Wednesday, December 6, 2017

a maturing faith

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.     2 Peter 1:8
The life of the disciple is not designed for maintenance or meant for maintaining. The disciple who is vibrant and alive is a maturing disciple. As a growing disciple of Christ, we are in the process of adding to and developing our character. Our faith is not static; rather, it is dynamic and nimble. We are constantly developing a life of character that can stand against the winds of adversity and enjoy the blessings of prosperity.
As a conscientious character developer, we are to possess these qualities of Christ in an ever-increasing measure: “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)
Our process of character development is a conscious effort. It starts with faith and ends with love. These are the bookends of God’s expectations for our character. He may start with faith because it is the doorway to Him. Faith is how we approach God and how we appropriate His virtue into our life. Faith allows us to find our heavenly Father and learn from Him. Faith gives us ears to hear and a heart for change. Love, on the other hand, deals with motive. Everything we do needs to be inspired by love for God and people. The greatest from the trilogy of faith, hope, and love, is love. 
Start by asking God to increase your faith. An expanded capacity for faith and trust opens the door to other opportunities for life transformation. Faith is first base; so do not run past it. Faith taken for granted is not faith; so do not disguise shallow or flippant religious-speak as faith. Faith is focused on God, and there is a relentless resolve to understand Him and His word.
The Bible is a treasure trove of truth that leads to understanding the character of God; faith is bolstered through the Bible. The Scripture ignites our faith. That faith becomes radically robust as you feast and learn of God through his Holy Writ. Do not underestimate the potential of increasing your measure of faith by knowing and applying God’s Word.
Lastly, use love as warm oil to massage truth into your life and into the life of others. Like a sore muscle, life needs the soothing effect of love. Love understands honoring a relationship over being right. Love motivates faith and is motivated by faith. Your love gives you admission into the life of a person—to influence their life. If they know they are loved, then your influence is trusted. Let love lace your life like garlic flavors a delicious Italian meal. You can smell its appetizing aroma that precedes its amazing taste.
With an ever-increasing measure the aromatic effect of your love will precede your presence. People want what you have when they are unconditionally loved. So, make sure what you are offering them is authentic. Be a love doctor, who graciously administers the love of God. Do not settle for the maturation of your past character. Seek Him even more humbly and aggressively now to increase your measure of character. Keep adding His character to yours; this is effective and productive. Keep your life book between the bookends of God’s character. Your life then becomes an attractive read.
Prayer: Heavenly Father,  grow our knowledge of Christ and develop our character closer to the life of Christ,  amen.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Leaders of generosity

One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25
I have not met a generous leader who was not prosperous. Not always financially, but certainly relationally, emotionally and spiritually, giving leaders tend to be rich in what matters most. Leaders prosper and refresh when they help others do the same.
God’s economy is counter intuitive to man’s conventional wisdom. Proverbs teaches a generous person who gives freely is entrusted by God with more, a stingy person who holds on forfeits his opportunity to gain more from the Lord. God cannot place blessings in the palm of a hand that is balled up into a greedy fist. But He finds great joy in giving to those who allow blessings to pass through their open hands. Generosity produces prosperity and refreshment.

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6).
Do you look for opportunities to be generous with your time, talent, treasure, wisdom and relationships? Does your generous giving enrich you and empower others to be generous givers? What you give for God’s kingdom is a secure investment with an eternal return. Remember those who took the time to teach and mentor you professionally, relationally, and spiritually. Pray about who you can do life with and help them grow from your mistakes, and experiences learning what success really looks like. Like a cold glass of homemade lemonade on a summer day, you will refresh. 
Spend time preparing a generosity plan just as you would create a business plan. Budget your time to be with others for intentional mentoring, coaching or consulting. Your generosity plan may include a percentage of your business revenue, an annual one percent increase in your giving from your personal budget or seeding a giving fund for your children to start practicing the habit of generous giving. Most of all, be generous with your time sitting quietly before the Lord and doing a great work with the Lord. 
“I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you” (Nehemiah 6:3).
Father God, grow our hearts of generosity to reflect Your heart of generosity, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, March 27, 2017


Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.    Joel 2:23
The follower of Jesus cannot remain sad. Yes, there are seasons of sadness, but you are not meant to stay there as you walk with the Lord through gloomy times. Instead, be grateful to God for little things such as rain, the warmth of the sun, and the cool of the night. God is the author of all of these and He is forever creating good things for His children: relationships, laughter, a full stomach, a good night’s rest, healthy children, a free nation, and the opportunity to share all of our gifts from God. His blessings elicit smiles on the face of His children. Giving gladness is a vital role of our Heavenly Father; even in the middle of severe sadness, He dispenses gladness.
The gladness of God is uncanny in its ability to keep you poised with a peaceful perspective. People and circumstances can shell out sadness, while Christ’s compassion brings gladness. Therefore, go to God often for the gift of gladness. Receive His roaring laughter (see Job 8:21) as a reminder not to take ourselves, others, or situations too seriously. Fight sadness with gladness so that when you are tempted to torture your mind with sad thoughts, you will choose instead to fill it with glad memories of good things.
Yes, pain is ever-present. Emotional pain may emerge often, your physical pain may be perpetual, and financial pain could be flirting with your peace of mind. Relational pain may be assaulting you with rejection. Pain is a part of life, but do not allow pain to pin you to the mat of victimized living. Pain will try to steal your gladness and replace it with sadness. It will show up on your face as a scowl or a jutting jaw. Be glad instead, and allow the calm of Christ to caress your countenance. Slow down and let your trust in the Lord massage your mind. Trust in Christ brings you glad tidings.
This is why we worship God in place of the things of this world. Anything outside of the Lord has the potential to let you down. Money will fall short and even contribute to sadness. Children can break your heart, and your spouse will make you sad. Friends will fail you, and circumstances can crush your motivation to care. But Christ-followers have a heavenly Father who gives gladness in the middle of sadness. Abandoning yourself to the Lord is like tilling fertile ground for a growing faith and a glad face. You cannot remain sad if you are fully abandoned.
Unconditional surrender to the Savior elicits gladness, and a triumphal spirit comes from being in Christ. Peace and contentment are first cousins and fruits of a glad attitude. Anybody can live a chronically sad life, but those who look to their Savior, cannot help but be glad. He is the giver of all good things that satisfy. Therefore, be glad for the grace of God that gushes from heaven like a generous geyser. See gladness as a result of your resting in the presence of God and engaging with a community of Christ-followers. Allow grace to govern your thinking, because gladness grows in a heart overflowing with gratitude for God’s grace and all His good gifts.

Friday, March 24, 2017


I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.  Mark 10:15
Simple faith does not mean simplistic faith. Christianity can be complex; for example, our full understanding of the Godhead three in one, will not happen this side of heaven. There will always be a mysterious shroud around the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is why simple faith in Him is necessary to receive the revelation of His truth found in the Holy Bible.
Jesus made it simple when He described becoming like a little child in order to enter into His Kingdom. Small children can clearly see simple truths because they are unencumbered by the complexities of adult living. Because of their humility and honesty they are able to listen to the Lord’s teachings about sinful man and our need for a Savior. For a child, loving Jesus is an opportunity to be loved. They can easily accept God’s gift of His only son, Jesus, for their salvation. Thus, childlike faith in Christ is your bridge to God.
Don’t miss meeting the Lord in simple faith because of the pain or problems you have encountered in this world. There is no lasting peace to be found on earth. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Your part is to confess faith in Jesus Christ and His part is to forgive you of your sin and give you eternal life in heaven. The Bible teaches, “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Vocational fulfilment

When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. Genesis 39:3-4
What brings you fulfillment in your work? Is it the sense of accomplishment? Is it the opportunity to encourage someone? Is it the satisfaction of caring for your family? Is it the sense of security from a steady income stream? Your vocational fulfillment flows from a combination of these characteristics and more. When you are fulfilled in your job you are able to filter through the negatives on the way to the positives.
Be careful not to equate feeling passionate about your position with being fulfilled in your work. Passions ebb and flow around the excitement of a situation, like a start-up when everyone is thinking and working 24/7. But this breakneck passionate pace is not sustainable. Your career is a marathon not a sprint. Indeed, if you are absorbed in your work, and not constantly glancing at the clock, then perhaps you are in a place of fulfillment.
Is it your sense of control over the outcomes that draws you to serve where you work? You feel empowered, you are able to expand your skills and you can make a meaningful contribution in your community as a parent or an employee. Vocational fulfillment flows from a heart engaged in a mission that means something to you and to the Lord.
If Christ has placed you where you are, can you be content to serve Him wholeheartedly? The Lord’s vocational assignment carries its own sense of satisfaction. Joseph found favor because God placed him in his leadership role. In the same way use your workplace platform as a launching pad for the Lord. Your ability to support others, offer promotions and create a caring culture facilitates fulfillment for everyone. Vocational fulfillment is a faith journey that brings out the best in you and those around you. God blesses the work He assigns. Have you accepted the Lord’s assignment?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Power of the tongue

