Friday, June 29, 2012

Settling Disputes

Settling DisputesTGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
Friday, June 29 2012

"Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart." Proverbs 18:18
We prayed about it. We discussed it. My friend had one desire; I had a different one.
"Okay, let's settle the issue the way the early Church settled matters when an agreement could not be achieved. Let's flip a coin."
"You must be joking!" my friend lamented.
"No, the early Church cast lots often to determine a course of direction or even select the disciple who would take Judas' place."
"Okay," my friend agreed.
We flipped the coin and the matter was quickly settled.
In the Old Testament there are many examples of casting lots for determining a decision. We hear little of this method today. Most of us do not want to release the decision process to this seemingly "flippant" process; yet the Lord says, "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord" (Prov. 16:33).
Flipping a coin is the equivalent to casting a lot. It removes our own opinions and leaves the final outcome to the Lord. Pray before you take such an action. It will surprise you who is willing to submit a decision to the Lord and who isn't. It removes the element of control from both parties.
I believe the Lord would first have us make decisions through agreement and continued prayer for the decision. However, there are times when this approach can be the quickest and simplest. It removes each person's temptation to lord it over the other. Cast the lot and settle the dispute.

From John

Reason and Emotion
The mind takes in and processes information. But it remains, for the most part, indifferent. It is your mind that tells you it is now 2:00 A.M. and your daughter has not returned, for the car is not in the driveway. Your heart wrestles with whether or not this is cause for worry. The heart lives in the far more bloody and magnificent realities of living and dying and loving and hating. That's why those who live from their minds are detached from life. Things don't seem to touch them very much; they puzzle at the way others are so affected by life, and they conclude others are emotional and unstable. Meanwhile, those who live from the heart find those who live from the mind . . . unavailable. Yes, they are physically present. So is your computer. This is the sorrow of many marriages, and the number one disappointment of children who feel entirely missed or misunderstood by their parents.

Yes, the heart is the source of our emotions. But we have equated the heart with emotion, and put it away for a messy and even dangerous guide. No doubt, many people have made a wreck of their lives by following an emotion without stopping to consider whether it was a good idea to do so. Neither adultery nor murder is a rational act. But equating the heart with emotion is the same nonsense as saying that love is a feeling. Surely, we know that love is more than feeling loving; for if Christ had followed his emotions, he would not have gone to the cross for us. Like any man would have been, he was afraid; in fact, he knew that the sins of the world would be laid upon him, and so he had even greater cause for hesitation (Mark 14:32-35). But in the hour of his greatest trial, his love overcame his fear of what loving would cost him.

Emotions are the voice of the heart, to borrow Chip Dodd's phrase. Not the heart, but its voice.

Make a difference

Today I Will Make a Difference
Today I will make a difference. I will begin by controlling my thoughts. A person is the product of his thoughts. I want to be happy and hopeful. Therefore, I will have thoughts that are happy and hopeful. I refuse to be victimized by my circumstances. I will not let petty inconveniences such as stoplights, long lines, and traffic jams be my masters. I will avoid negativism and gossip. Optimism will be my companion, and victory will be my hallmark. Today I will make a difference.
I will be grateful for the twenty-four hours that are before me. Time is a precious commodity. I refuse to allow what little time I have to be contaminated by self-pity, anxiety, or boredom. I will face this day with the joy of a child and the courage of a giant. I will drink each minute as though it is my last. When tomorrow comes, today will be gone forever. While it is here, I will use it for loving and giving. Today I will make a difference.
I will not let past failures haunt me. Even though my life is scarred with mistakes, I refuse to rummage through my trash heap of failures. I will admit them. I will correct them. I will press on. Victoriously. No failure is fatal. It’s OK to stumble… . I will get up. It’s OK to fail… . I will rise again. Today I will make a difference.
I will spend time with those I love. My spouse, my children, my family. A man can own the world but be poor for the lack of love. A man can own nothing and yet be wealthy in relationships. Today I will spend at least five minutes with the significant people in my world. Five quality minutes of talking or hugging or thanking or listening. Five undiluted minutes with my mate, children, and friends.
Today I will make a difference.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Worst of All Possible Reactions

