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.”

K-LOVE Features August 2016

Fighting Fear

We all face fears. But the key to facing them is not running from them. Paul the Apostle said, “When we arrived in Macedonia, there was no rest for us. We faced conflict from every direction, with battles on the outside and fear on the inside.” (2 Corinthians 7:5, NLT) It’s God’s perfect love for us that exposes fear as a fraud. My confidence is never in me, but in Jesus who keeps me safe and secure. By standing on the promises in God’s Word I have confidence to face the unknowns. God is holding me the hollow of His hand. The Bible says, “…despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Romans 8:37, NLT) Despite all of my fears, failures and frustrations, I am created to be victorious.

The Value of Failure

Looking back over my life, I’ve learned far more from my failures than my successes; and infinitely more from my pain than from any pleasure I’ve experienced. We all reflect little after a home run, but striking out repeatedly will scar your soul. God never intended for us to dwell on success. It’s fleeting and seems to just slip through our fingers. But failure, I can camp there for years if I’m not careful. Funny, I can still break down and cry over decade old setbacks. How ironic that some of the experiences I have hated the most in life have ultimately impacted me the most. Wake-up to the value of your failures, and you’ll not only lessen their damage, you’ll mine their eternal significance.

All In For Others

If your child was ill and their future in peril, if it was a sickness that would eventually take their life, wouldn’t you do whatever it takes to save them? Would you pay whatever price necessary to see them healed, even if it meant incredible sacrifice? If it changed how you lived—would you do it? If it costs you everything —would you still be “all in”? In the physical realm, many people would do whatever it takes to save someone they love. A father would fight to protect. A mother would love unconditionally. A brother, sister, or friend would lay down their life. But in the spirit realm, it’s so much more difficult to connect the dots. Yet, that is what Jesus asks us to do. Care as much for others, as if they were the ones we love the most.

Limitless Love of God

Why is the eternal struggle between Heaven and Hell less real than the temporary battles on Earth? Compared to eternity, Earth is a moment. Why do we spend so much time obsessing over our one-night motel, and so little energy cultivating a relationship with the Creator of our eternal home? Why would we give our own blood in order to physically save those we love, and yet not fully believe Christ’s blood alone is able to save those He loves? These are the great paradoxes of Earth. And they are precisely why we must, as the Bible says, “Set our affections on things above, and not on things on the Earth, for we are dead and our lives are hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-2) Don’t let the limitations of Earth keep you from walking in the limitless love of God.

Our True Responsibility

Those of us who have been rescued by Jesus should be the most grateful people alive. Yet, how desperate are we for those we love to be saved. If others said it was impossible, would we give up and say, “There’s nothing I can do for them?” If enemies tried to persuade us it was hopeless, would we believe them? If we knew the eternal destiny of those we loved was in some tangible way in our court, that we were a difference maker as to where they would spend eternity, would that sufficiently motivate us to step up—to awaken to our true responsibility? I am my brother’s keeper! I am created to do for others what I would have them do for me. Though it will continually stretch me, I am called to represent Jesus well to everyone I meet.

Marvelously Alive

We all tend to minimize our sin. That merely diminishes the extent of our rescue. When I think, “I’m not that bad,” it undermines the magnitude of God’s goodness in becoming sin for me, and the colossal pain of Jesus being separated from His Heavenly Father. When will I believe the reality

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that my unforgiven sin would have separated me from my Creator…forever? Had the God of the Universe not come to my rescue and died for my sins, I would have been eternally lost. Leonard Ravenhill described the criticalness of our condition in this way, “Jesus did not come into the world to make bad men good. He came into the world to make dead men live!” I was hopelessly dead, and now by God’s magnificent grace I am marvelously alive.

Life and Death Prayers

Have you ever considered the possibility that the most strategic person to pray and believe for the salvation of those you love is…you? You and I may be the best shot for our loved ones to be spared Hell and to secure Heaven. If that’s true, perhaps the greatest need for you and I is to wake up and begin praying life and death, desperately passionate, prayers for those God has placed on our hearts. The eternal wellbeing of those we love may very well depend upon it. I know my mother’s prayers were life and death for me. Had she not been that person who stood in the gap for my soul, I have no confidence that I would ever have been saved. What life and death prayers can you pray today?

Humility is Humbling

When it comes to sin, we can wait to get caught, or we can turn ourselves in. The former resists connection to God. The latter opens up an intimate relationship with our Creator that unlocks the essence of our very existence. If, as the Bible states, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble,” then humility is key to experiencing God’s transforming power. (James 4:6, ESV) Rick Warren says it this way. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” In a full-blown spiritual revival, when the presence of God and conviction of His Spirit are palpable, people rush forward to get right with God. They become eager to humble themselves before Him, even doing things they would have considered humiliating. Face it, true humility is really humbling.

Supernatural Surprises

Since the glorious Day of Pentecost, the Spirit of God has sprung supernatural surprises upon unsuspecting souls. His unexpected, rushing, mighty wind overtakes, revolutionizes, and even thrills us. The joy of the Lord becomes our strength. The peace of God is so infinitely beyond our comprehension it defies our circumstances. And the love of God grips our heart so tightly, we are even willing to die for someone else. Without exception, God releases His supernatural power to redeem and rescue those He loves from natural limitations, inviting us to join Him in His supernatural reality. The God who made the universe wouldn’t plan anything less than supernatural surprises.

