How to Deal with Criticism

When criticized, carefully evaluate the criticism to see if it is true.

a.    Go to God and ask Him if it is true.

2 Corinthians 13:5a Look closely at yourselves. Test yourselves to see if you are living in the faith… (NCV)

b.    Go to friends, family and people who you love and trust and ask them if it is true.

Proverbs 27:6a Faithful are the wounds of a friend… (NKJV)

c.    If God and your loved ones confirm that you need to change, then get on the road to overcoming.

Psalm 51:10a Create in me a clean heart, O God. (NLT)

Remember that God is a loving God who has your best interest in mind. He will only take you through a process to heal you and bless others around you. He will not condemn you. His purpose is to bless you. You are safe in His hands.

If it is true:

a.    Have the humility and courage to admit that you need to change and grow.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (NIV)

b.    Decide to get on the road to change and reconciliation now.

c.    Ask God and people for forgiveness where necessary.

d.    Make yourself accountable to key people around the issue.

e.    Continually ask God to help you grow.

If it is not true: Deal with unfair criticism in the following ways:

a.    Know that it happens to everyone.

Yes, even a good person like you will receive criticism in life that is not fair. Someone somewhere will eventually speak evil of you. Look at David, Moses, Joseph, and Jesus. No one escapes this life without receiving unfair criticism, so don’t get caught up in the unjustness of it all. Don’t feel overly sorry for yourself. One of the most dangerous places in life for each of us is when we start to say out loud, “No one appreciates me.” It is fertile soil for the enemy of our souls to plant bitterness and we all know that bitterness will defile all those around us. We must keep our heads, know that these things happen and not throw a personal pity party. It one of the absolute worst things we could do to ourselves and those around us.

b.    Decide to be at peace as far as it depends on you, even if others don’t do the right thing.

We want to keep the blessing of God on our own lives and live in such a way that we create an opportunity for the best-case scenario for all involved down the road.

Romans 12:18-19 Do your best to live in peace with everyone. My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger. It is written: “I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them,” says the Lord. (NCV)

c.    Decide now to speak the truth in love.

This means it is okay to tell someone what you feel is the truth in the situation. Speak in a measured and composed way. Sometimes we must put a couple of days between ourselves and the needed talk with others just to make sure we are thinking right. Pray through it and approach the conversation with the fruit of the spirit and a heart that has the best interest of all involved, even the one criticizing you.

d.    Decide that you will do your best to work things out in a Godly way.

e.    Decide that even if people do the wrong thing, you will do the right thing.

f.     Always leave the door open for future reconciliation.

Important: When you can’t get resolve after you are unfairly criticized, keep your focus on the job that you have to do.

a.    Don’t get distracted.

When Sanballat and Tobiah were criticizing Nehemiah and the Jews as they built the wall. Nehemiah recognized that they just wanted to stop the work.

Nehemiah 4:3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building-if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” (NIV)

Nehemiah 6:2-3 But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” (NIV)

When Sanballat and Tobiah accused Nehemiah and the Jews of coming against the King, this is how they responded:

Nehemiah 6:8 I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.” (NIV)

Then they circled the wagons to protect the work and each other, which is sometimes necessary in extreme situations.

Nehemiah 4:15-17When our enemies heard that we knew of their plans and that God had frustrated them, we all returned to our work on the wall. But from then on, only half my men worked while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. The leaders stationed themselves behind the people of Judah  who were building the wall. The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon. (NLT)

Now this is metaphorically speaking here, we don’t need physical weapons today. Our weapons are spiritual weapons like bible wisdom and prayer. We do however, at times need to circle up and inform everyone so we can protect the work of the ministry and the sheep in the local church or, for some reading this, protect our work in business and the people we are associated with.

Be careful not to be sucked into a continual argument with those trying to cause trouble. Jesus spoke once and spoke well when accused. I think this is a good idea for us as well. After that discussion, get to work and finish the job. Like when you are a player in sports and angry people in the stands are booing you and your team, remember they can only be a factor if you let them. Don’t let it get to you. Don’t get distracted. Get the work done and do it well. Unfair criticism will go by the wayside and be discredited in time. Stay focused on what God has given you to do and finish the task at hand.

b. Know that your credibility will be restored over time.

