Focused

To obtain goals in life you need to keep your focus. Unfortunately for most, they go through life without ever setting goals for themselves and they just cruise along in the fast lane of life without ever really getting anywhere. It’s normal because it’s the easiest route. We all like the path of least resistance. But when you set a goal and you get focused on your goal…God can and will use you for mighty things.

Here is the spiritual warning though…don’t get consumed on yourself.  This is an area I think most get can get up on and it causes failure because pride sets into the individuals heart.  A heart that is focused on others will not be consumed with self.  There is a balance to be found as you strive for your goals in life.  On one side is the goal itself and on the other side is showing compassion to people around you.  Do good to others as you can and press on towards your goals.  Jesus set the example for all to follow…he had goals in his ministry, yet he slowed down and loved on people.  If He did it, so can we!

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Published in: on March 13, 2015 at 7:54 PM  Leave a Comment  

It’s Coming…



I usually keep away from discussing politics on social media, but today I felt led to share a concern I see on the horizon.  Every generation since the death of Christ on the cross has said that they are living in the end times.  We look at the first disciples and the urgency in which they shared and spread the Gospel message showed they thought Jesus was coming back soon!  I have never been one to say that the end is near, but it is clear in Scripture that in the end times the believers will face persecution.  Now I know that Christians all through history have faced persecution, even death, for their faith.  We have been fortunate in America to have the freedom to believe the way we want and worship publically without the fear of persecution.

I will admit it used to frustrate me and break my heart (both at the same time) to have to listen to people who believed differently than me publically share what they believe…but I was always reminded that it is their right as an American to believe that way.  Freedom of speech right?  I never thought that it would be the same right of freedom of speech that would be needed to be called upon as a Christian to believe and talk about Jesus.  The persecution of the Christian is coming very soon to America.  Here is the scary part…it is already happening.

I read this article today where a Fire Chief in Atlanta who was fired for being a Christian was going to be reinstated.  What got me thinking was this paragraph the author wrote, “Increasingly, government officials are seeing Christians as the communists of the Cold War. They are considered “subversive” by current politically correct standards. Public officials across the country are taking steps to marginalize and silence them through fines and termination of employment.”  Here is my thought…our nation is being run by a small group of people who are making the descisions for the whole nation.  I don’t believe the people of America have this mindset that Christians are the modern day communists, yet it sure seems that few people in our govenment does.

So much tolerism is given to every belief on the face of the earth, but as soon as you mention the name Jesus, people would rather you just be quiet, and essentially, put the game pieces back in the box and pretend it never happend.  There is power in the name of Jesus.  Scripture says it (Acts 4:12; John 14:13) and society proves it.  I truly believe that when Jesus is mentioned to a nonbeliever, a sense of guilt comes over them and they refuse to listen because they don’t want to deal with their shame.

So what do we do?  It is time for a rally call!  Wake up fellow brothers and sisters in Christ!  Pray for those who persecute you.  Pray that God would open their eyes to the truth and not follow the ways of the world.  Thoughts?

Published in: on February 25, 2015 at 2:58 PM  Comments (1)  

A World That is Changing

It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to blog. I’ve found that I share my thoughts more readily on a Sunday morning with my congregation, but something struck me today and caused me to sit and write out my thoughts on something that is ailing our world right now…

With the spread of the deadly disease Ebola, moving from Africa to the United States in a weird way I see it bringing the world closer together.  The people in Africa that are dealing with this disease that is killing entire families are just as loved by God as any person in our Western World. All of a sudden we’re all put on a level playing field…one of which money can’t change…we’re all succeptible to this disease, whether you’re rich or poor.

My prayer is that we can stop this contageous disease dead in its tracks and that nobody else will have to suffer.  For those that are going through it, I pray that they recover, but I also pray that it will be a time for people’s eyes to be opened to the Good News of Jesus Christ.  It is my hope that neighbor will help neighbor and that we can get back to what is important in life…loving your neighbor as yourself and loving God with all your heart.

