K-LOVE Radio Features – March 2015

Secretariat

Secretariat is considered by many to be the greatest thoroughbred of all time, with the rare ability for both stamina and speed. Unlike most horses, the more Secretariat ran, the faster he would get. In 1973, he became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years, setting race records in all three events (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and the Belmont). These records stand today. He was known for still accelerating in the final quarter-mile of his races. What was his secret? After he died, an autopsy revealed he had been born with an enlarged heart. Hmm? What a great principle! A big heart can help us run hard towards the goal, even to our last days. “Jesus, give us big hearts to follow hard after You!”

Expectations

Expectations are a funny thing. We can’t live without them and eventually we realize we can’t live with them. They’re fun when they’re met…debilitating when they’re not; and frankly, unless they’re God’s expectations for us, they may be exactly what we don’t need. I can’t meet your expectations of me and you can’t meet mine for you. But, perhaps the worst thing about expectations is believing that we haven’t met Gods, or that He hasn’t met ours. But the truth is, God’s relationship with us is NOT based on “expectations,” it’s based on “acceptance.” God loves who He created us to be, and the main reason He wants us to change our behavior is because some of the decisions we make distort who we are created to be. Accept God’s love for you, and then your expectation of Him will be filled with trust.

Marriage Protects Women

Contrary to conventional wisdom, one of the greatest benefits to women is a God-ordained institution called marriage. It can protect a woman from being taken advantage of by a man who wants the benefits of a relationship without the responsibility. Even the United Nations in its “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” declared rightly, “the Family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society…” The only challenge to this sentence comes when we are deceived into thinking we can re-define what a family is. God defined marriage and family for all generations: “…a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24, ESV) May we each find the protection we long for by aligning ourselves with God’s inspired order for our lives.

Mixed Messages

When Jesus said, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one,” (John 17:15, NIV) He knew this would require great discernment on our part; to know what thoughts are from God and which ones are deceptions sent to seduce us. Mixed messages, though subtle, are rarely missed messages; in their content we find their intent and the motive behind the words. The airwaves are filled with mixed messages that deceive the naïve. That’s why we must, as Jesus admonished, be as wise as serpents, but harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16) Test the intent behind the words that come your way. Do they give you a greater desire to do the will of God, or are they mine fields laying in wait to draw you further away from His best for your life.

Umbrellas and Sponges

How we relate to the stresses of life can lead to peace or pressure. Nothing can rock me unless I allow it. I am the gatekeeper; the thought processor, the embracer or resister of all that life sends my way. At times, I need to be an umbrella, deflecting the insecurities and fears that try to drown my thought life. At other moments, I must be a sponge; moment-by-moment absorbing God’s Word, allowing the presence of God to soak into my thirsty soul and spirit. I am an umbrella for the stress and confusion around me, but a sponge for healthy experiences that draw me closer to Jesus and all the good He intends for me. The Bible promises, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3, ESV)

Faith or Fear

Faith and fear have one thing in common, neither one has happened yet. No one can superimpose either filter on how I process my life. I can expect a blessing or a burden. I can wrap my arms around the truth or snuggle with lies. The truth is, there is an all-powerful, all-loving Father in Heaven who before I breathed one breath wrote a perfect script for my life. When I combine my faith with His faithfulness I will

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learn to trust Him, and my experience of life will take my breath away. The Bible says, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one…” (Ephesians 6:16, ESV) No weapon formed against me will prosper unless I choose to let it. Faith or fear, it’s always our choice.

Eat Dirt or Humble Pie

Whether I eat dirt or humble pie is always my decision. Humility has been defined as “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.” No one can humble me. Humility must be my own preference. Sir Isaac Newton’s first law of motion determined that an object will stay in motion as long as no opposing force is put on the object. Winds that are close to the Earth’s surface are less intense since friction has reduced their wind speed. If I humble myself and bow to God, I will be less tossed about by the winds of adversity. Whether I stand proud or bow humbly will most certainly affect my quality of life. I choose to bow to my Creator, for only then can He lift me up above the more unsettling winds of life.

Grateful Not Entitled

I heard a joke that had some truth to it. “I’m OCD and ADD, so I want everything perfect, but just for a little while.” It’s pretty funny, but also somewhat true. We are all hard-wired to want what we want when we want it, and an exceptional blessing can easily become an expected pattern. A friend of mine mentioned that his stepdad, who had little contact with him, cut off all communication because a Christmas invitation one year became an expected invite every year. When this did not occur, the entire relationship was discarded. I’m grateful that God never discarded me when I was far from Him, and I try to live as if nothing is expected from God and others. When something extraordinary takes place, feel grateful and not entitled.

Revelations From Heaven

Revelations from God are never birthed in time and space, but bloom forever in Heaven. I have had many lesser thoughts that have a shelf life of nanoseconds, but the God-inspired revelations that came as lightning bolts of truth, these are the thoughts I will cherish throughout eternity. The Bible says, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89, NKJV) “Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long.” (Psalm 119:97, NLT) We will cherish revelations from God forever, because the Word that had no beginning will likewise have no end. The Word that became flesh and walked among us is even now seated on the very Throne of God. It is this eternal Word that reaches out to enlighten us each and every day. God speak! We are desperate to hear you.

You Go Sleep With God!

A three-year old little girl came trembling into her parents’ bedroom in the middle of the night. Shaking her mom she said, “Mommy, I’m scared,” The mother, barely awake, said, “Go back to your bed, Sweetheart. God will be there with you.” After considering what her mom said for a few moments, the little girl responded, “Mommy, I’ll sleep here with Daddy and you can go in there and sleep with God.” It’s a funny story, but with a good point. At times, each of us need a god with skin. That’s why being a safe parent is so important. We are often the first representation of what God is like for our kids. The Bible says, “Then little children were brought to (Jesus) that He might put His hands on them and pray.” (Matthew 19:13, NKJV) Pray over your children. Be the “god with skin.”

Naïve Preferences

Life usually doesn’t turn out the way we expect, and that can be very frustrating, especially if we’re looking at the wrong thing. The wrong perspective is invariably our naïve preference, our attachment to the way we think life should be, as if, out of all options, we could ever know what’s best. We don’t! Never have and never will! How could we? We can barely focus on our present, but God sees past, present and future continually before Him. He’s already chosen the best possible plan for our lives. It’s called His will, and the only way to experience it is to trust Him. If we can trust God, and see our lives through His eyes, our lives will always, absolutely, turn out for our good and for the best.

K-LOVE Radio Features – February 2015

You’re God’s Favorite

Does God have favorites? Absolutely! Each of us are His favorite representation of the one-of-a-kind qualities He’s given us. That’s not just a play on words, it’s an accurate description of how special we are to God. It is impossible for Him to give us less than His best, because He’s already given it! From the foundation of the world, God pre-determined that this was indeed His will. His love compelled Him to divinely prepare the perfect script for each of our lives. The Bible says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32, ESV) Knowing that I am a favorite son of God changed my life, and it will change your life as well.

 

Too Much Bad News

Do you feel overwhelmed by all of the bad things happening on Earth? How could you not? That’s why it’s so important to monitor what comes into your mind. You can’t have healthy thoughts if you are constantly feeding on the graphic unhealthiness happening around you. We all know there’s such a thing as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). But, is it possible that many of us are experiencing TMBN (Too Much Bad News). We are not capable of going from one overtly tragic piece of information to another. We will invariably become like the company we keep…be it people or thoughts! The Bible says, “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8, ESV)

 

Marriage Guidelines

Here are some guidelines that have worked during Suzie and my 40 years of marriage. We have different perspectives, but if something’s important to either of us, it’s important. We don’t have to understand each other’s journey in order to be kind, caring and affirming. Whenever one of us is unheard we feel devalued. By listening more and talking less we try and be more concerned about hearing than being heard. Doing right is more important than being right. We can fester on past breaches with one another, or we can forgive and release, because we want our relationship to always be filled with more hope than tension. We’re not looking for equity, we want healing. Though not always successful, we try to live, laying down our lives, turning the other cheek, and running the extra mile.

 

Faithfulness

One of the qualities that hurts most when lost and blesses most when found, is loyalty. It has been defined as “using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to God and to those whom He has called me to serve.” For some people, loyalty is a thing of the past, being trumped by individual preference. We are fast-becoming the most self-absorbed generation in history. Yet, unfaithfulness is one of life’s greatest heartbreaks. The Bible says, “a faithful man who can find!” (Proverbs 20:6, ESV) Having been an “unfaithful man” prior to allowing Jesus to be the Lord of my life, I sang to my wife Suzie on our wedding day, “Suzie I won’t fail you!” That’s still the desire of my heart, and my daily prayer. May the God who is faithful to us help us to be faithful to others.

