KLOVE Radio Features – November 2019

  1. Saying, “I Believe!”

The other day I heard myself pray, “God, I want to believe.”      It got my attention. My prayer was weak and unconvincing. Upon further reflection, I realized this type of unbelieving prayer had become a pattern in my life. I was begging God, rather than agreeing with His Word and promises. God convicted me to change my prayer from “I want to believe,” to “I believe!” Much better! There’s no ambiguity with God. He is who He says He is, and He always does what He says He’ll do. Jesus said, “…let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37, NKJV) The first person who initiated unbelief into the Universe was the Devil. And he continues to try and put unbelieving thoughts into our minds. The Bible promises us, “…submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7, NKJV)

  1. Headwinds and Tailwinds

Which would benefit you more in the long run: headwinds, resisting your efforts to go forward, or tailwinds, hitting your back and pushing you onward? If getting to our destination quicker is the goal, then tailwinds would be better for us, but if being refined during the process of going forward is the best of all options, then headwinds win, hands down. At some point in life, as we’re maturing, we realize that being first is overrated, while becoming who God created us to be is the best of all goals. We’ve all seen people who have won something with an attitude they’d be better off losing. Likewise, we’ve marveled at seeming losers who respond with such winsome, overcoming attitudes, our estimation of who they are soars. In the end, be as grateful for your headwinds as you are for your tailwinds.

  1. Negative Self-Talk

If you ever see me driving down the road alone and having an animated conversation, I might not be on the phone. I may just be thinking out loud and talking to myself. It’s called self-talk. And most of us do it. But, a word of caution. Research finds that 80% of these thoughts and/or words are typically negative in nature. Happily, there’s a solution to our negative self-talk. The answer is changing what we’re thinking about. Studies show that training the mind to think in a more positive light greatly influences the way we respond to our everyday life experiences. Personally, that’s why I listen to the Word of God every day. It washes my mind and directs my thoughts. The Bible says, “…we have the living Word of God, which is full of energy…It interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts.” (Hebrews 4:12, TPT)

  1. Getting What We Don’t Deserve

God wants to give us love for people who don’t deserve it. People just like… us. I’m always amazed at how quickly I want mercy for myself and judgment for others. The words of Jesus challenge this twisted thinking best. “For you’ll be judged by the same standard that you’ve used to judge others. The measurement you use on them will be used on you.” (Matthew 7:2, TPT) Whenever you feel judgment more than mercy for someone else, remember the biblical paradox Jesus spoke, “…loving others as I have loved you,” is far greater than “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” “God, melt my heart to love others the way You love me. I don’t deserve it any more than they do, but You’ve asked me to give it just the same.”

  1. Junk Drawer Gems

If I could recommend one act of obedience the Lord asked me to do that has opened endless opportunities for helping others, it would be this. Early on in my faith walk, I realized I didn’t have a gift of wisdom, but I did have a gift of asking questions: both of God and others. I then made it a point to write down the revelations God and others shared with me. I considered them gems from Heaven. Rather than discard them, I cherished them. You would never put gems in a junk drawer. They would be placed in a treasured place. So,too, with the revelations God gives us. We put them in a place of remembrance, so they will be remembered at strategic moments and not forgotten. After many decades, I now have a treasure chest full of thousands of gems. What has God recently showed you? Remember it!

  1. Old Dry Logs

Is it possible to burn hot for God in every season of our life? I believe it is, and that it’s God’s will for each of us. But, it will take the fire of God, along with having a tender, responsive heart in order for that miracle to happen. Years ago, we may have been mightily saved and had a burning hot relationship with Jesus for a season. As we’ve grown older, do our hearts still burn within us? I can either be an old wet log creating more smoke than heat, or resolve to be a dry, thirsty, seasoned log bringing warmth and light for everyone around me. I’ve had desert seasons that I thought would never end, but I’ve tried to keep the smoldering embers of God’s Spirit burning within my heart . . . waiting for the breeze and fire of God to once again consume me.

  1. Hearing God say, “Follow Me” –

When was the last time you heard Jesus say, “Follow Me”? Not with an audible voice, but with an inner confidence that God was indeed challenging you to follow Him. If you haven’t sensed His leading in your life for a while, it might be a clear indication that you’re actually NOT following Him. And that would be tragic. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice.” (John 10:27) There is no one who wants to  bless your life more than Jesus. And He alone knows what would bless your life the most. So, the next time you sense God is putting something on your heart, it would be wise for you to pay attention. I’ve found that God doesn’t say something twice. It was the wakeup call I needed. Now, I spend my days eager to hear the breakthrough insights my Creator wants to share with me.

