KLOVE Features May 2018

Moving the Unmovable, Shaking the Unshakable

Nothing in life is static. Everything is fluid…moveable…in motion. Yet, with the right amount of focus, what seems unchangeable can be conformed to God’s perfect will and purpose. At times, it requires pressure to move the seemingly unmovable. The pressure of prayer or the power of humble acceptance even makes the impossible, possible. At other times, only by flowing with God’s ultimate intention, can we see immoveable mountains moved and unshakeable evil shattered. It’s not our might or power that is the difference-maker, but God’s unwavering will and plan for each of our lives. But there are also times when we need to be unshakeable. The Psalmist wrote, “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” (Psalm 16:8, NLT)

Difference Between Guilt and Shame

Do you know the difference between guilt and shame? It’s vital that you do. Guilt is feeling bad about what I’ve done compared to God’s best for my life. It is a divine protection. Shame is feeling bad about how others see me…even how I see myself. It is a total distraction. Because Jesus was sinless, God come in the flesh, He never experienced guilt because of His actions. Additionally, Jesus despised the shame of becoming sin for us and dying on the Cross. On the other hand, when we sin, and our conscience feels the guilt of our sin, we can ask and receive God’s forgiveness. But, when others try and shame us for not meeting their standard, whatever that may be, we must reject their rejection, and fight to live in the complete acceptance of Jesus.

Boy Choking on a Train

Once, when I was a teenager, I was riding a crowded train early one morning in New York City. Breaking the silence, a girl right behind me began to yell. “My brother, he’s choking! He can’t breathe!” Over and over again she shouted! Everyone crowded around, but no one did anything. I was the closest person to him but was frozen. She screamed, “He’s turning blue!” It was overwhelming! Then after what seemed forever, I heard a distant voice. “Let me through! Move out of the way!” A man, elbowed his way forward, picked the boy up, threw him over one arm, and smacked his back with the other. The boy coughed and began to breathe. Within minutes we were all back in our seats, as if nothing had happened. But my life was forever changed. I never, ever, wanted to be in a situation where I couldn’t help someone in need.

Eddie Rickenbacker

Each of us will either face our fears or cower from them. Victory in life requires courage. The most renowned American pilot during a war was Eddie Rickenbacker. By the end of World War 1, he had logged 300 combat hours: the most of any American pilot during a war. Rickenbacker survived 134 aerial encounters with the enemy and earned the Medal of Honor. He also endured a plane crash during World War 2 and spent 24 days on a raft in the Pacific Ocean. When Eddie was asked how he did it he said, “Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” A great prayer to pray is, “Jesus, make me a person of conviction, make me a person of courage.” A courageous God will always answer that prayer.

Holding Your Ground

There’s a man in the Bible you’ve probably never heard of: Shammah the Hararite. In a battle with the Philistines, while others were running away, he stationed himself in the middle of a field, defended it, and won a great victory. (2 Samuel 23:11-12) Shammah’s father was named, Agee, which meant “someone who flees” or “someone who runs away”. Agee ran from his problems. Shammah faced them and broke the curse of cowardice over his family. It raises the question, what piece of ground are you and I called to defend? What heavenly stewardship have we been given? What eternal reality are we created to fight for. We all have these! We never really believe in anything, until we stand for something. “For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, NET)

The Least Safe Thing You Can Do

Want to know what the least safe thing you can do is? It’s bowing to fear! It actually de-activates the grace and power of God. When Martin Luther, the great reformer, stood before a council in the 16th Century to answer charges of heresy and to hear a possible death sentence, he responded, “…my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot, and I will not, recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me!” Courage is not succeeding in what you are called to do. It is being willing to give your all, even if you don’t succeed. One day, when the disciples were terrified, Jesus spoke to them, “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” (Matthew 14:26-27) What are you afraid of? Face it, in the name and authority of Jesus!”

All the Faith We Need

How do you feel about your future? Are you excited or terrified? Do you have financial pressure? Over two-thirds of Americans with debt are not confident they’ll ever pay it off. Do you have relationships that are in trouble? So many are fractured and need the miracle of healing. As important as our present is, what we are believing for is equally important. The Bible says, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV) A.W. Tozer writes, “When we come to the place where everything can be predicted, and nobody expects anything unusual from God, we are in a rut.” Never forget, everything God has for you in the future can only be accessed by faith, and He promises He will give us all the faith we need.

We’re Always in the Majority

In the Old Testament, every time the King of Syria was going to attack Israel the prophet Elisha told the King of Israel what was about to happen. So, the King of Syria sent a great army to seize Elisha, and surround the city he was in. When Elisha’s servant got up one morning, he saw that his city was surrounded with a great army. The servant cried to Elisha, “What shall we do?” “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire. (2 Kings 6:15-17) When we are on God’s side, we’re always in the majority.

