Author: Danny Mulkey

Maintaining a Thankful Heart

Earlier this week I had a flashback to my earliest memories of Thanksgiving, which were in Miss Dunnigan’s first grade class:

  • Making a stuffed turkey out of cheese cloth and cotton balls
  • Learning how to spell and pronounce “giblet”
  • Listening to the story of how the native americans showed the pilgrims how to fertilize the corn they were planting by putting a dead fish in the hole with the corn seed
  • Wondering what fish-flavored corn must taste like

This story was always fondly referred to as, “The First Thanksgiving.”

As it turns out, I later learned that it wasn’t the first Thanksgiving at all! God has pretty much always valued thanksgiving. It’s all through the Bible, which by the way, tells a much older story than that which was told by Miss Dunnigan.

GOD LOVES IT WHEN WE ARE THANKFUL FOR WHO HE IS AND WHAT HE DOES.

And as a matter of fact, we all love it when someone says to us those magic words, “thank you.”

Here are three of the many, many Scriptures that encourage us to have thankful hearts and express thankful words:

“The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” – Psalm 27:8

“Every time I THINK OF YOU, I give thanks to my God.” – Philippians 1:3

“Be thankful in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”– 1 Thessalonians 5:18

IF YOU WANT YOUR LIFE TO REVEAL REAL EVIDENCE OF FAITH IN JESUS, DEVELOP AND MAINTAIN A THANKFUL HEART.

Being thankful and expressing thanksgiving is sort of like saying,

“I totally trust You, Lord! You are the source of every good thing that I experience. And even when it’s hard to find anything good about my circumstances, I trust You, Lord. You know what You’re doing…and You are working everything together for my good and for Your glory.”

The bottom line is, we want our hearts to be truly thankful in all things, and we want our mouths to express that thanksgiving to God and to people.

  • To God // At the beginning of every day thank Him for everything, small and large, that He has done for you. Ask Him to remind you of things you may not have noticed, or things you’ve forgotten. Be consistent in doing this and you’ll find that the reaction time between God’s action, answer or blessing and the time you say, “thank you” will get shorter and shorter.
  • To People // Notice when people do or say something that is “thanks-worthy.” If you’re not a noticer, ask God to elbow you in the ribs when folks bless you or someone else. Develop a heart that is grateful, and then develop a mouth that says, “thank you” readily. Don’t just assume somebody knows you’re grateful, tell them you’re grateful.

There’s no better time than this Thanksgiving season to intentionally begin to develop a thankful heart! Let’s do it!

Thank you, Jesus!

By Danny Mulkey – Elder and Caleb Zone Pastor

Elvis vs. Christmas

I’ve never been a big Elvis fan. It’s not that I have anything against him, it’s just a matter of taste. However, there is one song I wish he had never recorded Blue Christmas.

IT’S A FACT THAT THERE ARE MANY AMONG US WHO DO FEEL “BLUE,” AND WITH A GOOD REASON.

We may find the holiday season intensifies our sadness over the loss of a spouse, parent or other loved one.  Or maybe the Christmas Season stirs up painful memories of family discord or even abuse. In fact, most people have a mixture of wonderfully positive feelings and painfully unpleasant feelings this time of year.

The world wants us to focus on our misfortunes and our hurts hence, the popularity of songs like Blue Christmas. But singing sad songs sure doesn’t make you very joyful!

God has a better idea!

IF WE’RE GRIEVING, HE WANTS US TO TURN TO HIM SO WE CAN BE COMFORTED.

If we know someone who is grieving, He wants to use us to bring joy and comfort to his or her life. Here are two of the MANY Scriptures which illustrate God’s desire to comfort us:

“A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.” Psalm 68

“Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” 2 Corinthians 1:4


IN RESPONSE:

  • 1. Who is one person you know who is grieving, lonely or saddened by the Christmas Season?
  • 2. What are one or two ways you and your family or Lifegroup can bring encouragement and comfort to this person, (i.e., invite them to dinner, take your kids to visit them, buy or make them a present that is personalized with their name or initials, etc.)?
  • 3. Is this Christmas season particularly painful to you, personally?
    • Get connected to a Lifegroup. Just come to NEXT right after one of our Sunday services to get the connection process started.
    • Be honest with God and ask Him to comfort you and to meet every need you have.
    • Wait on the Lord and watch Him work!

By Danny Mulkey – Caleb Zone Pastor

 

 

Life is More Than Being Sweet

Since I was a kid, my mom has usually ended our interactions by saying, “Be sweet!” Sometimes I have heeded her exhortation. Sometimes not. But as life moved along, I began to wonder if this is all God had in mind for me to do: just be sweet and float along with Jesus. Sounds pretty meaningless, even random.

God is not into “meaningless.”

