Tag Archives: Jesus

Forget the storms and focus on your faith

Leap without looking!

This is a faith-based principle also known as “risk-taking.” However… know this:
Anytime you do something by pure faith, that faith replaces all risk involved. 

To leap without looking in a spiritual sense is making decisions and choices by faith, which is putting all your trust in God.   When you have faith strong enough, you can leap without looking because you know God will catch you!

Peter dangerAnother way to look at it: sink or swim? An example of taking a literal leap of faith in our lives would be what we can learn from Peter’s leap off the fishing boat and into the water (Matthew 14:22-36). When Jesus approached the boat in the early morning hours through the heavy wind, Peter called out, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” Jesus told him to come. Without hesitation, Peter went over the side of the boat and began to walk toward Jesus on the water. Upon succumbing to the situation around him, Peter lost some of his faith and began to sink. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

When they returned to the boat, the winds stopped.

The storm or heavy winds are an important part to this story that can easily be lost – especially with the miracle taking place. Here’s the point: we let the storms of our lives get in the way of our focus on faith. We look around, survey a situation, and react to what we see rather than placing our trust in God – who is right there in front of us. We lose our faith.

How can we blindly leap if we are afraid of falling? This is hard! When Peter started doubting, he began to go under. This happens to us in all kinds of situations where we lose our focus on faith and try to make it on our own. When we rely on ourselves, we will falter like Peter and end up treading water. The problem is, the water is deep and nowhere near land.

Let Peter’s swim lesson be a lesson to us all. Practice your faith daily. It takes faith to practice faith. To leap without looking is a leap of faith.

My own personal leap of faith in 2011... out of an airplane!
My own personal leap of faith in 2011… out of an airplane! 
*This blog is an excerpt from a presentation by Trey Campbell and Tabitha Taylor to the student managers and sales managers during a "Spiritual Time-Out" at a Southwestern Advantage meeting in Chicago in 2014. 

by Trey Campbell, treycampbell1010@gmail.com

Advertisements

Christmas morning reflections: a mixed bag

by Trey Campbell, treycampbell1010@gmail.com

house lightsAs I was driving solo this day, Christmas morning, I drove past houses on my way to take a friend’s three dogs out and found myself sporting a goofy grin (which is not unusual when I’m alone, as I amuse myself often). I could see lights inside and the outlines of sparkly Christmas trees through windows. I noticed cars lined up in driveways and in yards – families who had come together from both near and far. Families everywhere are celebrating Christmas! I imagined the kids in the homes ripping through the paper to see what loot they scored.

Christmas sadAs I drove on, my tone turned a bit more somber, my smile somewhat faded. The realization set in that while so many families were celebrating the birth of Jesus, opening presents, and guzzling eggnog by the gallon, there is another side of Christmas for others – a bleak, grim side. Some families are broken, some individuals have deep hurt, some struggle with depression, addictions, health issues, loneliness or heartache, loved ones serving overseas, and even financial hardships. As you read this, you might even fall into one of those examples.

Although the birth of Jesus is a time of jubilant celebration, there are those who are hurting and those who don’t know the love of Christ. These thoughts continued to come to me as I drove down the streets to reach my destination.  I was noticing how some homes were lit up like Clark Griswold’s house, while others were dark and void of holiday cheer and festivities.

As I returned home, I sat in my car in the driveway behind the house, radio off, only to look over at a horse staring me down from the farm next door, waiting for me to come over. “Too bad horse, I got to sit here and process,” I thought. My mind then went to my two daughters. I wonder if they understand why we, as a family, don’t go “overboard” on Christmas? In fact, we have what I call a “modest Christmas” each year.  I wonder, at the ages of 13 and 9, if they fully understand the Christian meaning of Christmas rather than the commercialization of a holiday that sells happiness? You see, the world is not always a happy place. It’s broken and full of sin. The beauty of it?  A Savior was born unto us!

