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'Your Position has to be Right'
'Let not your Heart be Troubled'
'Our Place in History'
'The Love Principle'
'In Every Place at the Same Time'

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'Your Position has to be Right'

Teaching bible study earlier this evening provided an opportunity to raise a very important question. I asked the congregation if their spiritual position is right with the Lord. I raised this question because of my recent study of Genesis 3:8-10. In this passage of scripture, Adam has sinned. As a result of his sin, he hides from God when the Lord asked about his whereabouts. If you actually thought that God asked Adam about his whereabouts because he could not find him, then it is time for you to revisit this text because God's question had nothing to do with Adam's geographical location, but everything to do with Adam's spiritual position with the Lord. God was enquiring about Adam's lack of spiritual fellowship. In other words, Adam was not in the right position, he was no longer on the same spiritual page as the Lord, because he comprimised his relationship with God when he sinned against Him.
 
How often do we seek God due to our need for greater intimacy or an answer to a particular prayer? How often do we find ourselves without an answer or just feeling totally alone? Often times we feel like God is not there, simply is not listening or just don't care. All three (3) are as far from the truth as east is from west or north from south. The problem is not with God, the problem is with our spiritual position. Sometimes we are simply not where we need to be spiritually. Like Adam, our spiritual position for many reasons is not right, and the main act is SIN!
 
The next time you feel stuck in neutral spiritually, take the time to examine your spiritual position. If you find yourself on the wrong spiritual page, then take the time to resolve whatever is breaking your fellowship with the Lord. Remember, when God ask the question, "Where art thou", He's not asking about your geographical location, He's asking about your lack of intimacy and fellowship with Him.
 
Copyright (c) Elton L. Young
All Rights Reserved  

'Let not your Heart be Troubled'

Thursday, July 5, 2012 I received a call informing me of the death of a close friend of the family that was robbed in his home at gun point, unfortunately shot, and later died.  As a minister I was asked to console the family and eulogize this young man.  What a responsibility; to be asked to console a family during one of the most difficult life experiences for any family. 
 
Monday, July 9, 2012 we celebrated the life of a young man that for many ended much too quickly and so unexpectedly.  During my personal devotional time this week the Lord instructed me to share words of encouragement for those that have loss a loved one to violence. 
 
We understand or become much more acquainted with death when the death angel places his hands upon one whom we love.  As Benjamin Franklin said, “Death takes no bribes.”  More importantly are the words of Jesus who said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”  Some may ask, how can the Lord make such a request, especially at a time like this?  As a minister, the Lord blessed me to give three (3) answers to the above question:
 
1.      God knows the deceased better than you or I ever will
2.      God will never fail His children
3.      Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life
 
Remember, God knows our thoughts before we think them and our decisions before we make them.  God knows the number of hairs upon our head.  The above facts tell me that even when we do not understand why death occurs, we serve a God that has the answer to all of life’s unanswered questions.  Therefore, we rest assured that God will never fail His children.  Peter failed Christ by denying he ever knew Him, and Judas failed Christ by betraying him with a kiss.  But, no where in history will we ever find where Christ failed us.  For the families that have loss a loved one to violence, remember, Jesus is bread when you hunger for justice and water when you thirst for righteousness.  He’s a bridge over troubled waters and shelter in the time of storm.  He will never fail you.
 
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  He is the way to God, the revelation of God, and the communication of God to us.  Celebrate the life and legacy of your loved one with these words:
 
When I am gone, release me, let me go,
I have so many things to see and do
You mustn’t tie yourself to me with tears.
Be happy that we had so many years.
I gave you my love, so many can only guess
how much you gave me in happiness.
I thank you for the love each have shown,
But now it’s time I travel alone.
So grieve awhile for me, if grieve you must,
Then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It’s only for awhile that I must part,
So bless the memories within your heart,
And then when you must come this way alone,
I’ll greet you with a smile and a “Welcome Home.”
 
Author Unknown
 
Copyright © Elton L. Young, 2002-2012
‘All Rights Reserved’
.

