Does getting a “positive” opportunity in your life automatically represent God’s will?  I’ve heard believers say things like “this door has opened for a new job and I know it is God because it is such a great opportunity.”  Is that ALWAYS true?  Could God’s will be for you to go to prison as an innocent man?

Sometimes I’m convinced that God does lead His children to opportunities where they will prosper financially or to opportunities where their gifts will be used in a greater way.  Other times when I’ve heard people give God credit for an opportunity that seems good, I’m not sure He was leading in that direction.

A positive situation is not evidence in itself of the leading of God.  At the same time, a “negative” situation is not evidence of someone “missing” God’s leading.

God has given those who love Him a peace that passes understanding and a joy in their life.  Having said that, I believe that the Bible teaches that God is more concerned about our devotion to Him than He is our “happiness.”  He is more concerned about us leading someone to faith in Him than He is about us getting a raise and being able to provide a few luxuries for our family like cable tv.

Understand that happiness and joy are two different things.  Happiness is temporary and dependent upon our circumstances.  Joy comes from God and is put inside us at a deeper level.  The Apostle Paul learned to be “content” in whatever his circumstances, as he said in Philippians 4.  He wrote his words while in prison, by the way.

The fact that the Apostle Paul was in prison doesn’t mean that he was out of God’s will.  He could have easily been a leader in the Jewish community if he had just toned down the “Jesus” rhetoric a bit.  I’m sure people then could have seen his leadership as proof that God had opened doors for him.  Could it have been that God had “opened the doors” of the prison for him?

Was prison where God had wanted him at that time?  His time in prison certainly gave him the opportunity to spread the gospel to the guards and to Rome.  He may not have had that opportunity if he had not been forced to prison.

The Lord has provided wealth for some so that they can use it to build the Kingdom.  Financial margin is a blessing to be able to help those in need or to lead others to Him and not only to be used to live a life of luxury.  God may lead you to buy a really large house but if that’s the case, it’s probably so that you can use it for Kingdom purposes.

God calls us to live a life of sacrifice for His glory.  Sometimes that may lead His people to “positive” situations, and other times it may lead to a life of poverty or even worse in the world’s eyes.

God led Jim Elliott and Nick Saint to become missionaries but they were martyred as soon as they landed on the mission field.  Many have come to Christ as a result of their story, including the very natives that murdered them.

Their deaths could have meant a couple of different things:

  • They were out of God’s will by going,.
  • Dying for Christ their purpose in that situation.
  • God simply took a bad situation created by free will and used it for good as Romans 8:28 described.

Do you think opportunites that seem positive are always from God?  What do you think the deaths of Jim Elliott and Nick Saint was attributed to?  Is God really good ALL THE TIME?

I’d love to hear your comments on this post!

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Every parent wants the best for their kids.  One challenge is that even if you’ve raised other children, all of them are different and NONE come with an owner’s manual.  Sometimes we don’t even know what to pray.

I don’t know much but one thing that I have learned is that I can depend upon the Bible for advice and guidance in every situation, including raising my children.  God’s Word does not come back void!

Though I love it that God always hears my heart when I pray, sometimes we can pray things that aren’t really God’s will.  We think it’s the best thing but only God sometimes knows best unless He shows us.

When we pray Scripture for our children, we can rest assured that we are praying in line with God’s will.  My favorite passage to pray for my children over the years has been Philippians 1:9-11  It’s a passage that the Apostle Paul prayed for some people that he loved in the Philippian church.

You can pray it for your kids like this:

And this is my prayer: that (Insert Your Child’s Name)’s love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that (HE or SHE) may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ

How do you pray for your children?

When I get old, (That’s a long time from now, btw) I want to be an old guy that can still kick some butt! I want Satan to know who I am because of Who is inside of me.

The evil one would like nothing more than for people to walk with God for years and then retire or just fade away until they die.

We all know people who have seemed to walk with God for years and then do something really dumb. We’ve seen and probably known pastors fail morally. Those stories are heartbreaking.

I mentioned in my last post (Stories of God:  I Always Want One More)  about people who felt like they had “done their time of service” in the church and now it was time for younger people to do all of the work. I’m sure Lucifer loves that one.

Caleb in the Old Testament was one of the 12 spies that checked out the Promised Land. Ten of the 12 spies came back and were terrified of going against the people to win the land. “They were really big,” said the 10 wimps…. I mean spies.

Caleb and his buddy Joshua had other thoughts. They knew that God was on their side so they were ready to go kick some rear end. The people listened to the other 10, however, and God allowed them to stay where they were.

YOU CAN’T GO ON WITH GOD AND STAY WHERE YOU ARE AT THE SAME TIME!

