Running on Empty

Tonight as I left the church I am privileged to serve, I noticed my gas gauge – EMPTY. If you are like me, going to the pump hurts. $3.50 a gallon isn’t fun in anybody’s wallet. As I pulled in to pump number 6, I recognized a face I hadn’t seen in a while. A young man who I used to see quite regularly at church. He tucked his head and hid behind a camouflage ball cap. I called out to him and inquired how he had been.

He smiled and shook his head, “I’m ok.”

“I haven’t seen you at church in a long time. I hope you are attending another church? I’d sure hate it if you missing out on church, ” I responded.

“No, sir. Just taking a break.”

He hurriedly finished pumping his gas and fumbled for his keys. I could tell he didn’t know where they were and he was in a panic.

“Then you are empty, aren’t you?”

He paused for a moment, “No. I just filled up.”

I went around to help him look for the keys. We looked under his truck; rechecked his pockets; in the seat; before finally, I thought, maybe he left them on the counter inside when he went in to pay. His face brighten, “I did. I remember setting them down. ” He thanked me and as I turned to go back to my car he asked, “Pastor, what did you mean by empty?”

There are consequences for ignoring God. He wants to bless us. He has a plan for our lives to prosper us and not to harm us. (Jeremiah 29:11); but some are missing out because they have chosen to ignore God; to be too busy for God; to justify their absence from God; to take for granted His goodness. How tragic to allow one’s heart to become hardened or inattentive toward God.

What about you? Is your God tank running on empty? When is the last time you prayed to God? When is the last time you read His word or worshipped Him in church? Maybe its time for you to check your gauge. You wouldn’t want to run-out.

Cue the Rocky theme song…

It isn’t often that I am able to watch television. The other night, Connie and I were so exhausted from the events of the day, we decided to find a movie to enjoy together. After flipping through channels, we came across the Rocky movie starring Sylvester Stallone. It was at the moment when Rocky determines he is going to try and the infamous song begins to play. My heart started to beat rapidly inspired by the music and his desire to rise above the obstacles, no matter the odds, and try.

Henry Ford experienced financial brokenness five different times before he founded the successful Ford Motor Company. Walt Disney was fired from his job at a newspaper because he lacked imagination. Albert Einstein was considered mentally handicapped because he didn’t speak until between the ages of 3 and 4 years and he didn’t begin to read until after the age of seven. Isaac Newton did not do well in school and under his care, his family’s farm failed. An uncle took over and sent Isaac to Cambridge. Winston Churchill struggled in school and when he entered the political arena, he suffered repeated defeats before he finally was elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Harrison Ford was told he lacked the ability to be a star by film directors.

Some of you find yourself in failed businesses, marriages, educational pursuits, friendships, and projects. Life seems to be using you as a punching bag and you are tired. Some of you don’t want to fight anymore. What needs to happen is our perception of failure needs to change. We need to see failure as an experiment that didn’t quite work; learn what went wrong; and try something different or try it again. We need to take the discouragement that is weighing us down and get encouraged again. We need to leave the bitterness and hurt behind and move forward in a new direction. We need to cue the Rocky theme song in our lives and get going!

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

God is not done with you. His plans for you are good! It isn’t over. What it takes is believing in a Father who loves you and wants what is best for you. Whatever you are facing today, you can rise above it; you can get through it; you can make a way; trust in the power of God.

Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the  power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Want Faith?

Do you play video games? That seems a nonsensical question. In American culture, in particular, is there anyone who hasn’t played a video game? That is the better question. The basic rules of the video game, whatever you are playing, is to get to the next level – to eat the right berries, or pounce on enough white rabbits, or speed passed enough cars, or kill enough creatures. In video games, winning the battle is all about advancing to the next level; without advancement, you are stuck right where you are.

Do you know the same is true with God? God knows how to get us to the next level. He knows how to orchestrate our lives in such a way as to prepare us for Level 10, Level 50, Level 101. The problem arises when we don’t want to do what it takes to advance.

Here are some keys to help you get to the next level with God:

1. Know who is in charge. You’re not and God is.  As one of our church ladies puts it, “God is large and in charge.”

2. Praise and worship Him even when things are not working out as you planned. Understand, He’s got a better plan! Follow it!

3. Accept that God can fix the messes in your life if you let Him. So, let go of the reigns.  He will steer.

4. Don’t allow Satan to taunt you with discouragement. Press forward. Do what you know to do and let God take care of the rest.

5. Be bold. Never say never. Everything seems impossible until its done. God is the God of impossibility. He has a proven track record. He will pull you out. Believe in Him.

Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

He’s got the blueprints! Trust Him!