[shoulders] SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #7 March 1, 1998

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From: lifeunlimited@... (Robert A Tolliver)
Date: Sun, 1 Mar 1998 21:17:27 -0600
Greetings, dear friend!

PRELIMINARIES:

WAITING TWO WEEKS AGAIN was a   v-e-r-y   long time since my last
newsletter.  I trust this note will encourage you.  Last week Jo Ann and
I were singing and speaking at the Southwest Missouri Evangelism and
Bible Conference, so getting a newsletter to you would have been
difficult ---- no internet access.  

Some may be surprised to hear from me today, since our plans originally
called for us to be in the heart of Croatia.  That trip, however, was
postponed until Fall because of the illness of the other keynote speaker.
 Instead, we ministered in our home church in Kansas City yesterday, and
will be speaking next Sunday in Springfield, MO about our Croatia
ministry trip next May.  (Incidentally, if you'd be interested in knowing
how you might participate in one of our trips ---- two to three a year
---- just drop me a note.)

TELEPHONE SCAMS are everywhere.  I have received reliable information
from two sources about one I really want to warn you about.  Apparently
some inmates from various prisons are calling people, posing as telephone
technicians, and then telling people they need to run a test on your
phone line.  They then ask you to dial 90# (nine, zero, pound key) and
hang up.  If you do that, they have access to your personal phone line to
make unlimited long distance phone calls, which could cost you a great
deal.  If you want copies of the actual e-mail messages I received, just
let me know.  In the meantime, please pass the word to folks with whom
you have contact.  If you're a pastor or staff member, you might even
want to publish this warning in your bulletin or newsletter.



HOW TO HANDLE IMPOSSIBLE SITUATIONS:

Have you recently faced a circumstance which, in some way, seems to be an
impossible situation ---- something completely beyond your ability to
control, change, or intercept?   If you haven't, you probably have in the
past, and you can be sure you will sometime in the future.  

Such experiences often leave us confused, emotionally drained, and
spiritually shaken.  Deep in my heart, I believe there is someone for
whom this newsletter will breathe new hope into their hearts, and will
break the chains of helplessness, hopelessness, and condemnation.

The good news is that, as best I can tell, there are, according to
Scripture, only three things that are actually  impossible.  The small
number of impossible things is not what makes up the good news ---- it's
what those three things are.  

1.  Hebrews 6:18 tells us it is impossible for God to lie.  Talk about
building our faith in Him! . . . !

2.  Hebrews 11:6 declares that, without faith, it is impossible to please
God.  There is nothing else we can do to please Him other than to Trust
Him.  So, forget about all the performance temptations!  They don't cut
it.

3.  Acts 2:24 proclaims one of the most amazing facts of all history ----
it was impossible for death to hold Jesus Christ captive!  

When you take those three simple but great impossibilities, you find the
ingredients that virtually undergird our very beings as believers. 

 With that in mind, I'd like to briefly address five thoughts about HOW
TO HANDLE "IMPOSSIBLE" SITUATIONS:

I.  WHY IMPOSSIBLE THINGS SEEM "IMPOSSIBLE!":

1.  They usually involve areas of our lives that are very important to
us.  Therefore, when we are faced with seemingly impossible situations,
we can be shaken to the very core.

2.  They often interrupt or complicate our plans, schedules, or scheme of
things.  So, when they come, they can throw our lives into a tailspin of
confusion and a frenzy of frantic reaction.

3.  We sometimes try to understand them with human mentality, even though
the Lord makes it clear that if we need wisdom from above, we must ask
God for it.  No matter how long we have been Christians or have been in
the ministry, the basic human reaction to any impossible situation is to
try to address it through limited human logic and understanding.

4.  We try to deal with them with human resources.  If human resources
would work, they wouldn't be impossible.  The very fact that they are
impossible, makes it glaringly clear that human resources won't solve
them.

5.  We see them and interpret them from the viewpoint of time and
temporality, rather than from the viewpoint of eternity and spirituality.
 Man's ways and thoughts are still not on the same plane nor in the same
sphere as God's.  I believe He has made that perfectly clear in Isaiah
55:8.

