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)

 

 

 

 

 

K-LOVE Features December 2016

Bronze Serpent

Did you know that even good things can become idols…things that we begin to look to and trust more than God? In the Old Testament, a plague of snakes was stopped when Moses built a bronze serpent. But, over 800 years, the nation of Israel began to worship this bronze serpent. Finally, to stop this idolatry, one of their kings, Hezekiah, broke the idol in pieces. (Numbers 21:1-9) A good thing had become the enemy of the best; worshipping and trusting God alone. Are there good things in your own life that God once did that you are now depending on more than Him: a friendship, some medication, entertainment, even exercise. An idol has been defined as, “trusting in a person or thing to do for me what only God can.” (Bill Gothard)

Created to Worship

Everyone is created to worship. We can’t help it. We’re all worshiping something. Either we worship the useless, temporary idols of this world, things like philosophies, celebrities, entertainment and sports, or we worship the only One worth worshiping: the one true God, the Lord Jesus Christ, Creator of all things. He alone deserves our complete worship and adoration. Jesus said, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” (Luke 4:8) When the creation worships the creation, our true identity as sons and daughters of the living God gets distorted. Only the Creator of all things deserves our complete love and adoration, our abandoned worship. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1, ESV)

Of Wins and Losses

Which is potentially more dangerous to your life and future: a great win, or a great loss? I’ve found that often after a great win, I’m attacked by a great seduction. In the Old Testament, King David went after someone else’s wife, Bathsheba, at a time when he should have gone to war. A great king, after great victories, fell prey to a great deception. On the other hand, after experiencing a great loss, I’ve found great opportunities. God’s turned short-term losses into long-term victories, and my personal losses into divine appointments. God spoke to Paul the Apostle, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Paul then responded, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses…for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10, NLT)

Follow Victors . . . Not Victims

What kind of leader do you want to follow? Frankly, I only want to follow leaders who offer more hope than pain. Not, man-made, wishful thinking hope, but God initiated, fulfilling His will, hope. Leaders who see themselves as victors, and not victims. As genuine hope is eternal, and comes from God alone, only those who know Him can guide us into a blessed future. Only those who have overcome the adversities of life, by trusting in Jesus alone, can lead us to the God who holds the future in His victorious hands. The Bible says when it comes to facing life’s greatest struggles, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37, ESV) If we trust in Jesus, we will live victorious lives, overcoming every battle we face by depending upon Him alone.

“I Don’t Want to Be Led!”

Once, when I was praying in the presence of the Lord, at a very tender moment, I asked God what He would say to me. What He spoke to my spirit changed my life. He gently challenged me, “I don’t want to be led.” I knew immediately He would not be speaking this to me if I wasn’t, in some way, trying to lead Him. I was extremely convicted by this sentence, and filled with emotion, I asked His forgiveness. It has made all the difference. Since that time I have focused on getting out of God’s way, to allow Jesus to lead my life. So, the next time you think grabbing the wheel from God is a good idea, remember this: “If you try and orchestrate it, all you’ll do is contaminate it.” (Mike Breen)

How We Should Live

Would you believe it if I told you that why Jesus came is how we should live? Well, believe it, it’s true. Why Jesus came is how we should live! The Bible says, “…the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28, NLT) Jesus added, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” (John 20:28, NLT) Jesus, came to serve and give, and He said He was sending us to live the exact same way: living to serve and give to God and others. Now the ball is in our court. We can fulfill God’s will for our lives as well. Be like Jesus: spend your life serving and giving to God and others. Only then can you live the abundant life Jesus promised.

