Saturday, April 30, 2011

Destined for Failure

Another really old thing I wrote...

Destined for Failure!

Curtis A. Cecil

This story begins 25 years ago. It was a dark and stormy night…well I guess it may not have been. I was born on September 21st, 1979 in Richmond, Indiana, I was the 4th born to George and Tawne Cecil. My father was a minister. That is where this story begins.
So there you have it. How did that destine me for failure? It didn’t! So what is the point of this book? Well, I am not sure! You see this story begins with a preacher’s kid.
We were your typical ministering family. Mom played Piano and dad preached. My father taught me first hand what it meant to be destined to failure. But let’s leave something for later.
We moved like most preachers’ do, I was born in Richmond, In. At 6 months we moved to Coldwater, Michigan. We then moved just after my 6th birthday to Burnips, Michigan. A small town in Dutch area, where you introduced everyone with a ‘Van’ or ‘Von’ in front of their name and all churches were called ‘reformed’. I had never heard of a Wesleyan Reformed church till then.
Then at the age of 9 we left Burnips, and moved to ‘home’. Home was a small 8ft X 8ft cabin on our church camp grounds. This cabin was the one consistent place in my entire life. My parents bought this cabin in 1975. After 3 months there we moved to Orlando, Florida. Then 4 years later like clock work we moved again to Merriam, Indiana. From a bustling megaplex like Orlando to a small hick country town like Merriam. Population was 1,200 but only 200 were alive the rest were in the cemetery.
Preachers are humans too: All too often we as the body of Christ think that Preachers are special, infallible. So repeat after me, “PREACHERS ARE HUMANS TOO” one more time…. You get the point. But this is one major point. Too many times a pastor and his family will move to a new church, things are going great for around 2 years, The congregation loves him and his family, but then it happens. The carpet needs changed. Who gets to make the decision? The church board! Who gets the blunt of church war for tearing out the carpet that was donated 43 years ago in honor of a dead relative…? You guessed it!! The preacher.
Okay maybe that hasn’t happened at your church but what about this: The pastor is great. Every service you think how much more you are getting out of him then you were at your old church you left 4 months ago. I mean you had to leave, why you weren’t getting anything out of the service. With all those sermons on evangelizing and those salvation messages, who was that guy talking too a bunch of unsaved people? No! He was talking to his flock, the white sheep. So you had to go but now you found the perfect church. I mean this pastor is great. He hasn’t preached about evangelizism or tithing or anything uncomfortable at all. He doesn’t challenge me to live life different, he ‘accepts’ me the way that I am.
So each of those last 2 scenarios may be a bit stretched but you get the point! Did you see yourself in any of those? If we are honest we all would. The devil uses those 2 areas to break up his church the most: 1) Tradition and 2) growth. So let’s take a deeper look at both of these.
Tradition: (Look at scripture and what the Bible says about this!)
Visit many churches now and you could almost guess their order of worship. Even the largest most ‘seeker’ oriented church has an order. This is their tradition. When we were living in Burnips, Mi. my father would make jokes about an occurrence that was anything but a joke.
Burnips was a very large Dairy town. If you’ve ever meet a dairy farmer you know that they have a schedule. Nothing gets in the way of that schedule. Every Sunday my Father would get up to preach and be caught up in his sermon when, beep, beep, beep the alarms went off. This was the clue for 4-5 of the farmers to get up and leave. Talk about spoiling the spirit.
Most churches are like that. Whether by people or time constraints due to the second service being 45 min after the first and we got to have the parking lot empty, pastors are rushed. We don’t let the Spirit run our churches, we run the Spirit. Let me tell you; beware of grieving the Holy Spirit. With out him no church can survive.