The Smartest Thing We Can Ever Do

If I’m to be truly led by God’s Spirit, I must be as committed to do nothing as I am to do something; to be as fully conscious at STOP SIGNS as I am at GREEN LIGHTS. I’m not wasting time when I’m waiting on God. He’s merely testing my willingness to obey Him more than my own preference. Am I as willing to rest in Him as I am to work for Him. In the Old Testament, the prophet Samuel commanded King Saul to wait for him to return before offering a sacrifice. Yet, Saul succumbed to fear and his own desires, and went ahead of God. It would cost Him dearly. Obeying and waiting on God is the wisest action we can ever take. It shows we trust Him more than ourselves, and that’s always the smartest thing we can do.

Palm Trees

The older I get, the less flexible my body becomes, and it really concerns me. I have to really stretch to remain pliable. When I was a young Christian, I quickly yielded to encouragements from God’s Spirit. But am I still obeying His slightest unction? It’s a serious question that requires great humility. The Bible says we need to become like palm trees. “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree…” (Psalm 92:12) A palm tree can bend so far over, it almost touches the ground. But when the wind finally stops, it bounces right back up. It reminds me of humility, which literally means “to hug dirt”. God wants us to be like palm trees because when the storms of life blow, if our roots are in Him, we’re going to bow before Him, and yet bounce right back as strong as before.

Go for the Gold!

No one ever encourages an Olympic athlete, “Go for the bronze!” Bronze is a mixture of two metals: copper and tin, and God doesn’t want our lives to be a mixture. Bronze is also hard and brittle. Nor does He want our lives to be hard and brittle. There’s also no expression, “Go for the silver!” Silver is a precious metal. Slightly harder than gold, but it tarnishes and ranks second to gold in its ability to be molded or shaped without breaking. Gold, on the other hand, is extremely rare. Only one out of a billion atoms of rock in Earth’s crust are gold. Gold is the most moldable and shapeable metal without breaking. One ounce of gold can be beaten out to 300 square feet. So, let me cheer on your life. “Go for the gold and settle for nothing less!”

The Courage of a Flight Attendant

Years ago, a plane crashed and burned on a runway in Philadelphia. A flight attendant stood at the door assisting passengers to safety. When she thought all were safe, she heard a woman screaming, “My baby, my baby!” The flight attendant then returned to the flaming plane, never to be seen again. When the burned wreckage was examined, they found the body of the flight attendant draped over the child she had tried to save. That’s courage! We may not complete every mission or every God-given assignment, but, may we be found faithful to, if need be, die trying. Courage is doing what’s right even if you don’t succeed. The Bible encourages each of us, “…be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” (Ephesians 6:10, ESV) Always remember, we serve of courageous God!

 

 

 

 

KLOVE Features April 2018

Grace and Truth

How should we, as Christ-followers, communicate with our culture? We shouldn’t forget, how we share is as important as what we say. Unless truth is spoken in love, it becomes un-hearable, and not truth at all. The Bible says, “…the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17, ESV) If we ever hope to speak for the God of love, we will need to season His marvelous truth with grace. In order to represent Jesus well, the One who loves everyone unconditionally, we will need to “…be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32, NLT) “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” (Galatians 5:15, ESV) “Be quick to listen and slow to speak.” (James 1:19)

Prayer for Luis Palau

Life sends challenges our way, that bring us to our knees and cause us to cry out to God for others. We are our brother’s keeper and guardian, (Genesis 4:9) and “sit together in the heavenly places…” (Ephesians 2:6, NKJV) As members of Christ’s body, “…If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26, NLT) And so, here is a special prayer request. Luis Palau, a world-renowned evangelist who’s touched millions, needs our prayers. He’s battling cancer. Recently, I saw a video he made with his two sons, Kevin and Andrew, that so humbly presented the need it made me cry. Like Aaron and Hur, his godly sons, filled with faith in their God, and love for their father, stood next to him explaining the need for prayer. So, I ask that you pause for a moment and pray for Luis Palau and his precious family.

Music and Unity

We all love music. It warms our soul and comforts our heart. It lifts us up when we are down and heals us when we hurt. But music can also teach us how to relate to one another in healthy ways. Music’s harmonies affirm our diversity. Music’s modulations take us to new heights. We don’t have to walk in uniformity. We can celebrate our God-given differences. Harmony is actually meticulously crafted diversity. We sing our songs together, in harmony, not in unison, and our harmonizing creates a marvelous unity, once again demonstrating the oneness in God’s diverse and complex creation. The boredom of uniformity will eventually drive you to discord. Sing the one-of-a-kind melody God has given you and find others with like-hearts. Living in that kind of harmony will actually bring Heaven to Earth.