  1. Find Your Own Calcutta

Mother Teresa is universally respected. This Nobel-prize winning, godly woman left the amenities of the western world to lay her life down caring for not just the sick, but the dying. Those thrown out on streets to die. She raised up an army of like-minded Sisters of Mercy who saw the value of these discarded souls, and followed her selfless example. The words of Mother Teresa are etched in my heart, “Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in your work places and in your schools. You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society — completely forgotten, completely left alone.”

  1. William Booth and “Others”

When William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, was 82 years old, he sent out a Christmas telegram to all of the “Salvation Army” officers around the world. It would be his last Christmas. His officers were experiencing severe persecution for their faith. One thousand had been beaten; 600 were in jail. This message would be crucial. Money was tight, and he didn’t want to waste it with too many words. He had narrowed his message down to three words, but that was still too many. So, he asked God to give him one word that would most inspire his officers and yet affirm the true meaning of Christmas. Around the world, thousands of Salvation Army soldiers received this one word . . . “Others!” Does any word sum up the heart of God better? I don’t think so. “Others!”

  1. You’re Just Getting Started”

The other day I was wondering if my best days were behind me. Right in the middle of fighting off negative and fatalistic thoughts, God spoke a clear word that awakened my heart, “You’re just getting started!” WOW! I’m in the middle of playing taps over my life, and God starts playing reveille. If you are a born-again believer and yet doubt the essence of the words God said to me, perhaps you’ve lost focus on what eternity really means. Whatever age you are. However discouraged you may be. Never, ever, forget this fact, you are an eternal spirit being, having a very temporary natural experience. You’re just getting started! Believe it! Enjoy it! Live it! The smartest thing you should believe about the future God has envisioned for you is that it’s going to be truly magnificent.

  1. Microwavable God

Each of us have by now been programmed to expect to get things quickly: fast food, movies on demand, high-speed internet. Frankly, we’re ADDICTED to getting things quickly. And the faster the better. Sure, we can expect this with our food, drinks, cars and computers, but when we superimpose speed on God, we’ll always be disappointed. God is never in a rush. There’s no such thing as a microwavable relationship with God. His suddenlies can happen in a nanosecond, but the Bible challenges our need for speed, “…you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake.” (2 Peter 3:8-9, NLT)

  1. The Power of Encouraging Words

Don’t minimize the power of the encouragements God gives you for others. Years ago, while ministering in a pastor friend’s church, I spoke an encouraging word to a 16 year old girl who had grown up in that church. I told her, “God really loves you!” That was the essence of the word. Later, during a time of testimony, she got up with tears and said, “I heard something today I’ve never heard before.” The whole room was captivated. She continued, “God told me He loves me!” Later, I kidded with the pastor, “How come you don’t tell your folks that God loves them? ” We laughed together, and I said, “Isn’t it amazing that we can be told a simple truth over and over, but it takes the right moment for us to hear it?” Don’t dismiss the simple words of encouragement God gives you for others.

 

 

 

 

KLOVE Radio Features – October 2019

Emotional Shock and Awe

In our ever-changing, 24-hour news cycle, media saturated world, what used to be experienced as a periodic catastrophic event, now comes across the airwaves as a constant assault on our emotional wellbeing. Many in the next generation never follow the news. They’ve been deluged from birth with an avalanche of bad news. It’s left them psychologically fragile. Additionally, people can say whatever they want to on social media, and often without consequence. Emotional shock and awe, from many directions, assaults our hearts and minds. Millennials are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide than generations past. I, too, guard what I see and hear. I do what the Bible recommends, “Guard my heart with all diligence, for out of it proceeds my life.”

The Integrity of the News

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t trusted the integrity of news content since I became an adult, many decades ago. All news is processed information; someone’s view of the world, often times, based upon their values. Good news doesn’t sell; it has to be shocking, even salacious, to get people’s attention. So, be careful that your world-view is based upon the Word of God and not the shifting morals of man. The Bible warns us, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world…” (Romans 12:2, NLT) And adds, “…the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God…” (1 Corinthians 3:19, NLT) Establish convictions and values based on God’s eternal Word, not the world’s values. I’m not saying be unaware of what’s happening in our nation and world, but have a healthy skepticism of all news until the truth finally emerges.

