Did You Quit Before Your Blessing?

Didn't Quit

At fifty-one, Dwight Eisenhower considered himself to be a failure with no future. One biographer said it this way, “He had given his life to the army. He was fifty-one years old; only the coming of war had saved him from a life of forced retirement and a life with no savings and but a small pension to live on.”

Could you imagine if General Eisenhower would have quit? What if he would have retired?

The biographer went on to say, “He had impressed every superior for whom he had worked, he had no accomplishments to his credit that he could point to with pride for his grandchildren. Had he died in 1941, at an age when most great men have their monumental assignments behind them, he would be completely unknown today.”

Little did General Eisenhower know that God had a much bigger plan for His life. That’s how God is…He is a BIG GOD. However, many people never come to that conclusion. Far too many people never see themselves as living in the plan of God.

Let me say, God, is not done with you. He wants what is best for you.

But too many today feel passed over, underappreciated, neglected, and cast aside. They don’t even know that they are operating in their own strength and living life their own way rather than God’s way.

We must come to this conclusion: We have to build a daily discipline into our lives to be ready for what God has for us and have a faith that is ready for the plan of God in our own lives.

Difficulties will come. Sin will stymie the plan. But the plan and purpose for our life are bigger than you or me.

What is God’s plan?

The Bible says, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” Ephesians 4:11-12 (NIV)

You have a gift that,“Builds up” the church. BUT you have to use it. You and I are being prepared for works of service.

Service. That’s a word not often used today. I am here to serve. We don’t say that in the world or even in the church.

Could that be why we have difficulty seeing God’s plan? We want to move up the ladder. Be the General before God has prepared us to lead the army.

He has a plan. In His time the plan will unfold. But we have to be ready.

Eisenhower was chosen to lead the Allied forces. He developed the plan we call D-Day. The plan was named “Operation OverLord.” It was originally planned for May but had to be pushed back until June because they didn’t have enough landing crafts.

But on June 6, 1944, “Operation OverLord” became a reality.

Maybe we are not ready for the operation? Maybe you and I have some things God is still working on?

Don’t quit, or retire. His plan, your D-Day will happen. Victory is assured.

Keep Looking Up! Heaven is Closer than you think. May God bless your day.

Pastor Rodney

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Pastor, Are “THEY” or “THEM” in Your Church Too?

crowd of people

“They” have been in every church I served and they seem to be members of every church my friend’s pastor. “They” show up in Deacon’s meetings, committee meetings, phone calls, and even in emails.

Who are they?

“Pastor, they are upset. The decision you made, the phone call you didn’t make, the out-patient surgery you missed, they got their feelings hurt. You pastor offended them.”

That’s right “they” have family members named “them.”

They and them have been around a while. They are easily offended and they never give you the benefit of the doubt. They question your motives, shake your hand, and even give a friendly smile.

You may never know who they are because they never talk with you, they go to others and talk about you. And, we never know how many of them there is.

They ruin our sleep, and can even wreck our ministry. Jesus speaks to they and them and how to deal with those people.

1.Don’t Worry

Would it help if Jesus dealt with them too? Jesus told the disciples about them. “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour. What you should speak:” Matthew 10: 19

Is it possible to not worry about them? They will talk, they will complain, and they will hurt our feelings but we aren’t to worry about them.

Sometimes in our churches, they go to other leaders and the leaders don’t know what to do with them. They grew up with them. Now suddenly they are not happy. They need to be heard. Spiritually mature deacons realize these people are the ones who habitually complain.

The next step is to talk with them. But they seem to always be nameless. Even when pushed a church leader will say, “They didn’t want their name mentioned.”

What? How can I find out who they are? If I can’t talk to them, then how can this be fixed?

Jesus speaks again to this, “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.”  Matthew 10:23

Sometimes they become louder than the rest of them. They get their way and we are left wondering why this all happened. Rest assured we are not alone.

Jesus gives another way to deal with them:

  1. Do Not Fear

“Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.” Matthew 10:26

Fear paralyzes us. Jesus says that they will be brought out into the light. That’s right Jesus will uncover them. They will not remain anonymous. These people will not stay hidden forever.

We may not see them here but Jesus will have an uncovering party in heaven. The hidden words will be revealed. The secret meetings will be seen.

