To the very end.

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William BoothWhile women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight;
while little children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight;
while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight;  while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight — I’ll fight to the very end! — William Booth

Rendering service

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Whoever renders service to many puts himself in line for greatness: great wealth, great return, great satisfaction, great reputation, and great joy. — Jim Rohn

Make Today About Jesus

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Living WaterDo you know what it’s like to be thirsty?

I remember when I played football in school. Actually, it’s a stretch to say I played football. I spent most of the season watching from the sidelines. But that didn’t get me out of practice.

Each season began in early August with rugged two-a-days in the brutal Oklahoma sun. I don’t know if coaches are more enlightened these days, but back then they wouldn’t let players have water during the workout; they considered it a sign of weakness.

When practice was finally finished, players would crowd around the bench, waiting for the chance plunge a paper cup into an oversized cooler filled with half melted ice. After a grueling workout, that ice cold water was the most satisfying drink I’d ever had.

No doubt you’ve been that thirsty before. Do you remember what the first taste of water was like? Incredible, wasn’t it?

This is how the Bible describes the life that God promises his people.

“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” (John 7:37-38)

You can be religious and still be thirsty. Religion has a way of leaving us stressed and uncertain and unfulfilled. Living your life connected to Jesus, on the other hand, is like plunging yourself in the clear, cool water.

Do you want your soul to be satisfied? Make today about Jesus.

Perspective

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Q. What did the snail say when he was sitting on the turtle’s back?

A. WHEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

Life is all about perspective.

Forgiveness: a lovely idea and then some

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Let’s talk about forgiveness.

“Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” (C.S. Lewis)

It’s true that forgiveness is much easier in theory than in practice, but the failure to practice hurts all involved, including ourselves.

An unhealthy lifestyle

Some years ago a study was performed at Hope College in which volunteers were asked to remember wrongs they had experienced. In each case, the person’s blood pressure and heart rate increased, and muscle tension was shown to be higher.

Lack of forgiveness also leads to emotional strain. Physician Don Colbert says, “One of the secret causes of stress plaguing millions of people is unforgiveness.”

That’s why Nelson Mandela said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

The challenge for leaders

The Biblical directive is as simple as it is challenging: Forgive one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)

To be effective in what we do, to maintain balance in our personal lives, leaders must learn to forgive. We’ll certainly get plenty of opportunities. When they come our way, we need to be prepared to forgive fast, forgive first, and forgive often.

What forgiveness can do

Frederick Beuchner summed up forgiveness with these words.

“When somebody you’ve wronged forgives you, you’re spared the dull and self-diminishing throb of a guilty conscience.

“When you forgive somebody who has wronged you, you’re spared the dismal corrosion of bitterness and wounded pride.

“For both parties, forgiveness means the freedom again to be at peace inside their own skin and to be glad in each other’s presence.”

A lovely idea, isn’t it?

Let’s take this lovely idea to the next level. Challenge yourself today to do the hard work of putting a past offense forever behind you, just as Christ has done for you.

The Law of the Harvest

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Sowing Generously

We’re all familiar with the law of the harvest. You reap what you sow. We know that verse well; we can say it forwards and backwards.

And sometimes that’s the problem.

Sometimes we want to say it — and live it — backwards. We want permission to sow after we reap, not before. It’s revealed in our words and attitudes:

• I’ll get serious about generosity when I have more money.

• I’ll give 100% to my job when I have a job worth 100% of my effort.

• I’ll change when my spouse changes.

• I’ll start showing gratitude when my life gets better.

There’s no trick to side-stepping the process. The order never changes: you reap what you sow, after you sow.

Not too late to reap a different harvest.

If the harvest you’re experiencing today isn’t what you had in mind for your life, it’s not too late to change.

Paul was talking about money in today’s verse, but it applies to every area of our lives…

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” (2 Corinthians 9:16)

What if you decided today to sow generously everywhere you go?

What if you chose to pour yourself into your job, even now, while you consider yourself underpaid?

What if you chose to sow forgiveness for others, even if you’re pretty sure that you’re right and they’re wrong?

What if you chose to sow obedience, even before blessings come your way?

Can you imagine what might happen next?

Jesus Plain and Simple

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How the Apostle Paul described his style of preaching: I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did — Jesus crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2 The Message)

Preach Jesus front and center. Preach him above all else. Before you wander off into politics or pet peeves, talk first about Jesus.

Time to speak up

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Time to Speak Up

(Following up on an idea from last week.)

There are times when it feels like God is speaking to you left and right: every Bible verse, every sermon, every conversation, every song is like it came straight from above. During these times, the best thing to do is keep quiet and let God speak. Your job is to listen. And take notes.

And then, there are those seasons when it seems that God has stopped speaking. Expectations get put on hold and inspiration is on short-supply. What should you do then?

When God seems silent, that’s the time for you to speak up.

Speak to the mountain.

“If anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.” (Mark 11:23)

The way you speak about your obstacles (and the way you speak to them) indicates how determined you are to confront them head on.

Speak to the people around you.

Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. (Psalm 105:1)

Instead of going on and on about the difficulty of waiting things out, let your conversations be full of grace. Keep talking about all that God has done for you. Tell others about his history of goodness in your life; it helps you avoid the “what have you done for me lately” attitude.

Speak to the Father again and again.

In addition to Paul’s admonition to give thanks for everything and to pray without ceasing, we have this word from Isaiah…

You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth. (Isaiah 62:6-7)

I love the phrase give him no rest. Have you ever had a child wear you out with repeated requests? I used to tell my kids to stop. God tells his children the opposite. He wants you to ask and ask and keep on asking.

God knows that it’s quiet in your life right now. He knows you’re tempted to give in to fear when answers don’t come easy. That’s why he invites you to keep calling on his name, to give him no rest until he establishes his work in your life.

When God seems silent, that’s your signal not to be.

Speak up. Speak his Word every chance you get. Speak it to the obstacles you face. Speak it to the people you meet. And every moment of the day, speak it to the Father who has promised to hear, and to act, on your behalf.