II.  WHAT IMPOSSIBLE THINGS DON'T MEAN:

1.  They don't mean that God initiates Evil.  Some of the things you may
be facing at this very moment are evil things.  Just remember ---- God
didn't start that!  While it's true it had to come through His Hand, and
while it may seem to be evil, it came by way of God's throne of Grace. 
Therefore, it is either actually NOT evil when seen from His perspective,
or, even though evil in context, God has chosen to use it to accomplish
ultimate good ---- just like Joseph's experience of being sold into
slavery by his brothers.

2.  They don't mean that God has failed or was caught off guard. 
Absolutely nothing takes God by surprise, and one thing God certainly
cannot do is fail ---- otherwise He could not be God.

3.  They don't mean that there is sin in your life, or that your faith is
not strong enough.  In my opinion, this is one of the great lies from the
pit of hell.  

It is inconsistent to think such things would be because of SIN IN OUR
LIVES.  To hold that position is not reasonable.  If it were true, then
we could accuse God of playing favorites, because every one of us has sin
in our lives at some time, and yet, many have not faced impossible
situations.  Therefore, God either plays favorites, or He is unreliable. 
If He is unreliable, then He is not trustworthy ---- and therefore, not
God.  If He is not God, we are in a real mess!

If, on the other hand, it was because of a LACK OF FAITH, then we
immediately cause faith to become an act of legalistic performance.  We
take a gift of God's grace ---- faith ---- and turn it into legalism. 
And, once faith becomes legalistic performance, it is not longer faith. 
It is works!  And we're not saved by works, no matter how good or well
intentioned they may be.

4.  They don't mean that God is mad at you or has rejected you.  One
thing is certain about God ---- He never gets mad at His children, and He
never rejects or disowns them.  Again, for Him to do that, He would not
be God.  Those are human characteristics, not divine.  While He may be
angry over things we do, He never holds them over our heads and takes
revenge.  And, He has clearly promised time and again that He will NEVER
"leave us or forsake us."

5.  They don't mean that life is hopeless and no longer worth living.  I
remember a friend once saying, "Life wouldn't be half bad if it weren't
so daily!"  Well, that's what life is ---- it's daily ---- and it's often
drudgery ----- and even sometimes dirty.  But it is STILL Life!  And,
Life, by its very nature, cannot be hopeless.  

As long as there is life, there is hope.  Life ALWAYS produces hope. 
Now, if what you think is life does not produce hope, then maybe you've
latched onto something that is death instead of life.  Just think about
it!  The very nature of life has imbedded deep within itself the concept
of hope.  Life and hopelessness are opposites.

III.  WHAT IMPOSSIBLE THINGS DON'T DO:

1.  They don't give you the authority to take things into your own hands
and take control over them.  To do so, frankly, is an exercise in
futility.  How can you, a mere human, turn an impossible situation into
something that is possible.  If you can do that, then it wasn't
impossible in the first place.

2.  They don't give you the right to rebuke or correct God and set Him on
the right track.  Rather, they give you the opportunity to tell your
Perfect Heavenly Father just how very much you trust His wisdom, His
judgement, His faithfulness, and His leadership to the ultimate
conclusions.

3.  They don't give you the right to take up an offense or become angry
or bitter.  Yet, that's what often happens ---- particularly with those
of us in the ministry.

However, isn't that, at the very least, erroneous assumption, and, at the
most, rebellious arrogance?  To think that, just because we're in the
ministry, we are some special people who deserve ----- yes, even demand!
---- special treatment from God!  After all, He does owe us a favor for
our faithfulness in serving Him over the years ---- and especially in
such unbecoming surroundings.  Nobody else would have done that.  He
should be honored that we are so faithful, and He should have no right to
treat us any other wise than "wonderfully!".

IV.  WHY IMPOSSIBLE THINGS ARE NECESSARY:

1.  To manifest God's power.  In Luke 1:37 we find that God gave
Zachariah and Elizabeth a son ---- John the Baptist ---- right on time in
order to manifest His power.  If He had answered their prayer early on in
their marriage, He may have received their gratitude, but most likely
John's birth would have been attributed to the natural reproductive
capabilities of the human body.

2.  To accommodate God's purposes.  Again, in the same story, if John had
been born early, it would have been perhaps forty years too soon!  Then
John would not have been in the right place at the right time to announce
the coming of the Messiah, introduce Him to society, and baptize Him in
the Jordan.  Even though a good man, John would not have been part of
God's purposes as pertaining to Jesus' public ministry.

