KLOVE Radio Features – May 2019

Working Through Fear

We can learn a lot about fear from Alex Honnold, the elite rock climber who scaled the most difficult rock face of all, El Capitan, without ropes. His epic climb was featured in the Oscar winning documentary, “Free Solo.” Alex was asked, “When you’re 2,000 feet above the ground, hanging on by your fingertips, are you scared of falling?” He responded without emotion, “I work through the fear until it’s just not scary anymore.” Hmm? “…until it’s not scary anymore.” Though few, if any, of us would dare to climb a rock wall without ropes, the Bible commissions us to learn to face our fears until they eventually evaporate. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV) You can face your fears, if you let God’s love for you drive them out.

Safe Friendships

I’ve heard it said, “The salary you make will be the average salary of your six closest friends.” Perhaps it’s true. But what I unequivocally believe IS true: who I am friends with will resemble who I become. Therefore, I choose my friends very carefully. If I don’t want to become like them, I won’t spend a lot of time with them. Unless, of course, I am capable of influencing them in a positive way. But the amount of time spent with them will be guarded. I have way too much to lose to let my spiritual life deteriorate because of an unhealthy relationship. The Bible even warns us, “Evil companions corrupt good morals.” At a time in my life, sad to say, I had been the corruptor. But, thank God, for a near half-century I have tried to be and have healthy friends.

Snowflakes Aren’t Eternal

According to Wonderopolis, “Meteorologists estimate that there are 1 trillion, trillion, trillion different types of snowflakes. That’s 1 with 36 zeros! When several ice crystals stick together, they form a snowflake. As snowflakes tumble through the air, swirling and spiraling, they each take a different path to the ground. Each snowflake falls and floats through clouds with different temperatures and moisture levels, which shape each snowflake in a unique way. Even though two snowflakes may form in the same cloud, their different journeys to the ground will affect their shape and size, giving each snowflake its own identity.” Whenever you think you’re not that special and unique, remember the God who made one-of-a kind snowflakes to merely melt away, made you to live forever.

Losing Your Intelligence

I often ask my wise wife, Suzie, to review my K-LOVE radio spots. She always has profound insights that make them better. Recently, I asked her to read one, and her comment was, “I would change that last sentence because it sounds like you lost your intelligence.” When she said it, it made me laugh, and so I repeated it back to her, “…because it sounds like you lost your intelligence?” We then both roared with laughter. It reminds me of how important it is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, because re-listening to the overstatements we say to one another may not just give us a good laugh, they may actually bring us closer to the ones we love. A merry heart is sometimes the best medicine we can ever receive and, likewise, give. (Proverbs 17:22)

Respecting Your Life

Do you respect yourself? Let me phrase it this way, “Are you proud of who you are becoming?” It’s a critically important question that will determine how healthy your life actually becomes. Sure, I’m not proud of everything I’ve done, or everything I’ve become, but I long to be proud of every part of my life. Albert Schweitzer, the great missionary, said, “If a man loses his reverence for any part of life, he will lose his reverence for all of his life.” I believe the word “respect” would be an accurate substitute here for “reverence.” So, let me say, “If a man loses his respect for any part of his life, he will lose his respect for all of his life.” If you would not want the person you respected the most to know about a part of your life, then pray to Jesus to transform this part of you.

Life Seasons

I believe each of us are called of God, but it will take character to fulfill that calling. Howard Rachinski founded the organization CCLI that distributes music to hundreds of thousands of churches around the world. In his book, “Life Seasons,” Howard writes, “I see (our) Life Seasons as divided into two categories – “Calling” and “Character.” …the Calling Seasons are Preparation, Productivity, Transition, and Impartation…God cultivates our mission…advancing us into His purpose. (While) …the Character Seasons (are) Despair, Famine, and Refreshing. They are those times when God works on our internal nature (including our integrity, honor, moral fiber, discipline, [and] ethics) – advancing us into His image.” Charisma (your gifting) may get you there, but it will take character to keep you there.