Forty years later everyone had died except for Caleb and Joshua. The Israelites were finally ready to go take the land. Caleb’s words are still an inspiration today.

“I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day.  You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

TRANSLATION: “I’m 80 years old and I’m just as strong now as I was then. Let me go to the hill country and kick some butt there.” (The hill country was some of the roughest terrain in the land but he was ready.)

I hope and pray that when I’m gone, my kids and those that follow me will be able to say, “He finished strong!”

THE WAY WE WILL FINISH THE RACE HAS ALOT TO DO WITH THE DAILY DECISIONS WE MAKE TO FOLLOW GOD CLOSELY NOW.

Caleb followed God closely all his life, all they way to the finish line. He was kicking butt at 80! I’ll consider my life fulfilled if I keep growing stronger, working hard, and kicking Satan’s butt til the end! At that point, I’m praying that my 5 kids are still kicking it then too, even harder than I ever did!

Roll Call!  Anyone else want to finish strong?

June 25, 2012

Eddie Poole's Blog

My daughter, Rachel, is a softball player.  She enjoys the game, but she also enjoys being identified as being on a softball team.  She wears her uniform with pride as we go into McDonalds, Kroger, or around friends.  She likes for people to know that she is a part of the team.

Baptism is kind of like wearing your softball uniform in public.  It identifies a believer with Christ.  There aren’t many examples of a person on a softball team that refuses to wear the uniform.  Wearing the uniform is just what a softball player does.

Being baptized is just what a believer or follower of Jesus does.  As a believer is dunked under the water, it is an “illustration” that the person has died, is buried, and has been raised with Christ as he or she comes up out of the water.  It doesn’t make a person saved.  It…

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I’ve got stories.  If you’ve known me and we’ve talked about God, you know that I’ve got a few.  God has come through in my life many times and I have a story for each one.

I tell stories to encourage people.  I tell them to assure others that God can work in their life too.  He gives stories to those who passionately seek Him and look for His fingerprints.  He even gives them to those who don’t deserve them.  (I am proof!)

A few stories that you may have heard from me include:

  • How God intervened when we were told that my grandfather had no chance of coming out of the hospital.
  • God leading me, beyond a doubt through a miracle, to go into full time ministry.
  • Against all odds, God answering the prayer of my 7 year old daughter for a little brother.  (He’s 2 now.)
  • God using my dad’s sickness to bring him to a relationship with Him before he passed away.

There are lots more and I like telling them.  The thing is, I’m not satisfied.   I want more.

In Philippians 3:13 Paul says, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”

I once served at a church that was STUCK in the past.  While it is good to remember what God did, I never want to be satisfied with that.  I want more.

I’ve also heard a few older people over the years respond to helping in the church with, “Oh, I’ve done my time.  Now the younger people can work.”  I don’t see any place in the Scripture where you retire from serving God.  Bring on more stories!

I want to strain towards what is ahead.

I want to remember and brag about God and what He has done but I want more stories of what he IS doing around me RIGHT NOW!

More experiences with Him.

I want a deeper walk with Him than I used to have or that I have today.  I want to experience more of Him with my family and with my church.

Let’s never get complacent with the past and always be looking for that next hill to climb for Him.  Let’s reach another person.  Let’s make a real difference, one life at a time.

Anybody out there want more stories?

Do we get more sinful, the closer we get to God?  That’s kind of crazy but that seems to be how the Apostle Paul seemed to describe his own life.

Paul thought he had it all going on before meeting Christ.  He was a member of the prestigious Jewish Religious group, the Pharisees.  The Pharisees were so religious that the 10 commandments weren’t enough for them.  They made up over 600 more rules to follow.

Then Paul became a Christ-Follower.  Here is the progression of his attitude about his own spiritual standing:

Right after becoming a Christ-follower, he considered himself “the least of the Apostles.”  (1 Corinthians 15:9)  He had “transferred” from the elite group of Pharisees to another “elite” group, the Apostles.  He did, however, now consider himself as the least of the Apostles.

A few years later he wrote Ephesians 3:8.  In this passage, he said that he was the “least of all the saints.”  Now he seems to have slipped in his opinion of himself.  He is now not just the least of the Apostles but the least of the saints.

Checking in on Paul’s writing just a bit later, he now claims to be the “foremost of sinners.”  (1 Timothy 1:15)  He seems to have fallen even farther in his walk.

Although Paul seemed to be on a “down-ward” spiral in his own words, I believe the opposite is true.  Paul came to appreciate the grace of God more and more in his own life.  He didn’t become more sinful but the closer he got to God, the more he realized how much God had done for him in sending His only son to pay for our sins.

