KLOVE Radio Features – July 2019

Reality is My Friend

I’ve had lots of friends over the years. Some close, and some not so close. I’ve even made friends of enemies, both real and imagined. But one of the best friends I rarely recognized was a friend called “reality”. In retrospect, I realize that “reality” was the one friend who always had my best in mind. The first one to meet me in the morning, and the last one I’d think about at night. At the end of the day, “reality” was always the last one standing. “Reality” never sugar-coated my issues, never diluted my struggle, and refused to give in to my whining and whimpering. Having lived a long, full life, I realize that “reality” was the one friend I should have trusted more, and doubted less. Today, remember, reality is your friend!

Pick Up Your Mat

In John 5, Jesus approached a man who had been unable to walk for 38 years and asked, “Would you like to get well?” It seemed like a silly question and, yet, it pinpoints the real issue for each of us who need a healing. What do we really want? And what are we willing to do to get it? Jesus then gave the man three critical instructions: ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!’” (John 5:8, NLT) Three essential prerequisites for any of us to get whole: “Stand up!” Are you willing to move away from where you have been? “Pick up your mat!” Are you committed to never go back? And lastly, “Walk!” Will you do whatever is needed to get whole, even if you’ve never done it before? So, let me challenge you about whatever healing you need, will you, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!?”

Keep Walking – Don’t Stop

After landing in an airport, I began walking to baggage claim. As I did, it was necessary to pass through a set of security doors encased in glass. Proceeding forward, the next door would automatically open. Unsure, I stopped, and immediately heard an automated announcement, “Continue to walk forward. Do not stop!” It produced an eerie set of emotions. The exit doors were activated by my walking forward, but remained closed unless I did. It reminded me of my walk with Jesus. As I have walked forward in faith with Jesus, over these many years, new doors have continued to open. It left me with this indelible impression for my future: If I stop going forward in faith, new doors won’t open. And, even if doors seem closed, I need to keep walking forward in faith.

Moneyball and Misfit Toys

Do you feel inadequate and insufficient? Don’t despair! They can be helpful qualities when seen from God’s perspective. In “Moneyball,” a movie about the surprisingly successful 2002 Oakland A’s baseball team, the term “an island of misfit toys” is used to describe undervalued players the Oakland A’s could have purchased for their team. I couldn’t help but think that’s how many of us in the Body of Christ see ourselves: unseen and undervalued. We write ourselves off because of misfit dimensions in our lives, not realizing that these deficiencies are the very thing that keep us dependent upon God and make us fully usable to Him. If we will trust Him, they can even become the backdrop for our ultimate transformation. God’s Word promises, “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” (Isaiah 40:29, NLT)

Confidence or Conviction?

What do people most want to hear in our voice if they are in need of healing: confidence or conviction? I believe conviction is infinitely more important than confidence. It empowers us to go forward, even when we feel like giving up. Lacking confidence but having conviction can still let God flow through us. But, if I merely ride the wave of personal confidence, I’ll eventually give up. Confidence will, in time, disappoint, while conviction will keep me doing the right thing, even if I have a momentary wrong response. Confidence is way too flippant a criteria to hang my future hopes of success. Would you like to cultivate confidence? Then, embrace God’s conviction about who He has called you to be and what He would like you to do. Confidence in Him will be the natural result of God-given conviction.

Truth Can Make You Angry

At one point in my life, before I surrendered to Jesus, I believed there were many paths to God. I remember how angry I got when a young Christian showed me John 14:6 in the Bible. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” At that moment, the truth didn’t make me free, it made me angry. Not an unusual response, when reality hits us like a bolt of lightning. One day, a Christian and a Muslim were sharing about the distinctions in their faith. The Christian said to him, “The difference between our God and your god is that your god wants you to die for him, and our God wanted to die for you.” Profoundly simple, yet extraordinarily true. Once again, this truth may either set someone free or, perhaps, just make them angry.

God’s Will is Our Reality GPS

Would you like your life to have a happy ending? I trust you would! Then, may I recommend, don’t write your own script. The more we write our own story, the less happy our ending is going to be. Better to commit to be a script-doer, not a script writer, and your life will turn out exceedingly, abundantly better than you could ever imagine. Likewise, I believe the best scripts begin and end with script-ture. God’s Word even promises, “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but God’s Word will last forever.” (Matthew 24:35) The Bible is like a reality GPS. It determines where we are, and only what is real will ultimately last. God alone defines reality. By aligning your life and thoughts with God’s forever Word, He will bring His reality to pass in your life.

God Guarantees Our Future

Are you looking forward to your future? If you are a follower of Jesus, you should be. The Bible says, “The desire of the righteous ends only in good…” (Proverbs 11:23, NIV) WOW! “…ONLY GOOD!” What a promise! Following God guarantees that we will not only have a blessed life, but a blessed future. No matter how your life may look at this moment, the God of happy endings never disappoints. His Word promises, “…it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32, ESV) And, “…he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6, ESV) And lastly, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6, ESV)

God Delights in Us

Is it difficult to imagine that God is pleased with you? For many of us it is. We’ve all done things we regret. But is God as fixated as we sometimes are on what we’ve done wrong? Consider Psalm 18:19 (ESV). It states the almost inconceivable, “…(God) rescued me because He delighted in me.” This verse literally means, “God takes pleasure in me.” WOW! Even when I struggle with being pleased with myself, God still is. Not in everything I do. But everything He created me to be. If you and I could create our own children, and envision them to view us in any way possible, wouldn’t we want them to know that we are delighted with who they are? Not because they measured up to some impossible standard, but because we created them for the very purpose of delighting in them.

Stealing From Your Parents

Recently, I read a Bible verse that jogged my memory about a sin I committed over 50 years ago. Growing up, my father carried a lot of money in his wallet. And once, just once, as a teenager, I stole $100 out of it. Even as I say this, half a century later, I’m convicted about how wrong it was. Proverbs 28:24 (NLT) says, “Anyone who steals from his father and mother and says, ‘What’s wrong with that?’ is no better than a murderer.” Wow! I don’t fully understand it, but as I seek and receive God’s forgiveness, I want to let the full impact of these words seep into my heart. I never want to get to the place where I resist the conviction of God Spirit and, consequently, fail to receive His merciful kindness for my life.

Our Challenges Are Designed To Help Others

I believe each of us significantly underestimate how our challenges are designed to prepare us to help others. We can see this clearly in the life of Moses. Even though he was an Israelite by birth, he was raised as an Egyptian in Pharaoh’s household. Then, after committing murder while protecting another Israelite, he’s exiled to the wilderness for 40 years. Little did he know that these decades living in obscurity were preparation for an additional 40 years wandering with the nation of Israel. His forty years of rejection were actually 40 years of preparation. I realize more every day that the pain and struggles in my past are designed to be mined in order to help others. Have you seen this pattern in your own life? Realizing this will give you all the direction you need for your future!

