A Truly Inspired Life

– By Dr. Pat Day

The power of a truly inspired life is impossible to calculate. Practically every person can name one person who influenced and impacted his or her life in a powerful way. Someone who was passionate about achieving a particular goal or cause has made every major accomplishment in history. Each of these persons possessed a burning desire.

What is your burning desire? What do you really want out of life? Just wanting things and dreaming about them is not enough. There is a world of difference between wishing and having a burning desire. You can have what you want in life provided that you desire it strongly enough and are willing to seek it with all your heart.

When you get a burning desire to do something or to be something, you begin to discover one of life’s greatest adventures. One of the things that you will discover is that you will enjoy the journey as much as reaching the summit of your goals. When you have a burning desire, you will be inspired to go the extra mile.

A burning desire, a magnificent obsession will enable you to persevere and not give up. When you burn your bridges behind you and have absolutely no way to retreat, God will go before you, as he did the children of Israel, and make a way when there seems to be absolutely no way. Nothing is impossible if you develop a burning desire in order to realize your dream. Throw your totally into whatever you do. Don’t let anyone or anything keep you from doing what God has called you to do or be. That God-given burning desire will get you where you want to go in life.

A burning desire will compensate for little or limited talent. Ask yourself, “How bad do I really want it?” A burning desire is the ingredient that makes the difference between an average performer and a true winner of champion in life. A burning desire is often called heart of passion. One person with a burning desire is greater than a hundred who only have a casual interest in something. Research has shown that aptitude and ability are not necessarily the prime ingredients of outstanding achievement. The one quality that all successful persons have in common is passion. It is their drive, determination and the desire that distinguished them from the crowd.

When you get to the end of your life and look back over it you truly will affirm the climb meant every bit as much as reaching the summit. Life can either be very dull and boring or it can be a passionate journey that is full of inspiration and truly makes an impact on our world. It is my simple prayer that God will raise up inspired men and women who can transform our world by transforming our community.

See you Sunday in church!

Something is Missing

– By Dr. Pat Day

In Luke 19:1-10 we meet Zaccheus, a man who had risen to the top of his profession as a tax collector while at the same time he had become the most hated man in Jericho. He was successful, well to do, and powerful but something was missing. When he heard that Jesus was coming to town he wanted to see Him badly. His liability was that he was short and a tax collector. To compensate for his lack of height he became a very powerful man. As a tax collector people had to respect him and look up to him and even listen to him. He certainly did not expect Jesus to notice him on that eventful day. Jesus saw him sitting in the sycamore tree, and told him to come down, for today He was going to visit his home. Zaccheus’ whole life changed that night when he met Jesus Christ face to face.

It happened because of his liability and not in spite of it. If he hadn’t been short, he wouldn’t have had to climb up that tree. Jesus took Zaccheus’ liability of being short and transformed it into a life-changing asset. He can do the same thing for you and me. What is your greatest liability? What is your greatest disadvantage? What are you trying to overcome today?

Begin to believe that whatever you have as a liability could turn out to be your greatest asset. The first time I heard this statement, I said to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding! There is no way that a liability could ever become an asset.” For most of us our initial response to this statement is to doubt, question, or even to laugh at it. You’re probably thinking; you don’t know my liability. You might say to me, “I’m not rich or powerful like Zaccheus; my finances are in a real mess. My life is going nowhere. I’m at a dead end with no hope of every turning my life around.” You might say to me my options have all dried up. I don’t see any way out of this mess that I’m in. I don’t see any possible breakthrough.

Your problem is the key to your promotion. Without Goliath we never would have heard of David; he just would have continued tending sheep for the remainder of his life. Goliath was the key to David’s promotion. What is your liability? What is your goliath? What is your biggest problem or obstacle that you are facing today? You have to face your problem or liability. Quit running from it. Believe that with God’s help you can transform your liability into an asset; it is more than half the battle. The stronger your belief the greater the power you will possess to transform the liability into an asset.

When you hear, “Just give up! What’s the use? Why keep trying?” Don’t believe a single word of it. Truett Cathey, the founder of Chick-fil-A, began with one small diner and it has now grown to over one thousand restaurants nationwide. Three weeks after he opened his first restaurant, it burned to the ground. When he finally got his second store running, his brothers, who were his business partners were all killed in an airplane crash. But he kept believing, kept trying and trusting God and today his business is one of the most successful restaurant chains in the country in spite of being closed on Sunday, which is for most restaurants the best day of the week. The very adversities and challenges that we face become our best motivator and friend.

