Thursday, June 25, 2009

Just for Fun

Just for fun and dedicated to all my fellow office dwellers.

Top 5 excuses to use just in case your caught sleeping at your desk at work.

1.- I wasn’t sleeping, I was trying to pick up my contact lens without my hands.

2.- You know, they told me at the blood bank that this might happen.

3.- Whew!! I must have left the top off the whiteout.

4.- The mail courier flipped out and pulled a gun so I was playing dead to avoid getting capped.

5.- I was just testing our new keyboards for drool resistance.

All for Christ,
J. Mark

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wide Open

President Dwight Eisenhower told the story of a farmer he knew when he was a child whose words had stuck with him all his life. He and his father went to the farmers home to look at a cow the old man had for sale. Eisenhower’s father asked the farmer if he knew anything of the cow’s pedigree…he didn’t. He then asked the farmer about the cow’s butter fat production…he knew nothing of that either.

Eisenhower’s father then asked about the animals annual milk production. Upon this last question the old farmer finally replied, “Look mister, she is an honest cow, no matter when you come she will always give you all she’s got.”

If you really want to know what separates the average and mediocre from the excellent and extraordinary, you won’t find it in the pedigree or production, you will find the difference lies in whether or not one is willing to give it all they’ve got. Half-heartedness and apathy are the seeds that flourish into a lush and vibrant garden of ever increasing mediocrity.

I have never met anyone who lived a life of great impact who was not overcome with passion and totally sold out to something. I have discovered that uncommon commitment allows common people to produce uncommon results.

Now, let me tighten the focus a little because my intention with today’s blog is to not simply get you to reflect on your level of commitment and passion for life or achieving your dreams, although there is nothing wrong with that and I hope you will. But rather to ask you, how passionate and committed are you about God?

I am sure you just answered to yourself… "VERY." But as they say, the proof is in the pudding.

After being in full time ministry for seventeen years and spending almost eleven of those as a Pastor, I can tell you that there are committed Christians and uncommitted Christians. I know and have ministered to people who are saved but not sold out, they are believers in Christ but not bold in their daily walk with him, they are familiar with religious phrases and Christian speech but have no real power for living and constantly move from one defeated situation to another seemingly all their lives.

What is it that makes some people so committed to Christ that they sell out and live life wide open and those who find contentment simply living on the fringes and settle for a decaffeinated and sugar free experience with God? In my opinion and years of observation I believe it is simply a matter of PERSPECTIVE.

It’s not in one’s ability or opportunity over another but rather by the way each one perceives God and their relationship with Him. In fact, power in virtually every area of life is often determined by perspective.

The people who approach their commitment to God with a cavalier and half-hearted attitude are not bad people, they just simply have a perspective problem. There view of God is diluted and skewed.

The apostle Paul had this problem, he was plenty passionate but his view of Christ and the God he served was skewed, that is until a little episode on the Damascus road changed his perspective and allowed him to see the full reality of who it was he was dealing with. And throughout his writings from then on he constantly refers back to this moment where God did not merely convert him but forever changed his view and perspective of God.

From then on Paul’s life was marked by a very different passion, commitment and zeal. In fact, some people labeled him mentally disturbed and crazy. One of the ways you know you are highly committed and have the right perspective of God is when at times people think you’re crazy. They will say things like, “Why are you always at that church?” or “Why are you going on Wednesday you just went Sunday?” and my all time favorite, "You give how much of your income to that church?!?”

In fact, if nobody ever thinks there is something wrong with you….there is probably something wrong with you. Listen, authentic and deep experiences with God are supposed to make us different from the world, so we shouldn’t be surprised when at times we are not perceived to be normal by the world. I’m going to wrap this up so listen carefully….GOD..WANTS..ALL..OF…YOU.

He gave us his very best and he deserves no less.

So until next week, if you’re going to live for God…. LIVE IT COMPLETELY, LIVE IT FULLY…. LIVE IT WIDE OPEN.

(click and leave a comment below and tell me if I’m crazy)

All for Christ,
J. Mark

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Show Some Love

At the end of World War I, Herbert Hoover, who would later become the President of the United States, led the allied relief efforts in Europe. The efforts of these valiant soldiers kept thousands from starvation and death and a new word entered the Finnish language. They literally made a verb out of Herbert Hoover’s last name. In Finland to Hoover means to be kind, generous or benevolent.

Question….if they made a verb out of your last name, what would it’s definition be? Based on your behavior and the philosophy of life that governs your actions, what best describes what your life stands for and what the residue of your existence will be?

Trust me when I tell you that no matter what you accomplish or achieve, your life will be summarized by those who knew you in one sentence…PICK IT NOW.

