Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pastor’s James' Tips For Managing Stress During The Holidays

This Sunday, I ministered on "Stopping The Christmas Heart Attack".  As the service closed I gave out 25 quick points to "keep your heart" during the Christmas holiday. "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NKJV
 This is from Rev. Tony Cooke.  Be sure to check out his website at  


1.   Plan ahead – this involves not only time, but also money (a budget)

2.   Prioritize and decide how much you can actually do, how much you can (and should) actually spend, etc. You don’t want to start the new year with bills that you can’t pay. Do your best to create an atmosphere that focuses on "doing" rather than "having."

3.   Don’t be afraid to say, "no." There may be some things you can do to reduce some of the demands on your life and time.

4.   Pace yourself. People tend to overextend themselves and to commit to doing more than they possibly can in the limited time they have. Be careful during holidays not to over-commit. Don't take on more than you can comfortably handle, and stop trying to be Superman or Superwoman by doing it all yourself.

5.   Be realistic! Unrealistic and hyper-idealistic expectations set you up for disappointment.

6.   Examine traditions – which ones do you want to keep? Is it time to establish some new ones?

7.   Realize that people are unique. What is enjoyable and fulfilling for one person is stressful and unpleasant for another.

8.   Some solitude is OK, but avoid excessive isolation. Reach out to people and make it a point to be with others. Especially seek out people who are supportive and care about you.

9.   Reach out to an old friend you’ve lost contact with.

10. If you have some specific needs during the holidays, tell others. Don’t expect others to be mind-readers. Realize that others may not respond to or meet all of your needs.

11. Find a way to serve and help others. "I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found a way to serve." - Albert Schweitzer

12. Take care of yourself. If your tendency is to take care of everyone else and neglect yourself, do some special things just for you, and don’t let yourself feel guilty about it.

13. Be proactive. Don’t wait for something to happen. Make something happen. Ask yourself about the kind of holiday experience you’d like to have, then ask, "What can I do to make that happen?" Don’t accept a victim’s mentality – you may be experiencing some circumstances you wouldn’t have chosen, but there are things you can do to make the holidays better for yourself and others.

14. Give yourself permission to grieve if necessary. Give yourself permission to enjoy the holidays as well. Journaling can be a healthy and helpful way of identifying and expressing feelings.

15. Remember the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer"Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

16. Don’t focus on the past.

17. Don’t dwell on what you don’t have.

18. Moderation! Avoid the temptation to dive into extremes.

19. Take care of your health – Eat right, get plenty of rest, and exercise regularly. Common stress reactions during the holidays include headaches, over-eating, and difficulty sleeping.

20. Put some humor in your holidays. Laugh a lot! Rent a funny movie! A merry heart does good like a medicine (Proverbs 17:22).

21. Make a list of all the FREE things that can be enjoyed at Christmas… light displays, church services, community plays, etc. Partake of some of these.

22. Be honest about your own emotional health and your own personality tendencies. Do you need to address anger? Perfectionism? A tendency to blame others?

23. Focus on the spiritual aspects of the holidays.

24. Maintain or even increase your spiritual disciplines.
 Philippians 4:6-7 (The Living Bible) 6 Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don't forget to thank him for his answers. 7 If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.

25. Live a "Christmas life," not just Christmas day.
 Is it possible that part of our problems around the holidays is that we are trying to cram a year’s worth of love, celebrating, remembering, etc., into a mere month?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Special Guest: Joseph Morris

So much is going on in the world right now and especially in the Middle East.  I believe that Jesus is coming again.  One of my favorite ministers is Joseph Morris.  Each week he shares an "End Of Days Update."  It's always powerful. You can sign up and receive and email each week when he post a new update.  This is todays update, October 31st, 2012.  Joe is a great friend and has been at our church before.  After you watch this, take some time and read my blog on the "End of Days: The Four Specifics."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The 3 Things I Have Learned In Life So Far

A good friend and mentor in my life used to make this statement when he would minister, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”  That is so very true.  In life, you should always be learning and always be growing.  After all, if growth stops you will find that decay will set in to your life.  It’s vital in our walk with the Lord that we are growing! 

Jesus told us to seek the Kingdom.

Matthew 6:33 (New Living Translation)  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

The Amplified Bible reads, “But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.”

We should desire strength in our lives.  The Lord is our strength in all things.  We always grow stronger as we are seeking after the Lord.  Even in our struggles, in the hard and dark places, we always will find peace, joy, and victory as we seek Him.

Isaiah 26:9 
”With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; For when Your judgments are in the earth, The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.”

We need to remember what Proverbs 10:24 says, in the  Amplified Bible (AMP) "The thing a wicked man fears shall come upon him, but the desire of the [uncompromisingly] righteous shall be granted."

What you dwell on can be a powerful force in your life, in your thoughts and in the words you speak.  It can drive your emotions and push your flesh to react in bad and totally wrong ways. 

