A God Who Goes Before Us

A God Who Goes BeforeIn addition to pastoring, I work for Ford Motor Company. I tell people I work for Ford, but I labor for the Lord. This company has been around for nearly 120 years now. Recently my plant celebrated its 50th anniversary of being in operation having opened its doors in October 1968. Curiously enough, I was hired in October of 1996 and celebrated 22 years with Ford. I say “curiously enough” because as I joined my coworkers in celebrating our plant’s milestone, something powerful dawned on me.

I walked along the wall and observed them breaking ground in October 1966. I was intrigued by the large excavators, hundreds of construction workers, and new walls being poured. I really got emotional in that moment because I realized that even before I was born (1969) and before I was hired (1996), God was preparing a place for me to work and have a career. Sure, thousands of others have worked here, but I had a profound notion that God somehow prepared it just for me. Selfish you may say? Not hardly. God has a way of blessing many people in many ways at different times, but who could have known a little boy was going to be born and that he would work at a Ford plant 20 miles away from where I was born and nearly 50 miles from where I grew up?

Then, I was thinking of the house I now live in which was built in 1989. I graduated from high school in 1988. How could I have known that a family would be building a house 50 miles away for me to one day buy nearly 30 years later and where I would watch all four of my grandchildren take their first steps?

The same with the church I grew up in; the church my wife grew up in; the church I now pastor. All buildings that would have significance in my life. Buildings I did not build, yet had life-changing and long-reaching effects in my life.

I want to encourage someone today that your life is not left to chance. There is a loving and benevolent heavenly Father above who has meticulously prepared a life for you if you’re willing to walk in it. He did this with the children of Israel as He stated in Deuteronomy…

“And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, 12 then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (Deuteronomy 6:10-12 ESV)

So, as you lay your head down at night, or walk through the doors of your place of employment or worship, pause to give thanks and reflect upon the fact that your life is not an accident and that God has gone before you to ensure you have everything you need in your future to be a success and carry out the beautiful plans He’s tailor-made for you.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

“Serminutes” – Sermon in a Minute.  One Minute Inspirational Sermonettes, Devotionals, and Sermon Ideas for Busy Christians, Pastors, Teachers, and Bible Students!  Visit our ABOUT PAGE  for details on what exactly that is. Thank you for visiting today! May the Lord richly bless you.  ~ RD Mangold

Caged by an Open Door

CagedWe have a white Maltese-Bichon mix dog aptly named Casper. I say aptly named because while he’s white, and named after a ghost, he’s afraid of his own shadow. Whether this was brought on as a result of his early puppy-hood, prior to us owning him, or something just inherent to his demeanor, we’ll never really know. He refuses to give us a straight answer 😉

He suffers from a slight case of separation anxiety, for those who do not know what that is, it can be described as a state of anxiousness that your pet suffers during your absence. They can exhibit OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) behaviors like pacing back and forth around the door, barking incessantly, or they can go into a destructive tirade. I am not a dog expert by any stretch, but we know when a dog starts to tear stuff up when you’re gone that it is safer for him and your furniture if he’s safely and comfortably crated while we’re gone. There are some dog-lovers who will fault us for this, but it is a decision we didn’t take lightly. In fact, we occasionally leave him uncrated when we’re gone for short periods of time only to be reminded when we return why we decided to crate him.

He’s grown quite familiar with our routine. As of this post, Casper is 13 years old. We’ve had him since 2005. Back in 2012, he did something that blew our minds. Every Sunday we go through a ritual just before leaving for church. We’d tell him to go to his cage. He usually lets out an obligatory “huff” and goes straightaway. But, on occasion, he can tell when we’re about to leave for church and he will automatically head to his cage.

On this particular Sunday, we were in a hurry and must have forgotten to lock him up in his cage. When we returned home from church, we found him in his cage, barking and yelping like he always does when we get home, waiting for us to open his cage. When I reached down to unlatch it, I realized it had never been latched to begin with. He sat in his unlocked cage the entire time we were at church. We chuckled at his oversight, but something very profound dawned on me.

