KLOVE Features October 2017

All I Had Left Was a Good Response

I once spoke at a large Christian Festival, right before one of the most popular Christian musicians performed. 30,000 people were in attendance and hundreds came forward to receive Jesus. It was marvelous! The next year, they invited me back to do the exact same thing. This time, I changed the airport I was going to fly in to, thinking another was closer. It wasn’t, and upon landing I realized I’d never make it in time to speak. It was crushing! With my wife and two pre-teen daughters in the car, I immediately realized all I had left was…a response. That’s it! And so, I disciplined my soul to respond well. I now believe that response, however painful, had a far greater impact on their lives, than if I everything had flowed seamlessly.

Cliff Ride vs. Thrill Ride

After an exhausting, overnight flight, my nephew picked me up at the airport. It was a rainy day, and as we came off an exit ramp, I was awakened by him yelling, “We’re going over!” As the car went airborne over a cliff, I yelled, “Jesus, help us!” The tiny sports car flipped over and over, but miraculously landed on its tires. Though we were not hurt, the car was totaled. On another occasion, I paid a lot of money to go on a thrill ride at an amusement park. One experience terrified me; the other entertained me. What’s the difference between the two experiences? One word: trust! My point is this: Is your relationship with Jesus a cliff ride or a thrill ride? How much you trust Him, will determine your answer.

Champions

God is always looking for champions who will stand and fight in the Spirit realm. The word “champion” comes from a Hebrew word meaning, “the middle man, the man between two.” A champion was a man who stood between two armies, and fought as a representative of one. Romans 8:37 says, “…we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” If we are not willing to conquer evil, evil will conquer us. This has happened to God’s people throughout history. At the writing of the Book of Ezekiel, Israel had rebelled against God and was taken away as slaves. The Lord spoke through Ezekiel: “I searched for someone to stand in the gap…but I found no one.” (Ezekiel 22:30) Wherever you are, whatever battles you face, stand in the gap as God’s champion.

My Life Sucks!

I heard about a young worship leader who, while leading worship in a large contemporary church, sang out during the middle of worship, “My life sucks!” To say the least, the crowd was stunned. Fortunately, there was an older visiting worship leader, leading worship with him, who had the presence of mind to immediately sing out, without missing a beat, “But it’s not going to suck forever!” HA! It saved the day, and redeemed a fragile moment that could have quenched the Spirit and distracted the entire service. Proving a few things: your life may suck now, but be of good cheer, it’s not going to suck forever. And secondly, God can redeem the most difficult circumstances, and give us a good laugh and a fun memory at the same time.

Insignificance

All of us fight feelings of insignificance. Some of this is fueled by the condescending words of others. One of the most hurtful things in life is when you have a good motive, and you’re judged for having a bad one. In the Old Testament, David’s older brother, Eliab, put David down when he offered to fight Goliath. Eliab felt David was an insignificant person who had no right to speak up. He thought he knew David’s motivation, but in reality, he didn’t. Eliab’s motive, on the other hand, was envy. Like Jesus, who was called the son of David, David had to face the derogatory comments of those who envied him. In the end, our significance comes from our Creator. Only He knows our true value, and if we keep our eyes on Him, we’ll realize His call on our lives is actually… priceless.

All Things Work for Our Good

My wife Suzie was married before me. When she received Jesus, her husband wasn’t interested. On the day he was going to file for divorce, he was killed flying a crop duster. When her parents came to tell her at midnight her husband had died, she went into her bedroom to pack some things, and through her tears read this scripture on the wall: Romans 8:28. Paul the Apostle wrote, “And we know that all things work together for good, (which means, for our benefit) to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” It became the defining scripture for the rest of her life: a life that God has truly blessed, primarily I believe, because she continues to trust God and His wonderful promises.

Becoming Someone Else

One of the great seductions in this age of social media saturation is the temptation to become someone other than who God intended you to be. Peer pressure is a principle influence. In the Old Testament, King Saul wanted David to wear his armor when he fought Goliath. (1 Samuel 17:38-39) Yet, the only way we can ever fulfill our destiny is to become the person God intended, not someone else. God will always test you to see if you are following Him, following yourself, or following someone you want to impress. What inner armor is God developing in you? At some point, you will be asked to exchange it for what others think is better. Don’t give in! Your Heavenly Father has prepared you for this moment and will give you the courage to say “Yes” to Him alone.

My Wife’s Amazing Gift

My wife, Suzie, has a supernatural gift. She can materialize physical things that don’t exist. For example, I look in our pantry or refrigerator for something, and many times it’s just not there. But, when Suzie looks for these items, they miraculously appear. Seconds before they were gone! It’s a miracle! She insists that I’m just not seeing them, but that’s just her being humble about her extraordinary gift. HA! OK! Seriously, my “temporary blindness” reminds me of so many genuine supernatural dimensions that, at times, seem invisible to us, but, once found, they bless our lives with abundance. Keep looking and believing in the promises of God. “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 19:13, NASB)

Optimist and Pessimist Twins

A father had twin boys: an optimist and a pessimist. One day, the father put the pessimist in a room full of incredible toys, and the optimist in a room with a giant bag of manure. He came back later to the pessimist’s room and found him sitting in a corner completely disinterested with the toys. The Dad said, “What’s wrong?” The son responded, “I figured if I started to play with the toys, I’d get bored, or break them.” The Dad walked out shaking his head. He then went into the optimist son’s room, and found this son tearing the bag of manure to shreds. The Dad said, “What are you doing?” The son yelled, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere?” Funny story with a good point. God’s an eternal optimist, and we should be too.

Getting Sued

A year after we sold our home, the new owners sued us, claiming they discovered mold, and believed we knew about it. We didn’t! So, off to arbitration we went. The owners were so upset with us they wouldn’t meet in the same room. When we were presented pictures of the mold, it made us sick and sad. I then looked at the arbitrator and said, “I don’t believe we should give the owners what they’re asking for. We need to do much more!” At first, the arbitrator just stared, and then said, “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I’ve never heard anyone say to me what you just did. I believe the owners will be happy to meet you.” When the owners came in, we both had tears in our eyes. I said, “We had no idea”, and then hugged them. No one can choose humility for us, it’s our choice alone.

Picking Up Pieces of People

Please don’t consider the “small tests of life” as unimportant. They are a prerequisite for the greater tests ahead. Everything begins in a seed form. Jesus said, “The earth bears fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain…” (Mark 4:28) If we discard or ignore the day of small beginnings, we shouldn’t be surprised if we don’t have the future harvest we are hoping for. I was picking up a piece of paper on the street and God reminded me, of that “habit of obedience” was formed in me 40 years ago. What began with “picking up pieces of paper,” matured into “picking up pieces of people”. Don’t ignore the obedience of your youth. Without it, you will never become the person you were created to be.

Condescension Toward Believers

Have you had to deal with condescension from others because you are following Jesus? If you haven’t, you will. The giant Goliath sneered with contempt at David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with a stick? And he cursed David…” (1Samuel 17:41-42) Goliath was insulted that he even had to deal with someone so inferior as David. That’s how the high priests felt about Jesus…an insignificant carpenter from a lowly place in Galilee called Nazareth. That’s how many in higher education feel about Christians; how many evolutionists feel about “Intelligent Design”; and how many pro-choice people feel about pro-life people. There’s this condescending disdain…a disgust at our seeming inferiority. Just remember Who you will stand before at the end of time, and you’ll be fine.

KLOVE Features September 2017

Joy is a Conviction

In 2 Corinthians 12:10, Paul the Apostle writes, “I am content with weaknesses, hardships, and calamities.” Had Paul’s perspective been so radically transformed, he actually was content in his difficulties and struggles? It’s a truly “unconventional” thought! Paul actually found the cure for a shattered life! It’s a three-letter word: It’s called “joy”. Based upon my knowledge of Scripture, and living the Christian life for 45-years, I would define “joy” as: “a deep sense of inner elation and satisfaction that comes from seeing your life from God’s perspective, and responding properly to the challenges and suffering of life.” Joy is more of a conviction, than a feeling. That’s why Paul wrote “Always be full of joy in the Lord.” (Philippians 4:4)

Of Right and Wrong Responses

Do you believe that everything that happens to you, even the most difficult experiences are uniquely prepared for you, and have exceptional value if you can learn to see them from God’s perspective? Challenges are actually “opportunities in disguise”. Every irritation is a divine invitation to go to the next level. That’s why, how we see our lives is always a matter of perspective, not circumstance. Two people can go through nearly identical situations, and yet respond totally differently. The truth is, the right perspective will always produce the right response. Likewise, the wrong perspective will always produce the wrong response. Ask Jesus to help you unpack the value of the experiences in your life. For only then can you truly understand and even enjoy the life He’s given you.

