The act of facing overwhelming odds prod

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The act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty – Malcom Gladwell

The Fantastic 4: Stand Tall or Not at All

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fantastic

by Pastor Michael J. Rubino, Ed.D.

There is no way to half-stand up for the truth.  The closest thing to a half-stand is a sit-down and if that’s your strategy then you’re better off laying it down.  In Revelation 3:15-16 the Church at Laodicea is told:

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

The Bible contains the first recorded adventure of the original Fantastic Four: Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  Contained within that story is an epic stand fit for any Hollywood movie.  The type of movie where you leave pumped up and motivated to stand tall.

This particular stand contained three things which gave it incredible impact:

1.)  The right Foundation

They choose God’s nourishment over the best the world had to offer (Daniel 1:11-14) and they were blessed because of it (Daniel 1:15-20). I want to challenge everyone to take some time you normally set aside for man’s physical nourishment and spend it seeking God’s spiritual nourishment.  This will help us build a strong foundation to stand on.

2.)  The right Attitude

They chose God’s commandment over the current world system.  In Daniel 3:16-18 the Fantastic Four tell King Nebuchadnezzar that while their God was capable of saving them that if He choose not to it wouldn’t change their decision.

This is vital because as Christians we tend to view God as a parachute we wear in-case the flight goes down.  He has to deliver us because he loves us, right???   Our attitude has to be one of complete submission to God’s sovereignty regardless of the possible outcomes. This attitude will give us the strength to stand in the face of incredible odds.

3.)  The right Platform

They chose to publicly identify with God instead of privately bemoaning the new world.  Daniel made a choice to petition his God openly regardless of the government’s insistence that they receive all petitions.  This platform will encourage others to stand and multiply your influence.

Like the Fantastic Four we live in a fallen world but that just gives us the opportunity to stand out for God by standing tall for Him.

Are you standing tall, sitting down, or laying down?

Leave the Monk, Carry the Man, & Survive the Cold

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monk

by Pastor Michael J. Rubino, Ed.D.

Galatians 6:2 tells us to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”.

Unfortunately, we often make everything in our lives about US.  We have become the ultimate consumer society.  Technology allows us to have multiple shallow relationships which require little to no effort.  We cry out, “My burdens are hard enough to bear, keep yours to yourself.”

However, taking the focus off of ourselves and placing it on those around us is exactly what the Bible instructs us to do.  It saves us from ourselves and the narcissism which comes so natural in our society.  Sometimes carrying someone else’s burden can even save your life.

Sadhu Sundar Sinngh (1889-1929) was raised as a Sikh, and converted to Hinduism at an early age. Not satisfied with the answers he discovered in Hindu theology, he began to search for more answers elsewhere. The following is an account of an event which occurred after his conversion to Christianity.

Shortly after coming to Christ, Sadhu felt called to become a missionary to India. Late one afternoon Sadhu was traveling on foot through the Himalayas with a Buddhist monk. It was a bitter cold and the wind felt like a cold blade slicing into Sadhu’s skin. Night was fast approaching when the monk warned Sadhu that they were in danger of freezing to death if they did not reach the monastery before darkness fell.

Just as they were traversing a narrow path above a steep precipice, they heard a cry of help. Down the cliff lay a man, fallen and badly hurt. The monk looked at Sadhu and said, “Do not stop. God has brought this man to his fate. He must work it out for himself.” Then he quickly added while walking on, “Let us hurry on before we, too, perish.”

But Sadhu replied, “God has sent me here to help my brother, I cannot abandon him.”

The monk continued trudging off through the whirling snow, while the missionary clambered down the steep embankment. The man’s leg was broken and he could not walk. So Sadhu took his blanket, made a sling of it, and tied the man on his back. Then, bending under his burden, he began a body-torturing climb. By the time he reached the narrow path again, he was drenched with perspiration.

Doggedly, he made his way on through the deepening snow. It was dark now and it was all he could do to follow the path. But he persevered, though faint with fatigue and overheated from exertion. Finally, he saw ahead the lights of the monastery.

Then, for the first time, Sadhu stumbled and nearly fell — but not from weakness. He had stumbled over some object lying in the snow-covered road. Slowly he bent down on one knee and brushed the snow off the object. It was the body of the monk, frozen to death.

Years later a disciple of Sadhu’s asked him, “What is life’s most difficult task?”

Without hesitation, Sadhu replied:  “To have no burden to carry.”

Are you willing to carry another person’s burden?

Do you know someone who would be willing to carry yours?

I would love to hear from you…

 

How hot are you?

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212-Media (2)

At 211 degrees, water is hot but it does not have the ability to create power.  At 212 degrees, it boils, and with boiling water, comes steam, and with steam you can power a locomotive.

