Running the Race of Life with Perseverance

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As the Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. I have been reflecting on what it takes to win a gold medal.  Many of the athletes attribute their success to discipline, perseverance, and hard-work.  As Christians, we find these attributes beneficial in our Christian “race.”  We are all called to a life that demands perseverance.

In light of that, I have decided to give you a few verses on Perseverance.

Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Psalm 27:14 – “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”
Romans 5:3-4  – “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Romans 2:7 – “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”
Hebrews 10:36 – “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

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1 Chronicles 16:11 – “Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.”
Matthew 10:22 – “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Hebrews 11:27 – “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”
Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
2 Thessalonians 3:5 – “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”
James 1:2-4 – “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.”
1 Timothy 4:16 – “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
2 Peter 1:5-7 – “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”
Hebrews 10:23 – “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
James 5:11 – “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

Who’s Watching You? (Reblog from Our Daily Bread)

Christ the Redeemer

No matter where the athletes of the 2016 Olympics go in the city of Rio de Janeiro, they can see Jesus. Standing high above this Brazilian city and anchored to a 2,310-foot-high mountain called Corcovado is a 100-foot-tall sculpture called Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer). With arms spread wide, this massive figure is visible day and night from almost anywhere in the sprawling city.

As comforting as this iconic concrete and soapstone sculpture may be to all who can look up and see it, there is much greater comfort from this reality: The real Jesus sees us. In Psalm 34, David explained it like this: “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry” (v. 15). He noted that when the righteous call out for His help, “The Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (vv. 17–18).

God oversees our lives, and He hears the cries of those who trust Him.

Just who are the righteous? Those of us who place our trust in Jesus Christ, who Himself is our righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30). Our God oversees our lives, and He hears the cries of those who trust Him. He is near to help in our greatest times of need.

Jesus has His eyes on you.

The Lord never lets us out of His sight.

(Reblog from Our Daily Bread) http://odb.org/2016/08/05/whos-watching-you/

Psalm 34:15-22, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth.  The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.   The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.  Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned.  The Lord will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.”

Letting My Soul Catch Up

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A story is told of an American traveler who planned a safari to Africa. He hired some local people to help carry some of the traveler’s supplies as they trekked throughout the land.

On the first morning, they all woke up early and traveled fast and covered a great distance. The second morning was the same—woke up early, traveled fast, and traveled far. Third morning, same thing. But on the fourth morning, the local hired help refused to move. Instead, they sat by a tree in the shade well into the morning. The American traveler became incensed and irate and said to his translator, “This is a waste of valuable time. Can someone tell me what’s going on here?” The translator looked at him and calmly answered, “They’re waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.” Terry Hershey, Sacred Necessities: Gifts for Living with Passion, Purpose, and Grace, 68-69.

We live in a fast-paced world. We are always rushing from one appointment to another.  We wake up to get the children ready, drive them to school, and then go to work.  Some of us spend the days in meetings, while others are driving children all over the city.  Cooking, cleaning, and laundry duties await us upon our return home. The 24-hour days seem like they are too short.  If only the day was 3 more hours longer, I would accomplish more, so we think.  Life is traveling at supersonic speeds, affording us little time for anything else.

Since reading the book, First, Things First, by Steve Covey, I have been convicted to reorganize my calendar.  Since then, I set a goal to practice solitude.  What is solitude?  Solitude is intentional time to be alone to reflect on life, pray, and mediate on God’s Word. Mark 1:35 says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Jesus was in the habit of withdrawing from people, to be alone.  He found it necessary to go to a solitary place to pray.  Since I started taking time for solitude, I have found it to be a great personal blessing.

I come back refreshed, recharged, rejuvenated, and invigorated for ministry and service.  Over the last six months, God has affirmed me in many ways through spending time with Him.  I used to fill my calendar with one meeting after another.  Since taking time for solitude, I now plan my schedule better, starting with the most important things.  I prioritize my appointments based on my life values.  My life values are: my relationship with God; my relationship with my wife, my relationship with my family; and then my ministry.

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The African helpers mentioned earlier, were not necessarily tired, they just wanted to slow down their fast paced lives.  In the same way, solitude, stops us so that our souls can catch up.  Our lightning speed lifestyles are detrimental to our spiritual growth. Through solitude, God has an opportunity to heal, restore, and refresh our souls. God can get through to us. Solitude helps put things into perspective – the world does not need me.  The world can function quite well without me and my input! What a sober fact.

  • Do you take time to meet with God every day?
  • How valuable is your time with God?
  • What do you do to make your time with God fruitful?
  • Do you use a commentary, devotional book, writing pad, and the Bible?
  • Do you have an accountability partner?
  • What can you say has been the biggest reward of meeting with God?
  • If you are not setting aside time to meet with God, what is stopping you?
  • How can you overcome those obstacles?
  • Where can you go to get away, so you can get closer to God?