Fear is a Lie

Would you like to have a life full of every blessing God intended for you? That’s not just your hope and desire, that’s His desire for you as well. Then here’s something you should do. Expand your faith and you’ll diminish your fear. Fear never lets you grow bigger than itself. Faith opens up infinite possibilities. Fear lies to you about what could happen. It cages you in. While faith broadens your horizons. Filling your heart and mind with the faith of God’s Word will choke out all fear of failure. Fear has was never been your friend, it was just the lie that kept you bound. Faith longs to be your lifelong companion, while fear has always been your enemy. Fear has no future and just wants to take you with it. Faith will last forever and will continue to expand throughout eternity.

 

 

KLOVE Radio Features – June 2019

Children, Your Father’s Home!”

My sister-in-law Kathy tells the story of a relationship she had with a man she was about to marry. It was a few weeks prior to their scheduled wedding. The invitations were printed and about to be mailed. A dinner was planned for her fiancé to meet important members of her family. Arriving an hour late, and intoxicated, her fiancé began to make excuses as to why. As he stood there leaning against a door, rambling about where he had been, Kathy, not yet a Christ-follower, had a distinct thought flash across her mind, “Children, your father’s home!” It was the wake-up call she needed. Kathy broke off the relationship, and has been happily married to my brother Victor for over 50 years. Don’t ignore the leadings of God; they are meant to preserve your life and future.

Solvents

Solvents seem like a miracle cure for an unsolvable problem. I’m always amazed at the solvents we can use to wipe away stains. Vinegar takes away grass stains. Soda eliminates grease. White wine eradicates red wine. Hydrogen peroxide removes blood. Baking soda erases coffee, and milk can clear up certain ink stains. But the most magnificent solvent of all is the One that washes away the greatest stain of all. It’s the shed blood of Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “…the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) Are you looking for a way to dissolve your sin problem? You have one, and only one, option. Let the sacrificial blood of Jesus, the God of the Universe, who alone died on the Cross for your sins, wash away the stain of sin from your eternal soul and spirit.

Shaming

A Christian friend told me about a time the Lord challenged him about not shaming people. Going to work as a young Christian, he would drive by an adult bookstore. He thought it would be funny to honk and wave when he saw a man getting out of his car. Invariably, upon hearing the horn and seeing someone waving, each man would hang his head in shame and scurry inside. After he did this a few times, the Lord reproved him, saying, “I didn’t call you to shame people.” From then on when he drove by, he prayed for each man instead of shaming them. The Message Bible says, “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.” (John 3:17)

Understanding is Overrated

When Manoah, the father of Samson, asked the angel who prophesied Samson‘s birth to tell him his name, the angel said, “You wouldn’t understand my name even if I told you.” Here is the angel’s answer in Judges 13:18, “Why do you ask my name?… It is too wonderful for you to understand.” A fascinating response! Yet, the older I get, the more I realize there are so many things God could tell me, but I wouldn’t understand them if I can’t first identify the authority He has when He speaks. Apparently, there are many times when my understanding is unnecessary and seemingly overrated. It’s true, since God promises us the peace that goes far beyond our understanding (Philippians 4:7), we should be unattached to completely understanding what is taking place in our lives.

Concerns That Never Happen

The other day I couldn’t find my glasses in order to see clearly to put in my contacts. As I processed this, I thought how difficult it must be for blind people to put in their contacts. Immediately, I realized what you probably have already… blind people don’t need contact lenses. HA! This embarrassing and funny realization was followed by God’s Spirit reminding me about the many things I am concerned about that never happen, and are actually just silly, unbelieving thoughts. As Jesus said to Martha when she was lacking faith, “…you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about.” (Luke 10:41-42, NLT) Jesus was the resurrection and the life, and was able to raise her brother Lazarus from the dead. What is your need? Remember, God is completely able.

Nothing to Complain About

Have you ever had a near-death experience? If you are a Christ-follower, then you certainly have. The Bible says, “…the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, NLT) In 2 Samuel 19:28 (NASB), Mephibosheth, evil King Saul’s grandson, basically says to King David, “You spared my life; what right do I have to complain anymore?” That would be a good question for each of us to ponder. If we are awake to the desperateness of our spiritual reality, we know that God spared our life. So how can we complain about anything? God has given each of us: life, breath and every good thing. (Acts 17:25) Those of us who have received God’s free gift of forgiveness and eternal life should be the most grateful people who have ever lived.

Shane Grammer & Paradise Portraits

One of my favorite Bible verses is Isaiah 61:3 (NLT), “…(God) will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.” WOW! “Beauty for ashes!” There is perhaps no greater example of this than what God inspired someone to do in the aftermath of the horrific fire that destroyed almost all of Paradise, California. Shane Grammer, a gifted artist, now nicknamed, the “Artist of Hope,” used his God-given artistic gift to paint murals of hope on burned-out buildings in Paradise. Not because he was paid for it, or because it was possible for the paintings to have a long lifespan. But because those murals of hope would give people who lost everything, a glimpse into the possibility that they actually had a beautiful future. What can I do today to give someone hope?

Pleasure Forever

Do you like pleasure? All of us do! But, would it surprise you if I told you God wants to fill your life with pleasure, both now and forever? First, let me clarify one thing. Pleasure is not inherently bad. God created pleasure! The Bible says that at God’s “…right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11) Wouldn’t the God who made sunsets and starry nights know all about beauty? Wouldn’t the Author of laughter know how to have the most fun? Wouldn’t the Prince of Peace know the best way to rest? Wouldn’t the Person who invented food know what foods tastes best? Wouldn’t the One Who is love know what relationships are most fulfilling? So, if you’re wanting to experience incomparable pleasure. Enjoy the pleasure of God’s presence. Pure pleasure, minus the guilt and regret.

Invisible and Insignificant

Do you feel invisible, insignificant? The only way any of us can truly feel valuable is to know that God sees us and cherishes us. I’ve never seen my liver, but I definitely appreciate it. I’ve never hugged my kidney, but I’m sure it deserves a hug. I’ve never told my heart, “I love you!”, but I love the fact my heart keeps beating. We may consider a part of our body unnecessary or of little importance, until we hurt it. We stub our toe, jam our finger. Suddenly, it’s all hands on deck. The unappreciated member is showered with attention. Americans say what is most important to them is “self-respect.” It sounds like a desperate cry to be noticed, valued and esteemed. The only Person who can meet that need is… God. If Jesus is your Lord, then you are part of Christ’s Body, and absolutely precious to Him.

