Monday, June 30, 2008

Mission's Team Update

For updates on the Ecuador Missions Team please click here.

We will try to post pictures and prayer points daily.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

God rewards DILIGENCE

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you are as well. I would like to talk with you for a few moments today about the importance of diligence in a Christians life.

Some people are just lazy, which is why they never see anything accomplished with their lives. They blame their lack of success on this, that, and everything but themselves. But God is no respecter of persons. What He does for one, He will do for all. The key factors that make the difference are a person's level of determination and his or her willingness to do whatever is necessary to achieve a goal.

It may be a hard fact to face, but ultimately we are all responsible for our success or our lack of success. We all possess the same promises, the same faith, the same power, the same Spirit, and the same Jesus who sits at the right hand of God to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). The main thing that determines who succeeds and who doesn't succeed is

You have to want success in order to get it. It doesn't float on clouds, and it takes hard work to achieve it. Because most people are willing to do only average work, they reap average results. To achieve super results, one must do super work, be deeply committed to the task, and be willing to do whatever is necessary to realize goals and aspirations.

Hebrews 11:6 says that God "is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." According to this verse, even God rewards diligence. In fact, He only rewards those who diligently seek Him, which means people with a lazy, lethargic, do- nothing; "take-it-easy" attitude will never be greatly rewarded by the Lord. This verse says that God rewards the diligent seeker.

Rick Renner in "Sparkling Gems from the Greek" says that diligence is required for any success. The phrase "diligently seek" in Hebrews 11:6 is taken from the Greek word ekzeteo, and it carries an entire range of power-packed meanings. It means to zealously seek for something with all of one's heart, strength, and might. It presents the picture of one who seeks something so passionately and determinedly that he literally exhausts all his power in his search.

Because the word ekzeteo portrays such an earnest effort, the idea of being hard-working, attentive, busy, constant, and persistent in one's devotion to what he or she is doing is also included.

This tells us that Hebrews 11:6 means:
"God is a rewarder of those who put all their heart, strength, and might into seeking Him. Those who are so committed in their search that they are willing to exhaust all their natural powers in their search for Him — they are the ones who will find what they are seeking!"

You see, you have to be diligent to be rewarded by God, so it should be no surprise that diligence is going to be required in order for you to succeed in every sphere of life. It's just a fact that a lazy, neglectful attitude will never get you where you need to go. If you take your life assignment lightly — if you approach it with a casual, easygoing, take-it-easy, relaxed attitude — you'll never go far in the fulfillment of your call or dream. Live like a slug, and you'll eat dirt the rest of your life!

If you're serious about succeeding in life, you'll have to adjust your level of commitment and give your full attention to what God has called you to do. Diligence cannot be a sideline issue. Your assigned task must have your full consideration, your undivided attention, and your mental and spiritual concentration. You must immerse yourself in faith, prayer, and meditation regarding God's call on your life. Distractions are not allowed.

It takes hard work to achieve any goal, and complaining about that hard work won't make it any easier. So be constant in your commitment. Refuse to relent! Stay stubborn and unbending even in the face of opposition until your objective is achieved. Your consistency and determination will push the powers of hell aside and obtain the victory you desire! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dead-End Places

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you are as well.

What a wonderful time that we had in Destin with our family. There were fifteen family members in a home designed for eight people, and we managed fine! Even though it was very crowded, we made some life long memories. The picture that I have added here is my wife and I with all of our children, grandchildren, son-in-law, and mother and father-in-law. (Not pictured is my wife's sister and her family). I am so thankful for opportunities like this week to spend quality time together. If you haven't planned to take a vacation this year and enjoy family time, please reconsider. It is well worth the time and money. It is an investment that will pay many dividends.

I would like to share some thoughts with you today from 2 Corinthians 1:9, as well as some thoughts from Rick Renner.

Although we don’t like to admit it, we all occasionally run into dead-end places in our lives where we don’t know what to say, what to do, where to turn, or even how to pray. Sometimes it seems like we’ve hit a dead-end — in other words, it seems like everything is finished, over, and done with! If you’ve ever been in a place like this, you know what a hard place this can be! Through these kinds of experiences, you and I discover that in our own strength, we are no match for some of life’s problems. That’s why we must learn to depend on the power and wisdom of God!

The apostle Paul tells us that he, too, went through this kind of learning experience when he found himself face-to-face with life-threatening situations in his own ministry. In Second Corinthians 1:9, he says, “But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.” Paul was definitely at one of those dead-end places that we’re talking about today. In fact, the situation he faced was so acute that he compared it to a sentence of death. That’s dramatic language! Notice the word “sentence” in the verse above. It is taken from the Greek word krino. This word krino normally refers to a jury who just handed down their final sentence in a court of law. You could say that the word krino denotes a verdict or a sentence pronounced as the result of a court trial.

After all the evidence is presented and the judge has examined all the facts, a final verdict is issued by the court. This is exactly the word that Paul uses in this dramatic verse. In using such a word, Paul is telling us that so much evidence and so many problems were stacked up against him and his companions, by all appearances it looked like there was no way for them to escape or even to survive. It looked like they had hit a dead-end; everything for them seemed to be finished, over, and done with!

Have you ever had a time in your life when it looked like it was the end of the road for you and your dreams? Did you think there was no way out? Did it look like there were so many problems stacked against you that you’d never survive what you were facing?