Jesus’s Target Mission

Are you part of God’s target audience? Let’s see. Jesus came to Earth on a target mission to reach a particular audience. The Bible says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10) He only came to Earth for those who know they’re lost. He said, “…I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13) Jesus only came for people who know they’re sick, proclaiming, “…only sick people need a doctor.” (Mark 2:17) We’re all lost. We’ll all sick. Sadly though, most people are in denial and will never allow their Creator to rescue them…the Divine Physician to heal them. If you’ve been in denial about your need, today is a perfect day to pray, “Jesus rescue me! Heal me! And I will follow You all the days of my life.”

Robert Jermain Thomas

Robert Jermain Thomas, as a missionary seemed to fail miserably. But amongst South Korea’s Christian community, this Welsh missionary is a household name. He brought the first bibles to Korea 150 years ago, and now Korea is perhaps the most Christianized country in the world. At 27 years old, after losing his young wife and baby during childbirth in China, he went by boat to Korea, gave away thousands of bibles, but was beheaded and martyred for his faith. Though it would take 40 years, the seed of his obedience and death eventually led to many thousands of Koreans coming to Jesus. Decades after his martyrdom, one of the men who killed Robert Jermain Thomas came forward during a late-night church service. His public acknowledgement brought a spirit of repentance that sparked a revival that continues today.

What Are We Spreading?

Every one of us are spreading something! The question is, what are we spreading? The ten spies were given the privilege of conquering the land God had promised them, but instead of walking courageously into this marvelous inheritance, they gave into doubt and unbelief and consequently spread fear throughout the wandering nation of Israel. Joshua and Caleb, on the other hand, had a different spirit. Believing God’s promise that they would inherit their promised land, they spread a message of faith, standing on the truth of God’s Word and promises. Their obedience and courageous proclamation did not immediately persuade the masses, but eventually they would lead their nation into all God promised. What hope, faith and love has God given you to spread. Don’t base your success on how others respond, but on whether you are obedient.

Capture the Flag

One of the most exhilarating games I played in my youth was Capture the Flag. It so reminds me of the spiritual rescuing I endeavor to do every day. The objective of the game is for players on two teams to make their way into the opposing team’s territory, grab a flag and return with it to their own territory without being tagged. On their own ground players are “safe”, but once they cross into the opposing team’s zone they’re vulnerable. Enemy players who are “tagged” are placed in jail. The thrill of the game is either running through enemy territory to liberate those in jail, or to be captured yourself and waiting for someone to liberate you. Being liberated, and then liberating others is the greatest joy in life! Isn’t that what Jesus has done for those of us who know Him?

Aerial Snowboarders and Their Coaches

While watching Aerial Snowboard Jumpers in the Winter Olympics, I heard a marvelous fact that reminded me of the criticalness of following God’s Spirit. Aerial Snowboarders ski off 10-foot ramps and are propelled 20 feet into the air while performing multiple flips before landing on an inclined hill. Some aerialists can perform triple back flips with five twists. It’s thrilling to watch! But, there was a hidden reality even more breathtaking. As the jumper’s twist and turn in the air, they lose their orientation. Consequently, they must rely completely on the voice of their coach who is offering direction during their jump. Their coach sees what they can’t see. If they listen to their coach, they land safely. If they don’t, they can potentially suffer serious injury. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Only He knows how to help you land safely.

Unbelieving Believers

Haven’t you found that there are different levels of believing. At times, I’ve met unbelieving believers; believers who were living as if they didn’t really believe anything of great consequence. At other times, I’ve encountered believing unbelievers; unbelievers who were so passionate and dedicated in proclaiming something that frankly was not worth believing. Yet, the fervency of these unbelievers made me only wish that all of us who are genuine Christ-followers would be as abandoned and committed as those who have given themselves fully to what was not worth believing or following. The question is, who are you and I: believers in Jesus who are filled with faith or unbelief? And who are the unbelievers around us who would gladly believe, if we modeled and then offered them a Jesus worth believing in?

Loving Your Enemies

Jesus loves your enemies. Will you join Him? We can see Christ’s heart with the Woman at the Well. She’s an outcast Samaritan, offering Him water at a Samaritan well. He’s a Jew, offering her the only water that leads to everlasting life. He wanted to help her, to love and heal someone least like Himself. The Message says, “This is what God does. He gives His best…the sun to warm and the rain to nourish–to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.” (Matthew 5:45, The Message) Unlike God, the devil comes to destroy. We can tell whom we represent by our end goal: to see others fulfilled or destroyed. Jesus said, “I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17) Jesus is still coming to love and heal. Will you join Him?

