War Room

WR_D6-17.CR2Those of you who read our blog regularly will notice that this isn’t the first time I have written about a movie. While mainstream Hollywood occasionally manages to put out a movie that is truly phenomenal, given the budgets that most Hollywood movies have, one might expect better than the typical fare Hollywood puts out. But the movie I’m going to talk about right now isn’t from mainstream Hollywood and it didn’t have an astronomical budget. Quite the opposite.

The new Kendrick brothers movie, War Room, is a truly touching and moving story that anyone of us can easily relate to. Guys and girls alike will find this movie poignant and easily watchable. The acting is first rate, cinematography is excellent, the story is engaging, we can readily identify with each character, and it features a little girl (played by Alena Pitts) so adorable you can’t help the feeling you want to bring her home for keeps. Perhaps the best evidence of how winsome this movie is would be the crowd reaction. There were group cheers and collective gasps throughout the story.

Perhaps making the movie even more amazing is the fact that this was the acting debut for Priscilla Shirer, who plays the main character, Elizabeth Jordan. The story centers on Elizabeth’s frustration with life and we initially see this in three separate ways; her loveless marriage, her parenting failures, and her sister with the out-of-work husband. Financial uncertainty is soon added to her trials when husband, Tony, finds himself without a job. Who among us cannot relate to at least one or more of these frustrations in our own lives?

And it is there that I will attempt to transition from movie-reviewer back to blogger and (hopefully) encourager. Each and every one of us has experienced some type of difficulty, most likely, every type of difficulty that is a part of War Room. Financial hardship usually happens at some point in all of our lives unless, perhaps, your last name is Trump or Gates. But it is the relational issues such as our marriages, parenting, friendships, community, and even work relationships that seem to occur with the most frequency and in the broadest section of the population.

And what typically happens to us when relational issues occur? We get defensive, don’t we? We believe we’re right in some way, or we believe we are not receiving as we should, and we lash out in one way or another at the very ones we’re supposed to be closest to. In James 1:19 we’re told “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” but the course most of us take is just the opposite. We battle against our dearest family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers as if they were our enemy. We refuse to yield and insist the other person change.

As Miss Clara (wonderfully played by Karen Abercrombie) teaches Elizabeth, it is not our spouse (or friend or neighbor or coworker or child) who is our enemy. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) Indeed our true enemy is the father of lies, the one who distorts and causes confusion, the one who tempts and persuades, the one who rejoices in our failures and tries to expedite our downfalls. That force of darkness is our enemy. I don’t need to say his name because we all know it (and I’m sure that feeds his already distorted ego).

When we are honest enough with ourselves to identify who the true enemy is, and when we remember that we are all imperfect beings, then we can be open to seeking the One who is strong enough to fight our battles for us. For it is when we surrender to God that we find the strength to be changed ourselves and the power of prayer becomes available to us. Romans 8:37 teaches us that “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

In the movie Elizabeth and Tony learn to pray for each other and they learn firsthand the power of the name of Jesus and the victory that is theirs only through Christ. And they go from near disaster to being happy, joyous, and free and more in love than ever. And that is an outcome available to us all when we ask God to intervene on our behalf. Donna and I make it a habit to pray together nightly and we have found that in seeking God together, we are strong and united.

As always, we are happy to answer any of your questions, or refer you to appropriate resources. Please email us at ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com. To learn more about the movie, War Room, or to find it in a theater near you, click this link: War Room Movie

May you find forgiveness and strength in our Lord. God bless.

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Is That You God?

GodIsSpeaking My daughter asked me recently “How do you know you’re hearing from God, or if it’s your own will?” It’s a question I’ve been asked before. For me I know there are several ways to discern when God is speaking to me. The most important thing to keep in mind is that when you feel God might be speaking, you can be sure that what He is saying will be consistent with Scripture. For me, sometimes it’s a feeling that I need to go in certain direction and sometimes God can be very clearly communicating his will in my life.

Let me share this example with you: I had been searching for a new job for what seemed liked months this past year. I was making a decision to leave a profession that I had invested over twenty years of my life in. The stress and uncertainty of my job was getting to be too much for me and I felt a change was needed. After many interviews that went nowhere, I was finally contacted by a transportation company for an interview. By this time I was feeling a little uncertain about the direction I had chosen to explore and my confidence was low. I prayed to God about it, basically saying to Him, “God, you’re going to have to hit me over the head on this one.”

As I was driving to the interview I was listening to one of my favorite Christian radio stations. Every song that played on the way to my interview was a message of placing your trust in God and knowing He will lead you in the right direction. As I arrived for my interview my first interviewer and I made a little small talk before the formal interview began. As we were talking she mentioned listening to the same Christian radio station I had been listening to on my way there! Instantly a rapport started to form between us.

I was amazed and and I felt my confidence starting to soar. The interview went very positively and I left the interview almost certain they were going to offer me the job. It seemed that God really did hit me over the head that day, everything about it felt right. I did get the offer very shortly after the interview and that is where I am happily employed today and I can clearly see God’s purpose in me being there. As is written in Isaiah 30:21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.”