In essence, Second Corinthians 1:9 could be translated: “As far as we were concerned, the final verdict was in, and the verdict demanded our deaths....”But in spite of how it looked, Paul didn’t die, nor did he fail at fulfilling the job God had given him. It may have looked like it was the end of the road, but it was really the beginning of a new supernatural flow of divine power into Paul’s life. That’s why he went on to say that through it all, he learned not to trust in himself, but in God who raises the dead. Paul had been under such intense pressure that he felt death was unavoidable. Then right from the midst of this horrible situation, God’s power was released and Paul was rescued! Paul said it was as if he and his companions had been raised from the dead.

When you don’t know what else to do and when you have no one else to turn to, that’s usually when God’s resurrection power begins to operate in you to the greatest measure! You see, there’s no such thing as no hope. As long as there is a loving Heavenly Father you can call on, there is still hope for you! If you learn to rely on Him, that dead-end place in your life that you’re facing right now can become a new beginning! So call out to your Heavenly Father right now. Expect Him to release His resurrection power on your behalf to turn your dead-end situation around! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Oops and a Calculator

This is the day that the Lord has made; I pray that you are rejoicing and being glad in it!

“Oops” is one of those extraordinary sounds that can stir up joyous laughter and gut-wrenching fear all in the same historic moment. For example: During the cold winter night a light rain covers the ground, which soon freezes. Early the next morning you step out to get your newspaper. You take your two dogs with you. As you step outside, Lucky and Patch eagerly yank on their leashes. As your right tennis shoe comes in contact with the slippery ice on the front step… “Oops!” Do you get the idea?

The picture of you collapsed on the ground with two yelping dogs running all around can be quite funny to anyone… but you. “Oops,” is that kind of sound.
Here is another example. You are inside a hospital operating room, heavily sedated but awake. The surgeon is standing over you issuing instructions to the nurse. Scalpel…check! Swab…check! OOPS!

Would you stay calm and serenely ask: “Doctor, did you just say... Oops?” (Right!) You would more likely say, “Where’s the phone? Get me a lawyer!” Or, how about a good old-fashioned loud scream for… “Help!!??” “Oops,” is that kind of word.
Have there been any major “Oops” in your life? Missed opportunities? Ruined relationships? Something said in anger that hurt a dear friend? Perhaps someone has committed an “Oops” against you? A fellow worker stabs you in the back? A trusted friend betrays you? Maybe your “Oops” was against God. You’ve blown it… big time and now you need help.
The answer could be as close as a calculator. In my office a calculator is always nearby. I crunch a series of numbers and the calculator works perfectly but often in haste I hit the wrong key. “Oops!” (There’s that word again!) No problem... I just push the button marked “C.” You can’t miss it. Mine is marked in red. Instantly, everything is erased and I can begin again.

God promises to forgive our “Oops” in life the same way. There is a “C” button on God’s calculator unmistakably marked in red just for you. The “C” stands for Jesus Christ and the red is a vivid reminder of the cost Jesus paid to clear all of your “Oops.” Confess your mistakes before God, then push the “Red C” button and everything is erased so that you can begin again.

Can seeking forgiveness from God be that straightforward? Ask a woman about to be punished for adultery. Jesus said to her accusers, “All right, stone her. But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones!” Jesus then forgave her. (John 8:1-11) Ask the criminal beside Jesus on the cross. “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:24) Ask Peter, the disciple who denied Jesus, received forgiveness and became a leader of the church. I am so thankful for the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. He died on the cross of Calvary, and shed His blood for our OOPS! It is something to not just think about, but to ACT upon! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thermometer or Thermostat?

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!

In our staff meeting Tuesday morning, I asked our staff if they were a THERMOMETER or a THERMOSTAT. Using some material that I read from Dr. Tim Elmore (Habitudes), we discussed the difference between the two.

Down through the years I have heard people say things like, "Well, our church just isn't friendly" or "Our church is dead" or "Our church just isn't very progressive", "Our church doesn't have a vision." My question is always, "Well...what are YOU doing about it?"

You see, we are the church. If my church isn't very friendly, then I must work on doing something about it. If all I do is sit back and COMPLAIN about what is wrong with the church and the people that attend, then I am nothing more than a THERMOMETER. I just tell everyone how COLD or HOT things are. One of the problem's in today's church is that we have too many THERMOMETERS and not enough THERMOSTATS.

Do you know the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer? Both have something to do with temperature but they are fundamentally different. Inside the house, a thermostat is something we set that dictates the temperature in a room. A thermometer simply tells us what the room temperature is. People are either thermostats or thermometers. You either gauge the temperature (thermometer) and gripe about the temperature, or you do something about it (thermostat).

Most people are like thermometers. They tend to reflect the culture around them. They buy things that others buy, say things that others say, wear things that others wear, and value things that others value. Most people don’t set the “climate for the world they live in; they just mirror back that climate, and then complain about it. Christlike leaders need to be thermostats. Leaders set the climate for the world around them. We need to set the social climate, the spiritual climate, and the attitude climate for the world we live in, and the church we attend. Leaders that are thermostats have developed values and principles they live by. God calls us to be authentic! Thermometers NEVER change the climate, they only gauge it...and COMPLAIN about it.

This image of leadership is profound and poignant. It reminds us that at the root of being a leader we must truly be authentic by living out our own God given core beliefs. Being a genuine leader doesn't come from status or position, it come from authenticity. If we fail to live by values and principles we will most assuredly become mere thermometers of the world around us. If we are thermometers we are not changing the climate of the world around us! We are then missing out on God's greatest calling for our change the world with His love.