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
– Luke 2:11

Out of the ugly comes the beautiful!
Out of the fallen comes the risen!
Out of desperation comes hope…

These are things I want to pass to my daughters. I want them to know the good and the bad so they know the difference. So they can choose. So they can be in a place to help others. I want this for you as well.

It’s my hope that what ever your current situation, celebratory, bah-humbug, or in-between, know there is life-changing healing ahead (if you want it). Know there is a brighter tomorrow and a light of hope. This light is celebrated today. And it’s not the light of the Christmas tree. It’s the light of Jesus Christ.

So friends, as we celebrate today, let us not forget those who are hurting, are without their families, or have no family. If you are fortunate enough to be celebrating, seek out those who need someone in their life to pick them up and point them toward the true light. Each Christmas we live to see can be a mixed bag. There’s no guarantee what the next one will hold for us in our lives. Make it count! Not just today, but every time opportunity presents itself.

Merry Christmas everyone!
From my family to yours – Be blessed this upcoming year. I love you all.
Campbell Family Christmas 2014

 

Spirit-filled Leadership Series Vol. 2: Six words not to be used lightly

by Trey Campbell, treycampbell1010@gmail.com

Sometimes, things can simply go one of two ways: good or bad.  With that in mind, there Good or badare six words that can either tread in dangerous territory or be a declaration of fact when used by any given leadership or representative group that gathers as a congregated Body of Christ:

“We’re not that kind of church.”

This statement is not typically preceded with, “Are we handling snakes this week?” – to which these six words would be perfectly acceptable.  But rather, whatever it is in response to, generally tends to be a defining statement.  In fact, it’s outright bold!  The ramifications of such a statement can go south in a hurry if it’s a blanket statement of pretext. People feel put-off or leave churches over this statement. Or, they are no longer in the dark regarding the particular position the church has taken.  The meaning behind it can be one of definition or one that’s off-course.  Let’s go devil’s advocate here (ironic but intentional choice of words) for the sake of debate and look at each.

A) As a definitive statement, these words designate a position or a qualified stance.  The position may designate the beliefs of the particular church.  Given the complexity and abundance of subjects that require the church to take a stance, there must be a line drawn somewhere (hopefully taken from the Bible…) .  Most churches will put a greater emphasis on specific areas of influence in their chosen ministries, often playing to the strengths of the leadership and congregation, their resources, and the opportunities God provides.

When a position is taken, it should be born of sound Biblical principles rather than susceptible human logic.  When in doubt, always ask these three questions:

1. What would Jesus do? (cliche, yes… but on point)
2. What does the Bible say about this?
3. Will this spread the Gospel/further the Kingdom?

In any situation, these three questions will ALWAYS give you your best answer.  All bodies who meet in the name of Christ must have established, Biblical positions that can be shared through their core beliefs.  If there is confusion or a careless haphazardness in regard to the position taken with any specific issue, the wrong message can be conveyed.

B) In the case of this statement being off-course, one thing it can do is pigeonhole* the question or subject that led to this answer – which means it puts aside the present with specific intention to ignore or forget indefinitely.  This can be an easy cop-out or excuse to support a position that may be biased or not spiritually-based.

Keep in mind, however, there is always an underlying reason as to why those six words are uttered, for good or bad.  Whether they are fundamentally off-course from God’s instructions is unfortunately and often incorrectly left to interpretation of either side as to the position taken.  Rather, we should always take the position the Bible gives us.  That’s where the above three questions above come in play once again.

My response when I hear these words: “Well, what kind of church are you?”  This is not a question asked out of sarcasm or meant to be in any way disrespectful.  It’s meant to hold those who say it accountable. We have to hold our spiritual leaders, our brothers and sisters in Christ, accountable for words they speak on behalf of the collective group they are leading.