Spiritual Has-Beens

Too many rescued men and women of God have gone into early spiritual retirement. They have put themselves out to pasture. The fire that once burned hot to live for Jesus has grown cold. Either we each allow God to rekindle His holy fire in us, or we will become “spiritual has-beens”—a shell of our potential. Starting out hot, we’ve nestled into lukewarm-ness, and lost sight of our true identity: being sold out disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you bowed to apathy and indifference, and missed the sublime identity and destiny God has uniquely prepared for you? “Jesus, awaken us in this sleepy age. We want to live the marvelous one-of-a-kind script you have so beautifully written for each of us.”

Servants

All of us who claim to be Christ’s followers are called to be servants. Only in serving others do we truly represent our humble Creator. Many a nameless, faceless person on Earth, will be legendary in Heaven. Many who make headlines on Earth, are superstars in the minds of men, while humble servants make headlines in Heaven, and are more importantly legends in the heart of God. Out of all possible options available to Him, Jesus chose the lowest position, and “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7–8, ESV) “Jesus, we will follow Your example and become servants as well.”

Freedom

There is no family more important to God than His own—the Family of God, the Body of Christ. Though God has created us to serve, we are called to be sons and daughters who serve, not slaves who serve. The basic difference between a son or daughter and a servant is relationship. Do you have a stake in the family of God? Servants serve, and sons and daughters serve, but only sons and daughters will inherit. It has everything to do with our attitude or motive for serving. If serving others ultimately serves our own benefit, then we have made ourselves a slave. If, on the other hand, serving is for the glory of God alone and to bless other members of His family, then we are serving with the heart of Jesus.

K-LOVE Features July 2016

The Keel In My Life

I received an encouragement about the significance of my beautiful wife of forty years. It was affirming the reality that Suzie has been the keel in the hull of my life. A structural keel is a beam around which the hull of a ship is built. The keel runs in the middle of the ship, from the bow to the stern, and serves as a basic foundation or spine, providing the major source of structural strength of the hull. Only the ship’s launching is considered more significant in its creation than the laying down of the keel. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keel) Which brings me to acknowledging that, next to receiving Jesus as my Lord and Savior, my marriage to Suzie has been the most significant and stabilizing event in my life. And for this I am eternally grateful. Who, or what in your life, is your keel?

Godly Responses

There are times when the only good move left in life, is a humble response to a shattering disappointment. As true success is measured by obedience, more often than not, the final option left standing is a good attitude to a downed expectation. Since God weighs the thoughts and intents of our hearts, our motives are as important as our actions. Many times the only opening we can see for breakthrough is a godly response. The secret to this strategy of humility is found in the verse, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6, ESV) Humility activates God’s supernatural favor! The question we should ask throughout our day is, “Lord Jesus, what godly response will activate Your marvelous grace?” A good response always beats a challenging circumstance.

 

Spiritual Claustrophobia

My wife Suzie’s car had a leak in its trunk. So, I had the brilliant idea, that if she locked me in the trunk, as my eyes adjusted to the dark, I could perhaps see where light was coming in and find the leak. As I climbed into the trunk, I was excited about the adventure I was about to experience. But, as soon as Suzie closed me in, I started to freak out. It wasn’t just the darkness. It was the smothering. Call it claustrophobia, which is defined as “an irrational fear of being in a confined or enclosed space.” All I know is, within 15 seconds, I was banging and yelling, “Get me out of here!” Being alone is a horrible feeling! Though we all experience it, God is always there to guide us back into the light.

Success Is the Greatest Test

Many of the greatest tests in life come after great successes. In college, a friend of mine and his sister were competing in a dance contest called the Harvest Moon Ball Dance Championships, held every year in Madison Square Garden in New York City. As I sat there with 25,000 people in the nose-bleed section of the packed arena, I was stunned when my friend won first place. It was amazing! But, what was less than exceptional was watching how, over time, success changed him. You would have thought he’d found the cure for cancer; he became so proud. God wants to humble us and make us only as successful as we can handle, because He’s most committed to our spiritual and emotional well-being.

Convenience and Entitlement

Raised to take the easy path, many in this generation have weak “spiritual immune systems.” Instant gratification has resulted in far less satisfaction, and fostered an inability to persevere under extreme pressure. Being able to “check out” and “press quit” whenever it seems too hard, or if we can’t win, has left too many unable to learn these essential fruits of the Spirit: patience, faithfulness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV) Convenience and entitlement have always been great temptations. This applies to eternal truth as well. If we don’t stick with what we know to be biblically true, we will eventually be seduced by what is eternally false. The Bible admonishes each of us to “…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58, ESV)

Betrayal

If you feel betrayed, it’s probably because you have been. In order to be healed from this common offence, let’s begin by isolating the principle betrayers in each of our lives. The first betrayer is you. None of us are the exact person’s we want to be. We all love “do overs.” The second betrayer in each of our lives is other flawed people. And lastly, there’s the enemy of our souls, the devil, who first betrayed our ancestors, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden. Mistakenly, Adam first blamed God, then his wife, and lastly the devil. So, the next time you are betrayed, don’t blame God first, take responsibility for your own actions, exercise some grace for others, and live mindful there is an enemy of your soul stalking you.