Listening is Loving

Our willingness to listen is one of the greatest indicators of how much we love. Jesus said that in the Last Days, “…the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12) More and more people are not listening to one another. They’re talking over each other, disinterested in what others think. Often, so adamant about what they believe, they’re no longer willing to hear. But, have you noticed, God doesn’t talk over us. He listens. He hears. He’s a very present help. And that’s why His Word says, “Be quick to listen. Slow to speak.” (James 1:19) I live with a gifted listener, my wife. I’ve watched her for decades, giving her complete attention to each person she talks with. It makes them feel valuable, special, significant, because they really are. It’s actually how, when we know God, He wants to make us feel?

Normal vs. Common

It is always mind boggling, and more often than not troubling, when I hear the latest new perspective society is now calling, “normal behavior”. It can make you laugh or cry, or both. But, at the end of the day, only God, the Creator of all things can determine what is “normal” and “healthy”. A sin-filled culture can’t define normalcy. It may be trending, popular, common, even fully accepted, but unless our beliefs have God’s seal of approval, they’re not normal, and never will be. The Bible challenges us, “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you… For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father…this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave.” (1 John 2:15-17, NLT)

 

 

 

 

KLOVE Features March 2018

Aerial Skiers and Their Training

Olympic Aerial Ski Jumpers ski off 10-foot ramps and are propelled 20 feet into the air while performing multiple flips before landing. It is amazing to watch and fascinating to study! But, what stunned me as much as their winter competitions was how they trained during the off season. Aerialists train for their jumping maneuvers during summer months by skiing on a specially constructed water ramp and landing in a large swimming pool. When they hit the water, a burst of air is sent up from the bottom of the pool just before landing to break up the surface tension of the water, thus softening the impact of the landing. When I heard this, my immediate thought was how the Word of God, the Breath of Life, softens the hard landings in my life. Oh God, how I love Your Word! (Psalm 119:97)

The Korean Revival

Forty years after Robert Jermain Thomas was martyred in Korea, a meeting took place that is credited as a turning point for revival in that nation. During this historic gathering in 1907, a church elder publicly confessed that he had been misusing church funds. That triggered an outpouring of public repentance, and many confessed their sin until the early morning hours. A policeman admitted he’d come to spy on the church meeting. A woman confessed adultery, and her husband publicly forgave her. Stunning the crowd, an old man then admitted he had killed Robert Jermain Thomas, nearly 40 years before. Then, a Korean elder confessed his hatred for another leader in the room. The two men fell to the floor, wept and prayed. These public confessions brought a spirit of repentance to the service that sparked a revival that continues today.

How You See Yourself

A friend of mine would tell his son as a young boy, “When you walk into a room believe everyone in that room likes you.” What an interesting approach to cultivating confidence in your child. Today, that young man is a mighty leader of many thousands of people in an amazing church. Is it possible that how we see ourselves affects how others see us as well? It happened in the Old Testament. The children of Israel sent 10 spies into the land who with trepidation exclaimed, “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Numbers 13:33, NIV) Consequently, they gave into fear instead of faith. So, the question is? Do you see your fruitful inheritance or your feared foe? Is your heart more filled with faith or fear? It will in some way determine your future.

Faithful or Familiar

God has never been attached to anything He’s created…not a moment, a memory or a miracle. They all happen for a reason, but the creation must serve the purpose of the Creator, and not visa-versa. We won’t be faithful if we’re attached to the familiar. We all find comfort in the known, the common. They provide a sense of security. We think we know what will happen next, when in actuality we have no idea. God is not tame. He cannot be domesticated. He won’t listen to reason, because only He knows what reason looks like. Fifteen minutes after Moses went up the mountain they were dreaming of Egypt. Wishing for the good old days, usually indicates we have a bad memory. Be faithful, and don’t let the familiar seduce you with false comforts.

Praying or Grumbling

All of us feel the pressures of life that threaten to overwhelm us. They can drive us to our knees and compel us to pray or drive us crazy and propel us to cry out in fear. Do we start out praying and believing for something from God and end up complaining and grumbling for nothing at all? Do we begin by trusting the God knows best and wind up naively believing we do? The Message says, “These are the ‘grumblers,’ the bellyachers, grabbing for the biggest piece of the pie, talking big, saying anything they think will get them ahead.” (Jude 1:16, The Message) Elijah challenged the people: “How long are you going to sit on the fence? If God is the real God, follow him; if it’s Baal, follow him. Make up your minds!” (1 Kings 18:21, The Message) Pray, in faith, believing!