3.  To bring our confession in harmony with what God says.  Often God
lets us go through very difficult times in order to get us to where we
will start confessing what He wants us to rather than what our old flesh
wants to.  In a way, it's like what we parents do with our children ----
bringing adversity into their lives in order that they will learn how to
"talk right".  

I love the word "Confess".  It simply means to "say the same things as"
---- to say about a situation what God is saying.  Most of the time,
though, we try to let God know what we think about the situation ---- and
do it in such a way as to imply He knows nothing about it.

4.  To prove Satan's defeat.  This is what happened with Job.  God's
trust in Job was so total that He was willing to allow Job to go through
a whole series of situations, and in so doing, demonstrate to Job, to the
citizenry, and to Satan himself, that Satan was indeed defeated.

5.  To conform you to the image of Christ!  This may well be the most
significant of all reasons why impossible things are necessary.  If we
don't believe that, then we don't believe that all things do, indeed,
work together for good, as declared in Romans 8:28-30.  It is those "all
things" ---- including the impossible ones ---- that God uses in our
lives to ultimately conform us into the very likeness of the Lord Jesus
Christ.

In fact, it may well be that, the more difficult it is for us to be
conformed into His likeness in our daily conduct, attitudes, demeanor,
and speech, the more likely it is that we'll face even more impossible
situations.  Years ago, a good friend, Manley Beasley, asked an
interesting question:  "What do you get out of an orange  when you
squeeze it?"  The logical answer would be "orange juice", but that was
not the answer he gave.  His answer was, "whatever is in it."

If you squeeze an orange  and get orange juice, that's proof that it is
an orange.  However, if you get lemon juice, then it is obvious it is
actually a lemon instead of an orange (no matter how much it looks like
an orange), or ---- somebody has been tampering with the orange!

FINALLY, HOW TO PROPERLY RESPOND TO IMPOSSIBLE SITUATIONS:

1.  Rejoice!  Elvis Marcum, the great pastor of Graceland Baptist Church
in New Albany, Indiana, was the first person I ever heard use this phrase
---- "Rejoice By Choice!"  Paul strongly deals both with the Philippians
and the Thessalonians about this matter of rejoicing In, For, Over, About
and Through everything!  The sooner you start rejoicing concerning that
impossible thing, the quicker it will cease being impossible.

2.  Recognize that, even though with God all things ARE possible, not all
things will happen the way you had hoped for or planned.  Be ready for
things to turn out differently than what you expected or wanted ---- and,
even more important, be willing to accept that fact without complaint or
whining.

3.  Confess any sin of anger, impatience, or attempted insurrection on
your part.

4.  Reaffirm your trust and confidence in God (Mt 17:20).

5.  Declare God's faithfulness to other people.  It will bless you and
them, and will serve notice to all parties concerned that you are
absolutely confident in God's faithfulness and grace.

6.  Minister to others facing similar situations in their time of need.

7.  Live with your life saturated in unhindered praise.

8.  Wait patiently on God, and walk in the light you have at the moment. 
Like the old lantern my uncle used to carry when we would walk the three
miles to church down dark and muddy country lanes, the darkness ahead
fled as we walked in the light we had.  Even though the light was
adequate for only a radius of perhaps twenty feet, we were able to walk
the entire three miles without ever stepping in a mud puddle.

9.  Confess God's promises with your mouth.  You need to hear yourself
say them.  Chances are, you wife and/or children need to hear you say
them, too ---- instead of the negative words of judgement and
hopelessness.

10.  Obey yourself through the situation to its ultimate conclusion. 
Whatever God prompts you in the way of taking action, do it immediately.



Luke 18:27 ---- (Jesus speaking) "the things impossible with men are
possible with God."

Friend, whatever "impossible" thing you're facing at this very moment
---- salvation of a lost friend or relative, financial impossibilities,
family chaos, a dead church, a church split, a terminal illness, or
anything else ---- run toward it with the praise of God on your lips, the
truth of God in your mind, the sufficiency of God under your feet, the
promises of God in your heart, and the power of God all over your
ministry!

Today is a new day!  A day the Lord has made!  Rejoice in it!  Seize it! 
Make it count!  Watch Him prove Himself faithful to you ---- today!

Let me hear from you.  

Rejoicing In His Victory,

Bob Tolliver

ADDRESS:  Route 1, Box 87AB, Collins, MO 64738
Ph: 417-275-4854.   Fax: 417-275-4855
E-mail: lifeunlimited@...

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