The Curves of Nature

Are you having a difficult time figuring out God’s will for your life and where He is leading you? That’s not surprising. Though, at times, very painful.  If you study nature, you’ll observe it has very few straight lines. So, too, with the God of creation. His will for us is never as expected. His purpose is often obscured. Our lives are filled with twists and turns, designed to keep us dependent upon God alone, and not leaning on our own understanding or preferences. It is true, as Jesus said, “…the narrow way leads to life,” but it is never a straight line. It zigs and zags and makes us wonder where God is, and where we are, as well. Don’t tire of being dependent upon God. Instead, recognize you are helpless without Him, but He promises you will be completely fulfilled with Him.

Of Big and Little Dogs

Did you ever notice, some small dogs don’t know how small they are, while some big dogs don’t realize how big they are? What’s the principle? How victorious we are in life will depend, at some point, on how we see ourselves. 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) Had they courageously gone forward, they could have defeated their weaker enemies, but, instead, they cowered and caved. Do you know how mighty you are in God? With Him, you are undefeatable; but without Him any victory will be short-lived. Let your identity and confidence be based on how God views you, and not upon how you view yourself.

Accountability and Rock Climbing

The number one thing I pray for those I love is that they would “live safe.” So much can be lost in a foolish moment. That’s why ropes are the lifeline between rock climbers. Without them, they could fall to their death. In the same way, accountability is the lifeline between Christ-followers. The Bible says, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) And, “Woe to the man who falls and has no one to pick him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:10) We all need others. None of us are islands to ourselves. Likewise, this scripture challenges a foolish confidence in self, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” Following Jesus is not an exercise in learning how to get along without Him; it’s a growing understanding that without Him, we can do nothing of lasting value.

Who Are You Clapping For?

All of us have been jealous of others. There’s always a reason to be jealous of someone else. But there’s always a better reason to appreciate what we have. Recently, I was rocked by this sentence, “Pay attention to who doesn’t clap when you succeed.” Though I initially reflected on those who, throughout my life, have not appreciated who I was, my mind soon fixated on those I have failed to applaud and affirm. I soon realized my jealousy toward others was far more painful than the jealousy others had demonstrated toward me. I was grieved and humiliated that I, at times, had been so small minded and hard hearted that I failed to affirm the value of others. It still makes me sad. May I learn to be more excited when others succeed.

The Power of Habit

Each of us know how difficult it is to break a bad habit, and how hard it is to keep a good one. The book, “The Power of Habit,” describes how, in gambling, the addicted loser can’t pull himself away from the game because the reward center in his brain doesn’t fire until he’s lost everything. When I was 17 years old, while on a date at a festival, I began to play a game which seemed incredibly simple. All I had to do was knock over a pin with a ball attached to a swinging pendulum. The man in the booth showed me over and over again how easy it was, but I couldn’t tear myself away until I lost everything I had: $75, which, in 1966, was a lot of money. I knew then what Adam and Eve had learned as well: gambling on the losing option will only lead to unspeakable loss.

Good and Bad Suffering

We all suffer. It’s Earth’s guarantee. But the Bible proclaims the reason we suffer will hold the key to its true value. It says, “If we suffer for doing good, rejoice, while if you suffer for doing wrong then just repent.” (1 Peter 3:14,17) So, why are you suffering: because of something foolish you continue to do? If so, then repent, and ask God to give you the power to change your mind and behavior. Your pain is pointless. Quit it! If you, on the other hand, are suffering because you are doing the right thing, then rejoice and give yourself a hug! Your pain has marvelous purpose and eternal value. Embrace the biblical promise and true value of godly suffering. God’s Word guarantees, “If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him.” (2 Timothy 2:12)

 

 

 

 

 

