Religion

Living on purpose with William Holland

We know how important it is to have a good attitude and the correct motives, especially when it comes to approaching God. Let’s recall two Bible stories that expose the human conscience and identify why some people seem to overlook what is really important in their quest for satisfaction and security.
Our first example is found in Luke, chapter 18, and is about a wealthy businessman who has a meeting with Jesus. Verse 18 says: “And a certain ruler asked Him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
It’s easy to read over this and not discern exactly what was being asked. It seems “eternal life” is what everyone is always interested in and the easy version of salvation has given the masses just enough false security to believe that all we need to do is just understand the story of Calvary and everything will be all right.
We notice at the end of this conversation that Jesus perceived the pride and greed in the businessman’s heart and knew that He needed to be blunt in explaining to him what true discipleship is all about. When He explained that salvation was more about personal relationship than keeping a list of rules, the businessman weighed the cost against the scale of his love for materialism and decided that the price was too steep.
Tragically, this is a very common reaction among people who are faced with yielding their independence. But we will never enjoy spiritual fulfillment while living in the bondage of selfishness and arrogance. Of course, we can settle for a socially acceptable religious facade but, again, God knows the intentions of our heart.
Our second story is found in Luke, chapter 19, and is about a man named Zacchaeus. This man was also a wealthy leader in his community, but notice closely what he was seeking when Jesus went into his neighborhood. Verse 3 says: “And he sought to see who Jesus was; and he could not for the press of the crowd, because he was a short man”.
The first man wanted to know how to secure a place in Heaven but Zacchaeus wanted only to know about Jesus as a person! He did not ask about a point system, political favors or how to earn enough gold stars; he was sincerely focused on God.
Likewise, we should remember that the next life is not about streets of gold but rather about who sits on its throne. Heaven is not a fire-insurance policy but the glorious honor of being with the One who rescued us because He loves us and wants to be with us for ever.
The first man walked away depressed because he wanted an easy way to guarantee a good seat in the comforts and glories of splendor.
He represents people who are satisfied with just going through the motions in order to satisfy a requirement.
Zacchaeus, on the other hand, represents those who desire to worship God in spirit and truth and are willing to sacrifice their will. Such people are filled with the spirit of God and will be delighted to shout his praises because they have a clear conscience and a clean heart!
There is never a problem so devastating that they cannot sing “It is well with my soul” and there will never
be a night so dark that they cannot trust the light of Christ to be a light unto their path. Whether in abundance or scarcity, on top of the mountain or in the valley of the shadow of death, there
is a song of triumph on their lips and the oil of gladness within their souls!
All of this is evident not because they have gathered empires of wealth and power or have been recognized and respected in the halls of man’s admiration but because they simply want to know who Jesus is.
If anyone is just using the Lord’s grace as a free reservation for Heaven, they will miss the point of salvation, but if we love God just for whom He is, we will be given the privilege to live in the joys of his presence now and for ever.
Kentucky resident William Holland is an outreach minister, chaplain and author who has his own Christian website, billyhollandministries.com, and sets out each week to find thought-provoking messages of inspiration, hope and encouragement for our readers