Your liability will lift you to a new level by leading you to desperately seek God in a new way. You will seek God in a more intense, passionate way when you become desperate. Zaccheus became so desperate that he climbed up a tree in order to see Jesus. Desperation will cause you to dig deeper or climb higher by praying more, spending more time with God, seeking His face and His will more intensely than ever before. Desperate people are willing to take risks and try new things.

Let God turn your liabilities into assets. Continue to praise, trust and to depend upon Him to do the impossible in your life.

See you Sunday in church!

Pat’s Perspective – Be Not Discouraged

Many years ago I received a note that had a very meaningful message: “My faith is down. My husband has no job. My mother is overworking herself and I’m worried. My brother is out of work and he is going in the wrong direction and his family is suffering greatly. I want to help, but there is nothing I can do but pray. And God forbid, I’m losing the will to pray. God, please tell me what to do. Tell me what to say.” I think this note speaks volumes. Many people today can identify with what this person was going through.

In John 5:1-9 we discover a man who had been sick for thirty eight years. He had fought a constant battle with discouragement. Year after year he failed to be healed. “Wait until next year,” became his personal slogan. But next year came and went and things were still the same. He had tried to get into the healing water but someone else always shoved him aside. He had hoped and prayed for a miracle but someone else always beat him to the pool. Time was running out. He was now probably all alone; life had become one long series of disappointments, hurts, and setbacks which had led him to be totally discouraged and almost defeated in life.

Discouragement comes when we feel that the opportunity for success is gone. When we lose hope, discouragement begins and without correction it will intensify, and become depression, and unchecked until it deepens into dark despair. When we are terribly discouraged and depressed we become extremely self-centered and we think primarily of ourselves. We feel that we have not been successful in our attempts to do something. We get down because we feel that we are a failure and life has become one long series of failures. You get to the point where you become paralyzed, inactive, and tend to withdraw, isolate yourself and feel sorry for yourself and give up.

Maybe you have tried to stop a bad habit but continue to do it. Or maybe you have done your best on a test or paper but you get a bad grade. Or possibly you tried to find a job but all you get is rejection slips. You may feel unappreciated, used, and feel like no one cares whether you live or die. Or perhaps you have been to the doctor in anticipation of a good report but the news has turned out not as you expected. You’ve tried and tried but your relationship seems to only be getting worse in your marriage. Or you have fought for years to make your dreams become reality but you never seem to get any closer. And for many of you, you’ve prayed and prayed for a miracle but the miracle never seemed to happen. Or possibly it is your spiritual life in the pits. God seems to be a million miles away. Your prayers do not seem to be getting any higher than the ceiling.

Pat’s Perspective – The American Dream

What has happened to the American dream? Throughout our history, God has blessed our nation in a marvelous way. He has allowed her to enjoy unprecedented wealth, fortune, power and influence. America has been the world leader in medical and technological advancement. Our nation has pioneered space exploration and scientific research. America has given its citizens, through the free enterprise system, the world’s highest standard of living. She has opened her arms to millions of immigrants and refugees from all around the world. While other nations build barbed wire fences to keep people from getting out, America has greeted long lines of people wanting to get into our country to become a part of the American dream.

The American dream, like any other worthwhile dream, has a high price. It must be carefully guarded and preserved, less the next generation lose sight of its real significance. From time to time a dream must be renewed, refocused and recaptured. Recapturing the American dream involves passionate involvement in fighting for a worthy cause.

Where is your holy discontent? Bill Hybels raises an important question: “What is it that motivates people to work where they work, volunteer their time to groups they serve and donate money to the causes they support?” I think a part of the answer is that people get motivated to get into the game; they devote their vocational lives, volunteer their energies, and donate their hard earned money to make sure the problem that God calls them to solve gets fixed.

The reason millions of people choose to do good in the world is because there is such wrong in the world. They experience a firestorm of frustration deep within their soul and spirit. We live in a broken world that badly needs restoration. God is in the restoration business. Attempting to do restoration work under your own strength results in frustration, anger and ultimately failure.

I believe enormous untapped energy and resource are lying dormant in the lives of many good people. When this energy and ministry potential is unleashed that which is enslaved can be set free, and that which has been broken can be mended, and that which is diseased can be healed, and what is hated can be loved, and what is dirty can be made clean, and what is wrong can be made right. God says to each of us, “Suit up, get in the game. I’ll partner with you and I’ll involve you in making some badly needed changes in my world.”