The Worst of All Possible Reactions

The heart, Blaise Pascal said, "has its reasons which reason knows nothing of." Something in us longs, hopes, maybe even at times believes that this is not the way things were supposed to be. Our desire fights the assault of death upon life. And so people with terminal illnesses get married. Prisoners in a concentration camp plant flowers. Lovers long divorced still reach out in the night to embrace one who is no longer there. It's like the phantom pain experienced by those who have lost a limb. Feelings still emanate from that region where once was a crucial part of them. Our hearts know a similar reality. At some deep level, we refuse to accept the fact that this is the way things are, or must be, or always will be.

Simone Weil was right; there are only two things that pierce the human heart: beauty and affliction. Moments we wish would last forever and moments we wish had never begun. The playwright Christopher Fry wrote,

The inescapable dramatic situation for us all is that we have no idea what our situation is. We may be mortal. What then? We may be immortal. What then? We are plunged into an existence fantastic to the point of nightmare, and however hard we rationalize, or however firm our religious faith, however closely we dog the heels of science or wheel among the starts of mysticism, we can not really make head or tail of it. ("A Playwright Speaks: How Lost, How Amazed, How Miraculous We Are")

And what does Fry say we do with our dilemma? The worst of all possible reactions:

We get used to it. We get broken into it so gradually we scarcely notice it.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
We all face challenges and obstacles in this life. We all have dreams in our hearts, and at times, it looks like they’re not going to come to pass. During these difficult seasons, we have a choice. We can get negative and discouraged and talk about how things are not going to work out, or we can switch over into praise and thanksgiving which opens the door for God to move on our behalf.
A lot of times people think, “I’ll have a good attitude as soon as I get over this health issue.” “Joel, I’ll give God praise when I get through these tough times.” But that’s not how faith works. As long as we’re negative, discouraged and focused on our problems, it limits what God can do. You’ve got to give God praise first, and then the breakthrough will come. You’ve got to change your focus first, and then things will change in your favor. Praise always precedes the victory.
Today, if you’ve been dwelling on the wrong things and focusing in the wrong direction, switch over into praise and thanksgiving. Begin to declare that God is good. Declare that He is faithful. Declare His praises and open the door to victory in every area of your life!
Father God, today I humbly come before You, lifting You up and magnifying Your holy name. Thank You for Your goodness and faithfulness in my life. I bless You and honor You for Your goodness in Jesus’ name. Amen!
— Joel & Victoria Osteen 
Join us Wednesday for Family Movie Night:

Play trailer of the movie

Fathers Day

For all the fathers reading this today, God Bless YOU. I watched the movie Courageous for the 5th time the other day and it really hit me as to the impact that we have on the lives of our children. What hit me the most was when the father said to his son: “I don’t think I started strong but I want to end strong”. It is never too late. My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it. - Clarence B. Kelland Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice. - Peter Martin I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection. - Sigmund Freud It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons. - Johann Schiller The Man They Want One night a father overheard his son pray: Dear God, Make me the kind of man my Daddy is. Later that night, the Father prayed, Dear God, Make me the kind of man my son wants me to be. - Unknown If you have not heard the song by Sanctus Real called “Lead Me” you need to give it a listen. If you live in the Sarasota Area please join us this Wednesday for a Family Movie Night for the showing of the movie Courageous. Check it out and watch the trailer.

