4 of a Kind ALWAYS beats a Full House

In the game of poker, four aces is one of the highest hands a player can receive, second only to a Royal Flush.  Another great hand in poker is a full house, but four of a kind will always beat a full house. Keep this in mind.

Mark 2:1-5, tells a story of friendship and evangelism. During the first couple of verses we are introduced to a paralytic man and his four friends.  They hear that Jesus is near by and they know this could be their friends only chance of a healing.  So they pick up his bed, with him on it and carry their friend, paralytic man, to Jesus.  However, when they get there, the house in where Jesus is preaching/teaching is full.  It is full to the point where there is no room even to get in the door.  Disappointed and heartbroken the four friends and their paralytic friend feel like they missed their chance.  Until they get creative and devise a plan to dig through the roof of the house.  So the four friends carry their friend to the roof and begin digging.  The houses back in Biblical days had stairs on the outside which led to a flat roof.  The roof consisted of a composite material which included grass, clay and wooden strips.  So picture this, four guys clawing, digging, beating, bleeding and aching their way through this roof just so their friend can get to Jesus.  What an awesome story, but how does it apply to us?  Lets look at this story in depth.

Paralytic Man

  • Weak
  • Unable to Stand
  • Was at the mercy of others

4 Friends – Philippians 2:1-4

  • Same mind – Romans 8:5-6 (attitude)
  • Same love – John 15:13 (agape – unconditional love)
  • Same spirit – spirit means “in one accord”
  • Same purpose – They were not going to give up until their purpose was fulfilled

Many of us have friends like the paralytic man.  They are paralyzed spiritually.  They are unable to stand for anything, weak in their mind-set and faith and spiritually at the mercy of others.  Theses four friends understood what the definition of a Godly-friend.  They overcame all obstacles to get their friend to Jesus.  This should be our goal, as believers, to get our unbelieving friends to Jesus at all cost.  You will have to get your hands dirty, it might hurt and you might have to dig, but it is worth it. The main reason why the four friends succeeded is because they had the same mind, same love, same spirit and same purpose. These four friends succeed in their purpose to get the paralytic man to Jesus.  In doing so the man was healed; his life was changed.  The man was healed because Jesus “saw THEIR faith” [v.5].  These four friends were not just the vehicle to get the paralytic to Jesus; their faith was a key part in the healing process. Not only it is important to bring people to Jesus, it is also important to believe in their total healing.

Philippians 2:3-4, ” Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Are you being a Godly-friend?  Are you answering the call to share the good news of Christ?  Are you the paralytic? if so, look for your four of a kind.

Remember, 4 of a kind will ALWAYS BEAT a full house!

Pastor BWT

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How to Beat a Python

Pythons are the largest snakes in the world.  In 2004, a python was caught in Indonesia that measured 48 feet and 8 inches and it weighed 983 lbs.  With this being said, pythons are notorious for their size but they are feared for the way they catch and devour their prey.  Pythons are what are known as constrictors.  Constrictors aren’t known for their speed when making a kill, as a cobra and rattle snake, but for lengthy fight.  A pythons goal is to squeeze the life out of its prey, to takes its very breathe.  Every time the prey takes a deep breathe the python squeezes a little bit tighter.  This goes on to the point we the prey is unable to take a breathe.

In Acts 16:16, we find a slave girl that is following and annoying Paul and Silas. This girl was possessed with a spirit of divination.  When the word “divination’ is translated in the Greek, it is translated to “python”.  This girl had a python spirit.  It was slowly but surely taking for life by stealing her breathe.  Python spirits are slow and meticulous when it comes to killing.  Every time you try to breathe, it squeezes.  Python spirits come in many different shapes and sizes.  Some may be in the form of lust, pornography, musical pornography, gossip, alcohol, drugs, etc.  The list goes on and on.  So what do you do when a python has you in it grasps.  Well I am glad you ask.

I have researched the internet and here are three practical ways to beat a python, physically and spiritually.

