Mr. C's Blog

As people, we struggle with being tired, frazzled, and overwhelmed. It is during these times that it is easy to feel like we are not understood by others. We even begin to wonder if anyone can relate to all that we are dealing with in our life. Our frustrations can build to the point we end up with no patience for others especially those we love the most. Life has a way of running us down. During these times, we experience little or no joy. How do I know this to be true? Because, I have faced this feeling many times in my life.

I have learned in ministry over the years, that I must be careful to spend time in the Word and find ways to refresh myself because I can become weary serving others and trying to meet their needs. Those who are closest to me know clearly when I need to be refreshed. I am grateful today to serve a God who never grows weary and more importantly always has a heart of understanding towards me. Isaiah 40:28 reminds us of this truth.

“Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.”

If we are not careful to stay in God’s Word, we can easily forget the power of the only one who truly understands what we are going through in life. I love how this is phrased. “have you never heard or understood?” In my case too often, I have forgotten this truth and tried to do it all on my own. It as if I think that I don’t need God for some of these little things in life. The problem is that all these little things eventually wear me down. Besides that, God wants me and you to rely on Him for all the details of life.

My favorite part of this verse is “No one can measure the depths of His understanding.” God knows our struggles, our disappointments, and heart aches. When no one else understands, God does.

I am sure that many of you may be dealing with some issues that seem way beyond your understanding. Some of you may grieving the loss of loved ones, others are watching loved one’s battle cancer, some of you are dealing with some difficult parenting times, and more.

Life can not only be difficult but can also be discouraging. Nothing is more encouraging in discouraging times than the knowledge that we serve a God who always understands the needs of our hearts and lives.

I pray today that God will remind you that He is there, and He understands what you are going through. Not only does He understand, but He stands ready to walk with you through these difficult times and give you His wisdom along the way!

Raising kids and guiding them through the tough choices of life is one of the hardest tasks that I have encountered as a parent. As an example, I have heard my own kids down through the years ask one question more than any other in the context of trying to discern between right and wrong.

That question is: “What’s wrong with doing this or what’s wrong with this idea or belief?” I love answering that question because it gives me the opportunity to share a new perspective with my kids.

First, I will address their question or issue and then I will propose to them a new line of thinking. In addressing their question, I give them a formula I learned for discerning between right and wrong from author Jerry Bridges in his book “The Pursuit of Holiness.”

Bridges shares two verses to guide us in the pursuit of right and wrong. 1 Corinthians 6:12 states, “All things are lawful for me, but all are not profitable; all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 declares, ”Whether therefore you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

From these verses, Bridges poses three questions we all should ask about any issue that we are considering.

  1. Is it profitable spiritually for me?
  2. Is it going to bring me under its power?
  3. Does it bring glory to God?

As you can see, these verses and questions make a compelling case spiritually for our directions and decisions. I remind them that God never meant for us to live our lives asking what’s wrong with doing this or that. John 10:10 tells us that Jesus came to “give us life and give it to us more abundantly.”

In other words, God desires to give us His best and I do not believe that ever means trying to spend our time figuring out just how to get by spiritually. I encourage them instead to spend their lives wisely in search of God’s best for their lives. Instead, they should be asking God what the best thing or the wise thing is that He would have them do.

When they grasp this truth, then it becomes so exciting to see them to begin to pursue God’s best for their lives. Indeed, Godly wisdom will give our children hope, joy, and contentment.

 

 “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.” Philippians 3:12 

I love history and one of my favorite historical characters is Winston Churchill. Churchill led Great Britain to victory as Prime Minister during World War II. Churchill was taught in school from his earliest days to “never give up or in.” He used this powerful lesson in his famous speech “Never give in” to help guide his country through the darkest hours of World War II.

 I am by nature, one who does not to give up on anything. My personality is very results oriented so I want to finish whatever I start. I may not enjoy some things, but it will bug me greatly if I cannot finish.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where it is easier to walk away than it is to stay and fight for what is right. There is way too much emphasis in our world on striving for what makes us happy instead of striving for what is right and good. Living the Christian life is not always easy. In fact, it is hard many times to stand up for what is right, what is good, and essentially for what God would have us to do. The truths and principles of God’s Word run counter culture to this world’s philosophies.