Hope Comes From Overcoming

All of us want to become stronger and healthier emotionally. Therefore, we need to realize our emotional health will rise or fall on the failures and obstacles we have overcome. Our struggles become the foundation and filter for how we view life and even the hope we have for the future. Only by properly processing the difficulties of life will we have hope for what’s ahead. The Bible says, “patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope.” (Romans 5:4, TPT) The opposite must, likewise, be true. Not processing life properly will make us feel hopeless. It’s why God says, eight times, in the Book of Revelation, “To him who overcomes…” ending with, “…He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” (Revelation 21:7, NKJV)

What God’s Given Us Is Enough

Have you ever thought, “What God’s given me isn’t enough!” I know I have. HA! Pretty much every day. But, it’s a lie, first believed by Lucifer, the worship leader of Heaven, who thought he deserved more than what God had given him, and so rebelled and became the Devil. Likewise, one third of the angels agreed, and rebelled as well, becoming demons. What they’d been given was more than enough, but they chose to believe a lie, rather than believe the truth. The seed God’s given you is big enough to meet the need.  That’s in part why God says, “Strengthen the things which remain, and are about to die.” (Revelation 3:2, NKJV) Gideon’s 300 men were enough to defeat their enemy. All Moses had to do was throw down the staff God had given him. What’s in your hand? What has God placed in your heart? Use it! It’s enough to meet the need!

You’re Not Broken!

The other day, I heard my daughter, Havilah, offer healing insights as she was preaching. She said something quite profound, “You’re not broken! You just don’t know who you are!” WOW! The lights came on! What if our mental and emotional health could be best achieved by not fixating on what we’re not, but on who we are, and how God actually sees us? His view of us is infinitely more important than how we see ourselves. And as the One who made us, He’s the only Person who can fix us. What would inspire us more than becoming the person God intended us to be; to fulfill His will. That’s not just what we should want most. It’s what He wants most for us, and the very thing He’s fighting to make happen. “You’re not broken! You just don’t know who you really are!”

Drafting in Cycling

There’s a technique in cycling called drafting that occurs when a lead rider goes before other cyclists and blocks the wind. Additional riders are tucked in a vortex where they no longer push against the wind, but are literally being ‘carried’ along by the eddying flow of the air pocket created behind the lead rider. Because of the effort to shield others, the group of cyclists go faster, receiving the benefit of following a leader. It is also one of the many benefits of riding in a group, and requires less effort for those following. Ironically, the optimum drafting position is being as close to the leader’s wheel as possible. To me, this all speaks to the value of fellowship and community. We need each other, and following godly leaders can make our lives better in so many ways.

Because You Say So!

In Luke 5, when Jesus first met the Apostle Peter, he borrowed His boat to preach to a crowd on the shoreline. Afterward, he told Peter to go catch some fish. Peter’s response demonstrated both the reality of our struggle here on Earth, how frustrating and fruitless it often seems. Yet, how critical it is that we believe God more than the hopelessness of our circumstances. Peter responded, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because You say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:5 NIV) “Because You say so!” WOW! How would our lives change if you and I responded to God’s Word like that? Peter was basically saying, “I don’t care how hopeless and fruitless it’s been. Because you said it, Jesus, I’m going to believe it and do it.”

The Best Hugs I Ever Received

In the early 1990’s, my family and I lived in Los Angeles. We attended a great church and had wonderful friends, but because of the vastness of the metropolitan area, I never saw anyone I knew in public. It was very different from my experience in the previous two decades living in small towns. One day, I was walking down a busy street and a saw a friend from my church. I was so excited to see him, I gave him a big hug. He was standing with a half-dozen special needs men he worked with, who when they saw him hug me, lined up to each give me long, joyful hugs. It made me emotional! The hug drought in that large city had ended. Frankly, they were some of the best hugs I’ve ever had. End the hug drought in someone’s life today.

Are We Blind To The Blind?

In John 9, Jesus healed a man born blind, who spent his life as a beggar. When his neighbors heard he had been healed, some didn’t believe it. They said, “It’s not him; just someone who looks like him.” It reminds me of how easy it is to not fully look at the hurting people around us. We don’t look at them long enough to fully recognize who they are. We’re blind to the needy neighbors around us, even though we may have seen them over and over for decades. Because we never really look at them, our unbelief overpowers reality. Which of our neighbors is invisible to us? Why don’t we see them? Is it because really seeing them would require us to love them, touch them, speak to them, be kind to them, help them? “Jesus, open my eyes to see the needs of those around me.”

