Stay Out of the Mine Field - 5/28/2015

I went to Israel for the first time when I was 13 and in the 8th grade. I have been several times since with thousands of friends and fellow believers from all over the world on ministry trips. Each one is special in its own way, and each trip has a moment that you will never forget. For me, Israel is a place where, every day that I am there, the Bible literally swells in my heart as I see the Word of God (breathed by His Holy Spirit) come alive before my eyes. There truly is no place on earth quite like the Holy Land.

Israel is not only the land of the Bible, but also one of the most contested nations in our modern world. There have been many struggles as the people of Israel fight to establish themselves and lay claim to God’s promise that they as a people have a covenant with the land. Now more than ever, the words of King David are timely. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may they prosper who love you (Psalms 122:6).”

The thought for this week’s blog came to me in an indirect way…from something I have seen over and over again as I have walked through the Holy sites of Israel. I had never considered this topic in this particular context until recently. As a matter of fact, the small signs that have shaped the advice that I am about to give, have never appeared on a brochure…and will probably never be a selling point to convince someone that they really should take that trip of a lifetime to visit the “Land of the Bible.” The signs I’m talking about are located in various places along the Israeli roads, in certain areas that you want to visit. They hang on fences constructed of barbed wire, painted bright yellow with black letters. These signs are highly-visible and give very clear direction, “BEWARE OF MINES.”

You see, because of all the modern wars and conflicts that have been fought in Israel, the path that you may walk to the Jordan River in the desert south of Jericho might have once been a battle field, or the trail that leads to the New Testament town of Bethsaida; Chorazin north of Galilee could have once been the front lines of a fight. When the conflicts have ended and the treaties have been signed, it’s time to make room for the tourist and pilgrims to come and visit. Rather than face the risk of serious injury or death from clearing every last land mine the enemy has previously buried, the Israeli military will locate the area that the mines are in and fence it off, then ensure a very safe and clear path for you to gain access to your desired location. This way everyone is aware of where to go and where not to go.

So you’re thinking, “That’s nice. What does that have to do with my life?” I will tell you. The other day, I was thinking of friends I have known who for a good while had many wonderful blessings in their lives…strong marriages, growing families, great careers and a wonderful path filled with nothing but potential in front of them. Then somehow, somewhere, at some point, it seems everything just blew up; what seemed so stable and long-lasting is suddenly destroyed. As I considered the things that I saw in common with tragic situations that people endure, I recognized that in many cases it begins by taking a few steps off of the clear-cut path and wandering out into the mine field of some old conflict…dwelling on those things that cause the most damage rather than focusing on where you want to go and enjoying the beautiful things in life.

Like modern day Israel, life will have its seasons of conflict. There will be battles fought physically, spiritually and emotionally. But when the fight is over, stay out of the mine field and walk down the path God has cleared for you. Don’t get distracted and wonder if there is something better on the other side of the fence. Remember what Jesus said, “Broad is the path that leads to destruction and many there be that find it. Narrow the path that leads to eternal life and few there be that find it.” You know where the explosive material in your life has been buried by the enemy. Rather than risk the harm of digging it up, read the warning signs that God has hung on your heart strings and stay out of the mine field.

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Cheer Loudly! - 5/21/2015

I am in the season of my life where my wife and I are constantly running from one event to the next for our children. It’s busy, but it’s a blessing. I never take for granted that they are healthy and willing to be involved. While I would love to take credit for some of their skills, I have to say that my wife was a college athlete, valedictorian…and is still to this day one of the most competitive people I know. As a matter of fact, the other day I figured out my role in this “Little League Dynasty.” I am the head cheerleader. I am by far the loudest thing in the bleachers. I make other parents stare, coaches uncomfortable, and umpires sigh. Yes I am THAT guy, and I like it!

There is something powerful about encouragement. It makes people believe that they can accomplish what at first they thought was impossible. One really loud voice of encouragement can drown out a thousand cynics and scoffers. The world can be such a discouraging place at times, but knowing that you’ve got somebody in your corner makes all the difference in the world. One thing I am going to do for the rest of my life, is remind my children that I am in their corner and cheering loudly. It’s not because their performance is going to make the highlight reel on the 10:00 o’clock news, but because they are mine, and that’s reason enough.