God is calling us to be Thermostats in our world and in our local church. Christ wants us to live in such a way that our lives would set the tone in our workplaces, in our homes, and in our neighborhoods. Thermostats influence others for good and positively impact the social climate in which they are placed.

Two thousand years ago, a guy named Paul traveled around the Mediterranean being a Thermostat where ever he went. In Ephesians 4:1-4, he challenged the church, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Every one of us can live two ways. We can simply complain about our situation, or we can set the tone relationally in how we are going to act. Even if you are the only one, I urge you to live a Thermostat life. Live a life that reflects Christlike humility, gentleness, patience, and love in every single relationship.

Christians are called to be thermostats. All people, including non-Christians respect other people who are values-driven and principle-centered. When they see authentic Christians who value God’s Word and live life God’s way, they will be influenced. Christians should be the pacesetters. We should influence rather than be influenced. We should be thermostats instead of thermometers.

Years ago, a boy grew up in a Jewish home, watching everything his father did. Evidently, his dad didn’t realize the influence he had. They attended a synagogue nearby. Dad decided to just switch religious beliefs. He admitted it was only a way of meeting business contacts anyway. This father’s failure to live by values outside of his own benefit led his son to question morality, ethics and his faith. As the boy grew, he believed that religion was a “crutch” for the masses. He wrote that money was behind anything meaningful in the world. The boy’s name is Karl Marx, and he led millions of people into a destructive belief system during the 20th century.

The problem was simple. Karl Marx’s father had created a set of values by default not by design. He didn’t think through what was best for his family or his community. He did what was best for himself. Young Karl was a thermometer, reflecting what his dad had modeled. Unfortunately, Karl Marx was successful at making people believe he could be a trusted thermostat.

Regrettably, many leaders share this story today. We influence others, but we don’t have a compass that influences us. It’s the inside that counts.

We should allow God to set our thermostats – for the good of others and for the glory of God. So I ask you today, "Are you a THERMOSTAT or a THERMOMETER?" Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Monday, June 16, 2008

You REAP what you SOW (Part 2)

We began looking at Galatians 6:7 last Tuesday, then began to look at the important role of fathers. I want to go back to Galatians and conclude this study today. The verse says,

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

The word for “reap” is in the same Greek tense, meaning that it could be translated, “You will reap, reap, reap, and reap — and keep on habitually reaping and reaping and reaping.” The reason most people walked away disgusted and scoffing at this promise is that they never really put it to the test! They sowed once and waited for a harvest. When nothing happened, they threw up their arms and said it didn’t work. But those who keep on habitually sowing and sowing and sowing as a manner of lifestyle are the ones who eventually reap and reap and reap as the manifold blessings of God come pouring back into their lives.The level at which you sow determines the level you will reap. Sow a little, and you’ll reap a little. Sow a lot, and you’ll reap a lot. Sow inconsistently, and you’ll reap inconsistently. Sow regularly, and you will reap regularly.

Galatians 6:7 could be translated: “Stop letting people lead you astray from the truth! You might try to turn up your nose at the law of God, but it won’t change the law! It remains true that whatever you regularly and habitually sow — regardless of what it is — that is exactly what you will regularly and habitually reap.”

Then,in Galatians 6:9, Paul takes just a moment to encourage those of us who are waiting for our harvests. He says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Notice that Paul mentions a “due season.” Even today, harvest times come at varying times for different areas, depending on the temperature, altitude, and climate of each region. For example, in one low-lying district of Israel, harvest may be in full swing while districts at higher altitudes are still weeks, or even a full month, away from their harvest time. This principle holds true in every other realm as well.

For instance, if the seed you are sowing is financial seed, remember to bathe it in prayer as it leaves your pocketbook and enters the Kingdom of God. Pray for the Holy Spirit to create a right atmosphere or climate for that seed to take root and grow. And if it takes awhile for the harvest to come back to you, remember that no farmer plants seed one day and expects to have a full wheat or corn field the next day! It takes time for seed to grow in the natural.

In the same way, time may be required for the seed you have sown to spiritually mature so it can come back into your life as a multiplied blessing. In the meantime, don’t be weary in “well doing.” That simply means keep it up; don’t stop what you are doing; be regular; be consistent; be faithful; or be “well doing” in the sowing of your seed! The last thing you should do is “faint”!

That word “faint” comes from the Greek word ekluo, which means to loosen up; to relax; to faint; and to lose altogether. The devil will say, “This doesn’t work. You’ve tried long enough. It won’t hurt if you cut back on your giving. Loosen up a little. Relax from giving so much!”

But according to Galatians 6:9 and the Greek word ekluo, if you loosen up and relax in your giving, you will eventually “faint” — in other words, you’ll stop giving completely. And if you do that, you will lose everything! So don’t ever let the devil or anyone else ever talk you into backing out of sowing seeds into the Kingdom of God. As I said earlier, the sowing of seeds applies to every area of life. If you constantly and habitually:

  • Sow love, you will reap love.

  • Sow patience, you will reap patience.

  • Sow kindness, you will reap kindness.

  • Sow forgiveness, you will reap forgiveness.

  • Sow bitterness, you will reap bitterness.

  • Sow strife, you will reap strife.

Friend, like it or not, this is just the way it is! It is the law of God, and there is not one thing you can do to change it. So rather than challenge the system and fail, don’t you think it’s time that you wise up and get with the program? If you’re going to reap what you sow, maybe you ought to figure out what you want to reap. Then you can start planting those same kinds of seeds to assure that you’ll get the harvest that God wants you to have. Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Friday, June 13, 2008

Leaving a LEGACY (Part two)

Every dad leaves a legacy. We began looking at four ways father's can leave a legacy yesterday. The first two ways were:

#1 Love your wife
#2 Be an encouragement to your kids

Today we will examine two more ways to establish a positive legacy.

