Potential

June 2, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Alan Mowbray –

William Shakespeare wrote, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Or would it? If Donald Trump changed his name to Gladys Smith, would all the prestige, trust, and brand recognition follow him to his new name? Hardly.

Our names are important. They appear to be an empty slate when we are born; yet, when our parents named us, they bestowed upon us part of God’s plan for us—potential waiting to be realized as we grow and learn. Have you ever wondered how your name fits into God’s plan for your life?

In Acts 4, a man named Joseph sold some land and gave all the proceeds to the apostles for the use of the young church. He received great honor and blessing for this act. His name means “he will add.” Prior to this, he had been given the nickname of Barnabas, which, as stated in verse 36 means “son of encouragement.” Was he living up to his name?

Israel sent 12 spies into the Promised Land to scope out the situation. Only two had a positive report upon return. Do you remember their names? Joshua and Caleb.

Joshua means “Jehovah is Salvation.” His report to Moses, if followed, would have permitted a whole generation to see the Promised Land. He saw that the Lord would see them through. Because his report was unheeded, that generation perished in the wilderness.

Caleb, whose name means “dog”(as in tenacious fighter, loyal), yearned to enter the Promised Land as well, boldly asking for the most dangerous lands to conquer—at eighty years of age..

Barnabas honored God with his giving. A couple named Ananias and Sapphira coveted the honor and blessing that Barnabas received and sold some land as well. Their story in Acts 5 does not have a happy ending. Conspiring to steal honor and blessing they lied about the sale total to the Holy Spirit and the apostles. That lie carried a price of immediate death.

The name Ananias means “Grace of God.” He took advantage that grace. And, with a meaning like “Woman of Beauty,” isn’t it sad that such a beautiful name as Sapphira is considered cursed by the world?

So the question is… How sweet is the fragrance of your name to God? Is its scent filled with the vision of provision that God has promised you, or does it stink of defeats, compromises, and lies to the Holy Spirit? Looking at myself, I’m not pleased. There are parts of my life that are flowing great, while other parts reveal weakness, failure, and deception. And still He loves me. Praise God for his grace!

As for the other ten spies, here are their names and meanings:

Shammah – Renowned, or heard of God

Shapat – Judge, to judge or avenge

Igal – Avenger

Palti – Deliverance from the Lord

Gaddiel – the fortune of God

Gaddi – Fortunate

Ammiel – People of God

Sethur – Hidden

Nahbi – also means Hidden

Geuel – Majesty of God

What if each of these men had returned an honest and accurate report instead of doubt?

Would their names be honored like Joshua and Caleb?

What if?

Father God, whose name is the Name Above All Names, I praise you! Thank you for my name. Guide me in fulfilling the destiny to which it is linked. As a child grafted into the vine, I will strive to honor my Father’s name through my actions. I ask for wisdom and draw from your love and strength to release that potential which you have given me. Glorified is your Name! Amen!

Too Much Salt

February 7, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Alan Mowbray  –

We all know about salt. You put it on french fries, potato chips, pretty much anything your mother-in-law cooks (well, not mine, of course), and foods that just don’t make your tongue dance.

Why? ‘Cause it tastes good. Well, technically, that’s actually the result of using salt, but it doesn’t answer the question of why adding salt makes things taste good.

Salt is a flavor enhancer. Those of you that bake know that recipes for sweets often have a bit of salt added. It’s there just to make the sugar and other ingredients taste better. This is where the “Salt” part of this comes from.

As a Christian, the Word tells me (Matthew 5: 13-16) that I am “…the salt of the earth.” This is a description of who I am – or should be. Salt enhances flavors; not by making them saltier, but rather, by enhancing the flavors already present in the other ingredients.

If I am to be salt, my life, my actions and my character should enhance the life of others. How I think, speak, act, and interact should be run through this filter of: “Am I actually making this other person’s life ‘taste’ better to them, or am I actually making it worse?

Worse? How could that be?
Did you ever put too much salt on something? Bleh!

By being a bit too overbearing and lording our Christianity over others, we can cause their taste for Christ to bitter. Our lifestyle, demeanor, reaction to adversity, and etc. all reflect on whether we are enhancing the flavor of others’ lives or whether we are too “salty.”

When first learning how to witness my faith to others, I was trained to boldly confront everyone with the message of Jesus Christ, but the tactics I was trained to use gave ME a bad taste in MY mouth. I couldn’t stomach banging on a stranger’s door, asking him if he know where he would go if he died tonight, and telling him he was destined for hell if he wasn’t saved… not that this is necessarily bad, but is it a proper use of our loving salt?