KLOVE Radio Features – April 2019

When Jesus Disappears

Did you ever notice that as soon as you see Jesus, He disappears? God reveals Himself to us in a supernatural way, and before we can wrap our arms around it and fully embrace the experience, He’s gone. In the Book of Luke, the resurrected Jesus appears to a few of His disciples and walks with them on the Road to Emmaus. Then, after a lengthy conversation, the Bible says, “Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!” (Luke 24:31, NLT) HA! I’m here! Then…I’m gone! By the end of the chapter, the Bible says, “…he left them and was taken up to heaven.” In each of our lives, this pattern is repeated. We get heavenly clarity, a revelation from God’s heart, but in order to walk in it, we must learn to access it by faith in God’s Word and promises.

Don’t Give Up On People

Did you ever wonder why some people who are far from God live to a ripe old age? While, as the expression goes, “sometimes the good die young.” A friend of mine asked his neighbor, who was over 100, why he had no interest in God. He responded that, in World War II, his buddies died in an explosion that also caused him to lose most of his hearing. He was angry that God would allow it. Now, 70 years later, he was still rejecting God. But, his Christian family members continue to pray for his salvation. As the Bible says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, NIV) Don’t give up praying for people; God hasn’t.

Arriving On Time
Have you ever been frustrated because you thought you showed up too late for something important, only to happily realize you were right on time? A friend of mine was rushing to Mount Rushmore, and was frustrated because he thought he’d arrived too late to view it. Only to find out that he was exactly on time for the monthly closing ceremonies with extravagant fireworks and festivities. He was rushing to Mount Rushmore only to realize he didn’t need to rush more, but actually needed to rush less. HA! I’ve found this principle to be true in my own life. God knows the way that we take, and if we trust Him, He’ll get us to where we need to go at just the right moment. The God who is able to raise the dead, never shows up too late. If you don’t believe me, ask Lazarus. 

Following the Crowd Can Be Painful

My wife and I were a part of this year’s Martin Luther King “March For the Dream” in our city, along with 30,000 other marchers. It was a wonderful day of meeting new people and fellowshipping with longtime friends. About halfway through the six-mile walk, my back began to hurt more than usual. I realized that it was because our pace was not consistent with my typical walking stride. So, during the next portion of the walk, we decided to march alongside the crowd at our normal pace. As we did, the pain went away. It made me think: perhaps some of the pain we go through in life is because we’re merely trying to follow others, and not walking the walk the way God intended for us. Only then will we experience less pain and a healthy walk.

We’re Rebelling and God’s Planning Our Rescue
Do you believe your future is bleak? It’s a lie! And if you can replace this lie with the truth, you’ll begin to see your life from God’s perspective. While Moses was up on Mount Sanai receiving the Ten Commandments, the children of Israel were rebelling in the valley below. This fascinating parallel becomes even more amazing when we compare it to each of our lives. God was contemplating our bright future, while we were simultaneously blowing up our present. We’re plotting “rebellion.” God’s planning “rescue.” It makes me cry with gratitude. God’s heart has always been about rescue, never retaliation; about hope and never despair. His bright future for me was always intended to eclipse my bleak past. The only question is, am I willing to believe it, receive it, and then live it?

Living an Impossible Life
I don’t know about you, but it seems most of the things God is setting before me and asking me to do are, well, impossible. It used to freak me out because I’d think, “There’s no way that can happen!” But, I believe it’s what God is asking me to do or believe for. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, who wrote, “I have found that there are three stages in any great endeavor: first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” Jesus confirmed this heavenly point of view when He said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26, NLT) Don’t be surprised when God asks you to believe Him for the impossible. Only then can we experience the miraculous life God intended for each of us.

Those Aren’t My Pants
A friend of mine is a police officer. He told me the funniest thing he ever heard a drug dealer say to him happened when he was frisking him and found a stash of drugs in his pockets. The busted man blurted out, “These aren’t my pants!” Ha! Ha! As if he had put on somebody else’s pants and hadn’t realized there were drugs in the pockets. But, like most of the time when I hear of someone else doing something wrong or foolish, God invariably shows me how I do the same thing. I’m busted by God’s Spirit, and I begin to come up with some lame excuse for why I did it, said it, or thought it. Those ARE my pants! Accept it, Francis! Believe it! Own it! Repent of it, and let Jesus forgive you and restore you.

