Posts tagged ‘power’

The Life of the Party

The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone.  John 1:4

Have you ever met someone who was the “life of the party?” You know, that person whose personality is so big that her mere presence fills the room. It’s the guy who transforms a boring gathering into a fun and memorable time by telling stories that somehow motivates everyone else to tell a story. Before you know it, hours have passed and it’s time to go home. But not before you feel energized, renewed, uplifted. And why? All because of the words, the stories, of him or her who shared from the heart and ignited your heart.

Such is the story of creation. John paints a picture of Jesus being the “Life of the party” on earth. There was nothing but chaos on this earth. In Genesis 1 we read the earth was without form and was void. There was no life. There was no heart. And then Jesus showed up. He came into a chaotic, lifeless, meaningless space and became the “Life of the party.” If Jesus is there, there is a gathering of life, meaning, purpose, healing, and love. He will turn your gathering into a party. He will transform your chaos into beauty. He will mold your doubt into faith. He will lift you from the pit of despair to the mountaintop of grace. And He does all of this through the power of His WORD!

When the principles of quantum physics are applied in leadership and organizations, we see the power of leadership and the energy of an organization are proportional to the truth of the information and the extent to which it is shared with every person in that organization. Our words matter. Why? Because they reflect our thoughts and beliefs. Jesus is THE Word. He embodies truth and hope and love. The fact that John describes Him as the Word reveals a deep truth about Jesus — He is more than the sum of truth, hope, and love because He is the Word imparting the power of the eternal truth, the everlasting hope, and the unconditional love of His Father to transform, regenerate, and recreate our lives today.

So when you take time to talk with Jesus, try giving the Word time to transmit His message of truth, hope, and love to you. Take time to listen, absorb, appreciate, and understand the Word. In my experience, this is time well spent. After all, the Word spoke the world into existence. Imagine what the Word can do in your life and mine today. He wants to bring life to your party!

Do You Know Your Weaknesses?

…For when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Corinthians 12:10

I stayed with my sister in Florida the summer after I graduated from high school. It was a great summer with many life lessons along the way. Among the greatest lessons I learned was the limits of my own abilities. I have always struggled with an ongoing dichotomy in my soul. At one extreme there are days when I think I can do anything. And then there are the days I don’t think I’m good enough to accomplish a single thing. The fact is that each of these attitudes are simply opposite sides of the same coin, self-worth.

That summer I was given the opportunity to paint the living room, kitchen, and master bedroom of a church member’s home. I would be leaving Florida                        in a week and thought I had plenty of time to complete the task. The pay was attractive and I had painted for my brother-in-law back in Indiana the past two summers. So this would be easy. After four days on the job and not even close to being half done, I discovered that painting was far more complicated that I had realized. It was one thing to focus on a single task for the day as one following instructions, but quite another thing to be responsible for every aspect of the job. That is when my sister came to my rescue and helped me complete the job within the next two days.

There are times when I  think I can lead a church, make life decisions, and overcome any temptation without God’s help. The real problem is that I can do quite a bit without His help. We all can. But then along comes the bumps in the road. Every road has them. These bumps include the projects I can’t quite complete, the temptations I can’t quite overcome, and the life decisions I can’t quite get a handle on. Not only do the bumps inevitably come, but they come at the most inopportune times. They come four days into a project with no hope of completing it. They come right after I thought victory was a done deal. They come immediately after I was certain I had all the answers.

The apostle Paul learned to embrace the bumps in his road once he learned to embrace his weaknesses. Once he recognized his weakness as an opportunity to experience God’s grace, goodness, and strength, his self worth actually grew. And so it can be with us. The more clearly we identify our own weaknesses, the greater the blessings we will be prepared to receive from God. I have learned in leadership that general ideas never lead to specific actions. And so the more specifically I understand my own weaknesses, the more specific are the blessings and power God is yearning to bestow upon me.  

The strength I receive from God is in proportion to the weakness I recognize in myself. It is in this context I believe Paul could say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) I am spending time today identifying my weaknesses as I submit my life once again to the power and strength to Him who can do more than I could ever ask or think. The road to strength comes in the bumps of recognizing my own weaknesses. Do you know your weaknesses? 

What Do You Expect?

As they [Peter and John] approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”   Acts 3:2-6

When my daughter, Sally, asked me to run a marathon with her, I expected to get into shape. I had tried several times in the past to run on a regular basis. I would buy the right shoes and running clothes to be successful. I would set aside a time each day to run. But something would always happen that derailed my best efforts. So I decided to give this a try with Sally with the expectation that I would simply be more fit. 

We see a story in Acts of man who had temporal expectations of his needs being fulfilled at the temple. He was taken to the temple to get a little money to survive another day. He was being reasonable. He was not asking for the world. Like me with running, he simply wanted to be a little better off for the experience. But Peter knew God had so much more to give this man. So he said, “Look at us!” It’s as if Peter was slapping him in the face to get his attention. He was at the temple of God, after all! He was at the place where miracles occurred, lives were changed, sins forgiven, and power experienced. 

But instead of giving him money, Peter healed the man in the name of Jesus. The fact is that Jesus gives us far more than we ask if we can only accept it. But our expectations can get in the way. This man was focused on his own condition thinking he could never change, never be healed, never be able to be a blessing to anyone else. And so he was seeking a few coins to make it on this earth without thought of the new earth. He was seeking temporal gain without a burning desire for eternal transformation. He was living in his own kingdom rather than the Kingdom of God. 