Loving Your Life

What if I told you that God’s will is that you would love the life He’s given you. Would you think it was overstated? Is there any parent who wouldn’t want their child to love their lives? Imagine, if you were an all-powerful God, how you could use Your limitless power to make that a reality for all of your children. But, as God’s children, He has not designed us as mere onlookers. Here are three essential, long-term strategies we need in order to love our lives. Loving life is given to those who learn to embrace the setbacks in their lives, and see their hidden value. Loving life is given to those who develop an overcoming strategy to handle failure. And lastly, the ability to love your life is given to those who praise and thank God, even when things don’t appear to be working out.

Winston Churchill and Success

Want to know the best way to handle success? First learn how to handle failure. With that said, none of us will have a shortage of opportunities. In World War I, Winston Churchill, planned and lost the Battle of Gallipoli. Because of his poor decision making, many thousands of Allied soldiers died. He had failed miserably. Yet, 20 years later, during World War II, he led Great Britain to victory. He said, “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” For his extraordinary leadership, many consider him the “Man of the Century”. Proving, once again, the best training for handling success, is to first learn how to handle failure. The Bible encourages us with this principle, “Although a righteous person may fall seven times, he gets up again…” (Proverbs 24:16, NET)

Is God Throwing Stones at You?

A little boy was playing with his toy sailboat on the shore of a quiet lake. When the wind pulled the sail boat away from the shoreline, he began to cry as it went farther and farther away. An older boy came upon the scene and began throwing stones at his tiny boat. The young boy cried, “Why are you throwing stones at my boat?” The older boy said, “I’m throwing stones on the far side of your boat to create some waves to bring the sailboat back to you. Trust me; I know what I’m doing.” Whenever you feel like God is throwing stones at your life, realize they are meant to draw you closer to Him, not to drive you away.” He says to all of us, “Trust Me, I know what I’m doing!” That’s why the Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”

Your Tests Are Your Testimony

Do you wish you didn’t have so many tests and trials? At a certain point, each of us do. But I’ve learned, after following Jesus for over 45 years, that the trials specifically created for me, bring out the best in me. The primary issue is whether we genuinely believe God’s promises and trust Him. If we do, shakings will eventually bring out the best in us, and are actually essential for each of our lives. We must go through shakings in order to become unshakeable! Our tests give us our testimony! Even our mess . . . gives us our message! God’s promises are greater than our problems, and a godly perspective will conquer any predicament. Rather than asking God to stop the struggles in your life, ask Him to reveal His grand purpose for them.

The Rationality of God Liking You

Perhaps you find it easy to believe that God loves you, but harder to believe He likes you. God liking you is the only rational, reasonable, explanation for His actions. He’s omniscient (All Knowing). He sees your past, present and future. Whatever opinion He has about you, He’s always had about you. He’s the same, yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) We are God’s beloved! We are God’s friend! You would never say to a best friend, “I love you! But, I don’t like you!” A best friend is someone who has seen you at your worst, and still loves you & still “likes” being with you. Do any of us have any question that God has seen us at your worst? I fail a lot! But, God’s promise is: “There’s nothing you can do to make Me not like you!”

What American’s Think About God

What American’s think about God is quite revealing. A recent survey determined 28% believe in an “Authoritarian God”, who is angry at humanity’s sins. 24% believe God is “Distant”, and is more of a cosmic force that launched the world, and then left it spinning on its own. 21% say He’s “Critical”, having a judgmental eye on the world, but is not willing to intervene, either to punish or comfort. Surprisingly and sadly, only 22% believe in a “Benevolent God”, who is forgiving and accepting of anyone who repents. So, the challenge for all of us who have a relationship with the “Benevolent God”, whose name is Jesus, is to represent Him in an authentic and genuine way. Because the only way someone can see the Person of God…is in His people.

She Called Him “Daddy”

One of the most amazing examples of a father loving a daughter that I’ve seen was with my wife, Suzie, and her father. When Suzie was twenty years old, she was arrested for carrying marijuana across the Canadian border. She spent a sleepless night in a felony cell. Suzie thought her parents back in California, who she was very close to, wouldn’t hear about it. But they did. Not knowing they had, she called home a few days later, and her dad said, “I heard about the problem you had in Canada.” Totally embarrassed, Suzie froze on the phone. Her dad quickly followed up with, “That’s water under the bridge honey. We just want to know if you’re OK!” She called him “Daddy” her whole life. It always makes me emotional when I tell the story, because “…the glory of children is their fathers.” (Proverbs 17:6)

Complete Surrender

In the Book of Genesis, when young Isaac asked his father Abraham, “Where’s the lamb for the sacrifice?” Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So, when Abraham bound his son and placed him on the altar, it demonstrated an incredible trust relationship between a father and his son. He laid his 12-year old son willingly on the altar, and Isaac completely surrendered to the will of his father . . . just like Jesus! How about us? When we’re in trouble, do we run to God as a trusted Father, or away from Him. God knows if we’ve completely surrendered or not. We can’t fake it! He knows if we really trust Him or not, and there will always come opportunities for us to show Him.

The Cross

Nothing demonstrates how much God loves us more than Christ’s death on the Cross. By crucifying His Son, God chose the most difficult alternative, out of all possible options. Jesus became what He hated the most…sin. It was the greatest torture of all. Jesus had to be God, and not some created fall guy sent down to do His dirty work. God gave us His best. He didn’t have an ace up His sleeve. It cost God the Father the life of His Son. The two great Christian ordinances: The Lord’s Supper and Water Baptism, both remind us of the Cross. There’s a poem I heard as a young Christian that sums it up well. “What giving again I asked in dismay, and must I keep giving and giving always? No, said an angel piercing me through. Just give till the Savior stops giving to you.”

Hypocrisy

There has never been an age in need of authenticity more than this age. Our generation has been hyped to death. Therefore, the critique of many non-Christians about our seeming hypocrisy is a devastating indictment. As a teenager myself, it was hypocrisy that drew me away from Christianity into atheism. But, the problem is not just hypocrisy. The problem is the air of moral superiority many Christians carry around. The word hypocrite is taken from an old Greek word that refers to the wearing of a mask. In Ancient Greece, actors often wore masks according to the character they played. Their character’s appearance on the stage was a façade…it was an “act.” If our faith is not genuine, no one wants it, not even God. While there is breath in us, may we each represent Jesus well.

KLOVE Features August 2017

High Mountain Lakes

While hiking around a high mountain lake, a knowledgeable friend told me that high mountain lake water levels remain the same, whether in drought or during elevated water seasons. Wow! That got my attention, as one of my prayers is to walk in the fullness of Christ. He then explained why this happens. First, these lakes must have sufficient outflow, and secondly, the springs and snow above the lakes supply a steady inflow of water. What a wonderful principle! When we, as followers of Jesus, can climb above the challenges in our lowest valleys, we can experience a continually abundant flow of God’s Spirit. Yet, in order for our lives to remain full, they must overflow to others. Trust God in your winters, receive His springs of living water, and let your life overflow to help others.

Starring in Your Own Movie

Clint Eastwood has asked the three young American heroes who stopped a terrorist attack on a French train in 2016 to play themselves in his upcoming movie, “The 15:17 to Paris.” Their heroic courage, at a crucial moment, saved countless lives. It made me think about each of us. We each get to star in our own movies, viewed by the great cloud of heavenly witnesses mentioned in Hebrews 12. We’re not the lead, but we are supporting actors. It’s also our call if we want to make our movie a horror or love story, a nightmare or an adventure. The script God’s written for us is perfectly type cast for who we are, and makes our lives an adventurous love story for the ages. Follow the lead Actor, Jesus, and your life will have a happy ending.

What Are We Passing On?

In each of our lives, we all pass on something; whether good or bad, healthy or unhealthy. Someone may have to fight the battles I refuse to. Someone must be courageous where I cowered. What will my children, grandchildren, and future descendants inherit? In this sense, healing is always multi-generational. It took a previous generation sacrificing their fathers and brothers, mothers and sisters in order to stop the Nazis. Someone relentlessly persisted to end the epidemic of polio. Jesus defeated the plague of sin that would forever destroy each of our lives, by dying on a Cross in our place. May God embed this truth in our hearts: whatever isn’t healed, we pass on! Healing has a voice. It says, “Do whatever it takes to receive God’s healing.”

Exploring God’s Love and Mercy

We can never know God’s love until we fail, and then see that He is still madly in love with us. The plan of God we cannot see is greater than the circumstances we can. God’s grace is more than sufficient, if we allow His strength to rise up above our weakness. We all appreciate spring flowers and summer fruit. But, it’s the dying in fall, and storms of winter that bring the most bountiful harvest. The greatest value of our worst sins and God’s forgiveness is that they most clearly demonstrate the extent Jesus went through, to cover our most foolish mistakes. Don’t spend your time fixating on what you’ve done wrong, explore the vast reality of God’s love and mercy, seen most vividly in His death on the Cross.

