Monday, April 23, 2018

Just do it

Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.... “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. Mark 11:1-2, 5-6
What is Jesus asking you to do? Where is He asking you to go? Clarity from Christ gives you the confidence and the courage to move forward by faith. The enemy attempts to keep you in a state of ambiguity, unsure and unaccountable to God’s will, but Christ’s commands are clear, waiting for you to take the next right step and trust Him with what another person might say or do. When a friend asks “why” you decided to do what you did, you can say with humility, you are seeking to follow what your heavenly Father tells you to do. Faith is exercised when it obeys and applies the word of God.
The disciples of Jesus were animated over what might be happening: Jesus was riding into the holy city of Jerusalem to humbly proclaim the Kingdom of God, as predicted by the prophet Zechariah. Indeed, total clarity would come after His resurrection when their Lord was glorified and ascended into heaven. To the disciples credit they moved forward after  Jesus gave them their instructions. No stuttering or distractions, only laser beam focus on following the words of Jesus, and when questioned, calmly responded with Christ’s explanation.
Are you motivated by growing your kingdom or the Kingdom of God? Be assured the Lord has defeated the prince of this world, through Jesus the Prince of Peace. His perfect peace will guard your heart and mind on His next assignment for you in your imperfect world, so rest in the reality of His presence. You may be surprised by the prior preparations in the hearts of those who may question your mission, as past adversaries may become present advocates, so be bold to go where you have not been before. Be faithful with the mundane work, and anticipate God’s work.
Listen intently to the words of the Lord, lean closely into the calm of Christ, so you know where to go and what to do under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Apply your experiences and expertise with the love of Jesus working through you, and He will work with you to draw others to Himself. What Jesus is telling you to do may not initially be what you want to do, but be patient and trust Him to change you or your assignment. Let love lead your steps of service.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Adverse opportunties

After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:5
Adversity invites and provides leaders with the greatest opportunity to lead. It is your time to trust the Lord and lead by faith, not fear. In hard times a leader answers the following questions, “Will I panic or pray?” “Will I stay calm or be sucked into the chaos?” “Will I serve the team or stay secluded in silence?” Jesus faced death, but He was determined to stay focused on His heavenly Father and the mission/calling at hand. Adversity is an opportunity to prove the point of His divine Providence, as nothing takes God by surprise. Christ is in control.
How can you use adversity to your advantage as a leader? One way is to work tirelessly to unify the team around common objectives and goals. There is no better way to bring people together than in the fires of hardship and difficulty. In fact, you probably will not succeed without the team rising to its next level of leadership and team support. So reward creativity, because limitations lead to innovation. Lead the team to accomplish more with less.
Paul said, “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses” (2 Corinthians 6:3–4).
Beloved, use hard times to create a culture of hard work, transparency, and honesty. It may mean longer hours, less pay, or no pay, but sacrifice is the price to see heavens reward. Invite honest feedback so you accurately and effectively improve process and products. Raise team expectations beyond just surviving to thriving. They look to you for leadership; so lead.
Lastly, serve at home, ministry, and work with appreciation. It is easy to demand more and more while under pressure and forget to say “Thank you.” Perhaps you give the team a day off, leave a grateful voicemail, buy everyone lunch, or send flowers. Wise leaders honestly inquire, “How can I out serve others, especially in the face of misfortune?” “Where do I need to take responsibility, not blaming outside forces?” Leaders model the way.

Our prayer:  When adversity comes Lord strengthen me through Your Spirit to embrace the adversity, lead through the adversity, encourage through adversity, and sacrificially serve You and others through it Amen.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Water walking

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Matthew 14:22-23
Jesus and the disciples had just fed 5,000 men and at least another 5,000 women and children. What a miracle, what an extraordinary time to call attention to what just happened. Instead, the disciples, jaws dropped in amazement as they picked up the leftovers, were dismissed by Jesus to their next assignment on a trip to the other side of the lake. While scratching their head in wonderment, Jesus proceeded to dismiss the crowd with full stomachs, as He made His way up the mountain to pray. The Son of God needed time with His father for refreshment.
Filled with His prayerful and loving exchange with His Father, Jesus made His way down the mountain to the edge of the lake, only to walk on water toward the disciples who were feeling alarmed and clamoring in fear. Jesus, refreshed in prayer, had prepared His heart so He was ready for His next assignment. Prayer was His protection and preparation. Has your heart been prepared by prayer for your next season of service, so you might “walk on water” to help calm those fearful and feeling alone?
Your successes are your opportunity to acknowledge the Lord as the source of your ability to succeed in life. Celebrate, but keep Christ central with gratitude for His goodness. Abide in Him by being still and quiet in prayer. By giving all glory to God, you are able to rest assured that pride will melt in the sight of your surrender to ungodly ambition. You are protected from the pride of success as you humbly acknowledge the Lord’s favor on your life. Perhaps your current successes are preparation for God’s next moment to “walk on water”. 
Our Prayer:  Father God, thank you for any successes I have experienced because of Your hand upon my life, Continue to use me to serve and influence others for you.  Amen.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Lend your ear