What have you learned since you have begun your journey with Christ?

There are pitfalls to serving as a youth monster.  Besides the typical pizza overloads and toilet paper mishaps in my yard, I once blew my ACL playing basketball as I was serving a church in Charlotte, North Carolina.   The doc said he could fix my knee but surgery was required.  After my surgery, my doctor said that I needed to go to rehabilitation with my knee.

At the time, I was in a Bible study with Chip Sigmond, the strength coach for NBA’s (then) Charlotte Hornets.  As Chip and I were talking about my rehab, he offered to help me get my knee back in shape.  I was pretty pumped.

When we got started with the rehabbing, Chip normally met me at the local gym but one  day he said, “Eddie, I’m slammed today.  Do you mind driving over to the Hornets training facility and letting me work with you there?”

I held my excitement in and responded something like, “Yes.  I think I can probably make it over there.”  The truth is, I was not only ok with that.  I couldn’t wait to get there and let him inflict pain on my knee.  I had never been inside a pro sports facility before.  Heck, I would have blown my knee out before then if I’d known I’d have gotten this opportunity.  (Not really).

Upon entering the facility, we went straight to the weight room and Chip began working me out.  I was about half way through the workout when Hersey Hawkins, the Hornet’s point guard, came into the room.  He glanced over at us for a few seconds like he was going to say something and then went about his business.  I thought it would be cool to meet him but kept my poker face.  I acted like it was no big deal to see one of the most famous athletes in the NBA at that time.

Chip spoke to Hersey and kept working me out.  After about ten minutes, Hersey looked over at us and walked to where we were.  He looked like he may have been a bit embarrased or maybe even irritated.   He looked at me and asked Chip, “Who is this?”

Chip looked a bit reluctant at that moment, maybe even a bit embarrased too that he had brought an “intruder” into the gym.  Chip then said, “Sorry Hersey.  I didn’t want to bother you.”  Hersey smiled and then responded, “Bother me?  I WANT TO MEET HIM!!”  Hersey smiled again and stuck out his hand to me.

I’ve always thought that was really cool.  Hersey acted like I was the most important person in the world and he was honored to meet ME.  He made me feel like it was the best day of HIS life because he GOT to meet me.  He humbled himself.  No wonder he went on to win the NBA sportsmanship award in his final year in the NBA.

I was reminded of this story this morning when I read Philippians 2:3:  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider others as more important than yourself.”

Sometimes we have to get off of our high horse and realize that we’re not the center of the universe.  It’s not about you.  It’s not about me.  It’s about Him and it’s about the work that we have to do in the few short years that we’re here on Earth.  That’s it!

Hersey went out of his way to humble himself and reach out to me.  I hope that I always remember his example.

There is not one person that you will look in the eye today that Jesus Christ did not die for.  Every person that you see today is important and EVERY PERSON matters to God.  Do they matter to you?  Do they matter to me?

Let’s examine our motives and ask God to help us see people how He sees them.  Let’s serve others like THEY are the most important person in the world.

Remember:  “If you do it to the least of these….”  You know the rest.

Ever feel like letting go with both barrels at someone?  How about the driver that cut you off?  What about the waitress that made a mistake?  It could be that members of your own family could be victims of your verbal wrath.  We’ve all been guilty of letting someone “have it” with our words.

The truth is, that’s not ok.

James 1:26 says “if anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue, he deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless”

Harsh words can destroy a person.  The old saying that “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me” is simply not true.  I’ve seen many people harmed by words of others who claim to follow Christ.

Matthew 15:18 tells us that what comes out of a person’s mouth comes from the heart.  If we are in the habit of saying hurtful things or talking to friends or family in harsh tones, maybe we need to look at our own heart.

We can’t control another person’s actions.  Though we may rationalize and say that we were harsh because the other person “frustrated” us, that’s simply not true.  The other person can’t MAKE you be rude.  You do that yourself.

What if someone is rude to you?  Is it ok to be rude back?

Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentile answer turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger.”

Let’s use our words to build others up and not tear people down.  There are enough people that do that.  Be an encourager!  That will draw people to you and then you can point them to Christ.  When we are rude and people know that you claim to follow Christ, you point them in the other direction.

You can do it.  Say something nice and make it a habit!

I always hate it when someone makes a blanket, dogmatic statement but I’m going to make one:

The MOST Important thing that you can do in your life is to invest in your relationship with God.

If you’ve never gotten anything else right in your life, get this one in order and the direction of your life will improve.

Yes, taking care of your kids is important.  Being a productive member of society and excelling at work is important.  Making sure that you brush your teeth and wear deodorant is pretty important to those around you, but nothing beats your investment in your relationship with God.