'Our Place in History'

As we as a nation celebrate our independence on this 4 of July let us do so by reflecting upon ourselves individually and as a nation.  When we look back over personal achievements and failures let’s keep in heart and mind the words of Frank Nelson who once said, “A great man does not make his place in history.  He finds it and fills it.”  Have you found your identity in terms of God’s will for your life?  If so, are you now filling your place in history?  In terms of marriage, how well are you caring for your spouse/family?  In terms of blessings, how often do you pass them forward?  When it comes to the poor, how much do you care about the less fortunate?  The people that Jesus Christ said would always be with us.  Find your place in history and fill it with love and compassion for the less fortunate and more.
 
 
We should also reflect upon ourselves as a nation.  An unknown author once said, “The highways of history are strewn with the wreckage of nations that forgot God.”  There are times when reading and listening to national debates that I find myself asking the question, is America now a member of that highway of wreckage?  Have we forgotten God?  When it comes to representation for the poor and working class, are we now part of that wreckage?  When it comes to the ability to show more compassion for institutions and corporations, and little to no concern for the poor, working and middle class, are we part of that wreckage?  As a nation, we not only need to find and fill our place in history, but make sure that what we fill history with is not an identity that describes us nationally as selfish, self-centered, and only concerned about the three (3) m’s (Me Myself and Mines). 
 
 
What kind of nation will we leave for future generations?  The builders (those born before 1945), built the United States into a worldwide military and economic power (African Americans included).  The Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y are now on the scene and filling their place in history.  I cannot speak for others, but I can say with all humility; as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord in Spirit and in truth.  Our actions will speak louder than our words when it comes to not only caring for self and family, but for those that cannot care for themselves.  Remember, “The power to purpose in the heart is the spinal column of personality and the measure of manhood.” 
 
 
Copyright © Elton L. Young, 2002-2012
‘All Rights Reserved’
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'The Love Principle'

J. Oswald Sanders in his book, ‘Spiritual Discipleship’ shares a beautiful story about love.  “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).  On Saturday evenings it was the custom in the home of the godly Samuel Rutherford to prepare for the Lord’s Day by going through the catechism with his family.  Question and answer went around the table.  One evening the exercise was interrupted by a knock at the door.  The hospitable Rutherford invited the stranger to join the family circle.  When it was the stranger’s turn to answer, the question was, “How many commandments are there?”  “Eleven,” he replied.  Rutherford was astonished that a so obviously well-educated man should be so ignorant, so he corrected him.  The stranger, however, justified his answer by quoting the words of Jesus: “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another” (John 13:34). 
 
Rutherford extended hospitality to him for the night.  As he was walking to the church on the morning of the Lord’s Day, he heard a voice raised in prayer behind the hedge and recognized the voice of the stranger.  It was a wonderful prayer, and the surprised minister waited until the stranger emerged.  “Who are you?” he inquired.  “I am Archbishop Ussher, the Primate of Ireland,” was the reply.  “I had heard so much about your piety,” he continued, “that I took this method of finding out for myself.”  As they talked, their hearts flowed together in their common devotion to the Lord.  Not surprisingly the archbishop was invited to preach, and you can guess his text: “A new commandment I give to you.”  J. Oswald Sanders concluded by stating that a disciple of Christ is one who not only studies His teaching but obeys His commands as well.  Therefore, John 13:34-35 gives the outward view of discipleship and have to do with our relations with our fellow men. 
 
The outward view of discipleship and the love principle we share one to another is a statement that we cannot take lightly.  I often think about how often we pray asking the Lord to enlarge our territory, and add new converts to our church membership.  When such prayers do not appear to be answered how often do we take the time to consider why?  Maybe, just maybe, the way in which we love one another has something to do with prayers that often go unanswered.  If we as brothers and sisters in Christ cannot, will not, and or choose not to love one another as Christ has loved us, then why should the Lord send new numbers our way, or for that matter enlarge our territory.  We must practice loving one another in order to extend our God given love to others.  As my father often said, “Son, you must learn how to disagree without being disagreeable.”  One of the true measurements of love my friends is the ability to love one another during times of opposition and times of peace.  Frederick A. Agar once said, “Love never asks how much must I do, but how much can I do.”      
 
