KLOVE Features February 2018

Being Used by God

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

Little Man and Big Man

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

Junk Drawers, Attics, and Garages

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

The Colors in Light

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

Outside the Box

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

Responding to the Present

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

Earthly and Heavenly Values

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

Stinky Feet

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

David Cassidy’s Final Words

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

Carnival Mirrors vs. Reality

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

Navigationally Challenged

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

KLOVE Features January 2018

Google’s Culture of Collaboration

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

Accepting Limitations in Others

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

I Get Stuck So Easily

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

Our Lowest Moment

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

The Earthquake Sandwich

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

Karma vs. Christianity

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

When People Don’t Believe You

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

Your Day of Rescue

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

The Final Car Ride

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

Eternity

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

Going Against the Flow

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

Sobbing in Her Arms

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

 

 

 

KLOVE Features December 2017

Priceless

It seems everything on Earth is either increasing or decreasing in value. A watch that once belonged to Paul Newman recently sold for $17 million. While a painting by Leonardo Da Vinci sold for $266 million. What about in Heaven? What is our value to God? Would it surprise you if I said it is impossible for us to become more or less valuable to God? From His vantage point, as our Creator, our value is fixed and unchangeable. We are priceless to Him! And if we could ever actually believe this, it would change our lives. We’d never again give into hopelessness and despair. We’d realize we are so precious to God, He’d do everything possible to forgive and heal our past, establish our present, and preserve our future. That’s why Jesus came!

Meekness

When Jesus said the meek will inherit the Earth, in Matthew 5:5, what did He mean? We are meek toward God when we accept His dealings with us as good, without disputing or resisting them. We are not passive; we are passionately focused and surrendered. In the Old Testament, the meek were those who totally relied on God rather than upon their own strength to defend themselves against injustice. Therefore, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is even using them to purify His followers, and that He will deliver us in His perfect time. Down through the ages, Christian martyrs were neither helpless nor hopeless, but fully trusting in the God who held their lives and future in His trustworthy hands.

Flying on Instruments

A friend of mine who is a pilot said he is required to fly “instruments only” at night or when in the clouds. In those situations, he’s not allowed to fly under “visual flight rules.” This is compulsory because the sensors in the brain will at times disorient pilots from keeping the plane level. One day, while flying in the clouds and looking at his instruments, they indicated his plane was pitched up as if it was ascending, while another instrument showed he was descending at a thousand feet a minute. At that moment, if he had followed his instincts, he would have pulled back, stalled the plane, and probably crashed. Following his instruments saved his life. Following the truth of God’s Word, and not our feelings, will save our lives as well. “For we walk by faith (in God’s Word), not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7, NKJV)

The End of Your Movie

Have you ever had someone tell you about their favorite movie, and they said, “Oh, you’re going love the end!” And they are a trustworthy person; fully believable, and not prone to exaggeration. Then you watch the movie and you can’t wait for the ending. No matter how difficult certain portions of the movie may be, you can’t wait to see what happens at the end. What if I told you that’s exactly the script God has written for your life. Your movie has the best ending ever! If you’ll just trust Jesus…follow Him…and believe in Him, more than the challenges you face, you’ll see God is the greatest Script Writer of all time, and you are one of the stars in His movie. “Those who are wise…will shine like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3, NIV)

An Honest Assessment from Friends

When I was a young Christian, it took two friends two hours to provide some objectivity as to how I was wired. They were primarily trying to alert me to the fact that I was very, very intense. It wasn’t a negative critique. It was just a helpful assessment of how God made me. Do you know how you are wired: your temperament, personality, giftings, passions, even your vulnerabilities and weaknesses? I’ve looked back on that conversation, now decades later, and realized, with a much fuller appreciation, that my friends were trying to help me, to give me a healthy grid for the rest of my life. Ask some friends who love you, people you trust, to give you an honest assessment of who you are. If you can hear them, it will change your life.