Sometimes we get a feeling that we know is right or wrong, or that something we are contemplating is or isn’t the right decision for us. Billy Graham says “God never leads us to do anything contrary to his word.” This is a good test for knowing which decision is really the direction God wants for your life. This is confirmed by Romans 12:2: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

The point is, we must stay in God’s word, pray in God’s word, and have faith in God’s word in order to know the plans he has for our life. My mother prayed every morning and she told me many times that doing this strengthened her ability to hear from God. The greater her time with the Lord, the greater her own “still small voice” became in her life.

God is speaking

My prayer for you is that you will continue to seek God’s wisdom through his Word, that your faith will remain steadfast, and that you, too, will know the joy that comes from seeing God’s plan for your life realized. We’d love to hear how God might be speaking to you. Feel free to leave a comment or email us at ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com.

New Beginnings

th In just a couple days it will be my two year anniversary with my current employer. Those two years have gone by awfully fast, and I may be reminded of how quickly life seems to go on by when we start getting older. But my purpose in this blog isn’t to discuss aging. Rather, my purpose is to discuss how this work anniversary represents new beginnings (and we’re never too old for new beginnings).

I was with my last employer for approximately ten years. It remains one of the best jobs I ever had and I truly loved my work and found purpose in the company’s products and mission. My coworkers were among the finest people I have ever worked with and the endless pool of talent around me was inspiring and propelled my own abilities forward. I forged friendships and working relationships that extended to suppliers around the country. But for all the good I can list, my employment there ultimately ended poorly.

Over the course of the last ten to twelve months of my employment at this company, there were subtle signs that I was no longer appreciated. The signs started becoming less and less subtle and eventually turned into the proverbial writing on the wall. For the life of me, I may never know exactly why, and it was a bitter pill for me to swallow. I had poured my heart into my job and believed relentlessly in the work I did. Still, it became quite clear that I was on my way out, one way or another.

I have never been one to wait idly by and let my fate be determined by someone else. So I dusted off my employment seeking skills, updated my resume, and I got to searching. I felt rejected, I felt hurt, and I felt unwanted. And I started questioning myself. Were my abilities fading? Was my skill set outdated? Was I too old? Would anyone want to hire me? As the number of companies I connected with grew, I wasn’t getting offers and my self-doubt was becoming hard to ignore.

Then I landed the job I have now. It was clear from the first phone contact that they were impressed with my resume and, at least on paper, I was exactly what they were looking for. Working through the interview process it seemed they were even more excited about me and I grew very excited about the company. It was a perfect match and I have been exceedingly happy in this position. In fact, it’s hard for me to think of a better position for myself. This job has been the truest kind of blessing.

And, while this job has been more than enough to cure me of the feeling of being unwanted, I have been contacted by four other companies since I took this job, each inquiring about my availability. Truly I have gone from utter dejection and wondering about my own value to being sought after and feeling so satisfied with my current employment I am turning down offers that were unsolicited (but deeply appreciated). In my career, I have experienced a new beginning. A rebirth, if you will.

And so it is with our lives. When we come to Christ in repentance and faith, we come feeling dejected, unwanted, and unworthy. We come questioning our own value and, quite often, feel hopeless and alone. But through Jesus we experience a new beginning, we are reborn and made new. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” (2Corinthians 5:17) Are you in need of a new start? Why not make today the day you come to Jesus and lay your trials at His feet and accept the gift of new and eternal life that He so desperately wants to give you?

If you have any questions about how to obtain this new life, please write to us at ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com. We’re happy to answer your questions and help you find your new beginning.

On Laughter and Leadership

Everest-summit-from-South-Summit If I may start this blog entry with a confession. Donna and I are working hard to stay within our budget and, as such, we have been trying to be as thrifty as possible on our date nights. And, I can truthfully say, I enjoy being with her so much that the experience wouldn’t be any better if we spent lots of money anyway, but I digress. My confession is that last night we went to see the movie “Spy” at the cheap theater ($3/each). Spy is R rated. And that’s why I am confessing.

The unfortunate thing is, Spy is a really funny movie. The premise is somewhat predictable, I suppose, but there are pratfalls aplenty and the characters are engaging. The dialogue is witty and there are a few plot twists to keep you guessing along the way. Had they kept it clean, and gone for the PG rating, it would have been no less entertaining and no less humorous but, unfortunately, the movie’s makers sank to the use of four-letter words and a couple brief shots of naked body parts. Frankly, I am not sure why entertainers see the need to use vulgarity – but my opinion is that the minute a comedian sinks to coarse language and sexual innuendo, it’s because he or she lacks the confidence to be funny without it.

This past week I attended the Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit (GLS 15). Among the amazing content of this year’s summit, comedian Michael Junior was a highlight. He was amazingly hilarious without ever resorting to such low-brow sexual innuendo. I’ll return to a few comments about the leadership summit in a moment, but let me finish a few thoughts on clean comedy first, if I may. Two of my favorite comedians are Brad Stine and Ken Davis. A quick search on Google will yield a few clips of each and you will discover just how gut-bustingly funny clean comedy can be.