The Lord is your protection. He is your defender. The honest truth is that when things are very difficult, it sometimes takes more than days or weeks for people to see your integrity and faithfulness. Sometimes it takes months or years, but walk it out and you will see improvement incrementally. The important thing for you to remember when you are unfairly criticized is that when you do right, the Lord’s blessing remains on you and He will bless you, your family and the work of your hands.

Proverbs 26:2 Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse will not land on its intended victim. (NLT)

A time came when the wall was built and Nehemiah had a great place in history, but for a couple of months there were some nasty things said about him out there. You, too, will eventually be honored by God and others if you don’t get distracted. Keep the right spirit and finish the work.

c. Take all your hurt to God and let Him heal you. The truth is, it hurts when people criticize you.  

1 Peter 5:7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (NLT)

Ouch, ouch, ouch! How can people believe the ugly things they say about you? It hurts so badly sometimes. In these times, remember that Jesus is the faithful high priest who was tempted in every manner. The word of God says “He was despised and rejected by men.” Go to the faithful high priest, Jesus, in prayer. He knows what you are going through and He is the one who will heal your heart.

d. Pray for those who have criticized and hurt you.

Matthew 5:44But I say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you.” (NCV)

When we pray for those who have hurt us, we protect our hearts from fear and bitterness and we unleash the greatest possibility for the healing of those who are unfairly critical. This would be the best case scenario.

So trust God and follow the path that the word of God clearly gives you and you will see that God will be faithful to complete the good work that He has begun in you!

I hope this is helpful to those of you who are facing difficulties.

Grace and Truth,

Pastor Stan Russell

Preach the Gospel, and Since it’s Necessary, Use Words

A friend sent me this article today and I believe it is profound. It talks about the importance of preaching the Gospel in a day where many in America are talking about good deeds as the Gospel. The Gospel is the Good News about Jesus Christ and without words or understanding it cannot be received. Good works and example are fertilizer, but the seed that needs to be planted is Jesus!

Good deeds are, well…good, but they are not the Gospel. The Gospel is the forgiveness of sin that comes through the one and only Son of God who gave His life to pay a ransom for our sins on the cross.

If you don’t believe this, try watching a movie without the sound. See if it holds your interest and see if you can follow the plot without sound.

Romans 10:14  But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? (NLT)

Ed Stetzer does a great job explaining further in this article.

TROUBLE: GO TO GOD

The question isn’t, “Will I have problems?” The question is, “When will trouble happen?”  We can’t escape it in this life.  But, we are told by Jesus in God’s holy word, the Bible, how best to overcome it.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

Jesus can help us in our time of trouble like no one else can. Why? Because He is the ultimate overcomer who was crucified on a cross for our sins and has risen to sit at the right hand of Father God and He will intercede on your behalf:

Romans 8:34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. (NLT)

So if you are hurting, in trouble, or lost for answers in a difficult situation, try this: Kneel down in the privacy of your room and humbly say, “Jesus I need your help. I need your peace and your wisdom. Please show me the way.”

The bible tells us that we need to trust in God:

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (NLT)

It also tells us that God is always ready to help us:

Psalm 46:1-2 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. (NLT)

God is eager to hear from you and He will respond to your prayers. In Isaiah 41:10, He says:

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”  (NLT)

If you are hurting and have trouble today, my prayer for you is:

2 Peter 1:2 May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. (NLT)

 

Plant Yourself in a Good Church

Horizon Cross at Sunset 07-15-2012I have just returned from my sabbatical. A sabbatical is a time away to refresh and regenerate. Here at Horizon, pastors are given a sabbatical every seven years of service. I had a great time being with my family and traveling. I went to a number of very good churches while I was gone and enjoyed them all thoroughly. However, coming back to Horizon, the church where I have now been the lead pastor for over 21 years, felt great this last week. This is where I want to be, this is where I have “planted” myself and my family.

The bible says in Psalm 92:13-14:

13 Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing… (NKJV)

Catch this awesome truth from God’s word. His true Church is an awesome place that He has given as a gift to help us and our families.

