Happy Thanksgiving

anniversaryFor the past few years my congregation, friends, and family have hosted a grand Pastor’s Anniversary/Appreciation for my wife and me. The most recent was about 4 weeks ago. We had friends and colleagues come in from several states as well as many local pastors and former members of Church Alive. It was an amazing 3 day event which made me feel like a million bucks. Unless you’ve done it, it is impossible to understand the complexity of full-time ministry. It is filled with joys and sorrows, ups and downs, good moments and terrible ones! You have to check your heart to make sure you are doing it for Jesus, because there are moments when it seems the very people you have devoted your life to serving don’t appreciate it or worse yet don’t even want it!1461717_10202384448283750_1634992278_n

For several years when we were first getting started at a church, we didn’t even do a Pastor’s Appreciation. I would travel around and preach all of my friend’s special days and then come home feeling unappreciated and unloved. Someone asked me why I didn’t organize one myself. I remember saying to them, “I don’t need a particular day, or event to feel honored.” The truth was, I PRETENDED I DIDN’T NEED IT BECAUSE I DIDN’T HAVE IT!

Remember in school, the guy who was always saying it wasn’t important to have a girlfriend because he couldn’t get one? Subconsciously, that was my attitude.

However, once they organized special day to show their appreciation, I understood for the first time that while I don’t need anyone’s affirmation to confirm my calling and destiny, it does mean a lot to know that there are those who appreciate what you give your life for.

Having said that, I also want to add, that there are times when I feel like I’m NOT APPRECIATED! You know… when saints won’t support the church financially, aren’t faithful in attending service on Sunday, fail to show up when they’re scheduled to be serving in a particular ministry, or worst of all when there is fighting and strife between people who should be holding up the standard of God’s love for the all the world to see.  It’s like the bumper sticker that says, “Honk if you love Jesus!” I want one that says, “Don’t honk; If you love Jesus, pay your tithes, treat others right, forgive each other…” You see, appreciation, thanksgiving, and gratitude are emotions, that can be articulated, but if they are not also be displayed by actions, they are simply empty and meaningless words.

Gratitude, thankfulness and appreciation are essential elements of the Christian walk. Whether it is showing appreciation to God, or other people, all of us need to realize that we have much to be appreciative and thankful for.

The word most often used in the Bible to express appreciation is the word, “Thanks; thankful or thanksgiving.”

This week, all across America families will be gathering together to eat turkey, ham, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pies; to watch football and celebrate with friends and family a holiday we call, “Thanksgiving.” Somewhere in the process of events, many will take the time to acknowledge God and show appreciation for His goodness.anniversary2.jpg

Sadly, for many once the celebration is over the spirit of thankfulness disappears and within a few days discontent returns. In fact, I believe this is one of our greatest vulnerabilities as a generation…unthankfulness! It seems as though as a generation we have more than any previous generation has ever had but have become more unthankful, unfulfilled and unappreciative than any other in recent history. There is almost a sense that we deserve what we have and what others have as well. It is an attitude of entitlement that is being demonstrated in cities all across this nation right now.

Just walk the halls of any major mall in America and listen to the children talk to their parents about what they want for Christmas; you see exactly what I’m talking about. There seems to be a mentality that that everyone is entitled to equal status in life. Thank God for a nation that tries to guarantee equal opportunity but none can promise equal outcome. There are far too many factors such as talent, timing, work ethic, favor, relationships, and so forth to guarantee that everyone can live life at the same level. Let’s be very careful not to fall into the trap of being thankful for a few hours and then reverting to our sense of entitlement or ingratitude.

Thanksgiving must be more than a holiday, celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November; it must become an attitude of life. You must develop a mindset that searches out the good even in the bad! Being thankful has nothing to do with our current condition, situations or circumstances; it is a matter of the heart…it is a choice to appreciate the good instead of focusing on the bad. No matter how bad things are…there is still something good happening if you’ll only take the time to look hard enough!

  • Thanksgiving does not come automatically into our lives; we must choose to nurture and express it
  • Negative circumstances are never reasons for negative living; they may be excuses but not reasons.
  • In order to move in into the fullness God has prepared for you, you must learn to appreciate and be thankful for what He has already done. It is a stewardship issue. God will not promote you or entrust you with more than what I can be a proper manger of. Appreciation is the first step of good management!

(I Thessalonians 5:18 AMP) “Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus…”

To give thanks means to “confess your appreciation; to praise or acknowledge verbally your gratitude for something you have received.”

So thanksgiving is the appropriate response of appreciation from one who is grateful!