The Do Not’s

We live in world that hates to be told, “Do Not.” Yet, many of us bear in our bodies and souls the scars of laughing at the “Do Not’s.” I’ve buried lots of people who didn’t believe in the “Do Not’s.” You could say that sin is a big “Do Not…” There are actually three primary words for “sin” in the Hebrew language. Each implies going against God’s standard of what’s right. One word for sin means to “fall short,” another means to “twist,” and the last word for sin means to “rebel” against the divine standard. Whether it’s “falling short,” “twisting” or “rebelling” against God’s standards, sin strands us. It fails us, abandons us, blinds us, twists us, and deceives us. It leaves the “good” seemingly beyond our grasp, twisting our will to choose what we know is wrong.

Feasting On the Bible

I’ve heard people say, “I’ve read the Bible, but I don’t get much out of it.” The only way to get something out of the Bible is to really believe it. Believe it like it’s a matter of life and death, because it is. Believe it like it’s the best advice you’ve ever heard, because it is. If you question God’s Word and it’s personal and practical application for your life, then “No!” you won’t get much out of the Bible. But I’ve been reading it with faith in my heart for over 44 years and I can say without a doubt, I always get something out of the Word of God when I believe God is speaking a life and death message that will transform me if I trust and obey Him. Find a translation you like, and then feast on the Word every day.

 

Cancer or Strep Throat

A 35-year old woman’s mother died of cancer. A few months later she had a severe and persistent sore throat, and was convinced it was cancer also. She felt she couldn’t go through the pain and suffering her mother had gone through, so she reasoned that she and her two children would be better off in Heaven. Notes that she left indicated she was extremely anxious about the cancer in her throat. So, one day she took the lives of her two children, and finally herself. Her actions were totally based on fear. To add to the tragedy, an autopsy revealed her throat condition was not cancer, but simply strep throat. You say, “I’d never do that!”Yet, every time we bow down to fear and refuse to trust God, we destroy part of our future just the same.

Tension Between Hope and Fear

There’s always a tension between the hope of being used by God and the fear that He actually might do it. We ache for Him to use us, but we are somehow acutely aware of the cost of that level of relational connection. Knowing Jesus, produces a desperate longing to want to obey Him. But that passion is always challenged by the trepidation of the impossible journey before us. The Bible says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31, ESV) That’s where only by knowing Him, can we trust Him. Knowing His heart and motive for us, assures us that the hope we have in Him is eternal, while the fear we face will pass. “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.” (Psalm 62:5, NLT)

Eternal Joy Is Ahead

How do you know you are trusting God? When you are convinced every act of obedience will ultimately be followed by great joy, either in the short or long term. The times and the seasons are in God’s hands, but our willingness to trust Him in all seasons is always in our hands and hearts. It depends on who we are looking at. The Bible says, “…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2, ESV) We can endure anything if we believe there is eternal joy and gladness ahead. But if we believe there is shame and disgrace ahead, then we are believing the father of lies, and not the Father of life.

Cooperation

God does not need our help. But, He does need our cooperation. It is in the emptying of selfish motivations that we provide an environment for God to move in and through us. Obedience to the will of God will always produce infinitely more fruit than the greatest actions we initiate ourselves. The only efforts that finish well are those first started by God and not us. I want to get my heart still enough to hear what God knows is the best of all options…it’s called His will. Cooperate with Jesus, initiate nothing, and success that comes from God’s favor will overtake your life. Submit your will to God and He will direct your steps. Cooperate with God as the Guide of your life, and you will look back with joy.

 

 

 

 

K-LOVE Features June 2016

Wait For Approval

Do you spend too much time waiting for the approval of others? Many of us do. In the Book of Genesis, Jacob’s wife, Leah says, “God has given me good gifts for my husband. Now He Will Honor Me, for I have given him six sons.” Leah was still waiting for her husband to truly love her, hoping that the sheer quantity of sons she was birthing would win his heart! Sadly, no human can give us enough love to truly satisfy. We can’t birth enough children to gratify our hearts. We can’t make enough money to placate our souls. We can’t buy enough clothes to make us feel beautiful. We can’t watch enough sports to feel like a conqueror. Without God’s lasting fulfillment we will be left empty and alone.

 

Discouragement

In 1992, I was so discouraged I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning. Would God forsake me at such a critical hour? No! God was just going deeper to heal me! He was touching one of the biggest areas of need in my life, and it was very painful. There are infinite layers of healing and encouragement needed in each of our lives. But unless we allow God to touch our pain, which will be painful in itself, we’ll never get the healing we need. I have now come to the absolute conclusion: every irritation is an invitation to go to the next level. God wants to heal us more than we could ever imagine, but it will take courage to allow Him and other safe people to touch our pain.

 

 

Worship and Acceptance

We don’t worship God to receive His approval. We worship Him to bask in His acceptance. His approval of you and I has always been there. God has never wavered. He’s always been fixed at peak approval. Not based upon what we’ve done, either good or bad, but upon who He’s always envisioned us to be. I was created to be the fulfillment of God’s dreams, not the embodiment of His disappointment. But, only my belief and acceptance of Christ’s death on the cross for my sins and His resurrection from the dead can make this possible. It is my faith in Jesus and willingness to surrender to His Lordship that allows me to bask in His love and acceptance, not just here on Earth, but throughout all eternity.