Was I enhancing these people’s lives, or did they shut the door on me – solidifying their belief that Christians were pathetic and highly annoying losers? Even worse, there were times when the people I was with got into arguments with them.

Would you say that walking around picking fights on unsuspecting people is counterproductive, yet being ready for a fight, if you are attacked, is prudent? Using this thought pattern, let’s compare confrontational witnessing versus living a holy lifestyle – ready, at a moment’s notice, to explain why when asked?

I’ve spent a few years tossing this issue in my head and I understand now that I was being too salty. Instead of enhancing and watering seedlings of hope and faith, I was flooding them with briny, brackish fleshly water.

Now, I still believe that one should tell others about Jesus, but I’ve changed my personal message. It’s no longer – “HERE’S WHAT JESUS CAN DO FOR YOU IF ONLY YOU’D JUST BELIEVE – YOU IDIOT!!!!!” My message is now – “Here’s what Jesus does for me every day, even though I don’t deserve it!”

When you become salt of the world, you aren’t pushing the Gospel down people’s throats; you’re living life with them – loving them. That is true witnessing. That’s what Jesus did.

We are here to enhance the lives of others. Done in love, our lives too, will taste sweeter as a result.

This Little Light is None of Your Business!

December 30, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Alan Mowbray –

As a child, I remember singing the words,

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine! (Verse 3X)
(Chorus)…Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine.

The next verse started,

Hide it under a bushel, No! I’m gonna let it shine…

We sang this in Sunday School. We sang it in Vacation Bible School. We sang it at summer camp. We sang it on the road to…. everywhere.

So what happened?

We don’t sing this song anymore. We, as a people in this country, claim that our faith is a – ahem (holy clearing of the throat) – private matter. Shhhhhhhh. Let’s all whisper in the glory of our private, personal holiness. From politicians, fellow employees, friends, family, we’ve all heard the phrase, “My faith is a private matter.”

Puleeeze! This is a deception from the pit of hell!

As people who worship the Most High God, the King of kings, our Creator, and our Father, Who loves us and Whose thoughts of each of us number greater than the sands on the shore… isn’t a bit strange that we feel the need to hide behind an excuse as weak as privacy?

Isn’t this the same God Who sent His Son to live as man, sinless, and without fault? A Son who then took a beating for our bodies’ healing, while bearing all our sins and paying the ultimate price for those sins – DEATH? Isn’t this the same Saviour who, prior to ascending into heaven, told His disciples – and ultimately, all professing Christians as well – to go forth and preach the gospel to all nations?

In The Message, the Great Commission (remember that?) goes like this:

‘“Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.
Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”’ Matthew 28:16-20 (The Message)

Where did we get the idea that faith is a private matter? And, if you profess to be a Christian and claim that, shame on you! Why profess to be a follower of Christ Jesus at all? Don’t you find it odd today, that the “private Christians” are applauded by the world, while those who stand by their beliefs and refuse to hide behind a “Privacy Please” sign hanging from their spiritual doorknobs are vilified?

Revelation 3:16 (NKJV) states, “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

That’s a pretty hard statement. It describes an involuntary reaction to the taste of something that is unpleasing to God. How does your life, your fruit, taste to your Father God?
I look at myself. I’m guilty in this as well. There are times I have hid behind the privacy excuse as well. Not by saying “It’s a private matter,” but, rather, by not saying anything at all…
…when I should have spoken up.

Lord, forgive me for hiding behind this lie of privacy. I repent. Help me to stand boldly and steadfast, honoring Your Name. Thank You for Your grace. Amen.

DIY Guy Learns a Valuable Lesson

November 19, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Alan Mowbray –

A few days ago, I was in a panic.

I had been working on my MINI Cooper–installing control arm bushings and other parts that, when I had the car at the shop a couple months ago, the dealer had recommended replacing. With a $2500+ price tag on the parts and labor, I figured it was time for DIYGuy!

Dun Dun Duuuuuuuuuuuuuun!

Well, everything was going great for DIYGuy until he realized that when he popped the ball joints loose on the lower front control arms, he had damaged the threads beyond repair. Even worse, in trying to extract the ball joints, DIYGUY discovered that the dastardly RustMonster had attacked and welded them into place with his deterioration ray.