There are 3 aspects:

1)        Acknowledgment…Thanksgiving begins with appreciating God and recognizing that every good thing in our lives comes from Him as an expression of His grace and love! In fact, one of the Greek words translated as “thank” in Matthew 11:25 actually means to acknowledge and agree fully. James tell us, “…every good gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17) Thankfulness begins with recognizing the good…the blessings from the Lord…the love of people…the kindness we’ve received! There is goodness all around you if you’ll only take the time to look!

2)        Attitude…The natural effect of this realization is an attitude adjustment. We become a person of gratitude and appreciation. You see, your attitude is the outward expression of what you are feeling and thinking inwardly! Attitude is the thermometer of your spirit. It gives an indication of the condition of your heart.  Jesus taught that what comes out of the mouth and what is produced around us is a reflection of what is in abundance within us. Our attitude gives us a means of measuring the spiritual condition of our hearts. That is why an attitude can be seen without a word being said. Your face can reveal what you are thinking regardless of what you are doing. Since an attitude often is expressed by our body language and by the looks on our faces, it can be contagious. Instead of wearing a frown; smile! Recognizing the good that you have received will cause you to change your attitude and become more grateful!

3)        Actions… An attitude of appreciation and gratitude is expressed through actions. While thankfulness begins in the heart it is revealed by our attitude and actions. There are a variety of ways in which appreciation is shown.

  • Thankfulness is shown by offering praise to God. Singing, lifting our hands and verbalizing our thankfulness is one way. You see, verbal praise is also a declaration to others of the wonderful works of God….what a wonderful way to show that we are thankful! (Ps. 100:1-5)

A woman and her husband went to see a marriage counselor. She wanted a divorce because she was convinced that he didn’t love her. She said, “We’ve been married for 20 years; I wash his clothes, cook his meals, take care of the children and he never says, ‘I loves you!’” His reply was, “When we got married, I said, ‘I love you!’ If anything changes I’ll let you know!” It’s not enough to feel it in your heart…you need to say it with your mouth! Say it to God; to the people you love…express your thankfulness!

  • We can also show thankfulness by serving…blessing others as an expression of our appreciation for what God has done for us. To be blunt, the only way to “serve” God is to serve people.  In Matthew Chapter 25:42-45, Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you wouldn’t feed me; thirsty, and you wouldn’t give me anything to drink; (43) a stranger, and you refused me hospitality; naked, and you wouldn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ (44) “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ (45) “And I will answer, ‘When you refused to help the least of these my brothers, you were refusing help to me.’

The Apostle James said, “This is pure religion undefiled… to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)

  • Thankfulness is show through our giving of gifts and material support. One of the most practical ways we can show thankfulness is by giving back a portion of what has been given to us. Even when it comes to tithing or honoring God with the first-fruits of all of our increase, it is and must always be an expression of gratitude. (Acts 28:10)

All three of these expressions of gratitude can be shown to God but also to others. You can show your appreciation for the kindness of others by verbally expressing how thankful you are…you can show it by performing an act of service…doing something to improve the quality of their life…you can show thankfulness by being generous with your time or resources. I promise it will elevate the quality of your relationships. Every wife wants to hear how hot she looks…every child needs to hear how much they are loved…every friend enjoys hearing how much they mean to you…try it…it will make a huge difference!

  • The final expression of thankfulness is really something we do to express gratitude to people, but also shows God that we realize He uses people to bless us and so show our thankfulness through praying for those whom He uses to bless us- A heart of gratitude does not forget the acts of kindness and love it has been shown! One of the best ways to show appreciation is to pray for God to bless those whom He has used to bless us. We can ask God to bless their kids, give them health, meet their financial needs and so forth. Pray for those who bless you! (II Timothy 1:16; Ephesians 1:15-18)

You see, thankfulness is a matter of the heart; making a choice to be grateful and appreciative. Someone said, “When I was young I thought it was happy folks who were thankful; as I grew older I realized it is instead thankful folks who are happy!”

Comfortable Christianity

Harold White is quoted as saying, “Comfort comes like a guest, lingers to become a host, and stays to enslave us. It has been said that every human institution goes through three stages of development:

First, it is started by risk takers.

Then it is eventually handed over to caretakers.

At some point decline sets in and the institution is led by undertakers.

Think about that for a moment…Risk Takers, Caretakers,  Undertakers. What the risk takers start, the caretakers preserve, and eventually the undertakers bury. It may take years but unless we are intentional about remaining active and relevant, it’s only a matter of time. The pattern holds true for companies, schools, clubs, associations, and also for churches.

Poker player going

The church in the United States has been called the “sleeping giant,” with emphasis on the “sleeping.” Sleeping? Maybe not…napping…absolutely! The tragedy is, we seem to be napping at the worst possible moment!We are A.O.W.L. when our culture needs us most! For many, the church is becoming irrelevant.

In America, 80% of our churches have become stagnant, or are in a state of decline and only 20% will ever grow again. The average church in America is declining by 9% each year and averages about 75 people. 3700 churches closed last year. Just to maintain the current church per population ration, we need to add an additional 2,900 church each year.

