Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My Thoughts On Turning Fifty

January 1st, 2015, marked the beginning of the year that I turn fifty years old.  Many tend to look at that number with apprehension and concern.  Some call it middle aged, which is actually unscriptural.  We’re promised 120 years according to Genesis 6:3, the 70 to 80 is a curse that only applied to the generation of Korah who followed the golden calf crowd, so technically speaking, I still have ten more years to go until I am the middle age of 60. And so it is true for everyone.  What are you believing for?  I want to live a long life, following the Lord, fulfilling His purpose, till I see Him face to face!  He’s promised us longevity of life.  It belongs to every one of us too! Choose to live and live big for Him.

As I am thinking about turning 50, to be honest, I am excited about it. After my birthday, I am looking forward to the next fifty years.  There is still so much to do and so many dreams to achieve.  In fact we should never stop dreaming about what’s next.  Press toward the prize!

As this year started though, I must admit that there were a few “hiccups” that I have had to deal with.  These hiccups made me think I needed some more duct tape for my body and some WD-40 to grease my joints!  What happened you ask?  Hiccups like a trip to the ER with chest pains and I got a hearing aid for my left ear!  Through it all, God is good and the ER trip turned out to be nothing! In fact, there were no heart problems at all, but what a night!   Honestly, the hearing aid has changed sound to me so much that it brings tears to my eyes just to describe how much I can really hear now. 

This June marked the month that I moved from the age of 49 to 50. This birthday is no different than any other one.  It is what it is… another birthday.  But… and there is a but here, the thoughts of this change of age has caused me to look back over these past fifty years in retrospect and consider where I have been and everything that has happened in my life.  These things, good and bad, have shaped me into the man that I am and brought me into the season that I am in right now.

There is so much to be thankful for.  Since graduation from high school and then Bible College, I have had the privilege to travel around the world many times, minister in many states and nations, speak and minister to thousands upon thousands of teenagers and adults. I have worked for and served many famous people, and I have had the privilege to meet and even become close friends with many famous and well-known people.  I have stood in many pulpits and preached, I led worship for thousands, I have recorded many albums, and I have received many awards, royalties, and endorsements, and much, much more.
But in looking over the past 50 years, what matters the most, are the relationships that are so sweet and dear.  And even much more than all of that, the literal thousands that have come to the knowledge of Christ Jesus being their Lord and Savior, the thousands filled with the Holy Spirit, and many others receiving a touch from the Lord for healing or breakthroughs in their lives. Now, we are pastoring the sweetest congregation I know.  I don’t think I really understood fulfillment until we started being the lead pastors of the church we started.  People are so special and they are the reason why I keep doing what I do.  Ministry is all about people.  It's about serving people and helping people.  It’s not a business.  The day that the ministry becomes a business, rest assured, it is no longer the ministry.

To say God has been good is an understatement right now. He has been very good to me and my wife and boys. We are overwhelmed by His goodness that He has shown in our lives many times over.  Oh sure, there have been down moments over the past 50 years, from being told I had a lung disease that I was healed of, to driving my car under a semi-truck (in and out the other side and walking away from it) and other moments too.   But I want you to know without a doubt, I have always made the choice to be OVER IT and NOT under it.

NEVER give up your joy and peace over a circumstance or a feeling. It's only temporary. “Rejoice, and again I say rejoice” is what we are told in Philippians 4. It’s all up to you to stir it up! You can be over it or under it!  There’s a great quote that says this, "By perseverance the snail reached the ark." We need to be like that snail in everything! Persistence is a habit and so is quitting!  Never quit.  I know I have never quit. 

As I sit here now and write these words, being thankful for my family and blessings that we have, it just overwhelms me.  Again, God is good!  So good!  All the time, He is good!  And you know what?  All of you who are reading this have so much to be thankful for too!  And all of you, as do I, have so much that is ahead for you!  There are things to be done!  Greatness is upon your lives, run your race and never stop, until you see the Lord face to face.  In Jeremiah 29:11 (HCSB), the Lord Himself tells us all, For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

 As I turn 50 there are some things that I have written that mean a lot to me that I want to share with you right now. It’s entitled The 3 Things I Have Learned In Life So Far.  No matter what your age, these things, I believe, ring true.

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 anything 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!”

It’s important you're giving your best attitude, integrity and loyalty where you serve, where you work and in your relationships right now!  Know that you're not healthy enough to quit and take another job if you are not.

You’ll always be better off being faithful and having the best attitude.  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. “

Enough said!

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.”  Amen!

Don’t be a quitter!  Run your race!  I will!  Let’s be just like Paul when his days were drawing to a close, he spoke to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (Modern English Version) (MEV) I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, and I have kept the faith. From now on a crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.”   

Let us all run our race and reach for that prize, that high calling in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Let’s fight to the finish!  So in that day in which we will stand before Him, we will hear Him say, “Well done good and faithful one.”  Amen.