Most resources, at being squandered, wind up diminished.
Not so with love, joy and encouragement. With these, the more you give them, the more you have them.
As a matter of fact, the best riches are not the ones guarded in a bank but ones that are freely given out of the heart.
This Christmas season, with your gift giving, give the gifts that the more you lavish them upon others’ hearts, the more they grow in your own heart.
Note: Picture from Pinterest.
Posted in Christmas, joy, love
Tagged epiphany, Faith, God, illustration, inspiration, Jesus, less and more, preacher, resources, revelation, sermon, supply, thought for today
Adolf and Rudolf Dassler inherited shoe-making from their dad, but they didn’t inherit love for each other. Adolf broke off their partnership and founded Addidas, while Rudolf founded Puma — both in the same German town of Herzogenaurach.
A rare photo where both brothers, left and middle, appear together
Their intense sibling rivalry led to unprecedented shoe wars waged through stepped-up bidding battles for the hottest athletes. In an attempt to stave off the spiraling sponsorship costs, both made a pact to not pursue Brazilian soccer genius Pele.
Pele led the Brazilians to World Cup glory in 1970
But Rudolf betrayed it. He paid $120,000 for Pele in the 1970 World Cup to ask the ref to not whistle the beginning so that he could tie his shoes. As worldwide television looked on at the cause of the delay, Puma won a publicity coup without parallel.
His brother never forgave him. The two are even buried in the farthest opposing extremities of the town cemetery.
Can’t we get along??? Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven — Matt. 18:19 NIV. We ought to get along at least enough to pray together.
The Dassler brothers only tamed their family war with the appearance of Nike, which blindsided them and stole huge shares of the athletics market. Only when the devil shows up, will we get along?
Posted in prayer
Tagged addidas puma feud, adolf dassler, Christian, dassler brothers, Herzogenaurach, illustration, pray, prayer in unity, rudolf dassler, Sergius Paulus, unity
Normal cells cease to replicate at about the 50th cell division. Not so with the HeLa cells, which are immortal. Taken from a cancer from Henrietta Lacks in 1951, these extraordinary cells are cultivated in lab cultures and propagate endlessly. They have been useful in research for the polio vaccine, cancer, AIDS, and gene mapping. HeLa cells have given so much to humanity, and they just keep giving.
Shouldn’t Christians be like that? There are people who burn out on their donating. At some point, they get frustrated with the endless need for their finances and start looking out only for number one. There are pastors who weary of self-sacrifice for the good of others; they start doing more for me. After replicating about 50 times, they’ve had enough.
Let us pray for resiliency today. We should be the workers who “bear the heat of the day” and don’t complain to the Vineyard Owner about getting the same wage as the Johnny-come-latelies. He who stands firm to the end will be saved. — Mark 13:13 NIV. Don’t just start the race gloriously; finish it satisfactorily.
Posted in Financial Talk
Tagged AIDS, anecdote, burnout in ministry, Cancer, Cell (biology), Cell division, Christian, church, commentary, HeLa, Henrietta Lacks, illustration, longevity in ministry, Mark 13:13, pastor, persevere, stand firm
A helmet works by a physic’s principle called distributing a force. The hit is spread out over the plastic shell so that it doesn’t affect one place of the cranium directly.
Pushing a thumb tack in is the opposite. This is called concentrating a force. Your finger applies pressure over a wide surface that is concentrated into the pin and even more into the tip. So it slides into the corkboard and not your finger.
When we all come together to pray, it is concentrating a force. When we rally behind a needy brother, we distributing a blow. Some think there’s no longer any need for the church. They are missing out on the power of unity.
By heating a glow stick, you can make it brighter. By chilling it, it will last longer (but be dimmer).
Glow sticks work by containing two separate chemicals that are mixed together when the flexible outer container is bent, breaking an inner ampoule.
When diphenyl oxalate reacts with hydrogen peroxide, it emits light.