However, before you call the fat lady in to serenade us, lets consider another interesting statistic. About 76% of people who do not attend church regularity said they’d attend if someone would invite them. The truth is, many churches have become so focused on making sure all of the members are content, that we’ve forgotten that we are called to be a life-giving force in our community as well. Our mission must be clear; WIN SOULS and MAKE DISCIPLES!

That requires that we be willing to take risks and often do things that rock the boat! It requires being different than the world and being bold in sharing our faith! It requires loving people who don’t look like us, dress like us, talk like us, or live in our neighborhood!

Do you know the greatest danger the church faces today? It’s not heresy, false doctrine or immorality. Our greatest danger is in becoming so comfortable that we also become totally irrelevant to the world around us.

Every church faces this danger…having just enough people to run the programs, manage the ministries, enjoy the beautiful buildings, raise the budget, and in general “have church” week in and week out, totally oblivious to the world around us. That’s not just a temptation at Church Alive; it’s the challenge every congregation faces. “Having church,” is terrific; but actually “being the church” in the marketplace is how we make a difference.

Each Christian is called to be a risk taker for Jesus. We ought to be like Paul and Barnabas who are described in Acts 15:26 as “men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Remember, we are called to be salt and light!

That means we must be willing to lay it all on the line in order to fulfill our mission. It means pushing all your chips to the center of the table and uttering 3 words from Sunday’s message, “I’m All In For Jesus!”

This is our mission…our purpose…let’s live it out!

Detox Day 7; 7 Day Fast from Negativity

WHY FORGIVE? The words jumped off the front page of Time magazine, January 9, 1984. The accompanying picture riveted the hearts of people everywhere. Pope John Paul II, with his left arm around Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who had attempted to assassinate him a just eight months earlier, tenderly embraced the right hand that had aimed and fired the near deadly bullet. Leaning down, the still weak Pontiff whispered words of pardon, forgiving the man that out of shear hatred had tried to kill him.

While it may have been just a whisper to the gunman, it was a glorious declaration to the entire world of the power of God’s grace and mercy. When asked what he said, the Pope replied, “I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned, and who has my complete trust.” Later, addressing women inmates in the same prison, John Paul II went even further proclaiming, “I was able to meet my assailant and repeat to him the pardon I gave him immediately. . .”

The only way to have a positive life is to learn to let stuff go immediately. Holding on to offenses and hurts will suck the joy out of your heart and cause you to live a negative, cynical life. The Bible meaning of the words translated as “forgive” are powerful. The Hebrews used three main words to express the concept. Kippur (atone) and shalach (let go) and nasa’ (lift up, bear, dismiss, send away) the term most often used by the Old Testament writers.

In the Greek, Apoluo (let go, loose, release one from prison), charizomai (be gracious) and the primary word, aphiemi, which means, “to let go, totally erase as though it never existed, reject, send away or spew out in an everlasting manner,” are used to project the full ideal of what real forgiveness means.

For many, just the thought of releasing someone of a wrong they have done seems weak. Especially when we all learn early on in life that unless you “stand up for yourself” others will take advantage of you!

Someone once told me that it was “unfair” to ask people to forgive…they said by doing so, we force them to  suffer twice: the initial hurt, and then again as they wish the one hurting them well at their own expense.

But allow me to turn the question around and ask, “If forgiveness is unfair, what is the alternative?” The obvious answer would be rage, animosity, revenge and retaliation. As someone much wiser than me once said, “The problem with getting even, is that it never happens! Revenge chains victims and offenders to the wrongdoing, with both parties hopelessly stuck on a merry-go-round of pain where each takes turns hurting the other.”

Learning to “release” or “let go” can often be a real challenge, especially if the hurt is deep enough.  However, the Bible gives us several reasons why as followers of Jesus we MUST let it go! In addition to what I shared yesterday, we must forgive…

  1. For His Sake…We must forgive because we who have been forgiven now represent the one whom has forgiven our sins. We are His ambassadors in the earth and called to the ministry of reconciliation. We are the visible representatives of the invisible God. We are the prism through which the world sees Jesus. Even as the Father forgave us “for Christ’ sake,” we should forgive others in the same manner. (Eph. 4:32)
  2. For Their Sake…When we forgive we release people and give them the opportunity to be freed from their wrong-doing. Do you realize that forgiveness comes before repentance? I know some will be shocked by that statement, but I assure you it is totally Biblical. In Luke 23:34, while dying on the Cross, Jesus offered forgiveness BEFORE any of us had repented of our sins and 1 John 4:20 tells us that we can only love Him “because He FIRST loved us!” WOW! 2 Corinthians 5:19 adds, “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.”                                          Now let me clarify…forgiveness precedes repentance but reconciliation and restoration can only come once forgiveness has been accepted through repentance. In other words, we forgive even if people never apologize for the wrong they have done. However, THEY will never be free, nor can they ever be restored unless they accept that forgiveness and turn from their wrongdoing. Forgiveness gives them the freedom to experience a second chance.
  3. For Our Sake… Forgiving is the only way to truly be free from the hurt we have experienced. It sets us free from the prison of the past and liberates us into the promise of a new and glorious future. Not to forgive is to sacrifice the potential of our future on the altar of our past.

