Sunday, December 9, 2018

Parable of Two Christmas Trees


Syndicated columnist Mike Royko once wrote about a poor couple shopping for a Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve they went to a tree lot that was about to close. They couldn’t afford a nice tree so they asked if the owner would sell them two of the worst looking trees for $3. He agreed to the nominal price for the sad pair of sparse spruce.

On Christmas Day the tree lot owner walked by the couple's apartment and saw a beautifully decorated tree through the window. Overcome by curiosity, he knocked on the door to find out what happened, and then learned “the secret.” The couple explained how they took the two trees and tied them together with wire. Each had one very bare side, but when merged together they created a full tree.

Reflecting on his wife who had died six years earlier, Royko finished the column with these words: “So that’s the secret. You take two trees that aren’t perfect, that have flaws…that maybe nobody else would want. But if you put them together just right, you can come up with something really beautiful. Like two people, I guess.” (One More Time, Mike Royko, 2000, p.185).

This is a picture of God’s intent for marriage where “the two shall become one flesh” (Mark 10:8). Two flawed people can make a better couple, not by arguing about their differences but by combining the best qualities of both people. Kind of like two Christmas trees, I guess.
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Making Life Count Ministries
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www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Taking a Big Chance


In 1991, a Cuban pilot named Orestes Perez defected to the United States in a Soviet-made MiG jet. He told his wife, “Remember, even if it takes years, I will come back for you and my children.” He went to the news media, the United Nations, President Bush, and even Mikhail Gorbachev for help to bring his family to U.S., but got none.

Finally, he took matters into his own hands in December 1992. Perez borrowed a twin-engine Cessna 310 and flew out of a Miami airport to Cuba. He knew he could get shot down by flying into Cuban airspace, so he flew low to avoid radar. He landed the plane in Cuba on a two-lane highway in the middle of traffic where his family was waiting for him. A lady had traveled to Cuba with a hand-written note of instructions for his family to be walking down the road in orange shirts. When he landed his wife and two small sons ran to the plane, jumped inside, and flew back to Miami.

Fidel Castro branded Perez as a traitor and condemned him to death. But Perez said, “It was one chance in a million to sneak into Cuba and land on a busy road between cars. The possibility of being captured or gunned down was a high risk. But I was dying every day without my family.”

Sometimes you must be willing to take a big risk to do what is right. You must put your life on the line to do what God calls you to do. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). Take the risk to follow Jesus. It’s worth it. www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com
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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

How to Change Someone's Mind


Have you ever changed tried to change someone else’s mind? I’ve never seen a debate team convince the opposing debate team to change their mind. Trying to force others to change their minds doesn’t work. You can’t change a mind that doesn't want to be changed.

For example, Aristotle believed that the heavier the object, the faster it would fall to earth. In 1589, it’s said that Galileo went to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and dropped two objects of different weights at the same time. They both landed at the same moment, disproving Aristotle’s theory. But some people living at that time refused to change their minds.

Dale Carnegie said, “Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still.” In other words, a person’s heart must change before the mind will change. You cannot force a person to change what they believe but here are some things that will help.

1. Correct Information. Most people who had believed Aristotle’s theory did change their minds when they were presented with correct information. They had to admit that what they had previously believed was incorrect. Meaningful change comes from examining actual facts and not a questionable theory, no matter how popular it may be.

2. Hitting bottom. Some people have to suffer harsh consequences before they’ll change their mind and behavior. The rebellious prodigal son didn’t change until he “came to his senses” when he was eating with the pigs (Luke 15:17). It’s called learning lessons the hard way.

3. Unconditional love. Nothing can melt a hardened heart like unconditional love. An enemy is someone who thinks differently than you do, and Jesus told us to love our enemies (Luke 6:27). How can we love them? “For you yourselves are taught by God to love one another” (1 Thess. 4:9). God will show you how.

4. Pray for them. Why did Jesus tell us to pray for those who mistreat us? Obviously, it’s because prayer has something to do with changing them. He’s responding to our prayers by working on that person’s heart. When the heart changes, the mind will also change. www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com
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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanks but No Thanks


It was the day after Thanksgiving. A family sat down to finish the leftover turkey and dressing and to say the blessing for the meal. One of the children said, “Hey, wait a minute, we don’t need to pray. We already thanked God for this yesterday!” It’s okay to thank God more than once for the same blessing. I’ve thanked God thousands of times for saving me, for my family, for His provision, and hundreds of other things.

But I make sure that I thank God for these things from my heart. If you ask people if they’re thankful, they’ll say, “Of course I’m thankful.” But you'd never know it by how many times they complain about things. They thank God for the food before they eat but then complain about the meal. I call it, “Thanks, but no thanks.” They’re saying thankful words but they aren’t grateful in their hearts. Jesus said, “This people honors me with their lips but their hearts are far away from Me” (Matt. 15:8).