Doubting Jesus

Have you ever thought, “I’d believe if I could see a miracle?” Maybe so. Maybe not. Even those who saw the resurrected Jesus still doubted. When He had His final conversation with eleven of His closest disciples, some still doubted. They had seen Him perform numerous miracles, die on a Cross, and rise from the dead. And yet, the Bible says, “When they saw Him, they worshipped Him, but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:17, NKJV) WOW! What else could He have done to prove Himself to them? Nothing! This was not a question of Jesus doing more. It was a matter of them exercising their faith more. As James, the brother of Jesus, wrote, “…ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6, ESV)

Vision Begins with Faithfulness

God is a God of vision, who wants to give each of us vision for our lives. But there’s a reason some people never walk in a God-given vision. It’s because, if we can’t be faithful to follow someone else’s vision, God can’t trust us with our own. Jesus said, “And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?” (Luke 16:12, ESV) The answer to this rhetorical question is this: no one. We have to follow well, before we can lead well. We must be teachable before we can teach. So, don’t despise the day of small things. Elisha had to faithfully follow Elijah before the mantle fell upon him. The Bible says, “…those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2, NIV)

Training Your Soul

We all need to let God train our soul: our mind, will and emotions. Many of the instant gratification dimensions of this age, work contrary to training our souls. I remember as a young Christian, in my early 20’s, an older brother in the Lord challenged me, “Francis, the things you like to do, you do very well. But, the things you don’t like to do, you hardly do at all.” WOW! Bullseye! I had to begin to do what I didn’t want to do, what God was asking me to do, for my good. Even Jesus needed to train His soul. The Bible says, “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience (compliance or submission) from the things he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8, NLT) And so will we! No one starts out with a trained soul.

The Most Controversial Thing Jesus Did

This may surprise you, but the most controversial thing Jesus ever did was love people, and if we follow Him, it may be the most controversial thing we ever do as well. Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) The most contentious thing Jesus ever did was love the seemingly unlovable: sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, gentiles, even His enemies. This turned the religious world of His day upside down, and it will turn your life upside down as well. And Jesus commanded us to do the same thing, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44)

The Christmas Secret

Two of the greatest parents who ever lived were Mary and Joseph. Both knew they were raising the Son of God, as the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her who Jesus was. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32-33, ESV) Likewise, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream revealing Christ’s identity as the Son of God. What an extraordinary stewardship! Yet, it appears Christ’s parents kept this secret from His younger siblings, who did not believe Jesus was the Messiah until after the resurrection. What secret stewardship has God given you?

End of Year Resolutions

We are all familiar with beginning of the year resolutions, but end of the year resolutions may be even more important. Closing chapters of our lives can impact us just as much as opening new ones. Each of us struggle with our past more than our future, and yet how we reconcile the past has perhaps the greatest impact on our future. So, as this year ends, what relationships do we need to reconcile? What forgiveness can we offer? Who can we contact to make their day, even their year? What regret must we bury? What hope must we resurrect? Paul the Apostle, a man who made many mistakes, wrote, “…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:13-14, NLT)

K-LOVE Features November 2016

The Hidden Value of What You Have

There was a woman in the Bible who thought all she had was death, debt and destitution. But what she really had was the seed for a miracle. She came desperate to the prophet Elisha after her husband had died, thinking she had no way to support herself. He then asked her, “Tell me what you have in the house?” She said, “I have nothing but a jar of oil.” But when she collected all of the empty jars she had and poured what she had into them, the oil multiplied, filled them all, and met her need. It will take faith to believe it, but the value of what you have is hidden in the seed God has given you. Within it may be the essence of the miracle you so desperately need. (2 Kings 4) Believe that what God has given is the seed to meet your need.

Prejudice Impedes Our Healing

Is it possible that prejudice is keeping you from receiving the healing you so desperately need? There was a Syrian general in the Bible who had leprosy. But when he asked the prophet Elisha to heal him he told the leper he needed to bathe in the Jordan river in order to be healed. This made the mighty general furious. He complained that the Syrian rivers were better than the dirty Israelite rivers. His prejudice toward another people group had closed his heart and kept him from receiving the healing he needed. When he finally humbled himself and obeyed God, he was completely healed. Is there a person or group of people you have prejudice toward? Perhaps your healing is waiting on the other side of your humble obedience.

Don’t Worry…Trust Jesus!