Forgiving is going to be a constant challenge that we will have to address throughout our entire lives; so begin right now and choose to “let it go,” so God can release new joy and hope into your life and cause you to live in a positive and productive manner!

Detox Day 6; 7 Day Fast from Negativity

“But” is such a small word but when it is used to make excuses, it great consequences. Beginning with Adam, shifting the blame for his transgression in the Garden, all of us have a tendency to use our “but” when it comes to something that we feel we must make an excuse for.

One of the most famous “buts” in the Bible is found in Numbers Chapter 13 where the 12 spies, sent to scout the land of Canaan return and say to Moses, “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country-a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified.”

“We even saw giants there…We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are…The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge…Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”

 What a sad story. God had delivered them from the hand of the slave-masters of Egypt, miraculously provided for them as they traveled through the desert and brought them to the border of the land He had promised to give them. Everything He had spoken, He had performed. Even when they went in to spy out the land, they saw the fulfillment of God’s promises everywhere. But, when they saw the giants they forgot all of the promises, provisions and acts of God’s great power afraid to talk them out of even trying to possess it. Their fear and low self-esteem was demonstrated when they said, “Yes, it is everything God said it was going to be, BUT, He forgot to tell us there were giants in the land and we are afraid of them”

Their lack of understand concerning the faithfulness of God combined with their low self-esteem to cause them to make up excuses for why they were incapable of possessing the land. In spite of the attempt of Joshua and Caleb to encourage them and to remind them that they were up to the challenge, they chose instead to murmur, complain, accuse God and Moses and even ask to go back to Egypt. As a result, an entire generation dscard animalied in the desert, just short of the things God had prepared for them. Their bodies where free but their minds were still captive!

Let me ask you a very simple question…How big is YOUR BUT?

What are you allowing to hold you back and keep you from the good things of God? Are you looking at the giants or are you looking at the promises of a faithful God? What excuses are you making for not living out your dreams or fulfilling your purpose? What are you saying, “But” to? 

  1. Can the excuses. No more excuses, no more reasons why you can’t…“greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world!” You are more than able to take the land and enjoy the good things He has prepared. No more fear…no more doubt…no more worry…no more excuses or reasons why you can’t…no more buts!

2. Renew your mind to the Word of God. In verse 33 they said, “There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

What a powerful statement. However you see yourself, is the same way the enemy sees you. Your view of yourself becomes the filter through which you perceive life and generally your words will expose what you are really thinking about yourself. All the Word of God to define who you are and what you are capable of. Not your past, other people’s opinions, or even the culture. It’s time to open up the Word and see what God says about you and then begin to declare every day. Renew your mind to His evaluation of your life and your situations and then determine to walk in His provisions and promises.

3.  Begin to declare the promises of God over your life and circumstances. Remember that what is inside of you is infinitely greater anything happening around you. In Philippians 4:13 Paul said, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” You have the same Holy Spirit living within you and giving you the continual strength to handle any situation life can throw at you! Begin to declare you are capable…you are…through His power and strength! You’ve got this…you can do it…no more buts!

Say this with me…“Father I thank you for the price Jesus paid at the Cross to reconcile me to the Father and make me an heir of the promises and provisions of the New Covenant. I believe that through the power of your Word and with the aid of the Holy Spirit who dwells within me I am capable of overcoming in every area of life. Today I declare…no more excuses…no more reasons why I can’t…no more negative thoughts…no more fear, doubt or worry! Every day I am getting stronger and more determined and I will live out my dreams and possess every promise. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Pastor Tim

Detox Day 5; 7 Day Fast from Negativity

Victor Frankl, the famous psychiatrist, went through Auchwitz, the horrific German concentration camp, a place of torture, suffering and death for more than a million helpless people. He said, “They took my clothes, my wife, my kids, my wedding ring. I stood naked before the SS and I realized they can take everything in my life but they cannot take my freedom to choose how I will respond to them.”