The Lord wants us to be thankful because He loves to hear our appreciation for what He has done for us. God has given us far more blessings than we’ve ever thanked Him for. Paul writes, “In everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18). God tells us to be thankful in every circumstance because He’s more interested in raising thankful children than giving us a perfect set of circumstances. 

So don’t wait until Thanksgiving to give thanks to God. Start thanking Him today for all the things He has done for you. He’s waiting to hear your appreciation. Just make sure that it’s coming from your heart.
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Would you please consider giving a year-end gift to Making Life Count Ministries? All gifts are tax deductible. You can give by check or CLICK HERE to give by credit card.
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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Don't Let the Bear in Your Tent


A few years ago a man went camping in Glacier National Park in Montana. Campers should never take food into their tent because the smell attracts bears. This man caught some fish one evening and wanted to cook them for breakfast, so he brought them into his tent for the night. Sure enough, a bear smelled the fish, which invited it into the tent and mauled the man to death.

You don’t want to invite bears into your tent, and you don’t want to invite the devil into your life. Paul said, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger. Do not give the devil an opportunity” (Eph. 4:26-27). John Piper says, “Harbored anger is the only thing the Bible explicitly says opens a door and invites the devil in.” When you hold on to anger without resolving it, you’re opening a door and inviting Satan to attack you.

Peter Lord said, “More families have been destroyed by anger than alcohol.” We need to do everything possible to settle the situation that day. Something happens to us when we’re angry for more than a day. We push our anger down into the soil of our hearts, where it sits in darkness. This two-day-old anger then turns into the seed of unforgiveness. As we continue dwelling on it, it sprouts into the root of bitterness.

Someone told me, “A friend of mine keeps asking God to take away his anger but he doesn’t want to deal with the issues that are making him angry. He can’t figure out why he is still angry.” Is there an issue that’s making you angry that you need to settle? If you’ll fix your anger today, you’ll live tomorrow without turmoil. www.makinglifecount.net
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BIBLE STUDY  How to Control Your Anger

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www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Learning to Swim


When I was a kid I took swimming lessons at the neighborhood pool. The easy part was when I grabbed on to the side of the pool while someone held me up as I learned how to kick. Then came the hard part--learning how to float.

It was hard for me to believe that the water would hold me up without any effort of my own. I would try to float, but then my feet would immediately drop down so I could stand up. I didn’t fool anyone when I did that awkward “half swim” where I walked along the bottom of the pool while moving my arms like I was swimming.

The instructor kept telling me to trust him—that the water really would hold me up if I would just relax. But that was the problem. I couldn’t relax when I thought I was going to drown. Then one day, and I quit trying to float and just went limp. To my surprise I didn’t sink. For the first time in my life I floated—without any effort on my part. When I totally surrendered to the water and quit struggling, the water held me up.

That’s how we learn to trust God. Inwardly we go limp. We quit trying to trust Him and submit to His complete control. In absolute surrender, we say, “Lord, I’m totally depending on you to come through for me.” David continually put his trust in God and relaxed:
“I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever” (Ps. 52:8).
“In God I have put my trust” (Ps.56:4)
“In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid” (Ps. 56:11).
“My soul trusts in You” (Ps. 57:1)
“Trust in Him at all times, you people” (Ps. 62:8)
David learned how to float by relaxing and placing his complete trust in God rather than himself. And we must do the same. www.makinglifecount.net
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Making Life Count Ministries
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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Does Seeing Make People Believe?


King Herod had received so many reports of Jesus healing people and performing miracles that he had to find out the truth for himself. Perhaps if Jesus would perform a miracle as he watched, the king might become His follower. "Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him because he had heard many things about Him and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him” (Luke 23:8)

What a great opportunity for Jesus—to share truth with the king of Israel. Just think…if Herod would believe in Him, then maybe all the leaders in Israel and Rome would take note, and they also would follow Jesus. All He needed to do was perform one miracle, which He could easily do. So when they brought Jesus before him, Herod kept asking Him questions but Jesus refused to answer. Why? Didn't He realize that He was blowing a huge opportunity?

Jesus didn't answer or perform a miracle because He had already done miracles, which could easily be verified. But that wasn’t good enough for Herod. He wanted to see Jesus do a miracle with his own eyes, and then he would decide whether or not to believe in Him. The Pharisees watched Jesus miraculously heal a man’s withered hand, but did that change their minds? No. “Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians (supporters of Herod) against Him, how they might destroy Him” (Mark 3:6).

After Jesus rose from the dead, He could have appeared to Herod and said, "Remember Me? Now do you believe?" Instead, He didn't go to Herod or the high priest or the Pharisees, but He appeared only to those who already believed in Him. (1 Cor. 15:5-7). They first believed and then they saw.