Growth: (Milk and Meat_) I love hearing the number one excuses that people have for leaving a church, “we just weren’t getting fed,” I also love the response one pastor gave after hearing this excess, “If you would feed yourself Monday thru Saturday, you wouldn’t need to gorge yourself in one day!!” How true. People, we have no clue how nutritious the word of God is to our soul. Paul talks about Christians crying and begging for meat, yet when given more than milk they choke. Jesus even said, “Why give the dogs, what is sacred?” He wasn’t saying we shouldn’t but…. In business when you want to sell an item you must first find a market. You test and get to know your buyer. With the Word of God we must know our Listener. If our listener has never opened a Bible in their life, then we probably ought not start quoting KJV, or even NIV for that matter. Show them the NLT etc... The point is give them what they need. Don’t force feed Doctrine to a new believer who is still basking in the Glory that God loves them. We must learn to understand what Paul meant when he told us that we are above the law. It’s not that we will sin and be okay; it’s that we know will do as much as possible so as not to sin.
Oh, but brother Earl over there is a smoker and that is a sin!! Folks, ‘He who is without sin cast the first stone!” It’s been said, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. God will direct them. We need to encourage them and be there for them that way when God does tell them it is time to give over to him another area of their life they will need our help and we will be there for them. You have to take dying slow.
That is dying to your self. Remember in Biology class how they taught you to kill a frog. Set the frog in cold water in a pan and then slowly bring up the water, it just slowly kills the frog. That is how our life is in Sin. God doesn’t douse us with Holy water say your all mine now, and expect us to let go of everything. He slowly begins to make things evident that we are doing that displease him and we begin to give them up. It’s easier to give things up then it is to have them taken away!
So why is this so hard to do? Because we are wrestling with the enemy:
In Gen 28. we read about Jacob’s ladder!! He saw a ladder going to heaven and angels climbing up and down. When he awoke he knew that God was there and he had been unaware. We miss God in those times because all we see is the earthquake, fire and famine and we miss the still small voice that Elijah heard! There is more that happens in the spiritual realm that we need to war against. We spend too much time letting Satan win by fighting each other, C.S. Lewis masterfully shows this parallel in his book the Screwtape Letters! The book portrays a lower level demon reporting to a higher level demon. They talk about how to best defeat a person. They even talk about how to destroy a Christians witness and their lives. Satan can’t keep everyone from being saved but he will do his best to keep us from showing them how.
That is why it is so important that we give up these stupid quarrels among the church. What if when someone felt upset with a church they went to their knees to rid Satan from working in their church? I know they would see a huge difference in those ‘so called’ problems that were so big they thought they needed to leave. It’s SATAN!! Distraction, deception, conniving, manipulation, LIES!!!! That is what he is all about.
I read a book awhile ago about Brother Yun. Brother Yun went through some amazing things; his story is one that will show you the power of prayer. But one thing that he mentioned in his life hit me. He talked about what God had been doing in China, the revival that was spreading, and then man got involved. Up until that point the revival was happening without real preachers and with very few Bibles. So what did they want, more Bibles. Well, Satan had a plan. He sent Bibles to them from everywhere. Why would I say that Satan sent them? Because those bringing the Bibles came with agendas. They didn’t come to embrace that which God was doing; they came to make it better. Like God needed their help. They started teaching doctrine. Not the basic but denominational different doctrine. Before too long the men of God who had brought this revival were not even talking to each other. Why? Because Satan had used these issues to spring up like weeds and choke them. Soon the differences of denominations were keeping 2 close brothers in the Lord apart for over 15 years with no contact.
This fits in with America too. We work against each other and aren’t working with each other. Thus Satan is still wining the fight in keeping us from full-filling having the power of God in our church and ministry’s!!
If Satan can’t keep a person from being saved he will keep them from saving others! How does he do this? He keeps us self concerned. Ask a good marriage counselor and they will tell you the down fall of any relationship is self centeredness.
When we find ourselves more concerned with what we can get out of it we forget the whole meaning of life! Jesus said he didn’t come to be served but to serve others. (Mt. 20:28) What a ground breaking idea. We live in a society that tells us to look out for number one! Yet, Jesus said that we needed to learn to be a servant.