Today, I want to talk about one of the deadliest toxins of all…bitterness…bitterness is the fruit of unresolved hurts and unforgiven offenses. The sad truth is, offekids starvingnses will come. All of us are going to have to deal with hurts, betrayal, and conflict in relationships. While we cannot determine what others do to us, we can determine how we respond to what they do. We each have options as to how we respond. Unfortunately, many react with fear, frustration, anger, bitterness or some other form of retaliation. It is the response that determines how it affects us.  It can often affect me more than the wrong done. I can forgive it and grow in the love of the Lord, or I can allow it to stew in my spirit and become bitter and reactionary.

Bitterness is a process. It usually begins with a hurtful situation; someone does something that I believe is an injustice.  The more I think about it and replay it in my mind, the more convinced I become that the other person is responsible for the way I feel.  I then begin to talk about it with those closest to me. My reaction forces them to side with me or risks adding to my pain the element of rejection. The wrongdoing (or perceived wrongdoing), continues to grow from an offense into a root of bitterness that affects me and everyone around me.

Someone said,“Resentment is drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Bitterness is just resentment that has been held on to until it has spoiled. It has become rancid and rotten. The more it is nursed in my heart the worse it gets until it takes control of my life!

• Bitterness not only affects us but it affects others around us.  Look at Hebrews 12:15 which says, “…looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;” The Living Bible says, “hurting many in their spiritual lives.”

Notice the language that it uses: “lest any root of bitterness springing up.” It begins with us and then is spread into the lives of those close to us. They are defiled as well! We force people to take a side, or we respond to others based upon the unresolved issues we have with others. It affects all of our close relationships. It can even affect others’ spiritual lives. The things we may be able to keep in check they may not!

• Bitterness is destructive. The Bible warns “it will cause trouble and defile many.”  The Greek word carries the idea of “contamination or poison”. Bitterness has split more churches, destroyed more marriages, divided more families and caused more strife in relationships than anything else.  Bitterness spreads like gangrene and always causes death.

• It chokes off the word of God from producing in our lives.  I had people who were once productive members say to me, “I’m not getting anything anymore.” It is possible to sit in the atmosphere where the Word is being preached with power and accuracy and receive nothing because your heart has been contaminated. If you are not being built up by the teaching of the Word coming from your pastor, may need to examine your heart! It could be that you are choking off the Word from producing fruit in your life because of an offense or unresolved issue that is growing into bitterness.

• It gives the devil the advantage over you. (Eph.  4:25-27 NIV)  “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. {26} “In your anger do not sin:” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, {27} and do not give the devil a foothold.”

So, how do we respond? Let me first tell you how NOT to respond…

  1. Don’t nurse it. Refuse to allow self-pity to come into your heart. See it as it really is…an attempt of the devil to divide and destroy. Address it quickly with great love and move on!
  2. Don’t rehearse it. The more you think about it, the deeper the hurt goes into your spirit. Make a decision not to think about it. Replace thoughts of hurt, anger or frustration with thoughts of God’s goodness; and always remind yourself that you need forgiveness, therefore YOU must forgive. Booker T. Washington, the famous black scientist, faced prejudice all his life said, “I will never allow another man to control or ruin my life by making me hate him.” Never allow the actions of others to control your emotions or decisions. Proverbs 16:32 says, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his own spirit, than he who captures a city.”
  3. Don’t verse it. Fight the temptation to talk about it, even with your closest friends. Remember the power of words to bring life and death. Choose to leave it under the blood otherwise it will consume your thoughts, conversation and imagination. A small situation can become a monstrous affair if it becomes the centerpiece of your conversations. Instead, allow God to be your vindicator and let it go!

Day 4 of Detox; 7 Day Fast from Negativity

The Book of Numbers, Chapter 13, describes the famous story of Moses sending out spies into the Promised Land. The Lord had Moses pick twelve men whom he considered, “leaders among the people”. These men were Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi, Geuel, Caleb, and Joshua. These leaders had a specific assignment, from verse 18 they were commanded to, “See what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many. “How is the land in which they live, is it good or bad? And how are the cities in which they live, are they like open camps or with fortifications? “How is the land, is it fat or lean? Are there trees in it or not? Make an effort then to get some of the fruit of the land.”p_0004

They spent the next forty days scouting the land to see if it was as good as God had promised them. It was all He had said and more! They came back with a cluster of grapes so large that it could be stuck through with a pole and carried by two men on their shoulders! When the twelve men returned, all of Israel gathered to hear the report they had been waiting for. The spies gave the report that the cities were strong and fortified, and that there were giants in the land. But Caleb said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” Ten of the leaders however disagreed with Caleb saying, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. “There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.””

When the congregation that had gathered was told by these men that they didn’t stand a chance fighting against them, they cried. The Bible says they literally wept all night long! Caleb and Joshua tried to change the people’s minds but nobody would listen to them, in fact the people of Israel began crying out that Joshua and Caleb should be stoned for having faith in what the Lord had promised! Thankfully, later on in the story, we read about the Lord’s salvation of Joshua and Caleb, the death of all of those who had a negative attitude in the desert, and 40 years later we see them successfully lead a new generation of Israelites into the Promised Land.