#3 Enjoy every mile of the journey

The best description I have heard about being a parent is this bit of wisdom: “Parenting…the days are long and the years are short.”

In his book, Being a Good Dad When You Didn't Have One, Tim Wesemann gives his readers a two-word piece of advice: "Lighten up!" He says that adults laugh an average of 15 times a day while children laugh 400 more times. "Sometime between childhood and adulthood, we lose 385 laughs a day! That's a great loss!" Wesemann says. "Maybe we need not only the faith of a child but the funny bone of one as well."

#4 Be a Role Model

The fourth way to leave a positive legacy is to model what you are teaching.

Here is a powerful quote from Clarence Budington Kelland: “My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and he let me watch him do it.”

I can tell you exactly what my father modeled for me, but I would have a hard time remembering any of his lectures. I believe that is an overlooked component of the wisdom expressed in Proverbs: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." That training should include being a role model, and then the verbal training will sink in. Being an authentic role model makes the message effective.

You are a role model for your children, like it or not. Your children will, to one degree or another, model their lives after you. You have inherited some of your father's characteristics and your children are inheriting some of yours.

You ARE a role model and every dad needs to reflect on that responsibility.

In Deuteronomy we find a great bit of advice for dads: “Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over yourselves. Don't forget anything of what you've seen. Don't let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you've seen and heard to your children and grandchildren.”

You are preparing your children to leave home. That is your job as parents. Someday, they'll take what they've learned from you and begin to apply it out in the real world. You've got approximately 18 years to get them ready, so we can't afford to waste any time!

God is challening me as a Father to re-examine the legacy that I am leaving. I hope you will join me in this! Blessings!

(I plan to have a special post Saturday on the Legacy of our Father's. I plan to use COMMENTS left on this blog. So, for those of you that will, please take a moment to post a comment about the legacy that your dad left or is leaving you. Thanks in advance for your assistance)

Pastor Rusty

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Leaving a LEGACY

I don’t mind if you’ve got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all who’s who and so-n-so’s that used to be the best
At such’n’such … it wouldn’t matter much
I won’t lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights

We all need an ‘Atta boy’ or ‘Atta girl’
But in the end I’d like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

I don’t have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthy list of all that I enjoy
It’s an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy
Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred

Just want to hear instead, “Well Done” good and faithful one…

What a POWERFUL song with a powerful message. Af a Father, I want to leave a legacy that my children and my wife will be proud of. We are all leaving a legacy, we determine what kind it is.

With Father's Day this weekend, let me briefly, give you four ways for a father to leave a legacy:

#1 Love your wife!

The first way to leave a good legacy is found in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (NIV, Ephesians 5:25) The translation in The Message says this.

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church--a love marked by giving, not getting.

The idea of marriage as an absolute commitment is an endangered species. Actor Brad Pitt has confessed he knew his marriage to Jennifer Aniston would never last. He said in a recent interview that he never expected to be wed forever. He described his high-profile breakup as "beautiful." Pitt seemed frustrated about the public perception… "It's talked about like it failed. I guess because it wasn't flawless."

Now comes Pitt's wisdom about marriage: "Me, I embrace the messiness of life. I find it so beautiful, actually. The idea that marriage has to be for all time - that I don't understand." Our culture has devalued marriage to the point where people enter relationships on a trial basis with no expectation that it can last. I will guarantee you one thing…that mindset will make it far more likely that it will not last. Why should followers of Jesus believe that marriage is for all time? A report by Warren Mueller revealed that where both parents attend church regularly, 72% of their children continue in the faith. Where only the father attends, that percentage drops to 55 percent, but where only the mother attends, just 15 percent of the children remain involved in the church.

Theodore M. Hesburgh wrote that the “most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”.

#2 Encourage your children

The second part of leaving a legacy that endures is to be an encouragement to your kids. Paul wrote this simple instruction to the church at Colossae. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

The Message translates this verse like this….Parents, don't come down too hard on your children or you'll crush their spirits.

The dad factor may be more critical than we ever realized. Christian author/speaker Josh McDowell commissioned a definitive study of the last 17 school shootings. On the surface, the results were the same as dozens of other similar studies; there seems to be no "profile" of a teenage killer. They come from poor, middle class and rich homes. Some are nerds and geeks; some are the most popular kids in school. They come from a variety of races and religions. Some make good grades; some don't. Some have been bullied, others are the bullies.

McDowell went below the surface and discovered a common thread that other studies missed or ignored. He found that in every case, the families of the murderers were superficially normal but were, in fact, dysfuntional when it came to the relationship of the children with their parents. In particular, the fathers were either absent or minimally involved in parenting.

After making this discovery, McDowell commissioned another study that involved 2,000 children ages 12 to 17, and 1,000 parents. The study revealed that children raised in a SINGLE PARENT home were 30% MORE LIKELY than the national average to be involved in drugs, alcohol, and violence. I can almost hear some of you saying, "That's no surprise. I've always felt that divorce was the major cause of youth violence. I'm glad WE have two parents raising our children."

Read on.

Adolescents raised in TWO PARENT families in which the father had a poor to fair relationship with his children were 68% MORE LIKELY than the national average to have problems with drugs, alcohol, and violence! That floored me. Two parents in the home are no defense against the problems we're discussing unless the father is close to his children. If he is not, his children are at more than twice the risk of children raised in single parent homes.