Living Out Our Commitments

In John 11, Christ’s disciples said they were ready to die for Him. But when opportunity came for them to give their lives, they all ran away. It’s great to have convictions, but we really need to think through the implications of those convictions so that, when the opportunity arises, we will be faithful and do the right thing. People make vows to their spouses, but are unfaithful. When temptation comes, they bow to momentary pleasure, and abandon those they promised to love and cherish. Sure, all of us have at times failed to keep commitments we’ve made. But, we don’t have to perpetuate momentary failures. Remember the words of Jesus in Revelation 2, “Think about how far you have fallen! Repent and do the works of love you did at first.” (Revelation 2:5, TPT)

Of Leftovers and Reruns

God never repeats or duplicates anything! Every molecule in the universe is an original. Every moment in our lives is a first. The sun sets on the best and worst of days, but will rise tomorrow with God saying, “Watch this! You ain’t seen nothing yet!” If you and I are longing for the old days, we’re going to miss the new things God wants to do today. God doesn’t eat leftovers or watch reruns. Everything He does is brand, spanking new. Isaiah 43:19 says, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19, NLT) Wishing for the “good old days” may keep us from seeing the good days ahead. Enjoy today! There are gifts hidden in each moment.

Recognizing Your Breakthrough Moment

Would you recognize your breakthrough moment: the time God wants to open a door of opportunity for you to go to the next level, to receive a victory… a healing… a revelation? It’s time to discern in your spirit a shift in the heavenlies. Elijah said, “I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!” (1 Kings 18:41, NLT) Moses told the helpless Israelites, “…stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord,” (Exodus 14:13, NKJV) After being beaten, Paul and Silas praised and worshipped God in prison. (Acts 16:25) Each of these breakout moments were counter intuitive. Our breakthrough moment will always be at low tide, when we need the God of the impossible or else. Thinking, “I’ve never seen it this bad!” should remind you that you are closer than ever to the breakthrough you need. Remember, the darkest and coldest moment is always right before the sun rises.

KLOVE Radio Features – September 2019

New Snorkel Mask

I swim laps for exercise. But as I got older, I found my neck began to hurt more and more while I did. I have used swim goggles over the years, but decided to try a full face snorkel mask to eliminate the continuous turning of my neck to breathe. Immediately, the pain completely ceased. My primary problem wasn’t a bad neck; it was a bad habit. A new structure allowed a new healthy habit to form. How many areas in our lives are causing unnecessary pain that could be easily corrected with a new structure or habit? It made me think about various dimensions of our lives. Are you having a consistent problem in a certain area? You might find the root…if you change up some of the habits that surround the issue!

Risk or Rot

There is a principle in investment called the risk/reward ratio. It helps investors manage their risk of losing money on trades. Even if a trader has some profitable trades, he will lose money over time if his win rate is below 50%. I believe the risk/reward principle has a spiritual counterpart. Chuck Swindoll put it this way: “If you don’t risk, you rot.” Pretty straight-forward! Every time we step out in faith, we risk. The Bible is clear, “…it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6, NLT) Faith is not foolish, and obeying the Spirit of God is His will for each of us. It will always require risking what we have, in order to receive what God wants to give us. That’s the safest investment we could ever make.

God’s Upside Down Smarts

Basketball coaches tell young people, ”Don’t make an easy shot hard.” Likewise, you probably have heard the expression, “Work smarter, not harder.” Both sayings imply that “less is more.” It reminds me of many dimensions of God’s wisdom that so-called ‘smart’ people miss completely, and how God’s Word says, “God chose those whom the world considers foolish to shame those who think they are wise, and God chose the puny and powerless to shame the high and mighty. He chose the lowly, the laughable in the world’s eyes—nobodies—so that He would shame the somebodies. For He chose what is regarded as insignificant in order to supersede what is regarded as prominent…” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28, TPT) It’s an upside down Kingdom. No one’s smarter than God. In the end, what He thinks is all that matters.

The Evidence of God in Our Lives

When the Bible says that the disciples of Jesus were “…recognized…as men who had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13, NLT), it demonstrates that those who really know Him, can, at times, carry a presence that is tangible. This is, likewise, evident when Moses encountered God’s presence on the mountain, and the Bible says, “…When Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him.” (Exodus 34:30, NLT) There was no mistaking where Moses had been. He’d been with Jesus! Likewise, high priests in the Old Testament had an aroma on themselves because they were surrounded by the fragrance of the Altar of Incense in the Holy of Holies. When someone’s been in the presence of God, it shows. May that be said about each of us who claim to know Him.