The Worst Commercial Airline Disaster

In the early days of commercial aviation, the captain had the final say, and it was unacceptable to challenge his or her decision-making. This led to many crashes. The worst commercial airline disaster in aviation history occurred in 1977, when two Boeing 747 passenger airliners collided on the runway of Tenerife Airport, because dense fog kept the pilots and control tower from seeing one another. At that time, the co-pilot’s inability to challenge the pilot’s decision-making led to 583 fatalities. Commercial airlines now require a pilot and a co-pilot to share responsibilities, with the co-pilot being able to advise the pilot in the event his decision-making is skewed. This speaks to me of accountability. Who in your life would be able to challenge your decision-making and spare you and others much pain and regret?

The Hand You Are Dealt

All of us process life differently. I’m intense; my wife Suzie is relaxed. I had a difficult childhood, lost in an oppressive boarding school. She had a marvelous one, surrounded by her happy family. I’ve forgiven her! HA! Our nature and nurture experiences are completely different, but I’m not going to wince, whine or wobble about the hand I was dealt. Even though I don’t wake up each morning to low-hanging hope, I’ve learned to climb the tree of worship and the Word in order to live an abundant life. None of our foundations disqualify us or establish us. It’s what we do with the hand we are dealt. None of us have been short-changed. We have each been lavishly overpaid. When you accept this fact, you finally arrive at a new level of trust.

My Father

When my father was just eight years old, after the death of his own father, he immigrated from Sicily to New York City. As a young boy, he shined shoes to make money, living in a one-room apartment with his mother, brothers and sister. He’d sit in a corner to study, and went to the top of his class in college and law school, becoming a famous political figure: a U. S. Congressman for five terms, and a New York State Supreme Court Justice. Presidents courted his favor; he was knighted by the Pope, and had his picture on the front page of the New York Times when he died. But when he left home, that final day, he was a frustrated, unfulfilled man. It made an indelible impression on me, that without God, no achievement can ever fulfill us.

Climbing a Goal Post

When I was 19, I went to a football game with my twin brother, Joseph, between Rutgers and Princeton. Since Joseph attended Rutgers, when his team won I was elated. Sadly, though, I was drunk and out of control. Shimmying up a goalpost, I had the top of the 32-foot pole under my stomach as hundreds of people below began to tear it down. Suddenly, the heavy metal pole snapped, stopping just four feet from the ground, and violently shaking me off. Completely dazed, a stranger walked up and said, “You’re an idiot!”  Until then, I didn’t know who I was. Now, at last I had clarity. I was an idiot! HA! How many of us climb the imaginary goalposts of shallow recognition, not realizing we’ll soon fall? My Creator best defines who I am. I will gaze into His eyes to see my true reflection.

The Privilege of God-given Abilities

I have a friend who is a surgeon. He takes his job so seriously, he describes it in this way: “I get the privilege of people trusting me so completely, they allow me to place them unconscious, take a scalpel, and operate on them, believing it is for their benefit. I am so conscientious about the stewardship I’ve been given, that when I walk through the hospital I am continually reminded of the honor God has granted me. Even after doing this for 30 years, I’m still amazed this is what I am privileged to do.” How revealing! Perhaps the reason we are each given unique gifts and graces is because God wants us to see them as a privilege and not a burden. What responsibility has God given you, and are you taking it seriously?

God’s Spared Her Sons Life

A military Mom’s son was stationed in Iraq. She told me with tears how God had protected him. He was the only medic in his unit, when a Suburban filled with explosives wiped out an entire block. Knocked unconscious, when he woke up, having no idea how long he’d been out, he routinely began to administer first aid to those around him. On another occasion, his life was spared. A bomb landed just a few feet from him, shaking the ground, but didn’t explode. Even after all of these near-death experiences, her son has not yet surrendered his life to Jesus, but she is absolutely believing he will. As this year comes to an end, who are you praying for and believing will come to their spiritual senses, allowing Jesus to rescue their lives?