The final statistic shows us the answer to school violence as well as a host of other problems affecting our youth. Teenagers raised in two parent families in which the father had a good to excellent relationship with his children were 96% LESS LIKELY than the national average to become involved with drugs, alcohol, and violence.

These statistics show us that many of the things that we have assumed would protect our children will not necessarily do so. You can raise your children in a two parent family in a "good" neighborhood, send them to a "good" school, and even take them to church. But if there is a lack of emotional attachment, if there is no loving bond between the children and their parents, particularly the father, children of every background are at some risk.

I am not talking about being a perfect father. These kids (and even many of us) are simply looking for the affirmation and blessing of our earthly fathers.

When Scripture says that God is our Father, it is telling us that these needs can be met by Him. This is where our role as Christian dads becomes so important. There are no perfect earthly dads. But it is critical that we understand the impact that we have on our child’s relationship with God. Some may find it hard to get excited about the scriptural descriptions of God as a father because of the imperfect models of fatherhood they have experienced here on earth.

Some remember a father who was too wrapped up in his job, his buddies, and his hobbies to provide much support or affirmation. He might have been one of those men who believed that their only job was to bring home a paycheck, while Mom was responsible for everything else. Others might recall a dad that was demanding, cold, and unapproachable. Children can tend to transpose their father experience when they think of God as Father.

I have talked to many men my age who are still desperate for the approval of their fathers. And I know that is true for women as well. Jim Valvano, the now deceased coach, said "My father gave me the greatest gift that anyone could give another person, he believed in me."

We will complete this study in tomorrow's blog! Blessings!

(I plan to have a special post Saturday on the Legacy of our Father's. I plan to use COMMENTS left on this blog. So, for those of you that will, please take a moment to post a comment about the legacy that your dad left or is leaving you. Thanks in advance for your assistance)

Pastor Rusty

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Five ways to Bless your Children

Yesterday we started talking about reaping what you sow, and I said that we would complete that study today. Actually, I am going to wait and complete that study Monday. With Father's Day being this weekend, I want to spend the next three days talking especially to Father's.

Recently I read a list that every father should read. My prayer is that young dads will save some time and regrets by reading this list.

1. No one ever wishes they had worked more

2. Pick your battles wisely – Make sure it is an issue that is worth confrontation.

3. Innoculate your kids to the world – You must help your children prepare to go into a world that is filled with temptation and pitfalls.

4. Answer on the first tug – Children feel valued when you make time for them.

5. Know their friends – They will push back on this one if you question their friends. Do it anyway.

6. Let them know when you are wrong. Learn to say I'm sorry and forgive me. Do it often.

7. Listen to what they say. If I could have a do-over I would listen to every pain, problems and concern. If I listen to them when they are small when they come to talk about problem, then they will continue to do that when they are older.

8. Make sure while praying for your family that you are also praying for yourself. A father's prayers so often sound something like this, “God, please make my son and daughter good people. Help them to succeed in school. Help them to find the right person to marry. Take care of them and protect them.” I am learning that to become the kind of dad I want to be requires that I stay in the right relationship with my Heavenly Father.

9. Say I love you often and learn how to bless your children.

John Trent and Gary Smalley wrote a book some time ago called The Blessing in which they encouraged modern fathers to pass along a spiritual blessing to their children. The authors say that it's more than taking them to church, praying with them or setting a good example. Smalley and Trent talk about five practical ways to pass on a blessing.

Number one: We can pass on a blessing with a meaningful touch. Jacob embraced. kissed and laid his hands on his sons and grandchildren. By giving a hug or a touch or placing an arm around the shoulder, we communicate love and a blessing. When children get loving touches from their parents, they are less likely to seek that physical touch from harmful sources later in life.

The Bible affirms this concept too. It relates this incident about Jesus: People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16)

One study has shown that it takes eight to ten meaningful touches each day to maintain emotional and physical health. If you can find ways to do that, your own children will be blessed.

Number two: We pass on a blessing through verbal affirmation. Children long to hear their dads say, "I'm proud of you," "You've done that well," or "I love you."

Number three: We pass along a blessing by attaching value to our children. To bless means to honor. We honor our children by letting them know that they are valuable to us and that they are the most important people in the world to us. That means we sacrifice time for them. That means we look them in the eye when we talk to them, and we stop and we listen to them.

Number four: We pass along a blessing by picturing a positive future for them. Jacob pronounced a positive future on Reuben, Judah, Dan, Asher and others. We can bless our children by attaching high value to their gifts and then picturing for them a positive future. "You really love people. You'd make a great salesman some day." "The way you love animals, you'd be a good veterinarian." "You want to be a policeman. That means you're courageous." "The way you love church, you're going to be a great church leader some day."

Number five: Trent and Smalley write that we bless our children by active commitment. It's not enough to speak the words. There has to be a willingness by the parent to sacrifice for the children, to pray, to spend time in helping develop their gifts, to spend money for lessons and for higher education.

To be honest, many men find it difficult to do some of those things. Men tend to struggle with how to verbalize their feelings and to pass along that blessing. Mom can help Dad do that by communicating the good things he says to her in private about the kids. Mom can say to one of her kids, "You know what your dad said about you last night? He said, 'I think that's the smartest girl I've ever seen." Or "You should have seen the look on your dad's face when you walked up on that platform." Or "When you got that hit, he was beaming. His buttons were going to pop. He is so proud of you."

