Archive for the ‘Something to think about’ Category

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I have a friend who by earthly standards is incredibly successful. In fact, when I look at his “Midas touch” in business, I find myself amazed at what he has done and continues to do. I won’t go into all of his business statistics because frankly, they are mind-boggling but suffice it to say, my friend is very gifted with a business mind. That being said, along with wealth comes all the “stuff” right? Cars, houses, vacations etc. everything on this earth that I wouldn’t mind having myself and it’s very easy to look at his life and all of his stuff and do what the Bible called…covet. Coveting is wanting what someone else has and throughout the Bible we are presented with scenarios that show that coveting never turns out well for the coveter. In fact, coveting is one of the 10 commandments…that is how much God didn’t want us to look at our neighbor and lust for their stuff.

Now, I know that I am not telling any one anything you don’t already know. This is a very old lesson and many of us are humbled each time we find ourselves going down the coveting path. My only purpose in talking today is taking a look at this idea of what he has, versus what I have. You see, when I mentioned my friend before, I was careful to say “by earthly standards” is he rich. One thing I have learned over time is everything I see around me is temporary…EVERYTHING. It will all go away at some point with the biggest being ME. I am not going to live forever nor do I want to…at least, here.

(Side note: I do believe I will live forever in another place that is being prepared for me and there, coveting and comparisons to other people all go away.)

My point is when I compare what I have accomplished to what he has accomplished, it is very easy to think something went wrong however, I am very quick to point out to all of you that is EXACTLY what Satan wants you to think. He wants you to think you are a failure and you aren’t worth anything.

WRONG…

The Bible tells us:

Jeremiah 29:11-14 (ESV) 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord..

The Bible also tells us this:

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV) 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

So as I continue to ponder the “why” of my of my supposed earthly “predicament” as to why I am not rich, I am reminded of the lesson God wanted me to understand in the first place;

Each day of my life, I am depositing my future wealth into a far better place than this temporary one called earth.

Please remember this guys-

I hope that statement above will give you hope as it does me. Frankly, if I believe it faithfully, it will allow me to spend less time wondering why, and more time enjoying the life God has blessed me with right now.

Would that make a difference for you too?

 

Until next time guys…

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Would it make any difference to you if you could have background knowledge of events before they happened so that you would “know what to do” when the time came? Do you think that just having that understanding might give you more of a sense of confidence in this world because you knew what was going to happen?

I think the easy answer is yes to these questions because understanding is so important when events are happening around us. To possess the knowledge of maybe when to go, or when to stay, or when to speak, or when not to can be the difference between success and failure no matter what our situation.

Many people call what I am describing here discernment. Webster defines discerning as: to perceive by the sight or some other sense or to recognize as distinct or different.

Can you imagine the capability to discern what the intent was in any situation? Can you imagine having the ability to discern what was going on right now, in this age? To actually recognize something you and I see for what it is, and even more importantly, know what you should do about it?

I found an example of this very idea in the Bible that caused me to think about this topic and how this might apply to you and me. It is a very short verse but nonetheless, very powerful in its meaning:

…men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do-200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command; 1 Chronicles 12:32

In the research I have done on the Men of Issachar, I have learned that whole books and sermons have been written and preached over just these few words.

The set up for this verse is that the Philistines have killed Saul and David has been anointed King over Israel. He has been living in Hebron prior to him taking back Jerusalem as his kingdom however during his time in Hebron, warriors came from all over to join his army and as the writer of Chronicles tells us in verse 22, Day after day men came to help David, until he had a great army, like the army of God. One of these groups joining him were the men of Issachar, one of the 12 tribes of Israel. I think it is important to point out here in scripture, they receive special mention because of out of all the tribes; they discerned what God was doing by bringing David to the throne and as a result, they understood the specific circumstances as God revealed to them through discernment.

These men had received from God the gift of discernment and used it in the way He wanted them to. In this instance, they recognized that this was a crucial time – the 11 tribes of Israel were without a leader, without guidance, and a model to follow. This was a time for special understanding. It was a time for real discernment.

But to me, the most compelling part of this verse is; they knew what Israel should do.

 I come back to one of my original questions from the beginning:

Can you imagine knowing what to do and the right time you should do it?

If you said yes, then join the club because who wouldn’t want that ability?

But the reality is guys is that any of us can have this ability and all we have to do is ask. But understand up front from me that Spiritual discernment is far more than a skill, but rather it is a gift from God. Moreover, God can only give it to you if you do the following:

One who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (I John 4:8)

Guys, God wants you plugged into Him for the answers you need everyday and if you can do that, if you will seek Him constantly, daily, all the time, He will give you the discernment necessary to make the right decisions for you and your family.