Think for a minute about the people you surround yourself with. What type of people do you take advice from? Are they Caleb type people? Do they have a positive outlook on life? Or do you find yourself surrounded by people like the ten doubting spies? Far too often we let our views on life be affected by the negativity of people we surround ourselves with. You can only reproduce what you know; negative people spread their negativity to those close by just like a dandelion spreads its seeds everywhere it goes. Caleb’s help you focus on the promises of God, the positive things in a situation, the grapes.

As we work on fasting negativity, allow me to give you 2 challenges…

  1. Give thoughtful, guided prayer to negative people you know. How can you help them have a more positive outlook on life? Maybe share this very blog with them!If you are not lifting them up, the are dragging you down.

It’s also important to not let their negativity affect you, unless you want to die in the desert. You may have to ask…is helping them hurting me? If it is, love yourself enough to pull away and surround yourself with positive influences that will encourage you and help you be all you can be in Jesus.

(Proverbs 27:19 GN) “A mirror reflects a man’s face but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.”

(Proverbs 13:20) “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”

Some of you are involved in toxic relationships that are bringing you down! You need to separate yourself. Otherwise, you will never rise above it. You have to cut it off completely. Remember; not everyone who walks with you to the door of destiny are capable of walking with you THROUGH it…you’ve got to be ok with letting them go.

2. Choose to invest in some meaningful relationships.

(Hebrews 10:25) “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

  • Relationship with God-This is where it all begins. He can’t be just another thing on your list…He has to be first and foremost in your life.
  • Relationship with a church-don’t just go; get connected. Stop looking for the perfect church and just settle down and allow God to begin to use you. Give Church Alive a year and see what God is going to do and then decide if this is where you belong. Have enough staying power to remain put for a year…your life will be better as a result of it!
  • Relationship with a small group-encouragement, prayer, follow-up, support, According to a study at UCLA, the average person needs 8-10 touches daily to be healthy. You need people to cry with, laugh with, hang out with, live life with!
  • Relationship with a team-Everyone need to be on a team-it’s fun, it stretches you and helps you live beyond yourself! It helps you accomplish something you could never do on your own!

Positive relationships are essential to a positive life! You will never become all that God has created you to be by yourself! You need others! You need friendships and partners who will walk with you through life. You need people to fight for you during life’s struggles, people to celebrate with you during the victories, to correct you you’re your wrong, and to encourage you when you’re down; partner with you in the challenges and help you be all you can be!

In day 4, examine your relationships…they are either lifting you up or pulling you down!


Day 3 of Detox; 7 Day Fast of Negativity

What would it take to make you happy? A few years ago, Psychology Today, asked that question of 52,000 Americans. The answers were intriguing…good friends or social life; job; being in love; recognition and success; sex; personal growth; good financial situation; having a house or apartment; being attractive or beautiful; living in a particular city or region of the country; recreation and exercise; being a parent, marriage; a happy partner.

Every week on his radio talk show, Dennis Prager has what he calls “The Happiness Hour,” where people are asked what it takes to be happy. While Dennis does a terrific job of trying to steer people in the right direction, I never cease to be amazed at how the answers so often mirror those of the people interviewed by Psychology Today. The overwhelming majority of people seem to believe that happiness is the result of external things rather than an outflow of what is happening within a person’s heart.

Someone called this the “when and then” thinking. “When I get out of school, then I’ll be happy.” “When I get a job, then I’ll be happy.” “When I get married, then I’ll be happy.” “When I have kids, then I’ll be happy.” “When I lose weight, then I’ll be happy;” “When I retire, then I’ll be happy,” “If I could just win the lottery, then I’d be happy,” and so forth.

As we continue to fast negativity, let’s look at the true source of happiness. In Ecclesiastes 2, Solomon, said, “I decided to enjoy myself and find out what happiness is.” (Verse 1) He went on to say, he had tried it all and found that the three things that most characterize the “when and then mentality;” accumulating things, experiencing pleasures, achieving success are dead ends and do not bring happiness because the human desire for more is never satisfied. Someone asked Howard Hughes, “How much does it take to make a man happy?” He said, “Just a little bit more.”

Solomon sums it up in verse 17 when he says, “All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” The popular ideal of happiness is having the right circumstances. But God’s way to happiness is having the right attitude.

In Matthew Chapter 5 Jesus is giving what most refer to as “The Sermon on the Mount.” He is really teaching on Kingdom perspectives. He is contrasting the typical worldview, with the worldview of those who have embraced the Kingdom of God. He is explaining the type of attitude that brings blessing into a person’s life. We also refer to it as the “Beatitudes,” the attitude to have in order to be blessed. He uses 8 analogies to prove that blessing and happiness has nothing to do with your circumstances. It’s about our outlook on life and how you react to what happens to you. It is your attitude that changes your behavior and positions you for happiness and blessing.

