. Two other cars pulled over and the drivers came out to help her.

This happened this past Saturday and it was a harrowing and unfortunate event to which I have no conclusion. The young lass appeared to be lost and in disarray.Which ties into our third and final healthy tip on staying content and strong in Christ:
wisdom and understanding God's Word.

If you are a believer in Christ you are instructed throughout the Word of God to reach the lost with the Good News. But sometimes us believers can also get lost and appear to be in disarray. This happens when we become distracted with the things of this world or when we let our worries become a distraction:

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

Who we are as people should not be defined by society or the flesh, but by what God says about us in His Word. If we are going to change the way we think, we need to renew our mind with God's Word daily.

And knowing God's will for our lives begins by knowing and familiarizing ourselves with His Word. If you get to know the scriptures, understand them, and remind yourself of them daily, you can know the will of God. As my Pastor often reminds us, "God's Word is His Will.

How can a young man cleanse His way? By taking heed  according to Your Word.

Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I may not sin against You.

Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:9,11,105)

If you are looking for a distraction from your worries or circumstances, along with the other two healthy tips of worship and communication, confessing God's Word over your life is a great, positive action with great results. Read Deuteronomy 28 and Psalms 103 for positive reinforcement as both chapters list the benefits of following Christ.

Another way to know God's will for your life is through prayer. God will show you His will in part through your circumstances, through the Holy Spirit, and through visions and dreams. The key is to be sure that we are submitted to Him and are willing to do whatever He shows us.

These last three blog posts on staying content and strong in the Lord may seem like alot of work, but once you make it a daily habit of : worshiping God,, communicating with God, and studying His Word, everything will fall into place. Your relationship with Christ will begin to grow and flourish and you will also experience great joy as you make that ultimate decision to know and follow the One True Savior.

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, you can click on the link to biblegateway.com on my homepage for more of God's encouraging Word.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sing to Me

This is a photo of a New Guinea Singing Dog, only he is not singing in this pic, but standing at attention.
But he has a choice of when he can sing or when he can bark.

Each of us carry with us many daily choices too, some of which are:  choosing to be happy or sad, content or angry, sing or bark and complain. And these choices also reflect on who we appear to be to in front of others. If you follow Christ, you are not representing Christ very well if you always apppear to be angry, sad, worried, or frantic.

Here is healthy tip number two in being content in Christ: Worship

If you are in a relationship with Christ, here are some important questions to ask yourself:

Do I worship and praise God each and every day?

How much time do I devote each day in worshiping Him? Is it only when things are going well in my life?

Are there some days where I don't communicate or worship with God at all?

These are all vital questions that have an extreme affect on our relationship with Christ and the peace that He provides.

I recently saw one of my Christian friends get frustrated over world issues, political issues, and social injustice.Happens quite frequently , I might add. After blurting out all of his anger, his face turned red as if his blood pressure skyrocketed to the height of the solar system. He is extremely knowledgeable with the Word of God, but has a tendency to present himself at times as a Christian with no peace. Which reminds me of a familiar bumper sticker and a favorite of mine:

No God, No Peace
Know God, Know Peace

Peace can only be generated when we are not distracted with the things of this world, but look to the Author and the Finisher of our faith.

  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

Do we only have the theological head knowledge of God, or do we truly know Him?
Head knowledge of Christ is important, but heart knowledge and carrying a heartfelt knowledge of who He is carries a greater impact. You cannot understand God unless you really know Him.

How do you get to know someone? You spend time with them.

A wise preacher once told me, "Pray the answer, not the problem". Which basicly means if you pray this way you are telling God you trust in Him and His promises for your life.

 How can you trust in God if you don't know Him? And how can you know Him if you don't seek Him?

To be content in Christ and to trust in Him is to not just communicate with Him, but worship Him for who He is and what He has done for you  by sending His Son to die on the cross so that you and I might live. Isn't that enough, to find time to sing praises to your Heavenly Father?

If you want a stronger, healthier relationship with God, spend more time seeking Him. Begin to find time each day to thank Him by worshiping Him, for He's the One who gave you this day to live.