Handling Loss

Have you ever been on a long road trip? Most of us have.  The first road trip I ever went on was when I was in elementary school and my grandparents decided to take me with them to Florida in an RV. It was about a 24-hour trip.  At first I was excited about it, but then after about 1 hour I asked the question: “Are we there yet?”  And for the next 23 hours I would ask that question over and over again.  My grandfather got frustrated with me and I never understood his frustration until I took my children on a road trip.

Herod is king when Jesus is born in Bethlehem. He hears about some wise men from the east coming to worship “the king of the Jews.”  Herod is disturbed by this, because he is king, and now someone is being born will replace him … never!!!  He secretly meets the Magi and says, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him” (Matthew 2:8).  Herod did not want to come and worship – He wanted to scope out the competition.

The Magi are then told in a dream to not go back to Herod and tell him where the Christ-child was going to be born.  Herod is furious. He gives the order to murder every boy under the age of 2. But Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt to protect Jesus!  I want us to focus on Herod because he symbolizes something we all struggle with as people … LOSS.  And this becomes so much bigger during the holidays.

  •  If you lost your job it becomes difficult to buy gifts for your wife or children.
  • If you lost a family member this year the holidays become difficult because this is the first one without them.
  • If you lost your health it may be difficult to be thankful because of the challenge you are facing.

Maybe this year your marriage broke up or a friend turned their back on you – and this year has been marked by a loss of relationship! And seeing people holding hands celebrating the holidays frustrates you because you are alone.  And when things don’t go your way you feel like you have lost your way or lost your purpose and Christmas becomes a burden.

All of us have to learn how to handle loss – how to deal with the reality that things did not go well and now I have to put on a phony smile and act like everything is ok.  You see, King Herod was feeling he was about to lose some things – his position, his power and his presence over that region.  And he did not handle it the right way.  He handled loss with deceit, manipulation and murder.

And I know that many have faced loss this year and may be even fearing loss in the future!  You see, I am not sure you can enjoy the holiday season – Christmas – without first looking at your challenges.  Maybe you feel like the Charlie Brown Christmas is your annual tradition – but I believe if we can learn some lessons from the life of Herod in this story we will come out better, not bitter.

You may feel like the only one who is having a difficult time right now. Can I give you some news – “You are not.”  There are a lot of people all around us that are facing loss – they aren’t excited about putting up the lights or buying a tree or even shopping for gifts.

And you are asking God, “Are we there yet?”  What you are asking: “Is this season over?” “I don’t know if I can handle any more.” “The drive has been too long – I am exhausted, discouraged and hurting.”

Let me encourage you today – Paul facing some difficulty said: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns”(Philippians 1:6).

God is going to get you there. He is going to finish what he has started in your life!  Herod could not handle the potential loss of his position and power because he did not embrace Jesus.  I have discovered this: “It is impossible to handle great loss without a great Savior.”  Herod rejected Jesus … he resisted him.

Handling loss is made easier in Jesus, not easy, but easier!

We Are Just Gettin’ Started.

I believe that every person has God-given, God-created potential.  So many people are untapped in their potential.  It is amazing that only 10% of the human brain is maximized in the average person.  10%! Imagine what we could accomplish with 15% usage.

What’s your potential? That’s a huge question with significant implications. For 12 years of ministry before Point Church God was building my resume and strengthening my potential. I would not change a single thing in this journey. Everything I have experience has shaped me for what I am doing today.

I believe that God has called Point Church to a BIG-TIME dream – unbelievable potential.  I can’t wait to look back 10 years from now to see what we become.  Our potential is powerful! I look at all the people that are part of our church and I am amazed. So many gifts, talents and abilities are being redeemed for God’s Kingdom. The Point Church is truly a place where reality and imagination are colliding.

One of the ministry mantras we have embraced is “We must let the size of our God determine the size of our dreams!” The God we serve is huge. He is able to do far beyond what we could ever ask, hope or imagine!

Point Church is just getting started!  I pray we always increase our faith capacity – allowing the Holy Spirit to direct our lives in every single area of ministry.  The best is yet to come!!!

Thankful.

Thanksgiving2014

I am blessed.  There I said it.  I am not ashamed of it or pridefully bragging.  I am celebrating the goodness of God.  Even if I do not have the Audi I always wanted or the house on the North Shore of Long Island – I am blessed.

God has blessed me with …

  1. A relationship with him through Jesus Christ.
  2. An amazing bride in Mary Bishop
  3. Three healthy and happy kids – Malachi, Abigayl & Bethany.
  4. Family and friends.
  5. A wonderful church – Point Church

Notice my greatest blessings have nothing to do with STUFF.  It has everything to do with people.  Be thankful for the people God has placed around you.  Family & friends are what makes life so much better.

Recognize today: YOU are blessed.  WE are blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Handling Criticism.

I have discovered that the more you succeed or excel people will criticize you.  It does not matter what field you are in – business, church, education or politics.  Criticism comes with the territory.  So if you want to lead – be ready for negative comments.  If you have a drive succeed – expect the haters to come out of the dark.

