Christmas: God is With Us!

December 24, 2011

Isaiah 7:14  says, “Therefore, the Lord will give you a sign:  The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and you shall call Him Immanuel.

 

Immanuel means “God with us.” 

 

God came down from heaven to be WITH US.  He made it possible for us to be with Him.

I met Immanuel as a 12 year old boy.  I can tell you for a fact that He has been WITH ME.

God was WITH ME…..

  • He was reaching out to me and drawing me to Him as a 12 year old.
  • As I jumped on the church bus and began to learn about the Bible and get to know Him, He drew me near.
  • He was WITH ME as I lead the devotions for my high school football team before games in my senior year.
  • He was WITH ME as I met Marla in college and we were married.
  • He was WITH ME as each of my kids were born.
  • During times of loss, like my dad and my grandparents, He was WITH ME.
  • He is WITH ME now as I lead my family and church.

I am thankful tonight for the little baby that was born, willing to be WITH ME.  He emptied Himself of the benefits and luxury of being in heaven and came to Earth as a baby.  He grew up and died a terrible death, paying the price for my sin.  He knew what was required, but like a real man-the baby came.

AND HE IS WITH ME!

I hope you have a Merry Christmas.  Remember that God sent Jesus and that’s why we celebrate Christmas.

Immanuel.  God is with us!

 

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Unexplainable Coincidences

December 22, 2011

“Unexplainable coincidences” seem to be a lot more common for Christ Followers than to the population at large.  (Answers to Prayer)

An old friend asked me to give an example of an “Unexplained Coincidence.”  Here’s one:

When Marla and I first got married, I was an Operations Manager.  In my mid-20’s, I had a pretty good resume with about 120 people under my management.

After a couple of years, I felt like it was time for me to move on so I began sending out resumes.  My resume was strong and I sent out about 100 resumes.  I didn’t get ONE PHONE CALL from a prospective employer.  Not one!

I prayed, “God, either You want me to stay here or I’m looking in the totally wrong direction.”  Someone should have called unless you are preventing it.

Marla said, “Eddie, I think God may want you to go into full time ministry.”  I wasn’t convinced but I agreed to send out 3 resumes.

It was crazy!  Suddenly, lot’s of potential churches were lining up to talk to me about being their youth pastor, from only 3 resumes.

Realizing that I may have to move from Tennessee and also that my family wouldn’t understand, I prayed, “God, if that’s what you want from me, all I ask is that you let me know 100% that it’s You talking to me and not bad pizza from last night.”

Marla & I went to Charlotte, NC for an interview at a church.  We didn’t feel good about the church after the interview but we promised to pray about it for a week.

In the meantime another church in Charlotte, Woodlawn Baptist, called.  I told them, “I’m praying about a church right now.  I’m supposed to give them an answer in a week.  If I don’t feel like that church is God’s will for us, I’ll call you back in a week.”

Woodlawn said, “ok” and hung up.  After a week of praying, we told the first church “no.”  Upon calling the Woodlawn back, they said, “Eddie, last week you were praying about another church.  This week, we’re praying about another candidate.  Sorry….”

Another week went by, then Woodlawn called me back.  They said, “Eddie, the guy we were talking to about the position was in Alabama.  He was perfect in our opinion, but he turned us down.  In turning us down he asked us, ‘Would I be out of line if I recommended someone for this position?’”

Guess who this Alabama boy recommended would be a great fit for this church in Charlotte, North Carolina?  He told them to call a guy in Tennessee.  Eddie Poole

So…

God had someone in Charlotte give Woodlawn Baptist my resume.

Woodlawn called me.

I told them no.

They called someone in Alabama who told them to call me.

What are the odds of that?  God answered my prayer.  I told Him “All I ask is that if you want me to move & go into full time ministry, I have to know 100% that it is You leading me.”

Woodlawn could have called anyone in the country, but they called one of 2-3 people in the WORLD who would have pointed them back to me.  I knew that he was leading me into ministry, 100%.  Coincidence?  I think not!

