Saturday, January 24, 2015

So Many Topics, So Little Time


While admittedly I have rarely been a 'prolific' blogger (mainly because many who believe the world 'needs to hear their opinion' have little basis to feel that way), our country, culture, and even our planet is now seeing things happen at a phenomenal rate. Perhaps the 'rate' by which events are unfolding have not increased as much as my personal knowledge and perception have been awakened to these undesired changes. Furthermore, there is a great possibility that these changes (which have taken place largely over the past 15 years) have weighed on my heart and life as well as is now bearing down on the future of this country, the world, God's church, as well as my children and grandchildren.
Most of my posts have been inspirational in nature and I would desire to continue those types of posts. However at least in the USA, there are many other things to which a spiritual leader (I.E. a pastor) should be speaking – and as time passes I intend to do so. At times you may agree while at other times you may disagree. At times I may write things with the desire to 'stir you up' while at other times perhaps this blog can bring some 'comfort or peace.' After all, it was the "God of all comfort" who called me into this work and to do what I do.

Some of the topics which I plan to write about are;
  • Can ISIS be the prophetic country to the North?
  • What rises to the level of High Crimes and Misdemeanors?
  • Peace in the Midst of a Culture at War
  • Racial Reconciliation – Apologizing for the sins of our Fathers?
  • God's Word to this Fallen World
  • Our Need for Statesmen in Government
  • Is Islam a Peaceful Religion?
  • Why I believe Homosexuality is Incompatible with Christianity?

 

And I've said NOTHING about the function of our Judiciary's ongoing desire to 'legislate from the bench'. We are in a critical time in this nation and the world. I have NO ALLUSIONS OF GRANDUER because these writing may make very little difference, but it's kind of like a man in my first pastorate. He was very old and could not have heard the atomic bomb explode (even if it exploded very close by). He never missed worship unless he was sick. One day he shouted at me, "PREACHER, DO YOU KNOW WHY I ATTEND WHEN I CAN'T HEAR A WORD YOU SAY?" Calling him by name, I shouted back, "I THINK SO, BUT WHY DON'T YOU TELL ME?" With a smile he shouted, "I WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW WHOSE SIDE I'M ON!!"

 

The reason I'll write is to let everyone know whose side I'm on. I pray some will read these words and join me on the journey.  I pray it is interesting, inspiring, and enlightening.

 

Friday, January 09, 2015

A Productive Life

In 2006, I had the opportunity to go to Saddleback Church in Southern California for two seminars in one week.  In the process I had the privilege of meeting Rick Warren and seeing, first hand, His heart and passion, as well as sense the heart and passion of the people who make up the Saddleback flock.

For these reasons I am interested in Rick's view on a number of issues.  In one of his recent blogs, he give "9 Actions You must take to Reach Your Biggest Goals."  There are worth sharing with the few who read my writings.  If nothing else, browse the main points.  I pray that God will use these words to stir you to the life He WANTS YOU TO HAVE.
_______________________________________________
Rick says"

1. Determine your present position.

You can’t figure out where you want to go until you know where you already are. You’ve got to know your present position, your current condition. You have to know where you are right now.
Where am I now financially? Where am I now emotionally? Where am I now in my career or ministry? Where am I now relationally? Where am I now spiritually? What’s my GPS right now?
Then you want to ask yourself the question, What would I like to change? As long as you’re alive, as long as you’re breathing, as long as your heart is pumping blood you need a dream.

2. Describe exactly what you want.

I suggest you actually write it down on paper. What do I want to accomplish in the next ten years? Don’t be vague. Vague goals are never accomplished. The more specific you are the better. Nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific. And it needs to be clear. It needs to be concise. It needs to be compelling.
To do that you have to ask four questions:
  • Whom do I want to BE?
  • What do I want to DO?
  • What do I want to HAVE?
  • WHY do I want it?
At Saddleback, we’ve set enormous, huge goals for our church in every decade – in the eighties, in the nineties, in the two thousands and now in the two thousand tens. And every time we’ve set these enormous goals, we’ve had no idea how we were going to accomplish them. God has shown us the ‘how’ once we understood the ‘why.’
Never confuse decision making with problem solving. If you try to solve every problem first, you’ll never get ahead; you’ll never move forward.

