How Do We Experience Victory?

victory

“And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” Romans 6:13

Many believers are not experiencing the victorious Christian life. One reason this is happening is because we still try to run our lives. We fail either by submitting to our flesh or by not yielding ourselves to the Master.

Our verse tells us how to walk in victory.

Present—we either present ourselves to sin or to God. It is the same word as in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

Present yourself. The idea of the surrendered life or yielded life goes completely against our old nature. Our flesh never likes to yield. This is where progressive sanctification comes in. Every day we surrender to the will of the Holy Spirit.

But there is a problem.

A little girl fell out of bed one night and began to cry. Her mother ran into her room picked her up, put her back in bed and asked her little girl, “Honey, why did you fall out of bed?”

The little girl replied, “I think I stayed too close to the place where I got in.”

And that’s why too many fall, get stuck, or never walk in victory. We are staying to close to the world and yielding to our old nature.

Victory only comes when we walk as Jesus walked, completely surrendered, and yielded, presenting ourselves to God every day. Remember He wants us to experience victory.

What does God have for you today?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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Is it Worth it?

worth

Many times, in our personal lives and in church we ask the question is it worth it?  Is this relationship worth it? Is this thing I’m buying worth the price? Is the diet and exercise I’m doing worth it? Let’s see what the Bible says:

“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”  Psalm 126:5-6

The principle of sowing and reaping tells us we get out of something what we put in. There must be hard work, a level of commitment or persistence to the goal in order to receive a feeling of reward in the end.

However, that’s not the day we live in. We want it now. We think that success should show on our first day on the job. We think showing up should be enough.

Much like church. Without commitment or a persistent focus on prayer can God bring revival to a church or community?

This is what King Hezekiah is writing about here in our text. He’s calling for the former glory of Israel to be restored. He’s NOT asking for a physical blessing of prosperity but a spiritual revival in the land.

The king is praying Lord send a great revival IN your people.

You’ll notice in v.1 he starts with praising God and then in v.2-3 he announces, “The Lord has done great things.”

It is God’s people praising Him for how good God is. When we think of this in the world today, isn’t that exactly what people need to see in us? We need to tell the world: We believe Jesus has done great things for us and let us show you by how we live.

But sometimes we give up. If you are a church member you may have at least thought about giving up on the church. If you are a pastor you may have thought about a job change.

What do we do? Remember the promise. Reaping brings joy.

It is true rejoicing only comes through tears of pain. But isn’t it worth it?

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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Will Everything Really Turn Out Good?

will-it-turn-out-good

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

I remember watching the original movie Rocky. The movie depicted the struggles of an up-and-coming boxer. During a championship fight, defeat appeared certain for Rocky.

Yet even though he was nearly knocked down, he was never knocked out. Rocky knew the secret of victorious survival.

Like Rocky, Christians too, are in a fight — an actual knockdown, drag out with Satan and his dominion. Although we, at times, are nearly knocked down, God’s Word assures us we are never knocked out.

Because of persecution, first-century Christians often fought diligently for physical and spiritual survival.

Such hardships caused them to wonder if their newfound faith would be defeated. In Romans 8, Paul assured them that even though they may have been nearly knocked down they would never be knocked out.

You may feel like your past is bad, your present is worse, and how could everything turn out all right. But God’s Word assures us that every bad we have ever done, or every bad that has happened to us, will all be worked for good.

How?

An old country preacher was challenged by a highly educated agnostic. The skeptic asked, “Why do you Christians constantly claim assurance of victory in the battle of eternity?”
The old preacher replied: “Well, Son, it says in the beginning of my Bible that God was in charge when time started up. Then I flip over to the end of my Bible and read that God will be in charge when time runs down. So I figure that between the beginning and the end weren’t nobody else big enough to whoop ‘em.”

God is bigger than our past, our problems, and our worries.

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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Where Would You Find the King?

Where would you find the King?

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.’” Matthew 2:1-2

Bethlehem a small hamlet on the other side of nowhere. You wouldn’t expect The King to be born in an out of the way hole in the wall but He was.

Isn’t that just like God? Using the littlest to conquer the greatest. Using the foolish to confound the wise.

Maybe you have been feeling insignificant. Maybe you have let the naysayers tell you to sit down and be quiet. Maybe your dream has been dwindling and you have felt defeated.

I have. I have let the enemy convince me that writing isn’t worthwhile. What possible difference could an encourager make in an ever increasing discouraging society. I have too many other things I should be doing anyway.

The Son of God was sent to the smallest of towns to be born in a stable. He had other things He could be doing. After all there was a universe to run. But no one else was called like Him. No one could do what He had to do.

Bethlehem. An insignificant town. Listen to the prophecy about it: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Micah 5:2

I am convinced God wants us to know that we are all called to do something great for Him. We can’t save the world but we can rescue the one. That child, that friend, that coworker, that fellow student, needs to hear fro you.

You may feel small like Bethlehem. But The King is inside you.

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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