Being Right is Overrated

One of the greatest illusions of this, or any age, is the assumption that what I believe is almost always right. Especially, that I am usually “more-right” than what someone else believes. If you want to take comfort in rightness, then affirm what God knows is true, not what you think. No one has deceived me more than me. And yet, no one can dig me out of deception if I harden my heart. There is great reassurance in agreeing with God’s Word and Spirit, and only an illusion of peace when I spend my life agreeing with myself. Agreeing with yourself is not a multitude of counsel, and only leads to a multitude of mistakes. Agreeing with God’s Word always leads to rest and reassurance! Never presume you know better and you will live in peace, and not regret.

Peace Through Humility

True peace only comes through humility. Only when we humble ourselves can we connect with the Prince of Peace and “…experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.” (Philippians 4:7, NLT) Only when we acknowledge our sin can we meet the Savior. “So, humble yourselves under God’s strong hand, and in his own good time he will lift you up. You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him…” (1 Peter 5:6-7, Phillips) …because no One cares for you more than He does. But peace without pursuing a humble relationship with Jesus will only lead to compromise and deception. Reject the illusions of peace that parade all around us. Promising much but delivering more pain than promise. Jesus said, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.” (John 14:27, NLT)

Why Can’t I?

One of the scariest sentences we could ever say was echoed by Peter right before He denied Jesus. “Lord, why cannot I follow You now? (John 13:37) “Why can’t I?” It’s a sentence we all say a lot! Adam and Eve each said it, “Why can’t I eat that fruit?” Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said at the end of his life, “Why can’t I worship another god?” Paul, the religious Pharisee said, “Why can’t I do what’s right?” People say, “Why can’t I date that guy?” “Why can’t I watch that movie?” “Why can’t I listen to that music?” “Why can’t I give in to that pleasure?” “Why can’t I flirt? Lie…steal…curse! It’s this attitude in me that scares me most and keeps me on my face before a Holy God. Deception is stalking all of us.

Getting God’s Best

We all wonder at times, is God really giving me His best? It’s a sad and silly thought, but real. The Bible promises each of us, “No good thing will God withhold from those who love Him.” () In the Old Testament, King David stole another man’s wife. When God sent the prophet Nathan to expose David’s sin, God did not say to David, “I’m regret having given you so much!” He said, “If what I gave you was not enough, I would have given you much, much more.” () God is a God of more not less. It’s true, He will give you less at times of what you don’t need, but He loves to give us more of what we really do need. Which is primarily, more of Himself. No One wants to bless your life more than God.

Missing God

They killed Jesus thinking they were doing God’s will. () I cannot help but think of some of the things I’ve done. Was I doing them following God’s will, or my own? This troubled me for 15 years when I traveled and ministered in the Gifts of the Spirit over thousands of people. Some of whom still contact me in various ways every week, now 25 years later. It always bothered me that I was not 100% accurate. I even spoke to a few national leaders about it and considered stopping altogether. Only as I came to the end of that ministry season did the Holy Spirit speak to me about His reason for not clearly showing me why. He wanted to keep me dependent upon Him, because I knew, what we all should know, at any moment we are capable of missing God.

Wanting More

All of us want more. It’s a universal desire. And there is no One who wants you to have more than God. He is a God of more and not less. The challenge is looking to God alone for His increase. Lucifer wanted more glory, so he rebelled. Adam and Eve wanted more and so they disobeyed. Cain wanted more and so killed his brother Abel. Jacob wanted more and so cheated. Judas wanted more and stole. Everyone wants more, but you don’t have to rebel, disobey, kill, cheat or steal to get it. Abraham wanted more and so believed. David wanted more and so gave himself to worship. Daniel wanted more and so trusted. Paul wanted more and so he learned to be content. Do you want more? That’s great! But let God determine what more looks like.

Look Forward, Not Back

When looking back starts looking good, you know you’re in trouble. We must train our souls to look forward, not back. Remember Lot’s wife! () She was turned into a pillar of salt because she longed for what had been lost more than the possibilities of what could be found. Jesus likewise didn’t mince words about the dangers are looking backward. He commanded, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62, NLT) Christ’s challenge is alive today. The Message says, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.” (Luke 9:62, The Message) Paul the Apostle wrote, “…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race…” (Philippians 3:13-14, NLT)

KLOVE Features February 2018

Being Used by God

You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room for God to use you; nor the most talented. I’ve known lots of gifted people who blew up their lives for nothing. I’m always provoked when I think about the life of Solomon: called the wisest man who ever lived. And yet, because he married many ungodly women, at the end of his life he worshipped demons. Consequently, his children didn’t serve God and his legacy continued to deteriorate: the man whom God appeared to…twice. Soooo, if you want to be used by God, remember what The Message says: “…what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously-take God seriously.” (Micah 6:8, The Message)

Little Man and Big Man

I’m often concerned about the sadness of my soul. I’ve found, the psalmist was as well. He wrote, “Why are you in despair, (depressed) O my soul?” (Psalm 43:5a) The Hebrew word hear means, “Why are you so upset that you cry aloud, you murmur, growl, roar, and rage.” It’s one of the reasons I sometimes refer to my soul as “little man”, and my spirit as “big man”. I have to train my “little man” because he tends to murmur, growl, roar, and rage when he doesn’t get his way. The psalmist continued, “I have stilled and quieted my soul…like a baby content in its mother’s arms…” (Psalm 131:2) David, the beloved of God, trained his soul, and resolved, “I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again…” (Psalm 43:5b) May we never stop seeing the value of hoping in God.