  1. Act quickly
    • The longer you stay in a pythons grasps, the harder it is to get out.
    • One way to act quickly is to place people around you to hold you to a Biblical standard.  These are the friends that when they see you playing with a python, they slap your hand and say put that down.  This is critical because the more you play with a python, the more comfortable you become with it. Every time you pick it up you become more at ease. Put the python down!
  2. Hit it between the eyes
    • Hitting a python between the eyes disorients the snake, which will increases your chances of getting free.  It disrupts the plan of the snake.
    • To spiritually hit a python between the eyes, you have to speak encouragement to yourself. and remind the snake who your daddy is.
    • I am reminded of a story in Nehemiah where the enemy was coming against God’s people as they were rebuilding the wall. In response, Nehemiah stated these word, “Do not be afraid, remember the Lord, great and awesome…”  Nehemiah encouraged the nation of Judah by instructing them to remember who their dad is.
    • The Hebrew meaning for “great” is big and the meaning for “awesome” is worthy to be feared.  So basically, Nehemiah was saying remember how big your God is and He is worthy to be feared.
    • You serve a BIG and POWERFUL God.
  3. Bite Back
    • This is no joke. Experts say if it comes down to it, bite the snake.
    • Biting the python is a way to inflict pain on the snake.  Your goal has to be to hurt the snake more than it is hurting you.  You cannot stand back and let the snake take you over.  Bite Back!
    • To bite the enemy back requires us to use the Word of God. The Word of God is the only tool we need in order to fight confusion, fear, weariness and lie.  We have to know the Truth and to know the truth is to experience freedom.
    • We have to read, study and pray.  Bite Back!

These are the steps we have to follow to defeat the pythons in our lives.  Are you willing to do what ever it takes to escape the grasps of the enemy?

BWT


Fear & Leadership

This is a great article I ran across today.  Hope it helps.

2 Timothy 1:7 ” For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (ESV)

If you have maintained any leadership position, then good ol’ fear has more than likely influenced your decision making. Fear of how things will play out. Fear of what others think of you. Fear of what others say when you are not around. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of being a failure. If any of these sound familiar, then you can bet that fear is a foundational problem, preventing you from leading in strength.

  • Fear distances you from reality.

When you operate in fear, you operate from a perspective void of reality. Fear creates scenarios that have not happened, with conversations that have not taken place. Fear assumes to know the outcome, and forces you to imagine a sort of rectification to compensate for the best outcome.

  • Fear conjures up lies.

When you let fear drive your life, you give birth to a multitude of lies. Lies about yourself, others, your circumstances, your future, your family, your marriage, your work. Fear will wreak havoc in your mind, as most of it is built on half truths, sugar-coated with excessive falsities.

  • Fear dominates your thoughts and increases defensiveness.

When fear drives your thoughts, you will find yourself spending most of your time preoccupied, battling demons inside your head. You will be skeptical of anyone and everyone, and your level of defensiveness will rise. You will have restless nights, and operate mostly on autopilot. When leadership demands so much more, how can you afford letting 60% or more of your thoughts be taken up by fear-driven outcomes? Your worth comes from being fully alert, not being half-dead.

  • Fear will cripple you and your ministry.

When you fear, you cannot trust. When you cannot trust, you cannot lead. When you cannot lead, you are ill-equipped to guide those around you. Remember one thing: no matter what situation you face, you will always enter into it with some level of fear. No matter what situation you go through, you will always leave it with a measure of fear. Fear is there, but when you let it overtake your commonsense, and start predicting your future, then you will find yourself in troubled waters.

  • Fear is arrogance.

Fear is a false prophet, and is in opposition to God’s spirit of love and self-control. When fear drives you, you are willingly opposing God’s sovereignty over your life. In fact, you are saying, “Let me worry about my circumstances. I will feel much better if I can control the outcome.

  • It is never as bad as it seems.

How many times have you feared something, went through it, and then looked back in awe of your presuppositions and misconceptions? How many times have you wrongly judged or blamed someone, simply because you feared the outcome? Truly, if God is for us, who can be against us?

Operate from faith, with courage, in self-control, out of love.

From www.crossleadership.com

BWT


No “Plan B”

Anyone who has ever planned an event, (a wedding, birthday party, etc.), knows that it is imperative to have a “plan B”.  The only time a “plan B” is activated is when a “plan A” fails.  So having a “plan B” is thought of as good planning skills; however, this way of thinking has no place when it comes to God’s instructions.  When God gives us a vision or instructions to do something, it is in our best interest to obey.  So the question arises, Why wouldn’t we? God knows what is best, so it should be easy to obey, right?  Though this statement sounds great, it is not at all correct.  Usually when God instructs us do something, it is immediately met with resistance.  From experience, I have learned the resistance normally comes from two places: the enemy and/or ourself.  So when God gives us His plan (Plan A) we must follow through with His plan no matter what it looks likes or even if our plan (plan B) makes more sense. Why you ask?  Take this example from the book of Acts:

Acts 27: 30-32, “Then the sailors tried to abandon the ship; they lowered the lifeboat as though they were going to put out anchors from the front of the ship. But Paul said to the commanding officer and the soldiers, “You will al die unless the sailors stay aboard.” So the solders cut the ropes to the lifeboat and let it drift away.”