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19
Many of us have to work at being an active listener. Passive listening is like listening to music in the background. Active listening is like listening to music with headphones on.  
James challenged his community of believers to talk less, listen more and not harbor an angry attitude. Perhaps he had witnessed unhealthy interactions between those who should be treating each other with the upmost respect. James addressed his household of faith/community as brothers and sisters. This family of faith needed to raise the quality of their conversations. The better we get to know one another, the better we should be at anticipating one another’s needs. Passive listening easily misunderstands, but active listening gains insight. God blesses a heart that really wants to hear.
Who deserves your undivided attention? How can you show them that you really know them? If you want to engage in active listening consider statements like, “You seem overwhelmed right now. I feel a lot of pressure as well, but I want us to support each other the best we can. How can I help you?” If someone expresses an uncommon complaint, repeat back to them the essence of their words. It shows you care and are listening.  
Most of all, daily go to our Lord to actively listen to His heart. What Christ says is the most vital communication we have all day. Thus, we start the day listening for divine direction and instruction so we avoid pitfalls and unproductive paths. A heart that first listens to heaven’s heart is the most effective in engaging hearts on earth, and in ministry. When we actively listen to the Lord, His Spirit removes our selfish pride and replaces it with selfless humility. Our active listening works best when we’ve been with Jesus. Now lend others your ear, just like the Lord continually lends His ear to our prayers.
Our Prayer: Lord, through the power and work of Your Spirit give us a heart that listens actively to Your heart and to the heart of others. Amen. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Moral compromise

Look, I [Lot] have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. Genesis 19:8
Compromise can corrupt and destroy, especially moral compromise. Lot capitulated to the mores of society. He was more concerned with losing face/reputation to strangers than in the protection and purity of his own daughters. Though he did not know they were God’s angels, it did not justify his behavior. His moral compass was shall we say out of whack. He could see the wickedness in others but not recognize it in his own life, which is something that occurs in us (pointing the finger at others when three others point back at you).
The genesis or origin of moral compromise is a blindness fueled by pride and fear. God’s standards are desecrated, people’s lives and eventually entire communities are in disarray, and even cultures are destroyed. We seek to meet the expectations of people over the Lord’s, which is a sad state of affairs. So how can we see compromise coming? How can we make sure in our business, home, and ministry we do not capitulate to compromise?
First we must understand, teach, cherish, celebrate, and live out God’s word, and follow the leadings and promptings of His Spirit. He is the absolute. He is equally as intolerant to sin as He is tolerant of those who walk in integrity. The Lord is intolerant of lying, stealing, adultery, and sexual immorality. He is tolerant of truth, character, worship, love, and obedience.  
A society that does not seek to establish laws based on His moral standard will cease to be a thriving society, organization, or ministry. This is true throughout history and within all groups of peoples. From families to government there must be a moral consciousness to survive. Otherwise, there is an implosion resulting from unrestrained immorality.
Humility asks, “Do I see the moral blind spots in my life?” “Have I asked friends to help me identify them?” “Do I hold high an uncompromising moral banner based on God’s truth?”
Our prayer: Father God, by the power of Your Spirit give us a heightened sensitivity to sin that we might not fall prey to sin and temptations allure, but flee from sins influence, and find the way of escape You have provided in Jesus’ name, amen.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 14:27
Have you ever wanted God to answer all of your questions? Have you wanted Him to reveal why something happened in the past, how things will roll out in the future, or what He’s doing in the present so you could stop worrying?
If so, there is a wonderful lesson from David in the Bible that will encourage you.
David knew there were some things that were just too wonderful to understand about life and God. For this reason, he chose not to worry about those things God had reserved to be mysteries.  
“I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” Psalm 131:1
Because David knew God was wonderfully mysterious, he chose to master his own soul, or his mind, will, and emotions.  
“Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, Like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:2 
Stilling and quieting one's soul is a choice. It's centering on that believing, quiet part of yourself, away from pain-filled questions where we commune with God from a position of belief.
One morning I did this very thing at 4 AM when I couldn't sleep.  I didn’t ask Him questions about the trials I was having, and I didn’t demand that He tell me why I was experiencing troubles. I confessed my love for Him. And instead of asking Him, “Why?” or “How?” I asked Him a question of surrender: “Lord, will you please help me trust you more?”
In those quiet moments, a sweet peace settled into my soul, a peace I imagine David experienced when he chose to believe and let go of things he didn’t understand.  
When we choose to believe and relinquish what we don’t understand, when we embrace the magnificent mystery of God, our unanswered questions will melt away in the light of His sovereignty and His love, and instead of experiencing worry, we’ll experience peace.
Are worries or questions about your future, the past or the present tormenting you? Do like David did and surrender to the mystery of God. 
Prayer: Lord, Help me to remember that as I trust you, I will experience your peace. Thank you for loving me so much. Amen.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Bit and bridle