I will not lie to you. This process takes effort from you. You have to do the heavy lifting by getting on your knees and talking to Him about your life, your family and all the difficult stuff. Your relationship with God is just like muscle, if you don’t physically exercise, your muscles get atrophied and soft. On the other hand, when you do exercise, your muscles stay strong and can bear a tremendous amount of stuff this world will throw at you.

If you exercise your relationship with God, I can guarantee you a different result when you ask for discernment.

There…you now have the answers to the test.

The question is…what are you going to do about it?

 

Until next time guys-

Happy New Year from IronmanStrength!

Blue sign points the way to happiness

I heard someone the other day make this statement to me about how unhappy his life is and all of the troubles he is going through right now. He said that after all the bad stuff he has had to deal with, he believes now he has paid the price and is due some happy times because he deserves to be happy.

Is that how our lives are supposed to be? We struggle with daily trials and difficulties whether we are married or single. We deal with our kids, our jobs, and our families and once we reach a certain point, the scale tips and then things start to go our way? Is that part of God’s plan?

But what does God think? Does He say, “Well this guy has been on my “bad” list for 6 months but now I am going to switch him over to my good list to balance things out”.

Sometimes I think we work hard in our minds to assume that God thinks like we do.

Everyday, all of us hear that something isn’t fair or, we need to balance that out when all along God never promised us happiness and bliss while here on earth.

I know what I am about to say will not excite anyone but the reality is, who are you or who am I that we would challenge God about anything? The idea that God needs to bring me happiness in this life or else is ludicrous and frankly, just selfish. I have said this before, God is God and we are NOT. If we approach God on those terms, HE WILL NOT HEAR US. The Bibles tells us to, humble thyself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up. James 4:10

There is a character in the Bible that maybe you have heard of or maybe not called Paul. Before he was Paul however, he was called Saul and before he was an Apostle, he was on a mission to exterminate Christians from the early church (Acts 9:1). Saul was NOT a nice guy. But as we see in the same series of verses (Acts 9:1-17), God had a very different idea about who Saul was and how He would use him for His own purposes. God’s intent was to save Saul and use an actual enemy of Christianity as a force for His good.

My main point in using this story today is to simply draw your attention to a single verse from Christ at the point of Saul’s conversion.

For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name. Acts 9:16

When I read this, my first thought was Christ was getting retribution from Saul for all of the persecution he inflicted upon Christians by making him suffer too. But then I realized that was not the case at all, Christ was foreshadowing the many statements that Paul himself would make as he walked his own Christian journey.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

 

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5

 

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.     Philippians 1:27-30 (NKJV)

 

Through his own suffering, Paul experienced an amazingly, intimate relationship with Christ that he would never give up for anything he had before. There are so may examples of how Paul went through prison and torture and still praised God.

Read this from Paul’s own words:

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.

 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move.

 I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.

 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

2 Corinthians 11:23-27

 

So am I suggesting that we focus on just suffering for God? No, I’m not. What I am suggesting is that my original question is flawed because we are NOT on this earth to be “JUST” happy. God never promised us that. He never told us that life on this earth would be pure bliss and our existence is just about being happy. I do think the world we live in does make that a priority. What God did tell us is that HE WOULD BE WITH US as we walked down the path. One thing I can say with confidence, bad things will happen but in Him, we can find ways to move forward even though we may be in pain. God does NOT owe you or me anything. You have been given a freewill to choose either the easy path or the hard one. (Luke 13:24)

I encourage you to read what Paul wrote about the pain of his life and his journey as a way to help inspire you on yours. (Philippians 3: 7-11) If we can gain the right perspective about our life here on earth and NOT think that God owes us anything, it will change the way you think and pursue God but more importantly, the suffering you may experience along the way will be different. How?

God will use your suffering to make you stronger in Him. I know it sounds crazy but if you rely on God while on the path, He will get you through safely and over to the other side.

I leave you with one more word from Paul:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11

 

Until next time guys…

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For the last several years, I have had the pleasure of working with an atheist who is 100% adamant that there is no God, or any god, in this universe. Her premise is simple; she is here and she makes her own way through life and there really isn’t much after that. Our conversations about this topic tend to be very short because in her mind, there really isn’t another side to this argument. She refuses to accept the notion that there is a higher power and that He created this world from scratch. She tells me what she thinks sometimes, but it just sounds like a rationalized excuse.

Now it has never been my job to judge anyone because they have the beliefs they have. All I can do is share and then let God do the heavy lifting in their lives. What is always hard though is when you think about the physical examples that God has given us to recognize Him as we see in nature or as we learn more about the human body and how the microscopic world functions on our behalf. All these things that we didn’t know but have discovered along the way, they always were there but now discovered, are an example of the kind of Creator we serve.