Next time you think your not self centered, just ask the bookstore clerk, or your waiter or waitress how they perceive you. I have worked almost 7 years in retail, 4 or which were in management. My first such job was a bit at a Christian Bookstore. I had worked in secular environments for about 2 years before this. I had never meet so many grouchy, angry people. The first person I had that yelled, and screamed at me (For something I knew nothing about) was a preachers wife. Over the years I have had people in fits of rage, suggest books on communication because they thought I didn’t know how although they never shut their mouths long enough to give me a chance. I had a guest at a store where I manage call one of my employees a ignortant fool. Oh, but praise God their saved!!! Do we even stop to think how we are acting. “Let your light so shine before men…” I think that must be omitted in your version of the Bible.
I want to tell you a story about unselfish behavior. It happened to me while on a trip to China.
Mountains, beautiful mountains just miles from Beijing, this is where we found ourselves heading on Good Friday. Approximately one hour out to the middle of no where in a small village. All the buildings were old and dilapidated. The only nice ones in the village were, as is typical in China, the government buildings. Even what looked like a hospital was missing windows.
WE pulled down a long rode and turned into the orphanage. We had no idea what we were in store for here. We were immediately greeted by a few of the resident elderly. Most all in this home, either young or old, had some sort of mental or physical disability.
Soon after embarking from the bus, a young girl named Zhihong came running up to greet us. She was holding a young baby and was very eager to see the visitors. She acted as if she were one of the helpers; in fact I thought she had to be a workers daughter. We walked around the building seeing the different rooms, etc. In one room was a young boy with rosy red cheeks who was fearful of us at first. Later he warmed up enough to give two of our members a kiss on the cheek.
In yet another room were some very young infants. One had a cleft pallet. Most of the upper lip was missing exposing the tongue and throat. Surgery is in store with this little one to help her, yet only if the money is available. This by appearances would definitely be hard for them to come up with.
Another child laid Crying without ceasing, until finally falling asleep. In this same room lay a small, tiny bundle of a baby. She had been abandoned at the orphanage just the day previous. She was 2-3 months premature and weighing only 1.2 kilograms. Due to money they had just given to making the child comfortable until she would fall into eternal sleep. It’s hard to imagine letting a child die! For what us seems unreal in our western thinking is a common occurrence in many other countries because they can’t afford to care for, or don’t have the medical supplies necessary to take care of the little one’s. We gave them money for the hospital but it was too little too late.
During our time at this orphanage I watched as Zhihong interacted and played with the other children. Finally it dawned on me that this perfectly normal little girl was a resident at this orphanage. I felt sorry for her situation, being the only none handicapped resident of this place. At one point she put on my sunglasses, when she looked at me grinning for the first time since our arrival I saw a normal little girl around the age of my nieces. So full of life and so limited by her surroundings, yet she was beaming with joy. A little while later I gave her my sunglasses and had our guide Sherry tell her she could keep them. Zhihong grinned from ear to ear.
When we started to pack up to leave, I felt a tap on my shoulder. There stood Zhihong trying to give me back her new sunglasses. I quickly grabbed the Chinese lady who came with us and had her tell Zhihong that they were hers to keep. The very idea of this gift was too much for the young mind. She began to weep, overwhelmed by the very idea of having someone care enough to give her a small gift.
When almost everyone was heading for the bus, I looked in the room and Zhihong was telling the Chinese lady something in tears. I came in and asked why she was so sad. I was then told her story. She had moved there with her best friend. They had both been abused at previous orphanages. Soon after moving there her best friend, her only friend, was adopted. So now here he was, 14, only a 3rd grade education, and in a home full of people very unlike her. She so wanted to be adopted and loved.
Leaving that day was very hard. Driving away I watched as this young girl stood at the gate and waved until the very last second. You could still see the tears gleaming on her cheeks. From the moment on I knew that something has to be done for these kids like Zhihong. She didn’t deserve to be there. She was a happy, beautiful young girl who needs love just like all of us.