Inventors thought it would safer than the flare to cordon off highway hazards. But carnival hawkers have made a killing selling them at nighttime events.
When the Christian allows himself to be broken inside, and when he mixes Bible with prayer, the resulting faith emit lights. Heat it up, and it will be brighter. But you need to keep adding the ingredients or it will die down.
The Inventor of Gospel light intended it to save people from the hazards of sin.
Posted in Financial Talk
Tagged Bible, Christian, Christian walk, Christianity, evangelism, Faith, Glow stick, hazards of sin, illustration, light, prayer
Rob’s team’s football helmets just arrived. They cost $200 each. One special helmet, for a high school student injured last year, cost $1,000. That’s a lot of money for sports equipment. Then again, when it comes to your head, you don’t want to tight-wad. A head injury, almost more than any other part of the body, can cause death, so maximum protection is imperative.
Ephesians exhorts us to protect our spiritual cranium. Put on… the helmet of salvation. — Eph. 6:13,17 (entire verses are not cited). I understand that when we are “born again,” we cannot be “unborn,” to follow Jesus’ metaphor. So I don’t think salvation is like a light switch that you turn on and off depending on your behavior. However, this scripture certainly gives us the idea that you need to “put on your salvation” daily. Undeniably, there is a daily element of renewing relationship with Jesus Christ, and that is salvation.
I don’t mean to settle or even get into a centuries-long debate about salvation here. I only mean to inspire Christians to the daily act of prayer — preferably in the morning — as part of protecting your relationship with Jesus. It’s worth the investment to protect your head: make time to pray.
Posted in prayer
Tagged Christian, devotions, early in the morning, Eph. 6:13, Eph. 6:17, football, helmet, illustration, pray, prayer, protect, salvation, sports equipment
Even if you gash through a galvanized surface, the exposed metal below won’t rust. That’s because the adhering zinc that constitutes galvanization blocks the electric activity in steel that is part of the oxidation process. So it can’t oxidize, and thus no rust.
Paul described faith as a shield, which invoke images a heavy metal disk held aloft to block arrows, spears or sword blows. With modern metaphors, we could enhance our understanding of faith. Maybe it’s more like galvanization. Even if it’s not covering perfectly, it prevents corrosion.
Prayer, Bible study and fellowship are like galvanizing your spiritual interior.
In Spain’s semifinal triumph over Portugal in the recent Euro Cup, Cesc Fabregas experienced “a funny feeling, a premonition,” before the game that he would score the winner in a penalty shootout. His was the fifth shot, and the daisy chopper ricocheted off the post and into the goal, out of reach of the goalie.
Now, I don’t know if Fabregas is New Age, psychic or just plain creepy. But he exhibits something that you as a Christian leader must not lose: a profound sense of destiny.
You won’t be able to carry on your labors if you forget that God has destined you to success. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do — Eph. 2:10 NIV.
A sense of destiny will carry you through the valley of the shadow of death. It will keep you looking up as you suffer blow after blow. A right focus will sustain your courage and encouragement.
Though I’m suspicious of Fabregas’ source of inspiration, I admire the simple fact that he plays inspired soccer. We must deliver inspired ministry.
Posted in Financial Talk
Tagged Cesc Fàbregas, Christian, destiny, Euro Cup, illustration, leadership, ministry, pastor, Portugal, soccer, Spain
Fernando Torres, winner of the Golden Boot
Spain showcased masterclass soccer yesterday to beat Italy 4-0 and become the first nation to win three major titles consecutively: Euro Cup, World Cup, Euro Cup. And it did so without a clash of egos.
By contrast, Netherlands melted down in group stage and fell well short of expectations. Arjen Robben ripped his jersey off and stormed out of the stadium because he was upset over being substituted by the coach. The rifts were evident.
Unity leads to victory
Spain demonstrated how to win. Top-notch players weren’t selfish, setting up goals for others instead of taking it themselves. Fernando Torres humbly hooked a pass to a comrade on a shot he could have easily made himself. It was the last goal of Cup. Such selflessness could have cost him the Golden Boot award.
