Free Tickets!!

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andy-li-A_dJOYpxEVU-unsplash

Free tickets!! Who wouldn’t want free tickets to a sporting event? An amusement park? A Concert? The following is great “food for thought” for all of us. It was written by a fellow coach.

Super Bowl 39 featured a classic first half defensive battle, followed by a second half offensive shootout between the explosive New England Patriots and the gritty Philadelphia Eagles. New England claimed the Super Bowl title by only 3 points, 24-21. The game lived up to its expectation as the two divisional champs clashed for the title. Two Tickets to the Super Bowl cost between $3,000 and $10,000. With that in mind, if someone offered you two free tickets to the Super Bowl would you take them?

There was an interesting story several years ago about a guy named Greg Laurie who tried to give away an extra ticket on his way into the Magic Kingdom . As his family went into the park, he told his family, “Hold on while I find someone to take this free ticket. This shouldn’t take long!” But time after time he would approach people at the front gate only to be turned down. He was astounded! No one would take his free ticket.

Think about that…isn’t it hard to believe? Who would turn down free tickets to the Magic Kingdom? Well, shortly after moving to Orlando I got a job at the Magic Kingdom, and along with it an employee pass that could sign in 3 people per day to the theme parks for free.

One time a friend visited me and we went to go into EPCOT. As we were about to go in I said, “Wait… let’s see if we can grab two people to come into the EPCOT for free with us!” I approached several couples who looked like they hadn’t purchased tickets yet. I asked them if they’d like to come into EPCOT for free. I was shocked when time after time they would turn me down, often to walk right up to the ticket counter to buy tickets. Can you believe it? It was just like what Greg Laurie described. I was amazed. People just could not accept what seemed like was too good to be true.

It’s the same thing with the Kingdom of Heaven. The Bible says that the Lord has prepared a special place in His Kingdom just for you. All it takes is a “free ticket” to get into the gates. But most people can’t accept that anything that good would be so easy to get. Most people try to get into the Kingdom by being good, or acting a certain way or by living a “good life”. But it’s much easier than that:

To claim your ticket into God’s Kingdom you only have to do two things: 1) Admit that you have sinned in your life and need to be forgiven, and 2) to pray and ask the Lord to forgive your sins and to bring you into His Kingdom. It is just that easy and there is no catch.

Once you have your ticket into the Kingdom, all of your sins past, present and future are washed away and you have a guaranteed spot in a celebration infinitely better than the Super Bowl.

Consider these words from the Bible:

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” – 1 Corinthians 2:9

Your tickets to the Kingdom of Heaven are waiting for you. All you have to do is pick them up. Will you pick up your tickets today?

Can Prayer Save America?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

During the Civil War, a friend of Abraham Lincoln was a visitor in the White House. “One night I was restless and could not sleep… From the private room where the President slept, I heard low tones. Instinctively I wandered in, and there was a sight which I have never forgotten, It was the President, kneeling before an open Bible. His back was towards me. I shall never forget his prayer: “Oh, Thou God that heard Solomon when he prayed and cried for wisdom, hear me…I cannot guide the affairs of this nation without Thy help. Hear me and save this nation.”

When the leaders of our country assembled to write the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin proposed that each session be opened in prayer. Franklin said, “I have lived a long time, and the longer I live the more convincing proof I see of this truth – that God governs the affairs of men.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, First Chief Justice John Jay are all names synonymous with the spirit of our country and some of the Founding Fathers of the U.S.A. Over 200 years ago they shook off the chains of tyranny from Great Britain by divine call. Citing 27 biblical violations they wrote the Declaration of Independence
with liberty and justice for all.

But something happened since Jefferson called the Bible the cornerstone for American liberty then put it in our schools as a light or since “Give me liberty or give me death”, Patrick Henry said Our country was founded on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have eliminated God from the equation of American life thus eliminating the reason this nation first began.

Of the 55 men who formed the Constitution, fifty-two were active members of their church…founding fathers such as Noah Webster, who wrote the first dictionary
could literally quote the Bible chapter and verse. James Madison said, “We’ve staked our future on our ability to fallow the Ten Commandments with all our heart.” These men believed you couldn’t even call yourself an American if you subverted the Word of God

In his farewell address, Washington said, “You can’t have national morality apart from religious principle, ” and it’s true. Abe Lincoln said, “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government of the next.”
So when you eliminate the Word of God from the classroom and politics, you eliminate the nation that Word protects.

Our nation is great because it was founded upon God’s Word and prayer. But today, prayer has been replaced by political intrigue, materialism, and a mistaken notion that our private and national affairs can be run without God.

But here and there throughout America, voices are heard as individuals and groups begin to call on God in prayer. But this whole nation must be moved to prayer. So great are the dangers, so grave the perils, so tremendous the problems, that it is imperative that we lay hold upon the Lord God in prayer for His will.