Junk Drawers, Attics, and Garages

We all have things in our junk drawer. Objects we store that we don’t want to throw away but see no immediate use for. When it’s completely out of control, it leads to hoarding. In moderation, these items wind up in attics or garages, waiting for our children to eventually throw them away in mass. It all reminds me of the unresolved issues we store away with mental and emotional moth balls and cobwebs. The truth is, time doesn’t heal. Jesus does! And He’ll never take away, what we don’t freely give Him. The longer I live, the less baggage I want to carry around, for in the end, all I can take with me is what is eternal and meant for my good. You’ll never see a U-Haul following a funeral procession.

The Colors in Light

The whole creation speaks of God’s love. The Bible says, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5, NKJV) When God spoke, “Let there be light”, (Genesis 1:3), He actually was speaking all colors into existence. By shining light through a prism, white light is separated into all of the colors. Likewise, light shining through moisture in the air after a rain forms a rainbow with seven distinct colors as well. So, we see that the God of light, Creator of all of colors, all peoples, and all races, birthed the Universe with the beauty of diversity. Likewise, when the light and life of Jesus shines in our heats we at last realize that in order to love God, we must love what He loves, which is all people. If you know God, let there be light.

Outside the Box

Many of us have said, “I want to live outside the box.” What we’re saying is, “I don’t want to be limited, restricted, or hemmed in. I want to experience the freedom and liberty Jesus intended.” Recently, a friend shared what a college professor told him, “In order to live outside the box, you have to first know what’s in the box.” That really got my attention! In an age where so many of us have chaffed against limitations and the feeling of being hamstrung by everything from government to religion, relationships to our own insecurities, we ache to break out. But the very essence of innovation is being so familiar with the old, you become acutely aware of the breakthrough that’s needed. Then we can ask the Creator to take us outside boxes of limitation into realms that are truly an improvement.

Responding to the Present

When I went up to the counter to pay the bill at a restaurant, the pen they gave me didn’t work. Asking for a new pen, the waitress quickly responded, “Oh, let me put a paper underneath your bill because writing directly on to marble makes your pen skip.” It was a good surface, a fine pen, but it needed something in-between to make it work. How intriguing! In each of our lives, it’s not the hand we’ve been dealt or even the challenges we face that are the true key to our success, it’s the attitude and response we have to the twists and turns of life that make the difference. Many times, we want to dismiss our past as worthless, and our future as hopeless, when the difference-maker is all about our response to the present.

Earthly and Heavenly Values

Beware the absolutes in the world’s values. Conventional wisdom is often convenient thinking. Many of the norms of Earth are abnormal in Heaven. It will always take courage to go against the condescension’s of the crowd. In the Book of Acts, the 1st Century Christians were continually vilified for their faith. The Bible says, “…the only thing we know about this movement is that it is denounced everywhere.” (Acts 28:22, NLT) If we faint under pressure, out strength is too small. (Proverbs 24:10) We must go to Jesus to get His strength and wisdom, in order to be washed in God’s eternal values, not the temporary, jaded values of Earth. We must not be seduced into thinking following Jesus should be easy. He said, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” (John 15:18, NLT) We must be conformed to God’s image…alone!

Stinky Feet

I have a large nose. I can smell a pizza a half a mile away. Once, I was driving with an older man of God who I really respected. But, when he slipped off his shoes, immediately, a horribly pungent stench filled our car. I was stunned! My mind raced. Can’t he smell that? What if he takes off his socks? Within a few minutes, the smell seemed to dissipate. The next day, as we drove again, the same foul odor filled our vehicle. I quickly looked over to see if his shoes were on. They were. Then after doing some mental math I sheepishly said, what’s that smell? “Oh, that’s a pulp mill.” Ugh! Here I’d judged my brother without knowing all of the facts. It exposed a stinky pattern in me, I sadly repeat far too often.