I don’t know where you are in life.  Chances are you may feel stuck in at least one or more areas.  Don’t give up! Wake up everyday determined to go the extra mile.

Remember, one degree of effort may be all that is needed to power through to the next stop on your life journey.  Sounds silly, until you realize that applying one extra degree of temperature to water means the difference between sitting at the train station or heading cross-country.

The question is – How hot are you?

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison

by Pastor Michael J. Rubino, Ed.D.

I would love to hear from you…

Post-Christian America, Spiritual Warfare, and the Apostle Paul

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war

by Pastor Michael J. Rubino, Ed.D.

Christian’s are enlisted into spiritual warfare the day they are saved.  As children we are taught this philosophy; most of us learned the song “I’m in the Lords Army” in either Sunday school, VBS or BOTH.  As adults, we sometimes shy away from this and embrace more of a “God is my ez-chair” Christian philosophy.

The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 2:3-4:

“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”

America has moved past the pretense of governing itself as a Christian nation.  As believers, it is imperative that we not only recognize this but plan accordingly.  We need to learn to love those who increasingly hate us.  Witness to those who wish to silence us.  Show the world that our faith goes beyond the four walls of our church of choice. To accomplish this, we will need to become spiritual soldiers.

Every good soldier needs to know three things:

1.  Their Limitations (the flesh – you limit you)

Let’s face it, we are our own worst enemy.  For those who are reading this and don’t think so, let me help you with that.  The Apostle Paul, a Christian who has accomplished more than any of us ever will wrote the following:

Romans 7:19 “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”

Remember the Bible tells us to flee from temptation – install some spiritual guardrails in your life before you swerve off the road.  If you have a problem with gambling maybe you may need to stay away from all card games.  If you have a drinking problem you may not want to go to a super bowl party where alcohol is being served.  Just remember that you can’t necessarily put those limitations on another Christians.

2.  Their Enemy (the Devil is your Enemy – not your liberal neighbor)

Christians have a habit of picking one of two extremes in regards to the devil.

  • The Devil made me do it! – The Devil is given CREDIT for every malady that befalls them or is to blame for every sin they commit.
  • Devil, what devil? – The Devil is completely UNDERESTIMATED and almost entirely ignored. Peter knew better, he warned us:

1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking who he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”

3. Their Equipment

Christian’s have one offensive weapon in their arsenal.  It has never failed and can never be replaced.  It is not a political party, denomination, particular pastor or new form of worship music.  It is the inerrant and infallible Word of God!

If you don’t have a daily relationship with the word of God – you will not have the means to win battles: worship music can’t replace it, serving in ministry can’t replace it, tithing 80% can’t replace it, and going to church can’t replace it.  Get in your Bible and stay there; it is the one thing I guarantee will change your life.

Take hold of what Ephesians 6:17 refers to as the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Are you living your life as a soldier for Christ or have you surrendered to your flesh and the devil? 

Are you willing to fight for what you believe in or are you hiding your “light under a bushel?” 

I would love to hear from you…

The Royal Line by the Gospel Project

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I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did!

The Royal Line

A devotional thought from Jonathan Leeman for “The Land”

Matthew 1:5-6: “Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab, Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth, Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered King David.”

Consider four things about these unexpectedly remarkable words. First, notice the two names you would not expect to find in the family charts of a celebrated king like David: Rahab and Ruth. Typically, people want to lay open the gold-encrusted genealogical tomes of their nation’s royal families and find inspiring stories of valor, chivalry, and pure blood. But a prostitute and a foreigner? Why would God include them in the royal line of David?

Second, observe the fact that this genealogy doesn’t stop with David but descends to an even greater King, Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:16). God has placed such women not just in the line of David but of His sinless Son. He wants us to go back to books like Joshua and Ruth, where these two women are found, and see that He is working out His plan of redemption even there. And He’s using the most unlikely characters to do it.

Third, rejoice in what these first two observations mean for you. God unites both the sinful and the strange to himself. You are not too sinful for the Father to love you and adopt you into the family of His Son. You are not too strange for the Son to embrace you saying, “My brother” or “My sister.”

Fourth, consider what all this means for our churches. They should be fellowships of repentant sinners and reconciled strangers. Do you share the gospel only where it’s safe? Then there’s a lesson for you in Rahab. Do all of your Christian friends look just like you? Then there’s instruction for you from Ruth.

Praise Jesus. He is not ashamed to call us family and to pronounce, “Here I am with the children God gave me” (Heb. 2:11-13).

Pause and Reflect

• Why is the inclusion of Rahab and Ruth in the genealogy of Jesus good news for you?