 

Slowing Down to Fill Up!

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Psalm 46:10, “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Isaiah 40:31, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

It was a crisp February evening, and the dinner guests were making their way into the building.  The valet staff were busy parking guests’ cars all over the parking lot.  The concierge greeted guests, and directed them to the

My body felt weak.  I walked around the room. The tables were arranged neatly around the room.  On the tables were immaculately laid auction items.  There were big baskets.  There were small baskets.  As I walked around placing my number on the bidding sheets, I felt dizzy.  My body felt weak.  My knees struggled to support my frame.  Sweat covered my forehead.  My heart rate beat as fast as is if I had been running a marathon.  I stumbled a little.  Then I leaned over a table to support myself.  I sat down at that table, while taking gulps of cold water.

Noticing something wrong, Rutendo came over to check on me.  I told her I was OK.  I just needed time to sit down and rest a little.  I had not taken a rest since 8 weeks earlier.  I had been working over 10 hours a day, 7 days a week since mid-November of the previous year.  I had been busy fundraising, preaching, teaching, and carrying out all other good ministry duties. I had thought that sleep and rest are overrated.  Who had time for that.  Sleeping slowed me down.  I needed to be busy.  For the past week, I had been waking up in the middle of the night, sweating, with my heart racing.  I had ignored this feeling.  I thought it would go away.

Rutendo went and called a local pastor, whom I respected.  The pastor rebuked me and challenged me to go to the hospital.  I told him I would go after my speech that was scheduled for that evening.  He walked away.  I thought I had convinced him I was OK.  Within a few moments, I saw an ambulance pull up to the front of the building.  The EMT’s came towards me.  My pastor friend smiled and confessed. “I called 9-1-1.  You need to go see the doctor,” I glanced over, and saw Rutendo crying.  She reminded me how stubborn I had been.  I had refused to go see the doctor earlier.

Soon, I found myself in the Emergency Room, hooked up to the EKG.  The doctor came in to announce the diagnosis.  He told me I was suffering from exhaustion – an extreme case of fatigue.  My body was trying to tell me to slow down.  He asked me what my profession is.  After telling him my story, I kind of chuckled.  He reminded me that I cannot save the world by myself.  He reminded me I needed to take a rest.  I needed to take a day off work each week.  I needed to take a vacation each year.  His prescription was that I needed to take care of myself.  Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint, he said. I almost experienced a ministry burn out.

Rest

It is detrimental to your health and sanity to pursue a vision at the expense of living it out.  It’s to our own destruction that we chase after dreams, forgetting to enjoy the blessings we ave received.  It’s the 21st Century’s biggest lie that a full schedule defines our self worth.  Our identity is in Christ, not on our full calendars.  We should be inextricably tied to Christ than to be slavishly chained to our careers.  Stop.  Breathe in.  Observe the Sabbath. Slow down.  Why run yourself into the ground?

  • Are you running on fumes?
  • Are you sick and tired of your schedule?
  • Is your day running you, rather than you running the day?
  • In your busyness, how is your health?
  • In your busyness, how is your spiritual health?
  • What do you need to cut or change so you can take a handle of your life?
  • What would you lose if you make fist things, first?
  • What is stopping you from slowing down?
  • What is God saying to you about your rest?

Embracing Change

Change

Jeremiah 29:11-13, “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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I have always envied people who grew up on the same street.  I have always admired people who have the same friends since they were kids.  I have always appreciated people who attended the same elementary school.  I remember my first day at each of the many schools I attended.  I remember the anxiety I experienced meeting new friends.  My parents never owned a home.  Since they rented houses, we lived in various houses over the years.  I attended four elementary schools, and two high schools.  In the last 16 years, I have lived in three countries, and in seven cities.  All of these moves have created many challenging changes for me.  Interestingly, my calling as a Salvation Army Officer creates regular changes.  Case in point, our recent move from El Cajon to Pasadena!

Like me, most people do not like change.  Although change might be necessary, it can bring about tension, disagreements, and trauma.  Change is hard everywhere, and at any age.  Change is unsettling, and brings many unknowns.  In any organization, change is hard because it requires upsetting the status quo.  It unravels the normal routines.  Change challenges us to adapt to the unfamiliar.

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So, how then do we handle change?  Change is a guaranteed occurrence in life.  Change happens even when we do not realize it.  Most times, we cannot stop change, but we can manage change.   The way we receive and manage change can inspire or discourage others.  The way we handle change can show our level of trust in God.  Success during the change process depends on how we embrace, adapt, and communicate the vision.  As leader a Salvation Army leader, I know it’s incumbent upon me to set the tone of the change.  I want to assure you Rutendo and I here to lead, answer questions, provide feedback, and guidance.  We are here to walk alongside you, to model passion, excitement and enthusiasm about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Although I live a life of many changes, I am slowly getting better at adjusting and adapting to these regular Salvation Army changes.  I hope you all are adjusting well, too.  I pray this change does not make you uncomfortable.  I pray this change can assure you that God is in our midst.  He initiated the change.  He will see us through the change process. Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

  • Do you like change?
  • How do you respond to change?
  • What has been the most difficult change for you?  Why?
  • What has been the best change for you?  Why?
  • What change do you sense God doing around and/or in you?