Yes, this disease does bring some concern…I have a family and I hope they never have to deal with Ebola.  Will I be cafeful and even take some steps to try to avoid exposure…you bet.  Am I lacking faith by doing so, absolutely not…God has given us a brain and wisdom to make good choices.  Am I going underground and becoming a doomsday prepper…nope.  In the end God is in control and I trust His sovereign wisdom everytime!

That’s my two cents.  Thank you everyone for your responses.  Let’s join together in prayer that the impact of Ebola will be minimal and that it can soon be contained, if not cured.  There is power in prayer!

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Published in: on October 15, 2014 at 10:30 PM  Leave a Comment  

Storms of Life

lightningAs I was having my time in God’s Word this morning I found myself reading Psalm 54:7 “For you have rescued me from my troubles and helped me triumph over my enemies” (NIV).  I know for many this passage is encouraging, but everywhere I turn lately I am running into people who would say that the message in this passage is discouraging to them, because they feel stuck in their troubles and it’s like God isn’t anywhere to be found.  Their cry is for “Help”!  Many have been stuck in this pattern for months and years.  I find it hard to have answers for them while they’re in the midst of discouragement for such a long time.

Their situation whatever it may be seems to be a test of their faith.  The question arises, are they willing to stick it out and draw close to God in the middle of the storm of life?  In our Western Society we so often want instant results.  Pray one prayer and we expect results.  One of the misnomers of Christianity is that life will be easier once you say “Yes” to Jesus.  Often time’s life gets more difficult when we ask Jesus to be the Lord of our lives.   But the promise is that God will strengthen us and help us endure the hardship we face.

My encouragement for those who are facing trials in life right now is found in Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13 NIV).  I don’t know what you might be facing at the moment, but one thing I do know is that our God is bigger than whatever problem is before you.  Spend time seeking his wisdom and strength through reading the Bible and spending time talking to God in prayer and making sure you give God time to talk to you as well.  Those quiet times where you stop what you’re doing and just listen…that’s where God will speak to your soul and give you the encouragement you need to get through the day.  My suggestion is to keep a notebook close by and write down what you receive so you can refer to it again later.

My prayer is that soon one day you too will be able to rejoice as the Psalmist did, “For you have rescued me from my troubles and helped me triumph over my enemies.”  For if you’re in the valley, a hilltop experience is coming and if things are bright and delightful it is guaranteed that you will soon face a storm.  All it takes is one phone call, one meeting, or whatever life throws at you that can turn your life upside down in just one moment.  Find your strength and peace in Jesus, for all other sources will let you down at some point in time.

Published in: on March 21, 2014 at 11:05 AM  Leave a Comment  

Summer’s Gone

 

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It is hard to believe that summer is about over and that fall is right around the corner.  Before we know it, we’ll be dealing with snow and ice on the roads.  One thing I keep telling myself is that spring is just around the corner.  Just as quick as our minds jump from one season to the next I am learning the importance of taking one day at a time and enjoying the moment.  It is so easy to get caught up in running from one spot to the next that we get focused on the task at hand instead of taking the time to focus on the people we encounter on the journey.

This summer we’ve spent eleven weeks studying the 12th chapter of Romans and it is a great teaching on how God works on our hearts and our lives from the inside out.  As I stated earlier it is easy to get caught up running here and there, we can do the same thing with our spiritual lives too.  We need to learn how to slow down and let God be God in our lives…in the end it comes out in our actions and attitudes.  Jesus has called us to follow him and his ways.  Jesus was never in a hurry and always took time to interact with the people around him…just some food for thought as we gear up for a new school year and a new season on the calendar.

Paul writes in Galatians 6:9-10, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  So, slow down, relax a bit, seek God’s will for your life…and enjoy the people God puts in your path! – Rob

Published in: on August 20, 2013 at 3:31 PM  Comments (1)  

Father’s Day

C- Hand in Hand 2I know Mother’s Day was just last week, but I can’t help but think about how important the role of the father is in the home.  Don’t get me wrong, the mother’s role is just as important, but I can’t help but wonder if father’s are doing their job to the best of their ability.  I put myself in this thought as well.  I was listening to the Sanctus Real song “Lead Me” and it’s lyrics just cut to the core of our major role of being a father.  In regards to the role of being the father, our families…our wives…our children are crying out…

“Lead me with 

strong hands

Stand up when I can’t

Don’t leave me hungry for love

Chasing dreams, what about us?