I’ve often asked skeptics, if I can prove to you that the Bible is true will you believe? They'll typically keep arguing with me because they don’t want proof. It would mean they'd have to change their hearts and follow Jesus. And that’s why Herod wouldn’t have repented if Jesus performed a miracle.

To those who believe in Him, God makes this promise, "He who believes in Him will not be disappointed" (1 Peter 2:6). www.makinglifecount.net
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Making Life Count Ministries
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www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Everyone is Placing a Bet


The lottery just reached $1 billion and millions of people are betting they’ll win. And everyone on the planet is placing a bet as to whether or not the Bible is true. You’re not betting with money but with your eternal soul. Jesus said, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” (Mark 8:36). You will either be right or wrong. Before you place your bet, you’d be wise to carefully examine some evidence you weren’t taught in school.

The evidence the Bible is true is found in the many predictions about the future that it makes, which have come to pass. Hundreds of Bible prophecies that have been fulfilled is irrefutable proof the Bible is true. Jesus fulfilled more than 300 prophecies. The probability of one man fulfilling just 48 prophecies is one in 10 to the 157th power. That’s enough proof to place your bet.

But what about evolution? You’re betting that life arose from non-life and that all life on earth arose from a molecule from a “primordial soup.” You’re betting that every elephant and every ant, every fish and every bird, every person and every gnat, every tree and every blade of grass in the entire world came from this one molecule. Scientists have purposely tried to create life in a laboratory to prove that life arose accidentally with no intelligence involved! They’ve never done it.

Consider the complexity of the human body. For example, how can evolution produce an eye? The body has 206 bones, 600 muscles, respiratory system, and circulatory system, which are all coordinated to work together. Each part is useless without being coordinated with the other parts. Take away the brain and it doesn’t work. Take away the heart or the lungs and it doesn’t work. All the parts of the human body had to come together at the same time. Evolution can’t explain this.

The complex design of the human body had to come from an Intelligent Designer. Your computer has many complex parts that work together as a unit, and you know an intelligent person designed and coordinated each part so that it can function. The same can be said for the human body.

This isn’t hard to figure out. Which makes more sense? I’m betting my soul that the Bible and everything Jesus taught about the afterlife is true. I hope you’ll make the right choice. www.makinglifecount.net
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BIBLE STUDY  Was Judas a believer?

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Making Life Count Ministries
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www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, October 14, 2018

You Can't Change Your Past, But...


Wouldn’t you like to have a time machine so you could travel back in time to change some things in your past? You may have done some things that you'd like to undo. But the past doesn't exist anymore except in your memory. You can’t change your past but here are three things that can change.

1. You can’t change what you did in your past…but you can be cleansed of what you did. Jesus died for all your sins, not just some of them. If you’ll receive Jesus as your Lord and ask His forgiveness, He says, "I will remember their sins no more" (Heb. 8:12). If He doesn’t remember them anymore, then neither should you.

2. You can’t change the consequences of your past…but you can trust God to use your past as His testimony. God “works all things after the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11). Paul persecuted and murdered Christians before he was converted (Acts 8:1,3, 26:10) but God used his tainted past as a testimony of His mercy. People said, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy” (Gal. 1:23).

3. You cannot change anything in your past…but you can change everything about your future. Your life is a book that you’re writing. The past is gone so you can’t go back in time to rewrite it. But the future hasn’t happened yet and you can choose the ending of the book. You might have had a bad start but you can write a good ending. Your book isn’t finished. Start writing that great ending right now. www.makinglifecount.net 
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Making Life Count Ministries
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www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Don't Look Back


In the 1992 Olympics, Janet Evans won the silver medal in the 400 meter free-style swim. She had the lead right up to the finish but her hand touched the wall 4/10 of a second too late for first place. She lost the lead because she looked back, which slowed her enough to be passed. Looking back cost her the gold medal. Every time we look back it costs us something.

Jesus told us to not look back when He said, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). She is remembered for only one thing. As she was leaving Sodom when God was destroying the city, she looked back after being warned not to (Gen. 19:26). She did it because her heart wasn’t totally in her decision to leave. Even as she left, a part of her heart was still in Sodom.

When the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they talked about going back to Egypt when things got rough. They looked back rather than moving forward. A part of their heart was still in Egypt calling them back.

Jesus said, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). When we make a decision to follow Jesus, we must do it with our entire heart. We can’t plow in one direction if we keep looking in the opposite direction. And we can’t follow Jesus if we keep looking back to what we left behind.

If you have received Jesus as your Lord, you’ve been totally forgiven so don’t look back on your past sins. If God leads you to make a decision, don’t keep wondering if you did the right thing. Close the back door of your mind and look forward to the good things God has planned for you. www.makinglifecount.net
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www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Getting Out of the Rut


The picture on your left show ruts formed by wagons in the 1800s on the Oregon Trail. When the rut first started it was shallow. But the more it was traveled on, the deeper the ruts became—and the harder it was to get out of it. It has been said that years ago a sign on the road said, “Avoid this rut or you will be in it for the next 25 miles.” Even so, it was possible to get out of the rut if they were determined to do it.