If, as a father, you had less than one minute each day to talk to your children, what would you tell them? Studies show that fathers, on the average, spend less than sixty seconds a day talking to their children, and most of that time is spent pointing out negative behavior. However, the opposite of criticism is one of the most powerful motivating forces available to parents – praise. Don’t miss a chance to bless your children with affirmation and praise. Happy Father's Day to all you fathers! Blessings!

(I plan to have a special post Saturday on the Legacy of our Father's. I plan to use COMMENTS left on this blog. So, for those of you that will, please take a moment to post a comment about the legacy that your dad left or is leaving you. Thanks in advance for your assistance)

Pastor Rusty

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

You REAP what you SOW

A verse that I quote and meditate on just about every day is found in Galatians 6:7. What a powerful truth. Please read it slowly, then let's discuss it:

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

This principle is so true that Paul begins by telling us not to question its validity! He says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked.” The word “deceived” comes from the Greek word planao, which means to lead astray; to wander; to stagger; to be led off course; or to be affected by someone’s outside influence and led in a wrong direction. The word planao is usually used in the New Testament to depict the activity of false teachers who deliberately lead people from liberty into teaching that enslaves them in some kind of spiritual bondage.

When Paul wrote this verse, the language he used was a command coupled with a very strong prohibition. This means he was forbidding his readers from participating in something that seemed to have already been initiated. Because he spoke so prohibitively, it could correctly be translated, “Stop being deceived.” He was rebuking a weakness that was already developing among the Galatians and that he wanted to halt! Could it be that false teachers were trying to tell the Galatians that the law of sowing and reaping didn’t really work? It seems so.

We also live in a day and time when the law of sowing and reaping is challenged by those who do not embrace its truth. Many scoff at those who believe that God will multiply their financial seed back to them again; some even try to use their influence to persuade people to abandon their belief in such a doctrine. Unfortunately, sometimes people who are young and unstable in the Word are caught in the middle of this war of words. A doubt sown here and there makes them question the validity of whether or not the law of sowing and reaping applies to finances. In the end, many of these new believers let go of their grip on this promise and walk away.

But those deceivers who blatantly take a stand against the promise of God will one day answer for their actions. Paul stands firm on the principle of sowing and reaping and lets his voice be heard as he states, “God is not mocked.” The word “mocked” is the Greek word mukteridzo, and it means to turn up one’s nose at someone, as if mocking or laughing at the person. The idea is of someone who arrogantly says, “Come on, you surely don’t believe this stupid principle of sowing and reaping. How dumb can you be to believe that God will multiply what you sow!”

One noted scholar has commented that this type of attitude usually comes from a person who had a sour experience when he tried to apply the law of sowing and reaping to his finances. For some reason, he didn’t get the results he expected, so now he acts as though this principle isn’t true or applicable to anyone. Thus, he turns up his nose at the law of God, challenging the validity of it and asserting that whatsoever a man soweth is not always what he reaps. Paul doesn’t want this negativism and unbelief to worm its way into the thinking of the Galatian church, so he speaks loudly, firmly, and prohibitively, commanding the Galatian believers to disassociate themselves with anyone who dares to turn up his nose at the law of sowing and reaping.

Then Paul boldly declares what he believes: “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The word “soweth” is the word speiro, which refers to any seed that is sown. Notice the emphasis on any seed that is sown. This immediately alerts us to the fact that this law is not applicable only to finances, but to anything in life. It applies to love, to work, to time, to patience, to kindness, to forgiveness, to bitterness, to selfishness — and, of course, to money. All of these are potential “seeds” that we sow.

Making the definition of “soweth” even broader is the word “whatsoever,” which in Greek is the word ean. This word literally throws open the door, for it means whatever; whatever thing; or no matter what a man sows. Again, Paul lets us know that this is a law of God that applies to every sphere of life with no exceptions. It is simply a fact: Whatever you sow, regardless of what it is, you will reap it. The Greek tense does not denote a single, one-time sowing; rather, it pictures a person who continually, habitually sows. Therefore, it could be translated, “Whatsoever a man sows, sows, sows, and sows — and keeps on habitually sowing and sowing and sowing.” In other words, this describes a constant, steady, perpetual sowing of seed. And if you sow this seed steadily and faithfully, God’s promise is that you will reap a harvest.

It does matter WHAT you sow, because THAT is what you will reap. If you SOW anger, you will REAP anger. If you SOW love, you will REAP love. We need to be careful with the seed that we are planting, because it will come back to us. We will continue looking at this verse in tomorrow's blog. Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Monday, June 9, 2008

Signs of a Root of Bitterness

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! We had a GREAT day in the Lord yesterday. What an awesome day we had yesterday in our services. We baptized 10 people and enjoyed the manifest and manifold presence of God. I preached a message entitled, "Overcoming the VIPER" as we discussed how to get past the failures of the past. As I was thinking about that this morning, and I began to meditate on Hebrews 12:15:

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God;lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.

When you find yourself constantly saying something derogatory about someone else, pay attention to what’s happening! What you’re saying about that person is a telltale sign that some bad seed is trying to take root in your heart.
Hebrews 12:15 tells us how to recognize bad seed when it begins to produce destructive fruit in our lives. Please allow me to share some "Rick Renner thoughts" on this verse. It says, “lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you.” The words “springing up” are from the Greek word phuoo . This word depicts a little plant that is just starting to sprout and grow. It isn’t a large plant yet; rather, it’s a small seedling that is just breaking through the soil and starting to peek out at the world. However, the very fact that it’s peeking through the soil means there is a seed hidden in the soil producing this new life.