No One’s Fairer Than God

Have you ever fought jealousy when you’ve seen God bless someone else? I know I have. In Matthew 20, Jesus paid wages to workers who showed up late in the day and worked only a short period of time; the same as those who worked throughout an entire day. No surprise, those who worked longer hours were upset. Jesus then challenged them, “Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?” (Matthew 20:15, NLT) All of us can see the kindness of God extended in different ways to different people. But, why should we be upset and jealous that God is kind to others? What if I told you that, in eternity, if we have responded well to the tests uniquely prepared for our lives, our reward will equal that given to anyone else on Earth? No one’s fairer than God; you just have to believe it in faith and wait long enough to receive it.

When You Think You’re Finished

Many times in life, we think we’re finished, but we’re not. We’re convinced what we’re hoping for will never happen. In Mark 5, Jesus came to a home where a young girl had died. Jesus, however, knew what He was about to do, and therefore said, “She’s only sleeping.” (Mark 5:39) There are times when something we are believing for is not going to happen. It’s over, and there’s no point in waiting for it to return. But, there are other times, when what appears to be dead is just on pause, and God wants us to keep the flame of faith burning in our hearts. This will require a willingness to be less attached to what we’d like to see take place, and more committed to God‘s will being done. Trust that God is able to make this distinction clear to us and, if we are more attached to Him, it will be impossible to miss His will for us.

You Are God’s Masterpiece

Here’s a challenging life goal. Believe what God thinks about you, more than what you think about yourself. Try to embrace this scripture. The Bible says, emphatically, “You are God’s masterpiece!” WOW! That’s how God views you. It continues, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” There are a few key points here: First, you are God’s… not your own. Second, He thinks you’re a masterpiece, not a hot mess. And lastly, He’s planned really good things for us…for our future. Amazing! Begin every day believing the truth about how God sees your life and future, and it will not just change you, it will inspire those around you to believe it as well.

Doing Exploits

I believe each of us who know Jesus should want to do mighty things for Him. The Bible encourages us to do just that, when it says, “…the people that know their God shall be strong and do exploits…” (Daniel 11:32, KJV) What a motivating verse! And when you consider the meaning of the word “exploits,” it becomes even more intriguing. Our doing exploits for God means to, “be courageous, even to be restored to our former strength.” What a challenging thought! For those of us who have been followers of Jesus for many years, are we as strong and courageous as we once were? Has some passion been lost over time? It’s a question I consider regularly. When the Bible says that, in the Last Days, “…the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:23, NLT), I discipline my mind to primarily focus on one person…myself.

What I Think You Should Think

One of the most popular head games people play, I entitle: “What I Think You Should Think!“ It goes something like this, “I’ve already figured out what you should be thinking and what your response should be to a certain situation. So, if you don’t have that response, you’re not just wrong, you might even be bad or evil.” Me walking around assuming that my perspective is invariably the higher ground is perhaps one of the best definitions of pride I’ve ever heard. Don’t play the game “What I Think You Should Think.“. Instead, have a humble heart, and continually ask Jesus what He thinks about any given issue or situation. Then, acknowledge that you don’t know what’s best and therefore have no right to judge someone else. We each will stand before God alone.

What Is Our Motive For Doing Things?

Would you and I do more to prop up our image and reputation (what others think of us) than we would do merely because it was the right thing to do? In Luke 11, a man knocked on a neighbor’s door late at night asking for some food. The owner of the house tried to get him to go away, and only gave him what he wanted when he realized his reputation would be damaged if he didn’t give him food. It provokes me to consider my motive for my own actions, especially the good actions that I do. Am I, at times, more generous or selfless when others are watching? I’ve done that! But, in contrast, when the Bible says, “Love isn’t self-serving” (1 Corinthians 13:5, NET), it’s actually saying something extraordinary: the all-powerful God of the Universe thinks more about us…than He does Himself.