 

Courageous Girl: Reta Sharp

Reta Sharp was a poor, somewhat illiterate girl; with uncombed hair. One winter day, when she was 14 years old, she was playing with her 16 year-old friend Tony on a frozen pond. Somehow her friend fell through the ice. Reta tried to pull him out from the edge of the ice, but it gave way. As they both unsuccessfully tried to get out of the water, she did the most amazing thing. He could feel her push her way further down into the water, with her hands going down his body. He then felt the surge of her pushing him up with her arms underneath his feet. She had gone down to the bottom of the pond, and pushed off. With her final surge of strength, she propelled her friend out of the water. He barely made it home alive. His friend Reta had given her life, so that Tony could live.

 

Record Setting Field Goal

On Nov 8th, 1970, there was a football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Detroit Lions. The game came down to the final seconds to see who would win. In order for the Saints to win they needed a 63-yard field goal. This had never been done before in the history of football. Even today, only one person’s kicked it further than 63 yards. The man who ran on the field to attempt it had no fingers on his right hand, and no toes on his right kicking foot. But Tom Dempsey kicked the ball and set a world record. What limitation do you feel you have? Is it really a limitation, or just another opportunity for God to show off His strength in your weakness? As The Message says, “…the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, The Message)

 

When Life Isn’t Fair

Want to know one of the biggest time wasters? Waiting for life to be fair! It’s really a dead end! And what’s even worse is living disgruntled and discouraged because you feel you’ve been treated unjustly. I’ve squandered too many days wishing things were different. All it accomplished was I missed an opportunity to respond well to disappointment. And guess what, more discouragements came. Finally, I accepted that what needed to change was me, not my circumstances. I stopped whining about what wasn’t happening and began to see the value of what was. The Message says, “…when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” (1 Peter 4:12-13, The Message)

 

Rules vs. Relationship

God is a God of order, but He values relationship over rules. He will never compromise what is right to retain fellowship, because He doesn’t have to. God navigates the fine line of connection without concession, understanding without undermining His holiness. I have friends I don’t always agree with. But I don’t shrink back from sharing biblical reality with them. Sure there are times when listening to their perceptions wearies me, but it also provides one of the few glimpses into God’s reality they may ever see. The borders of my theology and commitment to truth are sure and sound, but the borders of my love and heart for others are continuing to expand. The Bible says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV)

 

Disappointment

Every time I give in to disappointment it actually means I’m not trusting God. How could we not be at peace if we really believed God was in charge? He already said the peace He provides would go beyond our understanding. So, I will not bow to discouragement, cower to depression, or give in to self-pity. As The Message says it, “We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (Hebrews 4:15-16, The Message) My appointment with God will clear up all dis-appointment. His plan is infinitely better than my best intentions. “God, I trust You!”

Trusting God After Being Hurt

The #1 problem that all of us have with God is trusting Him. Since other people have hurt us, each of us are hard-wired not to trust. God knows that! And actually, it’s a set up. Do you think God is unaware that we’re all wired–to not trust Him? He not only knows it, it’s why faith is so pleasing to Him. The Bibles says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6, NKJV) Our faith to trust God after being hurt means we are trusting that He is able to heal our past, stabilize our present, and establish a future beyond our wildest dreams. Don’t let your hurt define you. Let God heal you.

 

Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare

In 1942, during World War 2, Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare was a fighter pilot; assigned to protect an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. One day, nine Japanese planes attacked. Simultaneously, his rear gunner’s gun jammed. Alone and unassisted, he fought them off, making sweep after sweep. After shooting down five enemy planes, the remaining four left in a hurry, as Lieutenant O’Hare’s ammunition ran out. For his bravery, he won the Congressional Medal of Honor. He could have said, “Enemy coming from the east, I’m heading west.” But instead, he faced the enemy head on. Today, if you wander the corridors of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, you will see a statue and plague honoring this courageous man. Lieutenant O’Hare would die in combat two years later. Today, face your fear, and Jesus will help you!

 

Faulty Expectations

Do you feel like your efforts produce little fruit? All of us do. But, some things just take time. You can have the best seed in the world, but if you dig it up prematurely, because it hasn’t met your expectations, don’t blame the seed, or God. Adoniram Judson tried to go to India as a missionary, but the doors were closed. He then went to Burma for six years, yet saw no converts. When Adoniram Judson died, there were no known Christians in Burma. But a few years later, a government survey revealed that one out of every sixty people in the country had become Christians, totaling 210,000 people. WOW! The Bible says, “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes…then each one will receive his commendation from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5, NLT)

 

Acceptance Without Approval

Being loved unconditionally is our greatest desire. We all want to know that we are loved, no matter what. If a child grows up feeling like he can’t please his parents, don’t be surprised if he or she ultimately feels like they can’t please God. I didn’t know God liked me, because I didn’t know my dad liked me. Too many children live feeling they can never measure up to their parents’ expectations. That if they’re not careful, the love of their mother or father will be withdrawn. Acceptance does not mean that we will always approve of what our children do. We let our kids know that certain behaviors are not acceptable, while we still accept them completely. Unless we know God loves us, we’ll never feel fully approved. Unless a relationship is built on love, it will never last.