Please know pastor, names will be taken. The scales will be balanced. We may have to move churches but God will move heaven to make this happen.

They will answer. I’m starting to feel better about them. How about you?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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Why Do Pastor’s Grow Weary?

weary-traveler

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
Galatians 6:9

You’ve seen it. Your pastor just isn’t as happy as he used to be. The smile isn’t as wide. His eyes don’t glow when he talks to people. His joy has faded.

He’s weary. Worn out.

If you are a pastor you’ve felt it. You are not preaching with the same gusto. Studying is a struggle. Prayer feels like a prick in your heart.

Your heart? Yes, that’s where the problem lies.

As our verse says our hope is that we can go around “doing good.” We want to plant seed and watch it grow in do-good garden. The fruit of our work starts with us being able to cultivate hearts that are fertile for God.

But, the reality is not every heart is fertile. Some just want us to do what they think we should do. That’s why Paul said, “not grow weary.” Like a crop of doing good, weeds begin to spring up and need to be plucked.

“Dealt with” is probably a better phrase. See, people and problems are always intertwined in the do-good garden.

People have agendas and they want something from us. Sometimes their agendas keep us from doing good. They place us in situations we can’t succeed in and then the failure weed grows in our heart.

People begin to talk about us. Sometimes what they are saying isn’t even true. A complaint. A critique. A criticism.

What can we do? Keep going and growing.

Without growth the plant dies. Without spiritual growth the heart dies. We have to keep praying, reading our Bibles, studying, witnessing, and ministering to the people. If we let a person keep us from growing, we will quit going to people and doing good.

That’s what the enemy wants. Discouragement is the greatest weed the enemy plants.

As I said earlier, people and problems are intertwined in ministry. Problems are always connected to people. We have to deal with people continually. When problems aren’t dealt with they grow.

Then we cannot reap the harvest. Weeds have choked out healthy growth. The church garden is weed infested.

When we feel like there is no fruit, no growth, we give up.

First, it’s just in our heart. Then it’s written all over our face. Our smile is forced. Our preaching isn’t what it once was because we are staring at the weeds.

So what do we do? Pull the weeds. Deal with the person. In love. But deal with it. We cannot continue doing good if all we feel is bad.

I have been there. I have given up. But, the good news is God never gives up on us.

I’d love to pray with you or talk with you. You can email me @Liftupyourday.com

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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What is Your Life’s Mission?

mission

Please, if I may, let me ask: what brings you joy? What is your life’s mission?

The Bible tells us, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” Psalm 138:8

That wonderful missionary to India and Persia, Henry Martyn, once said, “The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions, and the nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we must become.”

I believe the church must become more mission minded. First, for the people around us who need Jesus, and secondly, become more giving and intentional about missions world-wide.

That was the attitude and spirit of the first church here in Acts. They were a church “On Mission.” They didn’t have a building, budget, committees, or choir—they didn’t even have a
Bible, but they spread the Gospel with great joy.

Robert Reed said. “I have everything I need for joy!” His hands are twisted and his feet are useless. He can’t bathe himself. He can’t feed himself. He can’t brush his teeth, or comb his hair. Strips of Velcro hold his shirts together. His speech drags like a worn out eight track.

Robert has cerebral palsy.

The disease keeps him from driving a car, riding a bike, and going for a walk. But it didn’t keep him from graduating high school or attending Abilene Christian University, from which he graduated with a degree in Latin. Having cerebral palsy didn’t keep him from teaching at

St. Louis Junior College or from venturing overseas on five mission trips.
And Robert’s disease didn’t prevent him from becoming a Missionary to Portugal.

Like Robert Reed the first church knew something we have forgotten. The mission of the church is to spread the Gospel, and to disciple believers. The first church took the Great Commission very seriously, and their model should still be our standard today.

Robert Reed with Cerebral palsy moved to Lisbon, Portugal all by himself, in 1972.

Then he stationed himself daily in a park, where he distributed brochures about Christ. Within six years he led seventy people to the Lord, one of whom became his wife, Rosa.

God has a mission for your life and for your church. May your joy be full and you life fulfilled.

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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3 Steps to Overcoming Obstacles in Life

overcoming-obstacles-in-life

Overcoming and moving forward can be extremely difficult. How do we overcome the obstacles in life? The hurt, tragedy, and trauma that seems to be unbearable. Can we really rise above our present situation and make our lives better?

