K-LOVE Features October 2015

Being a Giver

Every person who’s a giver is glad when other people are giving. Every person who, at this point, is a “taker” is evaluating, “Will becoming a giver actually change my life for the good?” “Are the promises of God really true?” “Will He really open the windows of Heaven for me?” “Have the righteous never ever been forsaken?” All these questions can be answered with one scripture. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, NKJV) Because God so loved…He gave. Not just anything, but His only Son. God’s a giver! That’s why He gives His best, and that’s why those who know Him do the same.

Responding To Loss

Every one of us experiences difficulties and disappointments; even at times, devastating losses. But how we respond to them will determine whether we’ll lead victorious or defeated lives. David, one of the great men in the Bible, suffered numerous setbacks. But perhaps the most crushing was when the wives and children and property of all of his men were stolen at Ziklag. Even after his men threatened to kill him because of it, David refused to give into despair. Instead, the Bible says, he found strength in the LORD his God. (1 Samuel 30:6) Because he trusted God, everything that had been lost was restored, and even more amazingly, a few weeks later, after waiting 17 years, David was made King of Israel. Proving once again that responding well to loss activates the grace and power of God.

Why Ostriches Bury Their Heads

Why do ostriches bury their head in the sand? Is it because they are trying to hide and run away from a fight? Hardly! It’s actually because they’re turning their eggs. They are taking care of their family. They are nurturing the next generation. In the most distracted age of all time, we should never feel we are wasting our time being present and caring for our children and grandchildren. The Bible says, God “…gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them–even the children not yet born–and they in turn will teach their own children.” (Psalm 78:5-6, NLT) One of the best ways we can rescue our children from harm is to be present and vigilant in their lives.

Rejecting Insecurities

The other day I was feeling really insecure about my life, and so I began to pray. God then reminded me that when I doubt and minimize my value, I am minimizing Him simultaneously. I may not be everything, but I am certainly something, and unless I identify what that something is, and affirm it, my insecurities will merely demonstrate my lack of trust in the beautiful life God has promised me. God is working in me and through me. I believe it! First, because He believes it, and secondly because I have seen His faithfulness over many decades. The Bible says, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.” (Nahum 1:7, NKJV) God, I reject my insecurities and trust you with my life!

Salvation and Sanctification

God has saved us from two things: our sin and ourselves. Salvation saves us from our sin, but sanctification saves us from ourselves. Our trusting in the blood of Jesus frees us from the power of sin and death, but our pursuit of walking in daily dependency upon Him further transforms us into His image and likeness. The Bible says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11, ESV) Being “sanctified” means we have been set apart and declared holy because of Christ’s death and resurrection. And being “justified” means God has made us right in His sight. Both mean we have been blessed beyond our wildest dreams.

When You Are Attacked

The other day the enemy attacked me in a vulnerable part of my life. I had accepted a new person on Facebook. Before doing this I always examine their Facebook page to see if they’re safe and then accept the invitation. One woman seemed safe and so I accepted her friend request but when I clicked on an email she sent me alerting me to a new Facebook post, I was bombarded with full-on pornography. I clicked off immediately, but realized once again: if my enemy can’t get me to give up, he’ll try and get me to give in. The Bible says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) And advises us to, “Resist the devil and he will flee.” (James 4:7) Wise words for each of us who want to finish well.

Promises or Problems

Are you feeling overwhelmed by your problems? At times, all of us do. But it’s at these vulnerable moments we need to remember God’s promises and not obsess over our problems. Often times, God won’t even address our problems, because He wants to remind us about His promises. The truth is, in order for breakthroughs to happen in life, we have to consciously choose to get our eyes off our problems and focus on God’s promises. And the only way we can know what they are is if we spend time each day in God’s Word. The Bible says, “…the word of God is living and powerful…” (Hebrews 4:12a, NKJV) and in it “… he has granted to us his precious and very great promises…so that through them we may become partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4a, ESV)

God’s Protection

An army friend who did four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan said: “I’ve seen temperatures over 130 degrees Fahrenheit.” Then he added something quite profound. “The wind always comes from the sunny-side, so you have to create shade in order to be protected.” Hmm? “…create shade!” That made me think: the wind of God’s Spirit is always in the challenges of life, when difficulties heat up. I’ve found the best way to block out the scorching heat of the day is to find shade in the Word and presence of God. King David wrote, “I trust in the Lord for protection.” (Psalm 11:1, NLT) Today, find some shade in the presence of God, under the shade of His Word, “… taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” (Ephesians 6:16, NKJV)