David Cassidy’s Final Words

It has been said that the final words of a person’s life are extraordinarily revealing. Nothing confirms this conviction more than actor and musician David Cassidy’s closing statement to family members before passing away. He lamented, “So much wasted time!” These haunting words are a chilling reminder to all of us about how precious life is, and how quickly it flies by. The Bible confirms this reality when it says, “…redeem the time for these are evil days.” (Ephesians 5:16) I want to live fully awake…to be intimately connected to the God who made me, the people who love me, and the needs around me. The sands in each of our hour glasses are falling quickly. May we fulfill why a loving God created us, walking in our exceptional, one-of-a-kind, identities and destinies.

Carnival Mirrors vs. Reality

We live in an age when people share their experience as reality and their world view as truth. Alternate realities and revisions of history are born every nanosecond. The Bible says, “A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21:2, NIV) The truth is, our motive is as important as our message. Being right is overrated, because doing right is all that really matters. We sit pompously on our anthills, a speck in the Universe, feeling superior to other ants, while a humble Servant sits on a throne in Heaven, amused by how puny we really are, and endeavoring to guide us passed the carnival mirrors of Earth to an ultimate reality check that, if we view sooner than later, can spare us a lifetime of aimlessness and chasing the wind.

Navigationally Challenged

My twin brother Joseph and I are navigationally challenged and directionally impaired. Frankly, we get lost…a lot. I once had a visiting pastor from Florida guide me around my own small town. And on his honeymoon, my brother Joseph and his bride drove in the wrong direction for half a day, only to turn around and arrive back where they started that morning. Though it’s embarrassing to admit our limitations, it is infinitely less significant than the problem and solution God provided for all humankind: “We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on (Jesus).” (Isaiah 53:6, The Message) As sad as being lost was, being found has made it all worth it.

KLOVE Features January 2018

Google’s Culture of Collaboration

A friend worked at Google and described how the company fostered a unique culture of collaboration. They believe the highest paid person in the room does not have all the answers. This creates an unguarded atmosphere, where managers are less concerned about protecting their position, and are encouraged to hire and cultivate exceptional performers. They realize being surrounded by people who were less gifted and capable, because of the fear of being replaced, would merely drag the team down. This mindset allows employees to identify their potential. What a great principle! Who in your life can you encourage to excel, without being threatened by their achievement. My twin daughters have often said to me, “Dad, your ceiling is our floor!” You know what: I really love looking up at their floor.

Accepting Limitations in Others

Accepting the limitation of others requires seeing them with the eyes of God. We are all limited in some way, and have people in our lives who are likewise restricted in some way. If I was walking with someone who couldn’t walk as fast as I do, I’d change my stride to make them feel valued and included. It is what God does with us every moment. The Bible says, “…we who are strong ought to bear with the weaknesses of the weak and not to please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1) Who does God want you to come alongside and slow down for? Would you give them the same value God offers you? I’ve thought on many occasions while ministering to the sick or elderly, I’m not just sowing seeds of love for them, but for myself and those I love. The seeds we sow are the ones we’ll reap.

I Get Stuck So Easily

I’ve found the Christian life works perfectly for those of us who are easily stuck, people like…me. I am soooo susceptible to dead ends: in my mind, my will, my heart. But, I’m not alone. Paul the Apostle wrote about his great struggle to be the person he wanted to be, “I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (Romans 17:18b-19, NLT) He then writes, “The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 17:25a, NLT) Only Jesus could cover the monstrous things I’ve done, could love and accept me when I don’t love and accept myself. I don’t have to measure up to some impossible standard. He measured up for me, and all I have to do is believe and receive His incredible love for me.

Our Lowest Moment

My goal in life is to be completely “unshaken” by life’s challenges. It’s one of the human qualities I most love about Jesus. In John, Chapter 8, religious leaders wanted to kill Him. You could call that an unsettling moment. But, He just walked passed them. He wasn’t shaken or disturbed by this near-death confrontation. He kept walking and soon healed a blind man. In my own life, I don’t want to be rattled by what just happened, because I’ll miss what’s about to happen. Don’t be surprised if the point in which you’re closest to fulfilling your destiny is simultaneously the lowest point in your life. Jesus became sin for us on the Cross. His lowest moment! But He said, “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! (John 12:27, NLT)

The Earthquake Sandwich

Have you been saying, “God, why is this happening to me?” A better question would be, “God, what are you trying to show me?” He’s always trying to show us something of eternal value. As “emotional” earthquakes are preceded by great inspirations, they are followed by great “spiritual” revelations as well. I call it the “Earthquake Sandwich”. All “revelations” or “inspirations from God” are tested with shakings. Responding well to great shakings brings further revelation and inspiration. Revelations are what keep our relationship with God, fresh…current. They are either initiated by God’s Word or His Spirit, and must be consistent with the Bible. So, after you are stirred, get ready to be shaken. Live fully awake, and ready for your next adventure with Jesus. Here it comes!