Pat’s Perspective: “Mediocrity is a Heresy…”

Many years ago I came across a life-changing quote: “Mediocrity is a heresy – a sin, to make your life small when it could be great is a sin of the worse magnitude.” God has given you the wonderful gift of life, what you do with it is your gift back to him. You can choose to waste it by never trying to accomplish anything. You can fail and choose to quit trying. You can choose to climb the ladder to the top and discover tragically it is leaning against the wrong wall. Or you can choose to make your life amazing!

Jesus said that he came to bring life and to bring it abundantly. (John 10:10) Jesus wants us to live life to the max – to make a positive impact while we are here on earth. I think God has a purpose and a plan for our lives and when we discover it we really begin to live. You only go around once. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Why not choose to make your life amazing? This is one choice that you will never regret.

People who make their lives amazing have an immense capacity for sustained concentration. People who make their life amazing are known to others to concentrate their energy and efforts on what they want. They block out everything or anyone who threatens that focus. The majority of people haphazardly pursue loosely defined goals or wishes. People who want to make their lives amazing focus on the attainment of a single purpose with the intensity that borders on obsession. In fact, you might refer to this laser like focus as their magnificent obsession. It captures your thinking, actions, planning, and priorities.

Success demands singleness of purpose. People who make their life amazing invest a great deal of time and energy selecting their major goals. While the masses consider making resolutions or only making minor changes every New Year’s Eve, the goal setting and planning process is an every day habit to those who make their lives amazing.

Nido Qubein states, “Nothing can add more power to your life than committing all your energies on a limited set of targets.” When the goals are set, they put on mental blinders and move forward with dogged determination and ferocious tenacity. The create an intense level of concentration that helps them overcome interruptions, challenges, distractions, adversaries, and even all out opposition.

Nehemiah is a great example of this when God called him to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem – when opposition struck he maintained his focus and completed the project. He kept his focus on the finish line and successfully completed the task that God had given him to do. It was the last thing that he thought about before going to sleep and the first thing that hit him when awoke the next morning.

The great ones dream about their goals so much that they often keep pen and paper close by so that they can write down ideas and solutions in the middle of the night. While the casual observer would mistakenly see their amazing life as a matter of intelligence, talent, skill, or even luck these individuals know sustained concentration of though and action is the key to their amazing life. Sustained concentration is a learnable skill. It is not something that you are born with. It is something that you develop through daily practice. Paul said it so well when he said, “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (II Corinthians 9:24)

There is no better time to make your life better than today. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Make the decision for your life to become amazing!

See you Sunday in church!

Pat’s Perspective: Choices

Life is a matter of choices. What will you do for your career? Whom will you marry? Where will you live? How much education will you get? What will you do today? But an even more important decision is who will you become?

Jim Stovall, in his excellent book Ultimate Productivity, writes, “A person who doesn’t make a choice is no better off than a person that doesn’t have a choice at all; but a person who accepts less than their true destiny is relegated to a life of mediocrity. When you’ve seen yourself in your mind’s eye on top of the world, anything less will leave you wanting. In many cases you are mired in mediocrity because you have made no choice at all. There are a few people who make good choices and they enjoy every reward they seek. There are few people who make bad choices and they end up in Angola. Then there are the vast majority of people who make neither good nor bad choices but, instead they make no choice at all. These are the people who neither make things happen or watch things happen. They simply don’t realize that anything happened!”

The only true freedom that you will have is the freedom to choose. Your happiness or unhappiness in life will ultimately be determined by the choices you make. Once you make a choice, you become a servant of your choices. Choices are the hinges of your destiny. Few people want to take the path that leads downward. Each of us aspires to something more, something bigger. We first make our choices and our choices make us. The decisions you make may seem small at the time. But when you add them together – they create the course of your life.

Choose character over convenience – live life from the inside out. Character is a choice. It’s what you are made of. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation is like its shade. The shade is what we think of it and the tree is the real thing.” Character is the sum total of all of our everyday choices. No person can climb beyond the limitations of his or her own character.

We have to build our character piece by piece, thought by thought, choice by choice. Character cannot be developed in ease or quiet. It is only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened.

Choose to live life from the inside out. The choice as to how you will be in the future is yours and yours alone. Living from the inside out starts with choosing your character. Your choices will determine the person that you were meant to be.

See you Sunday in church!