So why did I experience this? Watching a tiny infant die, and seeing a seemingly forgotten teen? Why on Good Friday? A Day that represent Death yet leads to a glorious resurrection. Why?
Maybe it’s so that now I can come to America and help others see the need outside our own lives. We are so self-centered. Looking at everything and every event to see what we can get out of it or what we can do to make it serve our own interest. It’s kind of like staging life. It just doesn’t seem to flow as smooth as it should. But when we see what God wants us to see we finally find that smooth path. A path that gives us a sense of knowing that we have done His will. “Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying “This is the way, walk in it.” Isa 30:21. Because when this life gives way to the eternal, who we knew, where we went and who we went with will not matter to God. Only that which is done with humble humility will last beyond our selves. I don’t know about you but I would rather here “well done my GOOD and FAITHFUL Servant” and be considered with Abraham as a Friend of God then to be known on this earth. All it takes is a new generation or two before we are forgotten.
That young girl had no clue of self. She woke up in the morning, spent all day not for herself but helping others. Her life had disappeared and a schedule of others had taken place over her childhood. Yet here I sit, in my comfy house, with my family, our pets, etc... I sit here and think of all the times that I felt failure. Those times where I felt insecure.
That little girl would have given everything to have just a glimpse of a real family. Just one day, maybe one hour sitting down to a table with parents. Instead she spent her life knowing that she was unwanted, her parents had abandoned her. The workers at the other orphanage which she had known as home abused her. Isn’t home suppose to be a safe place?
Satan is warring against us in a fury that is unmatched by any of the war’s our earth has ever seen. So why should we bother. I mean there is too much hurt, too much pain, too much self-centeredness;
So why should we keep on with this if we are destined to fail? Because only in our strength failing can we truly succeed.
One of my favorite stories, because I find it funny, is the story of Gideon with his men. Gideon was a man who was afraid of committing to God. You and I, we just wish that God would speak to us, well he did to Gideon and Yet Gideon still wanted a sign. So we have the story of the fleece. Gideon said, “Lord, Show me a sign.” So they worked out a plan that Gideon would put out a fleece on the ground. The next morning he would find the fleece dry and the ground wet. God did it. Gideon came back and said Do it one more time just different so I can be sure. So God made the fleece wet and the ground dry. So now Gideon was sure. But he was sure because of his own testing of God.
So the story goes on latter that God tells Gideon that they are to get all the men together and go to war. So Gideon, who is sure he knows God’s voice now, gets all the men together. I’m sure he was so proud of himself, maybe even a little self-centered, but there was a problem; he couldn’t hide it from God. But God has a plan. He said to Gideon that he had too many men. Can you imagine how Gideon must have felt; I mean he was ready to wipe out his enemy with this massive army that HE had gathered. That wasn’t God’s plan. So through a series of events God took that army from about 32,000 men to 300 men. Why? Because only in our weakness can he be glorified.
We must remember that through all things God is in control. So that leads to my next point.
Let go of control: Give into dying and let God take control.
There comes a point in all of our lives we must give up control. I had one of those moments. It all started one Friday night. My brother and I were driving towards the Cave. We left his house in Nashville, LaVerne actually, and drove 45 min out of town. Little by little the city lights faded, and then the 4 lanes turned to 2. Next thing I knew we were on a “2 lane” paved road that only one car could get through at a time. We got there and turned off the radio and slowed way down for fear of waking the locals. We were in deep wood, shoot first ask questions if their still alive, territory. The truck passed 4 homes on the way to the cave spot. Nice, barb wire laced drives with un-welcoming signs posted every where.
The truck pulled to a stop at a small turn around on the side of the road. We were 600ft straight up from the cave. At this point the sun was just starting to fade over the horizon, and a misty haze was settling on the tree tops. We walked, slid, whatever down the side of this mountain to the bottom, careful not to lose the trail. Well, actually there was no trail, just water run off pattern that we followed to the bottom. There, at the bottom, was the mouth of this cave. Only God knew what the next 40 hours would be like.
