I need new shoe strings. It’s not that I can’t afford them, it’s just that I haven’t taken time to go to the store. So, I deal with frayed shoe strings that get in tangled knots. Instead of taking a few minutes to make the purchase I find myself spending extended time trying to untangle the knots. What a picture of life. There are so many aspects of life that become complicated, not because God doesn’t have the solution but because we refuse to bring our difficulties to Him. Instead of saying, “God I’ve got a mess or God, this is broken,” we sit for hours, weeks and months trying to untangle, get the “knots” out, by our self. Jesus said, “come to me all who labor and are heavy-laden or overwhelmed and I will give you rest,” in essence just give it to me. How many times do we find ourselves wanting to talk it out with a friend or even worse, trying to fix it our self. Our lives will have areas that get frayed and there will be complications. Just like the solution to my shoe strings is to go to the store and buy a new pair of strings, the solution for our tangled and knotted messes is Jesus. Have complicated situations in your life that’s bringing stress? It’s time to simplify, take them to Jesus. He specializes in taking care of knots and tangled situations.
For the first time this Spring the windows were up. It was a little muggy but the smell of fresh air made the tradeoff worth it. Sitting on the couch I noticed a shift. The mugginess in the air is gone and there is a slight chill. A few hours later the temperature had dropped drastically and a cold rain was falling. In just a few hours there had been a dramatic change in the atmosphere. Know this, what happens in the natural can happen in the Spirit. A handful of fishermen are fighting a fierce storm. In a moment they find the cause is a prophet running from God. Jonah says toss me over and things will change, initially they resist, but as the storm rages they have no choice. They toss Jonah over and in an instant the seas calm. Paul and Silas, sitting bruised and beaten in a jail, not exactly knowing how they had got there. It’s dark, they’re in pain and in chains but a song service changes the atmosphere and suddenly they are freed from their prison walls. Jesus hangs on a cross. One moment men are mocking and gambling for His garment, but with the words, “it is finished,” the atmosphere changes. The skies grow gray and the earth quakes and those mocking suddenly are saying, “surely He was the Son of God.” Take hope! Regardless of what your circumstance looks like at this second God can change the atmosphere in a moment.
Just another day and another prayer meeting. For days, the apostles along with another 500 people had been praying together, but now its day ten and the crowd is smaller now. For many, doubt had crept in and they had chosen to go on with life, no longer believing the words of Jesus, “go tarry in Jerusalem until you are filled with power.” Outside, festive plans were being made; another bountiful harvest meant a joyous celebration of Pentecost, a time to give thanks for God’s blessings on the crops. Jerusalem is a buzz; merchants were seeing dollar signs flash before their eyes and music fills the streets as people from all parts of the world filter in for a time of festivities and celebration.
It’s early, about 9 a.m. Street vendors are setting wares out on the street and commerce is beginning to build when suddenly there is a buzz about a strange happening in a place called the Upper Room. The promise had come, the Spirit had visited those who had remained, about 120 and it was pouring out onto the streets. It was a suddenly moment. Overwhelmed by the events, reports are flying about the city saying those that had been praying in the Upper Room were acting like they had been set on fire! There was also news of men speaking in different languages and unable to explain or communicate about why. Bystanders called them drunk. But this is no drunken stupor, but the beginning of a Spiritual experience that will turn the world upside down and remain a powerful force 2000 years later. The infilling of the Holy Spirit, an experience for their time and every generation thereafter. An experience for every generation; an experience for you and me!
Never underestimate the possibilities of what can happen in one moment in prayer…it might just change your world!
My normal mode when writing for Connect is to write something inspirational, but this month I felt led to write about an issue that nearly every person and family is dealing with, our obsession or in some cases, addiction to cell phones. The National Safety Council says that 82% of Americans believe we have an addiction to our cell phones. These numbers should be of great concern and we must be aware that digital devices are impacting our children, families, marriages and society in profound ways, some are obvious, while others will be unknown for years. Digital addiction knows no boundaries; it respects neither rich or poor, educated or uneducated, age, ethnicity nor Christians or non-Christians. Our digital devices have silently seduced us into it grips of self-absorption and because we may be in the same room, office or car with children, family or co-worker, we have been deceived in believing we are connected and building relationships.