The Bible says that the only thing that a person can do that has the power to change anything on an eternal level is LOVE. Love is a deep root that produces the fragrant fruit of kindness. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul is listing and describing the transformational power of love and in his defining chapter simply says that, “Love is patient and KIND.”

Kindness is one of the first fruits of true love. The German philosopher Nietzsche hated Christianity for encouraging kindness. He accused Christian love of draining strong people by driving them to waste their energies on lepers, cripples and oppressed people. His doctrine of survival of the fittest was an off shoot of Darwinism that later spawned such movements as Nazism and was the creed of a young officer named Adolph Hitler.

Jesus was a revolutionary, there is no disputing it. He came to rule and reign not as any before Him or after Him. His operational strategy of power and strength had nothing to do with military might or an overwhelming show of brute force. His plan to infiltrate and take over the world was not led by bullets, brawn or bayonets. His weapon of choice was Grace, fueled only by the leading edge of Love. And against all odds, beliefs and voices of His enemies…..LOVE WINS. And kindness is the offspring of love.

If we are going to be able to finish what Jesus started it means we have to cross over and make the transition from SELFISH love to SELFLESS love. We often here people use the phrase random acts of kindness. Now, I know what they mean but the truth is there is no such thing. Kindness is not random at all, it is highly and incredibly intentional. Kindness happens on purpose. It is motivated by the needs of others and the desire to glorify God in this earth and through our lives.

Trust me, you are not born into this world with kindness, if you don’t believe me just go to a nursery and watch those little bundles of joy. I’ve seen a cute, seemingly harmless little tyke pounce on a fellow fledgling like an African lion on a ring tailed gazelle, all because he wanted to experience the joy of his fellow nursery goers toy for a moment. The rage in his little face is a disturbing image I have often tried to forget.

My point is, kindness is something that must be cultivated and developed, if you wait for it to merely emerge, it won’t. Have you ever done something really nice for someone that you really didn’t know and seen the look on their face? It’s priceless and do you know why they are overwhelmed and surprised? Because it’s not normal. It’s not what they are used to.

This is why if we are serious about making a difference, if we truly believe that Jesus started something that is true and authentic and worthy of being continued, then becoming people of love and kindness is an endeavor worth pursuing. It was our savior’s weapon of choice and if we are His disciples, it must be ours as well.

I love the message translation of Acts 20:35. It says, “True happiness is found in the giving, not in the getting.”

Years ago a guy named Rod Sterling created a television show called The Twilight Zone. One episode was about a gambler who died and was immediately transported to a room with gambling tables. It was amazing, every time he rolled the dice, he won. Every hand of cards was a winning hand. He thought he was in heaven until finally it dawned on him he was alone and what he thought at first was heaven turned out to be hell. Because he realized though he had everything any gambler could want, he had no one to share it with.

The moral was clear, the life that only gathers is no life at all. It is only in the giving, only in the sharing and only through love and kindness that we discover the true essence of life.

Opportunities abound to live this way if only we will look. There is a place below to leave a comment. I encourage you to take a few seconds and tell me and the others who read this weekly blog what you think.

Until next week... SHOW SOME LOVE.

All for Christ,
J. Mark

Self Audit Questions

Life and Ministry Questions

1. Is my calling clear? - Every person has a call on their life. Finding it and fulfilling it equals true significance.

2. Is my vision clear? - Am I sure about our mission as a church?

3. Is my passion hot? - Do I have a fervor for God and life or am I cold and stagnate?

4. Is my character totally submitted to Christ? - Am I the same man/woman in public as I am in private?

5. Is my pride subdued? - Do I have a true servants heart?

6. Are my fears under control? - Am I truly driven by faith and not fear?

7. Are my ears open to the Holy Spirit's whisper? - Am I truly listening for Him in my life?

8. Is my heart for God increasing? - Is my relationship with Him truly growing?

9. Are my gifts developing? - Am I spending enough time and energy cultivating and maximizing my skills?

10. Am I content with who I am becoming? - Given my present habits, what will my life look like in five years?

11. Am I becoming less religious and more spiritual?

12. Does my family recognize the authenticity of my walk with God? - It they cannot see it, then it's not real.

13. Do I have a flow-through philosophy? - Am I an open and joyful giver?

14. Do I have balance in my life? - Am I out of control in any area?

15. Have I defined my unique style of ministry? - Am I comfortable in my own skin: an original.

16. Is my humility genuine? - The Bible tells us to "humble ourselves."

17. Is obedience to God built into my reflexes? Am I quick to do what He asks of me?

18. Is my prayer life improving? - As I grow, my communication with God should be growing not shrinking?