We sat there for around 15 min. looking at the change in the landscape as the sun disappeared and listening to the stream that flowed out of the mouth of the cave. Finally we strapped on our gear, one mag light and one head lamp for each of us; and picked up our bags, my brother with a lap pouch, and myself with a duffel bag. We then went forward into the deep, dark, engulfing hole of the cave.
After walking and being shown like a tourist the outer rim of the cave my brother and I preceded into the deeper parts, the more uncharted parts of this cavern. The amazing sights that I saw, words can’t express. We saw where stalactites and stalagmites met and formed pillars over 40 ft in length. We saw collapsed domes were the loose rock had separated from the more solid granite roof and left layered effects on the ceiling. We saw stones in deep parts of the cave inscribed with names and dates from slaves who were probably hiding out. Then we saw it.
Off to our right was a crawl space, The Devil’s Craw. At the entrance to this craw was a wall of crystals some still in the forming process, some in full form and beauty. We spent some time digging like excavators through the dirt carefully trying to salvage some of these stones. After finding our fill we decided to see where this crawl led.
One thing you get use to in a cave is normally you can come in one way and leave by means of another route. Most caves have numerous exits. So we went down this crawl with no fear. For one the crawl had been marked. In other words there was an arrow with an ‘O’ at one end pointing towards the way out. So we went against the arrow to go in deep and see where this lead to. In order to climb through these crawls we had to leave both packs behind. So armed with our sense of adventure, and our trusty MAG lights and head lamps we began to crawl. We knew we were the first in years to travel this path because of the stalactites that were forming on the roof of the crawl space that would break against our back on the crawl.
After over ½ a mile of a some what open crawl where you could almost dog crawl, we were forced to army crawl. This continued for another 2 miles or more. Finally we came out an opening into a new cave. We had the time of our life exploring this cave system. We followed the arrows still against the flow to see where they all lead.
First we found the ‘Rain Room’. This room had water seeping in through small cracks in the roof, falling down onto a large slanted rock and then falling to the ground. There was a small cavern behind that you could climb into many different ways, thus actually sitting behind the waterfall watching the water. We then kept exploring.
We found a passage of channels. These were water wash outs. The water had washed away all the rock and then left a small platform on each side, then repeated until you had rows of these platforms around 20 ft high. The width in-between them were only about 1 ft or less at smallest to 2 ft at most. We had to find our way climbing through these channels, sometimes walking on the bottom of the cave, other times the middle and yet other times on top of the channels. Alternating where we were at to maneuver through these things was a chore.
They came out into our ‘Mud Room’. Rocks fallen and covered over with hundreds of years of dust and dirt that created a slick and unsafe stepping ground; one such rock had fallen then to create a bridge between one side and another room. Straddling this ‘bridge’ you could see, or hear, straight down about 20 ft to a stream that was flowing underneath us.
On the other side was another collapsed dome room. This one was definitely the road less traveled. Our arrows ended in these last two rooms abruptly. The dome room was full of rocks that were teetering on edge and could fall at any second. Not the safest room to be in.
So we decided we hadn’t found another way out so let’s go back and leave by way we came. Easier said then done.
We went back to the place we started and couldn’t find our hole. You have to understand; when you are in a real cave there are hundreds of holes and caverns etc... It’s like finding a needle in a haystack. When we came out there were arrows inside and we saw arrows when we came out, but where had that been.
This began our adventure. We spent the next 35 hours or so going through every hole, every crack everything trying to find a way out. Of course sleep was overtaking us, so we finally decided we should find a warm spot and try to rest. Resting was one thing, you close your eyes to pitch black wondering “Lord, will I ever awake again?” Then when you do, you feel the whole effects of hyperthermia. You can hardly move, talk stand up anything.
So we spent the next 35 hours trying to sleep 15 min, and then work for 45. When you’re working at climbing rocks you sweet, then when you rest you freeze. It was a vicious and life threatening cycle.
