KLOVE Features June 2017

Inspired or Intimidated

We’ve all been around extraordinary people: giants in some dimension; exceeding our abilities; dwarfing our capacity; excelling in a way we never have or ever will. When we’re around them, we always have two options. They can inspire us or intimidate us. I would be lying if I said they only inspire me. At times, I have to fight envy: feeling bad because I lack a quality someone else has. On other occasions, jealousy is my undoing. I’m afraid of losing something I already have or something that was never meant to be mine. The Pharisees killed Jesus because of both. They envied what Jesus had (Matthew 27:18), and were jealous because He was taking away what they thought they had: authority. (Matthew 7:29) “God, help me to be inspired and not intimidated by those who excel in a way I do not.”

Touching Your Pain

Any of us who have small children know that there are times when we need to touch their pain in order to alleviate it. If they have a splinter, you can’t get it out without touching the pained area in some way. I can certainly empathize with the emotional pain many of us are going through, but sometimes, the last thing we want to talk about is the first thing we need to talk about. Many times we have attitudes that are adding to our pain, and perspectives that increase our stress and discouragement. All of us need safe people to touch our pain, individuals gifted by God with grace to ask the questions we need to consider and the wisdom to unpack the pain that God wants to free us from.

What Do You Want to Be?

Most people know what they want to have in life, but they don’t know what they want to be. Unless our will and purpose for our lives lines up with God’s will and purpose, it is not worth pursuing. As Jesus expressed so clearly in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Luke 22:42, ESV) His heart was set to fulfill what His Heavenly Father knew was best and what would have the greatest long-term benefit. Jesus knew what we should also remember, whenever we are seduced by the temporary, we miss out on the eternal. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and (God) will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33, NLT)

All-In Moments

At different times in our lives, God will test us to see if we’re all-in. After predicting His own great suffering, “Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” (Matthew 16:24, ESV) When I first became a Christ-follower, Jesus tested my willingness to be all-in on many occasions. I was part of a Christian community where we pooled the monies we earned to help the new people who were coming. So, it cost me much to give away a brand new pair of work boots to visiting missionaries from Alaska, which I had saved up for to work picking vegetables on cold winter mornings. Similarly, I tearfully gave away my first brand new Bible to another Bible School student. What have been some of your all-in moments?

Learning How to Give

There’s a syndrome that some two-year olds experience. It’s called, “you exist to bless me.” Perhaps that’s why it’s called the “terrible twos.” As parents, we know that part of the process of successfully raising children is to transition them from being “natural-born takers” into being “supernatural givers.” There’s no learning process in “taking.” We’re all born “master-takers.” Teaching us to give is not God’s way of raising money; it’s God’s way of raising His children. Though God is a blessing to me, He doesn’t exist to bless me (Randy Alcorn). Yet, the only way we can fully experience the greatest fulfillment in life is learning how to give. For it was Jesus Himself who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35, ESV)

Something Came from Nothing?

Do you feel like, right now, you have nothing? I’ve been there. And yet, it’s the perfect time to ask the God, who makes something out of nothing, to take charge of your life. The most unscientific thought ever conceived by man is that: “without an intelligent designer, something came from nothing.” How could everything we see come from nothing? It’s a simple reality even a child can understand it. Yet, the Bible says, “Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. (Romans 1:22, NLT) That’s why, “…God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise.” (1 Corinthians 1;27, NLT) When you feel like you have nothing, look to God, the only Person who can make something out of nothing. You will find, He won’t fail you!

Humbling Yourself

All of us have attempted to find the fulfillment we long for in ourselves, or in some other person, place or thing. Yet, only God can fill and fulfill what He created. That’s why submitting to God is the most humbling experience in life. That level of surrender is the only doorway to becoming the complete person God created you to be. Jesus promised, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14, NLT) I believe seeing reality, how things really are, is by its very nature humbling. And yet, God is bigger than the realities we face. It’s looking in the mirror, and seeing your loving, merciful, and kind Creator looking over your shoulder. What area in your life is God asking you to humble yourself? He will be there with you.

Man Playing God

All of us want to soar; to fly high above our problems and challenges. The only way this can successfully and consistently happen is for us to connect with the Most High. I want to play with God, but I don’t want to play God. The devil fell when he boasted, as the Bible says, “I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:14, NLT) But, unlike his Creator, Satan was never able to create something from nothing. He could reshape and recast what God had already created, but making something from nothing is a feat accomplished by the Most High alone. Today, if you want to soar high above problems and challenges, cultivate a relationship with the only Person who can take you there, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of all things. (Colossians 1:16)

Rushing Rivers or Stagnant Ponds

I want to be a rushing river that God can flow through, and not become a stagnant pond limiting the abundant life He promised. I want to be attached to what is eternal and producing life, not be seduced by the temporary and lifeless. To become a stagnant pond, all you have to do is cease to change; to cease to grow. But, nothing about God is stagnant. The reality is, stagnant areas in our lives are not growing! Yet, everything about the God of the Universe shouts, “Growth!” As we speak, the Universe is expanding. Scientists acknowledge the galaxies outside of our own are moving away from us, and the ones that are farthest away are moving the fastest. Today, let the life of God flow through you. Only He can expand and multiply what He has given you.

