The Weekly PowerBreak – “Life Lesson From Golf”

It’s interesting what leads to a good afternoon nap. My wife and I began turning on professional golf by which to relax. After all, the announcers always talk in a gentle almost whisper and when you are awake the scenery is generally relaxing. One thing I’ve noticed in watching golf is the way it pictures life. There is the standard which is called “par.” Anything better than that is good to really good or even exceptional. Rarely does a golfer hold to the “exceptional” status. Instead, he or she may have great success on one or two holes then for some reason hit a shot way out of line. The key I have noticed is how the winner handles his mistakes or “bad shots.” Since it’s hard for athletes to hold back their pursuit of perfection and get frustrated when anything less than perfection takes place, a winner does not act like the bad shot is some strange thing, instead he or she in stride figures out the best way to get back in the game. I believe I’ve heard announcers call this an “up and down.” Anyway, you and I generally live far from the line of perfection, so rather than get frustrated as if a strange thing has happened, it’s best to just do what is necessary to get back in the race of life.

Wow, that sounds admonition found in the Bible!

1 Peter 4:12–13 (ESV) — 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

We all face fiery trials, some fiery than others but trials there shall be. The writer of the book of 1st Peter sure faced his share. Remember what Jesus told him when he acted like he was on the road to perfection?

Luke 22:31–34 (ESV) — 31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”

The Lord doesn’t call us to perfection, rather he calls us to be steadfast in our commitment to Him. In that steadfastness, keeping our eyes upon Him, we can face the setbacks and know He will see us through.

Psalm 37:23–24 (ESV) — 23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; 24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.

Proverbs 24:16 (ESV) — 16 for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.

Notice again the words of Peter in facing setbacks from time to time and not getting frustrated as though some strange thing has happened:

1 Peter 1:6–9 (ESV) — 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

And to whom did Peter write this inspired admonition from God? To those who are God’s chosen people, for whom a great inheritance awaits, those to whom He brought new life:

1 Peter 1:3–5 (ESV) — 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

When you are having “one of those days,” when you have missed the mark and you feel like getting frustrated, maybe like some of the golfers who slam their clubs down, curse, or maybe hold it back but you can tell they are very frustrated – remember God is in control and He uses even the “bad shots” of life to teach us lessons about ourselves and about Him – namely we can’t do life without Him and with Him no matter what we face – it’s good.

Romans 5:1–5 (ESV) — 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

One of the things I appreciate about golf is that I know I’m not good at it, but I respect those who are. I admire most of the golfers who take whatever happens as an opportunity rather than a frustration. I find myself seeking to apply what I see in their “up and down” to my times of being off course from making a bad shot, asking God to help me get back in the race.

May God encourage you to find instruction from this little lesson from golf.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Dealing With Disappointment”

There are thousands of reasons to feel disappointment every day. Some things we just brush off as trivial and other things really get under our skin, blast our emotions, and overtake our very being. How we deal with disappointment is a choice and we would all have to admit that sometimes we have not made very good choices as we allow disappointment to conquer our character and bring us down. Let’s look at disappointment and a scene from the Bible.

There was a man named Jonah in the Bible who was a prophet of God which meant he was God’s mouthpiece. When God wanted a word said to the people, He would speak through a prophet in those days. Jonah was given the task to go to Nineveh and tell them God was going to destroy the place in 40 days. We all know the story of how Jonah ran from God’s orders and ended up in a storm on the sea, being thrown into the sea and swallowed by a great fish prepared by God. Jonah repented while in the belly of the great fish and was willing to do whatever God wanted him to do, so God caused the fish to spit up Jonah and he went to Nineveh and preached God’s message. Lo and behold, the people repented and God showed mercy to them, which made Jonah very disappointed, and caused him to be angry with God. Jonah did not like the people of Nineveh and we are told that he ran from God’s call knowing that God would show mercy to people he didn’t much care for. When God did show mercy to the people of Nineveh, he was beyond disappointment; he was ticked off.

Jonah 4:2-3 (ESV) 2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

Have you ever felt like that? You were sure God had plans for you and they didn’t work out so out of your disappointment you let God have it. Maybe you didn’t verbally tell God off, but you thought about it.

The story of Jonah and his disappointment is the fact that Jonah missed out on the good that God was doing all about him, in him, and for him. Jonah was saved from the storm and the whale’s belly. Jonah was given great success as a preacher in that the people to whom he preached really responded. But Jonah was disappointed because things didn’t turn out the way Jonah thought they should. Before we pile on Jonah too much, consider how many times we dwell on the disappointments of life and miss out on the good God is doing in us, around us, and even for us. Take a step back and see if that doesn’t apply to your present situation.

We often quote Romans 8:28 to someone who is in the midst of a disappointment and may be angry with God. But in order to get the impact and understand what good God is bringing, we need more of the text.

Romans 8:28-30 (ESV) 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s purpose is that we would become like Jesus. In other words, He is developing our character. Like Jonah’s character was developed and God’s lessons learned through his disappointment, so his eyes were opened to a much greater view of God’s love and mercy, as well as His sovereignty to do as God pleases and what He pleases is always perfect. Likewise, whenever we face disappointment we can know that God is working in us and around us and through us to reach others in ways we may never know.  God knows that we would never grow without the disappointment.

This account may not make your disappointment any easier, but you can know that your disappointment is not an evidence God has deserted you. Rather, He is taking you to a higher plane of knowing Him and His love for you that you would not have known otherwise. A greater understanding of His love leads to a greater reliance upon His power.  This power, even in the midst of the disappointment, is able to bring about great things in and through your life.

Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Consider This”

We are constantly asked by others or demanded via commercials to consider one thing or another.  In other words, there is a vying for your attention and more than just attention, your consideration.  First let’s define it.  To consider is to think carefully about (something), typically before making a decision.  So there is much that comes across or passes through our minds eye, but there are those things in particular about which we give careful thought or consideration.