 

Virtue

There are some things that are timeless—even priceless for all generations. One of them is virtue. Noah Webster defined virtue as “voluntary obedience to truth, strength that comes from straining, stretching, and extending.” It’s always a stretch to live a virtuous life. We strain and extend ourselves to voluntarily walk in truth. It always takes yielding to God’s Spirit in order to have Christ-like character. The Bible says, “…add to your faith virtue…” (2 Peter 1:5, NKJV) Faith is eternal, but it will take voluntary virtue to strain, stretch and extend us in order to be faithful to Jesus. Proverbs says, “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10, KJV) Virtue is priceless and timeless, and essential to pursue for every Christ-follower.

 

Gypsy Smith

Gypsy Smith was born in a tent six miles outside of London. When he was young his mother died of smallpox, and he spent most of his early life living in a gypsy wagon. At the time he received Jesus at sixteen, he couldn’t read or write, yet when he was born again he carried around a Bible, an English Dictionary and a Bible Dictionary wherever he went, even though he couldn’t read them. He would say, “one day I’ll be able to read these because God has called me to preach.” Through diligence and self-discipline he taught himself how to read and ultimately preached, seeing tens of thousands come to know Jesus. Some consider him the best-loved evangelist of all time! The Bible says, “…diligence is man’s precious possession.” (2 Peter 1:5, NKJV) It can be the difference-maker in a life that is truly successful.

 

Guard Your Heart, Mind and Friendships

Have you ever heard these expressions, “He made me so mad!” or “I get so frustrated when I’m around her!” These statements actually are not true. No one can make you feel mad, sad, or frustrated; only you can do that. Your responses to life’s challenges are always completely in your court. That’s why the Bible says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23, NLT) No one can get into your home unless you let him. That’s why it’s important to wash and renew your mind with God’s Word every day in order to keep the bad thoughts out. Finally, the Bible does provide further guidelines, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person…or you may learn their ways.” (Proverbs 22:24-25, NIV) To sum it up: Carefully guard your heart, thoughts and friendships.

 

Character

Is there anything more important than character? I don’t think so. Character in Scripture is translated as the “express image,” and was considered as “the exact representation of the object whose image it bore.” The word “character” means the impression itself, usually something engraved, cut in, or stamped. In the Book of Hebrews, Jesus Christ is referred to as the “express image” of God; (Hebrews 1:3) He fully expressed the character of God through His life. One of God’s primary goals for believers is to transform us into the image of His Son so that we may be a reflection of the character of Christ…the stamp or impression of God’s life and character on us. So that, when people see us, they are seeing the heart and character of God. To me, that sounds exactly how I want to live.

 

Sincere

One of the most encouraging things someone can say about you is that, “You’re sincere!” “Sincere!” That’s actually quite a compliment. But what does it really mean? The word “sincere” has two Latin routes: “sin” meaning “without,” and “cere” meaning “flaws.” So, sincere literally means “without flaws.” When a sculpture was made, to make a bronze figuring, they would start off first by making a wax original. When wax originals were ready to be cast, they had to be sincere: “without flaws.” So, when we say, “she’s sincere,” what we’re really saying is, she’s a person without deception or flaws. Even though we all know we have flaws, it does provide a goal worth pursuing. The Bible says, “…that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ…” (Philippians 1:10, NKJV)

Smith Wigglesworth

I don’t know about you, but I’m comforted when I hear that great men and women of God were as challenged as I often feel. One man God mightily used was a plumber by trade, but ultimately traveled the world ministering to thousands. His name was Smith Wigglesworth, and he wrote this: “Before God could bring me to this place, he broke me a thousand times. I have wept, I have groaned, I have travailed many a night until God broke me. It seems to me that until God has mowed you down, you never can have this long-suffering for others.” WOW! That makes sense! How can I have compassion for others without God doing a deep work in me. So, the next time you’re thinking what you’re going through isn’t worth it, realize God is going to use all you’ve been through to help someone else.

 

 

Unanswered Prayers

Are there prayers God can’t answer? Definitely! Here are a couple of unanswerable prayers: “God, make my life easier?” “Sorry son, I can’t do that! It would only diminish who you were created to become.” “OK then, make my life more challenging, so I can grow faster? “Once again, I can’t do it, because I’ve already set in motion what needs to take place in your life for you to grow as fast as possible.” Are you getting the picture? God’s pre-determined what is best for each of us, so any adjustments on His part are not necessary. This is actually an incredibly liberating thought. Now, all we have to do is agree with Him and obey Him in order to reap the benefits of His grace.

 

K-LOVE Radio Features – January 2015

Unforced Errors

LeBron James, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, was asked what was the number one thing he did after every game. He said the first thing he does is check the number of turnovers his entire team committed and the second is the number of turnovers he personally committed. In baseball, mistakes are called errors; in football they’re known as fumbles; and in tennis they’re unforced errors. These are what champions focus on first in order to grow, succeed and win. Similarly, King David prayed, “God, keep me from presumptuous sin.” Though we shouldn’t fixate primarily on our mistakes, we need to ask God for wisdom and discernment to protect us from unforced errors that are unnecessary and will cost us dearly.

Doing the Impossible

Many times those who do the impossible don’t premeditate doing so. Perhaps it was just a vision or conviction that required everything of them and necessitated stepping out in faith in a supernatural way. They met God on their journey and He became the difference-maker. When God does the impossible it blasts us out of our unbelieving stupor into an eternal realm that will last infinitely longer than our brief time on Earth. It reminds me of Francis of Assisi, who started out a loser and ended up a legend, leading a movement of radical followers of Jesus. He said, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” His statement reminds me of the faith-filled words of Jesus who challenged all of us, “…with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 b, NIV)

 

Something Out of Nothing

I’m a recovering atheist. I spent seven years adamantly professing God didn’t exist. That ended abruptly when I found myself crying out to the God I didn’t believe in. And, guess what? He heard me! The problem with being an atheist has always been “how does something come from nothing?” Where did that first “something” come from? If you can believe Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” then you should have no problem believing the rest of the Bible. But, if you can’t believe God created everything, then any leap of faith will stumble you. Whenever you’re facing making something out of nothing, remember that’s one of God’s specialties. If you’ll trust Him, He’ll make something out of nothing every day of your life.

Seeing Jesus in Me

We learn about God, by examining what He does. The Bible says after God created the heavens and the earth, on the seventh day He rested. God didn’t have to rest because He was tired, or to catch His breath, God rested in order to show us how we need to live. If God chose to schedule a day of rest, a day to replenish, how much more do we need to rest as well? Yet, the New Testament states that Jesus has fulfilled the purpose of God’s Sabbath. (Hebrews 4:9-11) God has given us an eternal Sabbath rest, and part of our destiny is to learn how to rest in Jesus. I take that personally. One of my life goals is to be so at rest that people can see Jesus in me.

 

Partial Truths

There’s nothing more dangerous than a partial truth, because a complete lie is rarely believable. So, when the devil tempted Adam and Eve and said, if you eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, “…God knows that your eyes will be opened…” (Genesis 3:5), they believed him. Their eyes were opened all right, but all they could see was a tsunami of shame hurtling toward them. (Genesis 3:7) They realized then, as we do now, that 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 disobeyed my conscience… my eyes were opened. I saw less, not more. Disobedience always brings shame, and we see less not more. Follow God’s warnings, for they always lead to a safe and healthy future.

 

Favoritism is Pride

It is the responsibility of all parents to prepare their children for the future; but we will each need a good dose of humility to do this well. Eve’s expectations seemed to have caused her to favor her son Cain over Abel his brother. When Eve gave birth to a second son and named him Abel, the meaning of their names was most revealing. Cain means, “Here he is!” while Abel meant, “something unsatisfactory.” WOW! “Here he is!” meets “something unsatisfactory.” You could say her favoritism left Cain ill-prepared when God received Abel’s sacrifice over his. Cain then killed Abel out of jealousy. The lesson? As parents, our children will be better prepared for the future with humility rather than pride. The Bible provides the key to success, “Humility comes before honor.” (Proverbs 18:12, NIV)

Appropriate Emotion

Is God an emotional being? Absolutely! But, is He led by His emotions? Absolutely not! He’s led by His wisdom. But, at times, appropriate wisdom necessitates great emotion. In the Bible, the prophet Jeremiah was called the “weeping prophet.” Those who saw the great preacher, George Whitefield, an evangelist who helped fuel the 1st Great Awakening, said, “they never saw him preach without weeping.” True love will always require emotion! But what is appropriate emotion in an age of over-stimulation, where you can watch “tear-jerking” movie and a “side-splitting” comedy—all in the same night? One of the great challenges in this age is remaining appropriately, emotionally connected. May God help us to weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice.