He doesn’t do “random.” He’s actually really pumped when we wake up each day so that he can take us by the hand and walk us into his plans and purposes for the day.  You could say that God is on MISSION…and He calls us to go with him on His missional activities each day.

Sometimes the joy of living purposefully on mission every day is obscured by our out-of-focus way of thinking about the “calling” of God.  When I was growing up (a long, long time ago!) there were only two things that God called people to, or so we thought.  The first was a call to “full-time ministry,” meaning preaching, leading worship, etc. The second, and what I always thought was the more desirable calling, was to “missionary service.” The ones receiving such callings led such purposeful lives!  But… what about everybody else?

God sees it a little differently.

Jesus followers all over the world are realizing He wants ALL of His children to live purposefully, fruitfully, joyfully and MISSIONALLY!  We are called to a life that is anything but ho-hum and random!  Bottom line: Everyday we get to go to work with our Father!

In Response:

How can I live more missionally on a daily basis?

  • 1. First thing in the morning, commit yourself to Jesus and give Him free reign to direct your day.
  • 2. As you’re reading and meditating on Scripture every morning, ask God if there is anything you need to obey.
  • 3. Consciously and intentionally put your “antenna” up every day. This simply means pay attention to the voice of the Holy Spirit and to the needs you see around you.

By Danny Mulkey

danny mulkey

Flash Floods and Wells

Everyone and every place need water. No water means no life. All of God’s creation was designed to need and be totally dependent on W A T E R. We find this precious commodity in all kinds of places.

Sometimes rain water falls from the sky so fast that it can’t be absorbed by the land, and a flashflood ensues. One minute the creek bed is dry, and the next minute it is a raging river of millions of gallons of water, racing by and carrying logs and rolling boulders along its course. Some of this water soaks into the earth, but much of it runs off into lakes and reservoirs to be used later as needed. This is called a FLASH FLOOD.

But another, and very different source of water is found deep beneath the surface of the land. This is water that can only be accessed by digging…and digging…and digging. This is called a WELL. It supplies water to people, plants and animals on a consistent and ongoing basis as long as the well is diligently and properly maintained.

Both the flash flood and the well are viable, valuable sources of life-giving water, they just come in different forms.

I think this is a good picture of how God sends us His Spirit. Sometimes, from seemingly out of nowhere, He sends great revival that comes “like a pent-up flood…” (Isaiah 59:19 NIV). He comes in great power, displaying His glory, radically changing lives and transforming communities.

But much of the time, the Holy Spirit brings Life to us as we dig wells…wells that lead to the water of Life.

We draw up water from those wells when we seek God and spend time every day with Jesus, soaking up his Word.

IN RESPONSE:

Do we want the Holy Spirit to flow freely in our lives, individually and as a church? Then we’ve got to keep digging the wells and praying for the floods.

Lord Jesus, please send Your Spirit in abundance and transform us and our city. Amen

 

By Danny Mulkey, Caleb Zone Pastor and Elder

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Follow Me

Have you ever noticed how often Jesus uses the words, “Follow me”?

I don’t know about you, but every time I read those words about Jesus calling His disciples, my heart is stirred. At the same time a very real, tangible peace settles over me.  Jesus didn’t say, “Fight for Me.” or “Admire Me.”  He said, “Follow me.”  There are at least two reasons He called His disciples to follow Him.

First of all, Jesus is always calling people who will go to work with Him every day, sharing His love and message of salvation everywhere we go.  Matthew 4:19 says, “Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”  This verse indicates that He wants us with Him, to bear fruit in His name, to minister to people’s needs in His name and to be His hands and feet as we walk through life. It’s great to have purpose!

But perhaps even more importantly, Jesus wants us to be with Him every day.

He loves our presence, just as we love His. He doesn’t just want us to be worker bees in the Kingdom. He actually enjoys being with us and wants us to enjoy Him too. It’s great to be wanted!

John 10:27 “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.”

John 12:26 “Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant also will be.”

John 15:15   “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends.”

IN RESPONSE

We were created to follow Jesus, closely, intimately, 24/7. Take a moment to thank God for calling you to follow Him and ask for a greater revelation of His desire for you to follow Him.

By Danny Mulkey, Caleb Zone Pastor and Elder

Does God Really Finish What He Starts?

A long, long time ago, there was a teenager named Patrick. He was pretty much a spoiled brat, the son of a rich merchant. One day, he was kidnapped from his home in Great Britain by pirates! IRISH pirates…the worst kind! They took him in a boat across the sea to Ireland and sold him as a slave to a guy who had a big herd of sheep. For six years, he lived out in the hills taking care of a bunch of dumb sheep.