Some translation use the word “Happy” while other use “Blessed.” Both are proper. Happiness is included in the promise of blessing. So, in other words a person who walks in blessing experiences happiness in his or her life. Notice what He says, “Happy are you if you’re poor in spirit for yours is the kingdom of heaven… Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted … Happy are the meek for they will inherit the earth … Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled … Happy are the merciful for they will be shown mercy. Happy are the pure in heart for they will see God. Happy are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God. Happy are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Isn’t it amazing how most of these seem like contradictions? How can you find happiness in the midst of such negative situations?

He places the focus on happiness on our attitude towards what we are facing. Jesus was saying that happiness does not depend on having positive circumstances but rather having the a positive attitude. Happiness is a choice. It is the attitude that says, “What God is doing within me is so infinitely greater that what is happening around me, I choose to be happy!”

Like the once popular Bobby McFerrin song, “Don’t Worry; Be Happy!”

“Here is a little song I wrote; you might want to sing it note for note

Don’t worry be happy; in every life we have some trouble

When you worry you make it double

Don’t worry, be happy……

Ain’t got no place to lay your head; somebody came and took your bed

Don’t worry, be happy

The land lord say your rent is late; he may have to litigate

Don’t worry, be happy

Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style; ain’t got not girl to make you smile

But don’t worry be happy

Cause when you worry your face will frown and that will bring everybody down

So don’t worry, be happy (now)…..

Right now wherever you are…happy or sad, or somewhere in between, you’re about as happy as you choose to be. Life is tough and often times things don’t go your way but happiness comes from choosing the right attitude even in the middle of bad circumstances.

Day 2 of Detox; 7 Day Fast From Negativity

His hands are twisted and useless. He can’t bath himself, feed himself, brush his teeth, comb his hair, or even put on his underwear. His shirts are held together by strips of Velcro. He drags like a worn-out audio cassette. Robert has Cerebral Palsy.

This terrible disease keeps him from driving a car, riding a bike, and going for a walk. But, it didn’t keep him from graduating from High School, or attending Abilene Christian University, where he graduated with a degree in Latin.

Having Cerebral Palsy didn’t keep him from teaching at St. Louis Jr. College or from venturing overseas on 5 mission trips. It didn’t prevent him from becoming a missionary in Portugal either. He moved to Lisbon, alone in 1972, rented a hotel room and began studying Portuguese. He found a restaurant owner who would feed him after rush hour and a tutor who would instruct him in the language.

Then he stationed himself daily in the park where he distributed brochures that told the message of salvation. Within 6 years he had led more than 70 people into faith in Jesus Christ, one whom became his wife Rosa.

When he speaks at special events men have to carry him in his wheelchair onto the platform. He lays his Bible in his lap and with stiff fingers forces open the pages…while people in the audience wipe away their tears.

Robert could have asked for sympathy or pity, but he does just the opposite; he holds his twisted arms and bent hands in the air and declares… “I have everything I need for joy!”

Psalm 77:3 says, “I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed.” Dr. Dale Robbins wrote, “I used to think people complained because they had a lot of problems. But I have come to realize that they have problems because they complain.” Complaining doesn’t change anything or make situations better. It only amplifies the problem and makes us feel as though we’ll never see change.

As the Psalmist wrote Psalm 46, was feeling overwhelmed. It seemed as though everything was in turmoil and confusion. Everything that was normally stable was now in disarray. Notice his response when he writes…“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled ; though the mountains shake with its swelling. …be still and know that I am God and I will be exalted…”

The Hebrew says, “Relax; I’m still God and I will be exalted even in this!”

You see, sometimes we can’t determine the conditions or circumstances of our lives, but we can determine how they affect us. As you read this, you may be feeling weary, overwhelmed, or emotionally exhausted. Maybe circumstances have taken a turn for the worse. It may seem as though everything is going wrong. Your heart is broken, tears are flooding your eyes, and your dreams have been dashed on the rocks. But it is in times like these that you must remember that there is something within you that is infinitely greater than anything around you. There is something that stress, pain, disappointment or betrayal cannot take away…your power to choose a good attitude.

Even in the worst of times, He is still Lord, you are still His child. Brother Schambach used to say, “When you feel fed up, it you can just keep your head up, there will be a let up and you will see the victory!” If you can maintain a positive attitude, you will rise above your critics, your circumstances and even your mistakes.

You always have a reason to be positive. Even on your worst day, you are still born-again, covered by the blood, protected by angels, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, on your way to heaven and an heir of every promise in the Bible!

