John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us." Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us."
Ten or so years ago while working for a Christian radio station, I recall a pastor walking into my office (OK, cubicle) who had a radio show on our AM sister station. I was the morning show host on our FM signal at the time. His entire ministry centered on knowing and living out your identity in Christ. He was passionate in his calling and a likeable fellow that knew how to strike up engaging conversations.
I can't remember why, but for some reason he brought up the ministry of Joel Osteen. Personally, at that time I hadn't seen any of Osteen's televised messages, I hadn't read any of his books (though my husband owned one or two of them) and I wasn't at all familiar with his wife Victoria's ministry. All I knew, was rumor had it, he was a motivational speaker, and nothing more.
But this pastor-friend of mine went on to say, that while he didn't necessarily agree with the popular minister's method of presenting the gospel, he couldn't argue with the fact that his own mother had come to know Jesus and committed her life to Him through Osteen's on-air ministry. His mother was ill and pretty much confined to her bed, so while she couldn't attend a local church service, she could pick up her remote and tune in to Joel Osteen's broadcast from Houston each week. The Lord obviously used his weekly program to reach her.
"Every now and then, we all need a little cake," the local pastor standing next to me said.
I've never forgotten that statement. What he was saying, was Joel Osteen may not serve up meat and potatoes and a helping of broccoli which we need to survive, but he provided a message that we could all benefit from on occasion. And a couple of weeks ago, I found myself in need of a sizable slice of cake.
I was feeling discouraged over work and life in general. Yes, I have so much to be thankful for, but for some reason there seemed to be some nimbus clouds hanging over my head that I couldn't escape. Nothing really felt right and I needed a huge dose of encouragement. That's when I remembered Joel Osteen. If you're sick, you visit a doctor. If you're out of shape, you go to the gym. If you're discouraged, I figured why not check out Joel Osteen.
Thankfully, I have Sirius XM in my car (probably a no-no for a gal who worked in local radio) so I spun the dial until I found the Joel Osteen channel. It was unlike anything I had ever heard. His encouraging, positive, messages blew my nimbus clouds from overhead, replacing them with those nice puffy ones - cumulus, I think. I've been tuning in periodically ever since, whenever I find my spiritual blood sugar plummeting.
Maybe you, too, are feeling a little down, or your spiritual journey feels a little dry or stagnant. Maybe it's time to shake things up a bit. Seek out a women's retreat or conference, consider a new Bible study at your church, check out a Christian radio station you don't typically listen to, shell out a few dollars to attend a Christian concert with a friend. Do something slightly out of the ordinary...eat some cake. It won't be a permanent fix but the small change may help you see things with a fresh perspective that may ultimately help you get out of that slump.
We all need regular infusions of encouragement, and I believe it's available if you look for it. Cake, anyone?
Lately, I've been so sedentary that last night I promised myself that I'd ride my bike through our neighborhood this morning. It's not a lot of exercise, but it's better than nothing and it gets my blood moving. It also provides a little much-needed quiet time.
I was only half-way through my typical route when I began focusing on how hard it was. "Man," I thought, "I know I haven't ridden my bike in two weeks, but it shouldn't be this strenuous." The weight of my legs seemed to triple with every push of the pedals. My breath became labored. Feeling a sense of defeat, disappointed that I wouldn't finish my course, I cast my eyes down. That's when I discovered two flat tires.
I quickly turned home knowing I wouldn't make it much further, not to mention it's bad for the wheels to ride a bike with flat tires. That's when the analogy hit me. "Isn't this like the spiritual life? We don't get very far on "flat tires."
How often have I started coasting in my walk with Christ, like a bike effortlessly breezing downhill, because the previous time I invested in our relationship was enough to sustain me? Life is good, there's more joy, more peace, less agitation, less anxiety. You begin to think life will remain that way. Then you hit level pavement. You coast a little further. Then a hill (like cancer, divorce, job loss, death of a loved one) surprises you and there's no steam left to get you back up again. Eventually, you return to what worked before...dedicated prayer time, daily scripture reading, little talks with God throughout the day, and seeking the Holy Spirit's guidance... and wonder why you ever stopped to begin with. Why is there a tendency to stop pedaling?
The weight of the trials in life can become crushing when we neglect to fill our "spirit tanks" with the things of God. A lack of discipline unnecessarily complicates and tarnishes our days. Jesus said he came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly. Life is GOOD! Or at least it should be.
If you've been away from God, I encourage you to get back on track. Get excited that the God of the universe wants to spend time with you! He desires to guide your steps!
I became energized as I neared home this morning, knowing I'd fill my tires and biking would become easier and more pleasurable again. If you determine to strengthen your relationship with Christ, your life is going to become more pleasurable and fulfilling, too. Get pumped and ready for the ride of your life!
Funny that the title "Author" appears above this description yet I have no idea what to share about myself in this space! How about my first name is Kim. My last name is Tisor. Tisor rhymes with miser, though I try not to be one.
For more information about me, please visit the author page.