Karma vs. Christianity

Do you believe you are experiencing great difficulties primarily because you’ve done something wrong? It’s really an unbiblical thought. That’s what Job’s friends thought. He must have done bad things to be suffering the way he did, but that’s not what God thought. This line of thinking is actually closer to “Hinduism” and “Buddhism”, not “Christianity”. In the Buddhist and Hindu religions, “Karma” is considered “the force produced by a person’s actions in one life that influences what happens to them in future lives.” The Bible demolishes the false concept of reincarnation when it says, “. . . it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment . . .” (Hebrews 9:27, ESV) Jesus didn’t come to Earth to judge or condemn us, He came to rescue us from the consequences of our own poor decisions.

When People Don’t Believe You

If someone doesn’t believe Jesus really transformed your life, don’t let it bother you. You’re the one He rescued, and no one can take that away from you. I was the one who, on the night I received Jesus, was delivered from demonic oppression because I worshipped Hindu gods. I was the one who, when I prayed to Jesus on that night, began to be choked by the Hindu necklace I wore. I was the one who then prayed my first prayer as a new Christian, and had my hand rip the necklace off my neck, so I could breathe. Some didn’t believe Jesus healed people in His day, and some won’t believe you and I either. But, don’t let it faze you. They’re really too late. It already happened to me, and it already happened to you.

Your Day of Rescue

Could anything be sadder than missing your only chance of being rescued? If God visited your life, would you refuse to receive His help. That’s exactly what happened to the Pharisees. They were outraged Jesus healed a blind man, and chided Him, “Are you saying we’re blind?” It takes real humility to accept that you are spiritually blind without Jesus. Only those who humble themselves can receive God’s gifts: forgiveness, everlasting life, and intimacy with our Creator. How foolish to shut our eyes to the light of the world, when there’s no other light coming! Then Jesus said, perhaps the most convicting sentence in the Bible. “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty. But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.” (John 9:41) Today is your day of rescue, your day of God visiting you…if you want it to be.

The Final Car Ride

A cab driver picked up a woman in her 80’s at 2:30 in the morning. She was leaving home for the last time. He recounted, “As I walked her to the cab, she kept thanking me for my kindness.” I said. “I try to treat my passengers the way I’d want my mother treated.” Giving me a destination, she asked, “Could you drive through downtown?” I answered. “It’s not the shortest way.” She said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.” Looking in the rear-view mirror, her eyes were glistening. “I don’t have any family left. The doctor says I don’t have very long.” I quietly shut off the meter. For hours, we drove through the city, stopping at places significant to her. I didn’t charge her, and don’t think I’ve done anything more important in my life. People may not remember what you did or said, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel!

Eternity

The problems of Earth can’t compare to the promises of Heaven. Would you believe that in eternity the Bible says, we who are genuine followers of Jesus, are going to be a visible display of the infinite, limitless riches of the grace and kindness of God. (Philippians 2:7, The Passion) We are destined to be trophies of God’s mercy; a pageant of His everlasting love, and a spectacle of His boundless blessings and timeless truth. Stretch your imagination, let it run wild with anticipation, and you will barely scratch the surface of the glorious things God has prepared for those who love Him. Don’t be fooled by the counterfeits of Earth, they are empty substitutes for the riches of Christ and the eternal rewards Jesus purchased for those who believe in Him. Receive His resurrection life and you will life forever.

Going Against the Flow

Are we willing to press through a crowd in order to touch Jesus? It will be the tipping point for God using us. One day, when Jesus was on His way to pray for someone, a desperate woman went against the flow in order to touch Him. She’d suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, losing all her money to doctors, only to get worse. (Mark 5:24) Coming behind Jesus she touched His robe. Immediately the bleeding stopped. She had been completely healed, all because she was willing to push through a mob. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” (Mark 5:34, NLT) We, too, must press through mobs of fear, discouragement, apathy and peer pressure. What crowd do you need to press through in order to touch Jesus and be healed?

Sobbing in Her Arms

I once ministered in the city where my mother lived. It blessed me immensely when she came to the service. She was the one who loved me well growing up, even though I spent years in boarding schools because my father was in politics. She was the one who prayed for my soul when I was an atheist and desperately lost in deception and drugs. I received Jesus on Mother’s Day because of her prayers. Sitting near the back and suffering from dementia, I asked her to stand as I began to share about her influence in my life. I broke down. Someone yelled, “Give her a hug!” I continued to try and speak, only to break down again. The same person yelled with greater emphasis, “Give her a hug!” This time, I walked down the aisle to meet her. Sobbing in her arms, she whispered, “That’s OK sweetheart.” It would be the last time I saw my mother in her right mind.