Make a decision to nurture joy and thankfulness in your heart whether we feel like it or not.  Choose today to meditate upon the promises of God! Negative circumstances are never acceptable reasons for negative living! They are excuses but not reasons! Regardless of where you’re living, or what you are driving; even if you have no money , your clothes have holes in them, your house is in foreclosure, and there is pain in your body…choose to give God thanks. Keep your head up! Help is on the way! Your positive attitude will give you the strength to keep pressing on until the circumstances change..and they will. “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning…”it’s morning time!

What Are You Looking For? Detox; 7 Day Fast From Negativity

Today, as we begin our 7 Day Detox from NEGATIVITY, I want to re-post the first blog from our “40 Day Fast From Negativity” campaign we did a couple of years ago. I was re-reading it and realized, I need to be reminded over and over again that in business, relationships, ministry and life in general, you tend to find exactly what you’re looking for. They key is to learn to look for the right things…things that will lift and empower rather than things that limit you and hold you back!vultures

Both the hummingbird and the vulture fly over the nation’s deserts. All vultures see is rotting meat, because that is what they’re looking for. They thrive on a diet of dead, rotting flesh.

Hummingbirds ignore and avoid the pungent smell of the flesh of rotting animals. Instead, they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants. The vultures live on what was; the past. They gorge themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is; they seek new life; feeding themselves with that which is fresh and sweet!

The amazing thing is, each bird finds what it is looking for. And, in a sense, we all do. If you believe the world is mean and cruel, every time someone cuts you off in traffic, or mistreats you in any manner, it will just reaffirm that the whole world is filled with mean, angry people who wish you ill. But is you have a different attitude and perspective on life and people, when someone mistreats you, you consider the possibility that they may be in a hurry, or just having a bad day. Instead of responding to aggression and negativity with more of the same, you pray for them, act lovingly and overcome evil with good.

Psalm 1 tells us, “BLESSED (HAPPY, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night.” (AMP)

Do you realize that your level of blessing depends upon what you meditate and think on? How differently would your life be if you could change your outlook on life and the emotions that your outlook inspires? What if you could make decisions without the fear of the mistakes or failures of the past catching up with you? You can by simply changing your attitude!

How do we change our attitude?

  • Change your thought life. “As a man thinks so is he.”
  • Monitor Your Words. “Life and death are in your mouth and you decide which you empower.”
  • Look for the good even in the midst of the bad.

Oftentimes life is more about perspective than it is reality; the glass is either half-full or half-empty depending on your attitude and how you see it!

Remember there are always negatives and positives in every person or situation. As Abe Lincoln once said, “You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have roses.” It’s a matter of perspective. The person who experiences a positive life, is the person who develops the habit of looking for the best even in the worst of conditions.

It’s always possible to look for something good, even when things are falling apart if you are willing to look hard enough. Like the Vulture and the Hummingbird, the extraordinary fact is, that when you look for and seek after good you will find it; and if you look for and expect bad, you’ll find it too. What are you looking for?

When Israel came to the border of the Land of Canaan, they had a choice to either focus upon the blossoming bounty of grapes or the massive, gruesome giants; to see a land flowing with milk and honey, or a place with fortified cities occupied by unconquerable armies. We too have to choose what we will focus upon and, generally, it’s going to come down to what we’re looking for!

Let’s apply this principle to a marriage. If you always looking for the faults, weaknesses or what’s wrong with your partner and, center the bulk of your attention on the negatives, you are going to be dissatisfied and unhappy. And, in addition you’ll never draw out the potential in your spouse; only their worst. Eventually your marriage will fall into a nit-picking; negative, destructive cycle. Spouses tend to live up to or down to the level of expectation you place on them.

How do you break this kind of cycle in your marriage, or in your family, or in any other area of life? The answer is, start looking for what is good and focus on that.  If you want things to go well in relationships – if you want a good attitude then you need to focus on the positive. Make a decision to look for the good in every situation and every person and you will find it. No matter how bad things are there is still something good if you look deeply enough. Begin to give God praise, focus on the positive; it will change your attitude and transform the quality of your life!

“Why Are You Feeling Like This?”

Originally posted on pastortimwalker:

A few years ago, as I was leaving the platform after preaching at The Potter’s House in Jacksonville, Florida, a lady came to me asking for prayer. She said, “I wish I could believe what you just preached, but I’ve lost so much, I just don’t see how things could ever be like they were before!” I said to her, “That’s the beauty of the way God restores…He doesn’t just make things like they were before, He makes them better than they’ve ever been!”

I believe God has a plan for your life…each of you was created with design and precision because you have a destiny and purpose. There’s a reason why you’re alive…you could have been born at any moment in history but God sovereignty chose for you to be alive now…there is something special and unique He’s designed for your!

In fact Isaiah 41:4 says, referring to God,

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