The reason that I can say that is because if your relationship with God is right and growing, your priorities in all of the other areas will be in order or at least headed in the right direction.  If you are listening to God and seeing life through Christ’s eyes, the other areas will take care of themselves. 

POSER

I once went on a trip with a guy that we’ll call Bob.  Bob had told me over and over in preparation for the trip about how much he loved cycling.  He had a new bike and a bike rack.  He INSISTED that we take our bikes on our trip to ride.  When we got to our destination, we only rode about a city block.  I couldn’t get him to get on his bike.  Now if this fat boy is riding more than you are, you’re not a cyclist.  It turns out, Bob liked the status of telling people that he was a cyclist but he really didn’t like riding the actual bike.

Some who claim to follow Christ are like that.  They might claim to be followers of Christ but if they were taken to court for being a Christian, there just wouldn’t be enough evidence to convict them.  Yes, most people are nice but there is a difference in following Christ and just being nice.  Some people are naturally nice but that doesn’t make them a Christ-follower.  You become a Christ-follower by following Christ.  (Doesn’t mean your perfect.  Just forgiven, btw.)

So…  How do you “invest” in your relationship with God?

Mark 1:35 says that “very early in the morning, Jesus got up, left the house, and went to a solitary place where he prayed.”  If Jesus felt like it was important to spend DAILY time in a QUIET PLACE with God, then it is important for me too.  I’ve talked to some people that think it’s good enough to whisper a prayer while getting in the car on the way to work.  That’s a good thing to do, but Psalms also tells us to “Be Still And Know That He Is God.”  Unless we think we can “wing it” better than Jesus, we can’t leave this one out!  Spend daily time with God.

Alone time.

Quiet.

With God.

During the Quiet Time, it is important to LISTEN during part of it.  Reading your Bible and talking to God are the parts that most people think of when they think of time with God but listening is important too.  God will speak if we’ll seek Him, be still, and actually shut up and listen sometimes.

Finally, if we’re spending DAILY time with God and we try to be more aware of Him during our day, we’ll begin seeing His FINGERPRINTS around us.  We’ll see people that have needs or could use a kind word of encouragement.  He may even direct us to do something that makes us a bit uncomfortable at times but those can be the times when you grow most in your relationship with Him.

I encourage you to be the real deal.  Invest in following Jesus.  The world has enough posers and needs to see real Christ Followers.

Yep!  I’m dogmatic, passionate, and serious about this one:

The MOST Important thing that you can do in your life is to invest in your relationship with God.

How does it affect your day when you choose to start it with God in a quiet place?

One of my favorite books of the Bible has always been Philippians.  I have just found the book to be a great encouragement in my own walk.  I was reading Philippians 1:9-11 recently.  This is a prayer that the Apostle Paul wrote for the Philippian church.  I have prayed this prayer for my kids for many years.

Even though I have read and prayed the words for years, a portion of verse 10 jumped out at me.  Paul said that he prayed that they would be able to “discern what’s important”.

Wow!  In this hectic life of running all the time, it is easy to forget what is important when urgent things seem to press us all the time.  After this verse jumped out at me, I sat down and wrote a list of what I thought was important.

Here’s my list:

1.         My Relationship with God

DAILY Quiet Time (Mark 1:35, John 15:5)  (I’m lying if I claim to walk with Christ and don’t spend time with him.)  This is perhaps the most important thing.  This can affect all other areas but it’s often one of the first things that we neglect when we get busy.

-Studying God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15)

-Prayer (Including time to Listen too) (Psalm 46:10)

-Seeing & looking for God’s fingerprints around you (John 5:17)

2.         Relationship with Family

            Attitude:  Do I lead my family closer to God or chase them away by my actions & attitudes?

 3.         Relationship With Yourself:

a.         Take care of my Body   (Philippians 3:18)  See my previous post on “The god of Food”

b.         -Saying no sometimes (Ephesians 2:10)  God has things prepared in advance for us to do.  We can’t do EVERYTHING, but we have to do some things.  B-A-L-A-N-C-E

c.         -Having Fun (Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine.)

d.        –Do I surround myself with positive & encouraging people?

4.          Relationship With Others

A.  Do people know me as a man of character? (Proverbs 22:1)

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.

B.  Am I sharing Christ with others?

We can get distracted with our work, lack of work, friends, busyness, and lot’s of other things.  These are just my thoughts of what’s important.

It is my prayer that I am attending to the important things in life and that I’m not constantly letting urgent things distract me.  If Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy and get you to neglect the important.

Do you agree or am I off base?  Is there anything that you would add to my list?