There’s no denying the power these six words hold.  As mentioned, they can define and be as much of a description of who we are as to who we are not as a church.  They can engage or turn-off.  They can be spoken in truth or ignorance.  Words are powerful:

The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.
– Matthew 12:37

Whether you agree or disagree with these words as an answer to an inquiry or a statement of declaration, it all depends on the intention and meaning behind them.  Are they spoken with the Spirit in mind or with convenience or opinion in mind?  We are charged to love and do right by others when we see the need and have the resources.

My recommendation would be to not use these six words lightly.  The Bible doesn’t mince words.  Nor does Jesus.  Nor should we.

Power of words banner

*See definition of “pigeonhole” when used as a verb. Source: dictionary.com

Seek details in the little things

by Trey Campbell, treycampbell1010@gmail.com

The little things. It’s funny how God puts little things in our everyday life to reminds us of Him and his undying love for us through His son Jesus.

NailA lone nail lies on the road.  To some it may be a road hazard.  To others, it may be God’s reminder that Jesus died for our sins and as humans, we sin all the time.  Through the crucifixion, Jesus gave us eternal salvation.  For this moment, the nail in the road is a symbol of the ultimate leader who did not fall on his sword for his cause, but was violently beaten, mocked and nailed to a cross of wood to die a slow, agonizing death.  He bled until there was no more blood, but water pouring from his wounds.

The nail is a reminder of the sacrifice we must sometimes make for the good of everyone else – as Jesus did.  Sometimes you have to do things you just don’t want to.  And all the time, we should pay attention to the little things.  It’s the little things in life we often miss because we are seeking out the big things.  When in reality, it’s the little things that may matter more.  Like the reminder of the nail.

Here is another illustration Jesus used:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like the mustard seed planted in a field.  It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Matthew 13:31-32

Jesus makes the point that the small mustard seed – the smallest of seeds – actually becomes a tree.  The little mustard seed could easily be lost among other, larger garden seeds.  From it, however, comes one of the largest plants.  Just like that nail in the road, we should look for the little things that remind us of our purpose, keep us on track and keep us grounded.

Seek the detail… so the intention won’t be overlooked.

One more example: the beauty of a sunset far outweighs the annoyance of being blinded by the sun.  The key is to look around at the beauty that lets you know how magnificent God is.

Daily Prayer: Ask God to help you see past your clouded view and focus on the little things that really matter versus magnifying the big things that don’t really matter.

Green beans & Jesus

by Tabitha Taylor, ttaylor@southwestern.com

My grandparents live in the middle of nowhere. Their home and land casts some of the most incredible scenery I’ve ever seen.  My family and I have grown up knowing this Tennessee hollow (pronounced “haller”) as “God’s country.”  When you are there, time seems to stand still and it’s impossible to not relish in the beauty that surrounds – the beauty God made.

PawPaw & Me
Pawpaw & Me

Last weekend, I dropped by to see my wonderful Nannie and Pawpaw, but with a gazillion things on my to-do list for the day, I had mentally prepared myself for a one-hour visit. When I called Pawpaw to let him know I was on the way, his response was “we have a mess of beans to pick, get here quick.” I knew then, my one-hour visit had just become a full day. I would not turn down the opportunity to spend quality time with the people I admire so much and crave to learn from.

When I arrived, my 84-year-young Pawpaw was working diligently to put up a fence. I got out of the car and he handed me a bucket letting me know which row of green beans had my name on them. I joined two of my cousins in the massive pile of dirt and rocks that encompassed these beautiful green plants, for what seemed like miles and miles. As I began at the end of the row and worked my way towards the middle, I felt pretty accomplished. I was tearing through each plant grabbing every bean I could, but then, something happened… God met me there, right in the garden.

As I inched closer to the middle of the row, I realized the plants were growing thicker and thicker. The ones that were not spaced out, it seemed, had flourished four-times greater than the ones I had already picked. I felt like every time I picked a bean, five more appeared!