The goal of completing a marathon changed my approach to running. I read books on how to train, what to eat, when and how far to run. Sally was my Peter. When I made excuses, she said, “Look, we can do this!” Once I began, I realized I had failed at running in the past because I had only focused on the temporal expectations. Once I began training for a marathon, those meager expectations were shattered by the reality of the eternal and spiritual benefits God had in store for me. Running became an obsession that changed my life. I found it to be a spiritual experience that helped me face issues in my life I didn’t even realize were there. I learned the connection between my mind and my body. In the process, I learned the importance of living from the heart that allowed me to connect with Sally, and others, in ways I never thought possible. It was during my training runs that I connected in God more deeply that allowed me to hear His call into pastoral ministry.

What are your expectations for life? What are your expectations today? Too often we live for temporal benefits alone. We go to work expecting nothing more than a paycheck. We do our errands expecting nothing more than getting bills paid and the groceries bought. But God is saying to each one of us each day, “Look at ME!” When we look at Him, He will heal our broken hearts, correct our screwed up thoughts, and transform our weakened lives. When we focus on the temporal, the best we can do is get in a little better shape. When we look at Him, we gain the eternal realities of faith and love that become a part of everything we do in every circumstance with every person every day.

The Time of Your Life

“The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 1:7-8

From my third year of medical school in 1980 until I retired from medicine in 2004, there were only two years that I had control of the call schedule. This occurred when I was the department chair at the US Naval Hospital in Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines. And those were the two toughest years of my professional life, largely because of my authority over the time my colleagues would be required to work in the hospital. When we were “on call,” we took care of every obstetrical and gynecological patient who would come to the hospital for evaluation and treatment. With 52 weeks in a year and 3 physicians to cover those weeks, one physician always had to take one more week of call than the other two. So there was constant tension. Time is the most precious commodity on earth. 

So when Jesus tells us that God has authority to set dates and times, I find it very reassuring. I want God, who knows the end from the beginning and is full of mercy and grace, to be in charge of how much more time sin will be allowed to exist on this earth. As a follower of Jesus, the Father sets my call schedule.  Just like a physician on call has been given power to provide the necessary treatment for people who come to the hospital, we see from our text today that Christ-followers are given power by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses for Jesus. To be a witness for Jesus simply means that we are His hands and feet to care for the hungry, the homeless, the thirsty, the sick, and the imprisoned.

Jesus gave this response in answer to the following question asked by the apostles, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and store our kingdom.” In other words, they were asking if they could get off the call schedule. They didn’t want to take care of any more sick people. They wanted to be in charge of their time. They wanted to do their own thing. And the truth is, we do too!

But Jesus says that the Father alone is in charge of our time.  It’s a simple message really. But it calls me into account. I don’t make the call schedule. I do not have control over how much time I have. But I am in control over how I use the time I have. And for that, God has given me all the power of the universe at my disposal. So I ask myself as I ask you, What are you doing with each second of each day? Do you even think about it? Have you been a witness to others of the love of Jesus in your life? When you truly think about it, the only way to have the time of your life is to give your life to Jesus.

Power to Change

It was time to buy a third car for the family. Sally and Kelsey had their drivers licenses and Eric Jr would be turningwebsite graphic that age soon. I decided a VW Passat would be the perfect solution for our travel needs. I purchased a basic model at a good price. It wasn’t until several months later when driving the car into Chicago that I realized the reason for the “good” price – the size of the engine. I had not noticed the lack of power driving around town. But when I drove it on the highway and needed acceleration to get around trucks and maneuver in the traffic around Chicago, the car’s lack of power was obvious. If you’re going to change lanes in Chicago, you better have the power to do it!

Life is the same way. We too often find ourselves with habits, character flaws, and even addictions we want to change. But when we find ourselves with the power of my Passat, we feel trapped in our lane with everyone passing us by. Without the necessary power, there is no hope to change lanes on the highways through Chicago or the highway of life we are traveling right now. Yes, power is the key to change. The real issue is where you find the power. Do you find it in “doing” or in “being”?

Those of us who want to change a behavior by doing make the fatal mistake of focusing on behavior. This approach leads us to believe that if you simply tell yourself to change, then change will happen. You don’t need anyone else, you can simply change on your own. With this approach, you simply need to do the right thing, do the desired behavior. The issue with doing in order to change is that it ignores the primary issue of stop doing what is causing you the problem in the first place. Yes, in order to change it always involves stopping the undesired behavior. In our car analogy, this is when you stop driving in your current lane. But you need power to cease being in the same lane of life! 

The truth is that you need to focus on “being” if you really want to change. This approach recognizes the power of the unwanted behavior is rooted within your own beliefs. This is because what you believe drives how you behave. Being determines doing! So what you really need is to discover the misbelief you are harboring deep within yourself that is creating the unwanted behavior in the first place. By focusing on “being” you are acknowledging the fact that there is power in belief. This is why Jesus says, “I am the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Discover Him. Be with Him. And you will have all the power you need to change lanes on the highway of life.

I’ll talk about this at our 11:00am (PST) service on Saturday, May 11, 2013. Or you can listen to it on our website, by May 13.   

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