Living on purpose by William Holland

How many parents have waited for the day when their child’s eyes would suddenly be opened and, like the prodigal, they will finally see the truth and change their ways? Mothers and fathers dearly love their kids but, unfortunately, things do not always go as planned and many difficult children cause their parents much worry, sadness and disappointment.
It is easy to blame the parents but I do not believe that all liability can be laid at their doorstep. Parents have the perfect opportunity to present constructive thinking, discipline and a sense of right and wrong into their children’s mind and spirit within the formative years; however, doing so does not always guarantee that the children will continue in the direction in which they were pointed. We guide and provide for our children but they have a mind of their own.
Children are like sponges when it comes to learning and are very curious about what they observe, which gives every parent the dual opportunity not only to be their instructors but also to bear the responsibility of demonstrating what they believe in front of them. We must also realize that children are vulnerable to other outside influences and have the ability to embrace whatever they want.
So how important is it to protect and guard the mind and spirit of a young child? Many experts agree that the first six years in a child’s life are the most important for mental, emotional and spiritual development. It is believed that the foundation laid within children’s consciences during this crucial period becomes the decision filter they will use for the rest of their life.
It is no secret that young couples are inexperienced when they begin raising children of their own but a key to success can be connected back to their own childhood. The generational cycle of curses and blessings are very real and it is generally accepted that knowledge is transferred from generation to generation, whether it be positive or negative, and is directly associated with behavior.
It is wonderful when parents realize their own lack of understanding and make it a priority to improve the cycle for the sake of their children. Instead of a “rolling the dice” attitude, there are many wonderful educational resources that are biblically based with constructive spiritual principles.
Does the concept of good parents producing good children always work? Through the years, I have talked with many broken-hearted parents who have wondered where they went wrong. They are good people who lived a decent moral life, took their kids to church, corrected them and tried to teach them the best they could.
In trying to console them, the scripture found in Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way they should go and, when they are old, they will not depart from it” – usually has often found its way to the surface.
This passage reminds us that, if good seed has been planted within the heart of the child, God’s living word will eventually germinate and become manifested later in life. I’m sure many bewildered parents have been waiting a long time to see this miracle and we could speculate for ever but I have come to the conclusion that, when children become adults, they simply choose what type of life they want to live.
For moms and dads who have reflected on the past and where they have made mistakes, we can all ask God to forgive us – and He will. It is important that we stop blaming ourselves for the choices our children make.
The Lord is aware of the situation and is listening to our prayers. He loves us and our children and He is filled with understanding and compassion. So let us continue having faith and hope in his promises that never fail and remember that it is never too late to talk with our children and sincerely share our heart with them.
There is nothing impossible with God and He can make a way where there seems to be no way: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed; the effectual [unceasing] fervent prayer of a righteous person accomplishes much” – James 5:16.
Kentucky resident William Holland is an outreach minister, chaplain and author who has his own Christian website, billyhollandministries.com, and sets out each week to find thought-provoking messages of inspiration, hope and encouragement for our readers.

Living on purpose with William Holland

This is the time of year when Christians remember the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a season when his followers are focused on how He suffered and died on the cross and, after three days, arose from the grave.
To be honest, holy week is not really a jolly time of celebration but rather calls for serious meditation and gratitude for the gift of our salvation. It is bittersweet because it’s never pleasant to imagine a person being brutally tortured, especially when innocent, but the fact that Jesus miraculously came back to life is a demonstration of his infinite power and authority and the reason we are so filled with humility and encouragement.
Jesus did not just talk about love; He demonstrated his passion by suffering and surrendering his life so that we could live.
I admit that I am an emotional person. I remember going to see the Passion movie a few years ago and being disturbed to say the least. It is not uncommon for me to cry when I witness something that moves my soul and this was no exception.
Recently, I was watching a story about Make A Wish Foundation and how it provides a way for very sick children to realize a happy but most likely last request and it seems I cried through the entire program.
As the scenes of what Christ went through were presented, I kept thinking how could someone watch something like this and not be deeply stirred? I am not ashamed to wear my feelings on my sleeve, as I have no desire to hide behind a mask to pretend I am strong and not emotionally influenced.
Actually, I believe that, if we are not careful, we can become hardened by the harshness of life and lose our spiritual sensitivity.
I think about Jesus’ life and the reason why He came to Earth, which is explained so clearly in the 16th verse of the third chapter of John. I think about how He was betrayed by those He trusted and was denied by his closest friends.
The religious community rejected his message and, along with the demands from the general population, the legal system overwhelmingly agreed to publicly execute Him without a reason other than that they hated Him. Sadly, things have not really changed that much in the meantime.
We notice that Jesus was constantly approached by people in desperate need and it was his character to be concerned and compassionate. The world has always been filled with human suffering and He is always ready to respond in love and mercy.
Being emotional and even knowledgeable about the Bible is fine but that does not necessarily mean that someone is following Christ. It is what they do with what they have learned that transforms emotions into spiritual obedience.
When we see someone who needs help or even an encouraging word, what good does it do to just look at them with pity? Christ was always ministering to those who would reach out to Him by faith and, 2,000 years later, He is still pouring out his grace and forgiveness to anyone who calls upon his name.
As his followers, we have been called to focus our attention on becoming more like Him in spite of a troubled world that justifies walking over the wounded and being self-centered. His command to take up our cross includes letting go of our natural way of selfish thinking and to willingly embrace the empathy of Heaven.
It seems that the more I learn about Jesus’ life, the more I can sense what was being felt by those who knew Him. As we meditate on his message, we are given a deeper understanding of who He is and what He wants to do through us.
The reverential fear and awareness of who Jesus is and why He came to Earth is our hope for Heaven and it is now our responsibility to keep our spiritual eyes focused on our one true mission.
Beyond the new clothes and the Easter festivities, may we spend some time focusing on the one who loves us and who came to save us from our ourselves.
Kentucky resident William Holland is an outreach minister, chaplain and author who has his own Christian website, billyhollandministries.com, and sets out each week to find thought-provoking messages
of inspiration, hope and encouragement for our readers.