• Picture the faces of both your non-Christian and Christian friends. What’s the lesson of Rahab and Ruth for you?

Bob Ross and what 2013 will look like for you…

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Bob Ross 2013

By Dr. Michael J. Rubino

What 2013 will look like is up to you.  Right now, it is a blank canvas.  It is a 365-day masterpiece that has yet to be painted. Every day you get to add one stroke.  Make each one count!

Happy New Year!

Would love to hear about some of your New Year goals and resolutions…

Emotion Gone Wild and the Fiscal Cliff

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Fiscal Cliff

By Dr. Michael J. Rubino

Our country is in crisis and our leaders have decided to play political chicken with our financial future.  Chests are puffed out, feathers have been preened, and the public is waiting at the monkey bars to watch the fight after school.

The problem we are facing today is that rampant emotionalism has infected both our political system and society at large.  How we feel has become more important than what we doDecisions are made based on our base emotions instead of our base principles.

To make sound decisions while facing a crisis we must first accept three things:

  1. Principles matter! As Dr. Timothy Kelly once said, “All of societies problems can be traced back to a moral failing.”
  2. Feelings are temporary!  How we feel right now is subject to varied situational factors and can/will change.
  3. Compromise is critical! Compromise is not a “dirty word” but instead a measure of our maturity level.

It is time that we stand up and demand that our leaders grow up and get the job done.  Of course, we must be prepared to do the same.  Whatever the fiscal cliff outcome, it is time we reclaim our destiny from the extreme emotionalists on both sides of the political isle!

How would you solve the fiscal cliff standoff?

Will this be the straw that breaks our political systems back?

 

12/12/12: The Gift of the Moment

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By Dr. Michael J. Rubino

Unique.12

Two days ago we experienced the last time we will see a date similar to 12/12/12.  The uniqueness of this date was discussed nationwide.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines unique as being the only one: being without a like or equal.

Truth be told, every day in which we live is as unique as 12/12/12.  We will only have one 12/14/12 in the entirety of our lives. Time is not a renewable resource.  We have a set amount, we use it, and then we pass on to eternity.

Often I find myself living either in the past or the future and ignoring the present.  This modus operandi has robbed me of many days in which I could have enjoyed the unique gift of the moment.  If you’re like me you need to remind yourself that the past, present, and future all serve a unique purpose:

  • Purpose of the Past: To teach and provide us with an ever shifting paradigm as information is collated within our memory banks. It is NOT to be used as a means to keep yourself on the Hamster Wheel of Guilt.
  • Purpose of the Present: To write our story and provide us with a stage in which we can act boldly on.  It is NOT to be used to focus solely on the past or future, whether good or bad.
  • Purpose of the Future: To motivate and provide us with the hope of a better tomorrow.  It is NOT to be used to devalue the experience of your present circumstance.

The following is a must watch video by Blaine Hogan and is a powerful reminder to “BE HERE NOW”:

http://www.blainehogan.com/post/372/be-here-now/

Does anyone out there have any tips on how to live in the present?

I would love to hear and learn from you…

Communication, Church Leadership, and Charlie Brown Teacher Syndrome

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by Dr. Michael J. Rubino

CB.teacher

Communicating sounds like a straightforward process.  In theory, there is a speaker providing information which a listener then absorbs.  However, this is not always the case, especially when we find ourselves in a familiar setting.  Often one of us is speaking and the other hears Charlie Brown’s teacher!

Let me explain…

Have you ever driven home and not remembered the drive?  Sometimes our mind is so familiar with a routine that it places itself on autopilot.  Have you ever left church and not remembered what the message was?  I can answer an emphatic yesto both of these questions.  I have coined this as coming down with Charlie Brown Teacher syndrome.

Every Sunday morning, pastors across America attempt to communicate God’s timeless truths in 40 minutes or less. People are tired, kids are fidgeting, and the subject matter is challenging.  To top it all off, they must combat this dreaded syndrome!

Over the years, I have learned three basic truths I believe will help speakers communicate more effectively with their audience.  If you are a pastor, public speaker, or in church leadership, I hope you will find them helpful:

  • Know your audience:  Different cultures, communities, and age groups absorb and interpret information differently.  Allow your mission to trump your method.  Challenge this truth at your own peril.
  • Engage your audience: Communication is a two-way street.  Make eye contact with your audience often, minimize potential platform distractions, and tell personal stories that relate to your topic.
  • Challenge your audience: This is church; the intent is to transform not to simply inform.  Provide actionable steps your church members can take in the upcoming week to live out the Word of Life within their everyday lives.

Have you learned any “communication truths” that could be added to this list?

I would love to hear from you…