I believe, based on what I have read in the Scripture, that God does the same for us. He’s constantly cheering us on, giving us encouragement to do what we thought was impossible. He helps us to overcome all the doubt and doom the world wants us to bear. When the world turns its back on us, He’s the voice that says, “I’m still here.” When others turn on you, He whispers in your soul, “If I am for you, who can be against you?” He doesn’t encourage us because He is impressed by what we can do, He does it because we belong to Him, and that’s reason enough.

God in heaven has even recruited a cloud of witnesses to cheer us on with encouragement. Hebrews 12:1 states, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” This one verse reminds us that there is a gallery full of saints who are cheering us on with shouts of encouragement. If we could hear them with our natural ears, they’d be shouting, “Don’t quit! Press on! Eternity is worth it all!”

I don’t know where I will be cheering next…maybe at a T-ball game or swim meet. I’ve even cheered at a spelling bee! It didn’t make the judges real happy, but my baby girl heard me. Wherever my children are, I will be there cheering for them…because I believe all of heaven is cheering for me. So when you get the chance…CHEER LOUDLY!

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Embraced - 5/12/2015

Typically I take a moment to write each week about something I have seen in the last few days that has reminded me of an even greater lesson. This past week we celebrated not only Mother’s Day, but also my wife’s birthday. I thought for this week’s blog you might want to hear from her.


Matthew Hagee

Everyone feels a little warmth in their heart when they think about being embraced. Knowing that you are lovingly wrapped in another’s arms gives you a great sense of acceptance and connection. Who hasn’t searched for the covering of a friend, family member, or loved one in a time of trouble and found solace in another’s embrace.

I can remember my teenage years when I questioned who I was and how I could fit in; only to be reminded of what was truly important in life when I was wrapped in my parents’ embrace.

Some of my favorite childhood memories are centered around the days when I would walk through the front door of my house and receive that huge hug. There wasn’t anything in the world that could bother me when I was being held by those loving arms. Even now as a mother of four young children and a Pastor’s wife, I yearn to be embraced; whether it is from my children coming home after a long day at school or by my husband returning from an out-of- town trip.

So many wonderful moments in my life are connected by an embrace. However, when I think about the word “embraced,” I’m often reminded of things that I would rather not personally embrace. Mainly, involving ME! I have difficulty at times embracing myself... the things I see as flaws or personal failures, the weaknesses that remind me I desperately need the help of a loving God, family, or friends. I am certain if you took the time to consider the things in your own life that you wish were different, you would find that they are probably the hardest to embrace.

However, recently I had a revelation. A friend and I were discussing a passage from Proverbs 4:8-9, “Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.” These verses speak about embracing wisdom...and that’s when it hit me! All wisdom comes from God and rather than resist it, I am going to embrace it. In return, wisdom will crown and exalt me as a daughter of the King.

I will embrace what Psalms 139:14 states, “I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Rather than being repelled by my flaws, I am going to embrace them and believe that God in His wisdom gave them to me for a reason. After all, I was created in His image...a unique individual with a divine purpose. Rather than struggle with questions like “What is my purpose?” and “Why am I here?”

I am going to embrace Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the thoughts that I think towards you… plans to give you hope and a future.” I have chosen to willingly open my arms and wrap them faithfully around what God has for me, why He created me, and what He wants for me because He is too wise to make a mistake and too loving to be unkind.

As wonderful as it is to be embraced by those you love, I want to encourage you to embrace yourself. God has some wonderful things in store for you, if you will only trust Him enough to lead you down a divine pathway saturated with blessings you cannot contain. All He asks of you is to EMBRACE it!

Kendal Hagee

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Can You Tell Me How to Re-boot This? - 5/7/2015

I am the last person that you want to talk to about technology. My “IT I.Q.” gets overwhelmed with words like “giga”, “mega” and “tera.” Personally, I thought “giga” is what they yelled at Aggie games, “mega” was a Mexican breakfast covered with cheese, and “terra” was a Latin word used when referring to the surface of the earth. So, when you ask me about the kind of technology I prefer, Mac or PC, I am very comfortable with a legal pad and a pen.