And if you are married, you simply must watch Mark Gungor’s Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage. Donna and I laughed so hard at this material we had that teary-eyed, side-splitting, barely-can-breathe thing going on. I’ve included clickable links below because I want you to easily be able to find for yourself that comedy doesn’t have to be course or crude to be funny. In fact, when it resorts to such things it actually is less funny.

Now….with that out of my system, let me just recap the Global Leadership Summit if I may. While I have been aware of the summit for many years this was the first year I attended myself. As such I was a bit apprehensive, as I tend to be when trying new things, but my trepidation was completely unnecessary. The Global Leadership Summit turned out to be far more engaging and motivating than I could ever have imagined. There was content for every aspect of my life including my career, my ministry, my church life, and my marriage. The worship music on day two brought tears to my eyes as I felt God’s hand upon me, lifting away my fears and comforting my soul. It was an experience only God can bring.

I am certain that I return to work this week a better manager than I was when I was last in the office prior to GLS. A strong theme in this year’s GLS was love and caring. Both for my fellow team members and my customers and suppliers. When I show genuine concern for the well-being and growth of those with whom I interact, they experience excellence and are allowed to grow and develop to the best of their ability as well. And I also learned that as a leader, I have given up the right to make excuses. Rather, it is my job to lead my team over, thru, and around whatever obstacles stand in our way. And God is with me every step of the way, providing all the strength I need!

The Global Leadership Summit is held at locations all over the world, there surely is a location near you so mark your calendars for August 11th and 12, 2016 and get signed up to experience GLS for yourself!

Finally, here are the links I promised:

Michael Jr
Brad Stine
Ken Davis
Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage
Global Leadership Summit

As always, if there are any questions we can answer to help you in your faith journey, feel free to email us at ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com.

God bless.

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Wages

Romans 6_23 God’s rules are like the boundaries a parent sets for his or her children, they are for our benefit and protection (though, like a child, we often seem to think we know better). And when a child breaks their parents’ rules, they can usually expect consequences, some naturally occurring and some in the form of disciplinary measures. Similarly, there are consequences of breaking God’s laws.

But I’m not going to discuss the obvious consequences such as emotional pain, financial loss, broken homes, lost jobs, drug addictions, STDs, or any of the overly numerous ways we manage to mess up our own lives. (Proverbs 19:3 comes to mind: People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.) No, for this entry I’m going to stick to the bigger picture – which is the eternal consequence of our sin.

Romans 6:23 says: “For the wages of sin is death…” This is an understandably difficult verse for many people. “How can a loving God sentence someone to death?” one is tempted to ask. I have had the same question myself. And this could lead us into some very deep theological territory, but I am going to attempt to avoid this with a simple analogy that will show that a god who doesn’t punish sin is actually an unloving god. Yes, it is precisely because God is so loving that He punishes sin.

How so?

Glad you asked. (Well, I assume you asked.) Let’s posit that a criminal has been apprehended and tried for an especially heinous crime against an especially defenseless victim. Perhaps it was a small child or an elderly couple who were viciously attacked, beaten, or killed. The prosecution’s case was airtight and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that this perpetrator was culpable. The jury has come to a unanimous verdict of guilty on all counts.

The day has come when the judge will hand down the sentence. The family of the victim stands in the courtroom, tightly holding hands, anticipating the justice they will finally receive. They nervously look at each other, sure of the outcome but wary none-the-less. The tragedy of this atrocious crime has taken its toll and the lives of the family members will never be the same. Finally, the judge enters the courtroom and announces his sentence: “No punishment. You’re free to go.”

Can you imagine the horror that would pass through the family and all those in the courtroom? No punishment? Wouldn’t that be the most nefarious, unloving act the judge could possibly take? Of course it would! A horrible crime demands an appropriate punishment. And it is no different with God. When we break laws, the only fair, just, and loving thing God can do is hand out punishment. And, eternally speaking, that punishment is far worse than the temporal consequences we inflict upon ourselves.

And lest we should begin to think that we are not guilty, let’s be reminded that “all have sinned, all fall short of the Glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) And let’s also not try to minimize our crimes, either, by claiming that God’s standards are unreasonably high. A simple reading the Ten Commandments reveals rules that are reasonable in every regard, and are clearly for our own good and for the good of those around us.

Yet we steal. We commit adultery (Jesus said that if we look upon another with lust we have committed adultery in our heart – Matthew 5:28); we murder (Jesus said if we even are angry with our fellow man we are subject to judgment – Matthew 5:22); we lie; we covet; we fail to honor our parents; we fail to hold God in proper esteem. If you disagree with the concept that you are a sinner, then you are being disingenuous because we all inherently know we are guilty. No, as is explained to us in Romans 1, God has made the truth plain to us through His creation, we all intrinsically know that God exists and, therefore, we are without excuse.

But there is good news, Romans 3 says, in verses 24-26: “Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.”

And that’s how loving God is. He sacrificed His own Son to pay the price for our sins so that we can be made righteous. The question is: have you availed yourself of God’s forgiveness? If you want to know how to be sure you are forgiven, please write us at reigndropsblog@gmail.com.

Until next time, God bless.

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