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The LifeSaving Station

December 21, 2011

This parable has been instrumental in helping me keep my priorities straight concerning the local church for many years.  I read it often and pray not to every become like what is described, from a leader’s point of view.  The parable is derived from a story by William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army.  I even have the piece of art below, by Mauricio Palacio,  framed depicting the story.  I hope the story means as much to you as it has to me:

On a dangerous sea coast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves, went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost. Some of those who were saved and various others in the surrounding area wanted to become associated with the station and gave of their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The little life-saving station grew.

Some of the members of the life-saving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. They replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building. Now the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully because they used it as a sort of club.

Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work.

The life-saving motif still prevailed in the club’s decorations, and there was a liturgical life-boat in the room where the club’s initiations were held. About this time a large ship wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boat loads of cold, wet and half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick. The beautiful new club was in chaos. So the property committee immediately had a shower house build outside the club where victims of shipwrecks could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting, there was a split among the club membership.

Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s life-saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club.

Some members insisted upon life-saving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life-saving station. So they did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It evolved into a club, and yet another life-saving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that sea coast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.

——–

I pray that MJLifeChurch never looses sight of our vision.  I pray that we never loose compassion, love, and concern for those that are far from God.

What’s one thing that bothers you about churches, hypocrites, and “Christians” that forget their mission?

This is a great video that shows a bit more of the heart and leadership of Tim Tebow.  Let me know what you think.

What are your thoughts of this video?

BTW, here’s another post that I wrote about Tebow and his faith vs. the media and other doubters:

https://eddiepoole.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/tim-tebow-controversy-2/

If we let our feelings lead us, it always leads us into trouble.   If our feelings lead us, we are prone to:

  • Overeating
  • Saying the wrong things
  • Reasoning ourselves into believing someone “owes” us so we take advantage of them to even the score
  • Unhealthy relationships

I could go on and on.

I had a friend that confided in me once that he was having an affair.  I helped him go through several steps to make the situation right with his wife and with God.  I was really proud of him.  Unfortunately, several months later I learned that the affair with the same woman had started again.  When I confronted him he told me, “Eddie, I prayed for God to take away those feelings that I have for her and He didn’t do that.  So…it must be God’s will that I am with her.”

That’s a perfect example of being led by our “feelings” instead of God’s principles.  That’s also a perfect example of WHY we have to know what God’s Word says.  I’m pretty sure that if my friend had ever read the Bible, he knew that God was against him leaving his wife and kids for another woman.

If our feelings EVER contradict God’s Word, we have to follow God’s Word.

Jesus said, “If anyone wants to come after me, let him DENY himself, pick up his cross, and follow me.”  (Matthew 16:24)   John 3:30 says, “He (God) must increase and I must decrease.”

Basically, when we decide to become a Christ follower we decide that our own will isn’t what we’re going to follow anymore.  We seek and desire to do God’s will every day.  Now that doesn’t mean we won’t stumble or miss it sometime.

We will fall, but there is a difference in those who just “believe” in Jesus and those who FOLLOW Jesus.  Lot’s of people “believe” in Jesus.  Just look at the surveys in America.  Most people will still admit that they believe, but they really aren’t followers of Jesus.   In fact, the book of James tells us that even Satan “believes” and he shudders at the thought of Jesus.

A follower of Christ is actively learning to crucify his own will on a daily basis and follow God’s principles.  This can only happen when a person has a relationship with Jesus.  Another word that can describe a Christ Follower is “disciple,” which comes from the word, “discipline.”  God gives us discipline when we follow Him, spend DAILY time with Him, and learn His what His principles are in the Bible.

Luther Ingram once sang, “If loving you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.”   A “casual believer” in Jesus probably wouldn’t admit it, but that’s the mantra that they live by.   If it feels good, do it!

I want to encourage FOLLOWERS of Jesus to realize that the words of Joyce Meyer is true.  Joyce said,

“You can feel wrong and still do what is right.”

What are some areas that you have seen Christ followers take the High Road on God’s principles when it would have been easy to get even, bring up that damaging event again for revenge, or even eat that third doughnut?