Hidden within a long list of genealogies in our Old Testament is a golden nugget of truth. It was only recently discovered by popular Christian culture.

It is the story of an overcomer.

Someone who rose above his present circumstance and became a great man.

“Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested.” 1 Chronicles 4:9-10

Notice 3 steps to overcoming obstacles:

1. Don’t let others define you

Jabez’ name means “pain,” “sorrow,” “burden” or “miserable.” Can you imagine what a hard time this little fellow must have had when he was a boy? His name meant misery. Maybe some of the children came knocking on the door asking if Misery could come out and play. What a name!

The Bible says that his mother called him Jabez because she had borne him in pain.

It may have been a difficult birth. Or maybe she had lost her husband and was going through her own test of faith. This label would be with him the rest of his life. To the Hebrew child, a name meant destiny.

A name was often taken as a wish for the child’s future.

What parents did or what people say doesn’t define who we are. And a messy marriage, belligerent boss, sudden setback, or financial failure doesn’t define what we can become.

2. Don’t let the present defeat you

If there ever was a guy who could be bitter, it was Jabez. His very name could have driven him to a life of hate and bitterness. But Jabez, rather than letting his name determine his destiny, rose above his name, becoming a man of noble nature.

What does that tell us?

It tells us that our past does not have to determine our future. But it also tells us that our present situation cannot defeat us if we look up instead of looking around.

“Jabez called on the God of Israel.” Jabez took his eyes off of the present situation and asked God for help. God wants to help.

Victory in this life is already assured. We can’t look at the present and think we’ve lost when we are told that we are “more than conquerors.”

When we look up the present reality changes. The God with 7 million Ph.D’s in impossible makes our victory possible. How can “All things work together for good?” With God.

3. Don’t let your fear design you

God has a design for our lives. We must learn to trust Him in the good and the bad.

Jabez decided to do something about this. He decided that he was not going to live an ordinary life. The only way to do that was to place himself totally in the hands of an extraordinary God.

Jabez became such a great man they named a city after him. He became a Jewish scholar. Priests came to study under him and he wasn’t even from the tribe of Levi.

But he didn’t fear what he could become. He asked God to enlarge his territory. His life’s purpose and plan became God’s purpose and plan. We don’t have to fear what God wants to do in our lives.

Because He wants us to be so much more than what we can ever imagine.

We have countless examples of people who have stopped following God. But imagine what we could all do if we stayed the course like Jabez.

In this list of genealogies, only Jabez stands out. May we all be like him, and rise above our circumstances in overcoming the pain in our lives.

Keep Looking Up!

Heaven is closer than you think.

May God bless your day.

Pastor Rodney

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Pastor: 5 Ways to Avoid Burnout

match-burnout

The turn burnout has been around for years. It makes sense that a CEO, Manager, or someone who is in the spotlight all the time should struggle with it. But can a pastor really suffer from burnout?

It seems burnout in the ministry isn’t really something we notice. Now mega-church pastors Perry Noble, and Pete Wilson, have resigned burnout has become a relevant ministry topic.

There are also statistics for pastor burnout:

23% have been fired or pressured to resign at least once in their careers.
25% of pastors’ wives see their husband’s work schedule as a source of conflict.
33% felt burned out within their first five years of ministry.
33% say that being in ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
40% of pastors and 47% of spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and/or unrealistic expectations.

But, what really causes burnout? And, how can it be avoided?

Let me suggest 5 ways:

1.Do things you love to do

There is nothing wrong with finding what you love to do and doing it. If it’s writing a blog (mine), encouraging others (mine too), fishing, hunting, bowling, shooting basketball, lifting weights, walking, running, reading, or fixing up old cars, do it!

We have to do the things we love and notice none of those had anything to do with your ministry. Get out of the church and unwind.

2. Ask for help

Like Donald Trump, there are more people who wants us to succeed than not. People in the church very often don’t get asked to help do anything. We assume they feel like we should do everything. Not everyone feels that way.

Inviting everyone to do something in the church will open up ways for us not to have to do everything. Ask people to help.