The Cost of Discipleship

As usual, Jesus was surrounded by thronging crowds who were listening to his every word. Luke 14:25 states, “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus.” They were fascinated by the novelty, the winsomeness and the authority for this new teaching. The situation presented him with the unique opportunity to capitalize on his popularity. But Jesus did not do that. He did not flatter them, offer some inducement, or perform some miracle to win their allegiance.  Rather, it seems as though he was intent on alienating their interest and actually discouraging them from following him.

Becoming a Christian is a free gift. It costs absolutely nothing; it is a work of grace. (Ephesians 2:8-9) But there is a cost attached in becoming an authentic disciple. Jesus states in this passage that the cost is great. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died for his commitment to Christ in a Nazi concentration camp understood this principle. He once wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die. But only the man who is dead to his own will can follow Christ.” As Jesus preached many would attempt to join the crowd. And then Jesus would challenge many “would be” followers to stop and to count the cost before answering the call to discipleship. I once read this quote, “A religion which costs nothing is worth nothing.” What is the cost of discipleship? Basically it will cost you everything to be a true disciple.

The cost of discipleship demands a willingness to sacrifice any possession, practice or relationship that might be a hindrance or a stumbling block to following Jesus. Jesus called many to follow him but only a few accepted. Like the rich young ruler and many others who made excuses when confronted with Christ’s call to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him we may find that our first reaction is defensive – we too make excuses. In almost every case our excuse stems from the fact that we don’t want to give up control of our lives. In a very real way the decision to follow Christ is to lay down our lives to follow him is quite similar to Jesus playing let’s make a deal with the rich young ruler. “Go, sell everything that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven. Then come and follow me.”

Jesus was saying that, “I am offering you the greatest adventure of your life. I’m inviting you to partner with me in my great kingdom mission. I promise you will find your deepest purposes and your greatest fulfillment in life doing what I have created you to do. All you have to do is to lay down what you have already won, and I will replace it with the treasures beyond your imagination.” It was that last sentence that was the hard part – “Lay down what you have already won.” “Can I keep it all, Jesus?”  Jesus replied, “No my child, because no one can serve two masters, you will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:24) The more you have the harder it is to sell everything you have and give it to Jesus. That may be why so many people give their lives to Jesus Christ when they have nothing left to lose. As one bumper sticker states, “If God is your co-pilot switch seats!”

Being a Christian disciple has never been easy. The cost is great. The cost is everything, all that a man or woman has or is. “Only one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” What are you clinging to? What holds you back from being a totally committed disciple of Jesus Christ?

See you Sunday in church!

Blessings

I’ve discovered we all need it desperately, and it is the one great need we all have in common. What oxygen is for the lungs it is the same for our souls. It is the basis of our spiritual security, self-esteem, and confidence. It is the one thing people need from us, but it something we cannot give until we receive it ourselves. It is one of life’s most precious and priceless possessions. What is it? The blessing. Each of us needs to be blessed, to feel blessed, to pause and reflect thankfully on our blessings and then become a blessing to others.

The word blessing is one of the most misused and misunderstood words in the Bible. God said to Abraham, “I will bless you and you will be a blessing.” The blessings of God is the assurance that we belong to him, and that he is pleased with us and he has singled us out as targets for his unconditional love. To be a blessed person is to know, feel, and relish God’s affirmation, acceptance, and approval. It is the experience of being called, chosen, cherished, valued, and enjoyed. A blessed person can say, “God is for me!”

You have been blessed to be a blessing – to partner with God to be a channel of blessing to others. God will allow circumstances to come into your life that will cause you to examine who or what is your source. Your source is based upon God’s ability and not your own. God is able! Ephesians 3:20 states it so well, “He is able to do more than we ask or imagine.” God’s eternal plan of economy is based upon God being our source. Your job, your investments, your brilliance, your talent is not your source but rather a channel God uses to move his resources to you. God’s ability is unlimited, unqualified, and unchanging. God was able in the past; he will be able today as well as in the future. When I choose to practice generous living, I’m linking myself with the eternal ability of God.

When you partner with God to be his channel you will begin to experience one of life’s greatest adventures.  Each day provides opportunities to impact the lives of others through your generous living. Every day God will show you amazing ways both great and small to make someone’s life better. Generous living is not about doing the minimum – just getting by, barely passing. It is about looking for opportunities to do something extra. Doing more than expected or required is to make a real impact on others.

We are to use his gifts, time, talents, money, or witness to make a difference in the lives of others. The more we serve and give the more we will be blessed so that we in turn can be an ongoing blessing to others. Remember you have been blessed to be a blessing. Ask God to show you how and whom he wants you to be channel of blessing to you. Then step back and watch God use you to be instrument of healing, hope, and help to a broken world.

