Tight Squeeze

Most of us have heard the expression “between a rock and a hard place.”  The dictionary defines this phrase as “facing  two equally unpleasant, dangerous, or risky alternatives where the avoidance of one ensures the encountering of the harm of the other.”  Jacob facing an angry brother;  Israel facing Red Sea;

We have all been at “that place” some time in our lives.  James 1:2-4  In  2 Corinthians that speaks on our troubles not lasting forever and that these troubles and situations that we are faced with actually help to produce a glory that vastly outweighs any of them. “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever.  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

We all experience times of adversity in our lifetime. As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Turn to God and His words during times of adversity for strength and comfort. When we put our faith in him, he will help guide us to the path of happiness and peace.

And if you want to experience a rock/hard place in reality; go through Fat Man Squeeze at Rock City, Chattanooga.

Rock City

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He Will Not Leave You

Image result for jesus in the storms of lifeYou don’t have to be alive very long to hit some rough waters. Everybody’s boat gets rocked from time to time. The wind blows like crazy and you might even take on water. The temptation is to freak out and wonder how—or if—you’ll make it to the other side.

Storms are part of the journey. For me, one of the hardest things is dealing with stuff I can’t fix. I’m tempted to try anyway, but the older I get, the more I realize it just doesn’t work. Some situations are above my pay grade. My fixes are nothing but thick patches on threadbare jeans. They don’t hold very long. I need God to set things right. He’s the only One who can get me unstuck and take me to the other side.

Does that sound familiar? Are certain circumstances getting worse the more you work on them? Are they starting to look like a permanent part of your scenery? When I lived in Pennsylvania, my father taught me how to drive in heavy snow. He said, “Once you commit to driving through deep snow, you don’t stop.” But I know this: you can get unstuck if you keep your faith moving. God’s got you. He won’t leave you there.

If you’re in rough waters and you can’t see the other side, think back to all the times you saw no way out. Remember how He parted the sea, or brought life to something dead, or gave you the strength to take another step. You thought it was “The End,” but Jesus made a way for you—out of no way out

Suffering

Image result for christian suffering and painSuffering comes in many shapes and sizes. You can suffer from a cold or cancer; from a trial or a tragedy; from the loss of a friendship to the loss of a friend. Suffering can last for a few moments or months or years. If you are normal, you will try to avoid suffering at any cost. A large majority of television commercials are geared to the elimination or the avoidance of pain.

Let’s face it, we do not like to be uncomfortable.  The reason most of us do not exercise as we should is that it is unpleasant [suffering]. The reason we do not eat the proper foods is we do not want to deprive [suffer] ourselves from those foods we crave. But the reality is life, to some degree, is suffering is a part of life.

Sometimes suffering is the result of the trials of life or the challenges that come from following Christ. Suffering is inevitable: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” 2 Timothy 3:12   Other times, suffering is the result of living in a fallen world. “Though our bodies are dying,…” 2 Corinthians 4:16

Suffering can be beneficial: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:2-4 The Message

Ultimately, suffering is preparation for reigning with Christ eternally.  “ If we endure, we will also rule together….”  2 Timothy 2:12

Knocked Down but Not Knocked Out

I am sure that all of us can remember a favorite toy we received at Christmas. To be honest I probably had several “favorites” but the one toy that I remember most was a sock-em-bounce-back clown. No matter how hard or which direction you hit it, it would always bounce back.

I may be stretching the analogy a bit but Christians should be able to “bounce back” when struck by life’s “punches.” “For the righteous falls seven times and rises again…Provergs 24:16 I read recently a definition of success that I rather like. “Success is falling down seven times but getting back up eight times.”

The secret of “bouncing back” for that toy and Christ-followers is the balance. Something at the center that brings us back to where we should be. Jesus Christ is our anchor that brings us back to center.

“We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out.” 

What Are You Afraid of?

Image result for fearWhen America was attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt went before Congress to ask them to declare war. In his speech, he said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself!”  That may make a great political speech and it might stir people’s patriotism but unfortunately it is not true. There are a lot of things to fear in life but we should not allow our fears to control us. 

My son has no fear of snakes, NONE. He has handled rattlesnakes, cooperheads and water moccasins; no problem. But spiders are a totally different matter. If he walks into a spider web, he almost has a heart attack!

When Jesus sent out the 12 disciples, he gave them detailed instructions. In Matthew 10, he let them know they would face rejection, persecution, and and possibly death. In light of this he encouaged them not to fear. “Do not be afraid of them who kill the body. They are not able to kill the soul.”  Jesus made it very clear; there is only one person we need to fear. “But fear Him Who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”  God is the only we need to fear.

What is the worse man can do? Kill us? If they do kill us, we will be immediately with Lord!

THE BATTLE: For Your Faith

Unless you have lived on another planet, I am sure that you are aware that there is militant movement to remove the Christ faith from our nation.  This is nothing new, opposition to our faith has been around since the founding of our country. But this movement has never been this open and forceful. 

One of the greatest box-office hits this year was God Is Dead. I don’t think anyone imagined the success of this film. [I highly recommend renting or buying this film.] But for those unfamiliar with it {is that possible?} the plot of the movie is a psychology college professor challenges his class to prove the existence of God. Only one student has the courage to accept his challenge. 

The point is not only are secular colleges antagonistic to the Christian faith but it is everywhere: 

  • The News media is more than eager to broadcast an indiscretion of a Christian leader. 
  • The entertainment industry portrays Christians as bigoted, hate-filled, and mentally unbalanced.
  • Businesses often disregard an employees Christian faith, while they accommodate other religions. 

The twin brothers who had their pilot program “Flip it Forward” canceled by HGTV because of Benham-Brotherstheir pro-life and pro-traditional marriage views responded in an interview Thursday night, saying there is “an agenda that seeks to silence men and women of faith”

The goal of this blog is to prepare people of faith to be bold and stand for their beliefs. 1 Timothy 6:12. Be ready to give answers to those who are genuinely interested. [Without being rude!] 1 Peter 3:15 And last, do not think this opposition will go away. We are winning many battles but the war will continue until Jesus comes.

God does care!

As a retired minister of 30+ years of ministry, I have developed a love for people; especially those you are hurting. As I read the news online today, my heart was overwhelmed with the tragic events people are going through:

  • Four children die in a house fire
  • Two young teachers drown over July 4th (separate incidents)
  • Children/adults  abducted or missing
  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Five people killed because a drunken driver went the wrong way on the Interstate.

I could not help but think of all the families that are hurting because of these tragedies. But there is one grieving Person we often forget – God. Many people do not think God has no emotions. They see Him as a distance Deity, One who created the world, then left us to fend for ourselves! Not so! The Bible tells us of a hosts of emotions God feels:

  1. God commands us not to “grieve” the Holy Spirit Ephesians 4:30
  2. God is ” moved by pity”  Judges 3:18 
  3. God loves us John 3:16

As you try to console those who are suffering, remember there is One who loves, cares, and understands more than any of us. He is hurting right along with His creation.