Things Are Speeding Up
Do you ever feel like things are speeding up, not just in your life, but on the entire planet? Well, perhaps it’s because they actually are. Scientists tell us our ever-expanding Universe is actually accelerating, expanding faster, as if God were stepping on the accelerator. It reminds me of the quote by Eric Hoffer, “In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Yesterday is gone. Today, God asks us to keep pace with Him. This miracle of partnering with God is only possible if we will humble ourselves and receive His strength in exchange for our weakness. Learn to flow with Jesus. Catch the breeze of God’s Spirit, and each day will be an adventure that will take your breath away.

God’s Happy Ending
Ever have someone tell you about a movie their excited about? They say, “Oh, you’re gonna love the end of the movie!” And you believe them, because they are a trustworthy person and not prone to exaggeration. Then as you’re watching the movie you can’t wait for the ending. No matter how difficult certain portions of the movie may be, you long to see what happens at the end. That’s the way God wants each of us to anticipate eternity. Fully awake, filled with hope, looking forward, not backward, absolutely persuaded that what’s coming, the grand finale, will blow our minds, and be exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond our wildest dreams. That’s right! Follow Jesus with all your heart and wake up every day with your heart fixed on eternity. It’s all going to be worth it. 

Never Seeing Mount Rushmore

Before I became a Christ-follower, I travelled in a van across the U.S. On our journey, we drove to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, to see the granite mountain featuring four renowned U.S. presidents. While walking from the parking lot toward the sculpture, there was a table with Native American representatives who expressed a grievance that their ancestors had signed a treaty with the U.S. Government that guaranteed in perpetuity the area belonged to them. I was so taken by their heartfelt appeal I spent an hour talking with them and, frankly, never saw Mount Rushmore. To date, I have never seen it, and probably never will, but I’m encouraged that even as a young man I cared enough about people to miss out on a special memory. I pray I am willing to do just that all the days of my life.

The Dangers ofDownclimbing” 

There is an old adage, “What goes up, must come down.” So, too, in life and rock climbing. It’s awesome to reach the top, but  it can be equally difficult descending safely to the valley floor. It’s called “downclimbing,” and in rock climbing it has a greater degree of difficulty because of the added drag and friction of the connecting rope between climbers. The spiritual danger of “downclimbing” can be seen in the life of King David. “…at the time when kings go off to war…” (2 Samuel 11:1, NIV), David had retired from battle. It was there on his way down that he faced a greater danger than he had encountered on his way up. Whatever pinnacle we may have reached, if we live long enough, obscurity is ahead for all of us. Prepare to navigate your safe descent and finish well.

The “Victim” Mindset

One of the most deceptive perspectives in this hour is the “victim” mindset. It says because I have been cheated, I can’t get a fair shake unless I demand retribution from the one I believe mistreated me. The entire concept comes from the enemy. Lucifer, the fallen archangel, believed God had cheated him, and therefore demanded retribution. His “victim” mindset morphed into revenge and retaliation. Repentance from a “victim” perspective will bring about restoration, rejuvenation, and lasting reward. Faith is the only way to access what we are hoping for; not fear, fatalism or frustration. Being a “victim” will keep you bound to the past. Having a “victor” mindset reveals God’s vision for your future, allowing you to fulfill His will for your life: being more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 

KLOVE Radio Features – March 2019

Flexibility

Periodically, I receive a directional word from the Lord as to what my greatest need would presently be. Having retired from pastoring last year, and now being a health coach, there are many new experiences and relationships God has opened up. So, I sensed my present need was for greater flexibility. The older we get, the more rigid and predictable our responses to life can become. Yet, if we really desire to be like God, we should remember He has never duplicated anything. Everything for Him is new, fresh, unpredictable, and filled with adventure. I firmly believe it is, likewise, a prerequisite for the abundant life Jesus promised, no matter how old or young we are. When God says, “I make all things new…“ (Revelations 21:5), I believe He most of all desires this newness of life for you and me.