 

                              

 

K-LOVE Features May 2016

Dying For Encouragement

Do you feel like giving up on life? Before I met Jesus, I went through six months contemplating suicide every day. I once read about a businessman who took his life. He left a note that said: “In 30 years I have never had one word of encouragement. I’m fed up!” He was literally, “dying for encouragement.” The Bible promises us, if we will just look to Jesus, “…our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NLT)

 

God’s Approval

Please don’t compare yourself to other people. Too many of us are living, wishing we were someone else. In Genesis 29, we see that Jacob favored his wife Rachel over Leah. It created an incredible mess, and inspires all of us, that having one wife is better than two. But after having four children, Leah finally began to look to God for approval instead of her husband. It wasn’t Jacob’s love that Leah needed. And so God loved Leah enough to not allow her to be satisfied with anyone less than Him. Leah thought she needed to take Rachel’s place, but she didn’t. The truth is: we don’t need to take anyone’s place! God didn’t make a mistake when He made us. God’s approval is all we really need! As the psalmist wrote, “This I know that God is for me”. (Psalms 56:9)

 

Good Habits

Do you know what each of us need? We need a really good habit! Good habits are very hard to establish, but very easy to break. Bad habits, on the other hand, are very easy to form, but very hard to break. So, here are some good habits you should consider. Set up a certain time when you can experience the following spirit-building disciplines. Regularly spend time reading or listening to the Bible. Find a translation of the Bible that really speaks to you. Let worship music wash over your soul. There’s a lot of great worship music out there, and it’s so easily accessible. Get connected with healthy Christ-followers, developing friendships and fellowship with other believers. Yes, good habits are very hard to establish, but once they are in place they become the lifelines of hope we all need.

 

Loving Like Jesus

My heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys may be hidden, but I can’t live without them. I may never have given them a hug, or paid any attention to them, whatsoever, but if one of my life-giving organs conks out, I’ll know about it in a heartbeat. In that 9-1-1 moment, every other member of my stricken body will do whatever it can to get the failed organ up and running again. The same should be true of the Body of Christ. Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35, NKJV) Why should anyone believe we actually have a relationship with the God who is love if we refuse to genuinely love one another? The answer is they won’t! “Jesus, help us to love like you love!”

 

Prosperity vs. Persecution

PROSPERITY didn’t thrust the early church out to, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19, NET) PERSECUTION did! They were stuck in Jerusalem until Stephen, the first martyr, was stoned to death. (Acts 7:58) Then, God sent them out into “all the world”! Don’t pray for abundance. Pray for obedience. We don’t need abundance to fulfill us. We need God, and the fulfillment that comes from doing His will. Paul said, “…I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Philippians 4:11b-12) Like Jesus, who “…learned obedience through what he suffered”, we learn the same way.

 

Silly Sadness

Have you noticed that much of our sadness is really quite silly? It’s vital you do! I’ve found that on many occasions, I am sad about something I hoped would happen, but didn’t. Then, in time, I realize my preference was absolutely not the best option for my life. In retrospect, my sadness was silly. I should have trusted God knew best, and that He would indeed guide my steps. Instead, I allowed my emotions to go to a darker, more hopeless place, fully embracing the lie that an opportunity had been missed. Actually, the only opportunity I lost sight of was a divinely orchestrated moment of resting and trusting in the God. For, He alone knows all things, and as a loving Father uses His wisdom and power to guide my precious life.

 

Seeing With New Eyes

Every one of us is created to become someone others will not initially recognize. Jesus experienced this as well. When he stood up in the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth they said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22, NLT) They saw Him with old eyes, not new ones. He was just the carpenter’s son, not the Son of God. But, before others can see us differently, we have to see ourselves differently. How do you see yourself, from God’s perspective or other’s? Paul the Apostle described this when he wrote “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)

 

What Do You See?

How we see ourselves will often be how we see other people. If we are not encouraged by who we are, it will be difficult for us to encourage others. How God sees us is how we should view ourselves. Likewise, how God sees others is how we should see them too. We must not focus on what people are not. In Mark 8, Jesus asked a blind man what he saw. He said, “I see men looking like trees.” (Mark 8:24) That was certainly not good enough for Jesus. So, Jesus laid hands on him again until he saw people clearly. God sees each of us as those He loves and cares about. Jesus saw the crowds and had compassion on them because they had no one to shepherd their lives. (Matthew 9:36) “Lord, open my eyes to see myself and others as You see us.”

 

Festering Regrets

An old man was asked what had robbed him of his joy the most in his lifetime. He said, “things that never happened!” How true! It’s been rightly said, 90% of the things we worry about never happen, and many of the things we wish happened, we’ll never miss. I don’t want to allow my life to become an “almost” or a “could have been”. It is completely within my court to keep an “attitude of gratitude” and focus on God’s “priceless perspective”. Regrets will happen, but festering regrets are unnecessary. They are a plague to our soul. God never intended our lives to end in sadness, but in joy. My life may not seem like, “nothing but net,” but I must never allow it to be “filled with regret.”

 

Raining Down Blessings

A father of three teenagers, who suddenly lost his 38-year old wife a few weeks earlier, shared a statement that encouraged the both of us. “If blessings were like raindrops, how wet would you be?” What a beautiful perspective! Let me start by saying, “wetter than we think!” We are each more blessed than we know, and if we allow God to take the reigns of our life, our future will be brighter than we can imagine. In the Message Bible, God says, “Open up, heavens, and rain. Clouds, pour out buckets of my goodness! Loosen up, earth, and bloom salvation…” (Isaiah 45:8, The Message) If you can believe Him, God will pour out a blessing on you right now. What do you really need that is consistent with His will for your life? Go ahead! Ask Him for it!