In Philippians 3:12, Paul reminds us that none of us have arrived, so we must not quit or give up. Instead, we are to press on in pursuing our relationship with Christ. We are to press on growing closer to Him. I have been a Christian a long time. I have studied His Word, but I am also more aware than ever that I still have a lot of growing to do spiritually.

I also know there have been difficult days where it would have been easy to give up or quit. Especially those times when those I thought I could trust have hurt me. I am sure that some of you who may be reading this article today are discouraged and feeling ready to give up or throw in the towel. Let me encourage you today to be reminded of the truth of Philippians 3:12 and “press on” to what God has set as your purpose. I encourage you today to not give in but instead trust God through these tough times.

I also want to leave you with a precious promise from the Apostle Paul, to those who stay true to what God has called them to do. Galatians 6:9 reveals this promise as it declares:

“So, let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”  

In God’s timing, you and I will reap a harvest for doing what is good!

I recently read about a survey in which people were asked what their favorite Bible verse was. There were two answers that jumped off the page to me as hard to believe. First, many responded that their favorite verse was “cleanliness is next to Godliness.” It is a great thing to be clean and neat but that is not in the Bible. The other one that grabbed me was “God helps those that help themselves.” Clearly, this one is not in the Bible either. But, I believe this one to be wrong when it comes to Scripture.

I think it would be more accurate to say from God’s Word that “God helps those who can’t help themselves.” God helps those who are humble and contrite. His Word says he resists the proud. I believe He runs to those who say, “I need your help, your power.” Paul had it right in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 when he wrote:

“Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I believe we need to have a mindset that says daily three things. Those three things are:

  1. I Can’t! I believe that we as believers need a daily recognition that it is impossible to live the Christian life in our own strength. It begins by recognizing this each day, but it does not end there. The attitude we need daily is a humble self-awareness. A letting go of pride.
  2. God, You Can! Daily we need to recognize His power and strength for any circumstance. This is big to recognize daily how much we need Him and that what we do on our own is not working.
  3. God Please Help Me! We recognize that we can’t, but God can, so we add to that statement by asking God to help us daily in all of life’s details and problems. “I can’t, but God you can, Lord please help me.”

When we become dependent on Him daily, I am convinced that He will show Himself strong in our lives in ways we could have never imagined! That is precisely what Paul is reminding us of in 1 Corinthians 12:9-10 above.  Adopting this mindset will enable us to see the truth of “God helps those who can’t help themselves.” I pray that the truth of 1 Corinthians 12:9-10 will bless those of you today that are feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. I pray also that each of us would enjoy the freedom that living this truth would bring. 


     

Have you ever thought of how often we allow other people’s opinions of us to weigh so heavy on our hearts? The worst part is that most of those who we give such weight to are people we do not know us well or those we do not consider to be a true friend. I am guilty of that in times past, to let someone’s thoughts or actions who I am not close to affect my behavior and joy. I believe that we all find those times when we need someone to speak wisdom in our lives. Wisdom is precious to us when it comes from the right source.

I love the words of Charles Swindoll above as he reminds us what to get our minds focused on. I am convinced that we need to program our minds with information that will “set us free.” What kind of information is that? Jesus said that “if you know the truth, the truth will set you free.” His Word is the source of information that will set us free from all the fake news that this culture throws at us. 

Also, I love Proverbs 24:14 which says, “In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, you will have a bright future, and your hopes will not be cut short.” As this verse says, wisdom is sweet to the soul. I received a call recently from my brother who is having a hard time with his health and his job. He called because he needed to hear from someone who cared about him and hopefully hear some good advice. As we were sharing, I prayed that the Lord would give me His wisdom to pass to my brother. I wanted to help because I do love him and want God’s best for his life. I want him to have a bright future and not have his hopes cut short.

We need to be careful about listening and giving weight to just anybody’s thoughts and opinions. I believe that God’s wisdom is found in His Word and is revealed during time spent with Him but also it is found in trusted relationships. I pray that we would find God’s sweet wisdom for our lives in Him and trusted others!