The other day the Lord reminded me of an episode of The Andy Griffith Show.  When ole Barney would get all worked up and flustered with Andy, he would say things like, "Nip it!  Nip it in the bud!"  Or, "Tick a lock Ange!  Tick!  Tick a lock!"  Our attitude always will determine our altitude, spiritually and naturally.  

James 1:4 says, "But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."  

Sometimes our flesh can be uncomfortable, but you’d better "Nip it!" and you’d better, "Tick a lock!"  Don't you allow the work of patience that is being worked in you, to be undone by circumstances and outside influences.   The enemy wants you to complain and say the wrong things.  But YOU need to speak the Word to the mountain.  YOU need to speak the Word to the circumstance. And in PRAYER, speak the Word regarding any thing and everything and not what you think is happening.  Let the Lord do the work.  You relax in Him!  Flesh is deceiving.  The Lord wants you perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  There are things going on that you cannot see. Don't tear it down.  You can't get across the river by kicking the rocks that you are suppose to use to get to the other side.  

One of our missionaries wrote, “Remember, if the going is real easy, we need to beware that we may be headed down hill. There's always free cheese in the mouse traps, but the mice ain't happy there.”

There are times in which I find myself “between a rock and hard place.”  When I do, I remind myself of three simple things that really reset my compass.  Make a note of them and allow them to speak to you and reset your compass.  I call these points:

The Three Things I Have Learned In Life So Far

1. This is the day the Lord has made – make the most of it.

The Bible says, in Psalm 118:24 
”This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

It’s HIS DAY!  He told you to rejoice and be glad!  He didn’t say to be a whiner or a complainer.  He said it’s HIS DAY, you rejoice and be glad! 

In Psalm 34:8 
it says, Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

You’ll always be better off reminding yourself of His goodness and His promises rather than your trouble.

2. God is smarter than I am.

Stop and think here.  There are over 7 billion people on the earth and only one with my fingerprint.  God made you special and unique.   Get it in your head that He’s watching over you.  Jesus said in Luke 12:7, And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”

He’s got it together.  His blood was shed.  You are the redeemed.  He has whatever you think is so huge and overwhelming, under control.   Jesus told us in Matthew 6:25-31, “25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “

And lastly,

3. Jesus has whooped the devil.  

The real fight is in your mind and heart. It’s the flesh versus the spirit.  Colossians 2:15 says that Jesus, …spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.  

Ephesians 1:19-23 tells us about Jesus, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

Jesus whooped the devil.  Whooped him!  Won the victory!  He put the enemy under His feet and Jesus gave that victory to you!  He made you MORE than a conqueror.  He could have just made you a conqueror.  That’s pretty good.  But the Bible says in Romans 8:37 that He made you MORE THAN a conqueror. 
Always remember that you have the will of God before you all the time.  His Word is His will.  Believe it and speak it.  When things come in on your thought life, remember to do what 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”


Prayer:  Father, I choose to believe YOU.  I choose to believe YOUR WORD.  I cast down the wrong thoughts and imaginations that try to pull me down and cause me to whine and complain.  I choose to believe and speak good things.  I choose to walk in the victory that YOU bought, paid for, and won for me.  Amen!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

End of Days: The Four Specifics

Note: My good friend John George inspired me with a letter I received from him a while back. Two of his paragraphs was the inspiration for this devotional. For the past few weeks, we've been ministering on end time events that are happening now. We've talked about international affairs and national affairs. This devotional has to with each of us internally and our walk in these lasts days.

“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3

Let me encourage you! God has great things in store for you! He has a plan and a purpose for you to fulfill! He has set you apart for such a time as this. He has good in mind for you! His Word tells us that He does. All of that is so true, but so is how YOU live your life.

Your spiritual life is vital in the days and times in which we live now. It’s important to take note of how we deal with circumstances, relationships, and our flesh, especially in the days and times in which we live. We need to get a hold of our mind and our thought life. The Bible tells us to cast down wrong thinking that’s not in line with what the Word of God tells us. "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV) Please note that it is up to us to do the casting down. That’s a discipline that WE MUST DO!

We live in a day where people get angry if it’s not “all about them”. The world’s way of thinking today will cry out in anger, “Don’t judge me!” But you know that same attitude has gotten into the lives of believers too! The ways of the world can creep in. Sometimes, without realizing where we are, we will not judge ourselves. No self-control, no self-evaluation, and no heart-check. We must ask ourselves, could we stand before Him and say that what’s in our heart reminds us of Him?

We live in a day and time where offenses rule the day. We live in a time where emotions and feelings rule the day, instead of spiritual truth that is unfailing. We live in a day where people will not submit to the authority of the Word. We live in a day where people seek out things that please their fancy. We truly live in a day where the love of God that was shed abroad in our hearts is growing cold among believers. Like James said, “…these things ought NOT be, brethren.” (James 3:10) We must remember that pride will always make excuses, but humility makes adjustments!