God’s Plan is Best

There no greater plan for our lives than God’s plan. It’s what we’d all long for, if we could see the past, present and future clearly. We’d want the will of God more than our own will. Now, you can be a bird and not fly. You can be a fish and not swim. You can be married and not love your spouse. But why would you want to live beneath your potential? I choose to obey God because it’s the best out of all possible options; because only my Creator could know what is best for me. And, I get to follow His majestic plan for my life, to receive His love, to worship Him with all of my heart, soul and strength, and love others as He has loved me.

The Tug of God’s Spirit

What we see, we are in some way responsible for. Does this sound over-stated? If you saw a crime, would you do something? Would you call the police? If a stranger was dying, would you call an ambulance? These are challenging situations to say the least, but most of us would say, “Absolutely, I’d do something!” When Jesus “…saw the crowds, He had compassion for them.” (Matthew 9:36, ESV) What do we feel when we see broken people around us. Even though we are not always called to get directly involved, we can always do something. We can pray, or offer a kind word, or step up in some other way. But, I believe as Christ-followers our default should never be, “there’s nothing I can do,” when perhaps there is. Stay open to the tug of God’s Spirit. You might be surprised.

Making Your Life a “Glorious Get To”

No one wants to bless your life more than God, and every blessing that lasts is because of His grace. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17, NKJV) No one gives gifts like God! God’s looking for people who are willing to distribute these gifts: His love, His joy, His peace, His forgiveness, and His kindness. He’ll bless anyone who’s willing to stay unattached to the things He gives them. Many times, He wants us just to be intermediaries, “flowing rivers of blessing” and not “stagnant pools of entitlement.” Someone, willing to allow His life to flow through them. God doesn’t want to make your life a miserable “have to”. He delights in making it a glorious “get to”.

KLOVE Features May 2017

Second Chances

At many points in life, each of us wish we could get a do-over. And no one does do-over’s better than God. God gives each of us 2nd chances, every day; just in case we were blind yesterday, and missed an opportunity to do what was right and receive His blessing. At times, do-overs require our repentance, a commitment to turn away from sin, embracing God’s forgiveness and a change in behavior. At the end of the day, receiving the do-overs of God is worth whatever obedience He requires. We’ve all had lots of blind yesterdays! But although we see our failures, God sees our faith. We remember falling down and God remembers us getting up. To God, our sins are forgettable! Our faith is memorable! I thank God every day for the many do-overs in my life.

 

Defeating Disappointment

Do you believe God is directing your life? If Jesus is your Lord, then He is. As the Bible says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…”? (Psalm 37:23, NKJV) But, our goodness is not primarily connected to our behavior, but to God’s. The Father sent His Son to die for our sins. As the Bible says, “For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:10, NLT) If we allow Jesus to lead our lives, then we won’t have to give in to disappointment, because God will always have another appointment for us, even if we miss some. So many people wallow in disappointment, but if we really believe God is ordering our steps, then ultimately we’ll never miss the divine appointments He’s prepared for us. Defeat your disappointments by believing God is setting your appointments.

 

Boredom is a Decision

Do you ever wonder if God cares about the mundane, seemingly futile, dimensions of your life? Mundane is defined as “lacking interest or excitement; dull; of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one.” My conviction is, “If my life is boring, I can’t blame God!” Boredom has nothing to do with my circumstances, and everything to do with my perspective. For nearly 40-years, one of my life maxims has been, “If it’s boring, it’s not of God!” From the tiniest atom, to the largest galaxy, it’s impossible for God to be boring, or do boring. As a young Christian, I decided to never allow my life to be boring. Yes, boredom is a decision! Make your decision today; look for God in every situation of your life. Refuse to be bored, because God isn’t.

 

Here’s to Great Moms!

Here’s to great moms, who cherish their children more than their sleep, more than their dreams, even more than their own lives. My beautiful wife, Suzie, a pastor’s wife who never had a desire for public ministry. She was called to keep her emotionally-challenged husband healthy, and raise godly children. She didn’t follow what other people were doing, she did what God asked her to do. She didn’t have a boring life. She had a blessed life. She didn’t want to be a great martyr. She just wanted to be a great mother! Here’s to great mothers, who wake up and go to sleep thinking of their children, only to get out of bed to do it all over again. Happy Mother’s Day to all our great Moms! We wouldn’t be here without you.