There are many things worth praying about, but nothing worth worrying about. Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its troubles, it only empties today of its peace. Jesus said, “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:31-33, NLT) I want to focus on God’s promises, not my predicament; to live by faith, not feelings. For without faith in God’s Word, I can’t please Him. (Hebrews 11:6) Faith adds wings to your feet, fear adds weights. You were made to fly, not to fall.

God is Pleased with You

Would it surprise you if I said, God was pleased with you? Not everything you do, but everything you are to Him. It is the foundational reality each of us need to know in order to have a healthy relationship with God. Jesus’ ministry was launched with His Heavenly Father speaking from Heaven so others could hear, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (John 3:17, ESV) Though Jesus knew it, others needed to hear it, and we need to hear it too. He was God’s beloved…but so are we. Ephesians 1:6 says that if Jesus is our Lord, then we are “…accepted in the (same) beloved (as Jesus).” (Ephesians 1:6, NKJV) We are His beloved sons and daughters, not because of what we have done, but because of what Jesus did by dying for our sins, and making us right with God.

Power Comes from Conquering Temptations

Every revelation God gives us will be tested, not to make us stumble, but to firmly embed God-given truth into the deepest part of our being. After Jesus was baptized, and heard His Heavenly Father’s audible approval from Heaven, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” (Matthew 3:17, ESV) He went into the wilderness to be tested.” (Matthew 4:1) Most translations use the word, “tempted” here. Because Jesus overcame extraordinary temptations, He went into this wilderness “full of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1), and yet came out “…in the power of the Spirit.” (Luke 4:14) And so will we! Testing’s are coming to all of us, but they are always meant for our good. As the Bibles says, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold…” (1 Peter 1:7a)

How Does God See You?

Just because you have experienced great difficulties and even sinned, it doesn’t mean you are defined by those experiences. I have many flaws, but from God’s perspective, I am not flawed. I have suffered great loss, but I am not a loser. I have often failed, but I am not a failure. Even when we give in to sin, God always provides a way of escape. (1 Corinthians 10:13) After listing some of life’s most challenging sins, the Bible offers us extraordinary hope, “Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11, NLT) God doesn’t see us as sinners, He sees us as those rescued by the shed blood of His Son.
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Too Late with Too Little

There are two things we should never believe about our relationship with God: that what He’s given us is too little, and that when He shows up it is already too late. God never shows up late or with too little! The Bible promises, “God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” (2 Corinthians 9:8, NLT) Not all of our wants are what’s best for us, but He knows what we absolutely need, and that God promises to provide. As the psalmist wrote, “Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act.” (Psalm 37:7, NLT) Our trust in the timing and provision of God is the best indicator of whether we really know Him or not; and knowing and trusting God is what life is all about.

It’s Not in the Bible!

Did you know that some of the statements people attribute to God are not in the Bible? Statements like, “God helps those who help themselves,” or “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” The truth is, God rescues those who are willing to die to themselves (Matthew 16:24), and everything in life is more than we can handle on our own (2 Corinthians 1:8, Matthew 11:28). Then there’s “God wants to make me happy,” and “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” The Bible actually teaches that God wants to make us holy, not happy, (1 Peter 1:15), and “…there is great gain in godliness with contentment” (1 Timothy 6:6, ESV). So, the next time you hear someone saying something they claim is in the Bible, do some further investigation. You may find, those cute little expressions only erode the genuine truth of God’s Word that could set you free.

Healing After Total Commitment

At times, we all need to be healed, either emotionally or physically. But sometimes our healings only come after a total commitment. In the Old Testament, the prophet Elisha went to pray for a child who was dead. He had previously sent his staff to be laid upon the child but nothing happened. (2 Kings 4:31) So, Elisha went himself, and actually laid on the dead child, as the Bible recounts, “…putting his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm.” (2 Kings 4:34) Elisha’s total commitment and obedience to the Holy Spirit had been the difference-maker! It will be the difference-maker in our lives as well. Remember, our total commitment to obey the Lord brings healing.

Who’s Following You?