How many of us are caged by something that God never intended for us to be caged by? Have we grown used to the feeling of being trapped? Have we settled for that feeling of seclusion and isolation, when in fact, God has already set us free, we were just unwilling to step into the freedom that was already purchased for us at Calvary by Christ’s crucifixion?

We may laugh at silly Casper for remaining locked up when he could have been frolicking around the house wreaking havoc, but how many of us are content to remain caged up when just beyond that open door awaits our promise, our purpose, our potential?

What’s got you caged today? Fear, past failures, critics, insecurity, doubt, etc.? Christ has set you free my friend. Stop living captive to these debilitating figments of your imagination. Stop believing the toxic lies of the devil that’s telling you not to even try.

Come on, reach out, give it a shove, God’s already unlatched your door. Now step out into the future that He’s already prepared for you. Stop being caged by an open door!

Revelation 3:8, “I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”

“Serminutes” – Sermon in a Minute.  One Minute Inspirational Sermonettes, Devotionals, and Sermon Ideas for Busy Christians, Pastors, Teachers, and Bible Students!  Visit our ABOUT PAGE  for details on what exactly that is. Thank you for visiting today! May the Lord richly bless you.  ~ RD Mangold

Fostering an Adoption Mindset

Adoption MindsetI won’t pretend to even begin to say I know what it is like growing up in the foster care system. I’ve had friends and even some family members who tell stories of what it’s like when you’re on the receiving end of being a foster kid in the system and longing for the day you will have a “forever home.” In fact, many can’t even relate to the concept of having a forever home because they’ve been bounced around from place to place, and family to family. You’re always in a state of flux and you’re always bracing yourself for when the rug is going to be pulled out from beneath you.

When I was younger my grandparents fostered a sister and brother and they fought like mad to be able to adopt them. These particular children were my age and I had grown to love them like my own sister and a brother. When the fateful day came for them to be reassigned, it devastated our family because we had grown to accept them and were willing to adopt them as our own flesh and blood, but the “System” wasn’t having it. The tears streamed down all our faces. It was one of the saddest days of my childhood. The relationships we had quite literally “fostered” were abruptly and tragically ended. In the words of Little Orphan Annie, “It’s a hard-knock life,” don’t even begin to describe the nightmarish life of these children.

While we all may not be able to relate to the hardships of foster life, there’s a generation out there right now that lives this kind of life in a constant state of spiritual, emotional, and relational flux; always bracing themselves for the next big break-up. We get bounced from broken relationship to broken relationship, longing for stability, love, and a forever home. But friends, in this world, it’s just not meant to be. God did not send His only begotten Son just to scoop up a bunch of foster kids. Christ came that He could adopt us all!

Herein lies the distinction. Christ doesn’t just want to be a foster parent. He doesn’t expect His church to just be a foster family. And, He’s certainly not in the market for relationships that come and go. God is committed to being your forever Father. He wants His Church to be your forever family, and He most certainly wants Heaven to be your Forever Home.

This world, at best, can only offer to be your foster parent, but Jesus wants to adopt you into the Family of God through His supreme sacrifice at Calvary. He paid the dearest price to ensure you were not only adopted but that you become an heir with Him for Eternity.

In the grand scheme of things, being adopted may not sound like the optimal outcome for children in this life. Some grow to feel their birth parents abandoned them. So Christ takes it one step farther. He not only adopts us, He allows us to be “born into this family” through His Death, Burial and Resurrection, we become the Sons and Daughters of God!

This is bigger than “foster-care” or adoption; this is about a New Birth experience, where your old life is buried with Christ, and you arise to become a New Creation in Him as well. Your old life is passed away, and all things are made new!

Ephesians 1:3 – 6, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”

“Serminutes” – Sermon in a Minute.  One Minute Inspirational Sermonettes, Devotionals, and Sermon Ideas for Busy Christians, Pastors, Teachers, and Bible Students!  Visit our ABOUT PAGE  for details on what exactly that is. Thank you for visiting today! May the Lord richly bless you.  ~ RD Mangold

My Life’s Symphony

SymphonyMy purpose in life is not wrapped up in fulfilling this world’s expectations of me. My future, my destiny, my reason for living is derived from the ONE who gave me life.