God’s Special Gift for You

I have a quirky doctor friend who has no interest in eating food. He literally says, “I am never hungry!” Going so far as to admit, “If there was a pill I could take that would provide all of the nourishment I would need for any given day, I would take it, and never go through the process of eating food.” One of the unusual aspects of his food connection is that he does have one absolute craving: chocolate, and considers this God’s silver lining, a special blessing from God over his life, allowing him this singular indulgence. He smiles and laughs when he talks about this, and considers it God’s special gift to him. Have you discovered an exceptional gift God the Father has given you? It will make you smile when you do.

 

 

 

 

KLOVE Features November 2017

Bad Bosses

Ever have a “Bad Boss”? When I was a young Christian, I worked for six months in a casino as a dishwasher. Though I had a college degree, it was what God directed me to do. My boss was this six-foot-four, 240-pound, ex-Highway Patrolman, with a foul mouth and a mean heart. Once he found out I was a Christian, he’d harass and mock me in front the other workers. But, over time, I was the only guy he could trust, so he had me clean the gourmet kitchen, by myself. Periodically he’d come in and I’d share Jesus and, when I left the job, he called me and said, with emotion, “You’re a real friend of mine.” It reminded me of the words of Jesus: “love your enemies,” because you never know how God will use you to affect them.

Unlocking Your Destiny

I’ve found that there’s usually a hurt behind a head of steam. I am most passionate about what has specifically hurt, healed, or inspired me. Trace the reason you have raised your voice, emphasized a point, or told someone what you really think. If the fruit of your words are life to those who hear it, then it probably comes from a healed place. If the fruit of your words lead to an angry confrontation, ask God to show you where you need to be healed. If the acceleration of your voice inspires others to positive action, you have, in some way, tapped into your true identity and destiny. Stake a claim and mine it; there is life there. Your pain has led to a passion that will, however, unlock your destiny and help others.

If the Lights Are On…Someone’s Home!

It’s the simplest scientific question that anyone, even a child, should be able to answer. And yet some of our planet’s most brilliant scientists fail the test every time. Scientists freely admit, there are more stars than the grains of sand on all of the beaches in the world; that every galaxy has billions of stars. Even the deep fields of space have thousands of galaxies, with astrophysicists estimating there are actually more than two trillion. Typical galaxies, like our Milky Way, have 100 billion stars. That means the total number of stars or suns out there is two, followed by 23 zeroes, that’s 200 sextillion. People say, “If God would only do something BIG and beautiful in my life, I’d believe!” Look to the stars — if the lights are on…Someone’s home!

Good Responses

A good response has an infinitely longer shelf life than a great victory. You can have a great victory with a bad attitude, and impress no one. Whereas, win or lose, responding well can give others a glimpse into the heart of God. Frankly, there are so many poor responses to the challenges of life, that when a good response occurs, it turns heads, and even opens hearts. Bible luminaries, Joseph, Moses, and Esther, each responded well to their adversity and subsequently rescued the nation of Israel. Christ’s good response saved the entire world, and though the Apostle Paul was at one time filled with prejudice toward Christ-followers, he eventually responded well and opened the gospel to the Gentiles. Jesus said, “God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.” (Matthew 5:5, NLT)

Extra-Terrestrial Life & Imaginary Gods

I always laugh when I hear about man’s efforts to find extra-terrestrial life. With that said, before I received Jesus, I was travelling with a woman I thought was from Venus (as in the planet.) HA! But that’s a story for another time. Yet, all of our attempts to find the origin of life, outside of God, have failed. When we refuse to accept and honor the God who IS, sadly we spend our lives looking for an imaginary god, thinking we will have to be less responsible to him. Created to be worshippers, we will worship the temporary if we refuse to acknowledge the fact that our magnificent universe had to be created by Someone. Unwilling to accept a relationship with the God of love, we will vainly attempt to find love in all the wrong places.

