Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Looking Through A Knothole

Two people approach the massive stadium. Both can hear the crowd as they cheer and prepare for the game. Both can smell the popcorn and roasting hotdogs. As the first pitch is tossed to the batter both are looking at the game, but they see it in very different ways.

One of these men had a ticket and has now found his place in section C, row 15, seat 9. The other,...he is a boy without a ticket who is attempting to see the game through a knothole in the wooden fence down the first base line. One will see every pitch, every stolen base and will see the full flight of a home-run that will clear the centerfield fence. The other fellow, will only get small glimpses of a play or two here and there. He can only see the batter for twenty five feet as he runs between second and third. From the knothole, he can buy no popcorn and will miss so much of the dynamics of the game...but he will go home and tell his friends he went to the game.

Now lets talk about religion in a similar context. God has a bigger game going on than most people know. He is doing a mighty work in the world, reaching nations with the gospel of salvation. But traditional religion is the knothole that is preventing many good people from getting into the game.

I used to see the work of God through a knothole of denominationalism. I really thought I was seeing the 'whole' game. It was exciting to think that our little group had all of the truth...would be the only ones in heaven....and had the corner on the market concerning ministry. I mean, if the preachers who preached on TV weren't exactly of my branch of believers, they were just wasting their time.

Then one day the Lord allowed me to get a ticket to the 'ballpark'. Once I got inside, I realized the doubts I had were real and valid. Did you ever think that if your denomination is the only one saved, then heaven is going to have a lot of extra room if it is 1500 miles square? Maybe you are like the Jehovah's Witness who believe there will only be a select 144,000 saved! Boy, talk about a lot of room in heaven.

Perhaps you took a look at sincere people who love God more than you do....who have spent their entire lives studying the Word....have sacrificed more than you for the Kingdom....and you can still cluck your tongue and think..."How sad that they do not know the 'truth'." Knotholes limit the view my friend! Religion does that. When you are taught it one way long enough, you are prone to think your knothole is the whole picture. It is quite an awakening when I realized there are other missionaries in the world...other evangelists...other devout followers of Jesus. I met a man who is over more than 400 pastors in Bulgaria. He has miraculous stories of God's power! Oh yes...and he is an independent missionary!

Last night I went to a church service with approx 5000 people in attendance. Mind you that is more than twice the number of people that came to a 'statewide' campmeeting when I was seeing through the knothole. In that one service I saw more than 250 people saved. Yes...saved! Not according to my former knothole view...but saved according to the Bible, to God's Word, in accordance with the understanding of the greater body of Christ's understanding of salvation, and in accordance with history. I studied Acts afresh and discovered that Peter preached more than the Acts 2 sermon. His other sermons are just as important and valid. Further, Acts 2 aligns with the body of evidence. You can't build a doctrine on one verse. That is knothole religion. Ignore all of this if you want to, but God wants to do some great things. He wants you to see a picture of the Kingdom in a bigger way than you have previously known.

My dreams and vision has been enlarged since I have been inside the ballpark. I really believe the possibility of growing a great church and influencing my part of the globe for Jesus Christ is possible. I believe it because I got a view from a place larger than a knothole. You can too!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Created a Great Memory

I preach about making memories. Admittedly this is easier said than done. I realize that I must be the first partaker of what I preach and sometimes that is easier said than done. However, this week I hit the nail on the head and I want to share it with you.

My parents have been through a lot of adversity. They have been the truest of family and friends as they have also stood with me through adversity of my own. My dad has gone through 10...yes ten, back surgeries. He almost died last year. During that time I told dad that one dad we'd go fishing again just like we did when I was a boy. My mother is about to undergo her second back surgery. (what is it with these ailing backs?) She is a true Christian and loves the Lord completely. She also loves to fish.

So, one evening last week I arranged to take my parents fishing. They secured their fishing license while I got the boat ready. We went over to Beaver lake and spent the evening fishing, trolling for white bass. We had such a good time and even hooked up with about 7 or 8 fish in two hours. Afterward, Trish and I took them out to eat. It was a wonderful evening that my folks are still commenting about.

Let me encourage you to do a little extra to make the memories that will last a lifetime. We created a great memory and I hope you will do the same.

God bless you and your family,


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Success and Its Many Foes

There is much writing that has been done on the subject of success. The bookshelves at the local bookstore are loaded with the topic. And...rightfully so. Regardless of whether you drive a beemer or a beetle, everyone would like to be successful.

Success, however, is not merely measured in the amounts of ones stocks or bonds. Money not withstanding, success has much more to do with that inner feeling of accomplishment, of having won against something that would have otherwise held you down. In order to really understand success, we should identify a few of the common foes or enemies who so often stand in the way.

1. Lack of Motivation - anyone who ever succeeded at anything has to be highly motivated. This motivation can either be of a positive nature or a negative one. In other words, some are driven to succeed b/c they want to further a family business, while others are driven to succeed b/c they are jealous of another's business. Either way, highly motivated people are the ones who succeed. I see folks destined for mediocrity who can scarcely get there behind off of the sofa. Motivation is internal and unless one catches it for themselves, it is difficult to motivate someone into success.

2. Failure - it is really what you do after you first do not succeed that demonstrates the real you. Failure is common to us all. But failure should be used as a springboard to fall forward and to overcome. A lot of people shut down when they fail b/c they feel humiliated, feel like the world is against them. Recognize early that you must live your life as tho it is just you and the Lord working out the details. If you listen to the roar of the crowd they will drive you nuts b/c people are fickle. They are your friend one day and your enemy the next. They'll applaud your entrance into the stadium one Sunday and boo you out the next. So forget about the grandstands. Your success is determined between your ears and your elbow! Failure cannot stop you if you truly want success.

3. Loss of Perspective - For every 100 people who begin a journey toward success, usually only 5 or fewer finish. The balance settle for less. One of the chief reasons for this is what occurs between the onset of the journey and the completion of it. At the beginning, vision and purpose is clear. The objective is known and the pathway to it, established. Yet, the days turn to months and months to years. In that process, the vision has to be revisited. A successful person is always re-establishing their location and their goal. If perspective is lost, then energy is spent merely moving, but not necessarily moving toward the objective. The bible says, "Without a vision the people perish!" How true. Loss of perspective has been the death of many a dream.

5. Fatigue - Weariness is like a leech. It sucks the life-blood from you. The daily grind literally grinds away the edge, the drive and finally the dream. There must be periods of rest along the way wherein the mind, body and emotions can be regenerated. Everything given out has to be taken back in and replenished in order to maintain a good pace toward success. Remember, the race to success is a marathon and not a sprint. There certainly are times one must give it his all in order to capture the moment, but in the end we all have to learn to take some time away, realizing this is as vital to the dream as the work itself.

There are many more foes, but these are some common ones for you and me to consider. I hope you will think about where you are headed and be honest enough to admit if the course you are taking can really get you to your dreams. God want us to be successful as long as our success brings Him honor. So in all things, give glory to God!