All of these physical examples have not swayed my coworker into any acceptance of what she sees around here having any connection to a God.

Honestly, that fact alone scares the heck out of me because of these verses:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:18-20

Please inspect these verses carefully and understand the critical nature of what they mean for you, for me, and my friend. God expects us to recognize Him by what we see around us. This verse explains that, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen and separated from what has been made.

In other words, what MAN has made versus what God has made.

Man builds a skyscraper. God creates a mountain. Man discovers DNA. God invented DNA. Man can perform surgery on the human body. God created the human body.

Do you see the difference?

Then there are the constant physical examples like Yosemite, or the Pacific Ocean, the miracle of birth with your own children…all these examples around you that if you wanted to, you can try and make an excuse, or labor to explain all of what you see because of just science, but I speak the truth when I say to you…You cannot go about your daily lives living in ignorance.

As the verse clearly explains…In Gods eyes, we are without excuse. We have our time here on earth to get this right. We don’t get a “do-over” and we certainly don’t get a chance to explain to Him why we didn’t choose to believe when we had the chance to. We have the here and now. One time through this world and that is it. We get to choose 100% of which direction we should go and where we spend eternity is determined by what we believe.

This post is NOT intended to upset you, but when I see Gods word communicated so clearly for this generation, I put it into a blog so you can see it also.

My only goal is that you too will look around you at the examples God has shown us as examples of His presence and see for yourself.

Would you do me a favor and look closely first and then make your decision?

 

Until next time guys…

 

 

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I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, (Ephesians 4:1 ESV)

 

I have a friend that always tells other men to “man up” when he thinks they are not acting in a manner worthy of their gender. He always laughs at their reaction because they are usually stunned when he tells them. Most recently, he surprised someone I know with this same declaration only this time it got me thinking about this idea that we have all been called by God to be something really special only many of us are just not living up to that call.

What I mean is, what this verse above actually says, “walk in the manner that is worthy of the calling”. Guys, this is Paul the Apostle talking. Remember him? He was a punching bag for almost his entire ministry but yet he continued to stand worthy of Gods calling throughout his many journeys. This guy was literally responsible for enormous church planting in the beginning in the early days of the gospel. Yet sometimes his message wasn’t received, and as a result, he was beaten, imprisoned or even worse…

Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; (2 Corinthians 11:23-25 ESV)

Here is a guy that honestly could have quit early on in his ministry solely based upon injuries alone…but he didn’t. He could have chosen to quit when his message was rejected…but he didn’t quit then either. Instead, he constantly made statements like “he rejoices in his sufferings…”

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5:3-4 ESV)

 

What is my point?

As a believer in Christ, you have been called to be His follower. That means something. That means you MUST act different than you did before you were a believer. Paul reminds us that we need to walk a walk that is truly worthy of His calling on our life.

Don’t assimilate into the culture… Separate yourself

It may cause some discomfort…but trust me…Christ has your back…

 

Until next time guys…

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The last installment of this 3-part series involves the story of the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25. When these last 3 posts are woven together, they give us a true understanding of what our role as faithful Christians is to be while we wait for Christ’s return. In this parable, you see the characters are working diligently and with initiative while waiting for their master’s return. That is our job too as we move through our own lives…we must be working all the time WHILE we wait. Let me explain further…

On a quick side note, one sharp difference though is that we are not called to drop out of our lives and plant ourselves on top of a hill top and wait for Christ’s return…no. We are told to be careful prudent planners with an eye for the future. Remember what Christ said in Luke 14:

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish’ (Luke 14:28-30 NIV)

The Parable of the Talents is the one that commends faithful work while the master is away as well prudent planning. The rich master travels far away and gives each of the 3 men a portion of his wealth to manage while he is away. Two of them proceed to take the initiative and double their masters money while the third one buries his portion.

When the master returns, he rewards the first two with great opportunity. He says to them both, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

But the third guy, who had just one talent to take care of, was a different story altogether. As mentioned, he did not invest his talent but rather decided his best course of action was to hide it and return it to his master when the time was right. As the master said in his anger, “Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest!” But, he didn’t even do that.

While the master was away, two out of the 3 men immediately set to work, without being told, by trading and investing their masters talents. They worked hard while he was away and I would imagine, stressed somewhat at times as the market swayed back and forth, always striving to improve their situation. They did not rest but continued working faithfully until their masters return.