I love God’s Church! It has gotten a bad rap lately in America, but the Church where Jesus truly resides is a loving, embracing, compassionate, caring, inclusive place that, at the same time, shares the truth of God’s word, the bible. The bible says in John 1:14 that Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” His church should be too. When it works right, the church leads people to the love of Jesus, helps them find a personal relationship with Him and encourages them to follow Him with their whole heart. As a result of following Jesus this way, people find peace, joy and eternal life in heaven. The bible says about Jesus in John 3:17-18: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (NIV)

I saw the church make a difference in my family’s life in an amazing way when I was young. We were a family that didn’t go to church when I was a young child, but when I was about eight years old, we all finally gave our hearts to Jesus and then my dad made sure we were planted in a church. Every time the doors were open we were there. A body of believers at Harbor Light Gospel Church in Santa Cruz, California, gathered around us and loved us, helped us overcome our weaknesses and even gave to us when we were having financial difficulty. That was the beginning of great blessing that would follow our family. I thank God for that church and every church like it.

The reason we all need to plant ourselves in the Church of Jesus, is that the true Church of Jesus is an awesome place for people and families to be and when we go there we will be blessed, built up and encouraged. Honestly, everything will start getting better from day one if you will plant yourself in the house of the Lord and commit to regularly participating in what God is doing there.

Consider these scriptures in the bible:

  • Hebrews 10:25 You should not stay away from the church meetings, as some are doing, but you should meet together and encourage each other. Do this even more as you see the day coming. (NCV)
  • Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. (NKJV)
  • Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not make your children angry, but raise them with the training and teaching of the Lord. (NCV)
  • Psalm 122:1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” (NLT)

We see in the bible that Jesus was in the temple regularly on the Sabbath and more. He is our example, right? Also, Paul, who wrote about two thirds of the New Testament, said it was his “custom” to be in the synagogue on the Sabbath.

So, I want to encourage you to plant yourself, and if you do, I firmly believe that your family will be refreshed, and that it will flourish and bear fruit just as Psalm 92:13-14 says:

13 Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing… (NKJV)

Grace and Truth,

Pastor Stan

God Loves and Forgives the Exotic Dancer

That’s an unusual title for a blog, isn’t it? But it’s true! God will love and forgive everyone who comes to Him with a humble and repentant heart. The letter below is one written to me by a woman who found Jesus at Horizon Community Church.  She wrote it anonymously, so to this day I do not know who she is. The letter vividly illustrates the amazing grace of God.

 Dear Pastor Stan:

            I have felt the pull to write you a letter for quite some time. Many times I’ve been unable to put the pen down on the paper. I have a tendency to want to appear perfect. Haha! What a joke that is!

            Nevertheless, here I am on Easter Eve with actual ink on a blank page! Tonight is the perfect time to share with you how amazing my walk with Christ has been; and how instrumental every aspect of the Horizon experience has been in my choice to receive the forgiveness Jesus gave me by dying to forgive my sins.

My adult life has been nothing short of disaster after disaster. I dropped out of Oregon State during my sophomore year and worked full-time since I was 19 years old. I worked in retail and hospitality until I was 22 when I decided to audition to be an exotic dancer. I was hired and quit my full time job as a reservations manager at a Red Lion Hotel when I was making twice the money in one hour that I would make in an 8 hour day. I spent 15 years dancing. Luckily I never did drugs but I drank, prostituted and was suicidal 90% of the time. This is a story that is too long to tell here and now, but it’s important for you to know that I am one of the people you are talking about when you say, “It’s life or death!” I don’t think a lot of people believe that. I am saying it’s true, more often than anyone would ever imagine.

            I came to Horizon in January 2009. My friend’s parents attend and my desire to attend church surfaced in a conversation. She agreed to go with me, so I met her and her family there. I was so nervous. I used to joke that I didn’t go to church because I didn’t want others to get hurt when the building fell as I walked in. (You have mentioned people like this and I crack up now!)