“A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).  As a congregation, family, and or individual, how often do we as Christians demonstrate the true definition of love as recorded in the above listed text?  If we are not working out as often as we should, remember, practice makes perfect.  
 
Copyright © Elton L. Young, 2002-2012
‘All Rights Reserved’
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'In Every Place at the Same Time'

As I enjoyed my quiet time with the Lord this morning I could not help but think about His power. We serve a God that is not only all powerful, but One who has the ability to be in every place at the same time.  Greek language describes such ability as “Omnipresent.”  How blessed we are to serve a God that does not have to come and see about us, nor does He have to stop by the hospital, nursing, or any other home for that matter to visit with us, simply because He’s already there.  He is in every place at the same time. 
 
Let’s call a witness name David to the stand:
Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
 
Psalm 139:7-10 
 
No matter our situation, and despite the circumstances, the fact remains that we serve the true and living God.  As a result, “We can have a little talk with Jesus, tell Him all about our troubles.  He will hear out faintest cry, and will answer bye and bye.  Just a little talk with Jesus makes it right.”  Despite the challenges we face, remember, God is always present, and He always has the answer.
 
“God is the answer…
When you have sinned and need forgiveness;
When you are about to make a decision;
When you feel ill toward another;
When you think you are better than other people;
When your home is at the point of breaking;
When your marriage begins to waver;
When your children begin to lose respect for you;
When you want to live a life of triumph and joy – for here and hereafter.”
Bethel Methodist Church News
 
God is in every place at the same time.  Helping us with every situation, and protecting us from evil with His right hand.  What a mighty God we serve!
 
 
Copyright © Elton L. Young, 2002-2012
‘All Rights Reserved’
 

'Watch God Show Up'

 
I am blessed to have a very close relationship with my sister.  She assisted my mother with my upbringing, and to this day she continues to play a significant role in my life.  Our sibling bond is so close that she knows without me telling her when I’m wrestling with something spiritually, and or praying for something specifically.  Right before going on vacation I had been asking God to show up mightily in a particular area in my life.  This prayer had been a part of my devotion for two (2) days when all of a sudden my phone rang, and on the other line was my sister.  As soon as I said hello, she responded by saying, “I picked up your spirit and I know that you are praying for God’s intervention.  Read Psalm 40 daily and watch God show up.”  As instructed, I made Psalm 40 a daily part of my devotion, and as my sister stated, God showed up in a mighty way.  The windows of heaven were opened, and God continues to this very day to shower me with His blessings. 
 
 
 
I share the above testimony with each reader for two (2) important reasons: First, if you do not have an accountability partner that you can share anything with then make it a priority to pray and ask God to bless you with a friend in the faith that you can truly bond with.  Second, when you know God is doing something special in your life, and you find people around you that do not have your well being at heart, read Psalm 40 and then watch the devil and his helpers flee.  Remember, if we bring the faith, God’s got the power!
 
If led by the Holy Spirit, make Psalm 40 a part of your daily devotion.  In this Psalm of David you will find the following and more:
 
ü     David expresses thanksgiving for God’s loving kindness
ü     David verbalizes and demonstrates total commitment to the Lord
ü     David seeks mercy because total commitment does not guarantee stress free living
ü     Poverty and need results in rejoicing and praise!
 
Psalm 40
King James Version (KJV)
 
40 “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
 
And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.
 
Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
 
Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.
 
Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.
 
Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,
 
I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
 
I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest.
 
I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
 
Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.
 
For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.
 
Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me: O Lord, make haste to help me.
 
Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.
 
Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha.
 
Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified.
 
But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.”
 
Speaking from personal experience, God will Show Up!
 