Living Water

A friend of mine was sharing how plants that grow near contaminated or stagnant water have a higher risk of containing toxic contaminants as well as invisible bacteria or parasites. In other words, don’t eat food near water that is contaminated or stagnant. That made me think. What are the sources of my spiritual food? Do I let contaminated entertainment fill my mind? Is my spiritual life stagnant or vibrant? Am I flowing with the Spirit of God or standing still waiting for something to happen? Jesus promised, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38, NKJV) Jesus, You are the Bread of Life. Help me to feast on Your Word every day, that I may live a safe and abundant life.

Losing Hope For Our Future

Our setbacks won’t define us, but how we respond to them will. Tests always bring out what and who we’re trusting in. If you’re discouraged right now, it means you’re being overwhelmed by your circumstances. It means, in some way, you’re not trusting God. God has never lost hope for our future. And only He knows the tests we will need to face in order to live fulfilled lives. Don’t be surprised if the season you are closest to walking in your destiny is simultaneously the lowest point in your life. We have to get creamed before we can get crowned. The Bible says, “…since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering…” (2 Timothy 2:12) We’ll lose hope for our future, when we lose hope in God.

Hearing What You’ve Never Heard

We all tend to place the new that God is doing in us in old, familiar contexts. But that only produces false comfort. We put new wine in old wineskins. In Matthew 17, on the Mount of Transfiguration, the disciples wanted to build a tabernacle or temple…an old, familiar wineskin. But, the temple of God was now in man. They didn’t need an external house for God, they needed an internal relationship. So, the Father had to speak from Heaven and basically say, “Hey, this is my Son, be quiet and listen to Him.” The Creator of the Universe isn’t interested in repeating or duplicating anything. Whenever we think we know what God’s about to say, we should be quiet and listen because we’re about to hear something we’ve never heard before.

Acceptance Before God

Are you trying to live a godly life? That’s wonderful! But it won’t help you earn God’s favor? The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NKJV) We don’t merit God’s favor by living a godly life. We already have His complete love and acceptance when we receive the gift He purchased for us, a gift that cost Jesus His life when He died on a cross in our place, something that lasts forever: it’s called eternal life. John 17:3 says, “…this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Sure, I want to live a godly life, and I pursue this every day, but my acceptance before God comes through Christ alone.

 

K-LOVE Features September 2015

Life’s Frustrations

All of us are frustrated at times when things don’t make sense—when life doesn’t add up. At these less than enjoyable moments we express our frustrations to God and anyone who’ll listen. But I’ve come to the conclusion that if I get fed up with life’s complexities I’m missing the whole point. If everything made sense on Earth, we wouldn’t need to learn to trust God. If everything we experienced made us happy, we wouldn’t need to receive God’s joy, which is never dependent upon what’s happening. If every mishap were understandable, we wouldn’t need peace that goes beyond understanding. Frankly, if our lives were seamlessly blessed, we’d never be stretched to maturity, and learn to be fully dependent and know the God who holds our future in His loving hands.

Prayers of Agreement

Do you ever feel as if you’re trying to persuade God to do the right thing for you or someone you love? Though each of us can relate to this, it’s more of a prayer of unbelief than faith. The Bible tells us clearly who God is: loving, caring, gracious, powerful, our Healer, our Comforter, everything we could ever hope for in a Person. Yet, for some reason, we find ourselves praying silly prayers like, “God, if you want to, can you help so and so; if you so desire, watch over my children,” as opposed to praying strong, clear prayers in agreement with who God says He is. This leads me to the biblically accurate conclusion: the most powerful prayer I can pray is, “God, I agree! I agree with Your Word!”

 

 

I’m a Christian too!

Years ago, after speaking in a church in Southern California, my family and I were about to leave a hotel, when I heard someone yell, “Stop him, he stole her purse!” Fifty feet away, I saw the thief run by, with two guys chasing him. I started to run as well, and because they were tired from having run a few blocks already I was able to catch the thief. Sitting on top of him, waiting for the police to arrive, I figured I’d try and tell him about Jesus. Still breathing heavy I said, “I know God brought me to you because I’m a Christian.” Immediately, his eyes got wide and he shot back, “I’m a Christian too!” Though I was startled, considering the age we live in, I wasn’t totally surprised. It brought to light, perhaps the challenge of our day, am I representing Jesus in a way that truly does justice to who He is and the marvelous rescuing work He’s done in my life?