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21  
Our words can get us into trouble or they can dissolve trouble, like warm breath on a lit candle, apologetic words can easily extinguish a heart simmering with anger. “Please forgive me, I was emotionally spent and did not mean to hurt you with my disrespectful tone.” Language brings life when a life is immersed in Christ, or it brings death when a life is indifferent to the resurrected life of Christ. Only when our words are first baptized in the waters of worship to God will we be able to bring a proper sacrifice of speech to the Lord’s altar of healing.  
The power of the tongue must be tamed under the power of the Holy Spirit or else it becomes a weapon of mass destruction. Not in the manner of a nuclear explosion, but in a similar way, as sinister speech poisons the atmosphere, so what’s inhaled into the heart shuts down the spirit. So, what does it mean to eat the fruit of measured conversations? Love of language that gives life,  receives from its recipient, God, or both, a reciprocal life-giving hydration to a thirsty soul. “Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (See Proverbs 11:25).
If my heart is full of pride, my words are laced with a verbal arsenic of judgment and snobbish superiority. If my heart is full of humility, my speech is seasoned with grace and mercy. If my heart is consumed with fear, I communicate worry and dread. If my heart is captivated by hope in Christ, I experience peace and the courage to speak expectantly of God’s faithfulness. If my heart hurts from neglect, I shamelessly shame another. But if my heart is comforted by the Lord’s love, I have the capacity to give words of comfort. The fruit of healthy words is healing.
What is the condition of your heart? Are you capable of caring conversations, because your conscious is clear? Or, are you set up for self centered speech, since your soul is cluttered with unresolved issues? Empty self and Christ will fill your heart with forgiveness, love and kindness. He will fill your mouth with fruitful words of encouragement, correction and compassion. By God’s grace be a Jesus follower whose words bring life to the soul and death to sin.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Quality Life

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.  Proverbs 13:20
What does it mean to have quality of life? Good health? Harmony at home? A happy heart? Financial security? Freedom of speech and worship? A fulfilling career? Grateful and content children? A meaningful marriage? A life of significance? Peace with God? Probably some of these elements and more make up a life worth living, a quality life.
Moreover, the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our relationships. Who we spend time with is who we become. If we spend time with those wise in their finances, and if we pay attention, we can become wise in our own finances. If we are intentional in our faith, we will worship with those of great faith. Our life is a reflection of our relationships.
So, how is your relational portfolio? Are you diversified with people who bring value to all aspects of your life? Conversely, are you intentional to invest time and interest in those who look to you for guidance? Quality of life flows not from just receiving wisdom, but from giving wisdom. Wisdom works in both directions for the good of the relationship.
Dear friend, be careful not to excuse bad behavior because you are trying to relate to questionable company. Draw a line far away from eroding your character’s credibility. You can influence others for good, without being bad. In some situations, what you don’t do defines you more than what you do. Use business trips and vacations to model faithfulness, not foolishness. Stand for what’s right—when others agree to what’s wrong.
Above all, quality of life results from your relationship with Christ. He is life itself and everything good in life flows from Him. When you grow in your personal relationship with Jesus—it affects the growth of your other relationships. Relationship building in heaven builds relationships on earth. Ultimately, Jesus is the life to model and follow. The resurrected life of Christ gives you the spiritual stamina to experience a quality life.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Good rep

Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. Ruth 2:11
It’s no secret that in our culture, we care a great deal about how we are perceived and what people think of us. If there was any lingering doubt, a quick glance at social media will confirm this statement. In our profiles, we go to great lengths to create a image of who we want to be and how we want to be perceived in some cases. Yet the inherent challenge here is, of course, our public personas and our private lives don’t always line up. If we are honest, the more time we spend crafting a public image, the less time we have to give to the pursuit of true wisdom and character.
When we remember the life of Ruth, we are given an example of someone who had an incredible reputation, yet was entirely unaware and unconcerned with her image or status.
Ruth was a woman who knew great pain and difficulty in her life. Though she was a widow without any promise of protection or provision, she had so fully encountered the goodness of God and received a new identity as a daughter in the family of God, that she knew there was nowhere else for her to go, even if the road was painful. 
This radical dependence upon God in the midst of trial is the foundation of Ruth’s true identity and character, and it was impossible for others not to take notice and marvel with wonder. Yet, the heart of our reflection today is this: though the reputation of her faithfulness and her character had spread far and wide, she was so busy living out that character that she didn’t even notice.
Ruth never took time to “read her own headlines,” or make sure others had heard of her trust in God or faithfulness in a time of trial, and neither should we.
In an age when disciples are unfortunately known for corruption, abuse, financial scandal, or the quest for political power, how we should instead long to live lives like our sister Ruth, where we have a reputation that precedes us in which we are first and foremost known for our trust in God and our faithfulness to his Word, even in dark and difficult times. Most importantly, let us be so busy doing the work the Lord has given us to do, that we don’t even take the time to notice or celebrate that reputation.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Making a list checking it twice

Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 21:27
God keeps a record in the Lamb’s book of life of those who have trusted His son as their Lord and Savior. Salvation from hell to heaven begs the question, “Is my name written in the book of life?” “Am I on the list?” Yes, if you believe Jesus died for your sins and rose from the grave to give you life in Him; you are known in heaven. There is a required transaction of faith in Jesus before you can enjoy fellowship with Jesus. God’s good list offers eternal security.
Believers in Jesus do not receive a final judgment of separation from God. The option of exclusion from the Lord’s presence in eternity is removed when His presence is invited on earth. However, there is a judgment after death for disciples regarding how they behaved in this life. Did we store up treasures in heaven or did we waste our time with the trivial and trinkets of earth? Joyous will be followers of Jesus who bow before their Lord and hear from Him, “Well done.”
By God’s grace we seek to be righteous in this brief life for this is the caliber of our eternal life. Assurance of being on the good list is not a ticket to live for the flesh, rather it is freedom and motivation to live for the spirit. Our corruptible flesh will perish, but our incorruptible spirit will live. An individual who chooses heaven over hell desires its quality of life. The Holy Spirit within yearns for holiness without. Love wins when our name is in His Book.
Rejoice, since our Savior never ever employs an eraser. He writes our name in stone on the pages of His book. Just as the government records your physical birthday, so heaven records your spiritual date of birth. It is well with your soul, since your salvation is sealed by the Holy Spirit. You are on the list, so do good with God.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Isaiah 55:10-12
In recent years, my children have come to realize that promises are a big deal. I can tell them directly and explicitly all sorts of things, such as “I’ll be home early today,” “We’ll go to the zoo, or the store this Saturday,” or “You can have a bedtime snack as long as you eat all your food.” Yet these statements never seem to give them the confidence and assurance that they are seeking. To each of these questions and countless more, I’m confronted with a familiar question, “Do you promise, Daddy?”
I think my children’s desire for a promise is rooted in their deep desire for assurance that what I’ve said will, in fact, come true.
Throughout the Bible we encounter the promises of God, words that have offered comfort, hope, and peace to countless people throughout all of human history. We are told that the Lord will bless His people and through them bring His blessings to the entire world (see Gen. 12:2). We are reminded that the Lord is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble (see Psalm 46:1). And we know that the Lord will never leave us or forsake us (see Deut. 31:6).
Yet what we often find in Scripture, such as this passage from Isaiah, is our need for the Lord to reassure us of His faithfulness to the promises He has made. Especially in a world that so often suffers under the crippling weight of injustice, at times it is hard to see the hand of God at work in our midst. We, like my young children, look around us and say, “Lord, do you promise?”
When we are invited to have a childlike faith, part of that invitation is to trust in the goodness and love of God just as a child trusts the love and care of their parents. When God promises to lead His children into joy and peace, He does so as a loving father who delights to give good gifts to His children (see Mt. 7:11). As our creator and sustainer, the one in whom we live and move and have our being (see Acts 17:28), we trust that He is strong enough and powerful enough to bring about that which He commands. Even when we don’t understand, even if we aren’t sure how He is going to bring good out of so much pain and tragedy, we must take heart and remember that the word of the Lord never returns empty and always achieves its purpose.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Eternal reward