That is when I began to pray. Pray for peace, pray for help, just pray for a way out.
Not too many people can say that they have ever had a time in their life where they knew beyond a shadow that they were going to die, I have. We had both given into the fact that we were going to die down there but that we may as well keep moving and going as long as we possibly could.
Now if you remember, we didn’t have our packs with our food, water, emergency blankets etc. We were licking water off of rocks anything just to wet our throats. Yet through it all there was a peaceful feeling in my soul.
Even when I thought we would surly die, I knew that God was in control. You know that Bible says, ‘ask and it will be given to you’. Do you know how unrealistic that is? If you were to ask for a cheeseburger would you get it? Not unless you were driving to that fast food joint yourself with money in your pocket. It’s the same way with prayer. If we are not in the right line with God our prayers will seem to be un-answered. So how do we get in the right line with God?
I found two things in the dark that made me calm. One was a story of a man at the bottom of a ladder that leads to heaven with Jesus sitting at the top. Jesus looks down and says “Come to me but you can’t use the ladder.” The man sits down and for years does nothing but think through all the worlds’ knowledge of flight, religions, etc… anything that we know on earth to try and figure out how to do this. Finally in utter frustration he throws up his hands and says, “I can’t do it!” At that very second Jesus reached down and says, “That’s IT!!!” and brings him up. The point was, WE are nothing. We are pointless. There is no power in ourselves. ‘Meaningless, a chasing after the winds’ as Ecclesiasties would say. Yet, there is a power in God that can move mountains. When we realize that it is not us showing people God, we are to reflect Jesus like the moon reflects the sun. Only then will people be changed. “Not by works that any man should boast…..”
Then the second thing that I found was this: We don’t ask right. Once we have given all to Jesus we then are prepared to ask. What does the Bible say…? On one part it says “Ask in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ...” We can’t go near God. We have no right to ask anything of God. But through the High priest and Mediator of Jesus Christ who we can “hide” behind to go to the father we can ask all things.
I thought of these while in the cave that we thought was our tomb. AT one point I looked at my brother who had told me this ladder story a while ago and said it was time. The funny thing looking back was, I know now that I was crouching down just 2 feet to the right of our exit hole. Isn’t that ironic of God to say, YOU IDIOT!!! You keep stumbling over it but in your frail, week, tired state of mind you can’t even see it! Give it to me and let ME show you how to get out that way you can glorify ME not your own findings. So that next time when we went to rest for 5 min, I kept repeating “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ show us the way out”. Over and over. Within 2 hours we found our hole.
At one point when I was praying down there, my brother looked at me and said, “You realize that greater people then us have asked for a miracle and not gotten one.” So why did God chose to hear our prayers? Why did we have to go through 40 hours of torture and pain? I mean we were so sore we could hardly walk for a day. I dislocated my shoulder, my brother cracked a rib. We both are saved and are right with God, but yet he still saw fit to change us more.
It’s because until we truly die to God we are worthless to him. Paul said we must die daily to ourselves. We must give up our rights, our desire to be in control and let God lead us. “To him who is able to do exceedingly more than we can ever think or imagine.” I can think of some amazing things, so that has to be good.
I once was dead, by now I am resurrected. To what reason or purpose is for God to know and to reveal to me in his time. Until then I will tell the world of Him, and the mighty, marvelous, and miraculous power or PRAYER!!!

So we’ve talked about what can hinder us from doing God’s will: Control, Self-centeredness, and Satan’s control. Let’s talk a little about the results that we can have once we relinquish the control.
The Bible sums this up: We need to be like Jesus himself. The only way to get there is to die and let Jesus take control of our lives.
Have you ever seen an Elvis impersonator? I’m sure you have. I’ve seen many of them. Some are pretty good, others are just totally off. None of them will ever truly have the best Elvis impersonation. Why? Because they are not the real thing.
The world is full of Hurting people who are looking for Jesus. They are looking for Truth, and unconditional Love. Whether you want to admit it or not, they are looking to us as believers in Christ to show them these traits. You know what the number one thing that turns them away is? People who they feel are false or hypocritical.