Everyone Can Be Great

Would you like to be great? That’s a wonderful goal. No one wants you to be great more than God. And He’s done everything possible to fulfill that desire. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Not everyone can be famous, but everyone can be great. Because greatness is determined by service. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.” Jesus came to serve, not to be served. He was truly great! Now, He invites us to be great as well. All we have to do is follow His lead, serve and love others, with hearts filled with His grace and souls motivated by love. Jesus said, “The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:11-12, NLT)

God Built You a House

A building contractor was going to retire. He was a man of integrity and had spent his life doing honest work. He went to his foreman, who worked for him for 25 years, and said, “I want to build one last house, and make it first class, and then, I’m going to retire.” The foreman was upset, believing the contractor was going to leave him with nothing for his future, and decided to rip his boss off. So he ordered second-class materials and falsified invoices. When the house was completed, the owner proudly toured the finished product. Shocking the foreman, the owner told him he wanted to reward the foreman for his faithful service, saying, “I built this house for you!” God’s heart has always been to build our lives with the best materials for our good. Trust God and give Him your best!

Leniency or Mercy

Would you like God to be lenient with you; to not hold you responsible for the sins you have committed? Sorry, He can’t be! If we deserved leniency, then leniency would be a matter of justice, not mercy. Mercy is only shown to the guilty. So, God can’t be lenient with you, but He does want to give you mercy. Mercy that you can’t earn and don’t deserve. If I killed the person you loved the most, is there anything I could do to deserve mercy from you? Probably not! The mercy would have to be in your heart, not because of any actions I could ever do. Jesus loved the un-lovable! He served the undeserving! And He honored the dis-honorable! All for love! All for us! Receive the mercy of Jesus. That’s all He’s offering you.

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.

 

KLOVE Features February 2019

Life is a Jigsaw Puzzle

Are you struggling to see how your life fits? It’s probably because you want to understand it. What if I told you: life was more about acceptance than understanding? It’s more about rhyme than reason. More a jigsaw puzzle of one-of-a-kind pieces, than uniformed Legos. In our linear naivetes, we’re hoping it will all make sense, and soon. But, it’s really a waste of time, and the improper way to process life with a God Who is infinitely beyond our comprehension. The only real connection with this season of your life and the next is . . . God. The Bible says, “He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” (Colossians 1:17, NLT) So, how can you make sense of life? Let God guide you, moment by moment, piece by piece, for He alone knows where you are going, and your greatest responsibility is to trust Him.

Older Married Couples Laugh More

If you believe older married couples are grumpier and more dissatisfied, you probably should think again. An extensive study shows that those married longer than 35 years are more tender than younger couples. They demonstrate more positive emotional behaviors as they age, and fewer negative ones. In particular, these spouses had more humor and affection and cut back on the amount of criticism and defensiveness they showed during their earlier years together. These results show that as we age, we become more focused on the positives in our lives and are far happier with one another in old age. It’s all the more reason to stick with your marriage partner during the tough times. Experiencing your senior years with a spouse may be your key to a happy future.

Wanting More is a Slippery Slope

Have you ever watched someone make a foolish mistake and it reminded you of yourself, at a low point in your own life? I was watching a TV show and saw a man, in front of his mother and millions of viewers, go from being guaranteed to win over $300,000 to winning $5. It was crushing to watch! Everyone in the room was yelling, “Take the $300,000!” but he just couldn’t stop himself from wanting more. “Wanting more!” What a slippery slope! Being grateful for what you already have is really the only way to ever experience the contentment that leads to God’s peace. I don’t have to experience the pain of foolish decisions I’ve seen others make, if I can just learn from them. “Jesus, teach me to love more… and want less!”

A Little Rough Going In

As my wife and I were on a plane, a flight attendant said over the P.A., “We’re going to tidy up the cabin a few minutes early tonight, because it’s going to be a little rough going in.” Hmm? “Tidy up…it’s going to be a little rough going in.” Immediately, God’s Spirit reminded me of the season we are in. It seems everything in the world around us that can be shaken, is being shaken. Though we can lose sight of it, we are also speeding closer to the challenging end of the age. And so, taking that sentence from the flight attendant as a prophetic encouragement, “Tidy up your heart, Francis; it’s going to be a little rough going in.” Perhaps, you should take this encouragement to heart as well?

Pray Without Ceasing

When the Bible says, “Pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NKJV) is it perhaps overstating the goal, or should we take this biblical admonition literally? How could anyone “Pray without ceasing”? The Passion Translation phrases this verse in a different way. It says, “Make your life a prayer.” WOW! “Pray without ceasing” morphs into “Make your life a prayer.” I like that! It reminds me that God intended prayer to be a way for me to have an intimate relationship with Him; a constant communion, not a periodic S.O.S. Prayer is not meant for when I’m in trouble, but to keep me continually in touch with my Creator. God’s saying, “Make prayer your first response, not your last resort.” It’s really the best and, frankly, only, way to truly live.

Counterintuitive Leadings

My wife was driving the two of us in traffic when my phone’s GPS recommended we turn off onto a highway going in the opposite direction. Since I’d followed my GPS on this route before during rush hour, I had complete faith that doing what seemed crazy was actually the right thing to do. Trusting my past experience, my wife turned off and we soon found ourselves sailing all the way home without traffic. “Trust” had been the difference maker. Many times, in life, God’s leadings are counterintuitive. He tells us to do something that may even seem illogical. At that moment, we should remember the scripture, “Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, TPT)

Don’t Go “Blank” in My Yard

My wife and I were walking our dog in a new, nearby housing complex. As we walked past one particular house, the owner poked his head out of his 2nd story window and yelled, “Don’t let your dog go ‘blank’ in my yard.” We looked up and waved, but thought, “We had no intention of our dog going ‘blank’ in your yard.” Walking on, we laughed that someone would be that paranoid. Now, months later, his front yard has no animal waste in it, but his visible back yard is loaded. Jesus said, “First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5, NLT) One of the greatest ironies in life is how easily we can be filled with judgment for someone else but want only mercy for ourselves.

Five Loaf Faith or 5000 People Faith

In the Gospels, Jesus challenged His disciples to feed a hungry multitude of many thousands of people. At first, Christ’s followers responded with cynical unbelief, saying, “With what?” But as He guided the faith process, five loaves multiplied to feed five thousand. It made me think, do I have “five loaf faith” or “five thousand people faith”? The disciples had finite, limited, restricted, fixed faith. Jesus had boundless, unlimited, never-ending, infinite faith. The disciples had their eyes on what they could do, saying, “We’d have to work for months to earn enough money to buy food for all these people!” (Mark 6:37, NLT) Jesus had His eyes on what His Father could do. It made me think, what do I have? Faith limited to what I see or faith unlimited and connected to what I believe?