Tim Tebow “Controversy”

December 6, 2011

Did you hear the big controversy surrounding Denver Broncos quarterback, Tim Tebow?

It was covered on the O’Reilly Factor and other major television news outlets.  An arrest warrant was issued last week for failing to pay his child support- no wait, that was Terrell Owens.  Was he arrested for murder, then released for being in the company of a group that stabbed a guy to death?  No.  That was Baltimore Ravens All Pro, Ray Lewis.  Tebow wasn’t even involved in “making it rain” in a strip joint like Pacman Jones.

Tim Tebow’s “controversy” is that he gives glory to God, goes down on one knee after scoring (Now called “Tebowing”), and he talks about his love for Christ publicly.  It’s not that Tebow thinks that God favors the Broncos over the Titans or any other NFL team.  It’s just that Tebow believes that if he is able to do anything good in this life, it’s simply because God gave him the ability to do it and he wants to always remember that.  It’s actually a humble act in his mind and heart of giving God the glory.

Tebow is human and like everyone, he has his faults.  That is perhaps never more obvious than in his college team of choice-the Florida Gators.  (If he was totally following God, he most likely would have played college ball for the Tennessee Vols but that’s another story.  God has forgiven him for that.)   Most likely, his deep rooted convictions will keep him on the path that many young men with sudden wealth and fame of pro sports fall victim to.

One of his critics has been fellow NFL quarterback, Jake Plummer.  Plummer recently said, “i wish he’d just shut up after a game and go hug his teammates.”

Yet another NFL quarterback, Aaron Rogers, claiming to be a devout believer, recently spoke about the issue on ESPN.  He said, “I feel like my stance and my desire has always been to follow a quote from St. Francis of Assisi who said, ‘Preach the gospel at all times.  If necessary, use words.”

Rogers went on to explain that he’s not an “over the top” kind of guy and he would rather have people ask him why he behaves the way he does rather than him telling everyone.  He said this in reference to being asked about Tebow’s outspokenness.

I’m not sure how well that’s working for Rogers.  Before reading the ESPN quote, I actually didn’t have any idea that Rogers was a believer.  His actions just aren’t speaking out to a dark world as loudly as Tim Tebow.  Perhaps Rogers is making a difference with some of his teammates and quietly working behind the scenes.  I know that other NFL players, such as Matt Hasselback of the Titans, are very bold in some of their relationships with teammates about their faith.  There should be more grace given to anyone, be it Rogers or Tebow, if they are truly striving to be the person that God has called them to be.  He has certainly blessed both men with a platform of influence and talent.

Pro athletes are blessed with a lot and Scripture says that if that’s the case, a lot is expected.  Tebow is trying to be the best “Tebow” that he can be, for the God who loves him.  I don’t believe in throwing stones but if you’re going to be throwing them, does a 24 year old young man who is successfully being a good role model to many in this world who needs a role model need to be the target?  I don’t think so.

What are your thoughts?

Life is a Highway

December 3, 2011

My first year as a Student Pastor was filled with lots of adventures.  I know Rascal Flatts sings about “Life is a Highway” and I believe that’s true on several accounts.  On one memorable youth adventure, I was driving the lead van of 5 vans, heading from Charlotte, North Carolina to Asheville, North Carolina, where we were going to a camp called Centrifuge at Ridgecrest.  I had never driven that route before, being a Tennessee boy, but I could handle it.  I was a big boy and there were four other drivers from the Carolinas right behind me.

We were driving along having a great time on the trip.  DC Talk  and Audio Adrenaline were blaring on the radio.  Kids were singing along.  We had the Christian fish plastered on the side of the van.  We were a Jesus party, rolling down the highway, having a blast!

After we had been driving for about two hours, a sign suddenly caught my attention. The sign only had 3 words written on it but it made me suddenly sick to my stomach in the middle of this Jesus fest that we were experiencing.

The sign read, “WELCOME TO VIRGINIA!”