We can never be truth to other humans, because we are human. Humans are full of sin. The reason we appear hypocritical to others and turn them away from our faith is due to us not showing them how to have a personal relationship with Jesus. We teach them the essentials, but we leave out one key element. Never put another human being on a pedestal. Jesus should be our only focal point. Humans will fail you. It is what a human does after failing that constitutes whether they are a hypocrite or not.
Just like an Elvis impersonator, we can’t truly personate Jesus. Jesus is Divine and we are human. But when we give up control, when we die to selfish ambition and lies, then Jesus can control our lives and only then will we show Jesus to others. Who better to do it then Jesus himself? Let him work, let him speak through you.
A Christian artist told a story he read of a man who visited a nursing home with his church youth group every week. He stood in the back every week not wanting to be there. Each week one old man would come and wheel up next to him and put his hand inside the youth workers. He did this for quite a while. One visit the old man wasn’t own for the meeting so this youth worker asked some nurses and found his room. Upon walking into the room he found this old man dying, and his daughter beside him. When she looked up she smiled and said, “You must be Jesus”! Here this old man kept telling them how Jesus came and visited him every week and just held his hand.
Folks, we are nothing! We are worse than nothing and every time we try to do anything for Christ it is all done in vain. Only when we give everything we have, forget ourselves and what we can get out of anything, and let God take full control, ONLY then will people finally see Jesus in us and through us. “Let your light shine before men...” Jesus is that light that will shine through you if you’ll let him,

So I now it is time to talk to the pastors out there. Maybe I should have done this at the first, I mean how many pastors ever finish a book. They only skim through them and get what they feel is necessary and then tell everyone they read it! But anyways… as I said earlier “Pastors are humans too…” I had a friend when I was an assistant manager at a huge retail chain. He was a police officer. Chad and I would get into debates while working on 3rd shift on the law and cops. My issue was if speeding is illegal than why do you always see cops flying down the road at 50 in a 25 school zone etc.. His quote was it is okay for us to break the law so as to catch those citizens who are doing it also. That works for a police man, but not for a preacher.
Satan had found an area to discredit the church and that is turning out as a huge jackpot. It is found in this area: Integrity. When I went to College, a young 16 year old who turned 17 at school, I was still young in my faith. At that point I hadn’t realized that I needed to look to Jesus for my standards. Instead I had set up certain people who had been influential in my families lives. 1) A youth speaker who had touched my sisters life tremendously ; 2) A Bible Professor who had mentored one of my brothers and ministered at a large church on campus 3) A professor who had taught in Youth ministries for years and 4) A Bible Professor who had been highly spoken of by my brother.
I went to college and found something there that I felt where inconsistent with the Bible and how I was raised, so in my questioning I looked to these people. Well, during this time #1, was caught having an affair with a student and left the college, #2, same, #3, was very stand offish and unhelpful and finally #4. #4 hurt the worse. The reason being was because we set up a meeting for lunch and I came hoping to sit at his feet and learn, and my first greeting was a comment on how I was a disgrace to my family name because of my appearance. I had a stylish hair cut, and ear rings. The rest of the lunch went consistent with that and he ended up dismissing himself abruptly from our lunch.
My world began to reel at that point. I questioned everything about my faith. It was then that I realized something that everyone of us needs to know if we want to be truly effective for God. We are reflections of God, never let anyone look up to us but we need to point them to Him!
Pastors, too many times I feel that we forget the verse in James that is written, “we who teach will be judged more strictly.” We begin to think that like those officers, we are above temptation, lust, swearing, evil thoughts, etc.. We are not yet truly like Jesus. Only he was ‘Perfect and with out Blemish.’ We give our congregations what they want not what they need.
There is also a huge lack of integrity in the youth pastor positions. This was my choice of studies in College. Even after I declared my major, I had numerous people in my church, pastors etc. ask me when I was going to grow up and be a real minister. It ticked me off. It ticked me off so much I wanted to show them how much I could do. And that is when Satan got a talon’s hold.