Welcome Sunday at Pasadena Tabernacle

Written by Lt. Colonel Don McDougald

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This was a special Sunday as we welcomed our new corps officers, Captains Terry and Rutendo Masango. After the rousing song, “Who is on the Lord’s side,” the Masangos were marched to the front preceded by the corps flags. Their daughters were present with other teenagers in the balcony. Lt. Colonels Kyle and Lisa Smith, divisional leaders installed them formally.

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The scripture portion was Matthew. 5:1-16. Captain Masango began his message by remembering a trip to Hawaii to speak at Youth Councils. His grandmother was in Zimbabwe, it was recommended that you not drink the water because it was untreated. But the grandmother drank from a faucet and developed cholera. Four days later she was Promoted to Glory. Both Terry and his brother flew to Zimbabwe for the funeral. She died because she drank water that looked clean but was not pure.

The message for the next few weeks will focus on Heart Purity. Verse 8 in the scripture passage records that Matthew was a tax collector and was good at gathering information. Matthew point in his book was to prove that Jesus was the Lord. The book contains 5 main teachings of which chapters 5, 6 and 7 were the main teaching. It encompasses the Sermon on the Mount and begins with the Beatitudes. The Jews were taught that only God could share a blessing on the people. But Jesus was offering a blessing on the people, the workers, the poor, the marganilized. Blessed means “spiritual favors have been placed on you” even if you didn’t deserve them. You are blessed if your heart is pure.

Jesus is talking about the heart which can not be seen. Your spiritual heart is the center of your will, your thoughts, your being, everything that is within you. The heart is where you decide that you love Jesus. It the place of decisiveness and decision. The heart molds your character. Heart disease is first described in Genesis 6:5 “his heart was only evil all the time. Jeremiah 17:9 “the heart is deceitful…” Sin is not so much the action but the conception of the action. Ezekiel 36:26 says “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you…”

Pure means clean, unspoiled, without blemish, free from adulteration. A pure heart cannot be tempted and yielding to the temptation is sin. A wise man said “I can not stop birds from flying over my head but I can stop them from making a nest in my hair.” We can’t stop the thought of temptation but we can stop them from controlling our lives. We need to run to God, confess our sins and He will purify us. Matthew 5 reminds us that Jesus described a pure heart as undivided devotion and spiritual integrity. A pure heart is a heart that has been cleansed by the Holy Spirit from all sin. A pure heart denotes integrity. A pure heart is directed by the Word of God and is focused on knowing God.

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting..
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence, Take not they holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and renew a right spirit within me.

Written by Lt. Colonel Don McDougald

An African Love Story

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She was fearful of meeting him again.  She could not get him out of her mind since their meeting on the bus.  He was lighter skinned, slender, and very handsome.  He was charming.  When he spoke, it was as if his words were coated in honey. She listened well.  She latched on to every word he said.  His words were both charming, and intriguing. He told her she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.  He told her that her big, brown eyes beautiful and mesmerizing.  She was slim, shy and unassuming.  Although only 16 years old, she looked mature beyond her years.

She glanced over her shoulder.  There he was.  His handsomeness oozing from every pore of his silky smooth skin.  He just stood there, as if the universe rested on his person. Her head went into a tailspin.  She liked him. Yes, the sight of him made her blood boil.  Beyond his obvious attractive physical appearance, she liked his sense of rebelliousness.  Around him was an air of mischief that both scared and fascinated her.

He had been a star academic pupil at his Christian all boys boarding school.  He and some of his friends used to jump over the fence to go drink alcohol in the surrounding villages.  They also smoked cigarettes together.  Soon the school leadership found out.  The boys faced the wrath of the school leadership, as well as the discipline from their homes. The naught boys promised to change.  But, the boys were soon back to their old ways.  After a few rounds of punishments, followed by unkept promises, the school leadership expelled the boys from the school.

He went to the city to live with his married sister’s family.  His brother in law got him a job at the bus company where he worked.  He kept drinking alcohol, and smoking cigarettes.  She did not mind.  She liked him.  Love can incapacitate one’s logic. Love can rob one of their reasoning capacity.  She threw all caution to the wind.  She ran towards him. She ran towards his open arms.  They embraced and kissed, before walking towards the bus station.  They were in love. I, and my four siblings, are their offspring.

Mom

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