What Amazes God?

Not many things amazed Jesus when He was on this Earth. Not many! But, one thing stood out, and frankly still amazes me today. The Bible says, “…because of their unbelief, (Jesus) couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them…he was amazed at their unbelief.” (Mark 6:5, NLT) Wow! “Jesus was amazed at their unbelief.” On Earth, we can easily understand why it would be hard to believe for a supernatural miracle. But, in Heaven, beyond the blindness of Earth, unbelief is the most ridiculous thought imaginable. So, what thoughts am I thinking? Thoughts that believe God is powerless to do what He’s promised to do, or faith-filled, eternal thoughts that believe God for every miracle He ever intended to take place on Earth?

Who Are You Looking To?

One day, every one we are looking to will be gone, except One. On the Mount of Transfiguration, the disciples were enamored when Moses and Elijah appeared to them. (Mark 9) But sooner than they had hoped for, these two giant patriarchs were gone, and all they were left with was…Jesus. Sooner than we know, everyone we are looking to on Earth will be gone. Everyone, except Jesus. So, build your life centered on a relationship with the only One who will be left standing, the God of the Universe, the Lord Jesus Christ. For, in the end, your relationship with Him will be all that matters. As the Bible says, “For in him we live and move and exist.” (Acts 17:28, NLT) “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:22, NKJV)

Luis Palau and Heaven

Recently, I had the privilege of hearing the great evangelist Luis Palau give a sermon on “Heaven”. He has been battling stage four lung cancer for over a year. With much effort and discomfort, he shared so beautifully about Heaven, as he and each of us who have allowed Jesus to be the Lord of our lives are preparing for our eventual home. At one point, as he was nearing the close of the message, he said, “I’ve got to go on. My time is short.” How true…for all of us. Wherever we are, whatever challenges we are facing, we’ve got to go on, because our time on Earth is short. Eternity is in our hearts. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Heaven is calling us. As Luis went on to say, “I’ve got my ticket. I just don’t know when the plane is leaving.”

I’m Too Big a Sinner

Do you feel like you are too big a sinner for Jesus to accept you? That’s understandable. He’s God—perfect, holy, you know, not like you and me. Well, the Apostle Peter felt the same way. In Luke 5, after Jesus did a miracle, Peter “…fell to his knees before Jesus and said, ‘Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.’” We can all feel that way: unworthy and unholy. But we can also be so fixated on our sinfulness, that we lose sight of His willingness to forgive and accept us. The Bible assures those who have received what Jesus accomplished when He died and rose again, “you were washed [by the atoning sacrifice of Christ], you were sanctified [set apart for God, and made holy], you were justified [declared free of guilt] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 6:11, AMP)

 

 

KLOVE Features January 2019

Be Careful What You’re Chasing

Close friends of ours have grandchildren who were recently chasing an animal around the back yard. Their father went out to investigate and found it was a four-foot long rattlesnake. Needless to say, he yelled for them to get back and then proceeded to kill the snake. It reminded me of the things we pursue, the shiny objects that fascinate us, and frankly, what can kill us if we chase after it without really understanding what it is. The Bible warns us to not be deceived, Paul writes, “…I’m afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s clever lies, your thoughts may be corrupted, and you may lose your single-hearted devotion and pure love for Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3, TPT) Don’t spend your life chasing what appears to be enchanting and ends up putting you in chains.

Because of the Way You Treated Us

George and Harriet Walker were missionaries in a remote area of New Guinea for 18 years. It took them three years to learn the language sufficiently in order to tell the people the gospel story of what Jesus had done for them. The tribe had no written language and were so violent that only four men had never killed someone. When they finished the translation and told the tribe the good news, most of the people in the tribe accepted Jesus as Lord. Why? The tribe leaders confided in the missionaries, “Because of the way you treated us, we would have believed any story you told us as the truth.” WOW! Once again, we see the undeniable reality: how we treat others will be the determining factor on whether our lives are believable or not.

Fighting Back

As I was praying in a hospital waiting room for a niece battling cancer, a news bulletin came on the TV saying there was a sighting of a mountain lion within our city limits. The report said if attacked by the lion, fight back. Immediately, I thought of the scripture, “Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, NLT) We must fight to live and not allow the enemy of our soul and spirit to destroy us. Though the weapons of our warfare are not natural, they are mighty in the Spirit realm. Therefore, I will follow the Bible’s admonition, “…humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7, NLT) Remember, when you are attacked, fight back!

Repackaged Deception

We always end up looking like what we believe…for better or worse. So, make sure what you believe has an eternal shelf life and not just the fad of the moment. There will always be someone coming over the hill with the next “new” deception. But if you look closely, it’s just a remake of a tired thought from a past generation. The Bible warns us, “…do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.” (1 John 4:1, NLT) Repackaged deception will still kill you. Likewise, genuine truth has no expiration date. Anchor your beliefs on God’s eternal Word and not the flimsy whims of man and you’ll experience the true liberation God always intended.

Healthy Spaces and Safe Places

There has never been an age that continually assaults minds and senses more intensely than this age. Each of us are bombarded with a sensory overload of saturating media stimulation. We are so inundated, we may eventually become indoctrinated and turned into cultural clones. World-lings…conformed to the image of this fallen planet and trapped in the confines of shallow Earth’s dead-end thinking. Unless you and I find healthy spaces and safe places to take mental, emotional and spiritual refuge for ourselves and our families, we may miss God’s original intention: to make us like Him. Will we, and our children, become liberated or held captive to the enemy’s plan to steal, kill and destroy, or God’s desire to heal, fill and restore? Find a safe place to anchor your heart and mind to the God who loves you so very much.

The Secret to Resurrection Life

Want to know the secret to experiencing the resurrection life Jesus promised? The Bible provides a surefire way. Paul the Apostle had so many difficulties, he thought he might die. He wrote, “All of the hardships we passed through crushed us beyond our ability to endure, and we were so completely overwhelmed that we were about to give up entirely…It has taught us to lose all faith in ourselves and to place our trust in the God who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:8,9, TPT) The only thing that can rescue us from our futile attempts to save ourselves is experiencing so many challenges they pry our fingers from holding on to the false hope of the world’s empty promises. Learn to embrace by faith the eternal truths found in God’s Word alone. Lose your faith in yourself; trust God and truly live.