This team triumph is a lesson for the church. Our culture tells us that individuals get the victory (Superman, Rambo and a host of movies promote this myth). But the Bible tells us it is His church, a collection of people, that will prevail. I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. — Mt. 16:18 NIV.
To achieve this utterly crucial unity (see Acts for examples of unity = revival), there is a need for humility, always out of vogue with the flesh. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. — Lu. 14:11 NIV. Robben should learn from the Bible.
Posted in Financial Talk
Tagged Arjen Roben, effort, Euro Cup, Fernando Torres, Gates of Hell will not prevail, humble, humility, illustration, individual, Italy, Red Fury, sermon illustration, soccer, Spain, team, teamwork, unity
They don’t give Wayne Rooney any credit for soccer intelligence. But maybe he’s not as dumb as they say — they call him a “natural” player (no thinking involved).
Maybe he´s not as dumb as they say. Part of his formula for success is to visualize himself doing well the night before. He’s so serious about this mental preparation that he even goes to staff and asks which uniform they will be using the next day. Visualization is the cutting edge of sports psychology: to block out distractions, knock down discouragements and steel up nerve. Once on the field, the player enjoys a heightened level of concentration.
What is the difference between visualization and prayer? Not much. The biggest difference is that we actually have God involved too.
Visualization is a significant element in prayer. When you confess with faith, you see yourself triumphing beforehand. You bat down depression, failure, and fear of failure. Then you spring out of your prayer closet ravenously ready to grab blessing, revival, favor, and God’s help. He is pleased by this kind of faith.
In the most exhilarating goal of the English Premier League this year, Rooney fired an overhead kick, squeezed between two defenders, to win against crosstown rivals Manchester City. The eye-popper silenced critics, who were downgrading Rooney’s status of legend.
Today, blast an overhead goal — with the power of God — in whatever you do. Shut up naysayers with some positive visualizing in prayer.
Posted in prayer
Tagged blessing, Christianity, England, Faith, God, illustration, Manchester City, Manchester United, motivation, prayer, prayer closet, Rooney, sermon illustration, soccer, sports psychology, supernatural, triumph, victory, visualization, Wayne Rooney
My little kids soccer team bombed its final. If I would have known the defense was going to fall apart, I would have drilled them to tedium on practice. But since I didn’t FORESEE, I did other drills. The adage: HINDSIGHT is 20-20. It means exactly what happened to my team. I saw the problem during the game, not before the game. Coaches win because of FORESIGHT.
Christianity is neither foresight nor hindsight. It is no sight. We live by faith, not by sight. — 1 Cor. 5:7 NIV.
I’m not saying to hurtle forward recklessly without planning, wisdom or counsel. Yes, there is a role for FORESIGHT. But with God, sometimes it is NOT FORESIGHT that is key, but prayer.
Prayer changes the problems you cannot FORESEE. It is NO SIGHT because it takes care of those things we cannot anticipate.
In regards to my soccer team, I don’t think prayer would have given us the victory. Prayer is for more important matters: saving souls, wresting finances, bringing healings. The soccer story is only an illustration for what is truly important.
It’s good to have foresight and hindsight in a limited capacity. It’s also good to let God take care of problems you can’t even see: pray!
Manchester City hadn’t won a national championship for 44 years. That’s a loooooong time. But this underdog English team just flouted critics and one-upped their overbearing, always-winning neighbors, Manchester United. I’m not a City fan, but I like people beating the odds.
Their victory was purchased at a high price. Oil-rich owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan dished out an estimated $2 billion to assemble some of the best players in the world on his new team. It’s the new reality of soccer. Whoever pays most, wins.
But the most interesting thing about this is the comparison to the Kingdom of God. Because our Heavenly Father bought us for His team too. And His purchase was for extremely much more than $2 billion. It was the blood of His one and only Son. Think about it, if you have undiminishable riches, then any price is nothing. But then if you have only one son, that’s going to hurt you to fork over.