Prayer CAN save America! There is only one way to go…and that is up! If we do not turn to God, our country will soon disappear like many of the great empires in history have done. It is either revival or ruin. It is now or never. The answer will not be found in the UN or NATO. The answer will only be found when we call upon the Lord God. Spiritual values need to be restored and we must return to the faith of our fathers, to family prayer, and the Bible. If we continue to ignore God and focus on the inadequate philosophies of the world…America will continue its tailspin.

We need to remember the promises that God gave us to keep our nation strong:

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD” – Psalm 33:12a

God blesses nations who humbly seek Him. “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

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Special Note: some of the information in the post is from the song, “God in America Again” ~ Carman

Homelessness and the Tyranny of Urgency

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Photo Credit: Author Unknown

A day or so ago, a friend of mine, who works and ministers to the homeless, sent me the following newsletter that I thought would be a good thing to share with you. Let’s all take a little time each day to consider how fortunate we really are…and how many individuals struggle for food, shelter, and clothes every day! Maybe you can help the unfortunate in your own way.

Here is the story, written by my friend, Paul…

It’s Super Bowl Sunday! Are you running around trying to get everything ready for the party you’re hosting or attending? Have you decided who you’re rooting for? Is the DVR set? Did you add extra time so you can record “This Is Us” after the game? Are you going in late to work tomorrow? Do the kids get to stay up?

If you haven’t got things figured out by now, “time’s a wasting” and you better get to it! The game starts at 6:30PM EST whether you’re ready or not and you might feel stressed because of this. However, I hope we can all agree this is probably not the most important thing happening in your life right now.

The more we get caught up in what is urgent, the more we lose sight of what’s most important. It’s easy to get confused between important and urgent. Urgent is always right in front of us. Urgent is obvious. While urgent can be important, it’s not usually the case.

I believe most days we find ourselves not doing the most important thing but the most urgent thing. Many times it’s because we don’t want to miss out. Experts call it, “FOMO” or Fear Of Missing Out. We’re consumed with social media. No longer do we have to wait for a letter for an update from a friend or the next morning’s newspaper to get details about world news. Almost everything is only a click away and slow download speeds are considered intolerable.

When we get caught up in what seems urgent, we lose sight of what is important. Even worse, we stifle imagination and basically deny ourselves permission to dream about the future. We unconsciously tell our brains there’s no need to create because every moment and thought is being filled in for us. The result is instead of truly living, we’re just existing.

Our friends that are homeless are also plagued with urgency. It’s not usually because of FOMO, but rather because of instability and insecurity. They ask questions most of us don’t give much thought to, but for our friends who are homeless these are questions connected to incredible stress:

“When am I going to eat again?”
“When am I going to sleep again?”
“Where am I going to sleep?”
“Will someone take my things if I sleep?”
“Will I be able to stay warm?”
“How am I my going to get back on my feet?”
“Who is going to hire me?”
“What can I even do?”
“When am I going to shower again?”

All these items are important, but because they are unanswered questions their urgency becomes a roadblock to moving forward. When we’re always being led by urgency, the things that are truly important, or should I say, should be truly important get lost and now the urgent things are the most important because they’re the only things.

If the previous questions can be answered with certainty and consistency people will be able to think and plan for tomorrow and beyond again instead just the next hour. However, if the previous questions don’t get answered, then these questions start to be asked:

“Will people even come near me?”
“Does anyone even see me?”
“Do I matter at all?”
“Who even loves me anymore?”

So, what do we do?

HELP, HOPE, HOME

HELP
We need to HELP relieve people of these urgencies. We need to remove these stressors out of their lives and give them permission to dream again. It’s obvious one should have a job and save money, but if you’re plagued with urgency, it seems nearly impossible to plan for a future you’re not sure you’re even going to have.

HOPE
Once a person has stability and security then HOPE can grow and when hope grows, all things are possible! My favorite verse in the Bible is Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through him (Christ) who gives me strength.” However, for anything to grow the conditions must be right. I’m reminded of “The Parable of the Sower” in Matthew 13. Seeds need the right soil to flourish. For seeds of hope to grow in people, other people with hope need to be the “soil” surrounding the people who need it most.

HOME
With a foundation of stability offered through relief help and a restoration of hope in Christ, a person can genuinely focus on HOME. Home is not just any shelter, but a place where a person has the peace of knowing they are loved beyond all measure by God….because they are!

For you and I, we may need to be reminded of Psalm 121:

Psalm 121 English Standard Version (ESV)
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

The world continues to spin whether we know every detail or not. We don’t need to have FOMO. It’s OK if we let go of or miss certain things because God sees and knows everything and doesn’t miss anything. Stepping away from time to time is a great way to honor God and show Him you trust him with everything!