Copyright © Elton L. Young, 2002-2012
‘All Rights Reserved’
 
    

'Take Time'

 
There are two (2) things I’ve learned well: 1) You can’t please everyone so stop trying, and 2) Live and enjoy a balanced life to the best of your abilities, which is exactly what I continue to enjoy, and have especially enjoyed over the past two (2) weeks.  For the past twelve (12) years I have enjoyed preparing for vacation the week leading up to Father’s day, and being part of a wonderful Christian education conference the week following Father’s Day.  Two beautiful weeks I enjoy each year and look forward to the next.  If you are blessed to be in a position whereby you can take advantage of some well deserved time off, my encouragement to you is to take it.  Don’t allow your life to be fully consumed with work having no time for play.  The Bible so eloquently reminds us that there is a time and place for everything. 
 
The Hawkinsville Dispatch News put the importance of taking time like this:
 
Take Time
 
Take time to work – it is the price of success.
                                                                                                                 
Take time to think – it is the source of power.
                                                                                                                   
Take time to play – it is the secret of perpetual youth.
                                                                                                  
Take time to read – it is the foundation of wisdom.
                                                                                                         
Take time to worship – it is the highway to reverence.
                                                                                                   
Take time to be friendly – it is the road to happiness.                                                                                                          
Take time to dream – it is hitching one’s wagon to a star.                                                                                                  
Take time to live – it is one secret of success.                                                                                                                 
Take time for friendship – it is a source of happiness.                                                                                                             
Take time to laugh – it helps lift life’s load.                                                                                                                            
Take  time to worship – it is the highway of reverance.                                                                                                          
Take time to pray – it helps to bring Christ near, and washes the dust of earth
from our eyes.   
                 
Take time to be holy – for without holiness no man shall see the Lord.                                                                        
Take time for God – He is life’s only lasting investment. 
   
Enjoy the summer months ahead, and be sure to take time for you and yours.
 
Copyright © Elton L. Young, 2002-2012 
‘All Rights Reserved’

'Success'

Dale Carnegie once said, “Develop success from failure.  Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”  How do you measure success?  Is your personal definition of success based upon material gain, or is your success measured with a different type of yardstick?  If you haven’t determined how success will be measured, this may be the perfect time to secure a sound definition and begin practicing it.  Unfortunately, some do not achieve a sound definition of success, which often results in lifestyle measurements that base one’s being solely upon material gain.  In other words, material value determines personal worth instead of personal worth determining what one values.  I believe this is one reason why Campbell said, “The profit of life is life, not money.”  It is more important to determine your own worth rather than allow others to include material things to determine worth for you.
 
An unknown author defined ‘Seven Steps to Success’ by stating that steps to success from a biblical basis demands that we commence by starting (John 3:7), confess Christ by speaking (Romans 10:9), concentrate by studying (John 5:39), commune by seeking (I Thessalonians 5:17), communicate by serving (II Corinthians 6:1), contribute by supplying (I Corinthians 16:2), and continue by being satisfied (Revelation 2:10). 
  
When our definition of success is no longer based solely upon material gain, we begin to experience life from a holistic view point.  As the unknown author further stated:
 
"To be able to carry money without spending it;
To be able to bear an injustice without retaliating;
To be able to do one's duty even when one is not watched;
To be able to keep at the job until it is finished;
To be able to accept criticism without letting it whip you;
This is success
 
  Copyright © Elton L. Young, 2002-2012
 ‘All Rights Reserved’
 
 

'Expect Excellence'

 
The late Steve Jobs once said, “Be a yardstick of quality.  Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”  As a mental health professional, I have conducted many counseling sessions whereby I encouraged the client to exercise what we call Positive Affirmations on a daily basis.  It’s a simple technique that involves looking into a mirror and saying something positive about yourself each day.  One of many reasons such an exercise is so important is because of how one feels and what one says about self.  If we are not careful, we can easily become our own worse enemy and critic.  Henry Van Dyke once said, “Self is the only prison that can bind the soul.”  Therefore, more important than what others may say or how others may feel about you is how you feel about self, because the individual has the power to imprison his or her own soul. 
 