Things were not looking good for our plucky superhero…

What would happen if he had to admit that he had bitten off more than he could chew, requiring him to call the dreaded AAA, tow the MINI to the dealer, and kowtow to the eeeevil masterminds of S.E.R.V.I.C.E. D.E.P.A.R.T.M.E.N.T., the sworn enemy of his credit card and his secret organization, B.U.D.G.E.T.???

Sensing defeat, DIYGuy decided to go in the house, get a drink of ice cold H2O and collect his thoughts while leaving his sidekick for the day, FriendGuy, in the garage alone–still banging away at the stuck joints.

As DIYGuy sat on a stool in the kitchen pouting, his wife, a superhero herself (on-call basis only) noted his demeanor and asked him how things were going.

Dejected, he poured out his heart.

“I think I took on more than I can handle. Whatever we do, we can’t get the ball joints out of the steering knuckles. RustMonster has frozen them in place and without some sort of miracle, I’m gonna have to call a tow truck and haul this car off to the dealer to finish the job! I don’t know if I can handle the humiliation!”

His wife–Proverbs31Girl, as she is known in circles that know such things–put her arm around her man softly.

“Why don’t we pray about it?”

Inwardly, kicking himself for not thinking of going to his Lord and Master to begin with, DIYGuy agreed.

And pray she did! Without warning, she attacked Discouragement in the name of the King of all Kings! Spinning around, she ground Doubt under her feet, claiming the authority given to her by her Lord and Master Jesus Christ. Screaming in fear, Frustration and the rest of his cowering minions ran away in defeat, stunned at the brutal assault sustained just by the mere mention of the protection given to Proverbs31Girl and DIYGuy by God Almighty–all because of their sworn acceptance of his Son and the sacrifice He had made for them on the cross.

When the battle was over, DIYGuy raised his head and kissed her softly.

“Thank you, my love, for reminding me to whom I should call on in times of trouble.”

She smiled at him.

CRASH! THUNK! The noise came from the garage.

“Got ‘em!” FriendGuy hollered. Even the evil RustMonster couldn’t stand in the face of the promises of God.

Later that night, after test-driving the repaired, upgraded, and smooth-as-silk MINI around the neighborhood, I crawled into bed with a thankful, humbled heart. Once again I had been reminded why God had matched me up with a woman such as my wife. She was a complement to my weaknesses and vice versa.

“Goodnight, Proverbs31Girl.”

“Goodnight, DIYGuy.”

As I drifted off to sleep, I thanked God one more time for blessing me with this woman.

“My pleasure, son. Sleep well.”

The Restful Life

September 29, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Alan Mowbray –

I tend to focus on things that are life enhancing. Part of it is probably personality, but there is a real benefit and purpose behind this: it’s restful.

When life happens, it seems so easy to focus on money woes, car maintenance bills, the broken transmission on the lawnmower, children who have to be told a million times to do something, politics, politicians, the plot line of a favorite TV show, that pain in your shoulder… no. Stop. I have control in this situation.

Why are people who focus on the positive always happy, even in adversity? Are they just happy people? Are they immune to sadness? Are they incapable of taking anything seriously? Hardly. It’s because they don’t focus on the bad. They make a choice to look to positive things. And in doing so, they do not walk alone when dealing with what life hands them. They’re living what I call The Restful Life.

In the Book of Philippians, Paul writes—while in prison mind you—“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies” (Philippians 4:6-9 MESSAGE).

When your situation is at the center of your life, you open yourself up—handing over control to your emotions. Paul learned a better way—let Christ displace worry at the center of your life. He said it was wonderful living a restful life. Where did he learn this? Because Jesus said it, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:23 NKJV).

Jesus Christ is our rest. He encourages us to lay our worries, concerns, burdens, habits, and etc. at His feet. When we have a problem, it’s not time to dwell on it; it’s time to go to God.

Always. Try to make it a habit in your life.

Remember, He is your Savior, your Father and your Helpmeet. Instead of being discouraged, ask for His wisdom. Rather than ruminating on your circumstances, remind yourself of what He has done for you. In the midst of it all, thank Him for His guidance. Once the situation is resolved, don’t forget to give Him the glory and tell others about what He did for you. Always tell someone… their faith will be built up because of your successes in Him.

Here’s Jesus’ words again, this time in the Message translation. I just love this:  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:23 MESSAGE).

Yeah… living the restful life. That’s my choice.

How ‘bout you?

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