 

Turning Myself In

Have you been born again? Jesus said you must be “born again” in order to enter the Kingdom of God. One of the first signs that you are born again is that you take sides with God—against yourself. HA! That may sound funny, but when you and I freely admit that we’ve sinned and been wrong, we’re finally seeing how good God is, and how much we desperately need Him. Many times we’re willing to excuse our sin and even complain if anyone judges us. I’ve found a much better way to live is to turn myself in rather than wait to be caught. I want to run toward God and not away from Him, I want to trust Him more than I trust myself, because there is no One who has my best interest in mind more than He does.

 

Bible Miracles

Have you dismissed the Bible because you think its miraculous stories are too far-fetched: stories like Noah and the Flood? Literally, hundreds of people groups have their own accounts and legends of the Flood. Why? Because ALL people groups came from the Flood. More than 200 cultures have passed on the oral account of a worldwide flood. In 88% of these flood-believing cultures, there is a favored family, in 70% survival is due to a boat, in 95% the sole cause of the catastrophe is a flood, in 66% the disaster is due to man’s wickedness, in 67% animals are also saved, and in 57% the survivors end up on a mountain. A closer examination of God’s miracles will not just reveal their possibility, but their reality.

The Lamb Principle

There’s a principle in the Bible called the “Lamb Principle” that demonstrates the importance of giving our first and best. Abel offered God a sacrifice of his first and best lamb. Cain, at the end of days made his offering. (Genesis 4:4) The Israelites sacrificed a “first and best” Passover lamb to protect their families. (Exodus 12:11) On the Day of Atonement they likewise offered their first and best lamb for their nation. (Leviticus 23:27) All of this was a prelude to Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, being offered as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. (John 1:29) God the Father gave His first and best for us in Jesus. Would you like God to bless your life, then follow the Lamb Principle, obediently give God your first and best when it comes to all He’s given you: your time, talents and treasures.

 

Skip With a Limp

Would you like your life to be easier? If you would, it will likely not be for your benefit. Actually, making our lives easier will not help us fulfill our destiny. You can lower the net to four feet, but it won’t be basketball. You can take down the net completely, but it won’t be tennis. You can take off all the weights on the bar, but it won’t build muscles. In much of our culture, we’ve done our best to eliminate many of the challenges in life, but it hasn’t necessarily made our lives better or any easier. God’s looking for someone who’s willing to skip with a limp, not skimp and become a wimp. It is when we persevere during life’s struggles, cheerfully and hopefully enduring, that we see our souls truly transformed.

 

Rest is a Holy Act

Everything God does is holy. So, when the Bible says, “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) God made resting a holy act! Rest is not being entertained, spacing out, or just having fun; rest is focused peace! Resting is not being lazy! It is consciously trusting God with our lives! Rest is bowing to God, not the pressures of life, or the “god of performance!” It actually takes more faith to rest in God than to rely on ourselves. Though we are born “hardwired for rest,” this world is “hardwired for stress.” We cannot be conformed to the image and likeness of God and not live at rest, for He is not just a “God of rest,” He is a “God at rest!”

 

 

K-LOVE Radio Features – December 2014

Fully Trusting God

Why do I question God? When am I going to fully trust Him—on my deathbed? The second saddest thing I can think of is finally realizing on the last day of my life that God was fully trustworthy and always had my best interest in mind. The only thing sadder is never realizing it…never fully trusting God. I’m absolutely convinced that when I stand before God I’ll at last see there were an infinite number of things I could have believed about Him while I was on Earth that I just didn’t. First and foremost, I could have believed that every situation I ever found myself in was ultimately designed for my good. But I don’t have to wait for my final day, I’m standing before Him right now. “God, I trust You!”

 

My Sin Problem

The longer I live and follow Jesus, the more I realize that my sin problem is far more serious then I’m capable of understanding. Like Paul the Apostle, because I know my sin best, I know deep down, I am the chief of sinners! My sin is ever before me. But the astoundingly good news is, God’s solution for my serious sin problem is far more glorious than I could ever imagine. Though I can obsess over what I’m not, I can likewise focus my attention on who God is and who He created me to be. One perspective keeps me looking backward at where I’ve failed and the other inspires me to look forward toward a loving Father who’s always wanted me to succeed. I like my Heavenly Father’s perspective best!

 

God is the Great Initiator

Our prayers never initiate God moving in our lives or in those around us. NEVER! It is His heart that awakens us out of our sleep and His Spirit that compels us to pray. We are never the initiator! We only have a faint interest in prayer because He has persistently been shaking us out of a deep sleep. God is always the author and finisher of everything that is eternal, everything that is good, and all-powerful prayers that shake Heaven and transform Earth. What God begins, He always finishes! The gifts that we each have been given are far more than any of us have asked for or could have imagined. “God, awaken me from my slumber, what would you have me pray?”

 

Authority To Succeed

Our authority on Earth is never based on our successes. None of us have the credentials to complete the mission God’s planned for us. Therefore, our success or failure will not be because we pulled it off. It will be based on how we respond to our lot in life. Only God knows the way for us to be successful. All attempts to succeed in our strength will fail. But all efforts to obey God will, from His perspective, succeed. Why? Because that’s when He pours out His grace and power: when we fail and look to Him. He is the great difference-maker, a gracious Father who wants us to succeed in Him infinitely more than we do. “God, You have given me authority to succeed as I do Your will!”

 

Going Forward, Not Back

All of us want to live victorious lives, but frankly, no one wants this more for you than God. If we really believe our Heavenly Father always desires what’s best for us and if we believe the promises in His Word, then we know that He wants our lives to be victorious. But there is one pattern that has been most prevalent in keeping people from receiving all God has for them. It’s the same tendency that kept the Israelites from going in to conquer their Promised Land, and it’s trying to seduce us right now. At some point in your journey you will think that going back to Egypt, the world, is better than the wilderness you are wandering in. It’s a tragic mistake! Better than both options is going forward into God’s Promised Land for you.

 

The Names of God

The Hebrew names of God give us perhaps the clearest glimpse into who He really is. You will notice that there are no names for God that go against His true nature such as Jehovah Santa’s meaning, “You are the one who will give me whatever I wish for,” or Jehovah Scrooge, “I wish to be left alone. Life is a humbug!” Consider these genuine names of God and their meaning put forth in God’s Word: El Shaddai, the Lord is God Almighty; Adonai, You are Lord and Master; Jehovah Rapha, You are the Lord Who Heals; Jehovah Shammah, You are the Lord Who Is There; Jehovah Jireh, You are the Lord Who Will Provide; Jehovah Shalom, You are the Lord our Peace. The Bible says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13, NIV)

 

Obeying God

Obeying God is not an overbearing “Have To!” It is a liberating “Get To!” A misconception of God’s heart will cause us to obey out of performance, trying to please Him—leading only to a religious obligation. A proper understanding of God’s heart will draw us into an intimate relationship with our Creator and an obedient, fulfilled life, knowing He is already “head-over-heals” in love with us, and there is nothing I can ever do to get God to love me more. He is doing everything He can to bring us closer to Him. I don’t bless my wife Suzie because I want her to love me. I bless her because I am madly in love with her! We must never forget we can only love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

 

Gathering The Fragments 

All of us will at times feel fractured and fragmented. So broken we wonder if our hearts and lives can ever be repaired and made whole. But once we understand God’s heart, we realize that He will never discard us, but instead will gather us to Himself. After Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, He said to pick up all of the fragments, the broken pieces, because they were important and not to be discarded. The Bible says, “And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.’” (John 6:12, ESV) That nothing may be lost! WOW! That comforts me, as I often feel lost. But He is my compass…my rescuer! He is the lover of my soul, who promises to never leave me or forsake me.

 

Love of Money

In his book, Perelandra, C. S. Lewis, speaks of the ‘love of money as the root of all evil,” an “…itch to have things over again, as if life were a film that could be unrolled twice…” Was this the root of all evil, craving the false comfort of repetition, rather than the creative unknown, birthed in the heart of a safe and all-wise God? Lewis suggests that the chief reason people love money is “…a defense against chance, a security for being able to have things over again, a means of arresting the unrolling of the film.” This begs the question, is our pursuit of money and things at times an attempt to restrain our Creator from initiating something brand new and fresh in our lives? And is this done because we really don’t trust Him?