Happiness is What You Bring

Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. It’s what you bring to the day, not what the day brings to you. Your overdependence on temporary satisfaction, will invariably lead you to future disappointment. Happiness is not having what you want, it’s training your soul to want what you have. Love the life you have and joyfully receive every meal placed before you. The value of your most challenging circumstances is always hidden. Masses of humanity, gorge themselves on the crumbs of Earth . . . not realizing their true hunger is for the feasts of Heaven. Accept God’s promise to His followers, “…God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28, NLT)

Bless Your Storms

There are no accidental storms. Bless the storms that come to your life, and stop chasing fleeting, unfulfilling pleasures. We never know which storm will bring the most challenge, or the greatest benefit, to our lives. Therefore, embrace storms as they come, remembering God has no desire to give you peace from the storms of life. His perfect plan is to give you peace in the storms. The storms in our lives challenge our identity; who we are and what we really believe. Peace that comes when the storm stops is temporary. Learning to have peace during the storm is infinitely better, and has eternal benefits. We were created to meet Jesus in the storms of life. And frankly, few of us have time for Him outside of them.

Hope Will Never Disappoint

If hope came to your life, would you recognize it? Hope is often hidden in a mystery. We can’t blame God for our lack of hope, because each of us are given equal amounts of hope. Yet, hope without diligence is mere “wishful thinking.” In what area is God asking you to have hope? It will take faith to receive God’s hope, because it always works in tandem with faith. I can’t become more than I hope to be! Frankly, hoping for better days will get me off track. Hoping for a better understanding of God’s love will dial me in. God promises that hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5) A hopeful attitude has no expiration date.

Ask “What?”, not “Why?”

We know we are walking in the resurrection life Jesus died to give us, when we are more interested in trusting God than asking life’s most asked question, “Why is this happening to me?” “Why, God?” should never be the question. It’s a waste of time! “God, I trust You! What are You trying to show me?” in infinitely better. It shows we believe God’s Word more than what we see or feel. Frankly, the more I know me, the less I trust me. And the more I know God, the more I trust Him. Love never fails, and God is love. So, trust Him no matter what! As the Psalmist wrote, “…Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned…” (Psalm 37:25, NLT) Never!

Perpetual Overcomers

How do you connect with an invisible God? It must be by faith! Unless you walk by faith, one day you will find out you are not following Him at all. That’s why the Bible says, “…it is impossible to please God without faith.” (Hebrews 11;6, NLT) Never let your feelings dictate your faith. Put your faith in the facts, God’s Word, the Holy Bible, because feelings will come and go. As, Jesus was the perpetual Overcomer, if your life is hidden with Christ in God, you are called to be a perpetual overcomer as well. Jesus, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings…” (Psalm 17:8, NIV) “I trust in You, more than what I feel or see. For it is Your eternal promises that guide my life.”

Changing or Exchanging

Are you struggling to change, and feel you’re not making much headway? Here’s a helpful hint: life is more about exchanging than changing. If we will surrender our lives to the Lordship of Jesus, God promises, as the Message Bible says, to give us “…bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. (To) Rename (us) “Oaks of Righteousness” planted by God to display his glory.” (Isaiah 61:3, The Message) God will replace fear with faith, but it will take resignation and commitment to see this change. A divine discontent–convinced, that there must be something more! Nothing goes from “before” to “after” without something in-between. And that in-between is always, and forever, Jesus.

We’ve All Seen Too Much

Perhaps, like me, you’ve wondered what standing at the judgement seat of Christ, mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:10, will be like? Is it something to dread, or a privilege to look forward to? Is Jesus going to be our accuser or advocate? The choice is always ours. The Bible says, because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we can “…with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16, ESV) Frankly, there is no excuse for unbelief. We’ve all seen way too much. I can either turn myself in, or wait to be caught. One will lead to a relationship of love, trust and forgiveness. The other to misunderstanding God’s heart so staggeringly, I will have died believing a lie.

Fuels for Forest Fires

One of the most destructive dangers during hot summer months in many states are wild fires. Millions of acres and hundreds of homes are destroyed every year. This natural danger has a direct application for our spiritual lives. There are preventive measures that can keep our lives safe. Dead vegetation that allows a fire to climb up from the landscape or forest floors into the tree canopy should be eliminated. Ground fuel consisting of pine needles, dry leaves, twigs and other dead brush should be trimmed within 50 feet of homes. Each of these natural precautions are consistent with what Jesus can do in our lives if we allow Him, “He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.” (John 15:2, NLT)

KLOVE Features July 2017

Fistless, Footless and Toothless

Are you ready to fight for yourself and others? You need to be. A great evangelist, and ex-major league baseball player said, “I’m against sin. I’ll kick it as long as I’ve got a foot, and I’ll fight it as long as I’ve got a fist. I’ll butt it as long as I’ve got a head. I’ll bite it as long as I’ve got a tooth. And when I’m old and fistless, and footless, and toothless, I’ll gum it till I go home to Glory and it goes home to perdition!” When it comes to the spirit-realm, none of us should be pacifists. Peace at all costs means we will live under tyrants, bow, when we should stand, roll over and play dead, when we should be rising up and courageously living as God intended. We were made to conquer, not cower.

Just Say the Name, Jesus

A prisoner on Death Row, named Rusty Woomer, sat on the floor of his cell without moving, letting dozens of roach’s crawl all over him. Completely depressed, he wouldn’t even flick them off. Rusty was a 35-year-old murderer of four innocent people. Facing the electric chair, he’d sank into hopelessness. One day, a Christian man from Prison Fellowship pleaded with him: “Rusty, just say the name, Jesus!” Though nearly comatose, slowly, painfully, Rusty whispered “Jesus”. Eventually, after further encouragements, Rusty prayed to receive Jesus. A week later, Rusty’s cell was spotless. Gone were the dirt, the roaches, the porn magazines. The walls were scrubbed, the bed was made, the scent of disinfectant was in the air.’ Rusty was smiling and joyful. Are you hopeless? Ask Jesus to help you.

Work is Not Part of the Curse

Did you know that work is not a part of the curse? We will be working throughout eternity. Not with the sweat of our brow, but with diligence and commitment. We live in an age where there are many jobs, that people are just not willing to do. And yet, until we discipline our soul to do what is inconvenient, and perhaps unattractive, we’ll never become the man or woman God has created us to be. No dad or mom finds fulfillment in changing a poopy diaper. It’s just a dirty job that needs to be done. How serious is God about hard work, the Bible says, “if anyone is unwilling to work, neither should he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) Diligence: it’s what we need, in order to have the dinner God wants us to have.

Eight Ways to Be Blessed

In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, chapter 5, Jesus describes eight ways for us to be blessed. “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”  Sounds like perfect advice, in order to be blessed. (Matthew 5:3-10, NLT)

Should We Care What People Think?

Do we care what people think? We should! Rick Warren shares that, “Over and over again the Bible says that Jesus knew their thoughts. This demonstrates the importance of finding common ground with those we are ministering to. What are their needs, their problems, stresses and challenges? What are their hurts? Everybody’s hurting somewhere, about something. What are they freaking out about? And what are their interests?” Sure, we should never dwell on other people’s judgments and criticalness of us, but if we want to reach them, we will need insights from God about what they are thinking. The Bible says, “…Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4:29, NLT)

Only Jesus Satisfies

People, typically, won’t open their heart to Jesus because they’re afraid of dying tomorrow. Openness comes when they see their desperate need to learn how to live today. The Bible says, it’s God’s kindness that leads us to turn away from sin. (Romans 2:4) Running away from something never inspires us to become a different person, we all long to run toward something: something good for us, that fulfills us, that strengthens us. At the end of the day, there’s only one Person who can satisfy our greatest needs: and that’s Jesus. He alone said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29, NLT)

Three Levels of Conviction

I’ve found there are three levels of conviction. The lowest rung is being embarrassed. We’re embarrassed we said or did something. It means our conscience is alive and in action. The next level of conviction I call, “fed up”. It means we are at least listening to the Holy Spirit. But, it does not guarantee that a change in our behavior is forthcoming. In order for that to happen we need to go to a further level of conviction. We have to become “desperate” in order to obey whatever the Spirit of God asks. So, the next time we face conviction from the Holy Spirit, may we not wallow in “embarrassment”, may we not stop at merely being “fed up”, but may we be “desperate” enough to change, whatever the cost.

Dependency is a Necessity!

One of the ways we know we are in right relationship with God is we are increasing in our dependency upon Him. Attitudes of independence are often just subtle forms of rebellion. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” He wasn’t exaggerating. Without complete dependence on Jesus we can accomplish nothing of lasting value. Dependency is a necessity! Partial reliance upon God merely provides an out for us to eventually do what we want, and not what God wants. It is a subtle trap! A leak that will drain away the fullness of the Spirit in our lives. “Jesus, without You I can do nothing!”

Knowing the Future

Recently, while reflecting on my future, I said to someone, “I really don’t need to know what’s ahead.” When I said it, I was a bit stunned by the absoluteness of my comment. Adding to my surprise I experienced an immediate surge in my spirit that by making the assertion, “I really don’t need to know what’s ahead”, I was connecting with God in a faith-filled way. The fact is, I don’t have to know the future if I am fully trusting the One who does. Though I endeavor to remain fully conscious while I patiently wait on God to reveal His will, I want to do this with complete confidence in God’s future for my life. God is trust-worthy, and His will is worth trusting. So, let me say to you, “You really don’t need to know the future, if you’re trusting the only Person who does.