See you Sunday in church!

Standing in the Gap

09 24 14 Standing in the gapA gap, by definition, represents a place of weakness, vulnerability, and danger. It is a defenseless location of exposure and limitation, the point where people face real threats. Gaps exist in our communities, churches, homes, and even our country. When an enemy attacks the gaps in our lives, we are hopelessly overwhelmed, if not for the grace of God and the intervention of his divine hand.

Our church is a praying church. And the secret to our church effectiveness and strength is directly related to our prayer power. Everything changes when you get serious about prayer. I don’t mean just talking about it or learning about it, but really praying with passion, fervency and power. In Ezekiel 22:30 we read, “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it but I found none.” God sought for a person who would make up the hedge, and stand in the gap, but found none. God was seeking intercessors to fight the spiritual battle against the principalities of darkness and evil but found none. He was searching for someone to make up the hedge and stand in the gap in order to stay on the tide of inequity, injustice and evil in the world, but found none.

Even so today God seeks for intercessors, people who would build a hedge and stand in the gap. We are in a life and death struggle and every one of us is involved in a daily spiritual battle. I believe God calls Christians to stand in the gap and become involved intercessory prayer. In I Samuel 12:23 it states, “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you.” Without exception every Christian is called to become engaged in the ministry of intercessory prayer. Not everyone can sing, preach, teach, or lead, or visit but every Christian regardless of age or physical ability can pray. S. D. Gordon once wrote, “The greatest thing anyone can do for God and for mankind is to pray.” Frank C. Laubach once wrote, “Every prayer we utter from the heart begins to change history at once. People seldom pray as if they realize that prayer changes the world.” Prayer is the mightiest power on earth. We are called by God to stand in the gap between human need and the satisfaction of the need. When you and I pray for another person, we bring the power of God to bear upon that person’s life and situation. The ministry of prayer is the most important of all ministries of the church.

Does God still look for intercessors, people to stand in the gap? Does God still call people to stand in the gap and cry out to him? Most assuredly he does. This is the crying need of our day and age. May you pray from the very depths of your heart, “Here I am Lord, use me!”

The Forgiven Woman: The Act of Casting Nets

Jesus’s intentions were always to redeem and not to reject – to convert and not to condemn. We must begin to understand the importance of this statement if we are to grasp the Christian attitude toward wrong doing and the wrong doer. So often we cruelly, mercilessly put people into categories or forever engrave a title or label as a person. There may be facts and evidences to substantiate our judgments only dam people and forever imprison them.

Jesus believed that people could change – he saw the potential in every person he met to become the person God had created them to be. Our Lord’s ministry was to set in motion the process of transformation and liberation. No one who followed him was allowed a fixed and hopeless view of people. When we judge others we inevitably judge ourselves. A self-righteous person who looks down their noses and does nothing to redeem a wrong doer is under the same condemnation as a person who has done the wrong. James 5:19 states, “If one of you should wander from the truth and someone brings him back, remember this; whoever turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins.” 

When we sin – there are consequences involved. Many people sow wild oats and pray for a crop failure. Sin blinds us from the consequences of bad choices and actions. Sin always promises something it can’t deliver. It promises pleasure without pain. Many people don’t think of the consequences before they commit sin. If they did, it would be a great preventative. 

Many people are bought into a culture of moral relativism – there are no absolute rights or wrongs. Truth is subjective and relative. Many in our society no longer want to follow the legal laws of the land or our church laws. In the Old Testament before the judges were appointed – “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” A culture that knowingly ignores and breaks the laws without consequences will soon implode. Romans 3:23 states, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

Take a look at the consequences of our sinfulness: 1) Loss – family, friends, reputation, character, freedom, and even monetary loss. 2) When we break the law it can result in punishment and imprisonment and the loss of our freedom. 3) Guilt – the laws of self-respect and honor. 4) Separation from God as well as others our sin forms an invisible shield that breaks our fellowship with God as well as with others. And then there is the loss of direction due to our bad decisions and we end up confused and lost.

Christians are not in the stone casting business. We need to all learn to cast nets from the great fisherman. Nets of concern, love, compassion, caring and involvement is what Jesus Christ has called us to do with others. With such nets we can draw all people into the radius of his love, grace, and forgiveness. 

Will we be casters of stones or casters of nets? We all are given a wonderful choice. What will your decision be?

See you Sunday in church!