3. Know your limits

You are not superman. You can’t leap small buildings with a single bound. Therefore, we must know what we can and can’t do. There are some things we simply aren’t good at. If we know what these are we can go back to step 2 and fix it.

Saying no really is a way to freedom. If we can figure out what we enjoy, and what we want to do it is a perfect fit.

4. Visit your Flock

Nothing replaces this. They want us to do it. They feel special when we do. It also is a way for us to get to know who they really are. We get to meet them in their arena and let them open up their home to us.

Many pastors today believe they don’t have time to do this. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It builds the church and that is our #1 responsibility.

5. Be involved in the community

Again, our people want this. Ball games are an easy way to do it. Civic clubs, meet with police, firefighters, there are many opportunities to fit into a new community. The reality is we usually are not from that town. We need to be involved.

Another thought to ponder is maybe unrealistic expectations cause burnout. Many times on our part. Could we feel that we are the pastor so the people should just follow?

Here’s a good quote to tie this up, “The antidote to exhaustion is not rest but wholeheartedness.” David Whyte

If our heart is for that flock, then we will never burnout.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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Do You Need A Miracle?

miracle

Have you ever heard or said the expression “It Will Take a Miracle?”

People use it in a variety of ways—to describe someone in poor health, a troubled marriage, and even a ball game if their team is behind. It is looking at an impossible situation and knowing there is a need for the Divine to intercede.

In October 1942, WWI fighter Ace, and Medal of Honor recipient, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea. But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life.

Somewhere over the South Pacific, the Flying Fortress became lost and beyond the reach of radio communication. Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean. For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water and the weather and the scorching sun.

They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. The largest raft was nine by five. The biggest shark…ten feet long. But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them.

There are many times in life that people or churches need a miracle.

In the summer of 1876, grasshoppers nearly destroyed the wheat crop in Minnesota. So in the Spring of 1877, farmers were worried as the temperature rose to record highs—mid-summer temps.

The grasshopper larvae began wiggling to life. On April 26, 1877, Governor John S. Pillsbury asked all of Minnesota to pray. Three days of record high temps as God’s people prayed, but on the fourth day an un-season like frost killed all the larvae…What can happen when God’s people really pray?

Prayer gives the believer confidence. Why do Christians feel like God is not doing what He should, they don’t really pray. You need a miracle…pray for one. You need God to bless your life, give you a better job, save your children, pray!

For Eddie Rickenbacker and his crew, a miracle took place. In Captain Eddie’s own words, “Cherry,” (that was the B-17 pilot, Captain William Cherry) “read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat.

With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off. Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. I don’t know how I knew, I just knew. Everyone else knew too.

No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food…if I could catch it.”

And the rest as they say is history.

Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. The rest they used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice.

You know that Captain Eddie made it. He never forgot. Because every Friday evening, until his death in 1973, about sunset…on a lonely stretch of beach along the eastern Florida seacoast…you could see an old man walking…white-haired, bushy-eye browed, slightly bent. His bucket filled with shrimp to feed the gulls…to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle…like manna in the wilderness.

It Took a Miracle—and God sent one. What do you need Jesus to do for you today?

A miracle is not out of HIS possibilities.

Remember today, “For nothing is impossible with God.”

Keep Looking Up!

Heaven is closer than you think.

May God bless your day.

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

2 Things People Can’t Believe About God

believe

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:1-3

As Christians we have to stop trying to push ourselves on others. We can’t judge people based on what they feel, think, or even believe about God. We must know non-christians have to come to God through Jesus but we can’t force them to it.

So what do we do?

People who aren’t Christian can’t believe important truths about God. It is utterly impossible for them to believe these two things:

1.Jesus is Divine

When John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word” he was speaking of Jesus. The final revelation of God, The living Word of God is the Son of God. He is God in the flesh, sent from heaven to this earth.

“He was in the beginning with God.” Jesus always existed.

He is not some good man who taught good character. He had a miraculous birth when He came, but Jesus was fully man and fully God.

Non-Christians can’t believe this. A virgin birth always seems too far fetched.

If we are going to witness to them we must know this. We also have to know they can’t believe:

2.God Created

“All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

Since Jesus is Divine He was the instrument of creation. However, unsaved people believe in evolution or a creator more like an alien from another planet. They can’t believe God (Jehovah) created because then the Bible might be true.