I grew up in New York City. It was quite a scary place. I remember riding subways late at night, or walking down dark streets and being concerned for my safety. On a few occasions, I was threatened, my money was taken, and I feared for my life. Now, as a follower of Jesus, I know who and what is following me, and that’s made a complete difference in how I process life. The Bible says, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.” (Psalm 23:6, ESV) Wow! That’s awesome! I’m being stalked by God’s goodness, and overtaken by His mercy. Whenever I focus on this reality, I am filled with His peace. No one can keep us safe like God. Believe His promises and live the fearless life He intended.

You Are a Leader!

Did you know that you are called to be a leader? From their earliest ages, we told our children they were called to be leaders. It made a big difference in their lives. When their identities were threatened by peer pressure and following the wrong people, we reminded them about who they were called to be…leaders! When we were not with them, God’s Spirit reminded them. The truth is, if we don’t lead our children, one of their silly friends will. Ha, Ha! And all children have silly friends. If we don’t rule our spirit, someone else will. Never forget who you are called to be: a leader in pursuit of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For it is only in walking in our true identity, as a leader, that we are truly His disciple.

Who is Advising You?

Instead of surrounding yourself with people who will tell you what you want to hear, you would be better off receiving advise from people who will tell you what you need to hear. None of us want to be around negative people. But, at times, we all need to hear what we don’t want to hear. Years ago, when selecting elders in our church leadership, we didn’t want people who were “Yes People” or “No People”, we wanted people who were unattached to yes or no, but were committed to say whatever God asked them to share, with a respectful, God-honoring attitude. Two decades later, we have had many spirited discussions, but with leaders who are more attached to what God thinks, than what they think. It’s brought both peace, health and safety to our church family.

K-LOVE Features October 2016

God’s Leftovers

Do we really believe that God “…is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think…?” That’s His promise to us in the Book of Ephesians, chapter 3. When Jesus fed 5,000 men, plus women and children, He did it with five loaves and two fish. That’s it! To say the least, it was an extraordinary miracle. But what was perhaps even more telling, was the fact that after they had all eaten, they gathered up twelve additional baskets of food. Amazing! God took five loaves and two fish, fed thousands, and had more leftovers than when He started. God will always provide abundantly when needed. What a great principle! The next time you question God providing for your needs, remember, His leftovers are infinitely greater than our entrees.

Big Opportunities…Great Seductions

Many times, when man sees a BIG opportunity, God sees a great seduction. The Bible says, “…when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.” (John 6:15, NKJV) Jesus refused to further His kingdom with personal ambition. Instead, He departed to be alone. When you’re being tempted, go to God, not to the false comforts of this world or the approval of man. Jesus was more interested in obeying His Father in Heaven than being adored by others. I’ve known many people, in my decades of living for Jesus, who followed Jesus as long as He gave them what they wanted. Don’t be seduced by BIG opportunities, let God’s will alone guide your life.

Trusting Jesus in the Storm

Did you ever think that God was not going to come to your rescue? At times, it’s true, He won’t! The Bible says in the Gospel of John, that when His disciples were in a great storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus did not come to them. (John 6:16-18, NKJV) Remember, several of the disciples were fishermen; they were accustomed to fishing in this very lake. It hadn’t bothered them at all that they would be rowing across the lake at night, because in a previous storm (Matthew 8:24), Jesus was present with them in the boat. But in this storm, He asked them to trust his unseen care and concern for them. That’s the question we should ask ourselves today, having seen Jesus watch over us in one situation, will we trust Him even when we don’t see Him in the next. (Mark 6:48)

How to Know If You Believe the Bible

How do you know if you really believe the Word of God? Let’s start by saying what the Bible says we should experience when we read it. 2 Timothy 3 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience] …” (2 Timothy 3:16a, AMP) Hmm? Interesting! When you read the Bible, do you feel convicted of sin, corrected of error and restored to obedience? Let me submit, that if none of those things are taking place when you read the Bible, then you probably don’t believe what you are reading. So, the next time you read the Word of God, remember, God designed it to convict you of sin, correct you from error, and restore you to obedience.