The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. Revelation 20:12
Those saved by grace and faith in Jesus are eternally secure. But, eternal rewards are based on a disciple’s efforts on earth. Disciples who ignore their spiritual opportunities and obligations will miss out on their Lord’s affirmation and remuneration. Those sober saints who take seriously their Savior’s expectations will enter into the joy of the Lord. Christ rewards obedience to Him and faith in Him.
Rewards in heaven are meant to be godly motivation. Yes, our first response is to serve Jesus out of love and our overflowing gratitude for His goodness and grace. And it is wise to fear the Lord and allow our holy awe of the Lord to be foundational for our life of faith and works. But there is an end in mind: Jesus wants His children to be devoted and compelled by anticipating His generous gifts.
It is a process of renewing your mind with an eternal decision-making filter that facilitates biblical thinking and doing. Ask the Lord in prayer how He wants you to invest your life in others. How does God want you to use your experience, your assets, your time, your money, and your influence for His purposes? In other words, how can you make eternal investments on earth that bear fruit for God’s glory?
What you do does not get you to heaven, this comes only by faith in Christ and God’s amazing grace. But what you do after becoming a disciple of Jesus does determine the quality of your eternal experience. The persecuted and martyred in this life have a great reward waiting in the next life. Those who initiate resources and influence on behalf of the poor and needy bring great satisfaction to Jesus which He expresses in bountiful blessings. Indeed, He rewards all those who diligently seek Him by faith.
Love God and your reward will be great. Be a faithful witness who plants or waters the gospel of Jesus Christ and you will be rewarded by spending forever with eternally grateful souls. Send your investments ahead to heaven, by aggressively giving it away on earth. Resist; even reject rewards from the culture, so you are positioned to receive Christ’s rewards. Remain faithful to God’s call and look forward to His reward.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

These are my confessions

The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.     Numbers 21:7
Confessional prayer is coming clean with God. There is sensitivity to the Spirit that abhors sin and its consequences. It knows it is in need of repentance and forgiveness. Oddly enough, our sin may come on the heels of a great act from the Lord. God may have previously worked mightily in our midst, but we forget to thank Him for His recent past provisions and we rush to judge whether He or others will see us through our uncertain future.
We grow impatient when God does not give us immediate results, though we have seen Him work things out beautifully before. Unless we catch ourselves, we spiral down into fearful living. We know in our head that He is faithful, but our heart is drawn away by fear. So, confessional prayer comes full circle and comes clean with Christ. We get honest about our own frustrations, murmuring, and complaining. We take responsibility for our own bad attitudes. We can’t change the other person with whom we have conflict, but by God’s grace, we can change ourselves as the .
We may not be able to improve our circumstance for the better, but we can become better by acting as if Almighty God is in control. We can throw ourselves on the need for His mercy and forgiveness. He listens to our contrite prayer of confession. Our sincere pleas to sovereign God solicit Him to forgive our sin, so confession matters. It moves the heart of heaven when He hears your cries. Your prayer of repentance engages God. Your teachable heart is how the Spirit is able to bring about life transformation. There is no need to stay on the treadmill of temptation and tentative obedience. Step off with the Spirit’s help, and run by faith. Lastly, use your confession of sin as an invitation for others to intercede on your behalf.
Your prayer of repentance is not reserved for God alone. Accountability grows when we ask for prayer over our awful attitudes. Yes, it is humbling and sometimes humiliating, but the prayers of godly people are levers for the Lord and a surge of the Spirit’s support. Sin loses its grip when you involve praying people over your process of repentance. We do much better when we ask a friend to pray that our lustful looks at an attractive person become glances of admiration and respect. Specific prayers for a marriage that models unselfishness reinforce our role as a faithful husband or a loving wife. Ongoing prayer reinforces our confession. We succeed at resisting sin when we know others are praying for us. We have a much higher probability for change when we confess our sin to God and to the saints who love us too much not to pray for us and hold us accountable.
Therefore, pulverize any preoccupation with sin by confessing your need for prayer and accountability. Sin slithers back into its dark corner when exposed by the light of confession and prayer. Reveal your secret sin to somebody you trust. Ask them to pray for you, it facilitates freedom and healing.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Divine direction

I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. Jeremiah 10:23

We do not own our lives.  We have been bought with a price ( See 1 Corinthians 6:20). Jesus’ sacrificial blood purchased our freedom from the fire of hell, sin, and death.  By faith, He owns us.  A great exchange took place when you first believed in Jesus.  What’s yours became His, and what’s His became yours.  The life of Christ became your life. It is not your life to define, but His.  He has wrapped a wonderful definition around whose you are in Him. You are a child of God.  You are secure because your Savior keeps you.  You are valuable because the Lord values you.  You are protected because the Lord owns you as you are His prize purchased possession.