1 Samuel 12:24 (ESV) — 24 Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.

As the prophet Samuel was preparing the people for his passing from the scene, the people begged him to never cease to pray for them to which he presented a litany of instructions, including the words, “consider what great things he (God) has done for you.

Well, that would certainly be good instructions for each of us on a daily basis. If you had to make a list of ten things right now, what would it be?  Can you list ten things that God has done for you or ten blessings, if you please?  What a great way to begin your day. If you can’t think of anything else, you can consider the words of Jeremiah when he was stuck in a complaining attitude:

Lamentations 3:21–24 (ESV) — 21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

If you need some additional help in positive contemplation or reflection, also known as consideration, then notice what else the Bible says as we get the instruction to consider:

Matthew 6:25–30 (ESV) — 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Luke 12:24 (ESV) — 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!

Psalm 8:3–4 (ESV) — 3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

Haggai 1:5–6 (ESV) — 5 Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

Hebrews 12:3 (ESV) — 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

The world may tell us to consider this or that, but God says to consider His wonderful works, His care for us, His consideration of us, our ways – even the consequences of failing to be totally devoted in our walk with God, and of course the Lord Jesus who endured it all on our behalf.  Bottom line, we must take time to consider the works and words of God or we’ll find ourselves missing out as we consider everything else but what is really important.  No wonder God commanded Job to stop and consider the wondrous works of God.

Job 37:14 (ESV) — 14 “Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Taking Instruction”

There is something in all of us that makes us resist taking instruction. It’s called pride and the Bible warns us about falling into the trap.

Proverbs 15:32 (ESV) — 32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.

Proverbs 13:18 (ESV) — 18 Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored.

When is the last time you heard a proven way of doing things but decided to try it on your own and blow off the advice you just heard? When is the last time you tuned out what you were hearing while thinking, I don’t need to do that, I can just…

That’s what people do in regard to clear instruction in the Scripture and that makes it clear that they are satisfied with living in darkness rather than light.

John 3:17–19 (ESV) — 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

Do you love instruction? When you get instruction, do you actually receive it and more importantly do you act upon it?

Several years ago, I was ministering in Brazil and my friend who was driving us to each appointment set out on a 15-hour trip without specific directions to the destination within the city to which we were going. However, when we arrived in the city where I was to preach he asked directions and unbelievably he got us to the exact location and on time. All it took was being humble enough to ask for instruction, then respond by acting upon those instructions.

How diligent are you when it comes to acting upon instruction? Do you follow it, or do you put it aside and try to come up with your own way? That’s the way of pride and it’s sure to fail.

Proverbs 11:2 (ESV) — 2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

Proverbs 29:23 (ESV) — 23 One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.

How about when it comes to God’s Word? Are you willing to take the instruction? It’s filled with instruction, as you know.

2 Timothy 3:16–17 (ESV) — 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Whether we read and study the Word of God, or we sit under the preaching or teaching of God’s Word, we are to understand this is God’s instruction and we are to take it and act upon it.

2 Timothy 4:1–4 (ESV) — 1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

James 1:19–25 (ESV) — 19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

May you be a wise person this week by taking instruction when it is presented, by pushing away your pride and receiving what is said, and by acting upon it without procrastination. It’s the way to have a great week.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “I’ll Just Take My Ball And Go Home”

Have you noticed how this passive aggressive action seems to be most prevalent today? People seem ready to walk out on marriages, contracts, and vows at the drop of a hat. And what is behind their actions of leaving? More often than not is a desire to hurt the people or organization for not doing things in accordance with their way of thinking. It’s very much like a child who owns the ball with whom other children are playing, but when he doesn’t get his way he picks the ball up and walks off.

What would Jesus say to such action? How is this addressed in the Bible?

We know there are times when there will be conflict with others no matter what the organization be it in the world, in marriage, or in the church. The Bible teaches clearly that we are all sinners and even those who have been saved by the grace of God and have the power of the Spirit within, they still have an old and selfish nature that seeks to be predominant and wants to hurt all that stand in the way. Therefore, when two or more people are involved you have multiple sin natures at war within which often moves without.

Romans 3:23 (ESV) — 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 8:7–11 (ESV) — 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Even so, the Bible is also clear that we are to do all that we can to live at peace or get along with others, and we do that by living in submission to God’s word, thereby submitting to one another.

Romans 12:18–21 (ESV) — 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Philippians 2:1–4 (ESV) — 1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

There is no room for quitting and seeking to hurt others by taking your ball and leaving. Again, that passive aggressive behavior is not Christian and will only make you an isolated miserable person that is lacking in basic relationship skills.

Let’s go back to a basic premise that is often overlooked. The most hurtful passive aggressive seems to center around relationships where a vow has been made, particularly in marriages and church relationships. It’s almost like the enemy works at tearing apart the family and the church but God has spoken on this as well.

Ecclesiastes 5:4 (ESV) — 4 When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow.

Ephesians 5:18–21 (ESV) — 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Ephesians 5:22–28 (ESV) — 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Matthew 18:10–14 (ESV) — 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Matthew 18:15–20 (ESV) — 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

God has a way of dealing with difficult situations and that is why the word submission is used. We submit to one another, even when a person is wrong, we submit to their need of being rescued by apply the word of God in understanding and love. Never does the Scripture exhort us to seek another’s hurt by walking away. Passive aggression is NOT biblical, therefore does not come from God or honor God when applied. Passive aggression actions never solve anything and only create greater problems.

May God help us all to stop and think before we “take our ball and go.” May He help us live by His word and do all that we can to be at peace, promote peace, and honor Him by submitting to His word and the needs of others.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker