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.

 

 

 

K-LOVE Features February 2016

Problems With Evolution

The theory of Evolution has lots of problems. First: there’s no “new creation” taking place at this time. None! If the Earth evolved, why did it stop? Second: matter is constantly changing, but the trend is always downward – toward deterioration – not upward. Third: lower life forms have, in certain instances, more complex cell formations than higher life forms. For example: frog cells are more complex than human cells. Hmm? And lastly, there’s no fossil evidence indicating that species evolved, and there are NO species that arise gradually. They each appear “all at once – fully formed.” Each in-between stage would have left fossils. And most people are unaware that Darwin’s strongest opponents were NOT Christians, but fossil experts. The Bible says, “…God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27, ESV)

 Something From Nothing

If you can believe, Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” you should have no problem believing the rest of the Bible. But, the opposite is also true! You’d think any objective person would realize it’s impossible to get “something” out of “nothing.” And saying it took billions and billions of years doesn’t make getting “something” out of “nothing” more feasible. Professor Richard Goldschmidt, a geneticist at the University of California at Berkeley, once wrote, “To suppose that…a random event could reconstruct even a single complex organ like a liver or kidney is about as reasonable as to suppose that an improved watch can be designed by throwing an old one against the wall.” The most un-scientific thought ever conceived by man is that: “something came from nothing.” We came from God, and to God we shall return.

God Is Hovering Over Your Life

Have you ever wondered why God made darkness before light? What’s the principle? God wants us to choose Him. We can choose light or darkness. Without a choice there’s no true love. God wants a Bride who desires Him. It’s not a shotgun wedding! Darkness will always be an option while we’re on this Earth. Though I hate darkness, especially in me, it’s darkness that gives me a greater appreciation for light. Seeing selfishness makes me love selflessness even more. The Bible says, “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the darkness.” Doesn’t that remind you of your life before you received Jesus? When I was suicidal – God was hovering over my life. When I was an atheist – God was hovering over my life. Whatever darkness you are facing right now, remember, God is hovering over your life!

 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

No leader had a greater impact in my youth than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. No words are sufficient to express the courage and wisdom I saw in him. He led the civil rights movement for 13 years. And during that time, more progress was made for African-Americans to achieve racial equality than in the previous 350 years. Somehow, the pure abandon of his life cut through both the national dysfunction and my own personal confusion. A flawed man, like each of us, and nearly every Bible hero, Dr. King remains the champion of abandon and conviction. He wrote, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” He prayed, “Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.”

Drugs

Is there biblical validation for using drugs? Genesis 1:12 says, “God created all seed-bearing plants, and trees…and God saw that it was good.” Some have used this verse to justify the use of marijuana. But, not every plant is good for every purpose – hemlock is natural, but it’s a poison and will kill you. Try smoking poison ivy! Whatever God creates as good, will always have a counterfeit. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.” (John 14:27, ESV) Everything God created for good has a phony substitute: false peace, false truth, even false comfort. Our ability to determine the truth from the lies will not just affect our life on Earth, but eternity. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7, NIV) Sow wisely!

God and Resting

“God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when He rested from His work of creation.” (Genesis 2:3) Everything God does is holy, even rest. Resting is a holy act! Rest is NOT being entertained, spacing out, or just having fun. Rest is focused peace! Rest is not renting 3 DVD’s and vegging out! It’s not being lazy! It’s consciously trusting God with our lives! Rest is bowing to God, not the pressures of life, or the “God of performance!” It takes faith to rest in God! We are born “hardwired for rest!” The world is “hardwired for stress! We cannot be conformed to the image and likeness of God and not live at rest. God is not just a “God of Rest!” He’s a “God at REST!” Jesus, give us the rest in You we so desperately need!

Naked

Ever heard this statement? Since Adam and Eve were naked, obviously there’s nothing wrong with nakedness. In Genesis 2:25, although Adam and his wife were both naked, neither of them felt any shame. Shame has been defined as a negative emotion that combines feelings of dishonor, unworthiness, and embarrassment. Adam and Eve’s nakedness was far more than nudity. They were totally open and exposed before God and one another. Before the fall, they were naked, but didn’t see it as sinful. They were exposed, but not exploited! They were naked, but not immoral! They were unclothed, but not unprotected! They were undressed, but not uncovered! They were bare, but didn’t use one another! If you want to get back to the Garden! Live an honest, open and transparent life in the presence of God!

God Determines What Is Light

Do you want to know the most important thing God determines? God determines reality, what is real and what is not, what will last and what fades away, the eternal verses the temporary, right from wrong, truth verses lies. It’s all in His court. 2 Corinthians 4:6 says, the God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts…” It is God who determines what is light and what is darkness, not man. God determines what your gender is, what marriage is, what truth is, what reality is. Not man! Not counterfeit light! The world is loaded with counterfeit light…counterfeit truth… even counterfeit peace. Have you identified the counterfeit truth in your life? It’s vital that you do! For only then can you find the eternal truth that will set you free.

Evil

The Devils attacks are always aimed at trying to get us to doubt the goodness of God and the badness of sin! Satan’s main lie is: “Sin’s not that bad and God’s not that good.” Before Adam and Eve sinned, all they had ever known was good. In a few moments, all that would change. Before that time, no human being had ever known “evil.” They had been “spoiled with good!” Evil would shatter all that! How many of us have found that knowing “evil” has been a real bonus to our lives? “Most of the time I feel if I found out one additional piece of information about evil, I would go crazy!” My evil cup is full up! I have seen and experienced way too much evil. “God, deliver us from evil, and fill us with Your goodness!”

Favoritism

Perhaps the most destructive attitude devastating family relationships is favoritism: valuing one child above another. It started in the first family, with Adam and Eve. Their firstborn son Cain’s name meant, “Here he is!” while his brother Abel’s name meant “Unsatisfactory!” One was elevated with, “Here he is!” and the other was deflated, “Here comes unsatisfactory!” How sad! It’s no wonder that Cain was ill prepared for Abel’s offering to God being accepted, while his own was rejected. He’d been fed the lie, “I’m more special than my brother Abel!” and therefore was unable to accept God esteeming Abel’s offering as better. Favoritism led to jealousy and even murder. Down through the ages, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph all had favorites. To see the destructive results, just look at the Middle East. Have no favorites! Love and value your children equally, and your family will be blessed.

Open Minded

Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m open minded!” When Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened in Genesis 3:7, the Bible says, “…they suddenly felt shame, unworthy and embarrassment.” Satan opened their eyes all right! But, there’s nothing more dangerous than a partial truth. Because a complete lie is rarely an effective temptation. At times when our “eyes are opened” we see less-not more. I did drugs – my eyes were opened. I saw less, not more. I had sex outside of marriage – I saw less, not more. I disobeyed my conscience… I saw less, not more. Disobedience always brings shame! So many people are living under a cloud of shame. All that happens is we feel naked…exposed…vulnerable… dishonored…unworthy and …embarrassed!

Cosmic Coincidences?

What takes more faith, believing something came from nothing, or believing that there is an intelligent design in the Universe? Think about this: imagine the size of a full moon in the sky. For every patch of sky the size of the moon, if you look deep into space, there are a million galaxies; and each one of those galaxies contains 200 billion stars, the size of our sun. There are actually as many stars in the Universe as there are grains of sand found on all the beaches in the world. WOW! So did all of that just happen? Is it a cosmic coincidence? Did it evolve from nothing? The Bible says, “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31, ESV) The most un-scientific thought ever conceived by man is that “something came from nothing.”

 

 

K-LOVE Features January 2016

My Response

Do you battle with anger? Proverbs 16:32, says, “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” In every area of life, our response to the unexpected is infinitely more important than what others do to us. If the thief ALWAYS comes to steal, kill and destroy, then responding like the world, the flesh and the devil will always lead to death. Jesus counters the devil’s lies with the truth. He said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly!” (John 10:10, ESV) Perhaps, the fruit of God’s Spirit we ignore the most, self-control, is the one that will set us free. Do what Jesus said, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for”…even if it’s self-control. (Matthew 7:7, NLT)

 

Societies Drifting

As society continues to drift further away from reality, only God’s Word is the truth that can set someone free. Everywhere, people are creating their own version of good and evil, truth and lies, but the “new” morality is merely repackaged, “old” immorality. Sadly, far from being profound or liberating, it is the perfect recipe for deception. It is: “man playing God.” From Rebellious Anarchists to Pleasure-Seeking Hedonists…Selfish Capitalists to Naïve Socialists, lack of discernment will always lead to deception and destruction. Jesus prayed in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Where are you and I playing God in our lives?

 

Jesus Still Weeps

When you invite God into your pain, you will see His compassionate heart. The Bible says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15, ESV) Jesus knows your pain…your heartache! On Earth, “Jesus wept,” (John 11:35) and He still weeps with us even now. He models the good news that there is a God who cares. At times, we think we need to come to God with our “Sunday-Best,” when He is actually just as happy to see us in our “Monday-Worst.” What we really want to know is: “God, do You know what You’re doing with my life?” Believe that! God knows what to do with the broken pieces of your life.

 

God Is Speaking To You

Do you believe God is speaking to you? He is, I believe, every day! God speaks when He is about to accomplish His purposes. For, what God initiates, He always completes. He reveals Himself to increase our faith and trust in Him. When God speaks, you will recognize His inner voice, which will always seem unique to you. It is so divinely personal; you are convinced you have His complete attention. That’s because you do! God wants to communicate so clearly you will always know it is Him speaking. And never forget, God’s revelations are always designed to bring you into a love relationship with Him. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice.” God is speaking to you today. You’ll be blessed as you hear and obey.

 

Why We Need Faith

When God speaks, I will need faith to respond. Faith is the confidence that what God has promised or said will come to pass. Before I call my family, others, or even myself to exercise faith, I must be sure I have heard a word from God. When God lets me know what He wants to do through me, it will be something only He can do. The God who calls me is also the One who will enable me to do His will. Waiting on Him is always worth the wait. Fervent prayer will be one of the most demanding things I ever do. Obedience is my moment of truth. But only He should get the glory. God will never give me an assignment He will not enable me to complete.

 

The Real American Dream

You would think from listening to some people’s view of America, the Founding Father’s primary concern was to keep religion, and specifically Christianity, as far away as possible from projecting its views on society. But, if you spend any time examining what the founding leaders of America really said, you will have to conclude the exact opposite. As our Declaration of Independence so eloquently proclaims, “…all men are created equal…” and “…they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” The fact is…America is not great because we think we’re great. America is only great because of God! May we follow the advice of Scripture, “Godliness makes a nation great, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34, NLT)


Swimming Upstream

A hero has been defined as “somebody who commits an act of remarkable bravery or who has shown great courage and strength of character.” (World English Dictionary) The Christian worldview has always been distained by the world. Most people are tossed back & forth by the world’s values. They succumb to the peer pressure of the culture. In the first century, when Paul arrived as a prisoner in Rome, he met with Jewish leaders who promptly said, concerning his being a Christ-follower, “…we know that it is spoken against everywhere.” (Acts 28:22) More and more, this seems to be the case today. But, know this for certain, as “darkness gets darker it only makes the light that much brighter.” As D. L. Moody once said, “You can’t talk cream and live skim milk.”

 

Choosing the Difficult

God will never force you to do anything. Love necessitates freedom to choose. Every decision Jesus made was His choice. He said, “No one takes My life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” (John 10:18) Jesus could have called down 12 legions of angels to rescue Him in His greatest hour of need. In ancient Rome, a legion was an army division of three to six thousand soldiers. So, 72,000 mighty angels could have rescued Jesus, but He chose what was most inconvenient and most difficult. Don’t be surprised if He asks you to do the same. I’ve found this to be true. But, what is also true is that I have never regretted taking the hard, obedient road.

 

Jesus, the Greatest Hero

All of us celebrate heroes, whether they are real or imagined. From mythological or comic book heroes, to actual heroes who put themselves in harms way to protect our families or nation. But, who is the greatest hero of all time? It would have to be Jesus, and for the following reasons: though He was God come to Earth, Jesus didn’t defend Himself, but instead gave His life defending others. Because of Christ’s selfless love, He was willing to call us “friends” when we were His enemies. And lastly, Jesus was willing to suffer a death others deserved; suffering, the Bible says, more than any man for our sake. (2 Corinthians 5:21) Yet, as brutal as Christ’s physical suffering was, it was nothing compared to becoming sin for us, and dying to pay the penalty that we deserved.

 

True Worship

Jesus said, you must, “…love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” But what would that look like? I believe one of the amazing experiences Jesus had, perfectly describes true worship. The Bible tells the story in the Luke 7. “When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.” (Luke 7:37-38) Her actions sublimely demonstrated what total, complete, abandoned worship looks like! How grateful I am for what Jesus has done for me is best seen in how I worship Him.

 

My Great Dane Story

I used to go for walks at night, to walk and pray. One night, around midnight, I was walking in my neighborhood, and all of a sudden, a man opened his front door to let his dog, a massive Great Dane, out. Immediately, this dog, as big as a horse, ran out, leapt over a hedge and made a beeline for me. It happened so quickly, all I could do was freeze. He then jumped up, put his giant paws on my shoulders and without missing a beat licked my face, from chin to forehead. Then, just as quickly, he turned around, did his thing on the ground and went back into his house. It was unbelievable! But, as I reflect on it now, there’s probably no better example of the Bible verse that says, “Stand still and see the salvation of God.” (Exodus 14:13)

 

A True Lover

The world glamorizes love, and even extols those they think are great lovers. But, what does a true lover look like? Wouldn’t it be someone who loved unconditionally, who forgave others unequivocally, and who refused to consider anyone un-loveable? The key quality of true love is that it’s not primarily designed to benefit you. True love thinks of others first. Therefore, we can never represent the God who is love if we think we’re better than other people. None of us are better than anyone else. If we say, we’re not that big of a sinner, it only means we’re comparing ourselves to other people on this Earth, when the significance of our sin only comes to light when we compare ourselves to our Creator. In which case, we have all sinned and are in need of God, our Savior.

 

K-LOVE Features December 2015

Honored

Do you feel dishonored? Many people feel dishonored by the people closest to them: a parent, a child, a spouse, or just society in general. It seems every day we hear of a person lashing out against someone whom they believe has dishonored them personally, or their nation, race, religion or family. Sadly, dishonored people tend to dishonor others. In our often cynical, sarcastic, polarized, condescending, bullying, culture, it’s not hard to feel dishonored. Yet, honoring is the invisible weapon God has given every one of us to be on an equal level with everyone else. It’s hard to learn from someone you resent or envy. We learn best from people we respect. So, do what the Bible says and you can change your world, “Honor everyone.” (1 Peter 2:17, ESV) “Respect everyone.” (1 Peter 2:17, NLT) “Treat everyone you meet with dignity.” (1 Peter 2:17, The Message) You can respect everyone without respecting what they believe.

Making Friends of Enemies

Perhaps the most important takeaway from of our past is learning from our mistakes while appreciating the grace and forgiveness of God. Yet, we all struggle to learn sufficiently. It reminds me of a sad reality spoken about in the Book of Judges. We’ll have to live with the enemy we refuse to drive out. When it comes to the inner battle we each face in our soul, making friends with enemies never ends well. If we don’t resist the devil, we’ll eventually make friends with him. The Bible says, “…resist the devil, and he will flee.” The devil would love us to believe that evil is really not that bad, and good is, likewise, not that good. But the only truth that will set a person free is aligning our lives with God’s reality, which is all that will ultimately last.

 

What Miracles Are We Missing

We have all seen miracles. But if we refuse to believe them or just plain forget they took place, we’ll lose their full potential. For it is the miracles we have each experienced that give us faith to believe for the miracles yet to come. “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20, ESV) “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37, ESV) “Jesus, what miracles are we missing today? Open our eyes to see who You really are: the God of miracles. It is Your nature to do the impossible. And it is Your will for us to know You and see You as You really are. For only then can we see Your beauty. Only then can we discover the greater works You promised.”

Key To Happiness

A study was done on the effects a major life change has on a person’s happiness. Half of the people tested were big lottery winners. The other half suffered severe injuries in bad car accidents. It was determined that a few weeks after these drastic life-changing events took place, both groups were equally happy and satisfied with their lives. Thus proving: winning a million dollars is about as much fun as getting hit by a bus. Hmm? Who are the healthiest people you know: the spoiled or entitled ones, or those who have responded to the challenges of life by trusting God? Only by trusting the Author of life can we find fulfillment, and living a fruitful life is never about what we have or don’t have, it’s about how we respond to what we have or don’t have. Only then can godliness with contentment be a great gain.

 

Born Again…Again?

The only life worth living is the one God has planned for you, and the only way to experience that life is through a personal, intimate relationship with your Creator. Jesus said, “I am life!” (John 14:6) and the only people who believe Jesus was overstating what He would provide for them, are those who don’t yet know Him. If you have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, you know that His goodness is one that surpasses all expectation. Forty-three percent of Americans say they have been born again, but only thirteen percent have a truly transforming faith. My question is: what good is a faith that doesn’t change you? If we say we’ve been born again, but don’t have a transformed life, then may I suggest being born again…again? Though it may sound funny, get “born again” as many times as it takes to see your life change.

 

Lovely People Love

It’s been said, the secret of being loved is being lovely, and the secret of being lovely is learning to love others. There are no lovely, self-centered people, and we can’t even fully love until we’ve received God’s love. So, what’s the solution? Let the God who is love be the Lord of your life. Let the love He has for you, flow through you to others. The Bible says, “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (1 John 4:16, NLT) “Jesus, so live in me, that when people see me, they, in some tangible way, are seeing You…Your love…Your kindness…Your selfless heart for them.”

Servant Leaders

If your goal in life is to lead people, you’re going to be frustrated, because only a few people want to be led. But if you aim to be a servant, you’ll never lack for followers. Jesus said in Mark 9:35 (ESV), “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” No person is ever honored for what they have received. Honor is the reward of those who give. God is a giver, and He searches the whole earth to find someone like Him. And when He does, He blesses them. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45, ESV) Want people to follow you? Lay down your life for them. Never forget, there is a servant leader sitting on a throne in Heaven.

 

Encourage One Another

A minister in Florida had a funeral conducted for himself while he was still living. The printed order of service gave his explanation, “This, my funeral, is being held because I have no pleasure in words I cannot hear, flowers I cannot smell, and friends I cannot see.” After the service one man said he would never compliment his pastor because it might make him proud. Really? More likely, it would’ve encouraged him. Flattery is always wrong, but a genuine word of affirmation is always right. 1 Corinthians 12:26 says, “…if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” When was the last time you honored someone who has helped you, by encouraging them? “Speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out…no one left behind.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, The Message)

 

Exhorting One Another

Did you know that none of us can fulfill our destiny, without other people? Pastor Bill Hybel’s, when he was the chaplain of the Chicago Bears Football Team, would do a Bible study for the players. One day, he walked into the locker room and found them critiquing one another while watching films of the previous game. They were laying aside pride and asking other people to tell them the truth. They realized that they needed others to help them improve. We all do! The Bible says in Hebrews 3:13, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called today, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” I can only fulfill my destiny if I let God and other people speak into my life.

The FUI’s

Every since I was a baby Christian, I’ve had to deal with three consistent attacks of the enemy, especially in my finances. They are Fear, Unbelief and Ignorance. “F” for Fear, “U” for Unbelief, and “I” for Ignorance. I call them the FUI’s. “Ah FUI! I’m afraid I won’t have enough if I obey God!” “Ah FUI! I can’t believe God will provide for my needs if I obey Him!” “Ah FUI! I don’t believe God’s Word asks me to obey!” They are the wasps, gnats and mosquitoes that attack my life. Annoying little buggers that I must continually swat and resist. Jesus said it clearly, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” (Luke 6:38, NLT)

 

No Coincidences

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous. But it’s never His way of staying distant. The sooner we eliminate words like “accident” and “lucky” from our vocabulary, the sooner we will take the blinders off our spiritual eyes. We are eternal, spirit beings having a temporary earthly experience. Don’t be distracted by what you see. Be committed to what you can’t see, and yet lasts forever. There are no coincidences in any of our lives, just divinely scripted, perfectly crafted, absolutely majestic moments that only a loving God could orchestrate. Love never fails, and God is love. God’s plans for us are always for our good; to fill our future with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) Commit to seeing your life from God’s perspective, trust Him every moment, and eventually you will see His genius.

Chasing Success

All of us at times fail, and even though these failures can be devastating, if we process them well, God will show us their true value. The Bible says, “…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 4:18, NLT) So, in order to see the value of your failures, believe what God says about you, that, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1, ESV) that, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37, ESV) and lastly, “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.” (1 John 4:16, NLT)

 

 

K-LOVE Features November 2015

Something Brand New

There is a great verse in the Book of Isaiah that encourages me so much, especially in The Message paraphrase Bible: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert…” (Isaiah 43:18-19, The Message) I love that! We all spend way too much time dwelling on the past; a past that’s covered and forgiven by the blood of Jesus. Sure, I’ve had to look at my past in order to let Jesus heal me, but I don’t allow the enemy to rub my nose in my mistakes and failings. Once I’ve repented of them, I focus on the good that Jesus has done in spite of my shortcomings, not what I’ve done wrong.

 

Gratitude

Are you grateful for what Jesus has done and is doing in your life? I am! If we’re not grateful for what we have, we will eventually lose what we have. We will lose sight of it…touch with it and connection to it. Gratitude connects us to eternal realities. Only gratitude leads to true joy. The Bible says, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT) Happiness depends on happenings. Joy depends on perspective. When we are the keepers of our gratitude, we are then the reapers of our joy. If we cultivate an attitude of gratitude, then no one will be able to steal our joy. “For the joy set before Him, Jesus even endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2)

 

Shaking and Awakenings

Are you being shaken? I know I am. I believe God shakes us to awake us! In fact, great shakings usually happen right before great awakenings. In the Book of Judges, Gideon felt he was the weakest and the least, and yet God said He would be with him to make up the difference. When Gideon faced a massive Midianite army, he initially only had 32,000 men. But God thought even that was too many and so reduced it to a mere 300. God often contradicts what we think would make sense because only He knows what should happen. He’s chosen, out of all possibilities, the best plan to bring about His desired purpose for us. We don’t need our circumstances to change in order to have peace; all we need to do is trust God.

 

Giving Up Too Soon

Recently, I led a man to Jesus who the week before had put his neck on a railroad track to take his life, and only lifted it up right before the train passed in front of him. He’s the father of three young children. Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation!” (John 16:33) He wasn’t overstating this. Life is really tough! Then Jesus added, “But…take heart…take courage…cheer up…I have overcome so that you can overcome.” “I’m victorious so you can be victorious…” Those were not empty words. Because Jesus conquered sin and the death sin produces, we can be “…more than conquerors through Him who loved us and gave His life for us.” (Romans 8:37) Don’t give up too soon! Find the victory behind God’s promises.

 

Forgiveness and Gratitude

In Luke 7:44-47 of The Message paraphrase Bible, Jesus said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.” If the greatest blessing we could ever receive is being pardoned…forgiven for our sins, then the most appropriate response to this greatest of all gestures is to actually BE grateful!

 

Getting God’s Attention

Do you believe that when you pray you are finally getting God’s attention? Actually, the opposite is true! Whenever we pray, it’s because God has finally gotten our attention. That’s what happened in the Upper Room at Pentecost. The 120 disciples were gathered there united in prayer because God had, at last, gotten their complete attention. God only finishes what He authors. That’s why we are never the scriptwriters, but we can be what He always intended us to be: script doers. In the Bible it says, “…don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (James 1:22, NLT) “Jesus, You have my complete attention! I want Your will, and not my own. Help me to be a doer of the Word and not merely a hearer, deceiving myself.”

 

Character Is Not a Consolation Prize

What are you chasing after in life: money, fame, security, peace of mind? If the goal of life is to become like our Creator, then Christ-like character is what we should be emulating. Character is not a consolation prize. It’s the main event! We were created in the image and likeness of God in order to become like Jesus. The Bible says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 2:4-5, NLT) Being like Jesus is the fulfillment of being created in God’s image; and the fruit of Him being the first fruits of God’s new creation. Don’t chase after what lasts for only a moment. Pursue what lasts forever…becoming like Jesus; it is the greatest honor in life and the only life worth pursuing.

How the Devil Lies To Us

There are three primary ways the devil lies to us. First, about who God is! Then about what God says; and thirdly, about who God says we are. We can see from His beautiful creation that God is beautiful. And the fact He doesn’t boast in His creation with light shows saying, “This morning’s sunrise is brought to you by God,” demonstrates He’s humble. This beautiful, humble God died on a cross so that we could be engrafted into His marvelous family for eternity. He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3) So, the next time the devil tries to lie to you, remind him of who God is, what He says, and who you are in Him: a forgiven, loved and cherished child of the most-high God!

 

Living Grateful

Are you grateful? Better yet, do you live grateful? Harvard professor Shawn Achor said in his book, “The Happiness Advantage,” that training your brain to be “positive first” yields the greatest success. In fact, 75% of your success on the job can be traced, not to your intelligence, but to your optimism. His research shows the importance of focusing every day on three events that have occurred in the last 24 hours for which you are grateful. Doing this makes a positive imprint on your brain. Gratitude connects us to eternal realities and is perhaps the clearest indication that we are seeing our lives as God intended. Only gratitude leads to true joy. The Bible says, “Always be joyful. Be thankful in all circumstances…”    (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT)

 

Shaping Worries Into Prayers

Would you like to get a victory over worry? Here’s a sure fire way to do it! I love how the Message Bible says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6-7) WOW! “…shape worries into prayers.” What a marvelous concept! I’ve found, petitions require trust and praise requires gratitude! When I allow God to shape my worries into prayers the wholeness of God begins to shape my life. Cast off the worries of life, because our worries are temporary, but our worship is eternal!

 

The Best Alarm Clocks

The greatest blessing we could ever receive is being pardoned…forgiven for our sins. And the most appropriate response to this greatest of all gestures is being grateful! The Message Bible paraphrase says, “Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude.” (Colossians 4:2) We are not awake until we are grateful! We are actually sleeping through our rescue. So, how do I get fully awake in order to live gratefully? I’ve found that the Word of God and the presence of God are my best alarm clocks. They wake me up every day. Focusing on my problems will lull me to sleep. Feasting on God’s promises wakes me up to eternal realities. I want to live awake. “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14b, ESV)

 

God’s Protection

One of my favorite verses in the Bible encourages me that no matter what troubles I’m going through God will protect me. It’s found in Isaiah 43. “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Isaiah 43:1-3, NLT) WOW! What a promise! When the enemy tries to focus you on your problems, set your eyes on God’s promises. Our problems are temporary, while His promises are eternal.