Thank you very much! Because of my lack of tech skills, I usually keep the IT Department on speed dial, and when they come (regardless of how many hours they spent learning their trade at major colleges and universities) they always seem to start the same way…with a “re-boot”.

They simply walk in, shut the frozen computer off, and then turn it back on again. This seems to work most every time, and while I am one part glad that it did, I am also equally frustrated that this is all it took. I am no computer expert, but I could have turned it off, counted to five, then turned it back on! On one occasion, in total frustration I asked the “techie” staring over my shoulder, “Why does this work?!?” He then explained something that made me believe that I have discovered the solution to more than just computer problems.

He said, “You sent too many conflicting messages at once, and the computer tried to do all of them at the same time. This causes the unit to lock up, because it cannot prioritize what you want to happen in what order; it simply freezes while it tries to figure out what you are asking for and the quickest way to fix it is to just turn it off and start over.” That’s when it hit me. The whole world needs a re-boot! Just like the computer in my office, we have sent too many signals that contradict the way God created us, how He intended us to live and behaviors that are contrary to our nature. The result is the frustration and the standstill, waiting for something to happen…and yet nothing does.

We want the world to improve overnight while we sleep, rather than take an active role on a daily basis to make it a better place, becoming committed to the improvement, no matter how long it takes. We want a leader to come to the forefront that will get things done, but we don’t want to be the people that the leader can count on to help make it happen. We want the church to grow, but we don’t want to tell others what Christ has done for us. We want the economy to get better, but we don’t want to live on a budget. We want people to treat each other with kindness, yet we still yell at each other on the highway while we are in a huge hurry to get…where again? No wonder our world is so gridlocked with frustration. We have filled it with mixed signals that cannot be executed at the same time.

So how do we fix it? I recommend a re-boot. Stop what you are currently doing that is not working, and start over with the very basic things that you know will work. I think one of those essentials is prayer. I am a sixth generation pastor. My grandfather and great-grandfather faced very different issues in their ministries than I have to address in mine. However, there is one tool that they used that I depend on with equal necessity. In every chapter of church history, from the upper room until late last night, prayer has worked and will always work. God promised that it would. So before you try the latest recommendation for solving a problem that you cannot seem to fix, I recommend praying about the matter and see if that doesn’t re-boot the entire system.

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Can Two Walk Together? - 4/30/2015

I'm not sure if you can tell by the picture, but I am a cowboy at heart. I say, "at heart" because I have a great admiration for those who truly do the work of a cowboy and I feel they are often underappreciated for the sacrifice that they make to do the labor they love.

There are a lot of wonderful ethics in the cowboy way of life that I try to instill in my children.

Not so they can ride off into the sunset when they're older; but because I want them to be strong, independent, courageous and faithful no matter what trails life may take them on. Fortunately, my kids so far, like being around anything western, especially horses.

The other day we had some time to ride and as usual my 8 year old J.W. is all "go" and no "whoa!" He had his horse saddled and was picking up dust before his little brother even got his horse brushed. Once Joel finally crawled into the saddle of his very dependable older horse, the horse did what he always does...nothing. There is a reason why he is the perfect kid horse. He won't move unless you absolutely make him, or if he sees a cookie. Now Joel's legs aren't quite long enough or strong enough to push the "old fella" forward and that's when J.W. reminded me of a wonderful lesson.

J.W. rode by his frustrated little brother, grabbed the lead rope of the halter and walked off. Suddenly, the kid who's perfectly content to go as fast as he is allowed, slowed down long enough to help his little brother do what he couldn’t do on his own. That's what cowboys call "being a partner." As I watched with a heart full of thanks at the sight of my sons, I began to think how much better the world would be if some of us would just slow down long enough to help someone in need.

We are surrounded by folks who need just a little bit of help to get started. It may require a little more effort on our part. It may restrict some of our freedoms or our ability to move as fast as we can, but the benefits far outweigh the sacrifices. If you help someone else in need, then you don't have to ride alone, and life’s journey is much better when shared with the ones you love. This is why the Bible says, "Two are better than one." God created us to be relational beings. He made that very clear in Genesis when He said, "It is not good for man to be alone." I'm sure if you took the time to look around you'll see someone that God has put in your path waiting for you to help them down the trail.

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