Saturday, August 30, 2014

I grew up watching Godzilla.

Last May our Sylva Campus Pastor Josh LaVere and I led an International Ministry trip to Ghana, West Africa. We had an amazing time with a bunch of great people and were honored to be a part of what God is doing around the world. But that’s not the point of this story.

See on the last day of our trip we do our souvenir shopping at a local outdoor market and then stop by the mall in the capital city of Accra before heading to the airport. Don’t hate me ladies but as far as I’m concerned if you’ve seen one mall you’ve seen them all - even those in another country. This was my fourth trip so I’ve pretty much bought all the trinkets I need. There is however at the mall a pretty decent coffee house, ice cream shop and a movie theater with serious air conditioning. We had a couple of hours before we needed to leave so Pastor Josh and I decided to catch a movie - Godzilla.

We (I) did the math and we had more than enough time. Well it turns out we didn’t. They didn’t start the 30 minutes of previews until about 10 minutes after the show was scheduled to start. We hadn’t factored that into our plans. We were scheduled to meet the team and head for the airport so we had to walk out during the final battle scene. We knew that the end had to be close but we just couldn’t stay any longer. During the trip home we came up with several possible endings since neither of us knew what really happened.

Tonight I found out. I was finally able to watch the whole movie and it turns out there was literally 30 seconds left of the big fight. Another 5 minutes and the story wrapped and the credits played. I kid you not. We walked out with 30 seconds to go! It made me think of a favorite verse of mine -

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” - Galatians 6:9

Here’s the deal. I don’t know what you have been and are going through. I don’t know how long you have been at this and I don’t know how much longer is left in your big fight. But I do know two things with absolute certainty -
  1. You have never been closer to breakthrough than you are right now at this very moment in this fight.
  2. No matter how close you are to winning if you give up now you lose.
My advice? Hang in there, the finale God has in store for you is worth the wait.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Dealing with Discouragement

I recently taught a message about 3 sources of defeat and I'd like to elaborate on the first one.

DISCOURAGEMENT

I see it everyday. People read a book, attend a seminar, have an epiphany that is going to change their life and then... a few days, a few weeks or maybe a few months later are back living in the same old rut. What happened? Well most times we simply became discouraged along the way. We have great ideas, even great intentions but sorry execution. We have been conditioned to respond to and expect instant gratification. I want what I want and I want it right now. I'm all for efficiency but great meals aren't made in a microwave. They have to simmer.

Great lives are much the same. It takes time to make changes and even more time for those changes to take effect. Think of it this way if you will - many of us have spent a lifetime doing whatever it is in our lives that's not working the wrong way. We have a lot invested in our disfunction. We change an attitude today, an action tomorrow and expect different results yesterday. Unfortunately that's not how the world works. When we don't see the rewards for our efforts immediately we get discouraged and tell ourselves that it's not working. The truth is it's just not working yet. Don't give up so quick because breakthrough is ahead (it's certainly not behind!).

We also get discouraged at times because we choose to listen to the wrong voices. The key word is CHOOSE. A while back I got verbally reamed by someone close to me. It had a profound effect. I'm talking loss of sleep, anxiety attacks, digestive problems and other stress related issued. Yes pastors struggle with these things too. I was talking with another pastor about my situation and he asked me why I allowed this person to talk to me like that. My response was, "What choice did I have?" The truth is that I had several and the one I chose didn't work well for me. If I'm presented with a similar situation in the future I will CHOOSE to walk away. No fuss, I simply won't participate. Hey, the deal is, haters gonna hate. There will always be people who will see (and say) the negative side in every situation.

In 1 Samuel 30 we have an interesting story about David dealing with discouragement. It would do you well to take a couple minutes to READ IT and let the reality of God's Word speak to you. David had lost everything and in that moment of discouragement everyone turned on him. Well almost everyone -

"But David found strength in the Lord his God." - 1 Samuel 30:6b

In the midst of our mess it feel like forever and it feels like we are alone. Neither are reality but they are real feelings. And feelings have to be dealt with. Get alone with God and get a proper perspective. Get around some good and Godly people who will build you up rather than tear you down. Don't let discouragement take root in your your heart and begin to bear fruit.

Think of the word for just a moment. Dis-Courage-Ment. The prefix 'Dis' means apart, asunder, away or having a reversing force. The suffix 'Ment' means the action or process of doing something. As we dissect the word it wouldn't be a stretch to define discouragement as - the action or process of reversing courage. You have to have had courage at one point to be discouraged at a later time. It's time to rediscover our courage. If we don't deal with our discouragement it will eventually lead us to defeat. You're victory is attainable. The only person who can stand in the way of you possessing God's promises for your life is you. Strengthen your resolve in the Lord and push through to victory. A great life is waiting for you on the other side of whatever obstacle or opposition you are currently facing. After all, God believes in you, if He didn't you wouldn't exist!

Are you ready for a LEAP of faith?

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