A little background: Paul was on his way to Rome to stand before Caesar.  Against the warnings of Paul, the captain and the ship set sail for Rome.  While out at sea, a violent storm overtook the ship.  The solider’s biggest fear was running aground on a sandbar and the ship be destroyed, thus everyone perishing.  But, angel of the Lord appeared to Paul, ans stated that Paul would stand before Caesar and all the people on ship would live.

Here we pick up the story. The storm is violently pounding the ship and ship is falling apart.  So the soldier’s, in the midst of the storm, believe it is time to jump ship. They begin to prep the lifeboat, a perfectly safe vessel.  In fact, a lifeboat’s purpose is to be used when the main ship is sinking or is deemed unsafe.  So their plan seemed to be logical, but then Paul spoke, saying, “If you leave this ship you will die” or “Stay in the boat!”.  This time, they listened to Paul and cut the lifeboat lose and watched their “Plan B” float away.  After this the ship does run aground; however, every person on that ship lived.

We can parallel this story with our life.  We listen to God and obey Him and the next thing we know we find ourselves being tossed by the storms of life.  So, we panic and fear of death now creeps into our thinking.  We begin to reason with-in ourselves, saying, “I must have missed God’s voice. What do I do now?”  and we begin looking for the lifeboat.  It is extremely sad, the way we throw God’s instructions aside at the first moment of opposition.  This is where we should be praying, “God get me through this.” not “God get me out of this”.  Both prayers will get you out of the storm; however, the first statement will bring you out with more strength, discipline, and character.

My encouragement to you is to say “No” to “plan B” (your plan) and stick to God’s Plan (plan A), no matter what it may look like right now. When you are might by opposition, hang-on because opposition is a direct indicator for potential. In the end, not only will your life be impacted but so will the lives of others around you.

Galatians 6:9, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

BWT


The POWER of PAIN

P-A-I-N

Mr. Webster defines “pain” as a physical suffering or distress.  For a normal human being, we spend our entire lifetime trying to avoid pain, but no matter how crafty, cunning or strategic we are it always seems to find us.  Pain is something we can not hide or run from, so why does a loving and compassionate God allow us to go through it? We can find our answer in the book of Exodus, with the Israelites being slaves to Egypt.  God hears the cries and prayers of His people and He raises up a leader, Moses, to lead His people into the Promise Land.  God instructs Moses to go before Pharaoh with a demand to “let His people go.”  Pharaoh refuses and because of his refusal God sends a total of 10 plagues to Egypt, which ravished the land, people, and live stock.  If we take a look at the attitude of the Israelites after the first couple of plagues, we will see the Israelites are ready to give up and stay in bondage to Egypt.  These reason why they wanted to do this is because their work-load was increased and they would rather stay and go back to the way things “use-to-be.”  However, God continued His wrath on the Egypt and after the 9th plague, Israel’s whole outlook was different.  Their living conditions became so unbearable that there was no way they could stay in Egypt.  God used the pain of the plagues to create a value of deliverance the Israelites were going to need in order to live in the Promise Land.  If God would have just delivered them, they would have had a deliverance they never worked for.  It is easy to squander way something that has no value to you.  Look at the Prodigal Son, he squandered his inheritance because he it didn’t cost him anything to receive it.  God uses the pain of our lives to create a value in us.  To many people want a blessing from God but do not want to go through the pain of receiving it.  This is why I have a hard time believing and listening to the doctrine of “Name it and Claim it”.  It makes me sick to my stomach to watch someone stand in front God’s people and proclaim a lie to them.  This is why we have some many people in debt, and they are waiting for God to show up and magically fix financial issues with an instantaneous blessing.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe if God wanted to He could, but I believe God is more interested in creating in you a value / discipline of how to handle your money.  Let’s be honest, if we do not learn how to be “Godly” minded with our money, giving us more money would only drive us farther in debt, because we have not learned the lesson. God will use the POWER of PAIN to create a value in us that we will never forget, thus being more like – Christ.