But the cool thing was, GOD started speaking to Patrick while he was out on those cold, rainy, lonely hillsides. God assured Patrick of His love for him and Patrick started changing; I mean, REALLY changing from the inside out. He became completely and totally devoted to Jesus, and they carried on conversations together throughout the day. Hey, what else was there to do on an isolated hillside, surrounded by stupid sheep?

One day, after six years in Ireland, God spoke to Patrick and told him how to escape. God said there would be a boat waiting to take him home. And sure enough the boat was right where God said it would be. Patrick was super relieved to be back home, but he had changed. God was really GOD to him now. Patrick couldn’t get the Irish people out of his heart. In a dream, God led him to go back to Ireland as a MISSIONARY. And so he did.

The rest is history. Actually, I guess you could say it’s ALL history, but the point is that God used Patrick to TRANSFORM Ireland with the Gospel of Jesus. This Patrick is who we now know as Saint Patrick. He made some incredible disciples and after just about 100 years, Ireland was sending missionaries all over the world. For centuries, they sent more missionaries to the nations than any other country on earth.

Fast forward to today… Ireland has declined spiritually so much that a high percentage of the folks don’t even go to church anymore, which makes me ask the question, “Does God really finish what He starts?” In other words, is today’s Ireland still called by God to send the Gospel to the nations?

Romans 11:29 says, “For God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn.” So I’d say the answer to my question is, yes. The calling is still valid.

About 13 years ago, God sort of just dropped Ireland onto the hearts of my wife and I, promising Ireland would experience total spiritual TRANSFORMATION, affecting every facet of their culture and nation. His calling on the nation has never changed! Once again, they will be a nation with an unusually strong devotion to Jesus, and they’ll go to the nations in droves, sharing the Gospel, making disciples and planting churches. I’m not making this stuff up! I wholeheartedly believe Ireland is a KEY player in God’s plans and purposes in the earth.

We’ve taken a Caleb Zone there every summer for 13 years, and I’ve been several times in the winter. We pray in churches, meet with pastors, priests and others to encourage them to believe God for transforming revival and to PREPARE for it by leading out in discipleship and Lifegroups in their churches. And here at home, we’ve been meeting weekly for 11 years to pray for Ireland.

The first few years we made trips there, folks just didn’t get it. I mean, they appreciated our prayers, for sure. And God has, from the beginning, given us a lot of favor with folks. But hopelessness has prevailed for so long in the churches there, that it has been like pulling teeth in many instances to get them to open their ears to what God is saying.

So here’s the cool part. As we’ve gone back year after year, praying our hearts out in tons of churches and key locations, we’re starting to see the beginning of some breakthroughs. This past summer, we met with a Catholic Bishop and five of the priests in his diocese who have been studying evangelism and discipleship, putting both into practice in their parishes. Each of them knows Jesus personally, and shares with their congregations the need to receive Jesus into their hearts personally…and then to go and make disciples. I even was asked to speak at Sunday mass in one of these parishes! In case you don’t know, that just doesn’t happen…at least, not in Ireland.

Our team came home sensing from God that NOW is the time to really invest in prayer for Ireland.

If you’d like to get in on the action, here are a couple of things you can do:

  • Check out the Pray For Ireland blog and subscribe to our list to get blog updates.
  • Join us on Wednesday afternoons from 4 p.m. – 5 p.m to pray for Ireland. (Danny Mulkey’s office – located in the main office building)
  • Pray for spiritual breakthrough in Ireland.

I’m not kidding…we can affect ALL of the nations by praying for Ireland.

By Danny Mulkey, Elder and Caleb Zone Pastor

Live Well, Finish Well

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV)

When does a person start finishing? I mean, is there a line which we cross in the process of life where we think, “Okay, I’m going to start finishing up now.  I want to get this right.”

It looks to me like we actually start FINISHING the moment we begin.  Think about it. At a track meet, the runners are in their stance in the starting blocks.  The gun sounds, and the race BEGINS, but their goal is the FINISH LINE. They run the whole race well and in such a way that they will FINISH well.

When you think of finishing LIFE well, what comes to mind? Seriously…what just came to mind when you read the previous question? This is just a guess, but I’ll bet you thought of old age, maybe seeing yourself as a sweet, elderly person who’s lived a reasonably good life and never messed up REAL bad. Right? Well, I think God shows us a little bit bigger perspective in the New Testament.  He sees LIVING well as being the route which leads to FINISHING well. Take a look at this:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

No matter whether we’re young, old or in between, we can still finish well by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and running the race with Him…getting right back up when we fall down.

In Response:

Today, ask God to show you the areas in which you need some help in living well.  Then just do what He says!  The finish line is just ahead.

By Danny Mulkey, Caleb Zone Pastor

God Isn’t Finished With You

It’s amazing how easy it is to believe what the devil says about us instead of what God says about us.