            By this time in my life I was married with a 1 year old daughter. I continued to come…it was an easygoing atmosphere. I could easily get up, get my daughter dressed and throw on some clothes, BAM! out the door to church. Nobody bothered me… I learned a lot from your sermons… and I cried a thousand tears. You let me know that God loved me no matter what. You gave me proof through scripture. You shared knowledge in a way that I understood and felt comfortable about. I felt very convicted every Sunday, but I would learn so much that I would keep coming back. Plus you are hilarious!!! I didn’t know a man or woman of God could be so “normal”! (Meaning (for me) down-to-earth.) I wouldn’t raise my hand to come to Jesus, though, because I went back to working in the adult industry after I got married. (My soon-to-be-ex-husband required me to bring in an income that I was unable to with an hourly job.) I worked until I was 6 months pregnant with our 2nd child. In January 2010, I finally raised my hand… oh what a feeling!!

            When my 2nd daughter was 1 month old, I returned to church. We (me and my girls) had begun living at my parents – my husband had abandoned us in most ways, and my mom and dad came to church with me the first time back. You had an altar call. I had never come up, I was too shy before. But with my parent’s strength to help me I came up, holding my tiny daughter on my shoulder. You looked right at us and I knew you felt my/our pain. (I am sure that gift is hard to bear sometimes.) You talked about how we are not alone with our pain, that God is with us. I was baptized 3 months later, in July, with my 2 daughters watching right there on the lawn.

            Pastor Stan, I know you get quite a few letters, probably hundreds. I have heard you read some. The common thread is how you have relayed God’s truth in a way that expresses the depth and breadth of God’s love and grace. You, the pastoral team, the elders, staff, volunteers, and church members have each contributed to my life “being saved” both physically and spiritually. Awkward Sunday showed me how important the light is, lowered, so one can feel a sense of privacy. The woman who opened the door for me many, many, many times with a smile when I was feeling harried. Having the card to scan to check in my children quickly is wonderful. The coffee, the clean restrooms, the sermon notes in the flyer…are things I love about Horizon. I love that it’s fun! I love that the truth is told! I love that, even being a large church, it really does feel like family.

            The words thank you are not sufficient for all of the people and all of the things that have been done to lead me in the direction of Christ. I simply want you to know how deep my gratitude runs towards Horizon. The touch on my life has touched my daughters, my parents, and (I am sure) others who I don’t even know. I just hope that the parts I play in Horizon will give someone else the environment they need to hear the truth, feel the grace and love of God, and see the amazing body of Christ that I did and still do see.

Sincerely,

(name withheld)

2 Corinthians 5:17-18

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.  (NLT)

 

Influence in Mainstream and the Marketplace

I was thrilled to see that there are currently three movies that have a bible emphasis that are in the top ten for mainstream Hollywood movies this week. I can’t ever remember this happening before. Heaven is for Real is at #3, Noah at #9 and God’s not Dead at #10. Not to mention that the movie Son of God was also in the top ten just weeks ago. (See the results online here: http://www.boxofficemojo com/weekend/chart/.)

I know you can find fault in some way with each of these movies. Noah: not true enough to the text (I agree), Heaven is for Real: could have gone further to bring it home about how to get to heaven, God’s not Dead: close in quality but missed the mark by a bit, Son of God: too small a budget and looked like the TV series.  But come on people, see it!!! This is good! These movies are in the top ten of mainstream! The point is, we are making progress and we are going to continue to bring Jesus and the bible to mainstream America. I am thrilled about it and praying for the future movie makers, actors and actresses, business people, singers, entertainers, politicians and athletes. It is a new day. We are not going backward, we are going forward. God is calling us to shift the conversation, to change the perception, to show His grace and truth to mainstream America and to do this not just within the confines of church walls.

1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” (NLT)

Romans 10:14-15 tells us, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, ‘How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!’” (NLT)

I love it when believers penetrate the marketplace. I have this conviction that we made a mistake a generation or two ago when we decided to hold up in the church and keep ourselves pure. We are called by God to shine our light in this world and when we left the mainstream with our music, our art and even decided movies were evil and that we should stay away, we left these things to the darkness. We can use the arts, entertainment and technology in a godly way to change the tide, to bring our nation back to God. The same is true with business. We are all ministers and business can and should be one of our main focuses for ministry. I believe God is calling His people to re-enter the marketplace. To be loving and caring, but bold to share who Jesus really is.

Please pray for and ask God how to support His servants who are missionaries in the entertainment industry. All too often we have made them feel they have left the faith, when in reality they are on the front lines, fulfilling a call that Jesus has given them.