Monday, June 11, 2012

from John

Fierce Mastery Let's come back for a moment to original glory, the glory of God given to us when we were created in his image. So much light could be shed on our lives if we would explore what we were meant to be before things started going wrong. What was it that we were created to do? What was our original job description? God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule." (Gen. 1:26-28) And let them rule. Like a foreman runs a ranch or like a skipper runs his ship. Better still, like a king rules a kingdom, God appoints us as the governors of his domain. We were created to be the kings and queens of the earth (small k, small q). Hebrew scholar Robert Alter has looked long and hard at this passage, mining it for its riches. He says the idea of rule means "a fierce exercise of mastery." It is active, engaged, passionate. It is fierce.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Family movie night

We are hosting a Faimly Movie Night to see the movie Courageous. It is FREE and open to all, check out the link to learn more: Watch Trailer

Friday, June 1, 2012


Before we all go, that is, into our weekends, and the myriad distractions even a day can hold, I wanted to let you know that the event is off to a good start and holy cow this must be an important one because the opposition has almost been ridiculous it is so blatant and bold. One of our team had their home broken into; many of the men had major obstacles/emergencies almost take them out; there’s been sabotage, sleep assault, accusation and blah blah blah I don’t want to give the enemy an ounce of my time. Just wanted to ask you to continue with us in prayer today and through the weekend. “Holy Spirit, we join with you – move us to pray and intercede; we give you permission to move us and remind us and join us together by the Spirit of God. Carry us, Holy Spirit, and make your mighty intercession through us. We worship Jesus Christ and we proclaim his Kingdom here over our lives, over Ransomed Heart, over each team member and their family, over these men now and this weekend’s event. We proclaim Jesus Christ Lord here, in every way, and we summon all the resources of heaven to fill and surround us and this event, in the mighty Name of Jesus Christ. We announce the triumph of God here, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Thanks gang! The prayer that I sent on Tuesday continues to be a good one to unite over. Bless you! John

From Max

QUESTION #145: In most of my prayers I ask God for things I need each day. These are legitimate needs. (I’m not asking God to make me a millionaire, just to help me pay the mortgage.) Is God really concerned about the necessities of my life? “Give us each day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3). What is this daily bread Jesus spoke of, tucked inside the Lord’s Prayer? A loaf of warm Italian bread on my doorstep every morning? That would be nice. Bread is a staple of every culture. From flat bread to yeast-filled loaves, grain has been mixed with water and oil and placed over a fire by every civilization. What’s the first thing a restaurant brings before the meal? Bread. (Okay, maybe Mexican restaurants don’t, but those chips are made from grain. They’re just fried in oil.) But how about a slight change to the daily menu: “Give us this day our daily mocha chocolate chip ice cream” or “Give us this day our daily beluga whale caviar”? Those are luxuries, not necessities. Sorry, God does not promise those. Bread is a valued necessity, tasty and welcomed, but certainly not extravagant. Jesus tells us to ask for the necessities in life, but does he promise to provide them? Soon after this plea for daily bread, found also in Matthew 6, Jesus presents his famous “Don’t worry” passage: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (v. 25). God takes care of birds, flowers, and grass and provides the basics they need to exist (vv. 26–30). Why not us? Aren’t we more important than a barn swallow, a multiflora petunia, and a blade of Bahia grass? You bet a loaf of sweet sourdough we are. In that statement comes a promise from God to provide his most important creation on earth with food, clothing, and drink (vv. 25–34). The necessities once again. Jesus tells us to ask, then promises to give us the basics we need to survive. So don’t worry; be prayerful. God has something wonderful for us baking in the oven. Can you smell it?

from John

An Extravagant Offer Jesus points to a field of wheat. Imagine trying to count the number of kernels in one acre. Immeasurable abundance. Turning our gaze to those luxuriant fields, he says, “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over” (John 12:24 The Message). The point he is making is that he has come to share his life with us. But again, as soon as I say that, the old religious associations rush in to fog the reality. Imagine walking through a rain forest. Diving over a coral reef. Simply look through a microscope at a drop of pond water. Creation is pulsing with life. It is the life of Jesus, given generously for the life of all things. He is called “the author of life,” who personally “sustains all things” (Acts 3:15; Heb. 1:3 nrsv). This is the life he offers us; this is the extravagance with which he offers it. Jesus doesn’t only give his life for mankind, he also gives his life to mankind. It is showered upon us daily like manna.