When psychologist asked children how they felt about their parents being on their phone an overwhelming majority disliked it. When asked to describe their feelings, they used the words sad, mad, angry and lonely. Some called their parents cell phone the “stupid phone” while others said that their parents phone gave them the sense that they (kids) were “boring.” Our current teenagers are called “screenagers” and millennials are referred to as the “always on” generation because many never turn off their devices. It will be years before we will know the full effect digital devices impact have had on their lives, families and society. It doesn’t take research to see the impact of cell phones on families. The family meal used to be the place of connection. Research has shown that families that ate just one meal together on a regular basis tended to have kids that avoided drugs and alcohol, were better students and had a better chance at success in life. Obviously, those statistics are now skewed. Go to any restaurant and look around. What you will observe at table after table is that where there used to be conversation, there are now faces buried in cell phones; sitting together but totally disconnected. Likewise, it is having a profound impact on marriages. The bedroom, which was once the safe place, the place for romance and intimacy, has become just another internet café or office to work from. One recent study
shows that there has been a strong decline in intimacy in many marriages. Research has concluded that much of it is due to the fact that the privacy and intimacy of the bedroom has been invaded by digital devices; that instead of spending time together in the evening, many couples end their night with thelast communication being a text, on a social media app or doing business work in bed. Studies are also showing that in many relationships the first thing people do in the morning, before showering and before having breakfast, is go for their cell phone. Without realizing it, we are sacrificing the most important relationships in our lives; our spouses, children and family, all in the name of being connected. Below are a few questions that psychologist said to ask to see if you are obsessed or addicted to your phone.
- Are you constantly checking any of the following: text, tweets, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
- Do you find yourself mindlessly passing time staring with your smartphone even though there might be other alternatives or more productive things to do?
- Do you find yourself putting smartphone request; text, email, social media ahead of meeting the needs of those closest to you?
- Do you seem to lose track of time and others when on your cell phone?
- Do you sleep with your smartphone on, under your pillow or next to your bed regularly?
- Do you find yourself viewing and answering texts, tweets, and emails at all hours of the day and night, even when it means interrupting other things or not being involved with others?
- Do you feel reluctant to be without your smartphone, even for a short time?
- When you leave the house, you always have your smartphone with you and you feel ill-at-ease or uncomfortable when you don’t have it.
- When you eat meals, is your cell phone always part of the table place setting?
- Is your cell phone the last thing you look at before going to sleep and the first thing you look at when getting up?
- When your phone rings, beeps, buzzes, do you feel an immediate and/or intense urge to check for texts, tweets, or emails, updates, etc.?
- Do you find yourself mindlessly checking your phone many times a day even when you know there is likely nothing new or important to see?
If you find yourself answering “yes” to many of these questions, please pray and ask God to help you take control of your device or devices. 1 Corinthians 6:12 says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” Take back your life, don’t be subtly mastered by your device. The most important people in your life are not those that you are connected to on social media or those who are texting or emailing. The most important people in your life is the spouse you said, “I do” too, the kids at your feet and sitting with you in the family room, those who are around your dinner table, riding in your car to practice or to the store. The most important message you can send every day is not the one from your cell phone but the message you send in your bedroom, the dinner table, family room or car. Put away the device, take back your family and take back your life!
The action of one person often changes the direction and destiny for many. This is exemplified by God coming to earth robed in flesh, living with the humanity He created, going to the cross and resurrecting. That courageous act changed everything about what we do, who we are and and our eternal destination. The Bible is filled with examples of people who have breakthrough moments that impact cities, nations and generations. Moses breaks through his past failure to lead a nation out of Egypt and changes the destiny of a nation. David breaks through the fear of his brothers and army to lead them to a victory over the Philistines. The three Hebrew children break through the intimidation of idolatry to bring a heathen nation to say, “the Lord, He is God.” Simon Peter breaks through his denial of Christ to preach the message that still lives today and Paul breaks through his theology, experiences the power of the Spirit and establishes churches throughout the world and writes 13 books of the Bible.
These stories are there to give us hope and courage to have our own breakthroughs. What if a wall you’re dealing with comes down, how might it impact you and others? Could it change your entire life? Could it change the destination of future generations in your family? Could a breakthrough in your life change the destiny of Life Connections? We have no idea of what a breakthrough in our life might do for our life, home, church and future generations. We serve the God of the breakthrough! I was inspired by a song I recently heard by Eddie James called “Breakthrough” which is quickly becoming my theme song for 2017. The words say, “walls fall down when I shout through, strongholds break when I pray through, I’m going to praise you, you are the God of the Breakthrough!” The bridge say, “You are the God of the breakthrough of my heart, mind, spirit, soul, weakness, struggle, worship, praise, when I lift and glorify His name, dance and shout.” What a powerful song and testimony. If Moses, David, the Hebrew children, Simon Peter, Paul and a host of witnesses can have breakthrough moments, why can’t we? We serve the God of the breakthrough! Let me encourage someone with barriers, walls, past failures, fear and discouragements; you are one day away from a breakthrough. What do you need to do? Pray, worship, be faithful, be obedient, yield and I absolutely believe that 2017 can be the year of breakthrough for you! You serve the God of the breakthrough!