The Bible is God’s glossary of how to define yourself.  Scripture gives you a family tree of faith for you to trace your spiritual roots.  It is a mirror of how God sees you.  He sees you as accepted in His Son, though you suffer rejection from others.  Cherish and enjoy daily the acceptance of Jesus. Moreover, your mistakes are His opportunity to affirm His acceptance and love.  There are still consequences to your sin, but He is always available to receive you back because you are His.    

Furthermore, He directs His own (See Isaiah 48:17).  God’s desire for you is to understand and follow His will for your life.  Beloved it’s a step-by-step process and He directs your steps by and through the unction of His Spirit.  The Lord leads you in lockstep with His steps and voice as He leads us to join Him in the work of His will.    

Learn to walk patiently with Him, and watch Him work.  The Holy Spirit is your guide.  Learn how to let the Lord direct your steps.  Prayerfully listen to the quiet prompting/unction from His Spirit.  Stop when you need to stop.  Speed up when you need to speed up.  Slow down when you need to slow down.  God directs the steps of a submitted, surrendered heart.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Joy of the Lord

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”    Nehemiah 8:10
God’s joy is free and available for all who will receive. The joy of the Lord is limitless. It is like a wellspring of living water that flows forever. You cannot pump it dry. No thirsty soul who has ever tasted God’s joy has been dissatisfied or found their thirst unquenched. The weak soul is rejuvenated under the influence of heavenly joy.  An athletic victory is fleeting, to be enjoyed only so briefly; but the joy of the Lord penetrates the depths of who you are. God’s joy wells up to provide resilience during times of testing. This is the result of tapping into His divine resource. Natural resources deplete over time but the joy of the Lord is infinite. The joy of the Lord also travels way beyond happiness. Happiness is based on your circumstances; joy is based on your faith and relationship with God. Your circumstances will change, and with every change comes the possibility of losing your happiness.
God never changes not. Therefore, the chances of losing your joy are null and void, if you are focused on the Joy-Giver. Just as you depend on the local power company to provide your home with electricity, so the wise follower of Christ looks to God for his provision of joy. God’s joy is ready and waiting to be deployed into your heart. He is not stingy. Go to the eternal dispenser of joy and receive what the world cannot sustain and money cannot buy: the joy of the Lord; it is your strength. So, how can His joy be retained?
The joy of the Lord comes through the channel of faith. This is the coupon you need in exchange for this wonderful prize. Your faith is bolstered and made alive through the word of God. This joyful energy does not come from a cursory reading of God’s word, but rather a reading for understanding, application, and transformation. Joy explodes from the pages of Scripture as we understand our utter dependence on God and His tender compassion and mercy. Your mind is washed of the sin-stained lies of the world, and you begin to believe the truth that you have great significance in God’s eyes. Your exposure to the repetition and teaching of the Bible garners understanding. Your understanding of whom God is and what He has done, and is doing,for you, will cause joy to explode in your heart.
Furthermore, His strength created by His joy will sustain you even in the most difficult of circumstances. Holy Spirit-initiated life-change spews joy over you and everyone around you. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth”(3 John 4). When a more mature Christian witnesses a young believer growing in the faith as a result of their discipleship time, it brings joy. When a spouse experiences unconditional love from their life mate as a result of a divine encounter, it brings joy. Application of God’s word elicits joy.
Lastly, joy comes from celebrating God’s faithfulness. Regularly recall the goodness of God. Once you were blind, but now you see. Your family, your health, your friends, your career, your opportunities, your joy, and countless other blessings are all gifts from God. These precious memories are cause for celebration. This is reason to be joyful. This is the joy of the Lord. This is the source of your strength. Be joyful in Jesus, so you can be strong in your Savior.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