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.  Psalm 32:8-9 (NIV)
The words from this Psalm strike me as deeply moving and convicting. A bit and bridle are used for a creature that has no hope of every truly conforming to the will and direction of its master. The heart of the creature, we could say, is forever oriented towards its own interests and desires, constantly having to be redirected and brought back in line.
The first part of this Psalm promises the nearness and goodness of the Lord to guide and instruct us into the way of peace. His eye is always upon us, inviting us out of our selfishness and into His love. He is never forceful or coercive but instructs and counsels with gentleness and grace. His Spirit draws near to us in our weakness and restores us into His likeness, teaching us what it means to truly live as His sons and daughters.
In light of this mercy and grace, we are given a radical invitation: become by grace what we cannot be by nature. Left on our own, our wills will be no better than a horse or mule, always pulling and pushing away from the Lord and His plans for us. Yet the promise of grace is that we are made new! As St. Paul says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (See 2 Corinthians 5:17).
It is incredibly easy to take on a posture of pessimism. We do this culturally, economically, politically, and often spiritually. We see the greed, selfishness, and pride in national leaders and corporations, we see the shortcomings in those we love, and we know the parts of our own hearts that remain darkened by sin. And yet, in light of all of this, we are as Christians a people of great hope! Christ has conquered all that is broken and disordered and now rules and reigns and welcomes us into His new Kingdom.
Each of us is a work in progress. There are areas of our life where we see great victory and triumph over sin. Yet there are others where we have still not fully submitted to the transforming grace of God. We are still beastly in our desires, like stubborn mules. May God give us the courage afresh to invite His grace into every part of our lives. We are people of hope, and we must believe that growth into Christ’s likeness is always possible.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

In it to win it

They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. John 17:16-18
It is somewhat surreal to think and reassuring to know, that one day I will awake, not in this world, but in heaven. In the meantime, I am left with a mission from God to stay engaged in secular society. My role is not to be spiritually sterilized by modern mores that miss Christ’s heart, but to fertilize faith in God. The easier route is to check out of culture and check in exclusively with the saints. But I miss advertising Jesus if I stay secluded and isolated from society and culture. Beloved like a thermostat regulates a room’s temperature, so my engagement in this life can keep warm the culture’s conversation about the Lord.  
Jesus describes to His disciples this ongoing tension of being an influencer for good while not being influenced by bad. Sin does not need to be experienced to know it’s harmful, just like you don't have to break a bone yourself to know it hurts. Thus, the task of these early followers of Jesus was to bring faith in God to a godless society and culture. Not just faith in God, but faith in God through His son Jesus Christ. Their divine mission was to live and proclaim the gospel so believers of the good news changed for good, and thus, the culture changed for good. The disciples remained in the world so the world would embrace its Savior (See Matthew 5:13).
We are called to be salt and light for our Lord Jesus. Does our life in Christ engage other lives for Christ? Or, are we so worldly minded we’ve lost our influence for the Lord? If a person’s behavior becomes better when they are around you, you’re salt. If they respect and love God because you respect and love God, you’re light. If your workplace values reflect the values of your heavenly Father, you’re so tasty. If followers of Jesus leveraged their circle of influence for Christ, there would be a revolution of righteousness.  
This ongoing tension of being in the world but not of the world keeps us dependent on Jesus and His Spirit which lives in us. Indeed, He prays for us to walk this fine line of being and doing. Without these two pressure points, we would drift through life self-reliant and ineffective. It’s from our time spent with the Lord that we understand how to spend our time with people. Inviting the world into our world requires trust. When we take our world into the world, it requires radical trust. Christ compounds our faith investment into the fruit of saved souls and changed lives. Be in it to win it.