Jesus faced criticism.  He hardly ever responded.  The religious always threw insults and negative comments in Jesus’ direction.  But when Jesus responded He was direct (Matt 18:15).  He did not skate around the issue.  But He never took it personal either.  Jesus focused on what was said and not how he felt about it (Mark 3:23-26).

So here’s how I handle criticism:

  1. If they are not my friends I reject their criticism.  I choose not to listen to those who are outside my circle.  I only allow those who compliment me to criticize me.
  2. I look at any criticism and ask, “Is there any merit?”  In others words, I find that sometimes what I label as unjust criticism is really someone seeing a red flag that I have missed.
  3. If the criticism is right – I make a course correction.  I will not wait for someone else to adjust me – I make immediate adjustments.
  4. If the criticism is wrong – I eject it from my heart.  I refuse to let it take root.  I can’t meditate on it … so I just change my focus.  I get back on track asap.
  5. I ignore critics.  I don’t respond.  I won’t respond.  I will not give them the satisfaction of “stealing” my attention.  I don’t have to defend myself – I have the best advocate.
  6. I won’t take it personal.  I have learned that ‘hurting people hurt people.’  People who walk around with critical comments for everything are just exposing their own hurts and brokenness.

All of us are going to face criticism – especially once you start to really excel.  If you want to be liked by everyone stay where you are – but if you want to succeed get ready for the haters and debaters to come out of the woodwork.

But the best advice are the words of Jesus, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you …” (Matthew 5:44).

Developing A Winning Mindset

One of the the things that I have discovered is that as God brings you UP, the enemy wants to bring you DOWN.  And in order to stay on the path of God’s blessings we have to determine to remain strong.

So how do you do that? First, you have to recognize YOU WILL WIN.  No matter what you experience you will always be given victory … the Bible declares, “But I thank God, who always leads us in victory because of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14 – GWT).  When the enemy comes in and tries to discourage you … just remind him of his future!

Second, you have to KEEP YOUR FOCUS. The main tactic of the enemy is to distract you.  He wants to get your eyes on your problems and off of Jesus.  Don’t let him. Keep your focus on Jesus.  No matter how long you serve God or how successful you become you will always face attacks.  Paul told the church in Corinth: “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen” (2 Corinthians 4:18).  In other words keep your focus on what God will do.

When the enemy sends an all out assault – don’t get discourage … remain strong – He is only messing with you because YOU HAVE GREAT POTENTIAL!  If God is blessing that’s when the devil starts messing.  Stand your ground. Be strong.  God will elevate your life at just the right time!!!

New Devils.

The enemy will not sit by and watch you experience the blessings and favor of God without an all out assault on you!  The Bible says that the enemy’s job is to “seek, kill and destroy” you.  Here’s what I have learned: “What bothered you 1 year ago may not bother you today – so the enemy needs to create a new scheme.”  As you go up the enemy wants to bring you down.

When God opens up doors for you understand not every person is going to be excited for you!  You may be single – praying about God bringing you the right person – and the enemy will send you some person to help you lose your way.  Married … the enemy may send some “distraction” into your marriage … bills, repairs … you name it … he will use it.  So as you go up … never forget the enemy wants to bring you down.

So how do you remain strong? First, you have to recognize YOU WILL WIN.  No matter what you experience you will always be given victory … the Bible declares, “But I thank God, who always leads us in victory because of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14 – GWT).  When the enemy comes in and tries to discourage you … just remind him of his future!

Second, you have to KEEP YOUR FOCUS. The main tactic of the enemy is to distract you.  He wants to get your eyes on your problems and off of Jesus.  Don’t let him. Keep your focus on Jesus.  No matter how long you serve God or how successful you become you will always face attacks.  Paul told the church in Corinth: “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen” (2 Corinthians 4:18).  In other words keep your focus on what God will do.

When the enemy sends an all out assault – don’t get discouraged … remain strong – He is only messing with you because YOU HAVE GREAT POTENTIAL!

Problems will not last

So often we get discouraged when we are in the challenge we are facing … and all too often we feel like the situation will never change.  Too many people find themselves just staying stuck because they believe the lie that these problems have become my identity.  No … your identity is in Jesus Christ!

Problems come because they are part of life … The Bible says, “… rain falls on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).  In others words, we will all have some pretty bad days … but a bad day or a bad break does not have to become a bad life!  Things do change.

Maybe you feel like Job’s twin. Job was the person in the Bible who lost everything in a matter of moments. Yes, Job was devastated.  He could have just believed that the problems he was facing would never end … no … the Bible declares, “… the LORD restored his fortunes. In fact, the LORD gave him twice as much as before” (Job 42:10).

I believe God is about to RESTORE what has been removed … and not just replace it … but give you twice as much.  Don’t get stuck believing that your problems will never leave … or your situation will never change!

Problems are not final.

To be honest, I believe God uses problems.  In Psalm 119:71 David said, “My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.”  Pain and problems are great teachers.  Never forget God does not cause problems – but He will use them!

You will outlast your obstacles and persevere through your problems!  God has more in front of you.  Keep looking forward.