This is a very significant picture. It tells us that bitterness doesn’t overwhelm us all at once. Instead, it grows a little here and a little there until it finally becomes a huge, ugly growth that defiles our entire lives. Bitterness usually starts peeking up out of the depths of our souls in the form of negative thoughts about another person or a sour, sharp, distrusting, cynical attitude toward someone who has offended us. If the root is not quickly uprooted and removed, that bitterness will eventually become a full-blown tree that produces bitter, wounding, hurtful, and scornful fruit for everyone who eats of it.
Hebrews 12:15 shouts its warning: If you don’t stop these attitudes, they will eventually “trouble you.” The words “trouble you” are from the Greek word enochleo, which means to trouble, to harass, or to annoy. It refers to something inside that bothers and upsets you so much, you are constantly pestered by thoughts about it. In fact, your whole life is stalked by these hassling, troubling thoughts. What you allowed to take root and to fester inside your soul has now become a major nuisance to your peace, keeping you upset and emotionally torn up all the time.

Do you have a grudge against someone that just gnaws away at you all the time? Every time you see that person, do you feel something sharp and ugly inside? When you hear about that person being blessed, do you wonder how God could possibly bless him when he did such an ugly thing to you? Do negative thoughts like these pester and bother you all the time?

If you relate to the questions I just asked you, then watch out! It may mean that a root of bitterness is growing inside you and that bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness are starting to hound and stalk you wherever you go! You need to get a grip on yourself and let the Holy Spirit help you permanently rid yourself of these feelings; otherwise, you’ll end up troubled, annoyed, and terribly upset. You’ll lose your peace, forfeit your joy, and toss aside your victory. Friend, you don’t want to take this path! It’s too painful, too hurtful, and costs you too much in your walk with God.

So if you find yourself constantly saying something derogatory about someone else, pay attention to what’s happening! That is a tell-tale sign that some bad seed is trying to take root in your heart that could potentially grow into a major issue that hassles your whole life. Don’t let it happen! Ask the Holy Spirit to help you jerk out those roots from the soil of your heart so you can stay free! The Holy Spirit is willing, ready, and waiting to help you grab hold of those roots of bitterness and pull them clear out of your life. All He needs is your invitation, so why don’t you go ahead and ask Him to assist you right now? Blessings!
Pastor Rusty

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Let us CONSIDER one another

Do you ever get so busy and self-consumed that you forget there are people all around you who have needs and challenges too? It's true that we are often so concerned about ourselves that we forget or bypass people who are struggling terribly, not realizing that they need a special act or word to encourage them. This is especially sad when it happens inside the church, because we are supposed to be a spiritual family who genuinely cares for one another and who helps meet each other's needs. This is why Hebrews 10:24 says, "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works." Let me share some of Rick Renner's thoughts (Sparking Gems from the Greek) on this verse.

The word "consider" is from the Greek word katanoeo, a compound of the words kata and noeo. The word kata depicts something that is moving downward; the word noeo (from the word nous) depicts the mind and means to think. When the two words are placed together, the new word means to thoroughly think something through or to ponder something from the top all the way to the bottom. It is the idea of mulling something over; carefully contemplating a matter; pondering and carefully looking at a particular issue; or examining and fully studying a subject.

This word pictures someone who is so concerned about someone else that he has taken the time to really consider that other person. He has observed the person's ups and downs and his highs and lows. He has studied to find out what helps that person feel encouraged and what events tend to pull him down. Because he has determined to really know and understand that other person, he invests a great deal of time and concentration into studying and getting to know that other person. This kind of knowledge doesn't come by accident, but by determined pursuit.

In light of this understanding, we must remember that although the local church is to be a place where we can come to worship and hear the Word of God preached and taught, it is also a place where believers should "consider one another" as this verse commands. The writer of Hebrews uses this word to convey the picture of a loving community where people are vitally concerned about each others' welfare. In fact, they are constantly observing and contemplating each other to know how to encourage and provoke each other to love and to good works.

Not only are we to consider one another, but the Bible goes on to say we are also to provoke one another unto love and good works. The word "provoke" is the Greek word paraxusmos. The word para means alongside, and it carries the idea of being close. The second part of the word is the Greek word xusmos, which means to sharpen something, such as a knife, and indicates a very sharp situation. When you put the two words together, the compound word describes someone who has come alongside of someone else for the purpose of prodding and impelling that person to do something.

You may have already guessed that "provoking" one another can be either a positive or a negative thing! One translation for this word paraxusmos would be to call into combat. Throughout the New Testament, the word paraxusmos is usually translated to mean to irritate, to incite, to anger, to inflame, or to enrage. Obviously, this kind of provoking is very bad! But in Hebrews 10:24, the word "provoking" is telling us that our relationships with other believers should incite us to become better, stronger, and bolder in the Lord.

How can you provoke other believers in a positive way? How can you stimulate your brother in the Lord in such a way that you make him want to walk in love and do good works? How can you sharpen and inspire the fellow believer who is in need of endurance?

You can come alongside that person and love him enough not to leave him in discouragement and defeat. You can sharpen him, prod him, impel him, and inspire him to keep on fighting the good fight of faith! All believers need to be provoked at times, no matter what their position is in the Body of Christ. Everyone needs a loving push in the right direction now and then!

A paraphrase of this verse might be the following: "And constantly be observing one another, seriously contemplating, studying, and examining each other, until you know exactly how to incite and stimulate each other to love and to good works."