‘It is not I but Christ who lives within me!”
The second kind of youth pastor that we see is those who don’t want to grow up, these are caused mainly due to the first issue. The biggest thing I see that is killing our teens today is this second kind of youth pastor. They spend their time trying to make the kids have fun, and to be liked. They spend little to no time teaching the Bible.
The best example I can give of this was at our latest church camp. In the middle of our teen service the youth pastor stopped and started talking about his top 10 favorite movies. At one point he even said, “If you’ve not seen (Certain movie series that is R rated and violent, on of which has a 30 min. group sex scene) you might as well be Amish.” It’s okay though, next week he’ll talk about Peer Pressure. Do we not see the hypocritical nature in this? How can a youth pastor get away with this? Because the pastor is thinking he’ll grow out of it!! We need to teach them that verse from James. They will be held accountable for how they influenced the lives of those teens placed in their paths.
“If we are the body, why aren’t his hands reaching..”
So what keeps us from fully dying to Christ and giving up everything? 1) Doubt and 2) being out of focus.
Doubt is a natural thing. We doubt certain things like if well make it to the store in time, or if the sun will shine today etc. You can’t get rid of doubt until you get rid of sin. These things keep us from truly knowing God. Not all of us will be lucky and hear God like Moses, but even Moses doubted and he heard God. Joseph who had many dreams, cried out to God and asked why his visions for others came true but not for himself. The list goes on. Not all of us will have a fleece experience like Gideon. But one thing is for sure, if we pray and focus on God, we all will have that still small voice experience. It may not be audible, but it will be internal.
I love taking pictures but too many times I get my photos developed and I’ll almost always have 1 or 2 out of focus. Why? I haven’t read all the latest books or manuals on how to operate my camera; Or My eyes jut might be looking at the wrong thing. In our lives we are so quick to look at things around us for a standard to see how we are doing.
I struggle currently with doing what God wants and making a good living. The reason that is, is because I am setting my bearings by looking to the world. My focus is on the surrounding culture. If we spent our time focusing on eternity, it’s realness and its nearness, we would treat this world so very differently.
Yet there is one small problem that remains. We don’t journal our thoughts and prayer lives. We are human and thus are brains fail. Edison a very brilliant man, was known to keep a paper with him at all times that had on it his home address and other important numbers. Not because he couldn’t remember them but because he wanted to make sure his mind was free for more important information. Is your heart and brain empty and ready for Biblical information? We should be cleansing ourselves of all ideas and views and reading our Bible daily. Then we should journal our findings so as to remind us in times of trouble.
Because my friends we should be having trouble. If you find life is easy, even here in America then you are not living as you should. The Bible promises us that “in this world you will have troubles..” and that just as Christ was persecuted so will they persecute us. It is coming my brothers and sisters. Can you truly tell yourself that when it comes to you that you will be ready? What if you are imprisoned for a long period of time as Pastor Samuel Lamb in China, how will you remember verses you have not read or even yet memorized? What then will keep your heart from failing you and your mind from convincing you that this Christianity is a fraud? What then? Will the latest business magazine that you read give you hope? Will the Stock market results do that?
No my friends nothing but the words of our savior can bring us that peace that passes all understanding. He will provide to us a protector and comforter when the time comes if we trust him.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart!” This doesn’t mean the fulfillment of personal desires. No, but a heart that is truly in God’s control will have desires that are in line with God’s will. These are the desires that are granted, they are ones coming from one who has died to self.
It’s like driving down the road in the rain and not turning on the windshield wipers. Everything is a blur. All you have to do is give in and hit the button and you can see so much clearer. You don’t personally clear the windshield, you have to rely on something else. When we give over control to God, we will see life in a whole new, much clearer way, not because of our worth but His.
So the sooner we all learn we are destined to fail the better off we’ll be.
Learning from others. God works through others!

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