The God of Fire

We are all aware of the benefits and dangers of fire. It can warm you, feed you, or destroy all you have. Fire can spread so quickly, it brings life or death in a flash. So, throughout the Bible when God showed up with fire, it immediately got people’s attention. With Moses, His presence came with fire in a burning bush. With the Israelites, it was a pillar of fire hovering over the Tabernacle where His presence dwelt. And with the first Christians, God baptized them in the Holy Spirit with tongues of fire. Each of these believers became individual tabernacles, holy temples of Jesus’ body in which His Spirit lived. So, the challenge for those of us who have experienced His fiery presence is to continue to receive the fire of God’s benefits and not His judgment, which will likewise come with…fire.

God’s Miracle Handoffs

Each of us can get discouraged by the direction of the planet. At times, it seems the world is so out of control we wonder if the next generation will be able to handle the pressures they’ll face. That’s when I remind myself about God’s miracle handoffs in the Bible. Just when you think we’re finished, God brings the right person to meet the need. Noah built an ark when all humanity had been corrupted. Moses led the enslaved Israelites out of Egypt. David slew the giant. Samson delivered the Israelites from the oppressive Philistines. Esther courageously interceded before the King for her people. And Paul the Apostle, the former persecutor of Christ-followers, became a model Christian himself. So, while you’re pondering the world’s demise, never forget, “God’s will…will be done, on Earth just as it is in Heaven.”

Learning to Celebrate

In the Bible, when God wanted His people to remember what He’d done for them, He established Feasts. The Feast of Passover celebrated the Israelites rescue from the Death Angel in Egypt. It reminds us of Christ’s crucifixion. The Feast of First Fruits acknowledged a harvest and celebrates Christ’s resurrection. In the past, God’s people made altars and built landmarks to celebrate what He had done for them. It focused on what God “was” doing in their lives, and not what wasn’t happening. Actually, God gives more to those who celebrate what He’s already given them. As Jesus said, “For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance…” (Matthew 13:12, ESV) We can’t expect more from God if we don’t appreciate what He’s already done. Learn to celebrate with God and your life will become a continual feast.

The Broad and Narrow Gates

When Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many,” (Matthew 7:13, ESV) did He have it backwards? A trending philosophy teaches, “Enter the broad gate. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are few.” “…God doesn’t want anyone to be destroyed but wants everyone to repent.” (2 Peter 3:9, NLT) But, as Jesus unapologetically proclaimed, “There is only forgiveness of sins for all who repent.” (Luke 24:47, NLT) As repentance means “to change one’s way of life as the result of a complete change of thought and attitude with regard to sin and righteousness,” following Jesus means trusting in what He knows is true more than what a lost culture claims are “new and improved truth.”

The “I Quit” Mindset

There were many things I disliked about my childhood. One summer, at 16 years old, I travelled 2 ½ hours, every day, each way, to and from a mindless job on Wall Street because my father wanted me to become a stock broker. I took a 4:17AM smoke-filled bus to go to a job I hated. But something was being worked into me that now seems invaluable. It’s called discipline. I still don’t like the word, but it was one of the greatest developers of character in my life. I’m always amazed at the number of young men, lacking self-discipline, who join the army to get it beat into them. In this “I Quit” generation, where many only embrace what tastes and feels good. God raise up an army of warriors, brave men and women who’ll become the disciplined disciples that will turn this world upside down for You!

Picking Up Pennies

There’s a big difference between being stuck in lifeless traditions and cultivating life-giving habits. When I first became a Christ-follower, many years ago, I made a habit of picking up pennies that had been displaced or discarded. It had two values. Though it might sound silly now, back then even a penny had some value. Secondly, it was a habit that allowed me to appreciate every morsel God provided; to take nothing for granted. Recently, nearly a half century later, I found myself walking by pennies. They seemed worthless. Then God’s Spirit challenged me that it wasn’t a lifeless tradition, but a healthy habit encouraging me to bend down and appreciate all that God had graciously provided for my once bankrupt life. What tradition have you discarded that God wants to reestablish as a living life-giving, God-honoring habit?

 

 

 

 

 

KLOVE Features December 2018

Facing Your Fears

Until we find our true identity, we won’t be able to face our greatest fears. The patriarch Jacob had been estranged from his brother Esau for decades, ever since Jacob cheated him out of his birthright and blessing. So, the idea of meeting his twin again was terrifying. Knowing he would see Esau the next day, Jacob tossed and turned all night, wrestling with God. Only after Jacob fully submitted to God’s plan for his life could Jacob then face what he feared most. So, too, with each of us. We must see ourselves the way God sees us before we can face our fears. As the psalmist wrote, “…if it had not been the Lord who was on our side when people rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us up alive…” (Psalm 124:2-3, ESV)

Do Ends Justify the Means?

Do the ends ever justify the means? Haven’t we all done something bad in order to achieve what we rationalized was an ultimate good? This, one of the great tests in life, is at best fuzzy math. In John 11, Jewish leaders expressed their intention to kill Jesus for the good of the nation. Both their end goal and the means to do it were wrong. They would ultimately kill Jesus thinking they were doing God a favor. How many decisions have I embraced that were birthed in deception, resulting in a wrong that I have since deeply regretted. I now clearly see my willingness to allow an end to justify a deceptive means was a serious error in judgment. May we each discern that the steps we take to achieve something, are as important as what we hope to accomplish.

Your Ceiling is Our Floor

A few years ago, as my twin daughters, Deborah and Havilah, were coming into their own as leaders, they shared these memorable words with me. “Dad, your ceiling is our floor.” At first, it took me back. Could they pull it off? How would I feel if they did? Within a few moments after hearing them say it, I’d done the math. Not only would I be delighted for them to exceed every aspect of my life, I was now further commissioned to help them accomplish just that. Years have gone by, and their amazing lives have taken off. With godly husbands and beautiful children, I am most often referred to as Havilah or Deborah’s Dad. It blesses me beyond words as I realize my wife, Suzie and I have lived long enough to experience the joy of our ceiling truly becoming their floor.