Eating Off Someone Else’s Plate

What would you think, if when you sat down to have a meal with someone, they consistently reached over and ate from your plate? Even if they were a toddler, I’m sure you would find it completely unacceptable behavior. It would demonstrate that something was indeed wrong with the person. But that’s exactly what we do when we are jealous. We ignore what we have been given and begin to covet what has been given to someone else. As absurd as it would be in the natural, physical world, so it is absurd in the supernatural spiritual world as well. What God has given to each of us is all we need to become who He created us to be. Bloom where you are planted, and you’ll live a full and fulfilled life.

Chasing the Illusion

Are you looking to man for your approval? If so, you will never be satisfied. Only Jesus knows why we were created. Only He can satisfy the longing in our souls. People exhaust themselves trying to get the attention, approval, and acceptance of others. What an absolute waste of time! We are each living for an audience of One. The only One who can fulfill us! We were created for His pleasure, and only Jesus can give us the lasting pleasures we seek. In His presence, and His presence alone, is there joy overflowing, and eternal pleasures that bring peace and not regret. (Psalm 16:11) Be done with chasing the world’s illusions. We are complete in Jesus, and Jesus alone. (Colossians 2:10)

God’s Magnificent Intention

The fact that we don’t see our sin clearly is one of the obvious indications we are still walking in darkness. Our first acknowledgement of sin is merely the tip of the iceberg. Infinitely bigger realities are beneath the surface. But the choice is always ours. Will we respond to the first inklings of the Spirit’s conviction, or will we deny what time cannot heal, and only God can make right. The closer we get to light, what is faint becomes clearer. General sins get undeniably specific. The Holy Spirit is never vague. He is always precise! A Father on a mission: to rescue His children, even if they are initially unable to understand His magnificent intention, and resist His best for them.

KLOVE Features June 2017

Inspired or Intimidated

We’ve all been around extraordinary people: giants in some dimension; exceeding our abilities; dwarfing our capacity; excelling in a way we never have or ever will. When we’re around them, we always have two options. They can inspire us or intimidate us. I would be lying if I said they only inspire me. At times, I have to fight envy: feeling bad because I lack a quality someone else has. On other occasions, jealousy is my undoing. I’m afraid of losing something I already have or something that was never meant to be mine. The Pharisees killed Jesus because of both. They envied what Jesus had (Matthew 27:18), and were jealous because He was taking away what they thought they had: authority. (Matthew 7:29) “God, help me to be inspired and not intimidated by those who excel in a way I do not.”

Touching Your Pain

Any of us who have small children know that there are times when we need to touch their pain in order to alleviate it. If they have a splinter, you can’t get it out without touching the pained area in some way. I can certainly empathize with the emotional pain many of us are going through, but sometimes, the last thing we want to talk about is the first thing we need to talk about. Many times we have attitudes that are adding to our pain, and perspectives that increase our stress and discouragement. All of us need safe people to touch our pain, individuals gifted by God with grace to ask the questions we need to consider and the wisdom to unpack the pain that God wants to free us from.

What Do You Want to Be?

Most people know what they want to have in life, but they don’t know what they want to be. Unless our will and purpose for our lives lines up with God’s will and purpose, it is not worth pursuing. As Jesus expressed so clearly in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Luke 22:42, ESV) His heart was set to fulfill what His Heavenly Father knew was best and what would have the greatest long-term benefit. Jesus knew what we should also remember, whenever we are seduced by the temporary, we miss out on the eternal. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and (God) will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33, NLT)

All-In Moments

At different times in our lives, God will test us to see if we’re all-in. After predicting His own great suffering, “Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” (Matthew 16:24, ESV) When I first became a Christ-follower, Jesus tested my willingness to be all-in on many occasions. I was part of a Christian community where we pooled the monies we earned to help the new people who were coming. So, it cost me much to give away a brand new pair of work boots to visiting missionaries from Alaska, which I had saved up for to work picking vegetables on cold winter mornings. Similarly, I tearfully gave away my first brand new Bible to another Bible School student. What have been some of your all-in moments?

Learning How to Give

There’s a syndrome that some two-year olds experience. It’s called, “you exist to bless me.” Perhaps that’s why it’s called the “terrible twos.” As parents, we know that part of the process of successfully raising children is to transition them from being “natural-born takers” into being “supernatural givers.” There’s no learning process in “taking.” We’re all born “master-takers.” Teaching us to give is not God’s way of raising money; it’s God’s way of raising His children. Though God is a blessing to me, He doesn’t exist to bless me (Randy Alcorn). Yet, the only way we can fully experience the greatest fulfillment in life is learning how to give. For it was Jesus Himself who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35, ESV)

Something Came from Nothing?

Do you feel like, right now, you have nothing? I’ve been there. And yet, it’s the perfect time to ask the God, who makes something out of nothing, to take charge of your life. The most unscientific thought ever conceived by man is that: “without an intelligent designer, something came from nothing.” How could everything we see come from nothing? It’s a simple reality even a child can understand it. Yet, the Bible says, “Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. (Romans 1:22, NLT) That’s why, “…God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise.” (1 Corinthians 1;27, NLT) When you feel like you have nothing, look to God, the only Person who can make something out of nothing. You will find, He won’t fail you!

Humbling Yourself

All of us have attempted to find the fulfillment we long for in ourselves, or in some other person, place or thing. Yet, only God can fill and fulfill what He created. That’s why submitting to God is the most humbling experience in life. That level of surrender is the only doorway to becoming the complete person God created you to be. Jesus promised, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14, NLT) I believe seeing reality, how things really are, is by its very nature humbling. And yet, God is bigger than the realities we face. It’s looking in the mirror, and seeing your loving, merciful, and kind Creator looking over your shoulder. What area in your life is God asking you to humble yourself? He will be there with you.

Man Playing God

All of us want to soar; to fly high above our problems and challenges. The only way this can successfully and consistently happen is for us to connect with the Most High. I want to play with God, but I don’t want to play God. The devil fell when he boasted, as the Bible says, “I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:14, NLT) But, unlike his Creator, Satan was never able to create something from nothing. He could reshape and recast what God had already created, but making something from nothing is a feat accomplished by the Most High alone. Today, if you want to soar high above problems and challenges, cultivate a relationship with the only Person who can take you there, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of all things. (Colossians 1:16)

Rushing Rivers or Stagnant Ponds

I want to be a rushing river that God can flow through, and not become a stagnant pond limiting the abundant life He promised. I want to be attached to what is eternal and producing life, not be seduced by the temporary and lifeless. To become a stagnant pond, all you have to do is cease to change; to cease to grow. But, nothing about God is stagnant. The reality is, stagnant areas in our lives are not growing! Yet, everything about the God of the Universe shouts, “Growth!” As we speak, the Universe is expanding. Scientists acknowledge the galaxies outside of our own are moving away from us, and the ones that are farthest away are moving the fastest. Today, let the life of God flow through you. Only He can expand and multiply what He has given you.

God’s Plan is Best

There no greater plan for our lives than God’s plan. It’s what we’d all long for, if we could see the past, present and future clearly. We’d want the will of God more than our own will. Now, you can be a bird and not fly. You can be a fish and not swim. You can be married and not love your spouse. But why would you want to live beneath your potential? I choose to obey God because it’s the best out of all possible options; because only my Creator could know what is best for me. And, I get to follow His majestic plan for my life, to receive His love, to worship Him with all of my heart, soul and strength, and love others as He has loved me.

The Tug of God’s Spirit

What we see, we are in some way responsible for. Does this sound over-stated? If you saw a crime, would you do something? Would you call the police? If a stranger was dying, would you call an ambulance? These are challenging situations to say the least, but most of us would say, “Absolutely, I’d do something!” When Jesus “…saw the crowds, He had compassion for them.” (Matthew 9:36, ESV) What do we feel when we see broken people around us. Even though we are not always called to get directly involved, we can always do something. We can pray, or offer a kind word, or step up in some other way. But, I believe as Christ-followers our default should never be, “there’s nothing I can do,” when perhaps there is. Stay open to the tug of God’s Spirit. You might be surprised.

Making Your Life a “Glorious Get To”

No one wants to bless your life more than God, and every blessing that lasts is because of His grace. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17, NKJV) No one gives gifts like God! God’s looking for people who are willing to distribute these gifts: His love, His joy, His peace, His forgiveness, and His kindness. He’ll bless anyone who’s willing to stay unattached to the things He gives them. Many times, He wants us just to be intermediaries, “flowing rivers of blessing” and not “stagnant pools of entitlement.” Someone, willing to allow His life to flow through them. God doesn’t want to make your life a miserable “have to”. He delights in making it a glorious “get to”.