The third guy had a different mindset. He decided to do what HE wanted to do while the master was away. Maybe he convinced himself that by burying the money, he was avoiding financial risk? Whatever the case was, he simply was evading his duty. The money the master gave him would never make any profit.

Finally, I think the hardest part for me to grasp about this story was this third guy’s lack of responsibility and his complacency on his requirement of giving an account for the money he represented while the master was away. He just didn’t care or thought that day would never come? I am not sure. But what is worse was his attempt to blame the master for his own poor management when he was called to give an account. He was caught in his pattern of doing absolutely nothing and ultimately, he would pay a very stiff price.

Jesus tells us in this parable that the third guy is cast into the imagery of Hell:

“And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30 NIV)

I say imagery because this same language is used in other parts of the Bible to represent Hell and the torture that it there…and will be for those unfortunate souls who will enter there.

Guys, this is a very simple story but yet represents a very clear picture of what we are supposed to be doing while we wait for Christ’s return. I urge you to NOT become complacent and forget that Christ is even coming back. I understand the importance of what you are doing or may be doing in the future, weddings, grand children, vacations etc. but all of that pales in comparison to eternity…your eternity.

We all have one job while we are here and that is to stay faithful to Him until He returns. That job requires effort and focus on your part. You cannot do this while on autopilot…it will not work.

Guys, I encourage you to plug into your local church or men’s group and refocus on your top priorities while we all wait…I assure you that this positive decision will be the best one you ever make in your life…

 

Until next time guys…

 

Waiting

If you recall, my previous post was very literal when talking about that while we wait for Christ to come, we must not assume that He will delay His return. Our job is to be ready for Him to return at ANY time. Directly following then, is the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids, which simply reverses the previous point. (Matthew 25:1-13)

Being ready for Him to come back at “any time” means NOT being caught off guard even IF He does delay. A mature Christian understands that there is a balance in those expectations.

In my lifetime, I have seen several groups over the years that thought they had figured out the right timeline from the Bible for Christ’s return. They came up with an arrival date and then planned to be there to welcome Him. In some instances, these people sold everything they had; homes, cars etc. only to be disappointed. These people were absolutely certain about their date and some even went to the mountaintop for the arrival. But, as it turned out, and always has turned out, these people were wrong and left discredited for their blunder.

Guys, there is no doubt that the return of Christ is fast approaching because the Bible tells us:

The time is short…for this world in its present form is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7:31 NIV)

Understand that there is absolutely nothing that stands in the way of His return…nothing. Knowing that, it is our job to be ready if He comes back today.

The problem is that we live in this “instant” world where we think we need some gratification immediately rather than waiting for something to take its normal course…over time. Our society struggles with waiting for anything. Think about it, Amazon is creating a delivery service to bring you what your ordered in 2 hours so you DON’T have to wait. Why do they do that? You know why.

But remember this important point guys, “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day”. We cannot be ignorant about when Christ will return. “God is patient towards us not willing that anyone should perish but that all would come to repentance”. But when He comes, “it will be like a thief in the night”(2 Peter 3:8-10).

So in the interim, we must be ready and faithful to what we are supposed to be doing while here on this earth and not getting distracted with everything else we see. That is why He told us this parable about the ten bridesmaids.

The story is simply one about being prepared. In the parable, we hare told about 10 bridesmaids whose only responsibility was to light their lamps when the bridegroom arrived for the wedding. As we see right away, 5 of them were wise and 5 were foolish. The wise bridesmaids remembered to bring extra oil with them and the foolish ones forgot. As it turned out, the bridegroom was extremely late in getting to the wedding. We are not told why he was late but when he did arrive, he still wanted to go through with the ceremony. When the cry came that he was here, the foolish ones asked the wise ones to share their oil but the wise ones told them their wouldn’t be enough for all of them so the 5 wise bridesmaids entered the ceremony and the 5 foolish were left outside. When they begged the bridegroom to let them in, He game them this chilling response, “Assuredly I say to you, I do not know you”.

Even though the bridegroom was late in arriving, everyone there was ready for Him except the 5 foolish bridesmaids…they were out trying to find more oil for their lamps. Think about this; their only job was to keep their lamp burning and they couldn’t because they didn’t think to bring extra oil. They weren’t prepared for His return.

I know this story is simple, but it illustrates a huge point for everyone of us; Christ is the bridegroom and He is coming back. He may be late or He may be on time…no one knows. Our job is simply to be ready for Him no matter what the hour may be of His return.

Every day and every hour that passes is one more closer to His coming back and the need for us to pay attention and be watchful is even more important. Guys, my prayer for you is that you are watching and waiting for His return and that you are NOT shut our permanently.

Keep your eyes pointed upward.

Until next time guys…