Follow Fruit vs. Gifts

God desires that we manifest the fruit of the Spirit: His love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control as we minister in the gifts of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) Some people want the fruit of the Spirit but shy away from His gifts. Others get enthused about the gifts and manifest little fruit. We need both and should desire both. James’ epistle touches on a similar dichotomy between faith and works, using this argument: “You show me your faith without works, and I’ll show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18) Here’s a parallel commentary: “You show me your love without gifts, and I’ll show you God’s love with His gifts.” Fruit and gifts aren’t meant to compete with one another; they are meant to be God’s divine compliment. “Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts…” (1 Corinthians 14:1, NRSV)

Final Words

We can find out what’s in a person’s heart by examining their final words. Christ’s last sentence was very telling. “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34, NLT) As were Stephen’s, the first Christian martyr, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” (Acts 7:60, NLT). Our final words are, likewise, important, not just at the end of our lives, but at the end of every conversation. Do we win the argument, and yet lose a friend? The social mediums are the perfect proving ground for what’s in our heart. Were our final words filled with love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness, or judgment, condescension, condemnation and shame? Is our motive to help or to hurt? Whatever’s in my heart will eventually come out of my mouth. May I continue to guard my heart with all diligence for out of it proceeds my life. (Proverbs 4:23)

Old, Tired Voices

There will always be old, tired voices in our head telling us to follow them instead of following God. In Acts chapter 5, the disciples disobeyed the religious leaders in their day and continued to preach the gospel under penalty of death. The High Priest demanded, “Didn’t we tell you never again to preach about this Jesus?” (Acts 5:28, TLB) At some point, we have to be courageous enough to reject the lies of past lifeless traditions, in exchange for the truth of future life-giving obedience. What old, tired voices are in your head, on the airwaves, and around you, saying, “Didn’t we tell you to do it this way, and say what I say?” But don’t listen to them. Let the still, small voice of God’s Word and Spirit be your guiding light. For, in the end, what God thinks is all that matters.

Commas Instead of Periods

Many times in life we put a period at the end of an experience. We’re done! Or, we think God or someone else must be finished with us as well. Once again, all that’s really happened is we’ve given up too soon. I’ve found that God uses far more commas to punctuate my life experience than periods. With each comma, God’s saying, you’re not done yet, keep believing, keep going forward. Likewise, on other occasions, I place a question mark, dripping with unbelief, on what God wants to put an exclamation point, loaded with faith. I’ve believed the debt is too much, the sickness is too great, I’m too old, too young, too poor, too far gone. Whatever! God is bigger! He is greater! Today, add more commas, and watch the God of happy endings turn your question marks into exclamation points.

Prodigal Son or Running Father

One of Christ’s most memorable stories is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It moves each of us deeply when we consider the heart of a father being willing to accept a rebellious son back into the family with unconditional love. But I was stunned and blessed to learn that in some nations this unforgettable story is not called the “Prodigal Son,” but the “Running Father.” WOW! When I heard that, it took the parable to another level. We don’t have to come into the presence of God as “rejected servants,” but as “fully accepted sons & daughters.” Our storyline doesn’t center our feeble attempt to reach out to God, but His abandoned, all-in love to rescue and accept us. “Come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Returning to Hurt Places

Sometimes, if we are willing to go back to places where we have been hurt, God has surprises waiting for us. Paul the Apostle had been stoned and left for dead in the city of Lystra. But after a while, God put it on his heart to return and see how the believers in Lystra were doing. Because of his willingness to return to a place where people hated him so much that they tried to kill him, it was on this return trip that he met Timothy, a great man of God, who would become a son in the faith to Paul. Are you and I willing to return to places we’ve been hurt, perhaps even to people who have hurt us? If God asks us to, we should go. We may be shocked and blessed to find something or someone special waiting for us there.

Depending Upon God

Do you ever get a little tired of depending upon God? I know I sometimes do. But that’s when I have to reconsider my response to life and remind myself that I will be depending upon God, both now and forever. As the Bible says, “For in Him (in God alone) we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28, KJV) God will never create circumstances where we no longer need Him. This dependency is for our good and is designed to continually draw us into a closer relationship with our Creator. Only then can we become more like Him: which is the very purpose for our existence. As God is the same yesterday, today and forever, so we will be learning to trust in Him and His best for us, for all eternity.

Discovering Who You Are

Our maturity level is determined as much by what attracts us as it does by what distracts us. Only the God of Heaven can reveal our true identity in life. We discover our purpose for God creating us when we worship Him and wash our minds and hearts with His Word. If we don’t find our true self by looking into God’s heart, we will be seduced by the shallow fascinations of this world. Only then will we find that we’ve been chasing after an identity God never intended for us. Today, spend some time worshiping Jesus and let His Spirit and Word wash over your parched soul. You will continue to see who you are really meant to be and find the fulfillment God has always intended for you.

Meeting Perry Como

My twin brother and I were shuffled off to camp for two months every summer from five years old till 14. Our father was immersed in politics. Each night at camp, after lights out, a scratchy phonograph record played the “Our Father” prayer, sung by Perry Como, over loud speakers. It comforted me on hundreds of lonely nights. When I was15, on the verge of becoming an atheist, I was a guest at a private golf course. Walking into a tiny, two-sink restroom, I found Perry Como washing up at the next sink. I was stunned, and so wanted to tell him, “You sang me to sleep 500 nights during my childhood!” But I just couldn’t pull it off. Now, 50 years later, it comforts me to think that God created that special memory in my childhood. Did you see God at work growing up? If not, look again.

 

 

 

 

KLOVE Features November 2018

Hopelessness is a Lie

When the Bible says to followers of Jesus, “…you will not grieve like people who have no hope,” (1 Thessalonians 4:13, NLT) does it mean, that we are a little less hopeless than other people? Absolutely not! In the past, without Jesus, my hope was not just completely absent from my present, it was totally absent from my future. We each have to decide if our hope is just for the “sweet by and by”, or also for the bitter disappointments of today. Hopelessness is a lie that I refuse to allow in my heart. When it shows up, I drive it from my mind. I wash it away with the truth of God’s eternal promises. Because God has never had a hopeless thought about me, I refuse to bow for even one moment to the lie of hopelessness!

Words of Encouragement

A longtime friend of my wife and I was struggling believing that she could be successful in a weight loss program we had found to be incredibly effective. After listening to her struggle to believe that she could actually do it, I finally entreated our friend, “You can do this! You’re going to be successful! You’re going to love it.” Months later, after losing the 50 pounds she had hoped to lose, she shared that those hope-filled words of encouragement were the tipping point for her to have the faith to try, once again, something she had repeatedly failed at. Who in your life needs a word of encouragement to conquer a giant, defeat a foe, and secure a victory? You may find that your words of hope and life will be the difference maker for them as well!