KLOVE Features May 2017

Second Chances

At many points in life, each of us wish we could get a do-over. And no one does do-over’s better than God. God gives each of us 2nd chances, every day; just in case we were blind yesterday, and missed an opportunity to do what was right and receive His blessing. At times, do-overs require our repentance, a commitment to turn away from sin, embracing God’s forgiveness and a change in behavior. At the end of the day, receiving the do-overs of God is worth whatever obedience He requires. We’ve all had lots of blind yesterdays! But although we see our failures, God sees our faith. We remember falling down and God remembers us getting up. To God, our sins are forgettable! Our faith is memorable! I thank God every day for the many do-overs in my life.

 

Defeating Disappointment

Do you believe God is directing your life? If Jesus is your Lord, then He is. As the Bible says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…”? (Psalm 37:23, NKJV) But, our goodness is not primarily connected to our behavior, but to God’s. The Father sent His Son to die for our sins. As the Bible says, “For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:10, NLT) If we allow Jesus to lead our lives, then we won’t have to give in to disappointment, because God will always have another appointment for us, even if we miss some. So many people wallow in disappointment, but if we really believe God is ordering our steps, then ultimately we’ll never miss the divine appointments He’s prepared for us. Defeat your disappointments by believing God is setting your appointments.

 

Boredom is a Decision

Do you ever wonder if God cares about the mundane, seemingly futile, dimensions of your life? Mundane is defined as “lacking interest or excitement; dull; of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one.” My conviction is, “If my life is boring, I can’t blame God!” Boredom has nothing to do with my circumstances, and everything to do with my perspective. For nearly 40-years, one of my life maxims has been, “If it’s boring, it’s not of God!” From the tiniest atom, to the largest galaxy, it’s impossible for God to be boring, or do boring. As a young Christian, I decided to never allow my life to be boring. Yes, boredom is a decision! Make your decision today; look for God in every situation of your life. Refuse to be bored, because God isn’t.

 

Here’s to Great Moms!

Here’s to great moms, who cherish their children more than their sleep, more than their dreams, even more than their own lives. My beautiful wife, Suzie, a pastor’s wife who never had a desire for public ministry. She was called to keep her emotionally-challenged husband healthy, and raise godly children. She didn’t follow what other people were doing, she did what God asked her to do. She didn’t have a boring life. She had a blessed life. She didn’t want to be a great martyr. She just wanted to be a great mother! Here’s to great mothers, who wake up and go to sleep thinking of their children, only to get out of bed to do it all over again. Happy Mother’s Day to all our great Moms! We wouldn’t be here without you.

 

Part of the Problem or Solution?

After a Mother’s Day dinner, a Mom was washing the dishes when her teen-age daughter wandered into the kitchen. Horrified to see her mother at the sink, she said, “Mom, you shouldn’t be doing dishes on Mother’s Day!” The mom was touched by her daughter’s thoughtfulness. She was about to take off her apron and give it to her daughter, when the daughter added, “You can do them tomorrow!” HA! Anyone can point out problems in this world. But, only when we are willing to be part of the solution do we truly represent God’s forgiving, healing, delivering heart. Jesus sent His disciples out, saying, “…the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!” (Matthew 10:7-8, NLT)

 

Mommy’s Eating Kids

A little boy had been watching his mother’s stomach get bigger and bigger. It was becoming harder and harder to sit on her lap. “Mommy, why is your stomach getting so big?” She told him that his little sister was inside her stomach. “Mommy, why is my little sister inside your stomach?” He was told that he used to be in her stomach too. When the boy’s father got home, the boy asked his father if he could talk to him in private. “Daddy, I need answers to two questions: First, why does Mommy keep eating little kids? And second, how did I escape?” A funny story, but it reminds us of the unique roles Moms and Dads play. A Mom tells you that, “You belong!” And a Dad tells you, “Why you are here!” Be a Dad or Mom in someone’s life!

 

God’s Tribe is a Family

There are many communities and tribes on the planet: from clubs to gangs, cliques to caucuses, companies to congregations, fraternities to societies, but we must never forget, God’s primary community and tribe is a family. He is first and foremost a Father. And our relationship with Him is based on love, because that’s who He is, and that’s why He does what He does. It’s His nature! God’s motive is love, His desire and will for us is based on love, and therefore the glue that keeps us connected to Him and one another must be love. Have you found your place in God’s loving family? Our answer should never be, “No, because nobody loves me,” but “Yes, because I have decided to love God and others.”

 

Work for God, Not Man

One of the biggest dead-ends in life is believing you’re working for man. You’re not! If you’re a follower of Jesus, the Bible says, “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV) As a young Christian, I had a job cleaning the gourmet kitchen of a large casino. From day one, I decided, “I’m working for God, not man!” And so, I worked alone, seven and a half hours every day without a break. One day, I looked up at the grease-filled ceiling, and God spoke to my heart to clean it. It was a hard, dirty task that no one had asked me to do, but the head of food services heard about it and offered me a much better job. But he was not the only Person watching. God simultaneously offered me a much bigger promotion, and His benefits are infinitely better.

 

My Best Day are Behind Me

Recently, I realized I was believing a lie that would diminish, if not destroy, my future. God showed me I was believing the lie that my best days were behind me. WOW! If that’s not exactly what the Devil realized about himself, and is trying to impart to us, I don’t know what is. Why would I believe this? Because of past discouragements? Present struggles? Thinking youthfulness brings greater potential? Every one of these perspectives can be vanquished by believing the truth that, God saves the best wine for last! (John 3) He only does wondrous things! (Psalm 72:18) And His marvelous promise to each of us, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT)

Reaping in Abundance

Do you want to reap in abundance? Then, walk in obedience! God is the ultimate result maker. Only He can give us the abundant life we long for. But, if we refuse to follow His leading, then we are left with the fruit of our disobedience and not the harvest of happiness He intended. That’s not to say we won’t experience pain and heart-ache, and at times fight disappointment and even despair. But the permanent, will eventually replace the temporary. Hope will come riding over the hill to win the day, and the bright future God designed for us will prevail. If everything we are hoping for came easily, we would never embrace the strong, victorious perspective Jesus died to impart to us. Obey God! It’s the only doorway to the abundant life Jesus promised.

 

Pride-vate

I sought out an old friend for coffee, to see how he was doing. He shared with me about the incredibly difficult season he had gone through over the past year. I asked him why he hadn’t let anyone know what he was going through so we could encourage him. He said, he was a private person, and didn’t feel comfortable inviting others in. Consequently, the way he processed the difficult experience was frankly, not healthy. I then realized his “private” perspective was really a “pride-vate” perspective. Pride had kept him from reaching out to other parts of the Body of Christ that could have helped him. How about you? Have you isolated yourself from reaching out to others for help; and is the root reason, pride? God’s grace is only given to those who are willing to humble themselves.

 

Of Tests and Temptations

Do you know the difference between a test and a temptation? Simply stated, everything God does is a test for our “good.” Everything the devil does is a temptation for our “bad.” The tests of God are designed to bring out the fruit of His Spirit in us. His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV) The devil, on the other hand, tempts us to sin. The Bible says, “…the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy and drunkenness…” (Galatians 5:19-21, ESV) “God gives us what we need for the season we’re in.”

KLOVE Features April 2017

Who Can I Help Today?

Ever been around a “Cup is completely empty kind of person.” I had a roommate in college during my “I’m a hippie, why don’t you feel good about supporting me?” phase. I was crashing in his room, because no one wanted to be around him. He’d draw dark, moon craters and hung them on the wall, “Just in case anybody was feeling good!” I once asked him if he was enjoying reading a book. Just to break the ice…the thick, two feet of ice. He slammed the book shut and said, “I wouldn’t be on page 158 if I didn’t.” Lightning flashed, thunder rolled, a wolf howled; and mothers held their children tighter. Now, decades later and knowing Jesus, I so wish I could have helped him. There are so many lost souls out there. Who can you help today?

God’s Sun Bathing

One day, the prophet Elijah made an unthinkable request of a destitute mother, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and cook your ‘last meal,’ but bake me a little loaf of bread first. Afterward there will still be enough food for you and your son.” (1 Kings 17:13) It must have sounded like, “I hear you! You’re going to eat your last meal and die. That’s great! While you’re at it, I’ll take two eggs over easy with waffles. Do you have real butter?” Elijah seemed oblivious. Do you ever feel that way about God? You’re freaking out and He must be sun bathing. Many of us are more afraid of stepping out in faith than the consequence of not stepping out. But, the real issue is trust. Faith in God only begins when we’re willing to trust God completely and not ourselves. Try trusting! It works!

Of Symptoms and Roots

If we lack hope, in some way, we have believed a lie. It reminds me of a story about a man who late one night, in the middle of nowhere, had a flat tire. He had no jack, and so began to walk to the only house around, way off in the distance. As he did, his mind raced. “Maybe they won’t have a car jack. Maybe they won’t want to give it to me. Maybe they’ll think I’m a robber.” By the time he arrived at the house, he’d worked himself into such a paranoid state of mind, that when the door opened he yelled, “You can keep your stupid jack!” When things go wrong, our reaction will surface what God’s trying to get at. He’s after the things that go “ouch” in the night. Remember, whatever your challenge is, it’s the symptom, not the root.