Not Being Financially Wealthy

Are you discouraged by the possibility that being a follower of Jesus will not make you financially wealthy? That reality has been a stumbling block for many,  but no one more infamous than Judas Iscariot. When Jesus let someone wash His feet with expensive perfume, Judas became bitter. (Matthew 26) He then “…went to the leading priests and asked, ‘How much will you pay me to betray Jesus…?’” (Matthew 26:14b-15, NLT) The 30 pieces of silver they paid him would be worth less than $10,000 today. Not much in exchange for your soul. Yet, people still chase riches to find fulfillment. The lyrics of Bob Dylan are worth remembering, “How many times have you heard someone say, ‘If I had his money, I’d do things my way.’ But little did they know, it’s so hard to find one rich man in ten with a satisfied mind.”

My Passport Photo

Recently, I had to renew my passport photo. I went to a pharmacy to get my picture taken. When the machine at the pharmacy assessed the photo, I was told my smile was too big in the photo and it was therefore unacceptable. HA! I laughed, and thought, “That’s ridiculous!” Now, I’m sure there was some appropriate technical reason I’m not aware of for my picture being unacceptable, but it seemed, to say the least, strange. I took another picture smiling slightly less, but came away from the experience firmly rejecting the machine’s overall recommendation for my life: to be less happy. My smile is not too big! The joy of the Lord is my strength and, so, I’ve decided to reject the rejection on the grounds that God promised me abundant life and I receive it.

Presumptuous Presuppositions

At the end of John 7, religious leaders dismissed the thought that Jesus could possibly be the Messiah because there were no prophecies that the Messiah would come from Galilee. They based their conclusion on a false premise. Since Jesus did not fulfill their presumptuous assumption, they wrote Him off as a fraud. Sadly, they believed this deception to their own destruction. And, so, a warning is given to each of us as well. If we are attached to a concept we alone invented, our selfish reasoning will lead us down a dead end of self-inflicted destruction. Make sure the beliefs you are committed to have an eternal shelf-life, are first found in the heart of God, and are not based on a motive God could never honor or fulfill. The Bible says, “For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.” (2 Corinthians 13:8, NIV)

Removing Rocks from Our Heart

My wife Suzie tells me about growing up on a farm and having to pick up rocks in the Spring that seemed to suddenly materialize. It made me wonder, why do new rocks surface every year in fields and need to be removed before planting a new crop? The answer is found in studying the wind: convection. We usually think of convection currents as happening in air or maybe in water, but it also happens in soil! As the soil heats up and cools off, it actually circulates. The moving soil can easily pick up rocks and transport them to the surface. It made me think about the soil in my own heart. There are hard, unhealthy attitudes and responses beneath the surface that God wants to remove. But even after He makes them visible, it is still my decision whether I want to go through the effort of removing them.

Boulders Become Boundaries

Recently, I shared a devotional about the importance of clearing hard places from our heart, as being similar to the surface rocks farmers have to remove from their acreage prior to planting. It requires a willingness for us to look at the hidden, hard things that may require much effort to remove from our lives. Yet, if we humbly respond to these leadings and remove these heavy hindrances, they can become protective barriers; boundaries that will keep what is precious to us in, and what is hazardous out. Every day I ask myself if I am willing to look at the hard areas God is drawing to my attention that will make my life blessed, bountiful, and protected. The Bible says, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land…” (Isaiah 1:19, ESV) “I am willing, Lord!”