Personally, I thank God for surrounding me with mentors during the most difficult times of my life.  Mentors that reminded, encouraged, and challenged me to exercise positive affirmations as often as needed.  Mentors that cared more about me and my potential than about what others had to say.  As a result, I decided a long time ago that maintaining a positive self image, and refusing to allow others to determine my identity would be the direction in which I would prayerfully chart life’s course.  I thank God that He knows me even to number of hairs on my head.  When such a mindset is developed and maintained, the conclusions others my come to has no control because you know who you are, and to whom you belong.  Paul’s words to the Galatians(1:1) serve as a perfect example when he wrote, “Paul, an apostle, (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead),…”  In other words, Paul was simply informing the saints of the fact that his identity in Christ Jesus remains intact and secure, because he knows who he is, and where he stands.  In other words, the world did not give it, and the world cannot take it away.” 
    
When we keep the words of Steve Jobs in heart and mind, and commit ourselves biblically to a dedication of excellence, we possess and maintain the ability to fulfill our destiny.  Remember, God expects excellence from us on a daily basis.  He knows we will not obtain perfection in this current body, but nevertheless, He expects for us to strive for perfection each and every day. 
 
Laurence Sterne so eloquently said, “To have a respect for ourselves guides our morals; and to have a deference for others governs our manners.”
      
Copyright © Elton L. Young, 2002-2012      
‘All Rights Reserved’
 
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Minimizing Extremes during the Growth of New Wood’

Rev. Hector Mackinnon once said, “It is impossible to overestimate the importance of growth in grace.  To healthy life, growth is absolutely necessary.  Indeed, it may be questioned whether there is real, true life at all where there is no growth.  It is true in other spheres than the spiritual, whether it be in plant life, or animal life, or any other kind of life you choose to mention, that, unless there be growth and development, there is decay and destruction.” 
 
I would like to raise a thought provoking question.  How much unnecessary decay and destruction is sometimes caused in the name of growth?  I raise this very important question because of what may be considered in many cases a bad habit when decisions are constantly made to throw the baby out with the bath water.  For example, as a specialist in the conflict management and conflict resolution, I cannot tell how many times I’ve intervened as a mediator dealing with the subject matter of growth, especially when it comes to new leadership in the church.  Often times, the history of the church are referred to as ‘tradition’ and given a negative connotation; thus begin the process of throwing the baby out with the bath water as past generations use to say.  This process is often called a ‘new thing’ and is often sold as the agenda that will revitalize, renew, and grow the congregation.  This process often results in what I call an Extreme Make Over, because foundational members leave for other pastures often due to their spiritual needs no longer being met, as evidenced by new programming/procedures catering more heavily to a more suitable geographical make up.  I am not saying that this process should never take place, but I am saying that this process often takes place unnecessarily, and many times comes to the same result, as evidenced by the numbers often balancing out the same, and in some cases worse with the only difference being that the needs of one group is no longer being met at the expense of another.  In other words, people are at times left out under the best intentions. 
   
As a preacher, mental health professional, and conflict resolution-management specialist, I have learned and have taught others the importance of seeking God’s guidance for meeting the holistic needs of the laity’s geographical make-up.  That’s right, when administered prayerfully and carefully, leadership can experience the best of both worlds; the history and heritage of the church, and the new blood it seeks to include.  The truth of the matter is experiencing the best of both worlds is in many cases a lot harder than just implementing a new system from scratch. 
 
When Longfellow was well along in years, his head as white as snow, but his cheeks as red as a rose, an ardent admirer asked him how it was that he was able to keep so vigorous and write so beautifully.  Pointing to a blooming apple tree nearby, he replied:  “That apple tree is very old, but I never saw prettier blossoms upon it than those it now bears.  The tree grows a little new wood every year, and I suppose it is out of that new wood that those blossoms come.  Like the apple tree, I try to grow a little new wood every year.”  Yes, we can respect the godly history and heritage of the congregation, and welcome the arrival of new wood at the same time.  Together, what a beautiful blossom we can experience.
       
Copyright © Elton L. Young, 2002-2012
‘All Rights Reserved’