Mercy and Grace

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want God to be fair to me. Him being fair would raise the bar so high, I’d never pass the test. What I really need is mercy. Someone said, “Mercy is the bad you deserve…and don’t get. Grace is the good you don’t deserve…and yet get.” (Creflo Dollar) I’m glad the Bible says, “God’s mercies are new every morning,” (Lamentations 3:23) and not His judgments are new every morning. If you thought God was harsh yesterday, wait till today. I love the Bible’s promise, “if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.” (James 2:13, NLT) Because I’m grateful for having received mercy, I want to offer others the mercy I have freely received. “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”

(Ephesians 2:8, NLT)

Burly Biker and a Big Knife

When I was a young Evangelist, one evening I was witnessing to a young girl on a motorcycle. She was open. But when her burly biker boyfriend returned, he was less than interested and, so, told me to get lost. Since I had already been really lost in my life, I wasn’t drawn to his recommendation, and commented that his girlfriend was interested in talking about Jesus. At that point, he was the one who lost it. Picking me up by my collar, I noticed a foot-long knife on his side. It wasn’t encouraging. When he got my face a couple of inches from his, much to my surprise, he covertly whispered empathetically, “I don’t want to have to do this to you.” And then he pushed me aside. His response reminds me of what I have seen on many occasions since: don’t judge someone’s inside by their outside.

Anger

Have you noticed that more and more people are attached to having their own way, getting angry when it doesn’t happen? From road rage to extreme politics, our fuses are getting shorter and shorter. I remember when I was six years old, playing a game of softball. A big kid on the opposing team hit a ground ball that turned into a home run, winning the game. As his teammates hoisted him on their shoulders, parading him around the field, I lost it! Running toward him I sank my teeth into his exposed thigh, and bit him as hard as I could. It drew blood, and caused him to have to get a tetanus shot. Not my best day, and a scary memory to say the least, but close-up evidence as to what is potentially in the heart of every one of us.

Offenses

What offends us will reveal the condition of our heart. Seeing so many people getting offended these days about so many things, has made me search my own heart. What offends me? And, yes, I do get offended. I’ve found that it’s always something I haven’t fully surrendered to God: a word, an attitude, or a response by someone else can offend me. Brandon Naramore says, “The world can’t steal what you’ve already surrendered.” Likewise, your life is unprotected unless it’s fully surrendered to God. Jesus challenged all of us to search our own heart in order to weed out offenses when He 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)

The Hero of Your Story

Do you want to be the hero of your story? It’s a waste of time. First, because it’s not real. If you know Jesus, He will always be the hero of your story. If, on the other hand, you don’t know Jesus, you haven’t met the only Person who could rescue you from your sins. Unless God is the hero at the end of our lives, we have missed the primary point of our existence. We all know the story of David and Goliath. In America, we want to be David, the hero of the story. But, in many nations, they see David as a type of Jesus, rescuing us from our unbelief. Don’t live your life thinking you’re the hero. It will only lead to a false sense of confidence in self. Let Jesus be the Hero of your story, because He really is.

Cleaning a Greasy Ceiling

God is going to ask you to do things that only He knows will shape your character. When I was a young Christian, I cleaned the gourmet kitchen of a casino. I cleaned it six days a week, 7 ½ hours a day, without breaking for lunch. I wasn’t working for man, but for God. One day, I looked up at the greasy ceiling that hadn’t been cleaned in decades. God spoke to my heart to clean it. I did it at the beginning of my shift, with grease flying everywhere, including my hair and eyes. After about a month, 1/3 of the ceiling was spotless, and that’s when God transferred me. Never forget, promotion comes from God alone. The Bible says, “…work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…” (Colossians 3:23, ESV)

Church Lawsuit

In 2016, a lawyer wrote and said, “…when you spoke at my church in 1992, you quoted I Samuel 30:19, ‘But nothing of theirs was missing … David brought it all back.’ Then you said… ‘I don’t know what situation you are facing, but this verse will help guide you to the right answer.’ …your word provided guidance on what do to, and we had a fantastic outcome.” The lawyer then provided a detailed description of how they had been overcharged by a school district…five times the regular rental rate because they were a church. He wrote, “Your word brought unity and…the lawsuit (we filed) has borne amazing fruit… Churches across America have saved countless amounts of money in higher rent they never had to pay because of what you said to us that morning.” Though we may not see it at first, obedient seeds always bear fruit.