3. Find a promise from God.

At this step you don’t focus on your problems. There will be problems in reaching your goal. You focus on the promises, not the problems. Otherwise you’re just filled with fear.
Dozens of times in Scripture, God says “I’ll be with you. I’ll be with you. I’m going to be with you everywhere you go.” You may not feel God’s presence but there is never a time in your life when God is not with you. You need to plug in to that power. You need to realize what is a reality, and the reality is you are never alone. God is already in the future. He already knows everything that’s going to happen. He’s already been there. He’s not surprised or shocked. God is with you every moment of your day. You’re just not tuned in.
The size of your God will determine the size of your goal. If you’ve got a puny (view of) God you’re going to have puny goals. If you’ve got a big God you’re going to have big goals. It’s not me putting faith in myself; it’s me putting my faith in God and his promises. And his promises say ask for anything!

4. Ask God for help.

Is it ok to pray for success? Obviously. What’s the alternative? “God, make me a failure.” Of course God wants you to be all he made you to be. Of course God wants you to develop the talents He’s given you. Of course God wants to bless you so you can be a blessing to other people. When your success helps others and when your success honors God, you’d better be praying for it!
The Bible says this in Hebrews 4, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. [in other words when we pray] There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us [remember ask God to help you] when we need it.” So you need to pray.
Are you praying about your goals? Are you praying about your dreams? Are you praying about your vision? Are you talking to God about them? Your prayer reveals two things. First, it reveals how serious you are about your dreams. If you’re not asking God for this to happen in your life, you don’t really care about it that much. It’s not a real deep desire. It’s just a whim. It also reveals how much you’re depending on God. If you never pray about it, you’re depending only on yourself.
In the second part of this article, I’m going to address the other five actions for reaching your goals, and it starts with sizing up the barriers.
Start thinking and praying through your goals now!

5. Identify the barriers.

Identify the barriers between you and your goal, between you and your vision, between you and your dream for the next year or two or ten years of your life. The question you want to ask is this: Why don’t I have it already?
There may be relational problems, financial barriers, or educational barriers. There may be emotional barriers that keep you from your dream. A lot of people sabotage their own success because they don’t feel they deserve it.
Faith says, yes I see the problem but I believe God is bigger than the problem. Faith doesn’t deny the problem, it just believes God is bigger than those roadblocks.

6. Create a step by step plan.

To reach your goals, you must plan it one step at a time. You need to think through a course of action. A plan has three parts.
  • A plan has steps.
  • A plan has deadlines.
  • A plan has a schedule.
A goal is worthless until you get it on your schedule because everything eventually deteriorates into work. Eventually you have to wake up from your dream and go to work. So you want to ask yourself two questions as you make a plan. Where do I want to be? And How am I going to get there?

7. Be patient and persistent.

The reason why you have to be patient and persistent is because it isn’t going to happen overnight. The bigger your goal, the longer it will take. The more significant your goal, the more time and energy will be involved.
Too many people set their goals too low and try to accomplish them too quickly. We overestimate what we can do in a year but we underestimate what we can do in ten. I suggest you set big goals and then take a long time to reach them.
The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is successful people do the things that unsuccessful people are unwilling to do. Successful people often do things they don’t feel like doing. Unsuccessful people always do what they feel.

8. Enlist a team for support.

You’re never going to reach your goal on your own. You’re never going to fulfill your vision by yourself. Success is never, never, never a one man show. It takes teamwork. It takes cooperation. If you want to go you’ve got to go with other people.
Why are other people so important to your goals? Because God wants to teach you how to love other people, which is more important than what you accomplish.