My thinking His mind

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8
God’s will does not always make sense. It may not make sense because we factor in our own understanding. If left to our understanding, we would be miserable. There is a greater pool of knowledge reserved for us in Christ. Do not underestimate its value and availability. It is valuable because of the divine direction that can save us from running down paths that waste our time and the time of others. God’s way may not make sense now, but it will later. His thoughts and ways are easily accessible by faith.
Faith is our constant connection to God-thinking, but we struggle with this because we have been programmed differently. Some of us wrongly think we don’t deserve God’s grace, so we don’t feel the need to receive it. We cannot, however, live the Christian life without the grace of God. God’s way is the grace way. We give Him glory and He gives us grace. We give Him praise and He gives us peace. We give Him worship and He gives us confidence. This is the way of God. He created the original “road less traveled.” Avoid the mindless masses and follow God. His ways may not be the most popular, but they are the most productive. His thoughts transcend our thoughts.
God-thinking takes discipline. This temporal world does not necessarily reward eternal thinking. In fact, it may punish you for thinking God-thoughts. You think people outside of Christ are lost in their sins and hell-bound; the world thinks you are narrow in your thinking. Yet these are Jesus’ thoughts. This is not popular thinking, and may be not practical, but it is true. As a follower of Christ, you can think God-thoughts. You can think like God because you have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16).
Your conversion experience infused you with a new worldview. No longer are you limited by what you can do, but by faith, you anticipate what God can do through you. Instead of thinking self-centered thoughts, you focus on God-centric thinking. When you think like Jesus, you do not have to be in control. You trust Him to handle people and circumstances in His timing. This is tapping into the mind of Christ to renew your thinking on a moment-by-moment basis. God-thinking is only a faith-step away.
The mind of Christ gives you an advantage. You do not have to think inaccurate thoughts. Zealous ignorance tears down, while passionate truth-thinking builds up. Test what you believe and see if it withstands the scrutiny of critical thinking (Acts 17:11), that is, critical thinking based on the Word of God. You may currently believe something that is untrue. You may believe God does not love you and He will not forgive you. This is not true. He loves you right where you are, and wants His very best for you. God’s best is best. Why settle for anything less?
Think God-sized thoughts, and expect God-sized results. Make His ways your ways, and incorporate His thinking into your thinking. It may seem peculiar at first, and others may label you as strange, but you know better. This is right-thinking. And when your thinking is right, you can’t go wrong.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Spiritual Amnesia

Therefore I intend to keep on reminding you of these things, though you know them already and are established in the truth that has come to you. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory, since I know that my death will come soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. 2 Peter 1:12-15
As human beings, we are forgetful people. We’re prone to forget important events like birthdays and anniversaries, and I’m sure we’ve all, at one time or another, turned the house upside down looking for a lost wallet or set of keys. While these kinds of mistakes may be embarrassing or frustrating, the consequences are relatively small. What’s far more costly and significant is spiritual amnesia.
Spiritual amnesia is something that every single person is vulnerable to and must learn to defend against. If, as the old hymn says, we are “prone to wander,” in our spiritual lives we are also “prone to forget.” This is why in just a few short verses Peter three times encourages his readers to remember the ways of the Lord and the hope that we have in Christ. He is fully aware of the fact that, though our intentions may be good and sincere, without a consistent rhythm of prayer, worship, and study, our thoughts and lives turn away from the things of God and turn instead to the countless things that vie for our attention.
Did you notice how Peter prays that they would “be able at any time to recall these things?” There is a profound lesson for us in this phrase. We must learn to be people who trust in God and live lives that look like Jesus at all times and in all places. Following Jesus isn’t just for Sunday services, small group studies, or early morning devotions. It is also for office break rooms, soccer fields, and grocery stores. This is the heart of Peter’s prayer: his desire is that we would be so deeply formed in the ways of Jesus that in life’s greatest joys and darkest fears, in the most sacred of moments and those that seem unbearably mundane, we would recall in our minds and know deep in our bones that God is good, faithful, and true.
The Lord is knocking at the door of your heart, today, right here and right now. He desires deeply to fill you with his joy and peace. Do you hear him?
Protect yourself today from spiritual amnesia and learn to encounter the Lord afresh in every area of your life