Living on purpose with William Holland

We often hear the term “it’s all about the money” but nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to hope and a sense of spiritual wellbeing. Humans use their creativity and imagination to dream about being satisfied and I would say that fantasies about power, fame and money are the most common.
The recent record-breaking lottery generated quite a bit of excitement and, like everyone else, I was amazed at how the jackpot grew and what a mesmerizing effect it had on the masses. It is our lust and greed for money that increases its influential power to deceive and distract us from what’s really important.
Certain religious interpretations declare that gambling is a sin and it might be but casting lots is not always associated with wrongdoing. I can agree that someone who cannot afford to pay their bills and yet will waste money on daily lottery tickets needs more than a financial adviser. Nonetheless, I personally do not see anything wrong with someone spending a couple of dollars every now and then for a chance of becoming financially secure.
It is true that money alone cannot bring happiness and I question whether or not even winning the lottery would truly be a blessing for many, as I believe it would depend on how mature and level-headed the individual winner is. I have also pondered that, instead of praying to have more money, maybe we should spend more time asking God how to better manage what we have.
We have all heard the stories of people who have lived modest lifestyles and then suddenly found themselves with a mind-boggling amount of financial power. However, many of these testimonies end by telling how such “blessings” have not turned out as one might think and, in the end, have actually been more like a curse.
I am not knocking money; in fact, I need it and it can do a lot of good but, in the hands of those who pay no heed to God’s instructions, it can become like a blind man operating a wrecking ball. Instead of wealth being used as an instrument to help others, it can actually use us if we are not careful by capturing our mind and possessing our soul.
The Bible mentions a lot about wealth and there is no shortage of books and sermons to help further explain its benefits and dangers. One camp teaches that God desires to bless his people with material abundance while the other side emphasizes the need to give away everything we have and live by faith alone.
I fall into the category of trying to find a reasonable balance that can enjoy God’s blessings while also learning how to be compassionate and generous toward others. Yes, Jesus told his followers to sell all they have, give the proceeds to the poor and take up their cross and follow Him, but does this mean literally or to just be willing? Surely there is no condemnation for us when we choose to work, earn a paycheck, pay our bills, build a home and support our family all the while faithfully representing Him as a true Christian.
I have also wondered if winning the lottery is strictly by chance or if God has a hand in who wins. We realize that He knows in advance who will have the correct numbers but how in the world does He choose one winner with so many people praying to win? Let’s just say it’s possible that God could give us the numbers through road signs or a dream but we must remember that more important than having a bank filled with money is to make sure we are not in love with it.
I hope we all can agree that having money and being rich are two different things and that, even if we have small finances, our true joy, peace and contentment will always be found in the secret place of God’s presence. “For the love of money is the root of all evil and, while some have coveted after it, they have turned away from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” – (I Timothy 6:10).
Kentucky resident William Holland is an outreach minister, chaplain and author who has his own Christian website, billyhollandministries.com, and sets out each week to find thought-provoking messages of inspiration, hope and encouragement for our readers.