There is a movement afoot to encourage and equip people to do just this. It is called the 7 Mountains of Influence. Here is a brief synopsis of how this got started:

There are 7 Mountains of Influence in Culture…

In 1975, Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, and Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth with a Mission, had lunch together in Colorado. God simultaneously gave each of these change agents a message to give to the other. During that same timeframe Francis Schaeffer was given a similar message. That message was that if we are to impact any nation for Jesus Christ, then we would have to affect the seven spheres, or mountains of society that are the pillars of any society.

These seven mountains are business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family and religion. There are many subgroups under these main categories. About a month later, the Lord showed Francis Schaeffer the same thing. In essence, God was telling these three change agents where the battlefield was. It was here where culture would be won or lost. Their assignment was to raise up change agents to scale the mountains and to help a new generation of change agents understand the larger story.

Follow this link if you are interested in more information about the 7 Mountains of Influence: http://www.7culturalmountains.org.

Grace and Truth,

Pastor Stan

Change or Die!

Continuous change is necessary to be effective.

Change is really hard for some people. They don’t want to see the old methods go away. Familiarity brings them comfort. But the old always goes away and the new always comes. You can bury your head in the sand, but it just causes problems down the line. If a business goes with the same methods forever it will eventually dry up and die out. Technology, culture shifts, trends and more affect the bottom line and productivity.  Change or die!  It sounds so harsh, but there is truth there. I am talking about methods. Principles never change. You need to be honest, you need to have integrity and you must be fair. But methods need to be changed and more frequently than most want to admit.

Not changing methods along the way will lead to a business or church plateauing and eventually declining. Take the church for instance. If we keep the same old songs and music, the same décor and the same service schedule, we end up accidentally conveying that this is the place that will never change and you can count on it. It’s like we are saying, “This is a great history museum and if you want to see what things were like thirty years ago come here.” If you want a church that is full of only grandmas and grandpas, this is a strategy that is really going to work well, but be ready to close it down and sell the place when the last one dies. No change is the reason why we have more diapers in the pews than in the nurseries these days. Ok, that was a little harsh, but I just couldn’t resist. I love grandmas and grandpas. I know they are a vital part of the church and I want them to share the wealth of their wisdom and experiences with a new generation. But if you want their kids and their grandkids to come to church, you’d better be changing along the way. As a leader it would be best if you teach the grandmas and grandpas to embrace change. It is the only way you are going to reach their families that they so desperately want to follow Jesus. Yes, keep it about Jesus. Yes, keep it focused on the grace and truth of the bible. Yes, keep it biblically principled. But change your methods to reach every age and every generation.

When is the last time you asked yourself, “What is the music the average person listens to these days? What is the best way to communicate the message to them? What kind of atmosphere would make them comfortable to walk into?”

In Isaiah 43:18-19a, God says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”  God’s not afraid of the new. In 1 Chronicles 12:32, the bible says, “…the men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” It is not a sin to understand the times and adjust. It is possible to be current without compromise. I like the saying: “The methods are many, the principles are few. The methods can change, but the principles never do.”

So if you are a pastor you can feel free to ask yourself, “What does our church website look like compared to the websites the average person visits today? What does the sanctuary media technology we use look like compared to what the average person is used to seeing? What are the social media tools that people are currently using? Which ones are the young people on the most?”  These are not unspiritual questions. I suggest that you go on a search to find the methods that will work the best today.

Okay, you are somewhat convinced. If so, try a few of these ideas to make sure you are ministering to all the age groups in the 21st century.

  1. Visit a great church that is effectively reaching all the generations.
  2. Go to a church seminar that teaches pastors to reach this culture effectively.
  3. Sit down with a group of college students and ask them, “What could the church do to reach your generation more effectively?”
  4. Visit church websites that are awesome and find out who created that website.
  5. Check out your local coffee shops to see the atmospheres that unbelievers are comfortable walking into today.
  6. Read a good book about the importance of change in the church. (One you can read is, Who Stole My Church? by Gordon McDonald.)
  7. Be prayed up, studied and ready to deliver a powerful and relevant sermon every time you have a service at your church.

Grace and Truth,

Stan Russell

Comparison is the Enemy of Contentment

We all need to be careful when it comes to comparing. It is one of the things that can make us slip into discouragement. Comparing ourselves to someone who is either close to us and having great success or someone who is at the top of our field is a great temptation for all of us and the bible tells us that it is not a good thing to do.