 

Part of the Problem or Solution?

After a Mother’s Day dinner, a Mom was washing the dishes when her teen-age daughter wandered into the kitchen. Horrified to see her mother at the sink, she said, “Mom, you shouldn’t be doing dishes on Mother’s Day!” The mom was touched by her daughter’s thoughtfulness. She was about to take off her apron and give it to her daughter, when the daughter added, “You can do them tomorrow!” HA! Anyone can point out problems in this world. But, only when we are willing to be part of the solution do we truly represent God’s forgiving, healing, delivering heart. Jesus sent His disciples out, saying, “…the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!” (Matthew 10:7-8, NLT)

 

Mommy’s Eating Kids

A little boy had been watching his mother’s stomach get bigger and bigger. It was becoming harder and harder to sit on her lap. “Mommy, why is your stomach getting so big?” She told him that his little sister was inside her stomach. “Mommy, why is my little sister inside your stomach?” He was told that he used to be in her stomach too. When the boy’s father got home, the boy asked his father if he could talk to him in private. “Daddy, I need answers to two questions: First, why does Mommy keep eating little kids? And second, how did I escape?” A funny story, but it reminds us of the unique roles Moms and Dads play. A Mom tells you that, “You belong!” And a Dad tells you, “Why you are here!” Be a Dad or Mom in someone’s life!

 

God’s Tribe is a Family

There are many communities and tribes on the planet: from clubs to gangs, cliques to caucuses, companies to congregations, fraternities to societies, but we must never forget, God’s primary community and tribe is a family. He is first and foremost a Father. And our relationship with Him is based on love, because that’s who He is, and that’s why He does what He does. It’s His nature! God’s motive is love, His desire and will for us is based on love, and therefore the glue that keeps us connected to Him and one another must be love. Have you found your place in God’s loving family? Our answer should never be, “No, because nobody loves me,” but “Yes, because I have decided to love God and others.”

 

Work for God, Not Man

One of the biggest dead-ends in life is believing you’re working for man. You’re not! If you’re a follower of Jesus, the Bible says, “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV) As a young Christian, I had a job cleaning the gourmet kitchen of a large casino. From day one, I decided, “I’m working for God, not man!” And so, I worked alone, seven and a half hours every day without a break. One day, I looked up at the grease-filled ceiling, and God spoke to my heart to clean it. It was a hard, dirty task that no one had asked me to do, but the head of food services heard about it and offered me a much better job. But he was not the only Person watching. God simultaneously offered me a much bigger promotion, and His benefits are infinitely better.

 

My Best Day are Behind Me

Recently, I realized I was believing a lie that would diminish, if not destroy, my future. God showed me I was believing the lie that my best days were behind me. WOW! If that’s not exactly what the Devil realized about himself, and is trying to impart to us, I don’t know what is. Why would I believe this? Because of past discouragements? Present struggles? Thinking youthfulness brings greater potential? Every one of these perspectives can be vanquished by believing the truth that, God saves the best wine for last! (John 3) He only does wondrous things! (Psalm 72:18) And His marvelous promise to each of us, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT)

Reaping in Abundance

Do you want to reap in abundance? Then, walk in obedience! God is the ultimate result maker. Only He can give us the abundant life we long for. But, if we refuse to follow His leading, then we are left with the fruit of our disobedience and not the harvest of happiness He intended. That’s not to say we won’t experience pain and heart-ache, and at times fight disappointment and even despair. But the permanent, will eventually replace the temporary. Hope will come riding over the hill to win the day, and the bright future God designed for us will prevail. If everything we are hoping for came easily, we would never embrace the strong, victorious perspective Jesus died to impart to us. Obey God! It’s the only doorway to the abundant life Jesus promised.

 

Pride-vate

I sought out an old friend for coffee, to see how he was doing. He shared with me about the incredibly difficult season he had gone through over the past year. I asked him why he hadn’t let anyone know what he was going through so we could encourage him. He said, he was a private person, and didn’t feel comfortable inviting others in. Consequently, the way he processed the difficult experience was frankly, not healthy. I then realized his “private” perspective was really a “pride-vate” perspective. Pride had kept him from reaching out to other parts of the Body of Christ that could have helped him. How about you? Have you isolated yourself from reaching out to others for help; and is the root reason, pride? God’s grace is only given to those who are willing to humble themselves.

 

Of Tests and Temptations

Do you know the difference between a test and a temptation? Simply stated, everything God does is a test for our “good.” Everything the devil does is a temptation for our “bad.” The tests of God are designed to bring out the fruit of His Spirit in us. His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV) The devil, on the other hand, tempts us to sin. The Bible says, “…the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy and drunkenness…” (Galatians 5:19-21, ESV) “God gives us what we need for the season we’re in.”