Extraordinary Things are Done Every Day by Ordinary People

You’ve Been Given Everything You Need to be Extraordinary, It’s Up to You to Use it

This past Sunday was Pentecost. This is the Christian commemoration of the coming of the Holy Spirit, celebrated the seventh Sunday after Easter. The coming of the Holy Spirit happened suddenly and came in a strong wind and fire, Acts 2:1-21.

The people who were together when this extraordinary thing happened, were just ordinary people. These followers of Jesus were feeling lost and alone after Jesus left. They no longer had their leader. How would they go on?

This small group of ordinary people are the beginning of our Christian faith. They are the core of the Church today.

These ordinary people did extraordinary things.

They didn’t think they had what it took to do the mission before them, but they did. Most of us feel this sense of inadequacy when we look ahead to our own missions.

It is amazing what long-range effect the little things we do, both good and bad can have. We rarely know what long term affect we will have and how those things will affect the future. Seemingly irrelevant things can make a huge impact.

In the book, The Butterfly Effect, Andy Andrews tells how the decisions you make and the way you treat others impact the world. This short book is a powerful story about a decision one man made over a hundred years ago, and the ripple effect it has on us individually, and in the world, today.

God will not ask you to do anything more than He knows you can.

Just like Jesus’ followers, we’ve been given the things needed to accomplish our mission. –

  • Power – Nothing is impossible with God. We’ve been given the strength needed to do the things we are supposed to. The power has been promised to us. It is available…not delivered. It is up to us to access it and use it.
  • Purpose – Just like the disciples were given their purpose on Pentecost, we’ve been given a purpose. Like power, this doesn’t work without our participation. We need to open our ourselves to God’s vision and do something. Without a vision the people parish, Proverbs 29:18.
  • Presence – The Holy Spirit is God’s presence in our lives. This is us inviting God in, to be an active part of our everyday lives. Once again, we have a responsibility, if we aren’t open to It and accepting of It, we won’t get It.

It is up to you every day to use your gifts and abilities doing ordinary things, letting God turn them into something extraordinary.

A Cheerful Heart is Good Medicine

It’s Up to Us to Decide to be Cheerful or Not

We have limited control over what happens around us. We have complete control of how we respond. We can choose, it’s up to us to decide if we’re going to take control or not.

We all go through things in life that, at the time, seem unbearable. Whatever it is, someone else ‘has gone’, ‘is going’ or ‘will go’ through it. At the time we are, it sure feels like no one has ever suffered this much.

Peace of mind is what we’re looking for.

In John 20:19-31, the disciples were lost, scared and hiding behind locked doors. Their best friend and leader had been killed a few days before. They were anything but cheerful. Then Jesus showed up and said, “Peace be with you.” He showed them His hands and His side and again said, “Peace be with you”.

He had the power to heal His scars, but He left them to show others the proof of His commitment to us. We all have scars of varying forms and degrees. The Christian band, I Am They, shares this in the song, Scars.

Now I’m standing in confidence

With the strength of Your faithfulness

And I’m not who I was before

No, I don’t have to fear anymore

So I’m thankful for the scars

‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart

And I know they’ll always tell of who You are

So forever I am thankful for the scars

Scars are a part of our story and a reminder of who we are.

Next, Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In the span of a few minutes the disciple’s attitudes had changed from sad to happy. With Holy Spirt we can change our attitudes as well. The power of Holy Spirt in our lives prevents us from ever having to be alone. This peace makes being cheerful much easier.

Having God’s peace gives me the courage to move forward in times of doubt and fear.

Nabeel Qureshi was born in San Diego to Pakistani Muslim parents who had immigrated to the US. While attending college he engaged in religious discussions with Christian, David Wood. They became friends and through this relationship Qureshi converted to Christianity. Converting to Christianity from being a Muslim requires real commitment. A conversion of this kind can be a death sentence.

In his book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel provides an intimate window into the struggle of being raised in a loving Muslim home and the inner turmoil of becoming a Christian. The clash between Islam and Christianity and the peace he finds in Jesus.

Peace is the defining mark of those who follow Jesus.

We get to decide if we want the cheerfulness and peace that come with being Christians. When struggling through all the difficulties that life dishes out, it’s hard to find a better medicine than a cheerful heart.

God Uses Bad News to Share “The Good News”

We Are an Integral Part of the Story Being Told

Life is full of suffering and pain. We are currently experiencing widespread struggles with the corona virus situation. People were suffering before this and will suffer after.