God is orchestrating the Symphony that is my life. Some will choose to join for a moment fulfilling a brief but needful purpose. Others will be a continual part of the music of my life, but I’m grateful to all who play a part.

To the ones who have hurt me; thank you. Rather than harden or anger me, You have softened the melody of my life at times.

Others who have cheered me on, have created a bold chorus that quickens and livens my steps.

And still, there are those who love me and accept me through it all. From the heart-pounding crescendos to the lowest of decrescendos, you have sweetened each note, each stanza, each rhythm, and rhyme.

God is the orchestrator, the conductor, and composer. I will entrust the Symphony that is my life into His benevolent care, and may the melody of my life be a constant source of praise and glory to the King of all kings, and Lord of all lords…Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen.

Galatians‬ ‭1:10‬ ‭(ESV), “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” ‬‬

Zephaniah 3:17“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”

Hebrews 12:2, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

“Serminutes” – Sermon in a Minute.  One Minute Inspirational Sermonettes, Devotionals, and Sermon Ideas for Busy Christians, Pastors, Teachers, and Bible Students!  Visit our ABOUT PAGE  for details on what exactly that is. Thank you for visiting today! May the Lord richly bless you.  ~ RD Mangold

I Got This?

IGotThisI’m guilty of saying, “I got this,” even when I’m drowning. No, seriously, not metaphorically drowning, literally drowning. I was in my late twenties when my wife and I went with our church on a canoe trip. I had been a couple of times and seemed to have the whole paddling and steering thing down. I was thinking, “I got this.” I mean it’s not rocket science, and after all, I was the “man of my canoe.”

We decided to break for lunch on a sandbar that was at a turn in the deceptively lazy river. It was a hot day, so we waded out into the water to cool off a bit. I couldn’t help but notice that the sandbar beneath my feet was extremely soft. I stepped forward and again, the sand gave way. This happened several times before I realized that not only was the sand giving way, there was an undercurrent. With each step, I was literally losing ground and falling deeper and deeper under the water. I would pull myself up for a gulp of air thinking the whole time, you guessed it…I got this.

Screaming for help was not an option, but my face must have conveyed a deep sense of urgency as I one more time pulled myself to the surface. It was feeling close to the last time that I could muster the power in my limbs to thrust myself up.

A couple of my friends saw what was happening and sprang into action. While I was still attempting to downplay how much danger I was in, there was no denying, I needed help and quick. Had it not been for the quick thinking and observation of my friends that came to my aid, I would not be alive to share this story.

Had I been prideful and turned down their offers to help, I would have drowned. Played out a bit farther, had I resisted them, and emphatically declared, like we often do, “I got this!” They would have recoiled and remained where they stood, all the while painfully watching me drown.

Even as I write the recollection of this account, I feel the breathlessness, the overwhelming powerful pull beneath of the deep, and the suffocating effects of the water swirling around my nostrils and mouth. I beg you friends who are reading this, PLEASE don’t wait until it’s too late. The sad truth is, not all of those men who helped were great swimmers and I could have potentially put them at risk by waiting as long as I did.

Think about it like this, if you aren’t willing to do it for yourself, be willing to do it for your family, your friends, and those who care deeply for you.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Please reach out for help, or accept the help that kind and caring friends and family may be offering. There are just times when what you’re facing can cause you to drown; maybe not in water, but in pride, arrogance, and self-pity. It’s not worth it. Saving face, or thinking you’re admitting failure, in the grand scheme of things, pales in comparison to the relief you’ll feel when stepping back onto the safety of the shore.

There will just be times you must be willing to admit…You don’t “got it!”

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9 – 12

“Serminutes” – Sermon in a Minute.  One Minute Inspirational Sermonettes, Devotionals, and Sermon Ideas for Busy Christians, Pastors, Teachers, and Bible Students!  Visit our ABOUT PAGE  for details on what exactly that is. Thank you for visiting today! May the Lord richly bless you.  ~ RD Mangold