 

Offended With God

Are you offended at God? The truth is: God has done nothing to hurt you! Our disappointment with God comes from a false expectation—that He did not do what we thought or imagined He was going to do, or should do, for us. Unmet expectations can lead to disappointments. Being offended was Adam’s original sin—an offense at trusting God. The Bible says, “…as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” (Romans 5:18, NKJV) God’s love and mercy can set us free from any offense! All we have to do is humble ourselves to receive it.

 

Boundaries Bring Fruit

Are you stressed out? It might be because you don’t have clear boundaries in your life? Paul the Apostle wrote, “We will not boast about things done outside our area of authority. We will boast only about what has happened within the boundaries of the work God has given us…” (2 Corinthians 10:13, NLT) The word for boundaries here is the Greek word: metron.’ Paul is talking about the ‘metron,’ the sphere of influence that the Lord gave him. It implies “a field to plow in.” What is our business, and what is none of our business. God gives each of us a field to plow, and if we remain within it, He’ll provide all the resources needed to produce fruit that lasts. Find God’s boundaries and you’ll reap a harvest that lasts.

 

Comforting or Callous

All of us are probably busier than we’ve ever been; and that can cause us to feel overwhelmed by the needs around us. When Jesus was surrounded by crowds of needy people the Bible says, “…He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” (Mark 6:34) When we see people’s needs, are we compassionate or cold? Are we comforting toward others or callous toward their needs? Unless we first let Jesus heal our hearts, we’ll become hardened by life. I want to be a softhearted, tender man! I want my heart to be so filled with compassion that when I feel overwhelmed by the needs around me, I let Jesus take me deeper into His compassionate heart. “Jesus, give me Your heart for this hurting world.”

K-LOVE Radio Features – November 2014

My Identity

Do you feel like a failure? All of us will, at times, see ourselves in this way. But there’s an absolute cure: and that’s knowing the One who died to make us a success—not in the eyes of the world, nor even in our own eyes, but in His eyes—the eyes of the only Person who knows what’s best for us. I choose to see my life from God’s perspective—the finished product, the person He intended me to be. Our identity can be either shaped by our earthly failure, or by our Heavenly Father. I choose to believe God’s truth about me. He says, “…I know the thoughts that I think toward you…thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NKJV) There’s no one who’s more excited about your future than God.

Shame

One of the darkest clouds covering the lives of many Christ-followers is a “Cloud of Shame.” Shame says, “You’re feeling bad, because you’re inherently bad.” Whereas guilt says, “You’ve done something wrong but if you respond well it will lead to freedom and victory.” Shame leads to bondage and death. Responding properly to guilt leads to deliverance and life. Guilt can last a moment if we repent and ask Jesus to forgive our sin. Shame can sadly last a lifetime if we choose to believe the devil’s lies about who we are. I choose to believe the only truth that will set me free—God’s truth. His Word says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, ESV)

Knowing God’s Word

The devil will always question what God has said to you. Therefore, you have to know what God really said. The Bible is not a good luck charm I put on a coffee table, it’s a breathing machine I hold fast to my face! Job said, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” (Job 23:12, NKJV) I have no chance of being a naturally healthy person without eating good food. Likewise, I have no hope of being a supernaturally healthy person without feasting on the Bread of Life: the Bible. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35, NLT) Hunger and thirst after God’s Word every day and you’ll live a filled and fulfilled life.

God Wants To Be With Us

Would you believe me if I told you that God wants you to be in Heaven far more then you do; and that He wants to forgive you infinitely more than you want to be forgiven. So, what is one of the greatest hindrances to us believing that God is this captivated and committed to not only forgiving us but also wanting to be with us, now and forever? I believe our fixation on our own imperfection becomes a constant distraction from focusing on His perfect love for us. The key to being successful in God is not working harder; it’s resting more fully in His love and acceptance. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3, ESV) Trust in God’s love for you and you will never feel like a failure.

 God’s Heart For You

One of the best descriptions of God the Father’s heart for us is found in the lowest moment of King David’s life. He’s just committed adultery with the wife of one of his most loyal subjects…Uriah. Uriah is then sent to die in an unnecessary battle. Nathan the prophet comes to tell David what God really thinks of him. You’d think God was about to reject David. Instead, God mentions all of the wonderful things He’s done for David and finishes with “…if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!” (2 Samuel 12:8) Here’s God: no regret, no venom, no saying, “You’re a loser!” All God can say is, “If you had needed more…more of anything, I would have given it to you.” It’s the heart of a loving, caring Father! It’s the same heart God has for you.

Help My Unbelief

God can work with “no belief”, but He can’t do much with “unbelief!” When Jesus went to minister in His hometown, the Bible says, “And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any mighty miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.” (Mark 6:5) Faith is a room lifter! Unbelief is a room killer! For Jesus, healing a few sick people is “no big deal.” “No belief” doesn’t amaze Him, but unbelief does. The next verse says, “He was amazed at their unbelief.” (Mark 6:6) Would to God we were all amazed at our unbelief! After all God has done for each of us, our unbelief shouldn’t just amaze us, it should break our heart, and make us cry out like the man whose son was demonized, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, ESV)

Is God Holding Out On You?

No one is more excited about wanting to be with us than God. So what keeps us from wanting to be with Him? The same thing that made Adam and Eve hide! After doing what they knew was wrong they hid in shame. Until that time they loved coming into God’s presence. Sin changed all that. The devil deceived them into believing that God really didn’t have their best interest in mind and that He was holding out on them. This is the first and biggest lie of all time. The devil said, “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5, ESV) The truth is God has never held back anything from us that would work for our good and bring about His perfect will for our lives.

Despising Shame

Playwright David Mamet writes, “…most people lost in the wilds…die of shame… ‘What did I do wrong? How could I have gotten myself into this?’ And so they sit there and they…die. Because they didn’t do the one thing that would save their lives.” The Bible says we are all lost, but we don’t have to die of shame if we look “…to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) He despised the shame of becoming sin for us because He knew it would lead to rescuing all humanity who would turn from sin to Him. The greatest shame is: not wholeheartedly believing this marvelous truth.

Grace is Free, But Not Cheap

There is no more marvelous word in the Christian faith than: “Grace.” It’s what Jesus provided for us when He died in our place. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is kindness from God we don’t deserve. There is nothing we have done, nor can ever do to earn this favor. It is a gift from God. Grace is divine assistance given to humans for our rebirth, and sanctification—a virtue coming from God alone. It’s our “Get Out of Hell For Free” card, but it didn’t come cheap. It cost Jesus His life! The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV) Jesus, I receive Your grace today!”

Receiving God’s Grace

Can you imagine being given an amazing present and never opening it? Sadly, it happens every day in the lives of most people. The Bible says, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled…” Who wants to flunk being forgiven? Who wants to fail to obtain the grace of God? Who wants to walk around bitter, like a plague looking for a place to happen? I don’t want to have a chip on my shoulder that will eventually make me act like a chump. One of the most important disciplines you’ll need to learn in life is receiving the grace to be forgiven, to forgive yourself, and to learn to forgive others as well.

Accepting Outcasts

Do you feel like an outcast? Jesus wants to embrace you and make you know how accepted you are. There was a woman in the Bible who was chronically bleeding for twelve years. (Mark 5:24-25) But she was desperate. According to the Jewish custom if she touched anyone, they became unclean as well. The law said she could be divorced by her husband, she couldn’t live in her home or make contact with friends, and was excommunicated from the synagogue. She had spent everything she had to pay doctors, but only got worse. (Mark 5:26) But when she touched Jesus, all of this changed! Have you spent far too much time and money on the doctors of entertainment, pleasure and success only to remain sick in your soul, or are you courageous enough to touch Jesus and get healed?

Fig Leaves

When Adam and Eve did the one thing God the Father asked them not to do: eat the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, “At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.” (Genesis 3:7, NLT) Disobeying God always leads to shame and a feeling of being uncovered, empty, and vulnerable. And every attempt to eliminate this feeling, whether it be through entertainment, drugs, alcohol, philosophy, sensual pleasure, or denial is just fig leaves, and will never remove this sense of shame. Only receiving forgiveness can do that. And that only comes by returning to the One we originally disobeyed and letting the blood His Son wash us clean.

 

 

K-LOVE Radio Features – October 2014

Where Is Jesus Going With Us?

Do you ever hear someone speak and wonder, “Where is he going with this?” The disciples had that exact same thought about Jesus as He was about to leave them to be crucified. Jesus said, “…none of you asks me, where are you going? But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage…” Their hearts were so filled with sorrow over what was about to happen they had lost sight of exactly where Jesus was going with the events that were taking place. Do we really want to know what God has in mind, or are we more committed to obsessing over the sorrow we don’t understand. When we see where God is taking us, we will always realize it is for our good.

 

The God of Extremes

C. S. Lewis wrote, “The most striking thing about our Lord is the union of great ferocity with extreme tenderness.” (From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III) The Bible says, “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God…” (Romans 11:22a, NIV) Lewis then quotes a great philosopher, ‘I do not admire the extreme of one virtue unless you show me at the same time the extreme of the opposite virtue. One shows one’s greatness not by being at an extremity but by being simultaneously at two extremities and filling all the space between.’” If God is simultaneously embracing two extremes, so should I. I can be at peace and yet be warring. I can trust God and yet not know where He’s taking me. By embracing the extremes of God I give Him greater latitude in my life to be who He really is.

 

Boredom Is Self-Inflicted

Boredom is a self-inflicted wound. The God who designs galaxies and hand-crafts every molecule is never bored, so how could obeying His will lead to boredom? Impossible! Boredom comes from venturing away from God’s script into Earth’s shallow substitutes that cost nothing—leaving us empty and unfulfilled. Life’s greatest adventures have each been divinely shaped into one-of-a-kind destinies that require two faith dimensions to be experienced: Trust and Courage. The moment we question the brilliance of God’s will in our lives we begin to unravel it’s full potential. But when we believe in His ability to give us His best, and then boldly pursue His plan for us, we enter into the sweet spot of life’s greatest joy: it is to know God and to experience life from His sublime perspective.

 

Two Kinds of Faith

We each need two kinds of faith: “Right Now Faith” and “Not Yet Faith.” “Right Now Faith” steps up when there seems to be no steps. We walk in faith even though we don’t fully know where we are going. The Bible says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8, ESV) Thinking we know where God is leading us is mere presumption. Trusting He knows requires the most faith. “Not Yet Faith” means patiently waiting and peacefully resting, fully confident that God will contact us with new instructions at the first and best opportunity. If we desperately want God’s will more than anything else, it is impossible to miss it.

 

God, the Original, Original

God is the original, original! Everything He’s ever done has been trail blazed—a whole new beginning, a completely fresh start. So, we shouldn’t be surprised when He asks us to step into the unknown. When we find false comfort in the familiar we ultimately feel short-changed, deprived of the unexpected, missing the wonderful surprises of God. That’s why fear is the most prevalent seduction. The devil wants to consign us to the same boring reality he faces. Having rejected God’s first and best all he has left is the monotonous consequence of a unbelieving life. God, on the other hand, is creating something unprecedented for you today. Fully surrender to His will and you’ll never be bored again. “Jesus, take me somewhere I’ve never been!”

 

God’s Mercy

When Jesus cursed the fig tree in Mark 11, it was an example of God’s mercy. The tree was a picture of “false advertising,” having leaves, but no figs. It wasn’t normal or healthy. That type of fig tree didn’t usually have leaves without also having figs. The tree was cursed because it professed to have fruit, but did not. The tree was “living a lie.” We can’t know the truth if we live a lie. We will each be judged for the fruit in our lives not for our leaves. In all of the works in the ministry of Jesus, this is the only “destructive” miracle. Jesus here most perfectly shows us the nature of God. He is willing to kill “counterfeit life” in us in order to keep us from killing our future. The question is, “Are we?”

 

Roots That Bear Fruit

Right after Jesus cursed the fig tree that had leaves but no fruit He went into the temple and overturned the tables of the money exchangers. Every Jewish male had to pay a yearly temple tax. An amount equaling about two days pay. It had to be paid in the currency of the Temple, and the money exchangers would charge outrageous rates. They did all this in the outer courts of the Temple, the only area where Gentiles could come and pray. Therefore, this place of prayer was made into a swap meet for thieves. Are you willing to let Jesus turn over the hypocritical parts of your heart? The priests in the Temple had leaves, but no fruit. They were thieves with leaves but their root had no fruit. “Jesus, let our roots go deep into You, that we may bear fruit that lasts forever.”

 

God-Sized Faith

Our commitment to God is always a demonstration of our faith. When Jesus said, “Have faith in God…” that you may see mountains move, it meant in the original language, “Have God’s faith!” (Mark 11:22-23) Mountains symbolize insurmountable problems that only God can move. Jesus was saying, “As we believe, God can overcome any obstacle.” We must remember that Jesus was promising this to His disciples, not the multitudes. It was a commitment to those who were committed to Him. In life “we reap what we sow.” “No deposit” means, “No return on our investment.” God-sized mountains require God-sized faith and God-sized commitment! So we must never forget He is freely offering this kind of faith to each of us, every moment of every day. Having God’s faith always brings God’s victory.

 

The Forgiven Heart

It’s been said, “There is no revenge so sweet as forgiveness.” (American Humorist, Josh Billings) Our forgiving others opens the door for God to forgive us. The hardness in our heart shuts God out. If we have hard, unforgiving hearts, it calls into question if we have ever received or appreciated God’s forgiveness. The forgiven heart longs to forgive others. The forgiven heart relinquishes its right to punish others. The forgiven heart will no longer hold that person responsible for what they did. Jesus said, “…when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (Mark 11:25) “Jesus, I forgive those who have hurt me. I release them from all responsibility. Even now I fully receive your forgiveness for me.”

 

As a Man Thinks

Proverbs says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) This verse speaks to each of us as the gatekeepers of our thoughts. I may not be able to stop a bird from flying over my head, but I can keep it from making a nest in my hair. The New Testament adds, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians10:4-5, NIV) The thoughts I allow to permeate my mind shape my true inner person. Therefore, I must wash my thoughts with God’s Word and put on the mind of Christ, for who I am in private is who I am.

 

The Best Season of Your Life

How do you know you are trusting God? When the best season of your life is the one you’re presently in. Not because of circumstances, but because of your perspective. Every meal God serves us should be a Thanksgiving Dinner. Every irritation is an invitation to go to the next level. It’s God’s perfect invitation to go deeper into trusting Him. Irritations are divine opportunities, not stumbling blocks or roadblocks. If we obsess over the pain and displeasure inherently associated with the struggles of life, we will miss the entire point. The real enemy is never the things happening around us, it is our poor response. By the grace of God, we each have a complete capacity to respond well. There are no setbacks in God, only veiled doorways to our destiny.

K-LOVE Radio Features – August 2014

Live Ready To Face God

A catalyst for the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther was asked, “If Jesus was coming back tomorrow, what would you do?” He replied, “I’d plant a tree.” This speaks to our need to be about our heavenly Father’s business all the days of our lives. Jesus said, “Occupy till I come.” (Luke 19:13, KJV) Similarly, the great evangelist D.L. Moody was asked, “If Jesus was going to come back in five minutes, what would you do?” He said, “I’d finish my steak.” Moody wasn’t being brash, he was making an important point. Whatever we are doing should be appropriate, and God’s will, in the event Jesus comes for us, or we die and are taken to Him. Though we all fail, “living ready to face God” must be the goal for each of our lives in every moment.

Great Comebacks 

Everyone battles with a deep sense of failure. It’s the horrible affect of sin in general, and specifically when we remember lapses of judgment at different points in our lives. We are each hoping for a great comeback, and that’s where God comes in. He’s the God of the great comeback! He continually draws and calls us to return to who He created us to be: to be conformed to His image and not to this world’s reflection, which lasts for a few moments. Great comebacks always require great courage, and there is no One cheering louder for you than Jesus. “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.” (Hebrews 4:15, The Message) The next time you’re facing failure, remember the God who believes in you.

Life Is A Test

Everything in life is a test. Every response, every challenge and every opportunity! From setbacks to successes, the moment we stop depending on Jesus we become susceptible to deception. Accept nothing at face value. “…for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7, ESV) I’m not moved by what I see. I want to allow the inner witness of God’s Spirit to guide me. Every decision we make tests our motives, and in the end we will be judged by the thoughts and intents of our heart. The Bible says, “But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:10, NLT) Jesus, guide me through the treacherous waters of testing. You are able to protect me from great errors in judgment. I trust in You alone!

Completing the Mission

I once saw a statement on the back of a t-shirt that said, “Cowards Never Start! The Weak Never Finish! Winners Never Quit!” It provoked me to think. I want to start, and I want to finish! I want to win, and I believe God created me to be courageous and not a coward. I’m not destined to be a weakling, and I’m not called to quit. By His grace I will finish. By His mercy I will finish well. By His kindness I will complete the mission I have been given; The assignment prepared for me from the foundation of the world. If you can receive it and believe it, this is God’s destiny for your life as well. The Bible says, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.” (2 Peter 1:3a, NLT)

Changing Your Boundaries

In the Old Testament, we read that Ancient Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Their method of overpowering a city was called “The Siege.” The Assyrians would surround a city and choke the life out of it by changing the cities boundaries. That’s exactly what’s happened to America. Only we’ve changed our own boundaries. We’ve changed the boundaries of right and wrong, of truth and lies. We’ve changed moral boundaries, destroying innocence, embracing impurity, and loving evil. We’ve changed the boundaries for marriage. We’ve changed the boundaries of what is real and what is unreal. We have become experts in “The Siege.” Have you changed your boundaries? May you return to the safety of the protective, healthy boundaries found first and foremost in the Word of God, the Bible.

Created To Be a Victor

All of us have been shell-shocked by life! We’ve all been disappointed by the ground shaking underneath us. Consequently, we are each at some point a refugee, refugees from a fallen planet, a broken world. We all need to be rescued.  But will we stay refugees, or will we become rescuers? I have been rescued. I am being rescued, and I will continue to be rescued…but I want to be a rescuer. I’ve been a patient, but I want to live as a doctor. I am not a victim. I am created to be a victor. There was a time in my Christian life where I struggled getting out of bed. Now, I abound out of bed every morning in the dark to walk in the light. Who we are trusting in will determine how we process life. Trust Jesus!

Bribing God

Never think you have to bribe God to pay attention to you. We don’t have to inspire Him. He was inspired about us before we were created. That’s why He created us. We had Him before we said, “Hello!” He created us to be the love of His life…the bride of His dreams. An intimate life with God is not a bribe to get Him to pay attention to us. We have His full attention. He’s already completely fascinated with who we are. We know this is true because that’s the way we feel about our own children and grandchildren. God couldn’t love you any more than He already does because He started loving you at “peak love,” with an “everlasting love,” (Jeremiah 31:3) and nothing you could ever do can change that.

Being Attractive

There’s a battle going on in each of our hearts. It’s between godly longings and carnal cravings. Unless we know we are attractive, even beautiful on the inside, we’ll never be attractive enough on the outside. We all long to be attractive, desired, and admired. You could say, we all want to be “cool.” That’s why our youth culture is so steeped in sarcasm and cynicism, putting other people down. It’s a direct result of how un-attractive and un-cool we really feel. We think, “If I can’t measure up, then no one else will either.” But until we see the beauty of God, we won’t be able to see ourselves as eternally attractive, desired and admired. Unless we know God is beautiful, we’ll never know we are beautiful…especially to Him.

Eternal Pleasures

Are you fulfilled? The enemy of our soul has always been counterfeit fulfillment. Most people expend huge amounts of time, energy, and money staying current on the temporary, illusive pleasures of life, while missing out on the tangible, eternal pleasures of God in the process. God has the answer for every inferior pleasure. As a matter of fact, God is the answer! Knowing the God who created pleasure is the only way to experience the real thing, and not the counterfeit. Accept no substitutes for a genuine, life-long relationship with your Creator. It’s the only way to a guilt-free, pleasure-filled life. The Bible says, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11, NKJV)

Struggled Getting Out Of Bed

There was a time in my Christian life when I struggled getting out of bed. It’s embarrassing to say it, but true nonetheless. My perspective about God and my life were in need of a complete overhaul. I thought I needed my circumstances to change before I could feel good about my life. The truth was I needed to trust that God had my life in His hands and that He would make all things work for my good if I loved Him and was committed to His will more than my will. Once I began to trust that God as a loving Father would never allow my life to be unfruitful, it changed my entire perspective. Now, I abound out of bed every morning in the dark to walk in the light! I love my life because I believe God loves my life.

Beauty For Ashes

Do you feel like your life is in ashes? God knows, and He can help. The Bible says God has given us “beauty for ashes…” (Isaiah 61:1, 3) WOW! Beauty for ashes! In most cases, ashes are good for absolutely nothing. Our spiritual ashes are the result of burning our passions on wrong things. We can look at our own ash heap and wonder, “Why would anyone want this?” No one wants ashes. That is, no one except God. He trades them for His beauty. It’s part of His heavenly recycling plan: His beauty for our ashes. God wants to answer our desire for beauty now, in this life, not just in eternity. What we look like to God is infinitely more important than what we look like to us. Never forget that He sees you as beautiful.

Inner Beauty

So much of today’s advertising can make us dissatisfied with how we look, what we have, and ultimately, who we are. We spend our time, energy and money fixing things about ourselves that we consider less than attractive. A beautiful God created us in such a way that we long to feel beautiful, but unless we see God’s heart for us, we’ll eventually see ourselves as ugly. Fortunately, when the Holy Spirit shows us what God is like and we see what we look like to God, something settles in our hearts, minds and emotions. That’s why the Bible says, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward…rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3:3-4)

K-LOVE Radio Features – July 2014

Being Broken

Are you living in the past, dwelling on what was, or accepting what is? Are you longing for a time that no longer exists, or are you learning to face and embrace a reality that does? Jesus wants to heal our yesterdays so that we can embrace today and look forward to tomorrow. Will you let Him? Will you melt in His arms and receive His love and healing? I’ve found the only way He can put my life back together is if I’m willing to break…to break free from my anger, my discouragement, and my fear. The Bible says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17, ESV) God is waiting to heal you on the other side of a broken and desperate prayer.

 

100% Answered Prayers

Do you feel like your prayers aren’t being answered? What percentage of prayers initiated by God are answered? 100%! What percentage of prayers initiated by me are answered? None. Hmm? Sounds like there’s a pattern here. The Bible promises, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15, NIV) God has already figured out what is best for every part of your life. Trust Him! Stop asking God to do things that are in your heart, and start asking Him to do what’s on His heart. It’s the only guaranteed way to get all of your prayers answered.

 

Things That Never Happen

An old man was asked what had robbed him most of his joy in his lifetime. He responded, “Things that never happened!” It’s been said that 99% of the things we worry about never take place. What’s your strategy for living? Most people say being “happy and healthy” is their greatest desire in life. So here are three strategies for a healthy life: Don’t worry: God loves you unconditionally (John 13:1). Don’t give up: God will never abandon you (Psalm 139:10), and don’t fear: God will be with you until the end (Revelation 1:17). That’s how God wants us to live. The Bible says, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him” (2 Peter 1:3b, NKJV). God has given us everything we need for life and godliness, and how we live shows whom we are trusting in.

 

How To Live

Jesus is the perfect Person to study if you want to know how to live. When the disciples were filled with dread, Jesus was already dead to Himself. When they were overwhelmed with fear, Jesus was overflowing with faith. Whatever fills us, will either seduce us or satisfy us. Whatever overwhelms us, will either wash us or worry us. Jesus said, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33. NLT) We each take on the attributes of whatever we focus on. If I’m seeking God’s Kingdom and not trying to build my own little empire, then my life will be filled with the fruit of God’s Kingdom which is His love, His joy and His peace.

 

What Do You Want Jesus To Do?

When a blind man named Bartimaeus was yelling, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Some of those around him said, “Be quiet!” But Jesus said, “Come here! What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:46-52) This could be a funny question to ask a blind man. “Who me? Oh, I’ve always wanted to be rich and famous!” But it was a real question. What we ask for is an indication of what’s most important to us! If the first person you want to see is Jesus, He will heal your sight. If the first person you want to follow is Jesus, He’ll give you a fresh start. The question is what do you want? Where is your faith? That’s where God wants to meet you today. And it is there you will receive what you need if you had every option.

 

Global Persecution

Have you noticed an increase in the amount of persecution of Christians? Jesus predicted it. He said, “…everyone will hate you because of your allegiance to me. But those who endure to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:13) If you came from a strict Muslim or Hindu family, you might be rejected by your family and martyred for choosing Jesus. In China, if your church isn’t a state-sponsored church it might be closed down like one of the 1,500 churches destroyed or shut down since November of 2000. It has been estimated that 45 million Christians have been killed for their faith since the Day of Pentecost. Paul the Apostle wrote, “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews 13:3, NIV)

 

Why Is Jesus Coming To You?

When Jesus made His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, it was only a week before His crucifixion. His disciples thought He was going there to rule and reign on Earth. He was actually going to Jerusalem to die, in order to reign in Heaven. Frankly, none of us have any idea what Jesus is coming to do in our lives. He was coming to Jerusalem looking for a fight, not for fans. He said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34, NIV) A lot of us want God to bring peace to our lives. He will, and that’s a promise, but first He has to bring a sword; to cut away what is dead. The resurrection can’t come before the crucifixion.

 

Facing Our Mountains

Are you facing a mountain in your life, something bigger than you can handle? We all are! Jesus said, “Have faith in God…whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.’” (Mark 11:22-23, ESV) That expression, “Have faith in God” in the original language, means “Have God’s faith!” Have God’s faith to overcome insurmountable problems. Jesus was saying, “As we believe, God can overcome any obstacle.” It was not a promise to the multitudes, but to His disciples. It was a commitment to those who were committed to Him. If you are committed to Jesus, never ever doubt that He is committed to you.

 

Forgive First When You Pray

What’s the first thing we should do when we pray? Jesus said, “…when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (Mark 11:25, NLT) Jesus was saying the greatest obstacle to getting your prayers answered is unforgiveness. Our forgiving others opens the door for God to forgive us. The hardness in our hearts shuts him out. If we have stubborn, unforgiving hearts, it calls into question if we have ever received or appreciated God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness; deep down it’s what we all know we need. It’s why Jesus came, and when we receive it, we’ll want to give it to others. I am so grateful God has forgiven me that I want to live my life forgiving others.

 

Questioning God

Are you questioning God? I’ve found if have a question for Him it often means He first had a question for me. At one point leaders asked Jesus by whose authority did He drive the merchants out of the temple? He answered their question with His own question, “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?” (Matthew 21:25, NLT) Because these leaders refused to answer His question He wouldn’t answer theirs either. Jesus wasn’t trying to trap them. He was trying to transform them. Never doubt God is for you, and that He demonstrates His love and commitment by focusing on our greatest need. It’s always difficult to face the truth, but it’s the only path with a good future. Today, if you want God to answer your questions, accept what he is trying to reveal to you.

 

Your Comeback

Are you feeling down? God knows what that’s like. No one has ever been more down than Jesus. He suffered more than anyone who ever lived. Jesus was brutalized in front of His mother, smothered with the sins of the world and dying for each one of them. Jesus knows what it’s like to be down, but not out. He was tempted in every area we have been, but never gave in to sin. He’s the God of the comeback, and if you’ll let Him, He’ll champion your comeback as well. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15, NIV)

 

Dismantled To Get Gold

Do you feel like your life is being dismantled; pulled apart and in pieces? It might surprise you that the end result will be golden. The temple in Jerusalem was covered on the outside with gold plates that were so brilliant when the sun shone on them it was blinding. Jesus predicted its destruction. Forty years later, Jerusalem was leveled, including the Temple, which was set on fire. The gold then melted between the cracks of the large stones  It had to be dismantled in order for the Romans to get to it. I find this sequence surprising similar to what takes place in us. The fires of adversity ultimately allow the gold in our lives to recede to a place where Christ can only recover it through careful deconstruction. If you allow Him to do this delicate work, you will find there is treasure inside.

K-LOVE Radio Features – June 2014

Exhausted But Still In Pursuit

Are you exhausted? At times, we all feel worn out and whittled down. If, at those weary moments we continue to persevere, God promises to show Himself strong on our behalf. The Bible says, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13, NKJV) He will not deny who He has created us to be. He will not deny what He has created us to do. In the Bible, Gideon’s band had been whittled down from 32,000 to 300. Judges 8:4 even says, “They were exhausted but still in pursuit.” (Holman Christian Standard Bible) Sounds like us at times, doesn’t it? We are exhausted but still in pursuit; struggling, but still believing. Why would we continue to carry on when we are at the end of our rope? Because we genuinely believe God has called us to prevail.

 

The Necessity of Failure

At times we all feel like failures. There was a season in my Christian life when I was so discouraged I had trouble getting out of bed. I came to realize, we must all fail in order to succeed. Joseph thought he could make his dream happen and it came to nothing. Moses attempted to liberate his people and it backfired. Paul, prior to his conversion, wanted to be holy but couldn’t. Peter said he would never deny the Lord but did just that, three times! The most important thing we can learn from failure is that, no matter how bleak it looks, we shouldn’t give up. The only time failure will disqualify us is when we refuse to admit we have fallen short. Thankfully, our God is one who understands that we’re all in process.

 

I Could Be That Person

One day I was driving down an impoverished inner city street and as I looked at the people I was passing by I thought, I could be that person! I could be that person! When our eyes are opened, we will each see how much we’ve been given. It’s been said, when you’re stuck in traffic, think of all the people who’d love to have a car. When you’re having a hard time with your spouse, think how many don’t know what it’s like to love and be loved in return. When you’re weekend’s over and you go back to work, think of the mother who has to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week, just to feed her children. When I view my life from this perspective, I’ve found that being grateful is the only appropriate response.

 

A Fresh Glimpse of God

People go wild over the possibility of winning the lottery. But what would you pay to live one more year, one hundred more years, a thousand, or a million? How about living forever? The Bible describes how those who are experiencing eternal life are pretty excited about it. In the Book of Revelation we see twenty-four elders who are continually before God. Over and over again they fall on their faces and worship Him, saying: “We give thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come…” (Revelation 11:16-17) Perhaps the only reason we’d ever think living forever might get boring is because we haven’t seen God. I’ve found, whenever I get a glimpse of the Creator of the Universe, He reveals Himself to me in a brand new way, and that’s never boring.

 

Aiming At The Wrong Target

He was one shot away from claiming victory in the 2004 Olympics 50-meter three-position rifle event. He didn’t need a bull’s eye to win, all he had to do was hit the target. But, to everyone’s amazement, Matt Emmons fired at the wrong target. His score for a good shot at the wrong target? Zero! Instead of a medal, he ended up in eighth place. In life, it doesn’t matter how accurate you are if you are aiming at the wrong goal. In the end, it’s worthless. The Bible says, “He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” So, my question is: What target are you aiming at? If it points to Jesus, then it leads to life, and no matter what things look like, the end result will be winning.

 

Bible’s Losers

Do you feel like a loser? You’re not alone. Most Bible characters felt like losers at one point. Adam had serious problems in his marriage and with his children. Noah preached 120 years but didn’t have one convert. Moses couldn’t speak well and even stuttered. Elijah battled depression and melted under pressure. Jonah refused to obey God. Peter had a bad temper and was even known to curse and behave like a loose cannon. Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca and Jacob had favorite children, which is a curse. But each of them had a destiny in God and fulfilled it. Sure, none of us are perfect. We all blow it. That’s why we each need a perfect Savior; someone who’s not fixated on what we’re not, but helping us become who we are created to be.

 

Numb From Hurt

Do you feel numb? This illustration will help you realize why. In our physical bodies, when muscles are stiff and un-pliable they gradually become unusable; it may have started when we got hurt. Damaged tissue restricts blood from flowing to muscles, and when there’s no flow of blood, we lack oxygen and our muscles begin to die. Perhaps your life is blocked by a bad habit? Often times, we become so consumed with our pain that we’re unable to focus on anything else. These constricted areas become stagnant ponds, breeding grounds for more pain and cesspools of heartache. It deforms our walk and twists how we stand. Our pain can keep us from getting the rest we so desperately need. What’s the cure? Let the life-giving blood of Jesus flow over your battered life, restoring whatever’s been damaged.

 

The Secret Life of Mothers

One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen is not a place; it’s a person. At times she’s visible in public, but most often she remains hidden. I’m referring to the secret life of a mother. Working when no one else sees. Listening when no one else hears. Loving when no one else cares. Present, when no one else is around. Once you catch sight of a mother’s secret life, it’s unforgettable. Once it touches you, you will cherish it forever. Mothers give us a peek into the heart of God: invisible but present, unseen but known, happy to give in secret. Forever looking for opportunities to shower those she loves with kindness and understanding. I thank God for mothers. Is there a better glimpse into the God who is love? I think not!

 

Destiny

Do you believe God has a marvelous destiny for you? I’m convinced He does, and it’s better than you could ever imagine. Noah Webster’s definition of “destiny” is really quite perfect: “…a predetermined state; a condition foreordained by the Divine will.” When you look closely, everything about this definition speaks of obedience. Since it takes God to destine, it stands to reason only God can predestine or predetermine, and likewise to foreordain. The only destiny that is real is God’s will, and the only way you get God’s will is by being obedient to Him. The Bible says, “…(God) will do for me all He has planned. He controls my destiny.” (Job 23:14, NLT) The doorway to God’s destiny for your life is trust and obedience. Trust that God will lead you, and obey whatever He says to do. I have found, He never fails.

 

God’s Timing

A man went for a walk and began to talk to God. He asked God if it was true that “1,000 years was like one minute to Him.” God said, “Yes, that’s true.” The man then said, “Then maybe it’s also true that what is a million dollars to us is only a penny to You.” God again replied, “Yes, that’s certainly true.” At this point the man became a little greedy and said, “Well, Lord, how about giving me one of those pennies?” God said, “Absolutely! I can’t give it to you right now, but if you wait a minute I’ll give it to you.” It’s pretty funny, but let me leave you with this thought: God wants to bless us, but are we more attached to our timeframe for receiving His blessing then we are to Him?