So you have been bought with a HIGH PRICE. And you are part of God’s winning team. Live inspired today, tomorrow and forever. Let this knowledge motivate you to minister your “utmost for His highest.”
Posted in ministerial motivation
Tagged English title, God's investment, God's team, illustration, Manchester City, Manchester United, Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, price for sin, sermon illustration, Sheikh Mansour, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, soccer
Lionel Messi is arguably the best soccer player in the world at present. In 2,009, 2010 and 2011, he won FIFA’s best player of the year award. He has won five Spanish league titles with his club FC Barcelona, as well as three Champion’s Leagues. A lefty, Messi weaves through the world’s best defenders as if he lived in another dimension.
Strangely, he is humble.
The Argentine feels awkward when given an award at ceremonies, and he never talks trash about competitors. He always recognizes a debt of gratitude to his club, FC Barcelona, because it paid for his treatment of growth hormone deficiency when he was 11 years old.
In an post-Joe Namath age when super-athletes trumpet their own greatness, Messi is breath of fresh air. He is an example of Christian character even though he is not an evangelical Christian.
Why? Because he is grateful and humble. When we pray for finances and revival, we must remain grateful for what God has already given us, we must remain humble in patiently praying and waiting on God. Prayer is humility — it is an acknowledgement of our inadequacies and our dependence on a Higher Source.
When you’ve got a winning team, it’s easy to keep it up. When you’ve got a losing team, it’s easy to keep losing. But how do you go from losing to winning? This is one the most difficult feats. Probably 98% of ministers and businesses would like the answer.
Too many books promising success are written by successful people! They promise the secret to success but, in fact, often miss it themselves because, as I said, once you have success, it’s too easy to maintain. Those who enjoy success don’t really know what the key is. They just enjoy it. They write books without knowing. We think they know, but they don’t. We buy the book looking for the key and don’t find the key. Not enough has been written about turnarounds.
I had a winning team in soccer. At the same time, I was coaching a losing team. With the losing team, we worked the defensive line so hard that they actually starting blunting the opponents’ attacks. And the team started winning!
Two secrets: Identify what is deficient and work on that until it is corrected. Secondly, as Jim Collins says, remember that the worst enemy of “excellent” is “good” — not “bad.” In other words, if you are doing good, it is too easy to congratulate yourself and desist from improvement. Break up your status quo and don’t settle for anything less than “excellent.”
As Christian leader, a good place to start changing may be prayer. How much time do you pray? What is the intensity of your prayers? It’s not some marketing trick or cutting-edge ministry that’s going to draw in people. It’s God. So a back-to-the-basics approach may be best. Of course, I can’t address every situation in this short blog. But I can address the heart of a leader who longs for greater things. Keep longing, because that is part of the solution. Pray and let God guide you to the solution.
Posted in ministerial motivation
Tagged Christian, excellence, Faith, from losing to winning, good and great, illustration, jim collins, key, ministry, prayer, sermon illustration, soccer, success
One of my teams wins, the other loses, so it’s not the coaching that makes the difference. It’s the kids.
As I watched my Napoli team demolish their foes, I realized the victory lay not in brilliant tactical coaching or in superior training. The victory was won when I picked the kids. Simply put, I picked players who worked well as a team, each efficiently executing his position.
God picked you for His team! And of course, He has a winning team. For we know, brothers loved by God, that HE HAS CHOSEN YOU. — 1 Thes. 1:4 NIV (my caps).
You were chosen for salvation. You were chosen for ministry. God picked a winning team, and you are part of it! Let motivation fill your heart as you face another day of unappreciated labor. Your unapplauded work for the Kingdom is part of the victory.
In soccer, people cheer the goal scorers. But soccer launches from the defense. It progresses forward through the midfield and only culminates with the strikers. Everybody who gets a touch on the ball has his part in the victory. You are fulfilling the plan of God.