                          RL Calhoun

By guest writer RL Calhoun

Someone once said with a note of sarcasm: “So you have a problem! Welcome to the human race!” One thing we all share is having to deal with problems, a disease that is not contagious because we all have already been infected with it. As the old song goes, “Problems, problems, all day long”, some days it is one problem after another with little peace in between.
It is an undeniable axiom that living and encountering problems go hand in hand. Problems are big and small, major and minor, anticipated and unexpected. Some are easily solved and some seem to be totally beyond the realm of solution.
There are job-related and family-related problems and others that don’t seem to be related to anything at all. The list goes on and on endlessly.
Some people think Christians ought to be immune from ever having to deal with problems. They view the Christian life as being a journey of perpetual joy. It is their conviction that there must be something wrong spiritually in the life of a Christian who has to deal with some difficult problem. The fantasy that the Christian life is problem-free is certainly not set forth in the Bible. On the contrary, from Genesis to Revelation, it is a book all about people with problems.
Don’t ever be duped into believing that God always shields his children from problems. Believe that lie and you are going to have a battle with doubt. You are going to live under a burden of constant accusation, worry and fear.
There is absolutely no doubt that God has the power to shield his children from any and all problems if He desires to do so. Yet, often He doesn’t, and that’s all part of his glorious plan.
In a promise Jesus made to his first disciples and also to you, He said: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” – John 16:33.
Now notice that Jesus didn’t say: “You might have a few problems to endure”. In effect, He said: “Make no mistake about it, as long as you live in this sin-cursed world, you are going to have problems. There will be troubles and sorrows, distresses and frustrations but never forget; I have overcome the world. I have deprived it of its power to conquer you.”
Many people pretend problems don’t exist, practicing a philosophy of denial – “If I act like they’re not there, maybe they’ll go away.” The truth is that most problems don’t just suddenly vanish into oblivion. They have to be faced and handled.
Many others try to run away from their problems, adopting the position Charlie Brown takes in a Peanuts cartoon: “This is a distinct philosophy of mine. There is no problem too great or too small that it can’t be run away from.” But people who try to run away from problems invariably run right into a set of new ones.
Tragically, some folks just give into the problems that confront them, becoming defeated and depressed. Sometimes, people overwhelmed by seemingly impossible problems see no way out except suicide. Although problems can seem insurmountable, none is ever big enough to cause us to end our life. More than any problem any of us will ever face will be our attitude toward that problem. We need to remember that every problem has a limited life span. It is our attitude that will get us through the storm and on the other side where the problem has been resolved.
Everyone should respond to the problem of problems by viewing trials and difficulties as the means of spiritual advancement. If we had no problems, we would have no spiritual growth in our life. In the world of athletics, there’s a slogan “No pain, no gain” – its Christian equivalent is “No problems, no progress”.
Holy God is up to something in your life and the problems you have to deal with often form the method He utilizes to make his purpose for your life a reality.
Everyone should respond to the problem of problems by maintaining a strong faith in the Lord. God doesn’t want his people whimpering. He wants us to have faith in Him even when it seems to make no sense to do so. Our confession is to be: “Lord, I see the problem. It’s there but so are You. It’s a great problem indeed but, Lord, You are greater. I know that You will grant me the victory in Your own way and in Your own time.”
If you are dealing with some huge problem in your life right now, be assured that God loves you. He is ready, willing and able to overcome any problem you are facing. In fact, He offers you this invitation: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me” – Psalm 50:15.
RL Calhoun is pastor of New Life Fellowship church in Texas City.