Now I’ve know some really nice people from Virginia and I’ve had a few good visits in my past to Virginia too.  Heck, even George Washington was from Virginia.  The problem with the sign in this situation is that I wasn’t supposed to be anywhere close to Virginia and neither were the four vans that had been following me for the past two hours.

I had missed a sign that instructed those interested in going to Ashville to veer left about an hour and a half earlier.   We weren’t on the right road and were having too much fun to even realize our error.  Even those from North Carolina that were with me didn’t even realize our demise.

I wonder how often we do that today.  We travel along with our lives on cruise control, listening to Christian radio, going to church every week with our families, and even reading our chapter a week in the Bible when we have time.  We usually drop our money in the offering plate too.  We do all the things that Christians are supposed to do in America these days, yet maybe we’re not even on the road that He wants us to be onIt sure seems like a Christian road, to be sure, be just not the right one for us.

We would never do it intentionally, but wouldn’t it be terrible to suddenly realize that we’re not on the right road?   Maybe we just slowly began assuming that we knew His will for our life everyday and began drifting slowly away, bit by bit.  We start thinking that we’ve walked with Him long enough now.  No need to ask Him everyday anymore for His will, right?  It’s pretty much the same thing today as there was yesterday, right?  Go to work.  Go to church.  Pray everyday.  Ditto the next day.

Maybe you’ve worked really hard for the last ten years to buy your dream house.  God would never actually ask you to sell it and spend that extra working time volunteering at the church, would he?  Maybe you enjoy golf.  It’s how you relax.  Jesus would NEVER ask me to actually scale back MY LIFE so that I could invest in the life of a young boy that lost his dad last year, WOULD HE?  Why…. That would actually cause me to have to RE-ADJUST MY LIFE for the Gospel.  God wouldn’t ask anything like that of me, would He???

I’m not really sure that Jesus meant for us to just sit around on the porch of our big home on EASY STREET and ignore the needs around us.  If we really stopped to ask Him, we might find that we missed the road about ten years back.  We would also find a Savior that is willing to say, “Let me help you find your way back to the narrow road.  It’s filled with challenges but there’s nothing more fulfilling than traveling that road.”

Back to the Student Ministry Trip:  I eventually found my way back to Ashville and the kidding has never stopped from those that were on that trip.  I’m sure there will be a few smiles from the former kids and chaperones that were on that trip when they read this post.

The Bible says that many will say, “Lord, didn’t we cast demons out in your name?”   Jesus will then go on and say, “Away from me.  I never knew you.”  Notice he didn’t say “a FEW will say ‘Lord, didn’t we know you?’.”  He said “MANY.”  There will be MANY who thought they knew Jesus but they just knew a little about the Christian lifestyle.  They didn’t know the Savior.

When I was growing up, I used to go to the races every week at Nashville Raceway.  I would get Darrell Waltrip’s autograph every single week.  I followed his whole career.  I was there when he won his first Winston Cup race against the big boys.  Every stat that concerned Darrell, I could tell you.  I had even begun to believe that I knew him until one day I met him as an adult.  As we talked, it dawned on me that he didn’t know that I existed.  He didn’t remember that little kid that came to see him every week years ago back in Nashville.  I knew all about him.  I had him covering my wall in my room, but he didn’t know me.  I was just one of the MANY that thought they knew him.

I pray that you aren’t one of the “MANY” that THOUGHT they were on the “Jesus Train.”   Have you really assessed in your life that you are on the road that He has put you on.  Have you just learned all of the facts and stats about the King of Kings but you really haven’t taken time for Him to hear your “Masters” will for a long time?  Do you actually take time to listen to Him daily and actually ADJUST YOUR LIFE to His will?

Do you REALLY KNOW HIM or have you been trained to act like you do?   I’m not saying we have to have all of the answers.  You can tell by my previous couple of posts that I have LOTS of questions that I don’t understand.  It’s about being real and really seeking Him, adjusting to His will, and trusting Him.

Life is a Highway.  Are you on the right one?   It’s something to think about….