 

How We Look At Life

When a man came home every night from work his wife consistently told him about that day’s calamities. One night when he got home he said to her, “Sweetheart, before you tell me everything that’s gone wrong today, can I at least sit down and enjoy my dinner?” The next day, as soon as he came through the door, his wife said to him, “Honey, hurry up and eat, I have something terrible to tell you.” It’s a funny story, but it also demonstrates how some of us look at life: a disaster waiting to happen, or an opportunity waiting to blossom. The Bible says, “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8, ESV)

Denial

Do you think less of someone who acknowledges that they’ve blown it, or more. Does humility diminish us, or elevate us? Paul the Apostle acknowledged what God knew was true. He said, “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man…” (1 Timothy 1:13a, NIV) He even went so far as to say he was the chief of sinners. (1 Timothy 1:15) But then he mentions God’s response to this confession; but “I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.” (1 Timothy 1:13b, NIV) Paul got it! He understood what he did wrong. Sadly, most of us are in denial. We all tend to minimize our sins. If I think I’m really not that bad, I’m in denial, and I’ve never really seen my life from God’s perspective. We all need a Savior, and thankfully, Jesus is ready and willing to save a repentant heart.

K-LOVE Radio Features – May 2014

Hugs and Hope

We all stare at unthinkable circumstances, wishing they would go away. One day they will! But, for now, we can find comfort in knowing God is with us in our struggles, interceding on our behalf…praying we will not despair. If it is not God’s will for us, and those we love, to fully understand why things happen on Earth, then may God give us the grace to help those facing the unimaginable with hugs and hope. When emotions are overwhelming, trite words only make matters worse. At those times, we can merely offer our reassuring presence. God will help us as we help others learn to lean on Him. The Message Bible says, “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.” (Hebrews 4:15, MSG)

 Meeting Paul Newman

We all need to laugh more. I know I do. Here’s a funny story. A woman was buying an ice cream cone in a Beverly Hills store. She was amazed when Paul Newman walked in and stood right behind her. Though she was rattled, she was determined to maintain her composure. She proceeded to pay for her ice cream cone and then confidently walked out. Once outside, though, she realized she didn’t have her cone. Not wanting to look foolish, she waited a few minutes before reentering the store. When she did not find her ice cream cone at the counter, she stood wondering where it was. Just then, she was tapped on the shoulder, and was startled to find it was Paul Newman. He politely told her “Miss, if you’re looking for your ice cream cone, you put it in your purse.”

Welcome to America!

The secret of making people feel valued is to honor them. A bi-lingual pastor has seen his church grow into many thousands by doing just that. Whenever he meets a Mexican-American he asks them, “Has anyone welcomed you to America since you’ve been here?” Invariably they will say, “No!” Then, with a big smile, and total sincerity, he says, “I’m so sorry that hasn’t happened yet. Let me be then the first to say to you, ‘Welcome to America! We’re glad you’re here!” The response to these heartfelt words is often shocking. Smiles come to faces, tears to eyes. They’ve finally been welcomed to their new home. They’ve been honored. The Message Bible says, “Treat the foreigner the same as a native. Love him like one of your own. Remember that you were once foreigners…” (Leviticus 19:34)

Praying in a Restaurant

I was once in a crowded restaurant on a Sunday after church with a pastor friend when the Lord prompted me to invite the entire restaurant to pray. I stood up with a big smile and said to the 50 people who could hear me, “Could I have your attention please?” The busy room went completely silent in about 10 seconds. I continued, “You know, we’re having such a wonderful time here with family and friends in this great restaurant, why don’t we just take a moment and thank God for this beautiful day.” I then bowed my head and offered a brief, uplifting prayer before sitting down. What happened next was even more surprising. Throughout the meal, people began to come over and thank me, even waitresses. It’s funny, how just obeying God at times is the best thing we can do.

 Volunteering vs. Obedience

What would you rather do, volunteer to do something, or do something because you’re told to? It’s no surprise that we’d all probably rather volunteer. Yet the Bible says, “to obey is better than sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 15:22, NKJV) God’s not looking for volunteers, He’s looking for people who are willing to be obedient out of love for Him. He doesn’t want us to be creative about His will. He wants us to do His will. He isn’t looking for scriptwriters. He needs script-doers! We don’t train our children to be volunteers. Our hope is that they’d learn to be obedient to us, and even more so to God. There are people waiting for us on the other side of our obedience, and only through obedience to Christ can we find our destiny and true identity.

 Under Authority

One day, my six-year-old grandson said, after I asked him to escort his little brother outside, “Grandpa, why do I have to always do what you say?” I chuckled at his honesty and sincerity and said, “I know Judah, it’s hard sometimes to have to obey, but that’s just the way life is.” At times, we all dislike being under someone else’s authority. Because we’re sinners, we all tend to want to rebel. The word “authority” comes from the root, “author or originator.” If Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith, then we each need to learn to be under His authority. Even Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered. He didn’t get to call the shots. He was a man under authority. We only have authority if we are under authority. Whose authority are you under?

Greatest Challenges

Our greatest challenges will invariably lead to the most extraordinary opportunities. Resurrections follow crucifixions! Have you ever pierced a piece of wax paper? Isn’t it interesting that you encounter the most resistance right before breaking through? The point of greatest difficulty is usually right before discovery. If we give up too soon, we’ll miss the moment. The Bible says, “…let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9, ESV) If we faint, we may reap nothing. If we persevere, then God has His way, and breakthrough eventually happens . Scripture challenges each of us to “…press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:14, NLT)

 Replenishing Your Hope

Ever notice how at different times, the things we need most are in short supply. Sometimes it’s water, other times it’s a certain type of food. We all run low on things that need to be replenished. Right now, a lot of us are a little short on hope. But because hope is eternal, we’re always going to need it. Would you like to know a sure-fire way to increase your hope? 1 Peter 1:13 says, “…rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (NKJV) In other words, I’m not putting my hope in what I can or can’t do. I’m placing my hope fully, completely, totally on what only Jesus can do in my life. It’s called grace! The more grace I receive, the more hope I’ll have.

 Washington Monument

When I was a barely a teenager my twin brother and I decided we were going to bypass the elevator and take the stairs to the top of the Washington Monument. As was typical, we made it a race. On and on we went until completely exhausted. Our biggest problem was we never knew how close we were to the top. There were 50 landings and 897 steps, but not one sign, no indication of the finish line. By the time we quit and walked all the way back down, we could have been one or two landings away. We’ll never know! What a lesson in life? I’m reminded of the words of the irrepressible Winston Churchill, who repeated over and over again in one of his final speeches, “Never give up! Never give up!”

Emotions in Movies

Every time you experience an emotion during a movie that touches your heart in a profound way, it somehow connects you to a quality found first in the heart of God. Whether we like it or not, in our purest moments, we have each been hardwired to love what God loves and hate what He hates. It is only when we continually allow God to have all of us that we remain in tune with our Creator. For, after all, we have been created in His image and likeness, carved out of His heart, and destined to reflect Him forever. The Bible says, “As all of us reflect the Lord’s glory with faces that are not covered with veils, we are being changed into his image with ever-increasing glory.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, GWT)

 Memories

Memories are a funny thing. When someone has hurt us, the edges can appear sharper than they really were, until we are healed. But when someone has helped us, inspired us, blessed us, all the edges in the end appear to be gone. The majesty of his or her life seems to have even greater prominence. Deep down we all know how hard life can be, how at times it can appear hopeless. So, when someone leaves a lasting impression of hope that is truly impressive, it is because they have become, as the Bible says, “…more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37, ESV) They have conquered attitudes, responses, and challenges in life that many of us have failed to. But in truth, they were only able to do this because of Jesus.

 Godly Examples

When I look back to before I surrendered my life to Jesus, I believe one of the principle reasons I became an atheist was because I was shown a misrepresentation of Christ. In stark contrast, it was the people who showed me the true Jesus, who modeled His life and heart so marvelously, they made me want to receive Him, and want to be like Him. They represented Jesus well. The true value of a godly example, someone who we know is flawed, but in so many ways appears flawless, is that they bring Heaven to Earth, they give us a glimpse into what is most important…eternity. Are you and I ready to stand before our Creator? Have you allowed Jesus to take His rightful place as Lord and God of your life? May God help us all to become the godly examples who represent Jesus well.