True Success

Just because we can use the Internet, doesn’t mean there are not mine fields within it. The myth in social media is that we are not successful as individuals unless someone’s watching. It is a subtle trap. The greatest moments in life are actually hidden. Hidden with God, with family, and most often hidden from the world. True success must be measured by who authored it: God, others, or ourselves. Too often, we measure the value of what we have done, by the approval of others. It is a bottomless pit, because the long-term reality is that, many of us will live long enough to impact less and less people. It’s the nature of life. Obscurity is ahead for most of us. On the other hand, if we are living for an audience of One, our significance is both eternal and limitless.

 

 Jealousy

There’s always a reason to be jealous of someone else. But there’s a better reason to appreciate what we have. In the Book of Genesis, when Rachel saw that she wasn’t having any children, she became jealous of her sister Leah. She told her husband Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” (Genesis 30:1) Though Rachel was more beautiful than Leah, it wasn’t enough. Leah wanted Rachel’s beauty. Yet, Rachel wanted Leah’s ability to have children. Too many people are looking for that thing, that person, that experience that will satisfy them. The key to happiness is being content with who God made you to be. When we stop comparing ourselves with others spiritually, physically, materially, or as it relates to our gifting, we begin to see what we’ve already been given that is perfectly suited for us.

K-LOVE Features April 2016

Proud To Have a Son Like You

A 17-year old boy in New York City decided to end his life by jumping off a hotel roof. He had been beaten by his father and felt it made no difference to anyone what became of him. A police officer came up on the roof, and after talking for a while said, “I’d be proud to have a son like you.”  The policeman convinced him to come down. The bachelor cop became the young man’s guardian, and the boy went to live with him. A short time later the boy’s mother showed up. She had learned of his whereabouts from the publicity. Fifteen years earlier she had lost custody of him, but she still loved him. Today, he lives with his mother and stepfather in Texas. Those simple words: “I’d be proud to have a son like you,” offered him enough hope to keep on living.

 

No Accidents or Coincidences

We begin to see God working in our lives when we stop believing in two things: accidents and coincidences. Because neither exist! Nothing just kinda, sorta happens! In Genesis 43, the Patriarch Joseph had not seen ten of his brothers in over 20 years. He was now the #2 leader in Egypt. So, they were completely amazed, when he seated them in the order of their ages, from oldest to youngest. This arrangement of the brothers was so amazing to them because they sensed it couldn’t have happened by chance. Statistically, the odds of placing ten brothers in their precise order of birth would be something like 1 in 40 million. Open your eyes to the improbabilities in your life and you’ll begin to see the miraculous hand of God.

 

Trust God

Would you like to have a blessed, peaceful, and fulfilling life? No one wants that for you more than God. But you’re going to have to trust Him more than what you see and feel in order to experience this. If you trust God, the sky is never falling! Actually, the opposite is always true! Blessings are about to rain down from Heaven! Stop reacting to your circumstances and trust God. Trust God more than your “perspective”. Trust God to resolve your “past”. Trust God more than your “feelings”. Let’s draw a line in the sand today! Trust God in your famines… trust God with your pain…trust God more than your fears. For He alone knows your future and your destiny. This is a great opportunity to trust God from this day forward.

 

Abandonment and Rejection

I think abandonment and rejection are two of the most hurtful feelings you can ever experience. The clearest demonstration of abandonment and rejection in my own life was in an oppressive boarding school, from 11years old thru high school. I felt completely alone and discarded. I would tie a towel at the end of my bed at night, indicating I wanted to get up for an early morning religious service. Not because I liked going. I thought it was boring. It was always dark and cold getting up at 5:30. But I would still get up because the person who woke me up would gently shake me; and that simple, two-second gesture was the only loving touch I had all day. Who in your life needs a loving touch, a hug that makes them know they are loved and cared for?

 

The Value of Tears

Do you see the value of your tears? In Genesis 42:23, the patriarch Joseph, who had been sold into slavery by his brothers, now faced them, but they didn’t recognize him. As they talked openly in a language they thought he didn’t understand, Joseph was so overcome with emotion that he suddenly left the room and found a place to weep. I understand finding a place to weep. I do it in worship. I put my face in my hands when my heart is overwhelmed with emotion. I weep when I hear of a person’s broken heart or a child being abused. I also do it when I’m in desperate need of God either softening my heart or rescuing me as He often does. Jesus wept! (John 11:35) Don’t be afraid to weep. I’ve found it’s a shortcut to God’s heart.

 

Revenge or Restore

The world’s headline is often: “REVENGE”! But God’s headline is always: “RESTORE”! There are too many angry Christians in the world. First-century Christ-followers didn’t see their enemies converted because they out-talked or out-intellectualized them. They didn’t bully or browbeat them either. They won them over because they out-loved them. They loved those who were persecuting and killing them, and it set in motion a chain reaction of incomprehensible responses that eroded their prejudice and broke open their hard hearts. In this politically charged season, don’t believe the lie that you can lose your peace with a bad attitude and still demonstrate the life of Jesus for others to see. People don’t want the God we talk about, until they see Jesus shining through us. Mercy will always triumph over judgment.


Burned Out Float

A high school class worked on an elaborate float for a parade. It took months of preparation, and three days of continuous work. At last, it was finished and ready to be judged. The night before being presented to the judges, vandals set it on fire, and burned it down to the trailer. Some of the Christian students went to the church, to ask their pastor what they could do. They were angry and wanted to get even. Instead of getting mad he encouraged them to pick greenery and put it on the charred remains of the float. This would say to their classmates, that even in the face of evil and destruction, they weren’t going to be discouraged. They took his advice and when the awards were announced, the burned-out float won 2nd place.