Even Christians today debate how creation happened. Many don’t believe in a literal 6 day creation. Many more say the earth can’t be only 6,000 years old like human history says it is.

They believe science has proven its case.

This is where our churches and seminaries have failed us. We have become ineffective in battling these two fundamental facts of Christianity.

If these facts are true, then unsaved people must believe that Jesus is who He said He was, and God did what He said He did. If those two facts are true, then the Bible is true as well.

A Christian is wasting their time if they try to witness apart from knowing this.

If we don’t have the answer about the Divine Son of God, then we are doing more harm then good in trying to convince someone who doesn’t believe. Especially those who can debate better than us.

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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An Unshakable Foundation

foundation

Foundation: The base on which something rests.
What is foundational in our lives?

  • Our home
  • Our family
  • Our church
  • Our health
  • Our relationships
  • Our job

What would happen if the very things that are so foundational to who we are were taken away?

Psalm 46 “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore, we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil. There is a river; its streams delight the city of God, the holy dwelling place of the Most High. God is within her; she will not be toppled. God will help her when the morning dawns. Nations rage, kingdoms topple; the earth melts when He lifts His voice, The LORD of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Come, see the works of the Lord, who brings devastation on the earth. He makes wars cease throughout the earth. He shatters bows and cuts spears to pieces; He burns up the chariots. ‘Stop your fighting and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.’ Yahweh of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

Would we still believe that (if the foundational things of our life were shaken) God is our strength, always with us, and fighting for us? If everything foundational was gone, would we keep trusting God?

There are two things we must remember:
Never forget that God can calm the chaos.
God has delivered us in the past.

The mistake is when we try to calm the chaos ourselves. God ha disarmed and defused the things that have hurt us. We must stop just believing the words on the page and believe in the God that really is those things. We must start TRUSTING WHO HE SAYS HE IS.

God is our refuge. God is our strength. God is our helper in times of trouble. And our goal is to NOT FEAR. God enables us to run to the chaotic things that once were and laugh at them because He has calmed the waters. He takes what once was disastrous and makes it beautifully calm.

Not once, but twice David writes these words. . .
“The LORD of Hosts is WITH US. The God of Jacob is our STRONGHOLD.”

The Lord is with us!! Trust Him!! Let Him be your foundation, because He is the one foundation that CANNOT and WILL NOT be shaken.

Nikki Hogan

Visit Nikki @hogannikki.wordpress.com

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What a Friend We Have in Jesus

friend

“A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17

I’ve never been much of a social butterfly. I’m not good at small talk. I can’t really tell jokes. It’s all awkward. Give me a job to do, a problem to solve, or work to delegate and I’ll take front and center. Put me in a group setting or one on one and I’ll shrink in a corner.

A few months ago though, a couple at church decided they were going to be friends with me and my husband. Okay, so my husband made friends while I watched, terrified that I was going to have to make friends too.

And then it happened. He made plans with them.

We got together and it wasn’t terrible. And then she invited me over to have coffee while our kids had a play date. And I enjoyed it. One thing led to another, and now I text her at least every other day, about big things, little things, stay at home mom things, marriage things, and what’s your favorite cookie recipe things.

Those that know me well still enjoy teasing me about it. My dad semi-joking, semi-serious even thanked her for being my friend. Approaching thirty and he still manages to embarrass me.

What I cherish about our friendship though, is there are no pretenses. I told her from the get-go that I was not social and was quite awful at being a friend. I knew because my other friends told me so. She didn’t mind though. She still chose me.

When I forget to return her text message, she gently reminds me in our next face to face conversation that “Hey, I texted you like two days ago…” and she laughs when I tell her my sad excuse for why I forgot to respond. She sympathizes when something’s wrong. She’s happy for me when something’s right.

And while everything isn’t perfect, it’s pretty fantastic.

She reminds me what my relationship with Christ could and should look like. He wants to know about the big things, the little things, the marriage things, and stay at home mom things. He hurts when I hurt, He finds pleasure in my joy. He loves me even though he knows I’m not very good.

And when I forget to respond… he doesn’t turn away from me when I come back. He isn’t waiting with a snarky comment and raised eyebrow. He’s always glad for our next conversation.

Jessica Brown

Visit Jessica @smalltownbrowns.com

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