What is God Thinking?

Though most people believe God is watching over them, the real question is, what is God thinking when He does? As we struggle. As we cry out. What is God thinking about me while I’m floundering?” Is He compassionate…concerned… supportive, and cheering me on, or is He indifferent…calloused, and critical? Here are a few Bible verses that show us exactly what God thinks. “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:17-18, ESV) “The LORD is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” (Psalm 145:8, NLT) and lastly, “God is faithful…he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape…” (1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV)

Easy Street

If we could talk God into it, we’d try and convince Him to make our lives easier. People said to Jesus, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness!” (John 6:30-31, NLT). They were trying to manipulate Jesus into providing daily bread for them, just as God provided manna for Israel. We all want the express train to easy street! Jesus answered, “…Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John 6:32-33, NLT) Jesus was trying to lift their minds above earthly things to heavenly realities. Exactly what God’s trying to teach us every day!

Creation vs. the Creator

It has always been easier to know about God than to know Him personally. That’s why the Bible says, “God made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.” (Psalm 103:7, NKJV) But it’s likewise much less fulfilling. People think they experience God in His creation. No doubt, a beautiful sunset or full moon can be breathtaking, but they are merely experiencing His creation, not the Creator Himself. How much greater is the One who made the Universe than anything in it. The Creator of love, beauty, joy and peace is infinitely more magnificent than any of these marvelous dimensions. Only by opening our hearts to the Creator of life can we enjoy His original intention for us: to be sons and daughters of the living God.

Offended with God?

Perhaps the greatest challenge we will face in life is “being offended with God.” The list of the notable offended is long: Lucifer, Adam and Eve, Cain, Judas; on and on it goes. One day, the disciples were whining about the words Jesus was saying they thought were too hard to accept. When Jesus knew they were offended, He said, ‘Does this offend you?’ (John 6:60-61, NKJV) Though Christ’s disciples found His words mysterious and hard to comprehend, it was the parts they did understand that most disturbed them. Jesus calls us to a high standard that is not easily accepted, but it’s ultimately worth the struggle. Don’t be easily offended; take time to work through God’s words with Him. His wisdom is limitless and always available!

Leaving Jesus

One day, Jesus turned to the twelve disciples and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” It was quite a scene! Many would-be disciples were leaving Jesus, and so He asks the twelve if they would go also. He was searching the motive of all who followed Him. Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67-69, NKJV) Until we come to the place where we can say to Jesus, “Where else would I go?” our relationship and future with Him is not secure. Have you come to the place that there’s nowhere else to go but Jesus? If we refuse whom Heaven has sent, then we must accept the fact that no one else is coming.

The Riddle of Spirit and Truth

One of the greatest challenges facing this generation is solving the riddle of spirit and truth. Jesus told us clearly it would be, when He said, “But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23, NLT) How critical is it for each of us to live this way? Jesus then said, “The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.” It is a riddle that each of us is asked to solve. It would be impossible to say that Jesus was more of a spirit man then a truth man…or vice versa. And that’s what He’s called us to be as well! Equally, “spirit” men and women, and “truth” men and women! Follow the leading of God’s Spirit, as you hold fast to His Word.

Depression

How we see other people is an accurate indicator of our relationship with God. Jesus saw the multitudes as sheep without a shepherd and was moved with compassion. How do we see them? With judgment…prejudice…anger and fear, or with love… understanding and compassion! Before you answer, think about the person you disagree with the most. Not someone you may know personally. How do you relate to that person? 1 Corinthians 13 says, “love is patient and kind.” Jesus ate at “Simon the leper’s” house. He had compassion. Jesus ate at “Matthew the Tax Collector’s” house. He had understanding. Jesus let a prostitute wash his feet. He cared about her. The Prodigal Son’s father saw his son returning a great way off, and moved with compassion, ran to meet him.