Victims or Victors

When you get out of bed in the morning, do you see yourself rising as a “victim” or a “victor”? When you look in the mirror, do you see someone overwhelmed or overcoming? How we see ourselves is infinitely more important than how others see us. But, what is most important, is how God sees us. He created us to be victorious; overcomers, “triumphing in every situation.” But, you ask, how am I triumphant if I don’t feel triumphant? That’s the root of the problem. We let our feelings dictate our reality. The truth is, my perspective can triumph over any reality. We are spirit beings learning to fly in the Spirit realm. Learning to soar above our problems, and seated in heavenly places. With that kind of faith and trust in God, we are more than conquerors. (Romans 8:37)

Calling All Aliens

I’m always amazed at how many people chase fantasy more than reality, missing the obvious, in search of what doesn’t even exist. SETI, an acronym for Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence has $30-million radio telescopes stationed near Mt. Shasta and pointed into space…listening. After many years searching millions of stars, over 10 billion radio channels, hoping to hear some extra-terrestrial life, they have heard nothing…absolutely nothing. Running after the mirage of distant life, we miss the miracle of God’s present life. The Bible says, “Professing themselves to be wise, they have become fools.” (Romans 1:22, KJV) Today, connect to the God who is; the One person worth hearing and listening to. He’s only a humble prayer away. “Call to me and I will answer you…” (Jeremiah 33:3, ESV)

Set Up to Be Healed

Would you believe God is setting you up for a healing? It’s true! But you’ll have to get on the operating table to receive it. Jesus has to open us up, in order to fill us up with His life. We can’t accomplish in the flesh, what only God can fulfill in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:17) We say, “I wish I didn’t have this or that problem,” when it is that very problem that has made you willing to allow the Great Physician to operate on your heart. It’s your marriage that is exposing selfishness. Your sickness has revealed your doubt. Your job is teaching you how to forgive. Your mistakes have humbled you. Are you coming to the end of yourself? Wonderful! Let Jesus meet you there. It is where your greatest healing will begin.

Getting Anything You Want

Is it possible to ask anything you want from God and get it? Absolutely! Kind of. Jesus said, “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted.” (John 15:7, NLT) In other words, if we are so dialed in relationally with Jesus, allowing the Word of God to saturate our hearts, we would NEVER ask for something other than God’s will. This is not a verbal shell game! It’s actually a divine equation! A principle found in Psalm 37 as well. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desire of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4, ESV) Be so ecstatic in God’s presence, that your heart becomes so transformed, you crave God alone. With that kind of heart conversion, God will give you the desires of your heart.

Our Greatest Danger

What we see we are, in some way, responsible for. In Matthew 14, Peter saw Jesus walking across the Sea of Galilee in the middle of a great storm. When Jesus told Peter to come to Him, Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water. He was able to do the miraculous as long as he looked to Jesus. But, when God rescues us, He always tries to teach us to have more faith. Our greatest danger is not strong winds, but weak faith. Once on the water, Peter began to sink. At this point, Jesus in the original language calls Peter, “little faith”. Peter’s doubt caused him to sink. Doubt literally means to “be divided in two”. “…a double-minded man, (is) unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8) Genuine faith is single-minded trust in Jesus.

Wishing Things Never Happened

All of us wish something, even many things, never happened to us. I believe it’s partially because we don’t yet see the finished value of all we have been through. We all give up too soon! Who wants to be Moses on the back side of the desert? …Daniel in the lion’s den? …Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace? …Jesus on the cross? Paul the Apostle, about to be beheaded? Yet, that same Paul wrote before His death, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2;20, ESV) Trust God “…he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…” (Philippians 1:6, ESV)

Stay Connected

Genuine wisdom and understanding will always lead us toward God and never away from Him…out of the shadows and into the light. Jesus taught nothing in private that He hadn’t said in public. There were no secret handshakes. No inside scoop. No airs or pretense. What they saw was who He was. What He taught was what He believed. Don’t follow people who have a false sense of independence, tending to separate from God and His people. Each part of Christ’s body is lifeless without being relationally connected and dependent upon the Head. Without connecting to the life flow of the Body of Christ, we will each wither and die. How can we separate from our Heavenly Father and still expect to experience His abundant life?

Whatever It Takes to Be Healed

If we’re not willing to do what we’ve never done before, we won’t see what we’ve never seen before. In John 9, Jesus told a man blind from birth that he needed to walk a good distance to the pool of Siloam to wash his eyes. Jesus made obedience a requirement for his healing. So, let me ask you, “Are you willing to do whatever it takes to be healed?” Your wholeness may very well depend upon it. God wants to teach us to be comfortable with awkward. If we want to see the unexpected, we will have to believe for the unexpected. Perceptual blindness is a concept that says, we tend to miss what we don’t expect. Expect the God of miracles to show up! Love never fails, and God is love.

No One Else is Coming

Jesus said, “Unless you believe I am who I say I am, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24) Ouch! Who wants to die in their sins? Not me! Obviously, who Jesus says He is, is a matter of life and death. He’s the Bread of Life. (John 6:35) We will starve without Him. He’s the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6) There is no other way outside of His way, no other truth aside from His truth, and no one’s spirit is truly alive unless they know Jesus. Our fallen world will always minimize who Jesus is, and consequently, most people will die without allowing Him to rescue them. Jesus assured us, “No one comes to the Father, except through Me.” (John 14:6) If we fail to receive the Savior that Heaven sent, we will realize in the end, no One else is coming.

KLOVE Features March 2017

Quick to Label, Slow to Love

Far right! Far left! Liberal, conservative, progressive, moderate, straight, gay! We live is a culture that is quick to Label, but slow to Love. Labels that often hurt, and almost always divide. Jesus lived in a similar world: publican, Pharisee, leper, sinner, adulteress, tax collector, Jew, Gentile, Galilean and Samaritan. Will Heaven be as divided? Hardly! Our sins will be placed in the sea of forgetfulness. (Micah 7:18-19) Even on Earth, the Bible says, “…all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:27-28, NLT) So, bring a little Heaven to Earth. Remember what the Bible says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them…” (Romans 12:9. NLT)

Winners Not Whiners

At one point in my life, I didn’t thank God for anything, and blamed Him for everything! Yet, none of us have been short-changed by God. We’ve all been “lavishly overpaid.” He hasn’t cheated any of us. The final chapter is not in. Don’t give up on your life! God hasn’t! How’s He doing? Great! So, if God’s doing great and I’m following Him and trusting Him, then I should be doing great also; as far as my perspective and attitude is concerned. When a team wins the Super Bowl, every one of their players wins also. They may not have played for one second, but they’re still winners. If you’re with God, you’re created to be a winner…not a whiner! The Bible affirms this, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:14, NKJV)

Celebrating Our Differences

Can we still celebrate our differences, or has peer pressure become so pronounced in our society that we have to walk lock-step in order to be heard and accepted? When the Bible says, “God made the woman for the man…” (1 Corinthians 11:9) should this offend women? Or regarding the humorous quote, “God made the man before the woman, because you always make the rough draft before the masterpiece.” Should this sentence diminish me as a man? Hardly! It makes me smile. Even more than that, it reminds me of God’s exhortation to me: “…but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3, ESV) Opposites are meant to attract and to accompany; so we should celebrate our diversity. I don’t compete with my wife, I complement her. Celebrate the differences in the people around you, and you’ll begin to see others as God does.

You Sleep with God!

A three-year old ran into her parents’ bedroom in the middle of the night saying, “Mommy, I’m scared,” The mother, who was only half-awake whispered, “Go back to bed, sweetheart. God will be there with you.” The little girl stood still for a moment and after pondering what he Mom had said, blurted out, “Mommy, I’ll sleep here with Daddy and you go in there and sleep with God.” HA! It’s a funny story, but with a profound reality. Sometimes, we need to see and sense God in a human being, not just in the Spirit by ourselves. Be God-in-the-flesh today! Someone needs to see Jesus in you! “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.” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)

Reclaiming Your Childhood

I want to tear down every stronghold in my life. I want God to rip them out by their roots! The Bible says, “…the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds…” (2 Corinthians 10:4, NKJV) All of us are in a battle to pull down strongholds in our mind…from our past. Strongholds of fear, bitterness, selfishness, anger, lust, pride, depression and unbelief. These are high places, where we sacrifice our future. Or, we can regain the ground once conceded to the enemy of our souls, “…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NKJV) It’s time to recover from the wounds of your past. It’s time to redeem your thought-life.