9. Pay the price.

There’s always a price tag for fulfilling a dream. There’s always a price tag, a cost for reaching every goal. Never desire the success of another person without first finding out what they gave up for it.
The only thing free in life is salvation, because Jesus paid for our sins to be forgiven when He died on the cross. All you have to do is accept that gift by faith. You can’t work for it, earn it, deserve it. You just say God, thank you for sending your Son to die for me on the cross to pay for all my sins. It’s already been paid for. It’s a free gift. It cost Jesus his life. But for everything else you want to accomplish, there’s a price tag.
Great goals require great sacrifice – of time, of money, of energy, of reputation. As you set goals and count the cost, you need to ask three big questions:
  • What will it cost me?
  • What am I willing to give?
  • Is the cause worth the cost?
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Living life, especially living a life of faith, is NOT a solo event.  As difficult as it is for some to face up to, "We need each other."  This is our divine design.  There are no "Lone Rangers" in the work of God's Kingdom - and even if there were, every Lone Ranger needs a Tonto! 

Thursday, January 08, 2015

A FUN TIME

Several years ago, Deb and I enjoyed a week long cruise.  It was fun (and "I" would like to go again. Her, not so much with the many incidents on cruise ships these days).  On the last night, some of the guests became (tongue in cheek) "Legends" and put on a show for the rest of the ship.  I portrayed "Frank Sinatra" and had a blast.  The show was fun.  Deb taped this on HER PHONE!!!  Not too bad (I'm talking about the video) for her first stab at it.  Posted on Youtube, I will say "It hasn't gone viral yet."  Listen and you'll know why....GRIN


Tuesday, January 06, 2015

A Good Christmas Present

I have such a great family, they treat me really good at all times of the year but especially on those Holidays.  Honestly, I have never written anything about them because I attempt to not publicize them at all, but they are great!!  I only mention them because they give me more and better gifts than any man deserves.
That said and understood, this past Christmas week (year 2014) was a fulfillment of the dream of a lifetime. Since the mid-1970's I have attempted to be a 'published' song writer.  During those days I would write out the score and submit to publishers.  The first piece I sent of went to the old "Crescendo Publishing" company out in Dallas, Texas (as I  recall).  It took the company ( after calling every 6 weeks) 13 MONTHS to decide they were not going to publish the arrangement.
In the 1980's I did a 'little better' as the predecessor to "LifeWay" publications picked up my first song and in short order, the old John T. Benson Company picked up my second piece.  That was a setting of Psalm 23 which carried the title, "The Lord is My Shepherd."  This was written for the Singing Churchmen of Mississippi and was later sung by their partner group, the Singing Ministers of Louisiana.  During those days, although unpublished, I was privileged to write and arrange for a couple of year for the Louisiana group.  Also during those days I had close to 10 choir pieces published by an upstart and short-lived company in Memphis, Agape Press.
Along the way, Jim Watson and Jim Whitmire (very successful worship ministers) used  some of my material for their "Youth Choir Tours" (remember those??).  Though friends may never 'see it', every time someone used my material, it was both an honor and an humbling experience.
One of my passions is to create music for the heart.
In the years 1999-2000, my writing but really picked up.  Two wonderful ladies and I partnered together and sang (and recorded) much of my new material.
In recent years God has seemingly, once again, awakened the writing bug in me.  However, just like always, it is frustrating to write and not have an 'outlet' for the new material.  Now for the Christmas gift.
Over 35 years ago I met a man whom I have been honored to call friend for all this time.  He and his wife came to more than one church to sing for us, they stayed in our home, and I visited with them.  William (Bill) Traylor is his name.  Over the past 35 years I have watched as he has led established artist and publishing companies and started new companies of that type, and each time he's led a company, it has experienced phenomenal success.
Back in August 2014, I finished a song that I thought had some marketability & then in October, we finished the demo - so I sent it to him.  Not only did he like the song, after some conversation and connection I, FOR THE FIRST TIME, signed an song-writer's contract.  I have always been a 'slow learner', but it has taken close to 40 years to fulfill this goal.  I am thankful to Bill and his company for their confidence and mainly I've thankful to my Lord for keeping me focused.  I just pray that over the next 3 years, I can make this confidence in me well placed.  I would appreciate your prayers.  This was an EXCEPTIONAL Christmas present.!
(Find a sample of the new song "Finally Home" at www.jerrywatts.net)

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