If you want to help our friends experiencing homelessness, here four ways you can make an impact in your community and the world around you RIGHT NOW!

1.) Be a Good Neighbor!
When you are kind to those around you, someone in crisis may have the courage to open up to you. (Matthew 22:36-40, Luke 6:31, Luke 10:25-37)

2.) Bow Your Head!
Prayer is powerful and effective. It is our greatest weapon in spiritual warfare. Please pray for wisdom, discernment, and favor. (Matthew 6:5-14, Philippians, 4:6, James 5:13-16, 1 Thessalonians 5:17)

3.) Get Involved!
Volunteer with us, one of our partners, or in your community. Time is the one thing we never get back. When you choose to spend time with someone, it speaks volumes about both you and the person your with. If you’re willing to spend time with someone often overlooked by society, there’s a good chance someone else will take notice and realize that person’s life matters. (Isaiah 58:9b-10, Matthew 25:40, Hebrews 13:16)

4.) Cheerfully Give!
Donating your money is a great way to have an impact even when you can’t be physically present. $10 PER MONTH or MORE can make a significant difference in an individual’s life, my family’s well being, and the way the world views homelessness. PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY TODAY! (Proverbs 19:17, Malachi 3:10, Luke 10:2, 2 Corinthians 9:7,12)

BE THE HANDS AND FEET OF CHRIST!

 

 

EMMANUEL LABOR is God working through us…

A Second Chance at Life

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Have you ever thought to yourself how “good” your life REALLY is? What if the direction of your life suddenly changed and you found yourself in a situation that you had never thought that you would be in? One minute you think your life is great, you are healthy and everything is “smooth sailing?” then you find out that something in your body or mind wasn’t as good as you thought and that you were “very close” to experiencing a life-changing event?

Such was the case with me…

I have always enjoyed my life: talking with other people, spending time with my family and friends, enjoying the taste of delicious food, taking in the pleasures of seeing the beautiful things in the world, generally speaking, loving the life that I have been given.

But a little over a week ago, my life drastically took an unexpected turn. What was supposed to be a simple two hour screening procedure turned into a four day stay in the hospital.

It was during those four days that I discovered that my heart had been beating at an outstanding rate (150 beats per minute) and because of that high tempo, my heart had weakened to a dangerous level. Unbeknownst to me, I had had this condition for the past couple of years!

After leaving the hospital and meeting with the doctor the next day, I was told that the doctor was surprised that I hadn’t had either a stroke or a heart attack. YIKES!! What a shocking, wake up piece of news. I had NEVER KNOWN that my heart was 1) beating at such a high rate, and 2) that my heart had weakened to such a bad state.

So, imagine my thoughts today, when the doctor told me that despite the condition of my heart, everything would be ok. The doctors found out what was causing my elevated heart rate, the proper medicine to take to control my heart rate, and that my condition was totally correctable and curable!

The doctor simply said, “look at it this way…you have a second chance at life.

Needless to say, I am ecstatic for a couple of reasons…1) I feel great. I feel like I did 10-20 years ago, 2) I feel excited that now that I know that the doctors diagnosed the problem, everything will be OK, and 3) I have a new lease on life and I am going to take full advantage of it and take care of myself and love life even more than I did before.

Just thinking of “what could have happened” has left me feeling very humble and aware of my mortality more than it ever was. And it has taught me a lesson. It has taught me to live my life to its fullest. I shouldn’t be afraid to fail because, many times, it is when we fail that we grow and learn lessons that will benefit us in our lives.

It has made me value and love my friends, loved ones and family more so now than ever. I has allowed me to REALLY appreciate the things around me that I have taken for granted every day. But more importantly, it has strengthened my faith and assurance that my Lord and God never once abandoned or left me. He has always been there by my side throughout my life when things were going well and He was guiding the doctors and comforting me during my stay in the hospital.

You see, that’s the beauty of true FAITH. Faith is that knowledge of believing in someone or something when you cannot see it but you KNOW it is there. When you sit on a chair, do you bend down and test it first to make sure that it will hold you? Or do you simply just sit on the chair without closely inspecting its durability and strength?  Having faith in the Lord is exactly the same thing. I KNOW that He will take care of me and I KNOW that He is there to hold me up and to strengthen me. I don’t have to question or test anything that He does for me..My life is in His hands and if my time on earth is done, He will hold me close to himself and take me home. I have total peace and total fulfillment in my life knowing that He is always there with me.

So, how has your life treated you? How much do you appreciate the ways that you have been blessed? How well do you REALLY love and appreciate your loved ones? How strong is your faith? How secure are you if things were to suddenly go in a negative direction in your life?

Take the time everyday to truly be thankful for the good things in life. Find the moments in your daily routine to be grateful for your family and friends and show them how you feel. Discover the paths that you can follow and explore to give yourself a second chance in life.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  ~ Colossians 3:17