Externally Attractive vs. Eternally Attractive

We live in a world that’s obsessed with being externally attractive, not eternally attractive. So, don’t be distracted if God’s will on Earth look’s unattractive. It may be unattractive to buy a used car…to downsize…to not be in a relationship…to shop at Good Will…to rent a house. But, low tide is the best time to buy in. And only God knows what low tide looks like. It looks like: a baby in a manger…like having your back to the Red Sea…like facing off with 450 prophets of Baal…like three men in a fiery furnace …like a Man hanging on a cross and a large stone sealing His tomb. You’ll need to hear from God before you buy into your “low tide” circumstances. Faith comes by hearing and obeying, (Romans 10:17), and only faith pleases God. (Hebrews 11:6)

Dissatisfaction in Advertisements

Why are so many people dissatisfied? In part, it’s because the world’s advertisers want to keep you discontented. They can’t make any money if you’re satisfied with your life. You’ll never hear a commercial say, “You’ve got to be content with what you have…our product won’t give you contentment. Save your money and buy only what you really need.” What if you can’t afford to buy the house, the cars, and the clothes? There’s nothing wrong with having nice things if it’s God’s will for your life…if they don’t have you…and if you can afford them. “Being content makes poor men rich, and being discontent makes rich men poor.” (Randy Alcorn) Life, that is truly life, has nothing to do with money. Truly living is giving, sharing, and being generous. Jesus said, “You’ll be happier giving!” (Acts 20:35)

Looking Forward

Because there’s a loving God who created us with purpose, we each have a destiny; a script written before the foundation of the world. When we say destiny, we mean our future in God, not just in Heaven, but here on Earth. How do you see your future? Even at Paul the Apostle’s lowest moments he still looked forward to what God had ahead of him. He wrote, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14, ESV) That’s what the Christian life is about: looking forward: It will take faith, hope, and love, but He will give you the grace you need. Look forward! God’s perfect will, is waiting for you there.

Divisions in Our Society

Are you struggling with the divisions in our society? Most Americans are! Seventy-seven percent of all voters, think Americans are less tolerant of each other’s political opinions than in the past. Forty percent say the last election has negatively affected their personal relationship with a friend or family member. (Barna Group) And that really hurts! Frankly, we are less tolerant of others. Tolerance is defined as “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with…” It doesn’t say we have to like or agree with someone else’s opinions or behavior, but it really is essential in order to coexist in a pluralistic society. The Bible says, “…if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” (Galatians 5:15, ESV)

Listen to God and Live!

There’s a waterfall in Yosemite National Park in California called Vernal Falls, with some startling signs. After climbing a narrow trail to the top of the falls, a sign reads, “Extremely dangerous area ahead!” Clear enough! But a few feet later, another says, “Smooth slippery rocks…moving water…stay back from the water’s edge.” A little stronger! But, just in case you missed the point, the sign ends with, “If you slip and go over the water fall you will die!” Wow! How do they know that? Because, people went further…and died! Hmm? Are you heeding God’s warnings? Your life depends on it. Paul the Apostle was on a ship that was about to be destroyed. He told everyone, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” (Acts 27:32) They listened and lived. Listen to God’s warnings, and live!

Mule Fell into a Well

A man’s mule fell into a well. But there was no way to get it out. He decided he’d get a shovel and cover her up. It would be cruel, but less cruel than letting the mule starve to death. So, the man took a shovelful of dirt and threw it down the well. We’ve all felt the dirt of failure, pain, and hopelessness pile on us. We’ve been smothered by our sin, our mistakes. But, every time a shovelful of dirt hit the mule, she’d shake it off and stomp it. Before long, the mule had shaken off enough dirt, so that she was high enough to jump out of the well. That’s what Jesus did for us. Our sin was piled on Him. He stomped it under His feet, conquering sin and death that we might live.

Rock in a Faucet Story

My twin brother Joe had a kitchen faucet with no water pressure at all. So, the city sent out a work crew to dig up the street and find the problem. After working all day, they couldn’t figure it out. Joe then said, “It’s really weird, because the faucet in the bathroom works great!” At that point, the foreman’s eyes got real big. He walked over to the kitchen faucet, unscrewed the filter, and pulled out a small rock. He looked at Joe with disbelief and packed up his crew. I’ve seen that look on people’s faces toward me as well. It’s pity, mixed with disbelief. But, it makes a good point. We can spend all our energy digging for the root of a problem, when the Holy Spirit can reveal it to us in a second. Spend more time praying and believing, and less time worrying and doubting.

KLOVE Features February 2017

How Do You See God

How we see God will determine who we become, for it demonstrates how we see ourselves, and how we will ultimately act toward others. Is God loving, kind, critical or judgmental? Since we are made in the image and likeness of God, the Bible says, “…as he is so also are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17) We must have of an accurate view of who God is in order to represent Him well. If we believe what the world says about God, then we will present mere distortion. But if we believe what the Word says about God, our lives will be an epistle known and read by others, representing Jesus as He truly is: the loving God of the Universe who came to Earth to die for our sins, and then rose victoriously so we can live victorious and triumphant lives as well.

How to Get Prayers Answered

Want a sure-fire way to get answers to your prayers? The Bible provides clear guidelines. It says, “And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.” (1 John 5:14, NLT) God wants us to be confident that He hears us when we pray for, as the Bible says, “…anything that pleases him.” The Bible continues, “And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.” (1 John 5:15, NLT) So, let’s sum it up. If you want 100% of your prayers to be answered, do this: fully submit to God, want His will more than your own, discern what’s on His heart, and join Him in praying for just that. Then you will enjoy a relationship with the One who wants your prayers answered more than you do.

God Grieves

Have you ever been really hurt by someone? All of us have! But no one hurts more than God; especially when His heart is broken over the rebellion of His children. Winkie Pratney writes that the word “grieve” in Genesis 6:6 is almost untranslatable: it means to have difficulty breathing, to gasp, to be so deeply hurt and wounded that you cannot breathe. Our sin takes God’s breath away. We may wink at our sin, but God gasps. The Father knows the value of our soul is priceless. That’s why He sent His only begotten Son to die in our place. When we are hurt we want to fight and kill. When God hurts He wants to bleed so others can live. He gives us each a choice. May we receive His new nature and live.

Bigotry

A modern definition of the word “bigot” states that a bigot is “a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions…” That may strike closer to home than we’d like to admit. So, before we start throwing the word “bigot” around, we might consider that our judgment of other people’s seeming bigotry, may qualify us as equally bigoted. We may actually become the biggest bigot we know. Ouch! Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3, ESV) “Jesus, let us treat others as you did when you were on this Earth.”

Illusion vs. Incarnation

Never lose sight of who God created you to be…a reflection of the Lord Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. Either we are tragically being conformed to a world that the Bible guarantees “will pass away” (1 John 2:17), or we are being gloriously transformed by the Word of God that will last forever. (1 Peter 1:25) Jesus made it clear, “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.” (Matthew 12:30, NLT) We can become “momentary culture clones” and forfeit “God’s eternal character.” Don’t trade your birthright for a hot meal, reflecting man’s illusion and not God’s Incarnation. Jesus died to destroy sin and death. Live a godly life, passionately representing Jesus, and you will die having finished well.

Persecution of Christians

I wake up grateful, every day that I can freely worship Jesus in America. I never want to take that for granted, because it may not always be so. In 2016, Christians continued to be the most persecuted group around the world. The upcoming report from the Italian-based “Center for Studies on New Religions,” determined that 90,000 Christians were killed for their beliefs worldwide last year. So sad! Nearly a third, were at the hands of Islamic extremists like ISIS. Others were killed by state and non-state persecution, in places like North Korea. 600 million Christians were prevented from practicing their faith in 2016. Thank God every day that you can freely worship Jesus, and pray for fellow Christ-followers around the world who are being persecuted and cannot.

Being Judged

Have you ever felt inappropriately judged? One of the most hurtful things in life is when you have a good motive, and you’re judged for having a bad one. That’s how Joseph felt when, for no fault of his own, he was his Dad’s favorite, and his brothers judged and hated him for it. But, he never complained and allowed bitterness to smother his life, even after being sold into slavery, unjustly put in jail, and forgotten by people he helped. In a similar way, David felt judged when he was courageously willing to fight Goliath, but his older brother accused him of pride, saying, “I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!” (1 Samuel 17:28, NLT) Remember what the Bible says, “But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.” (1 Peter 2:20, NLT)

Lightning Bolt Thoughts

How do I know a thought I’m having may be of God? My answer? I would never have thought of it in the first place. Now, that may sound overstated, but, many times, I’ve found it to be true. The Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon described it this way, “Pull up short every now and then, and the passengers on your coach will wake up.” God wakes me up with a lightning bolt thought. And as I soak on it, I realize He has presented me with a solution to a problem, a revelation of insight, or a brilliant opportunity to step out in faith and obedience. One final test. If the new thought produces confusion, forget it, it’s not God. But, if it makes you afraid. Wonderful! It may be time to get out of the boat and walk on water.

God’s Cause vs. Your Cause

What are you most passionate about, God’s cause or your own? When David’s brother accused him of being proud, David’s feelings were hurt, but he was more concerned with how God felt than how he felt. That’s how you know if you have God’s heart. King Saul and everyone else facing Goliath were concerned about their own cause. David was concerned for God’s. He said, “Is there not a cause?” (1 Samuel 17:29, NKJV) Like Jesus, he was being mocked and ridiculed for doing what is right. But, like Jesus, He cared more about what His Heavenly Father thought, than what man thought; God’s cause, more than his own. We have the same test today. Be passionate for God’s cause and you will not just be fulfilled, but you will fulfill your life’s purpose.