This verse plainly tells us that we should be extremely concerned about each other's welfare and spiritual progression. We are to get involved in the local church, not just for our own benefit, but to be a benefit to others as well. We need people who will love us, observe us, and support us when we are struggling or standing on a word from God. But at the same time, others need our assistance too.

Proverbs 17:17 says, "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." This verse is telling us that real friends love us at all times and stay with us even in the midst of difficult circumstances. They will love us and stand with us no matter what we are going through, looking for ways to assist us when we are experiencing challenging times.

The local church should be a place of victory where faith is built up, the soul is encouraged, and wisdom and strength are imparted. It's a community where faith lives and triumphs through a family of believers' love and concern for one another.

There is nothing like living in an atmosphere of faith and love where you are surrounded by believers who really believe and practice the Word of God. Having friends like this gives you strength - and being a friend like this to someone else helps give him the strength he needs to live as an overcomer. That is why the enemy is constantly attempting to attack the local church. You can't get this kind of fellowship through Television ministry, radio ministry or by staying home. We NEED each other, and you NEED to be a part of a local church that preaches Jesus as the Son of God who was crucified, died, rose again, and is coming back for His children.

There is absolutely no substitute for the joy and satisfaction that comes when fellow church members go out of their way to call you, to come see you, to write you a note, or to personally check up on you - just because they have noticed that you need a little encouraging! Just knowing that someone cares enough to do that can make such a difference when you're going through a difficult time!

If you're anything like the rest of us, you're probably pretty good at provoking others in the negative sense. So why not commit yourself to becoming just as proficient in provoking your brothers and sisters in the Lord in the positive sense? Make a quality decision to become an expert at provoking others unto love and good deeds! So I ask you today, "Who do you need to consider?" Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Waiting for your Fruit-producing season

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you are as well. I would like to share with you something that ministered to my heart today from author Rick Renner. I believe it will minister to some of you as well. As I delve into today's subject, let me ask you a question. Are You Tired of Waiting For Your Fruit-Producing Season?

Have you ever been so frustrated at waiting for a fruitful time in your life that you said to the Lord, "When is the fruit-producing season ever going to start in my life? I've worked, believed, and waited, but I am a little tired of waiting to see the fruit I long to see in my life. How long do I have to wait, Lord?"

I encourage you today to stay on track and refuse to give up, because you're about to reach the greatest period of fruitfulness you've ever known. Before a fruit- producing tree reaches a time in its growth when it blossoms and bears fruit, first it sends its roots down deep into the earth where it can draw on a constant source of nourishment. Then as it continues to be nourished from below, it begins to send its limbs upward and outward.

During the life of that tree, it must endure the elements of every season — the heat, the cold, the sleet, the rain, and the snow — before it ever blossoms. Because those roots are deeply tapped into a continuous source of strength, nourishment, and energy, the tree is able to outlast all the seasons and eventually become a fruit-producing tree.

Psalm 1:3 uses the example of a tree to declare that when a person is rooted in God's Word, he is "like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."

If you are wondering how long it is going to take before your fruit-producing season finally arrives, don't get too discouraged! The bigger the tree, the greater the need for that tree to send its roots down deep into the earth to draw nourishment and to give it a firm footing against the wind, the weather, and the elements of the different seasons. That continual nourishment will also protect the tree from pestilence that may try to attack it through the years.

In light of this, consider what the apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 2:7:
"Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving." I want you to especially notice the word "rooted" in this verse. It comes from the Greek word ridzo, which means to be firmly and deeply rooted, making the object fixed, steady, stable, and strong. This is the picture of a strong tree whose roots go down deep and reach its source of nourishment. The tree is also held securely in place by those roots, regardless of the weather or the environmental opposition that comes against it.

Rather than complain that it's taking too long for your fruit-producing season to arrive, you need to thank God for this time in your life! Take this time to send your roots down deep and tap into the strength of God's Word and God's Spirit. If your roots are securely fixed in Jesus Christ, you will outlast every season, every foul climate, and every storm. Eventually you will enter into the finest fruit- producing season of your life, your ministry, your family, or your business.Honestly, you need to thank God that things haven't happened faster in your life! Have you ever seen someone who reached success too quickly? That person usually loses his success just as quickly as he gained it because he didn't have the roots and the experience necessary to maintain the success he gained. When people achieve success too quickly, it often means they don't have the roots, the depth, and the sure foundation to bear them up in the difficult times they will encounter as they go through the seasons of life.

So take this time to work on your personal life, your mind, your thinking, your discipline, your finances, your weight, your relationships, and your behavior. While you are waiting for that fruit producing season to come to pass in your life, use this time to put off the old man and to put on the new man (Colossians 3:9,10). Spend this phase of your life wisely by renewing your mind to the Word of God (Ephesians 4:23) and being certain your affections are set on things above, not on things of this earth (Colossians 3:2).

If you use your time wisely, there will be no wasted time in your life. But if you just sit around and complain that it's taking too long to get where you want to go, you will waste time. Sitting and complaining doesn't make anything happen faster — and it often further delays the manifestation of the answer you've been waiting for. So refuse to belong to those who are grumpy and complaining all the time. Instead, look at this time in your life as a blessing sent from Heaven to help you get yourself rooted deeply in Jesus Christ! Then send your limbs upward and outward as you tap into the power of God. Eventually you'll begin to see blossoms budding in your life, signaling that you are about to enter your long-awaited season of bringing forth much fruit! Amen? Blessings!

Pastor Rusty