 

Wait Five Minutes

We rarely, if ever, understand the season we’re in. Consequently, we shouldn’t name what God is doing until it’s over. We’re changing more than we know. Our skin is new every month, our liver every six weeks, even our brains change every year. And we are not the only moving targets. All God’s creation is morphing, from “glory to glory”, from “strength to strength”, from “old to new”. The patterns of God are the same and yet different! Nothing is new under the sun, and yet every day varies from the last. God has given all living things the capacity to renew themselves. Therefore, seeming disorder is the birth pang for God’s new order. Unfamiliar becomes familiar, and random births the new. If you don’t like what’s happening in your life, wait five minutes.

 

Listening

My wife is one of the best listeners in the history of the world. I’m not very good. Not surprisingly, better to be a good listener than a great speaker. Solomon received the blessing of the Lord when he asked for a “hearing heart”. This so pleased God, he said to Solomon, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies…I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.” (1 Kings 3:11-12, ESV) The Bible says, “Be quick to hear, and slow to speak,” (James 1:19) for it is only by listening can we hear the God who knows the past, present and future. It is only by listening people can sense that we really care.

 

Forgetfulness and Forgiveness

There’s no question that the Old Testament patriarch Joseph had a hard life. So when he named his first-born son Manasseh, “…he said, ‘God has made me forget all my troubles…’” (Genesis 41:51) Manasseh’s name means “forgetfulness”! And instead of forgetting who he was or where he came from, Joseph chose to forget about his troubles and forgive those who hurt him! In his book The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis describes “Hell” as a place where no one forgets anything, and remembers every cruel exchange of words, every wrong ever done to them – and everybody is completely unforgiving. If you are willing to revisit your painful past with God’s perspective, you can redefine it for your good. God wants to heal your past if you will just let Him.

 

Famines

What does the headline in your life read? Hope Lost, or Destiny Fulfilled? The Old Testament Patriarch Jacob saw the famine his family faced as another demonstration that everything was going wrong. But the truth was that God would use the famine to save his family from starvation; reunite Jacob with his lost son, Joseph; and set his other sons free from the guilt and shame of trying to kill their brother. God will use the famines in each of our lives for our good, if we will let Him. One famine in my own life lasted for years, but eventually it established winter as my favorite season. I have seen first-hand “famine” produce in me what “abundance” never could. What season are you in? If it’s famine, and you respond with courage and trust, you will see it as Destiny Fulfilled and not Hope Lost.

 

Cheating

Have you ever cheated, or taken something that didn’t belong to you? Most of us have. A 21-year old American man was recently sentenced to 15 years hard labor in North Korea for stealing a propaganda banner. Our own government even has a Federal Conscience Fund, which collects money that people send in because they’ve cheated the government in some way. People have sent in money because they took army blankets for souvenirs, cheated on postage, or even on their income tax. Though it may sound trivial, those who know God know He cares about the little things in life as much as the big things. The Bible says, “Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love…” (Song of Solomon 2:15, NLT) I’ve found if I lose sight of the little things, eventually I’ll lose sight of the big things.

K-LOVE Features March 2016

The Cure For a Broken Heart

Do you have a broken heart? There’s a cure. The Bible says, “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22) A joyful heart is the cure for a broken spirit. When our spirit is broken we are discouraged, which literally means to have “shortness of spirit.” The cure for a short or small spirit is JOY! So, where can you find joy? Psalm 16, verse 11 says, “You (God) will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Now the question is, how can someone experience the presence of God? Try these four doorways into God’s presence and His pleasure: anointed worship, agreeing with others in prayer, feasting on God’s Word, and fellowshipping with people who love Jesus.

Let God Kiss You Slowly

Years ago, one of my daughters had a habit of calling me and saying, “Real quick!” As if the conversation had to be rushed. After awhile I connected the dots that I was actually the source of that pattern. Realizing this, I asked her forgiveness, and since then our conversations are not rushed. There are two things your children will remember most about their childhoods: First, how much you loved them, and secondly, how much time you spent with them. A father walked into his little boy’s room late one night. Thinking he was asleep, the Dad quickly kissed his son on the cheek and started to leave the room. As he did, he heard his little boy say, “Why do you kiss me so fast?” Hmm? That’s a great thought! Let God kiss you slowly! He really wants to!

 

Freedom From Stress

Want to get free from stress? Here are some suggestions. Reestablish control over your life and schedule. Prioritize activities and commitments. Practice saying “No” to good things, in order to say, “Yes” to the best things. Consider doing less, not more. We all need margin in our lives. Margin will give you space to rest, time to heal, room to breathe, freedom to move, and money to spare. Protect open spaces. Periodically prune activities. Limit long-term commitments. Guard the dinner hour. Restore the practice of a Sabbath rest. Remember God is the one who gets things done. Psalm 37, verse seven says, “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him…” At the end of the day, God’s not just the only Person worth waiting for, He’s also the only One who knows what our future should be. 