Redefining Truth and Love

Jesus said to the crowd who brought the woman caught in adultery, when they wanted to stone her to death, “he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone!” (John 8:7) I don’t want to be a stone thrower. I want to be a stone dropper! We know what we love most by what we defend! Robert J. Ringer says, “People say they love truth, but in reality they want to believe that which they love is true.” Unless we’re speaking the truth in love, we’re not speaking the truth. The world is constantly trying to redefine “truth.” But, only God can define truth, because He is truth. The world is continually re-defining “love”. Only God can define love, because He is love. We must never forget that each of us are caretakers of God’s love, and keepers of His truth!

K-LOVE Features September 2016

Everybody Loves Something

Everyone loves something! We can’t help ourselves. That’s how we’re wired. Hermits love solitude. Misers love money. Addicts love their addictions. Pundits love opinions. And we can see that what we love speaks directly to who we are. Because “God is love” what we love also determines whether or not we love God. (1 John 4:8b, NKJV) Do we love what God loves: people? Do we love how God loves: unconditionally? Why does God emphasize love? Because “three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NLT) Love is the greatest because it shows us who God is, not what He does, or how He does it. When you begin to grasp this amazing reality, and bask in the love of your Creator, you will begin to live for the very reason He created you.

What Breaks God’s Heart

Want to know what breaks God’s heart? Relational breaches break the heart of God, while loving relationships unveil the fabric of Heaven. The root of these relational breakdowns is spiritual warfare. Their faces are human, but their roots are supernatural. Why are our relationships so important? Because if only one characteristic of God permeated all that He says and does, it would be love. God not only radiates love, He IS love. (1 John 4:8) It is His essence! And within the Godhead of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there is harmony based on love. Never lose sight of this most important dimension of God’s heart: that Jesus lives to restore all who are lost, longs to heal all who are hurt, and died and rose to liberate all who are bound.

God’s Nature Is an “Us”

The very nature of the Godhead is an US—not a ME. “Then God said, ‘Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness.’” (Genesis 1:26) God not only incorporates intimate fellowship within the Godhead based on love, but with everyone He created to be relationally connected to Him. The depth of this harmony within the Godhead can perhaps best be seen when it was broken. The cry of Jesus on the cross of Calvary, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” reminds us of the profound love between Jesus and His Heavenly Father. (Matthew 27:45–46, Psalm 22:1) At that heart-wrenching moment His eternal fellowship with His Father was broken. This was perhaps God’s greatest pain of all—a broken relationship. As it is for God, so it should be for us.

Writing People Off

The elephant in any room are its broken relationships. They simmer beneath the surface, breaking both the heart of God and—on some level—each of us. How different the planet would be if, as Christ’s followers, we would try to repair every broken relationship. People have written us off. It hurts! But whom have I written off as well? The day my father died, I was glad he was gone. Though I forgave him a thousand times in my heart, it took over 40 years to completely release the hurt he caused me. But it finally came! Now, he’s the number one person I hope to see again in Heaven. May God make it so! What relationship is broken in your life that God wants to heal? I think you know.

Recognizing Truth

One of the most dangerous results of believing a lie, is that when the truth shows up we don’t recognize it. Jesus is the way the truth and the life, but when He showed up on Earth, most people didn’t recognize the Truth when they saw it. In this age, there has never been a greater proliferation of lies and a wider inability to recognize the truth. Unless our understanding of truth is based upon the unchanging Word of God, we will eventually be deceived and believe a lie. And that distortion of reality will get us so far off track, we may remain lost…forever. “Jesus, only You are the Truth that will set us free. We cling to You more than any one we have ever known.”

No Creator Equals No Future

If there is no Creator, then we have no destiny, no future, just wishful thinking. Everything is mere mythology, based on fiction and not fact. If we evolved as a cosmic coincidence from blobs or slime or frogs, then we have no ultimate purpose and no eternal value. None of us have a future of any consequence outside of God, man’s ego does not give him a future. “God’s will alone” gives us a future. Only because there is a loving God who created us with purpose, do we each have a destiny and something to look forward to. Thank God we each have a magnificent script written before the foundation of the world. Ask God every day to show you His plan for your life, because He will!