“In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God’s laws and commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful.” 2 Chronicles 31:21

I am an avid sports fan and I love to see a team play hard regardless of talent level. I get frustrated when I watch a team that is not giving an all-out effort in a contest. Similarly, I believe that God expects us to give our best in our daily walk with Him. God desires that we be committed to Him and make Him the top priority relationship of our lives. The Bible says in 2 Chronicles 31:21 that Hezekiah “sought God with all his heart and as a result he was very successful.” God has used that verse in my life as a powerful example of what faithfulness should look like.

There are two key phrases in that verse that speak tremendous life lessons to me. First, it says “in all that he did.” In other words, there was a consistent approach to obedience in Hezekiah’s life. I think sometimes we are tempted to think that there are areas of life that do not require us to be as devoted as others. In those areas, we may not always give our best.

Unfortunately for Christians, people are watching us closely to see if we live up to whom we say we are. When we are not giving our all in serving God and obeying Him, we present a poor testimony to those around us. I am afraid this happens all too often for Christians. It is no wonder then that many who are without Christ bemoan the fact that there are too many hypocrites in church. We need to give our all to serving and obeying God.

Second, “Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly.” Hezekiah had an undivided heart towards God. God was indeed the priority relationship of his life. What about us? Is there a consistent approach in our lives towards obedience to God and His Word? Are we seeking Him wholeheartedly? Is there anything in our lives that is crowding out God from being the top priority of our lives? Charles Spurgeon, a great preacher of times past, once said: “That God does not give great harvests to idle men.”

I do not know about you, but I do not want to live my Christian life in a mediocre fashion. I desire to see fruit in my Christian life. I would never want anyone to look at me and say that I am no different than any other Christian who does not live up to the faith. I know that I am not perfect and that I have not arrived, but my desire is to “know Him and to make Him known.”

We started this year with a theme of “All In” and I want us to close the year out with that same idea. There is no greater joy than to serve God with all our heart, soul, and mind and then pass that onto our children. I want to be “All In” when it comes to my relationship with God. I want my life to be one in which God can give a great harvest to.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

During my work career, I have always wanted to know exactly what I was responsible for doing and who my boss was and their expectations. I like to know upfront who is responsible for what. Unfortunately, many times people confuse those roles. Conflict and stress are inevitable when someone tries to do things that are not their responsibility. The same thing can happen to us in our spiritual lives. We begin to get the idea that we are responsible for doing great things for the Kingdom on our own. John 15:5 makes it clear that this was never God’s plan for us.

In that verse, Jesus tells us that that He is the Vine and we are the branches. It is interesting that He uses this analogy of a plant or tree. The vine is part of the tree that provides the nutrients and ingredients necessary to produce fruit. The branches simply bear the fruit.

What Jesus is telling us here is that He alone produces the fruit in our lives. As much as we try, we cannot produce fruit like love, joy, and peace in our lives that will last apart from Him. What then are we responsible for? We are responsible for staying in close relationship to Him.

With John 15:5 in mind, our responsibility is to abide in Jesus. What exactly does that mean? The idea of the vine here is that we must be connected to Him to receive the things necessary for us to produce fruit in our lives. Not only must we maintain the connection, we are also dependent on the vine for our direction, our hope, and our path forward. Also, we must continue to abide in Him for us to stay fruitful for the Kingdom.

All of this is reminding us who is responsible for what. We are not responsible for producing fruit. We are responsible for abiding in Jesus. This means that we are to no longer pursue our agenda for our lives but instead commit the control of our lives to Him. To do this, we must daily cultivate our relationship with Him through prayer and study of His Word.

I love how Frances Chan described this idea when he said: “There are periods that we forget that in the pursuit of fruit, that if we just abide in Him, then fruitfulness is a guarantee.”  May we all find comfort in knowing that Jesus will do in our lives what only He can do if we remain in Him. Because “apart from Him we can do nothing.”

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3 

Sometimes we Southerners use expressions that people outside the South do not understand. One of those phrases we use sometimes is the phrase “I am fixing to.” Translated it means that we are getting ready or prepared to do something.

In this crazy world we live in, I want to do all I can to be ready spiritually for all the issues of life that will come my way. I am convinced that if we are not ready spiritually we will miss out on the peace we all so desperately seek for our lives. I want to be focused and fixated on Him daily.

Isaiah 26:3 above gives us an incredible prescription for finding peace for our lives. In this passage, Isaiah tells us that God will keep “in perfect peace” all those who trust in Him and who are focused or fixated on Him.