Show me you’re willing to fight

That I’m still the love of your life

I know we call this our home

But I still feel alone”

We only get one chance in life to do this right.  Guys let’s do it right.  Put Jesus at the center of your life and lead your family!

Published in: on May 21, 2013 at 2:49 PM  Leave a Comment  

Whatcha Doin’?

I wish that I could sit down with every Christian I know and ask them these questions.  What keeps your spiritual life moving forward and growing into the image of Christ?  Has reading Scripture become a daily habit that you can’t shake even if you tried?  Can you make it through your day without spending time in prayer?  I would be curious to hear the responses.

I am sure that for most people it comes down to time and the willingness to sacrifice some of it.  Whether that means giving up their favorite television show or giving up some sleep in the morning; the bottom line is that as followers of Jesus Christ we need to see drawing closer to the throne of God is more important that most other things we allow to consume our time.  If you took a look at your daily schedule, how do you prioritize your day?  However you want to measure it, we’re limited to 24 hours, or 1,440 minutes, or 86,640 seconds in a day.  Time is something we can never get back…it is a precious commodity.  What are you doing with your time?

Published in: on November 29, 2012 at 9:55 AM  Leave a Comment  

Drinking Water From a Fire Hose

Welcome to the world Elijah Robert Belles!  With last week’s addition to the Belles clan I’ve lots of time to think while I am feeding young Eli in the middle of the night.  Now when I get to ‘thinking’ it can be dangerous, but this time I believe God is teaching me something and I want to share it.  When my son gets hungry there is no middle ground.  He goes from being content to full on hungry and screaming at the top of his lungs wanting his demands fulfilled.  I have found that if I am not prepared with a bottle to feed him the minute it takes to get a bottle ready is one loooong minute!  Even though I know what I am doing is getting ready to give Elijah exactly what he wants he can’t see past the immediate need he has…hunger.

By now you probably already know where I am going with this.  God so often is working behind the scenes getting everything ready to fulfill all of our needs, yet we sit there and scream because we can’t see anything happening.  Maybe we don’t scream, or worse yet, maybe we begin to doubt God’s ability.  I have often found myself looking down at my little man Elijah and think to myself, “If you only knew how much I love you…I think you’d understand, it’ll be alright.”  I am so grateful that God provides for us in the immediate…sometimes we have to wait right down to the last moment of hope and then He moves and provides in ways that words can’t explain other than to point up and say, “It’s a God thing.”

Not only does God provide, but He gives us just the right amount if we can call it that.  God can blow us away like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hose running at full capacity, but He often chooses to NOT do that to us, instead, God gives us just the right amount.  Just like the bottle I use to feed formula to Elijah which has an opening in the nipple that allows just the right amount of formula to flow from it, too much formula and he spits it all back up and too little causes him to get frustrated.

With all of that said, I have to admit that the last few weeks God has been giving me a drink of water from a fire hose.  So many things have happened for me and my family this past month that I can’t even begin to list them other than to point up and say, “It’s a God thing.”  Things we’ve been praying for are being answered.  Things we’ve prayed earnestly about for the past several years are coming to fruition and we’re seeing the Hand of God move.  To God be the glory!  I find I’m living my own advice to my son when it comes to my relationship with God… “If you only knew how much I love you…I think you’d understand, it’ll be alright.”  I look forward to the day I can sit down and record everything God’s done over the past month, until then…”It’s a God thing.”

Published in: on February 28, 2012 at 2:52 PM  Comments (1)  

Fight to the Death!