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Bridge building

Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.     2 Samuel 14:14
Sometimes, people do dumb, stupid, and even shameful things. Their unwise choices may have inflicted great harm and even compounded into calamity and crisis. They are foolish because they chose to inflict pain when they knew better. Sin has caused them to suspend their good sense and Biblical worldview for a season. It is a season of misery and messiness. They are confused, alone, and humiliated.
However, they may not be at a point where they’re ready to admit their mistakes, but deep down in their soul there is a wondering of how much they have disappointed God and those who love them the most. They feel confused, for sin does complicate matters. And now they are caught in a web of deceit that will not let them go. They have lost perspective and seem to be swirling down into a spiritual and a relational vortex. Not only are they estranged from their loved ones; they are estranged from their heavenly Father.
Separation from God is a lonely place. You can know for certain that your estranged loved one is conflicted, confused, and bitter. It is the love of God and your love that will bring them back to their senses. Sin has confused them and they have lost their bearings, but you know the way. It may take a third party to counsel you and coach you through this process of reaching out, but do not underestimate the effectiveness of your ability to build a relational bridge.
Relational bridge-building is not easy, and it takes time. But it can become necessary to woo the wandering one back home. Yes, they have made their bed, and now they are sleeping between its twin sheets of fear and insecurity. However, the bridge you are building leads to a bed of acceptance and peace. This current war of words is in need of a cease-fire. No one wins in a vicious and venomous volley of blame. Instead, a bridge-builder prays; he prays to first be changed. They accept blame and replace perceived rejection with action-oriented acceptance. A bridge-builder calls, writes, and sends gifts of encouragement and even takes the initiative to over-communicate. A bridge-builder seeks to understand and then love the estranged one at their point of need.
Maybe your child is living with an undesirable roommate. Reach out and get to know this person who is negatively influencing your son or daughter. By God’s grace, become the influencer of the influencer. Invite them into your home and love them to God. Let your home become a magnet of grace that draws them into a reminder of what’s good and right.  The bridge you build may not be crossed immediately. But just its presence speaks volumes to your availability, care, and compassion. One day, circumstances will unravel for your estranged loved one. When it does, you want your bridge of love and acceptance staring them right in the face. Stay faithful as a relational bridge-builder, just as the cross of Christ is God’s bridge to you. The cross you bear is your bridge to broken people. So, continue to pray and pursue this Christ-honoring outcome.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Simple prayer

When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Matthew 6:7-8

I believe the Lord teaches us profound truths about life and faith through our children, especially when they are young. If you are a parent or have spent any time around children, you know this to be true. At times, without even knowing it, in a single sentence they can speak a deeper truth about God than an entire sermon or book on the same topic.

In my own life, my children have taught me a great deal about how to approach God in prayer. Prayer for them is never a display of the sincerity of their piety or the depths of their Biblical knowledge. Prayer is instead the simple request from the heart of a child, offered to a heavenly Father that they believe and know hears them, loves them, and desires a relationship with them. They also remind me of the profound truth of Jesus’s words in Matthew 6: God knows the needs and desires of our hearts before we ever speak a single word.

The Lord knows us and loves us more than we even know and love ourselves. The concerns, burdens, bruises, and hurts that we carry with us are already known by a God who deeply desires to wash our wounds and heal us from the inside out. Your connection to God in prayer is never based upon the eloquence or length of your prayers but upon the fact that God is a loving Father who has called you His son or His daughter.

Prayer is never a transactional agreement but is always an exchange of love where we encounter the goodness and faithfulness of God and we in turn respond with a renewed, childlike faith.

When you pray, remember that you are first and foremost entering into a relationship in which you are loved and learn to love in return. This will forever free you from the pressure to impress the Lord with persuasive, articulate, or extensive prayers. Come instead with a simple faith that always remembers that the Lord knows your needs before you even ask.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you. 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Every new year, we find ourselves filled with ambitions and dreams for the year ahead. During this first week each year countless individuals set goals for themselves in hopes of improving and bettering their lives. Common resolutions include eating healthy, exercising more, getting out of debt, or taking up a new hobby. 

If you’re anything like me, your ambition for these resolutions/goals greatly exceeds what you’re actually able to accomplish. I’ll set a dozen highly ambitious goals and faithfully pursue them for a few weeks, but by the time March rolls around I can barely remember what those goals even were or I have given up on them cause my hear got bigger than my ability. Perhaps you can relate.

As we look to the Scripture today, we’re confronted with a rather unusual resolution. We’re told to be ambitious, yet our ambition is to pursue a peaceful and quiet life. What a paradox On the one hand, we’re told to have great ambition, to strive and seek after the goal set before us. Yet unlike virtually all other resolutions, our ambition is directed towards a calm and gentle spirit that finds peace in the simple and the ordinary.

At the root of our ambition we often find discontent. We are unhappy with our lives, our health, or our jobs, so we seek new ways to expand our identities or enhance our lifestyle. Yet so often this striving fails to deliver what it promises, and instead of finding contentment and peace, we find ourselves stuck in a vicious cycle of unrest and anxiety.

This year, I challenge each of us to make one very simple yet profoundly radical resolution: be content to live a quiet life.

Look for ways to find peace and joy in who God has made you to be. Encounter His blessings in small and simple ways, finding satisfaction in His presence and in time spent with those you love. Free yourself from the pressure to perform, to land your dream job, or to have a perfect body. Instead, take time this year to ambitiously pursue the peace and contentment that comes from leading a quiet and simple life with God and others.