In Matthew 24, Jesus shares some very clear facts about the last days. Jesus told us to learn the parable of the fig tree. Notice what He said in these verses. After all, it is, and should be, what HE said that counts, right?

Matthew 24:32-34, “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”

Jesus told us to learn this parable. This parable figuratively is talking about Israel. The “fig tree” is a representative of Israel. We ought to be watching Israel. Jesus said while it is still young and begins to produce… pay attention because summer is near! That means that harvest is very close. Israel, as a nation, is a powerhouse of production. Being only 62 years old, it is a powerhouse economically, in technology, in agriculture, and so much more. Many great things that you and I enjoy had their invention in Israel. The Fig Tree is producing in great measure. Harvest is close.

In Matthew 24, the disciples asked Jesus what would be the sign of His coming and the end of the age (Verse 3). The disciples, according to scripture, were “privately asking”. Jesus then got very direct and specific about His answer in verses 4 through 14 about the end of the age. There are Four Specifics, spoken to BELIEVERS, that Jesus warned us about in those verses. As believers, let us consider them.

1. Let No Man Deceive You.
Matthew 24:4, “Take heed that no one deceives you.” The Bible warns us about being people with ears that are easily tickled. 2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” People don’t like to be wrong. None us do. When you go just to get your ears tickled instead of being a DOER of the Word, you’ll find yourself in the middle of nowhere, with no paddle, and absolutely no anchors. You will find yourself adrift in the sea of a spiritually shallow life.

2. You Will Hear Of Wars And Rumors Of Wars. (Matthew 24:6)
There’s been a whole lot going on in the earth since Israel became a nation. A whole lot. Many wars and civil wars. Unrest. No peace. The Middle East itself is a hotbed of war and terrorism. Today, as I write this, the Middle East has become more intense than ever before. Pay attention that you are living for Him and doing the things He has called you to do. This is not the practice run of your life; this is the real deal.

3. Many Will Be Offended, Betray & Hate One Another. (Matthew 24:10)
Second Timothy 3:2 tells us that people will be lovers of themselves more than lovers of God. When you are more into YOU, you’ll slander, attack and betray to get YOUR way or to make your case. It’s not in the name of Jesus that you do this in… it’s in the name of your flesh. There are so many who are offended and walking out of love in our circles today simply because they didn’t get their way. Jesus was talking about believers here. Just because something is said to you that doesn’t set too well with you, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. Advancement without character will always lead to ruin. Faithfulness will be lacking in these last days. Check your heart.

The Bible tells us that the Love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. We need to check our hearts. Have self-control. Have character. Be godly! Godliness is profitable in this life and in the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8). The harvest is plentiful but the laborers ARE FEW! Why? Because of number three here! The offended, the betrayers, and the haters. Are you yielding to the Love of God shed in your heart? Or are you yielding your flesh? There are few laborers because our lives are warning signs to this world that is lost. You may be the only Bible someone will ever read. You may be the only Jesus they will ever see. Live for Him, show Him to be true in you! The world as a whole has not rejected Jesus; they have rejected our example of Him.

Lastly, and this is a kicker too!

4. Iniquity Will Abound And Love Will Grow Cold Among Believers. (Matthew 24:12)
Over the years I have seen so many fall into sin. They secretly delve into sin and then wipe their mouth as if nothing is wrong. I have seen others become very cold toward other believers, engaging in strife and backbiting, and opening the door for all kinds of trouble. If you yield to those things, it’s as if you just open up the door to your home with a sign in your yard that says, “take all that I have!” That’s what the enemy will do too! The Bible says, “Neither give place to the devil,” Ephesians 4:27. If you are in sin and walking out of that love walk, you’ll open up the door to things you won’t see with the eyes of your flesh.

We ought to consider those things that Jesus said. We are living in an exciting time. Yes we are! But we need to be sharp and living for Him. We need to be diligent about being that doer and not just a hearer only. The times in which we live may be difficult at moments but Jesus said, “As we endure, stand firm under pressure, in our faith, we will be saved.” Matthew 24:13.

Let me encourage you as we close here. Hebrews 10:25 says to forsake not the assembling of yourselves together. Be in church. Be involved. Serve. Reach out and touch others. Do the things that move you forward and upward in your growth in God. Don’t allow the circumstances and cares of life to get you down. Stand firm under pressure, and endure. Keep a handle on your flesh. Again, God has great things in store for you. He has a plan and a destiny for you to fulfill. Don’t allow the things that the enemy throws at you to pull you away from your walk with God. Jump in and let’s run for Jesus’ glory in these last days. Let’s bring in that harvest! Let’s be ON FIRE for God in these last days! Amen!

Prayer: Father I thank You that I am Your child. I choose to live daily for you. I choose to crucify my flesh and put it under subjection to Your Word. I will live my life Godly in service to You until I see You face to face! Amen.