So this weekend my wife (April) bought me a Kindle e-reader. Ever since I graduated from high school I have loved to read (go figure while I was IN school I hated reading, at least it came in handy in college). It wasn’t long after she gave me this fun new gadget that she told me to get the free sample of the series she had just finished….The Hunger Games. I scoffed at the idea and rolled my eyes more than once. But later that night I succumbed to my curiosity and tried the free trial (if you don’t know about Kindle’s, you can download the first few pages of a book to see if you like it before you buy it). I was hooked and instantly had to buy the first book. I finished it in record time for me at least…which is in one day.

 
Now I am not going to go on and on about the book, but in the story the main character is forced to fight to the death and if she didn’t then she’d die. Now this might be a large leap from the story to your own life, but I ask what are you willing to fight to the death when it comes to your spiritual life?

 
God has sent His Son to die in your place for the sins you’ve committed in life, but what desires of the flesh are you willing to give up out of gratitude? God’s offer of salvation if free to everyone who accepts it, but faith without works is dead. Can we earn our salvation? No way! But God desires…no demands a changed life…one that is working towards becoming more like Jesus.

 
Sometimes God puts challenges or trials in our lives to force us to grow and trust God even more. I love James 1:2-4 where he writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” I know in the midst of a trial the last thing we probably feel is joy, but I came across an illustration that I think can help us see how trials and storms of life can actually drive us closer to God.

 
The vine clings to the oak during the fiercest of storms. If the vine is on the side opposite the wind, the great oak is its protection; if it is on the exposed side, the storm only presses it closer to the trunk. In some of the storms of life, God intervenes and shelters us; while in others He allows us to be exposed, so that we will be pressed more closely to Him.”

 
What storms has God used in your life to draw you closer to Him? Hanging onto God and fighting through your trial to the end will give you victory and as James put it you’ll be, “Mature, complete and lacking nothing”. I recently read a sentence that stated…stop telling God how big your storm is and start telling your storm how BIG your God is! Hang on in the midst of the storm till the end!

Published in: on January 11, 2012 at 3:04 PM  Comments (1)  

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2012. Many people make resolutions to begin the New Year. I have in the past, but this year I am not going to do one. This year I am NOT looking to start something new, instead I am going to seek to grow in the one thing I already love! It is safe to say that I love discipleship. For some people it is football, baseball, or hockey that gets their blood pumping but for me to help someone grow into a mature follower of Jesus Christ is what gets me excited.

I’ve seen so many people who claim to have a relationship with Jesus simply stay the same person for years on end without any change in their spiritual lives. It is sad. But it motivates me to share with others…there’s more to the Christian life than living in a lukewarm relationship with Jesus. Now I am not saying that we gain or earn our salvation through works because that is simply non-Biblical. We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9), but there is a response or a duty on our part. God gives us the free gift of salvation but we need to do something with it. God has saved us FROM something (wrath and deserving death) but has saved us FOR something (spiritual fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, etc; and to a changed life) too!

I like how David Platt explains it in his book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream, he states, “The danger of spiritual deception is real. As a pastor, I shudder at the thought and lie awake at night when I consider the possibility that scores of people who sit before me on a Sunday morning might think they are saved when they are not. Scores of people who have positioned their lives on a religious road that makes grandiose promises at minimal cost. We have been told all that is required is a one-time decision, maybe even mere intellectual assent to Jesus, but after that we need not worry about his commands, his standards, or his glory. We have a ticket to heaven, and we can live however we want on earth. Our sin will be tolerated along the way. Much of modern evangelism today is built on leading people down this road, and crowds flock to it, but in the end it is a road built on sinking sand, and it risks disillusioning millions of souls.” I believe it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who called this kind of Christian life, Cheap Grace.

 
Jesus came and paid it all with His death on the cross. How are you showing your gratitude for His sacrifice in your own life? Are living for your own ways and your own desires, or are you following hard after Jesus Christ…even when it goes against the American Dream?  If you’d like to share send me an email at rob@caldwellchristian.org, I’d love to hear from you.

Platt, David (2010). Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (p. 38). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Published in: on January 3, 2012 at 11:42 AM  Leave a Comment