One Night in an Inconvenient Motel

Ever feel overwhelmed by the challenges of Earth? I know I do, and often. So when I saw this quote from Teresa of Avila, it made my day. She wrote, “In light of Heaven, the worst suffering on Earth, a life full of the most tortures on Earth, will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel.” Wow! That sums is up. My worst moments on Earth can’t compare to the joys of Heaven. They’ll seem like “…one night in an inconvenient hotel.” The Bible agrees and says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17, NIV) Even Jesus had His take on how we should face the worst that life can throw at us, “…lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28, NIV)

Finding Our Identity by Wrestling With God

In the Old Testament, Jacob cheated his brother Esau out of his first-born birthright and, consequently, the blessing of his father, Isaac. Because Jacob had gotten the blessing illegitimately, he never believed his life was blessed. Years later, after many dealings with God, Jacob was willing to wrestle with God until he received His blessing, no matter how long it took. Because of Jacob’s humble persistence, God changed his name to “Israel”. Only then did Jacob embrace his true identity. He went from being Jacob, “the swindler and cheat”, to Israel, “prince with God”. Each of us have tried shortcuts to receive the blessing only God can give. But, unless we know how much God really loves us, and then embrace His forgiveness for our sins, we’ll never feel as accepted as we really are.

Religion vs. Relationship

One of the greatest dangers of following religious rituals is that they temporarily soothe our conscience without requiring us to obey God’s Spirit. This was one of the favorite practices of Pharisees during the time of Jesus. After Judas betrayed Jesus and then killed himself, religious leaders decided it was unlawful for them to take the money that Judas had thrown down. They reasoned that because he was a murderer, they couldn’t put the money back into the temple treasury. What could be more absurd than that? They had paid Judas to betray Jesus, the Savior of the world, and now felt it was immoral to put their blood money back into their treasury. How foolish! Yet, what a perfect example of the difference between religious ritual and the reality of a genuine relationship with God.

Does God Really Care?

All of us have felt at times, “God, where are you? I’m dying here!” The disciples of Jesus said exactly that in the middle of a raging storm, shouting at Him, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” (Mark 4:38, NLT) When He quieted the storm, they realized Jesus, of course, did, but in their fear and unbelief they accused Him of indifference. “Don’t you even care” is really the crossroads question that will take us either to faith and courage, or unbelief and discouragement. No one has cared more for each of us than Jesus. And He demonstrated it most clearly by taking the punishment for the sins we committed and dying a horrible death on the Cross. The Bible promises, “The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.” (Psalm 121:8, NLT)

Why Great Trees Fall

I’ve often wondered why great trees fall in high winds. Why taller trees are even  most susceptible? More often than not, trees tend to uproot than break off in heavy winds. During my research, I found that many times it’s because the tree’s roots had been cut. A healthy tree will have its roots extend twice as wide as its branches. But, due to urban development, when roots of a healthy tree are severed, it can lead to the decay and premature toppling of a once-thriving tree. Though I have seen this pattern in the lives of spiritual giants, it frankly caused me to consider my own life. Do my roots go deep in the soil of God’s Spirit and Word? Have once-healthy relationships decayed over time? Jesus, help my spiritual and relational roots to remain strong and healthy.

Dismissing What We Don’t Understand

We all tend to dismiss what we don’t understand, even if it is the Word of God. Jesus told the religious leaders in His day, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19, NLT) Not only did the Jewish leaders not understand His words, His disciples didn’t either. Only after Jesus was resurrected did they realize He was prophesying about His physical body being raised from the dead. There are many things I am waiting on God to fully reveal, though He has already placed his seal of authenticity upon them. Don’t dismiss what you don’t understand if it came from the Spirit and Word of God. In the fullness of time, even the most perplexing words God has spoken to you will at last emerge, revealing His original intention.

What God Thinks of You

I’ve often wondered what it was like for great men and women to walk with God. As with each of us, when the patriarch Jacob looked back over his life, he knew he had failed many times. But during one night of struggle, he was willing to fully submit to God’s will and not his own. Jacob wrestled with God all night, and finally accepted that God fully approved of him. How did Jacob walk away from that transforming event? He didn’t come away feeling powerful. Instead, Jacob came away knowing God was powerful, and from then on walked with a limp. Are you ready to meet God? He’s ready to meet you. But remember, the true value of your relationship with God is ultimately caring infinitely more about what He thinks of you than what you think of yourself.

Special Needs” Love

You’d be amazed at how many families are caring for loved ones with special needs. They’re often treated as invisible and under-valued, not realizing the care required can be rigorous and unending. Dear friends of ours have raised a son with special needs for three decades. For years they struggled alone until connecting with “Joni and Friends” where they found fellowship and support. The result: The Dads Band Project, four musical dads who’ve made an incredibly anointed and revealing album called “Waiting Room”, showcasing anointed music and gripping lyrics contrasting their struggles on Earth with their longing for Heaven. It provides a holy glimpse into not just their daily difficulties, but their eternal hope in God’s promises. As I listened, I heard the true miracle and value of God’s divine intention. And . . . it changed me!

Digging Out of Ruts

Each of us have found familiarity to be one of the great comforts in life. But, is it always? Though we all tend to sit in the same seat and repeat the same expressions, doesn’t familiarity, at times, cause us to take those we love for granted? Aren’t there habits that numb us rather than motivate and inspire us? I’ve found, as I get older, one of my greatest needs in life is to experience the unfamiliar, the brand new, especially the unexpected; to wake up thinking new thoughts and uncovering fresh insights. Only then do I rediscover healthy growth. Frankly, changing patterns in my life has helped me blast out of old ruts. Most of all, remembering God never duplicated a moment or a memory inspires me to try and do the same. Today, ask God to show you something new, and He will.

Why Do Christians Fall?

Having been a Christ-follower for nearly a half-century, I’ve seen too many come and go in following Jesus. At times, as I’ve lost even close friends to deception, it’s broken my heart. In retrospect, were there any early indicators of a person’s future spiritual unhealthiness? Over the years, I’ve found the growth patterns in trees to be surprisingly insightful. The eventual destruction of both trees and people can be seen in their early leanings. In a person’s spiritual life, is there a fascination or inclination toward non-biblical ideas? This tendency can reveal a future willingness to separate from biblical truth for the foolish philosophies of this fallen world. I’ve lost many a friend because they naively entertained the wisdom of the world and lost sight of the flawless eternal wisdom of God and His Word.

 

 

 

 

KLOVE Features October 2018

The Least Person in Heaven

Did you ever consider how significant it is to be a Christ-follower? Why are we in the New Testament age blessed beyond anyone in a previous age? The amazing words of Jesus put this extraordinary privilege in perspective. Speaking of the great prophet, John the Baptist, Jesus proclaimed a profound reality that places great responsibility upon each of us. He said, “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!” Wow! Think of it: the seemingly least significant Christian, weak in faith, struggling with victory, and feeling like they barely made it into Heaven is infinitely more blessed than any spiritual giant who ever walked the Earth prior to Jesus.