Picking Up Pieces of People

We live in a world of imposters. People trying to be something they’re not. Putting on someone else’s identity. Saul tried to put his armor on David. David refused. The only way we can ever fulfill our destiny is to become the person God intended, not others. God will always test you to see if you are following Him, following yourself, or following someone you want to impress. What inner armor is God developing in you? Every test we’ve ever been given will be essential up ahead. Don’t despise the “day of small tests”. I was picking up a piece of paper on the street and God reminded me it was a “habit of obedience” formed in me 40 years ago. What began with “picking up pieces of paper” matured into: “picking up pieces of people”.

Jesus, Our Prophet, Priest and King

Will you let Jesus be your Prophet, your Priest, and your King? A Prophet, to reveal God, to speak for God, and to communicate the truth God wants you to know. (Acts 3:22-23) A Priest, who offered Himself as a sacrifice for your sins (Ephesians 5:2). And as your King, to rule and reign over your life (Matthew 21:5). As God, come to Earth, Jesus embodies all of these intercessory qualities. If you let Christ’s Word speak to you He will guide you into truth that will set you free. If you allow His blood to cleanse you, you will be washed clean from the stain of past and present sins. And if you empower Jesus to lead and guide your every decision, your life will overflow with the peace and joy of God. “Jesus, today, be my Prophet, Priest and King!”

We’re Never Alone

One of the worst things we can ever believe is that we can be whoever we want to be in private. Many have destroyed their lives believing this. If we can’t defeat the enemy when we’re alone, we’ll never defeat him in front of other people. Actually, if we have a relationship with God, we should realize we’re never alone! Jesus said, “Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!” (Luke 12:3, NLT) We must fight to win the battle for our heart and mind. The Bible says, “…let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God…” (Ephesians 4:23-24, NLT) Having the mind of Christ means washing our thoughts with God’s Word.

K-LOVE Features January 2017

Dying to Self

Dying to self is a major part of training our souls. Speaking of Jesus, the Bible says, “And being found in human form, he humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8, ESV) In “Human Form” or, as one translation says, He was “found in fashion as a man.” This is the same wording used in ancient times when a king exchanged his kingly garments for a brief period of time to become a beggar. That’s what Jesus did. As the King of the Universe, He humbled Himself. He willingly stooped to the measure that was needed: to be humiliated. “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.” (1 Peter 5:6, NLT)

 

Being Credible Makes You Incredible

Some people are more concerned about being incredible, than being credible. But, if we focus on making our lives credible, God will make them incredible. In our celebrity-enamored culture, gifted people have more clout than those with character. Yet, in eternity, what matters most to God, should matter most to us. And what always matters most to God is our reflecting Him and the fruit of His Spirit. The Bible says, “…the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT) Make your life credible by yielding to the fruit of God’s Spirit, and your eternity will not just be incredible, your life on Earth will be as well.

 

Is Your Life Believable?

We’ve all seen movies that have touched us emotionally. If you’re like me, they’ve even brought you to tears. And yet, they are just actors, acting! In the 19th century, there was criticism that the preachers were too theatrical. The Bishop of London once asked Garrick, a well-known actor, “Why is it that actors, in representing a mere fiction, can move an audience to tears, while ministers, in representing the most solemn realities, can scarcely obtain a hearing?” Garrick replied: “It is because we represent fiction as reality, and you represent reality as fiction!” Wow! What a response! Do I represent God in my life as reality or fiction? Is my life believable? Do I live like I know about God, or actually know God? “Jesus, make my life believable, like Yours!”

 

Forgive and Forget

Joseph, the Old Testament patriarch, had every right to become bitter toward the brothers who sold him into slavery; to hate the employer’s wife who lied and sent him to prison. Even toward God for allowing all this to happen. But Joseph guarded his heart. He did it by letting go of past pain. Joseph named his first son, Manasseh, which meant “forgetfulness.” He chose to forget about his troubles and forgive those who hurt him. (Genesis 41:51) Because of this he was able to name his second child, Ephraim, which means “fruitfulness,” saying, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my suffering.” (Genesis 41:52) We each have the same choice. Are we are willing to forgive and forget in order to live fruitful and abundant lives? The success of our future is always linked to the healing of our past.

 

Shalom

Have you ever heard someone say “shalom!” It’s a beautiful Hebrew word. I used to think it just meant “peace,” but it means much more than that. Shalom speaks to our wholeness, well-being, safety, happiness, completeness, our peace, security, prosperity, victory, contentment, and rest. The symbols for the word shalom actually read, to “destroy the authority that binds to chaos.” It is derived from a root word, which means “to restore what is needed in order to make someone or something whole and complete. The Bible says, “Keep turning your back on every sin, and make “peace” / “shalom” your life motto. Practice being at peace with everyone.” (Psalm 34:14) Shalom…be whole, completely at peace, restored by the blood of Jesus, and the marvelous grace of God.

 

When Hope’s Inside You

Each of us believe many things in our heart, but nothing more important than hope. No conviction is more-essential, more life-giving, more encouraging, than hope. The Bible says, “…sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15, NKJV) “…the hope that is in you.” Hope has been defined as “…that which is contrary to all human expectations.” Wow! If what we are hoping for has no natural reason to happen, then our hope must be in the God beyond the natural…the super-natural God of the universe. Only He can give us the eternal, beyond expectation, hope that we need. Today, put your complete hope in God. He alone can exceed your expectations.

 

Kindness

In the Old Testament, when David became King, he could have been vengeful and, like his predecessor, King Saul, try to destroy Saul’s son Jonathan’s descendants. Instead, David did the opposite. He said, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1, NKJV) The word “kindness” here is a beautiful word meaning “loyal love.” Wow! Showing kindness is demonstrating “loyal love.” David then allows Jonathan’s physically disabled son, Mephibosheth, who called himself a “dead dog,” to eat at his table. He showed Mephibosheth loyal love. Isn’t that what God has shown us? Isn’t that what He wants us to show others…loyal love? Today, who can we be kind to…to whom can we demonstrate loyal love?

 

Live Ready!

In 2016, I interviewed two of the young men who, the year before, had stopped a terrorist attack on a French train. Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler Jr., with a third friend, courageously intervened and prevented a heavily armed terrorist from inflicting untold injuries. For their efforts, the President of France gave them medals. I was stunned at how their response was to immediately run toward the danger. It provoked me to assess my own willingness to be courageous. I then had a serious conversation with my wife Suzie about what I would do if, in the future, I was confronted with a life-threatening situation that I could possibly prevent. My conclusion: I want to live and, if necessary, die courageously. If we have to get ready, we’re too late. We must live ready!

 

Being Whole-hearted

It is obvious when reading Scripture that God is asking us to whole-heartedly follow Him. But what does this mean? Wholehearted in the Bible is the Hebrew word “tamim” which means “without uncertainty, undivided and resolute.” It doesn’t indicate ideal moral perfection, but speaks to our relationship with God. Some of us are wholehearted in our work, career, ambitions, dreams, and desires, but are we wholehearted, without uncertainty, undivided and resolute in our relationship with God? God’s not asking us for perfection, but He is asking for us to give Him our whole heart! Jesus said, “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37, NLT) “Jesus, I want to whole-heartedly live for you. For in the end, it’s all that matters.”

 

Hope Without Disappointment

Want to know the cure for hopelessness? It’s Hope! Pretty surprising, huh? The Bible says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12, ESV) Is it possible to have hope, without disappointment? I believe it is! Here are five requirements for experiencing hope without disappointment. First, realize that hope without diligence is mere “wishful thinking.” Second, accept that you can’t become more than you hope to be. Third, acknowledge that hope always works in tandem with faith. Fourth, believe what God has ordered for you, is not just good…but is exceptional. And lastly, hope not just for better days, but also for a better understanding of God’s love for you, and a greater acceptance of His will.

 

Is your Identity, Fear-based or Faith-filled?

Are you viewing your life through a lens of fear or faith, hope or hopelessness? One way of evaluating your answer is to consider, do you have more fear or faith about your future? If your answer is fear, how can your fear be replaced with life-giving faith? The Bible’s equation is clear, “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17, NKJV) It’s God’s Word that builds our faith. It’s His truth that sets us free. Who knows more about your future than God? Wouldn’t His view of your true identity and destiny produce the most faith in your life? We can build faith muscles every day by spending time in the Word of God. Only then will our lives become faith-filled and not fear-based.

 

Confident on Judgment Day

Would you like to have confidence when you stand before God on the Day of Judgment? I know I would! The Bible provides a sure-fire way to make that happen. It says, and I’m paraphrasing, “God is love, and whoever abides in (His) love abides in God, and God abides in him.” It goes on to say, “By this His love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment…” Why? It continues, “…because as (God) is (full of love) so also are we…” And then it lands the plane, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.” Bam! (1 John 4:16b, 17, 18, 19, ESV)