First World Problems

Perhaps you’ve heard the term: “First World Problem.” It’s a slang expression referring to issues in First World nations (countries in the Western world), that people complain about. Our problems, when compared to real problems in the rest of the world, are pathetically inconvenient and even laughable. Some of these “First World Problems” can be expressed in this way: “There’s nothing to drink at home… except an unlimited supply of fresh drinking water.” “The brightness of my smartphone hurts my eyes.” “My walk-in closet isn’t big enough.” “I ate so much I feel sick.” “If my ripped jeans keep ripping, I’ll need to buy a new of pair ripped jeans.” HA! Petty aren’t they? But how many of us make statements like this without thinking? “God, awaken our hearts to hear our thoughts and words, because they misrepresent You.”

Seeking God’s Kingdom First

We’ve all read the scripture, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) This incredible verse is the will and promise of God for all of us who allow Jesus to be first in our lives. But, perhaps, like me, you’ve wondered if making God’s Kingdom first has reduced the possibilities for your life to a narrow list…a lesser list…a boring list. Nothing could be further from the truth! The Almighty God, who shares His Kingdom with those who seek Him first, promises to give us the best of the best: nothing shortchanged, nothing less than perfect, the cream off the top of His heart. By seeking God first, we give up nothing eternal or priceless. Instead, we exchange the seductions of Earth for the countless blessings of Heaven.

 

KLOVE Radio Features – August 2019

The Bride of God’s Dreams

The Declaration of Independence states unequivocally, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” The impact of this reality must be explored in order to be fully appreciated. Why God created us reveals not just His magnificent heart, but our marvelous value to Him. The Bible tells us clearly why Jesus gave His life, “…to present (His Bride) to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.” (Ephesians 5:27, NLT) Never forget, God created you to be the Bride of His dreams, not the embodiment of His disappointment. No matter what we have done, or will ever do, He will always delight in forgiving us and welcoming us back with open arms.

Crushed Ice or Cubes

I love how God can speak to us through even the most mundane dimensions of life. I like ice cubes from my refrigerator more than crushed ice. I think it’s probably a speed thing. I can get the cubes faster than the crushed ice. But the cubes sometimes get stuck, so I have to open the refrigerator door and bang the cubes to let them loose. It’s frustrating. My wife, on the other hand, likes crushed ice. Recently, I filled my glass with crushed ice and found there was no problem getting it. I said to my wife, “Do you ever have a problem getting crushed ice out of the refrigerator?” She said, “No!” I then had a God-thought, “If I’m willing to be crushed, I’ll have less frustration.” It’s a thought I continue to have every time I fill my glass with crushed ice.

BIG God or BIG Mac

I want to bring up a sensitive subject that most of us face. It’s our weight, and it may not be a little problem. For the first time in history, there are more people overweight on the planet than hungry. 40% of American women are obese, and 38% of men. Because of increased obesity, unhealthy eating habits, and physical inactivity, we may be the first generation that is less healthy and has a shorter life span than our parents. So, does God even care if we live longer? Of course He does. What parent wouldn’t? The Bible says, living a long life is a blessing…not a curse. (Ephesians 6:3) Perhaps it’s time, as the Bible says, to “…glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (I Corinthians 6:20, NKJV) I want to pursue a BIG God, more than a BIG Mac.

Making Room For the New

My life is full; even, at times, crowded. There is too much to do and too many options. I’m realizing more and more, that in order to make room for the new, I have to say goodbye to the old. And sometimes that’s heart breaking. Because, I like the old. I’m attached to it. But, more and more, I hear God saying, “Francis, move on. I have something new for you; something better.” If the old was better, then God would model this. But He doesn’t. Not only is every day new, but every molecule and moment. He’s cloned and duplicated nothing. So, I’ve not just come to the conclusion, but the conviction, “I want to embrace God’s new for my life, rather than cling to my old. He’s not watching reruns or eating left overs, so why should I?”

Everything is Going Exactly As Planned

There are times when each of us thinks, “The devil is so smart, and evil is so powerful. It looks like darkness is winning.” But this is a complete lie! God is the smartest Person in any room. He’s always been and will be the most powerful Person in any world. Light repels darkness without breaking a sweat. Don’t ever be concerned that somehow it looks like the devil, evil, and darkness are going to win. They are mere throwbacks from a doomed rebellion. Has-beens from a lost age. I love that somewhere in Heaven there’s a giant banner that reads,  “Everything is going exactly as planned!” I want to be as concerned about the future as God is. And He’s not concerned at all. The Bible says, “By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.” (2 Peter 1:3, NLT)

The Main Event is Still Ahead

Recently, I had another setback. Once again, something didn’t work out. I lost something I valued. It was disappointing. Realizing I couldn’t get it back, God quickened my mind to come to the best conclusion possible. “Francis, if all you have left is a good response to a bad situation, then get over it. The main event is still up ahead.” Wow! That’s good! The main event is still up ahead. Have a good response to a bad situation! Nothing of lasting value has been lost; just something temporary. Get over it! Move on! Something better is ahead. Trust God and you won’t be DISappointed, because the main appointment is still on the schedule, around a few more turns. Love never fails, and God is love. Believe it, and the truth will set you free!