Getting God to Perform

Do you find it difficult to get God to do what you want? I find it impossible, and so did the Roman ruler, Herod. In Luke 23, Herod wanted Jesus to perform a miracle for him (Luke 23:8), but Jesus wouldn’t even answer his questions. He wasn’t a trained monkey on Israel’s Got Talent; He was the God of the Universe following the will of His Heavenly Father. So, how do we get God to do what we want? We don’t! We stop playing God and instead let Him lead our lives. What does that look like? It looks like us surrendering our presumptuous belief: that we know what’s best, and instead ask God what His will is, and cooperate with this. Then 100% of our prayers will be answered. The Bible says, “…if we ask anything according to His will… we know that we have what we asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14, 15, NIV)

The Age of Half-Truths

This is the age of half-truths. Accurate facts are oftentimes shared with made-up fabrications. That’s why a half-truth is even more dangerous than a total lie. Our guard is lowered, allowing a Trojan Horse of deception, masquerading as truth, to flood our minds and defile our hearts. In Luke 23, the Jewish leaders lied about Jesus, saying a truth and a lie in one sentence. They told the truth when they said Jesus claimed to be the Messiah but lied when they claimed He told people to not pay taxes to Rome. Today, with our 24-hour news cycle, pervasive social media, and the ability to, at times, say whatever we please, yet remain anonymous and without accountability, it leaves us all vulnerable to a deluge of half-truths. More than ever, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23, NLT)

No” or “Not Now” Moments

Most of us recognize God at times says, “No” and at other times, “Not Now.” But it can be very confusing when it comes to doing His will if we don’t discern the difference. I’ve found that the call is not the sending. It may be God’s will for me to do something, but “not now.” Abraham and Sarah were promised a son, but for decades didn’t realize it was a “not now” reality and so lost hope. Moses tried to be a deliverer of captive Israel, but his method and timing were wrong. It would be 15 years after being anointed king before David was finally crowned. Queen Esther, on the other hand, preferred God’s will to be “not now’, until it became a matter of life and death. Fullness of time moments are ahead for each of us, but it will take patience and perseverance to wait for them.

If We Judged Ourselves

I once spent 10 years regularly reviewing 50,000 one-page evaluations that people handed in at the end of a three-day evangelism seminar I conducted. Some of their comments were insightful, some were painful, but most were helpful. I had taken to heart the encouragement of scripture, “…reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” (Proverbs 6:23, NKJV) All of us have critiqued others, and, likewise, been critiqued ourselves. And so, the Bible encourages us, “…if we would judge ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.” (1 Corinthians 11:31, NASB) I have found this to be true, and believe our need to change on Earth is like breathing…a continual transformative experience. The question is, am I willing to change all the days of my life? It’s one of life’s great tests, but one that has eternal benefits. Words: 125

Precious vs. Priceless

Perhaps the most difficult experience in life to discern is parting with what we consider precious in exchange for what God considers priceless. In Luke 16, the disciples were brokenhearted when Jesus spoke of leaving them, but He said it was better for them if He did in order for the Holy Spirit to come. What if every precious thing we part with, even every person, every position, and every possession was merely an exchange for something better? But the only way to receive this miraculous handoff is to be willing to part with what we have today, and trust that God’s tomorrow will ultimately be better. It will take faith: the key ingredient that pleases God because it demonstrates that we do believe in His eternal, unfailing promises more of the precious temporary things we see.

When Do We Really Understand

Don’t ever tell Jesus you finally understand something. Every time the disciples did that, He would alert them to some future event that would reveal they actually understood very little. The fact is, the mystery of life is revealed gradually. I may understand a little piece of the puzzle at this time, but the grand perspective, the giant panorama, is impossible for me to fully grasp. The Bible even says, “…do not lean on your own understanding.” But instead, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…” (Proverbs 3:5, ESV) Only in tiny portions does God reveal it to us. But by faith we can receive it, and gradually grow to walk in His divine intention for our lives, which if we could receive it, would bless us more than anything we can imagine on our own.