As I thought about this idea of placing our trust in God, that is what we as Christians did when we received Christ as Savior and Lord. At that time, He secured our eternal destiny. This is the first step of gaining peace with God as the verse above says. We are secure in Him for eternity. Hebrews 9:12 describes this: “With His own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—He entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.

We are secure in Him and that should bring us peace. The second part of gaining that peace is in being fixated or focused on Him.  I researched the definition of fixed. Webster defines it as “securely placed or fastened.” Once we are saved and in relationship with God, we are to daily place our hope and trust in Him for all the issues of life. He is our anchor that will hold our lives calm and steady regardless of whatever the storms of life may bring us.

 Hebrews 6:18-19 confirms this when it declares: “Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.” Hebrews 6:18-19 

He is the only hope that can truly bring us peace. The primary thing we should be “fixing to do”, as the Southern expression says, is to allow our thoughts, our lives, and our hopes to be fixed on God!

“Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” John 13:7

Growing up, I heard my mom say many times “you do not understand what is going on now, but someday you will.” That statement never made sense to me as a child. I wanted to know now why something was happening. Even today, I think we all struggle with why certain things happen to us or people we know. Life does not make sense many times, whether it be in trying to find a career path or trying to understand why a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

In John 13:7, Jesus tells us that even though “you don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” What a great truth and reminder! In Isaiah 55:8, God reminds us “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.”

These verses teach us that God is at work in our lives many times behind the scenes and in a way that is far superior to anything we could think of. I am living proof that God’s plan is a lot better than mine. When I was fresh out of college, I really believed that my career path would solely be about finding the right business career.

It was not long that I was miserable in those business jobs. I began to pray and ask God, “Why do you have me here?” Answers did not come right away, and it appeared I was trapped in something I hated. When I look back on those times, I see now that it was as if God was telling me to hang on and learn all I could where He had me and that someday soon He would reveal to me His plan.

That was exactly what He did. He used the business experience in my life to help prepare me for the role to lead Metrolina. I did not have to wait to long for the Lord to give me that “someday.” He planted me in a role that I went back to school for and used those earlier tools in business to make a difference in ministry. I did not know then, but all these years later I gained an understanding of what God was up to.

What about you? Maybe you are in a place today that you don’t why something is happening in your life. I would remind you that God has His best planned for you if you will trust Him. Especially if you will trust Him to deliver you in His own unique way. I want to leave you with some verses that I pray will give you hope that someday you will understand.

“The Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you.” Deuteronomy 23:14

“The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.” Psalm 34:19 

“Then call on me when you are in trouble and I will rescue you and you will give me glory.” Psalm 50:15

 “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.”  1 Peter 3:10-11

Everyone remembers the key phrase from the Declaration of Independence which says:“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We are blessed to be Americans and live in this great country. I especially love the statement the “pursuit of happiness.” We are free to pursue happiness. In fact, I believe most if not all people long for happiness and to enjoy life.

1 Peter 3:10-11 gives us incredible insight into what enjoying life may look like. That passage tells us if we want to enjoy life and many happy days then we must do a few things. First, we must learn to control our tongue. How do we do that?

I believe that we must stay close to God through the reading of His Word and spending time with Him in prayer. I am convinced that if we make Him the focus of our lives we will be different. His Word will change our focus, or speech, and our conduct. How do I know His Word will change our speech? Look at Hebrews 4:12 and Isaiah 55:11 below.

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” 

“It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” 

Spending time in His Word will keep us from speaking evil and will instead enable us to uplift others with our speech.  1 Peter 3:10-11 also reminds us that we should seek peace with others and “work to maintain it.” Romans 12:18 also instructs us to: “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” 

From this passage, we are taught that to enjoy lie and see many happy days then we are to control our tongue and seek peace with others. As I think about this truth, I see the wisdom in what God could truly do for my life by submitting to this. Most of the problems I encounter are when I do not control my tongue and seek to live in peace. More importantly, this reminds me that finding real joy and happiness begins with me committing my life to God and following His Word. God will honor that kind of lifestyle. 1 Peter 3:12 confirms this when it declares: “The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and His ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns His face against those who do evil.”

Rev. Rick Calloway
MCA Head of School

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