Here’s what I mean;  we say or think things like, “Well, now that I’m nearing retirement, I can see that I’m past my prime…I guess I’ll just sit and transition from Olympic weight-lifter to Olympic weight-gainer.”  Or how about this one: “Man, did I ever blow it!  Now God’s going to just put me on the back of the shelf where I can keep the dust company ‘til I head on to heaven.”

No!  A thousand times no!  God is NEVER finished with us.  As long as we’re willing to repent and have a heart to pursue Him and His Kingdom, He will continue to bear fruit in and through our lives until we hit heaven itself.  Look at Caleb.  At age 85 this guy goes and clears the enemies out of the land which Moses had promised him 45 years earlier.  I mean he’s killing  off GIANTS, for Pete’s sake!  The deal with Caleb was that he never gave up.  He never lost sight of what God had spoken to him.  Age wasn’t His issue.  God told him he’d be fruitful and he believed it!

Or look at Peter.  Jesus warned him ahead of time that he was going to chicken out and deny that he even knew Jesus…right at the moment that Jesus could have used a friend!  But after his epic failure, Peter still chose to say “yes” to Jesus when Jesus told him to “…feed my sheep.”

Caleb didn’t shrink back due to his age and stage of life when he was finally given the territory he had been promised.  Peter didn’t dive into the lake in despair over his past sins and failures when Jesus spoke new direction over his life.  Both of these men laid aside their weaknesses, took God’s hand and said in essence, “Okay, Lord, let’s go.”

How about you?  Would you be willing to extend your heart to Jesus and just believe Him as He says to you, “I started a good work in you, and believe me, I’m going to finish what I started” (Philippians 1:6 paraphrased)? God isn’t finished with you. What are some ways God can continue to use you in the kingdom right now?

Thankfulness Series – Being Thankful When You Don’t Feel It

As the thirteen year old boy tore open the nicely wrapped birthday present from his father, his eyes flashed with excitement and expectation.

He knew it was going to be the cool alligator belt he had asked for a million times…the belt that would help him make the social leap from “skinny kid” to “cool skinny kid.”  I mean, alligator belts were a MUST HAVE in 1964. But when he lifted the belt from its box, his face fell just about as far as a face could fall without actually hitting the floor.  It was CROCODILE!  His dad had gotten a rough CROCODILE belt instead of the really cool, shiny and totally trendy ALLIGATOR belt which had been not only requested, but expected.

“Crocodile?  CROCODILE?  It was supposed to be ALLIGATOR!”

The boy’s face was white with shock at his own words.  He had never spoken so disrespectully to his father before. It just was not allowed.  But his dad was too hurt to even respond in anger.  He had been so pumped about blessing his son whom he loved deeply.  How was he to know that alligator was cool and crocodile was dumb? A reptile is a reptile, right?  Wrong.  And he felt WRONG.  He felt embarrassed, disrespected, hurt; and terribly unappreciated.  A very tenuous relationship had just gotten, well, “tenuous-er.” And with the unkind words spoken and the self-absorbed heart revealed, the planned celebration crumbled to dust.

As you may have guessed, this is a true story, unfortunately, about me.  I had not yet learned to have a heart of gratitude and thankfulness.  The one valuable thing I did know at that time was that I hated to hurt people.  Therefore, asking my dad to forgive me, through tons of tears and blubbering, was a huge relief, to him and to me.

When we’re not grateful, we’re not only away from God locationally, but also moving away from God directionally. Thankfulness moves us in God’s direction.  Unthankfulness, sarcasm, complaining and entitlement moves us in hell’s direction.  Gratitude deepens relationship with God and with people.  Ingratitude grieves God’s heart and pushes people away.

So is the issue just gritting our teeth and saying “thank you,” even though our heart is saying, “What were you thinking?”  Or is the issue getting to the place where we actually ARE thankful when our circumstances warrant otherwise?  That’s the real question, isn’t it?  We can learn to be polite and say, “thank you.”  That’s having a disciplined tongue.  But we can actually have a disciplined HEART!  Because of the presence of Jesus in our lives, we can learn to see His perspective when things come our way, whether good or bad.  We can choose to believe what Romans 8:28 says, that “ALL things work together for good for those who love him and are called according to His purpose.”

I can be thankful no matter what!  Thanksgiving is one of the best evidences of faith there is.  Faith says, “I choose to believe that no matter what, God is good and He can meet me in the middle of every situation.  I can RELY on Him because He is reliable.  I can be of good cheer because He has overcome the world” (John 16:33). When we are grateful, faith is. And do you know what? It’s faith that pleases God!

So Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  May we all be truly thankful to Jesus and to each other.

And by the way, I wore the crocodile belt for years…and my friends thought it was cool.

THANKSGIVING

 

By Danny Mulkey, Caleb Zone Pastor and Elder