Galatians 6:4: Let everyone be sure that he is doing his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work well done and won’t need to compare himself with someone else. (TLB)

There will always be someone who has more success or more beauty, more wealth or more talent. The key to contentment is to thank God for what you have and who He made you to be. As the verse above says, do your “very best.” Whether you are a preacher, business person, musician or athlete, do your best and keep improving, but don’t look at others who have had more success and start to become self critical. This just leads to an unhappy heart, which, if continually dwelled on, can lead to an unhappy life.

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:6, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (NIV) So do your best to grow in God and be content with who you are, where you are and who God made you to be. Contented people have joy and it is contagious. As a matter of a fact, you can help yourself even more by rejoicing with others who are doing well. “Rejoice with those who rejoice.” Romans 12:15 (NIV).

If you do these things, it will make your heart lighter, it will cause people to enjoy being around you and, ironically, being content with where you are and rejoicing with others will make it easier for you to succeed in your field and in life.

Grace and Truth,

Pastor Stan

Wait on God, He Will Come Through!

Do you have a problem that you need God’s help with? Call out to Him. Keep calling and wait on Him and He will answer you.

Psalm 38:15 says, “I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God.” (NIV)

My wife Karen has a hummingbird feeder in our back yard. For about two years she couldn’t get any hummingbirds interested in drinking the pure sweet nectar concoction that she was making for them. Can you believe that? No takers and all that goodness for free!  Then one day it happened. One came, then another and another. Within a few weeks it became known throughout the hummingbird community that there was a place where they could get their fowl thirst satisfied. It was the Russell residence. Now we have become the most preferred restaurant around, kind of like Red Robin you might say! So much so that they clamor, they fight, and there are often multiples on the feeder. Why? Because Karen always keeps their food fresh and available. Winter sets in and the birds are still here non-stop.

But today something a bit strange happened. They weren’t coming. That is all of them stopped coming but one. That little hummingbird just sat there on the wire next to the feeder for hour upon hour for what seemed like a couple of days. We had never seen that before. Where were the other birds and why was this one little bird just sitting there and waiting? As it turns out, the liquid in the feeder was frozen and the birds couldn’t get it out of the feeder. Karen eventually noticed this, thawed the feeder in the house,  repositioned it outside again, and the little guy who had been waiting around reappeared and started feeding right away.

As I thought about this, it dawned on me that the little bird waited it out. Unlike the others, he was confident that the food would be available again soon. It’s almost like he knew that his provider had been faithful in the past and he was going to hang in there until provision came again. He waited and sure enough, Karen eventually came through.

It made me think of our provider, almighty God. You can count on Him. When we pray and wait on Him for His answers and provision, He will come through. The bible says in Isaiah 30:18: “The Lord wants to show his mercy to you. He wants to rise and comfort you. The Lord is a fair God and everyone who waits for his help will be happy.” (NCV)

So pray and wait on Him and He will come through.

Isaiah 40:30: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (TLB)

Grace and Truth,

Pastor Stan

God’s Will in HD

God’s will sometimes seems elusive. Which way should I go? Where should I concentrate my efforts in ministry? What direction is the right direction?

The key to finding God’s will is prayer! The bible says if we lack wisdom we should pray and God will give it to us (James 1:5). So when we pray we go from SD (standard definition) to HD (high definition).

Recently I have been on a forty day prayer journey along with the church I pastor at Horizon. We are all reading Mark Batterson’s “Draw the Circle, The 40 Day Prayer Challenge.” The book has tremendous insight and inspiration to draw people into a deeper prayer life. We are 30 days in and already it is amazing to me how God is answering prayers for so many families and for me too. Miracles are happening, direction is becoming crystal clear and people are becoming more confident about what to do in the circumstances of their lives. It is all happening because of prayer, which brings High Definition clarity for our lives.

Once you have seen HD it is hard to go back to SD. So, if you need direction, commit your needs to prayer. If you do, I believe that God will show you the way that He wants you to go and the results of following His way will be tremendous blessings.

Jeremiah 29:13: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.”

Grace and Truth,

Pastor Stan

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