I will challenge you with this, “If you never endure a great burden, you will never be able to handle great success.”

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” 1 Peter 1:2-4

Blessings,

BWT


Watered Down

Couple of days ago, during my study time, I caught myself reminiscing about the old days. I started to think about Friday nights playing football in the Meade.  After we finished pummeling the opponents, we would all go and hang at McDonalds.  I can remember eating my food and talking about the game and before I left to go home I would always get a refill of my drink, usually Coke. When I arrived home I would crash and usually wake up some time in the night dying of thirst.  Luckily I would have my drink right next to my bed and I would lean over and guzzle the entire Coke.  But after drinking it I would always noticed that something was different about my Coke. In the night, the ice in the Coke melted and it became watered down.  What was once a refreshing, bubbly, and great tasting beverage was now a dull, flavorless liquid.

God spoke to me about this story.  Too many of us have become watered-down Christians.  We were once “on-fire”, radical and courageous Christ-followers but over time we have become the soft, mundane, “just-getting by” Christians.  This change did not happen overnight, but there is one thing to blame, “nothing”.  Nothing is to blame for this transformation.  See, going back to my Coke story, the Coke became watered down because the ice in the drink melted and as we all know ice is frozen water.  Have you ever looked on the back of a water bottle and read the Nutrition Facts?  The Nutrition Facts of water reads:

                                Calories                 0%

                                Total Fat               0%

                                Sodium                 0%

                                Total Carbs          0%

                                Protein                 0%

 Water has nothing in it and when nothing is added to something it becomes diluted.  When you add nothing to your Christian walk, you become watered down.  You lose your zeal, your vigor, and your intensity.  To add nothing means not reading the Word, praying to God, or giving.  This story might seem a little elementary to some, but I know how it feels to be watered down, I have been there.  It happens slowly but surely.  Life goes by 100 mph and we have no time to read or pray.  Don’t forget the economy is bad, so we definitely don’t have any money to give.  Here is a scripture that will help you out.

 Matthew 6:33, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.”

Seek means to passionately look for something until you find it. We need to passionately seek God by constantly praying, fervently reading the Word and cheerfully giving. And notice how God instructs us on what to seek.  He tells us to seek the “Kingdom of God”.  In Greek the scripture reads not as the “Kingdom of God”, referring to an actual place, but to read it as the “Kingdom” of God, where “kingdom” means dominion.  So this means we are not to seek the earthly things but we are to seek the God who has dominion, supreme authority, over the earthly things.

 I encourage you to stop adding nothing to your walk with Christ and start adding something by seeking the God of supreme dominion.  Read, Pray and Give.

 James 1:22, “Do not merely listen to the word, and deceive yourselves. Do what it says.


Feelings vs. Faith

 

“For if our heart condemns us, God is great than our heart, and He knows all things.”

1 John 3:20

Translations in Greek:

  • heart – desires, or feelings
  • condemn – to blame or accuse of wrong

So if we re-write this scripture using the greek translations it reads like this:

“For when our feelings tell us we are wrong,

God is greater than our feelings and He knows everything”

One of the biggest Heavy weight fights, from the beginning of time, has been Feelings vs. Faith. Have you ever been in a situation where your feelings were not cooperating with your faith?  Maybe God has told you something good was going to happen, but meanwhile, you are in the midst of the worst time of your life?  This is where is what I call the “breeding ground” of faith. I think Christians today have become too soft. I have become to soft. We have become scared of opposition.  The fact is, opposition is what creates opportunity.  The main opposition to your faith is not the devil, but it is yourself, your feelings.  When your feelings oppose your faith, it creates an opportunity for your faith to grow.  As believers in Christ, isn’t that what we want, our faith to grow.  We pray for God to increase our faith, so when He puts opposition in front of us, we cry and search for what went wrong.  When actually, God is giving us what we asked for. Don’t get me wrong, when you are in a situation like this it is hard, but it is right where you want to be.

If you ever want to do something great for God, He will always place opposition in front of you.  Look at the Israelites, the main reason why God took them through the wilderness is to increase their faith in Him.  He did this because He knew the faith they already possessed had to increase to get to the Promise Land.  The opposition they faced in the wilderness was only preparing them for the opposition they would face in the Promise Land.  Their faith in Him had to increase to inherit the promise.

If you are facing opposition today, take a step back and find the opportunity in your opposition.

Be Blessed,

BWT