The Biggest Liar I’ve Ever Known

Reality is the biggest pill we’ll ever swallow. In the short term, it’s easier to give in to illusion and deception. But, we all realize the long term consequences far outweigh the temporary benefits. If we are honest with ourselves, though the devil is called the father of lies (John 8:44), no one has lied to me more than me. Frankly, I’m the biggest liar I’ve ever known. So, the question is, why do I deceive myself so often? The simplest answer is, I’m also the most selfish person I’ve ever known. Self is never the solution; it’s always the heart of the problem. Jesus showed us the cure for selfishness. The Bible says, “(Jesus emptied Himself. He) made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.” Obsession with self is the disease, and allowing God to fill us with His servant nature is the cure.

Getting and Never Forgetting

All of us have heard the expression, “She gets it.” It implies that someone has connected some important dots and had a life-altering revelation. It may be of such a magnitude that a person is never the same again. They have had a B.C. and A.D. moment. But, there’s always the challenge that what we  “get” we may eventually “for-get.” It literally means we will “fail to remember.” Sure, there are many things in life worth forgetting. But, there are some “gets” that we should never “for-get.” I never want to forget who Jesus is and what He has done for me by dying on a Cross that I deserved. I never want to forget who He created me to be, and what He created me to do. With all of my heart, “I get it!” and I never want to…forget it.

Ten Reasons the Nine Lepers Were Ungrateful

Though history is silent, I’ve always wondered why nine of the ten lepers Jesus healed in Luke 17 didn’t return to glorify God for their miraculous healings. You could say the nine lepers were loud in their request but quiet in their thanksgiving. Here are ten possible reasons for their ingratitude, and ours as well. 1 They got distracted. 2 They were selfish. 3 They succumbed to peer pressure. 4 Once healed, they followed the crowd. 5 They didn’t want to be associated with other lepers anymore. 6 Once the stigma was gone, so was their compassion. 7 They thought they were better than other lepers. 8 They embraced their resurrection, but refused to carry their cross. 9 They loved little. 10 And they were happy to receive God’s healing, but didn’t believe they needed His forgiveness.

Jiu-Jitsu

Jiu-Jitsu is an ancient fighting style invented by Indian monks traveling from monastery to monastery who were being attacked by pirates and robbed. They needed a way to protect themselves, and so developed a technique that used leverage and not strength to defeat their opponents. You could say that the results of Jiu-Jitsu are counterintuitive. Contrary to what you would expect, it allows the fighter to finish the fight without hurting the other person. The technique is so effective that the opponent will either give up or be incapacitated. It teaches the athlete how to get solutions without causing unnecessary damage. What a marvelous principle! In this world, where too many times people hurt others thinking they have won, how much better off we would be if we didn’t crush others, but instead, crowned them with love?

Catalysts

A catalyst has been defined as “a substance that promotes a reaction while using less energy, yet with a greater result.” One of the most valuable attributes of true catalysts is that the essence of who they are is not altered in the process. They speed up change, without compromising their true value. They don’t alter the genuineness of who they are while simultaneously motivating and inspiring others to change for the better. Jesus was the ultimate Catalyst for good. He didn’t change the essence of who He was: His charisma didn’t alter His character. He motivated others to change without diminishing His magnificence. I don’t have to become someone different than who God created me to be. As long as I’m pursuing that purpose, I can encourage others to follow my example and be themselves as well.

Excited About Who Jesus Is

Are you ever disappointed with the things you say and do? I know I am, and often. The Message Bible, in Romans 7, puts it this way. “I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.” (Romans 7:18-19, MSG) Thankfully, in the next chapter, it resolves the problem. The Bible says, “A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing (me) from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2, MSG) When I embrace the reality of who Jesus is, and what He’s done for me and in me, I want to be more excited about Him, than disappointed with who I’m not, and what I’ve not done.

 

 

 

 

 

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)