In John 9:1-17, as Jesus’ followers walked past a blind man, they asked Jesus whose sin caused the man to be blind, his or his parents? Jesus answered, “It’s not this man’s or his parents’ sin… This man was born blind so that God’s power could be shown in him.” This man’s blindness was not the result of anything he or anyone else had done.

We’ve all heard of stories of people being miraculously healed. There are also stories of people that did miraculous things regardless of their imperfect situation. When things aren’t going well, too often we ask why.

The question we should ask is how, how can I use this for good?

In 1997, Christian author/singer Shelia Walsh shared her struggle with depression in her autobiography, Honestly. It appeared to people on the outside that she had it all together, but as her book reveals…not so much.

We all want to appear that we have everything under control when on the inside we’re constantly battling with our own self-doubt. We falsely think that showing our weakness and mistakes makes us failures. Working through these things with courage shows God’s strength in us.

I have seen, heard and witnessed amazing things happening around the world that wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for the corona virus. People slowing down and focusing on family, reconnecting with people through social media, helping others who need help, showing kindness and thinking outside the box actions.

God is glorified through our weakness, perseverance, and attitude.

Ask God for a solution and He will give you a story. Share your story with others.

Anticipation Can Be Stressful or Exciting

It’s Up to Us to Decide Which It Will Be

Christmas has come and gone for another year. That’s okay because we will look up in a few days and it will be here again.

Some people find the Holiday season stressful. The busy, rushed and harried pace can get overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

We get to choose how it’s going to be.

I love the anticipation of looking forward to opening presents on Christmas morning. I don’t want to know what I’m getting until I take the paper off and open it. I will be extra careful to not see what’s in boxes and bags around the house leading up to Christmas. The looking forward to the unveiling of the surprise is exciting.

Advent is a season of the liturgical year observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas and the return of Jesus at the Second Coming.

This season really is more about waiting than coming. Joseph and Mary both showed great faith and patience waiting for Jesus’ birth. Because they were not married yet and she was pregnant they were looked down on. They had to trust what they had been told by God and believe it to be true.

Look forward to the future possibilities God has for you with excited anticipation!

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

What Is Baptism And Why Does It Matter?

Baptism is one of those Christian terms that is used often and consequently can lose its importance and meaning. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/baptism baptism is –

1a : a Christian sacrament marked by ritual use of water and admitting the recipient to the Christian community b : a non-Christian rite using water for ritual purification c Christian Science : purification by or submergence in Spirit 2 : an act, experience, or ordeal by which one is purified, sanctified, initiated, or named

While this definition is accurate it doesn’t address the more important question of why it matters.

There is a lot of discussion around the topic of baptism and the “right or wrong” way it should be done. Believe me I know this first hand. My wife having been raised Baptist is a supporter of immersion. Me having been baptized as an infant through sprinkling, don’t see anything reason this method isn’t as valid. I think the living out our baptism is what matters.

I think the why it matters question is answered well by Crosswalk https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/baptism-what-is-it-meaning-and-definition.html.

What is Baptism?

“Baptism is an outward act that symbolizes the inward phenomenon of coming to and accepting Jesus Christ as real, as God incarnate, as the sacrificial means by which those who believe in him can be forever reconciled to God. The purpose of baptism is to give visual testimony of our commitment to Christ. It is the first step of discipleship (Acts 8:26-39). Baptism is like a wedding ring. We put on a wedding ring as a symbol of our commitment and devotion. In the same way baptism is a picture of devotion and commitment to Christ. A wedding ring reminds us and tells others that we belong to someone special. In the same way, baptism reminds us and others that we are devoted to Christ and belong to Him.”

We can live a good, constructive, happy life without being baptized, but there is so much more to be had if we commit fully to a relationship with Christ.

Baptism is the symbolic action we take to show our being washed clean of our sins. The water washes away our “old, dead, heavy, suffocating life” and is replaced with a “new, fresh purposeful one”. Once we’re baptized we won’t be perfect, but we will belong to God. Pastor Lee told about Sam Houston’s baptism. It is believed that General Houston had lead a rough and wild life so it no surprise that after being baptized when the Pastor said, “Your sins are washed away”, that it is said that Houston replied, “God save the fishes!” http://www.wadeburleson.org/2009/12/baptism-of-general-sam-houston-by-rufus.html

Luke 3:21-22 tells about Jesus’ baptism. If baptism is important enough for Jesus to do then I think “Baptism Matters”…a great deal.