I Believe God!

When Paul the Apostle was caught in a life-threatening hurricane, he said, “I believe God!” Not “I believe IN God!” (Acts 27:25, NKJV) Many people believe in God. The Bible says in James 2:19, even the “demons believe in God,” but they refused to surrender their lives to His will. At many points in life, belief or unbelief will be our only choices. At those crucial moments, never forget what God has already told you. He has, I believe, spoken to each one of us, not audibly, but in some tangible way. And if we are going to lead ourselves and others into His will, we need the unshakeable confidence in God’s written Word alone, and not our own will or words. “Jesus, speak again today to each of us. Remind us of who You are, and therefore who we are as well.”

Fighting Battles We Don’t Want to Fight

All of us are called to face enemies and fight battles we don’t want to fight. It was one of the primary mistakes the Children of Israel made when God called them to conquer their promised land. The Bible says in Judges 1:28, “…when Israel grew strong, they…did not drive…out (their enemies) completely.” They didn’t do what God told them to do: drive the enemy out of their inheritance… their future. It even mentions these tribes of Israel by name: Ephraim didn’t drive them out, Zebulan didn’t…Asher didn’t…Naphtali didn’t. Over and over again, they put off absolutely essential, crucial battles. They didn’t realize a fact of life: the enemy you refuse to fight today you’ll have to fight tomorrow. What enemy of your soul are you unwilling to face and fight?

Of Identities, Destinies and Legacies

Do you feel your life has been shortchanged? That the hand you were dealt was unfair. It may surprise you that from God’s perspective we’ve all been given much. Beyond the struggles and setbacks, there’s a revelation of God’s plan and purpose for each of us awaiting to be discovered. The seed of your future fulfillment may seem infinitely small, but when watered by faith and obedience to the promises of God, a mighty harvest of blessing and favor awaits you. The Bible says that His “…divine power has bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life…” (2 Peter 1:3, AMP) Our identity is what God has given us. Our destiny is what He’s marvelously planned for us, and our legacy is what we leave behind. Find your true identity and destiny in Christ!

Transitions

Life is all about transitions. Each of us made the transition from eating with our hands as babies, to tackling a spoon as toddlers. That worked on some foods, but in time we needed to expand our utensils and so we picked up a fork. This also proved helpful until it was necessary to cut something, and then came the giant leap…to the knife. Step by step, from one transition to another, we made our move. A pattern that will repeat itself our whole lives, and is essential in order for us to become who God intended us to be. The Bible says, “Don’t despise the day

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of small things.” (Zechariah 4:10) So, let me ask you, what transition are you in, and what is God trying to show you? For it is in our transitions that we meet God.

Couples Home Explodes

The same day a couple was returning from visiting their grandchildren, they found that their beautiful home had exploded and was completely destroyed. They had lost everything! It was shocking! How would they respond…with bitterness? … despair? …hopelessness? Much to the surprise of concerned family members they text, “We are so grateful to be alive. The Fire Chief said if we had been home, we surely would have perished in the explosion and fire. God is good! We feel spared. He has other things planned for us. We are so thankful. I’m looking at this as one big opportunity. We will be making the right decisions going forward! We went back and forth on which day we should return. Is there such a thing as sovereignty? I think so!” (Psalm 139:1-10)

Of Lies and Responses

Life is all about our responses. We will each, at times, feel cheated, lied to, and taken advantage of. At these pivotal moments that test us to our core, we can overreact or properly respond, retaliate or evaluate. Much of the evil that has been unleashed upon the world has been fueled by partial truths, over reactions, and bitter responses. More often than not, these half-truths are complete lies that become the ammunition for revenge, which God says is in His court alone. The Bible says, “…if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.…” (Galatians 5:15, ESV) “Jesus, keep us from believing lies and responding poorly to the challenges of life! May we be those who heal and not hurt.”