Life Takes About Two-Hours God-Time

Ever feel like you’re getting whiplash from the twists and turns in life? Transitions are in store for all of us. But, don’t get too settled on what you think is, or should be, happening. If “…a day is like a thousand years to the Lord…” (2 Peter 3:8, NLT), then our lives take less than two hours of God-time. So, I’ve been pastoring a church for about 20 minutes, God-time, and I may be heading into eternity in a half hour. The point is: Life goes fast! The Bible says, “…you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. ” (James 4:14, NKJV) The changes and transitions we experience in life are all tests: proving our character and molding us to become like Jesus.

Anger and Judgment

The other day I heard these words as I listened to the Bible. Jesus said, “I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” (Matthew 5:22, NLT) Whoa! What? I had to play it again. Look it up. Examine its meaning and consider the consequence of Christ’s intent. Did Jesus really mean, if I’m angry with my brother or sister I will be subject to judgment? How much anger fills our world today? How angry have I, at times, allowed my heart to become? Who do I need to forgive? What offense continues to simmer in my mind? What brother or sister, friend or foe, neighbor or stranger, have I been angry with, and in some way, still am? Jesus, wipe it from my heart! Let me forgive others that I may know what true forgiveness really is.

The Eye of a Hurricane

I’m fascinated by reports of weather in the eye of hurricanes. It’s an area where there’s little to no rain, the sun shines, and the winds are light. Sounds wonderful! I just want to know how to find it when my life feels like a hurricane. Well, you can’t reach it by going over it. Planes can’t fly that high. You have to go through it . . . the hurricane wall. Sure, it gets dark and cloudy and visual navigation isn’t possible. So, you fly by instruments (sounds like the Word of God to me). The trick is to fly directly into the storm’s wind direction where, surprisingly, there’s little turbulence. That’s when I had a revelation: if I’m willing to flow with and trust God in the middle of my storms, I’ll finally get to a place of extraordinary calm, a place of peace beyond my understanding.

Blessing Others

There is a gift each of us, who know Jesus, have been given that perhaps we rarely open. It’s called the gift of blessing others. Jesus said, “When you enter the home, give it your blessing. If it turns out to be a worthy home, let your blessing stand; if it is not, take back the blessing.” (Matthew 10:12-13, NLT) This word “blessing” speaks of tranquility, security, safety, prosperity and harmony. It refers to the peace only God can provide. WOW! At times I’ve thought I don’t know if I can bless someone, because I don’t really know them. Yet, Jesus said, bless anyway, and I’ll determine if the blessing should remain. It is a pronouncement of God’s favor and goodness upon others. Today, bless others. It will change both their lives and your own.

Reaching the Unworthy

Don’t be surprised if Jesus is asking you to reach out to someone others would consider unworthy. That’s actually His specialty, because that’s how He personally chose to come to Earth: despised, rejected, hidden, un-esteemed, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. (Isaiah 53:3) Someone who was comfortable relating to despised tax collectors, notorious sinners, and even serial adulterers. He loved the unlovable and redeemed the unredeemable. Setting a God-like example for each of us to follow. Who, in our own lives, have we been overlooking, walking past, and ignoring, that God is now high-lighting, and reminding us of the penetrating words of Jesus, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!” (Matthew 25:40, NLT)

Why Doesn’t God Stop Us?

Did you ever wonder why God, at times, doesn’t stop us from doing something we really shouldn’t do? Perhaps, it’s to let us see what’s in our heart so we’ll change our behavior voluntarily. In Matthew 26, at the Last Supper, after Jesus told His disciples He would be killed, they asked Him if their two swords would be enough to defend themselves. Jesus said, “Yes.” He didn’t say, “Don’t bring any swords with you at all, because you’re going to over-react and use them.” Jesus wanted to see what was in their hearts, and after Peter chopped off the ear of the High Priest’s servant, Jesus told them, “No more of this!” So I wonder, what life lesson does Jesus want to teach us today, after He exposes our misguided efforts to do what we think is best?

What Comes Out of Your Mouth?

My wife was on a flight recently and sat by two men who carried on a conversation where, for two hours, every other word was a curse word. It stunned and grieved her that they could be so callous and unaware of the consequence of the words they spoke. She realized that they had probably sat for hours listening to movies and music and conversations that were saturated with vulgar communication, so that now their minds and mouths were polluted. There are many voices in this world competing for the hearts and minds of men. But, whatever we are hearing will produce good or bad fruit. Be careful what you hear, because those words will go deep into your heart, come out of your mouth, and will eventually bless or curse those around you.

False Friendships

Did you ever notice the strange friendships in the Bible? Only after Herod and Pilate, who had been enemies, mocked and ridiculed Jesus did they finally become friends. To me, it demonstrates that, at times, our motive for a friendship is even more important than the friendship itself. When I was in the world and pleasure seeking, some of my relationships were based upon what someone could do for me, not upon how I might be able to help them. I’m sad as I think of some of the nameless faces I took advantage of for my own self-gratification. It’s true, doing what’s right may even break a friendship. But in the end, as the Bible says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27:6, NASV)

How to Grow in Faith

Do you lack faith? Do you find it difficult to trust God? Without ever having met you, I believe I know exactly why. You either don’t read the eternal Word of God, or don’t believe it when you do. The Bible says, “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17, NKJV) It is therefore impossible to have faith without receiving the eternal words of faith that God desires to feed us, every day. I can’t live the abundant life of faith Jesus promised me without the washing my mind, will, emotions and spirit with His amazing, life-giving words. Today, as you make time to feed, rest and comfort your temporary body, do the same for your everlasting soul and spirit. It won’t just change your day, it will change your life.

Faith That Doesn’t Work

What if I told you that there are really two kinds of faith: faith that works, and faith that doesn’t. There’s a big difference between powerless faith that God exists and power-filled faith in His promises. The Bible says that even the demons believe God exists (James 2:19), and yet that conviction is faithless and powerless. If you and I actually want to experience mountain-moving faith, then we’ll need to be fully persuaded that the promises of God, found in His Word, are our divine assurance that all He has promised will come to pass. If, on the other hand, we merely believe God could do something and not will do all He has pledged to do, then we will spend our lives “…always learning, but never coming to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7, NIV) that will set us free.

Bad News vs. Good News

Did you ever notice how, at times, it’s easier for us to hear and remember the bad news in life, more than the good news? As Winston Churchill said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” In Matthew 16, Jesus told His disciples that He would die but then rise again after three days. Their response? They were overwhelmed with sadness and denial. All they heard was the bad news: that Jesus was going to die, not the really good news: that He would be resurrected from the dead. They heard the first half of the sentence but not the last. That is each of our tendency: to fixate on our temporary hopelessness, and not God’s everlasting hope. Focus on God’s eternal good news, and not your momentary struggles in life.