Part of the day's harvest
Part of the day’s harvest

Then I realized… these plants are abundant because they have so many strong plants surrounding them. Their stability and growth were dependent on those encompassing their immediate circle. In the thick of the garden, I had one of those “ah-ha” moments. I felt like God said to me (or at least He had these thoughts cross my mind), “These plants are like people. You need to have strong Christians around you. People that strive to walk and talk the way you do so they can help you grow and make you stronger in your faith.”

Wow! I took a deep breath, sighed, and smiled thinking about just how good God is. How much He delights in the tiny things. I thought about how He had given me my own real life parable. That’s how many stories in the Bible are anyway. When we don’t understand what Jesus was trying to say, He gave us stories that were easy to understand and share with others. Oh man, what an awesome story teller He was! He used real life situations to teach.

While this lesson may not be as profound as the Good Samaritan, the Rich Young Ruler, or the Mustard Seed, I knew in this moment, in God’s country, He was speaking directly to me. This is one of those kind of moments that will stick with me forever and will be a story I get to share with those who are not ready to talk about Jesus just yet.

I now have my own little personal parable about the time Jesus met me in the garden when I was picking green beans!  Have you ever stopped to think about what parables Jesus has written into your life?  Share them here!

Easter Edition – Crucify the Bunny!

by Trey Campbell, treycampbell1010@gmail.com

Imagine a cute, fluffy bunny strung out on a wood stake with little thorns pounded in his little bunny paws.  Other bunnies are spitting on him and mocking him.  They made a crown from a briar patch and placed it on his little head.  You got that running through your mind?

Okay, so my post title is a little strong and the example is somewhat silly, if not disturbing. It more than likely got your attention, though.  There’s always a danger in having a sensational, over-the-top, attention-getting title like this for a post, but I think it keeps in message with my theme here. Read on, and you’ll understand where I’m going with this.

For each of the two major religious holidays, I see people swept up in the commercialization of it all rather than the true intent. It’s not just them either, it’s me too.   Friend, let me tell you – Jesus is the reason for the season – whether Christmas or Easter!  Now, I’m no Scrooge, bunny-basher or egg beater.  I love the holiday fun and festivities, just not at the expense of putting it before what is more important.

rabbitt with crossWhat Jesus did – was for all of us.  It was the ultimate sacrifice.  And this ultimate sacrifice was not repentance, but redemption.  He suffered and died so our sins may be forgiven.  This wasn’t a minor suffering, like an infected splinter or shampoo in the eyes.   We’re talking a gruesome, painful and humiliating experience.  But it was an experience that served a purpose.  After all, Jesus became human so he could die.  This can be a difficult concept to grasp, but it’s the crown, so to speak, of our Christianity.  While I can’t give full justice to what this truly means in a short post, I can provide a few examples of why this is important to us all.  Take a look:

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.   – Matthew 20:28
…for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people.  It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.   – Matthew 26:28
When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied.  And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.   – Isaiah 53:11

Each of these verses have a similarity to them. “To give his life as a ransom for many.”  “As a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.”  “My righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.”  That’s right.  Jesus was crucified for the many, not the few. Crucifixion was a brutal form of death.  It was demeaning and was used to deter others from committing the same “crime.”  Jesus subsequently went through what he did knowing he would be satisfied with the results – the salvation of many.

Jesus did this, not the Easter Bunny.  He was the one who was crucified, died, buried, descended into hell, and rose on the third day only to ascend into heaven and sit at the right hand of the Father – for us all!  So, to come full-circle with the point I started – the bunny didn’t do any of this.  For all the hoopla the bunny gets – pastel eggs, fake plastic grass, Cadbury chocolates and Peeps in the basket – where’s the marketable love for Jesus? You don’t commonly see a chocolate Jesus in kid’s Easter baskets…   Anyway, let’s not crucify the bunny, but rather kill where we place a greater effort on this holy of holidays.  Let’s celebrate our Savior.  Keep in mind what Jesus did for us all the time, not just in Sunday service.

With that said, Happy Easter everyone!