Of Mice and Snakes

A good friend of mine used to raise snakes, in particular pythons to sell. He had some huge snakes. One named “Goliath” that was 16 feet long. My friend would feed one mouse at a time to the young snakes, but would come back after a few hours to make sure each snake had eaten the mouse. If not, a tiny mouse can kill a snake, ten times its size. What’s the principle? God’s given us all that we need to defeat our enemies. With Jesus as our Lord, the devil is truly no match for us. But, if we fail to destroy the works of the enemy during our window of opportunity, the much “weaker” devil can strike first and defeat us. The Bible tells us the truth, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7, ESV)

 

Living a Low-Stress Life

People substitute busyness for purpose. We figure if we can’t quench our thirst with an eyedropper, why not use a fire hose? We think we need more, and faster, but if we’re chronically exhausted, chronically late, and chronically rushed, we’re probably “breaking the speed limit of life”. For some people stress is the spice of life, but for others, it’s the kiss of death. I’ve found that my “No” is as important as my “Yes”. So, am I recommending a stress- free life? Actually, I’m not! No matter how tempting it may sound, if we didn’t have changes and challenges, we would die of boredom. Ask someone who’s been to prison, or a hospital, or has a boring job. Prisoners only make 20 decisions a day. Outside of prison people make roughly 120 decisions a day. We don’t need a no-stress life! We just need a low-stress life!

 

The Elevator

An Amish boy and his father were visiting a mall for the first time. They were amazed when they saw two shiny, silver doors that would move apart and then back together again; neither of them had ever seen an elevator. While they were watching, an old lady, limping slightly with a cane, walked up, pressed a button, and walked into the small room. The walls closed as they waited in amazement to see what would happen next. Suddenly, the walls opened again, and a beautiful, 24 year old woman stepped out. The astonished father turned to his son and said, “Son, go get your mother!” It’s a funny story, but I’ve seen miraculous changes like that played out in hundreds of lives. A person comes to Jesus looking old and tired, and God gives them a youthful, fulfilled, brand new life.

Living a Full Life

We all want to live full lives, but there are different degrees of fullness. Think of your life in terms of four saturation possibilities. There are four primary dimensions in our lives that can make us feel saturated: physically, financially, emotionally and within our time schedules. If your life were a sponge, would your sponge be 80% full? If it is, you have a better chance of being open and available for God to direct and even bless your life. If your schedule is 100% full, you will live hesitant and guarded: buried by what is going on, and afraid to add anything to your already overwhelmed life. Finally, if your schedule is 120% full, as many people’s lives are, you will wake up and go to bed feeling overloaded and stressed. Let Jesus be Lord of your schedule!

 

Do You Know What You Have?

There was a man who wanted to get rid of his home. So, he went to see a friend who was a realtor. He described his house and grounds to the realtor and asked him to write an advertisement for the newspapers. After his friend wrote the ad, he read it to him. The homeowner was overwhelmed with emotion. He said, “All my life I’ve always wanted a place just like the one you described. But I never knew I had it until I heard what you wrote.” Do we know what we already have? I’ve found that the best cure for discouragement is gratitude. Only one of the lepers Jesus healed was grateful. “…he…turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God.” (Luke 17:15-16, The Message) I am that leper, and my prayer is that you will realize you are as well.

 

Beneath the Surface

I was once watching two fishermen in a boat off shore. It didn’t seen like they were doing much…just sitting there in a boat. After 45 minutes I was suspicious and didn’t understand what was going on, until a scuba diver came up from beneath their boat. I didn’t know he was beneath the surface working. Hmm? Kind of like the Holy Spirit. Most of the time we don’t see what the Holy Spirit is doing. The reason we can’t find rest is because we don’t trust what God is doing beneath the surface of our circumstances. God is always working! Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8, ESV) Where is God’s Spirit blowing in your life? Where is He working?

Knowing God

Do you know the difference between praise and worship? It is important that you do. When we praise God, we focus on what He has done. Anyone can praise God for what He does, even non-Christians! While praise focuses on what God has done, worship is a response to who God is. Only people who have a relationship with God can really worship. When I was a young Christian we tried to praise God for long periods of time, but we didn’t have the depth of relationship to sustain it. After awhile it became mechanical! Until I knew God better, I couldn’t worship Him better. As my understanding of God increased, my response to God increased as well. God tells us in the Book of Jeremiah, “…let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me….” (Jeremiah 9:24, ESV)

 

Depression

There’s a legend about an angel who was sent by God to tell Satan that every method he used to defeat God’s people would be taken from him. The devil pleaded to be allowed to keep just one; he begged, “Let me keep depression.” So the angel agreed. “Good!” exclaimed the devil, as he laughed to himself, “Through depression, I can secure all the rest.” There’s a lot of truth to that little story. The Bible says, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” (Proverbs 12:25) Anxiety produces fear, heaviness, and sorrow, while depression makes us fall down flat. But the Psalmist gives us the cure, “Why am I discouraged? Why so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again–my Savior and my God! (Psalm 43:5)

 

Freedom From Debt

Are you struggling with debt? Here are some helpful tips on how to defeat your debt overload. Begin by giving God your first and best when it comes to your time, talents, and treasures. Commit to a budget. Self-control is a fruit of God’s Spirit. Avoid future debt by not giving in to impulse buying. Pay off your debts systematically. Get rid of credit cards. We each get sent many every year. Only spend money on what you need, not on what you want. Simplify your lifestyle. Learn to be content in all and any situations. Eat out less; it’s an expense you don’t need. Enjoy free activities; there are more than you realize. Simplify Christmas and birthdays; special doesn’t have to be expensive. And remember, the best things in life money can’t buy.