When we keep doing the same things over and over, we start developing a rut. There’s nothing wrong with doing the same daily routine if we’re faithfully doing God’s will. But the problem comes when God calls us to make a major change and do something entirely different. It might be changing your career, getting married, moving to another city or making a life-changing decision.

Sometimes God places His blessing outside of your comfort zone and then asks you to come get it. To get something that you’ve never had before, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done before. You’ll probably make a number of major changes in your life, but don’t do it without considering these things:

1. Make sure God is leading you. Don’t make a major change unless you’ve prayed about it and have God’s peace in your heart. God promises to lead you on the right path. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).

2. Count the cost before you do it. Jesus said, “For which of you, when he wants to build a tower does not first sit down and count the cost to see if he has enough to finish it?” (Luke 14:28) Every decision is an exchange—you’re giving up one thing to get something else. When you get married, you give up single life for married life. If you don’t count the cost before making the decision, you won’t stick with it.

3. Trust God to give you the power to make the change.  A wagon can only get out of the rut by being jolted out of it. You can’t do it in your own power, but you can get out of any rut through the power of the Holy Spirit. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). 

Once you've done these things, then move forward and don't look back. Looking back will only make you doubt your decision. www.makinglifecount.net   
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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Little Things Are Actually Big Things


Jesus told us little things are actually big things. He said, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10). Sometimes God will give us something small as a test to see how trustworthy we’ll be in handling it.

Martha Berry founded a school for needy children in 1902. She once asked Henry Ford (owner of the Ford Motor Company) for a million dollars to help her school. He didn’t donate the huge amount she requested, but gave her a dime. Instead of being insulted, she accepted the dime and bought peanuts for her school children to plant.

They harvested the peanuts and used it to plant a larger field. Eventually they harvested enough peanuts to buy a piano for their music students. Martha wrote a letter to Mr. Ford telling him how they had used his dime to grow enough peanuts to buy a piano. Ford was so impressed by her faithfulness with the dime that he gave her school a million dollars! (Making Today Count for Eternity, p.149).

Don’t gripe about your insignificant job or the small amount of money you handle. God's watching to see what you’ll do with it. “For who has despised the day of small things…they are the eyes of the Lord which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth” (Zech. 4:10).

Martha died in 1942 and never saw the future of her little school, which is now Berry College in Georgia. You may never see on earth what your faithfulness will produce in the future. But if you’ll faithfully manage your little things on earth, the Lord promises to give you something really big in heaven. www.makinglifecount.net
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Saturday, September 15, 2018

God Always Has Perfect Timing


Franklin Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham, was a newly licensed pilot and was flying from Vero Beach, Florida to Longview, Texas. He met with bad weather over Mobile, Alabama and air traffic controllers told him to fly north toward Jackson, Mississippi in order to avoid the approaching storm.

As he rose above the clouds, the instrument panel lights flickered. A minute later the radio and instruments went dead; then all the lights went out. Franklin realized he was in a desperate situation so he prayed for God to intervene.

He dropped below the clouds hoping to see the ground. When he spotted the distant lights of Jackson, he headed for the airport's rotating beacon. He circled the control tower and since he didn't have any electrical power, lowered the landing gear manually. At that moment, the runway's emergency landing lights came on and he landed.

As soon as he was on the ground, the lights went off. “That's odd,” he thought, “at least they could have waited until I taxied to the ramp.” After he got out of the plane, a man from the tower asked, "Who gave you permission to land?" No one in the tower had seen the small plane circling overhead. 

Why would the lights be turned on if they hadn't seen him? They “just happened” to be turned on by an air traffic controller who was explaining to his visiting pastor what he would do in case a plane ever attempted to land without radio communications! At the exact moment when Franklin needed the lights, the controller turned them on without knowing the plane was there. (Franklin Graham, "When the Lights Went On,” Dimensions for Living, 1992).

God’s timing is always perfect. The ram was caught in the thicket at the exact moment Abraham was about to offer up Isaac (Gen. 22). The fish with a coin in its mouth bit on Peter’s hook at the right time so he could pay the temple tax (Matt. 17). Mary arrived in Bethlehem at the right time to give birth to Jesus and fulfill the prophecy of Micah 5:2.

Maybe you’ve been praying for something for a long time and nothing has happened—yet. God knows the exact time when He will answer. Since His timing probably isn’t the same as yours, remove the deadline you’ve placed on Him. Be patient and keep trusting God even though you don’t know when it will happen. www.makinglifecount.net
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Making Life Count Ministries
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