 

Dig a Ditch

Are you thirsty for God? We all should be. In 2 Kings 3, the armies of Israel and Judah were out of water for seven days. They were literally: dying of thirst. So, they contacted the prophet Elisha, and he told them to ‘Make this valley full of ditches.’ For thus says the Lord: ‘You shall not see wind, nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water…this is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord…” “Now it happened in the morning…that suddenly water came…and the land was filled with water.” (2 Kings 3:16-18a, 20, NKJV) Are you out of water? Dig a ditch…sow a seed…obey God’s Word! He’s the God of happy endings. He wants to bless you.

 

 

Is God Playing Got-cha?

Do you believe God primarily focuses on the mistakes you’ve made, or is He trying to heal you and protect you from destroying your life? Is He playing, “Got-cha!” or trying to “Help-ya?” When Adam and Eve sinned, God first said to them, “Where are you?” not “What have you done?” God’s far more concerned about our relationship with Him, than anything bad we’ve done. He’s first a Dad who wants to help and protect. That’s why the Bible says, “The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.” (Psalm 121:7, NLT) Since we all sin, it’s vital that we know when we blow it, we can run to God and not away from Him. We should turn ourselves in, and not wait to be caught. No one cares more about you than Jesus.

 

 

Counterfeit Creators

This age is the wild west of moral ambiguity, where everyone does what’s right in their own eyes. But without the biblical compass of good and evil, truth and lies, who determines what’s right and wrong? Without divine discernment, we choose if our babies live or die. We determine if selling the body parts of babies is right or wrong. We decide if lions and whales are more valuable than babies created in the image and likeness of our Creator God. We determine our gender. We choose when we want to die. We judge whom we want to give ourselves to physically. We decide what our eyes should see and what our hearts should embrace. In the end, we become counterfeit creators, created in the image of our vain imaginations, putting our hope in what can never fulfill or come to pass.

Discernment Defined

Ours is the age of little discernment. Compare Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary definition of the word “discern.” He wrote, “to see or understand the difference…between good and evil, truth and falsehood.” What a tremendous definition! Unfortunately, modern editors corrupted it. The 2015 version of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines discern: “to recognize or identify right from wrong.” No longer is it “to see or understand the difference…between good and evil, truth and falsehood.” With good and evil, truth and lies taken out of this definition, we’re left with personal preference, and no resemblance to absolute truth at all. Ironically, this supposed, “new and improved” definition of discern completely lacks discernment. Jesus admonishes each of us, “See that no one leads you astray.” (Matthew 24:4, ESV)

 

Encyclical By Pope Francis

A recent Encyclical by Pope Francis focused on many things, not just Climate Change. He wrote at length about Creation having a Creator, valuing the difference between masculinity and femininity, looking up from our phones and encountering one another, saving the baby humans, and stopping the cynicism, secularism and immorality. The news media may never report it, but it was biblical food-for-thought. May we each have the courage to affirm what is eternally true, and not just cherry-pick what is politically correct or applauded by society and its ever-changing moral standards. As Jesus promised, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.(Matthew 24:35, ESV) Or, may I add, become passé: God’s truth will never become “out of date.”

 

Evolution’s Origin

Sir Julian Huxley, the grandson of Thomas Huxley, known as “Darwin’s bulldog,” and brother of Aldous Huxley’s, author of, “Brave New World,” was considered the premier evolutionist in the world. Once, Sir Julian was asked in a TV interview: “Why do you think that Evolution caught on so quickly?” His answer was startling, “We all jumped at the Origin of the Species because (“…the evidence uncovered by Darwin was so scientifically compelling that we were forced by pure reason to accept the facts as true.” Is that what he said? NO!) His response was, “We all jumped at the origin of the species because the idea of God interfered with our sexual mores.” “Our sexual mores” = “our sexual morality,” “our sex lives.” You mean, the origin of Evolution isn’t purely scientific? Hardly, it was anti-religious, anti-moral, and anti-God right from the beginning.

The Satisfied Life

If my life on Earth is not enough to satisfy me, then I’m obviously missing how God wants me to process my life. This is confirmed in the book of 2nd Peter, which says, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him…” (2 Peter 1:3, NLT) God has given me everything I need to live a satisfied life. Additionally, if my future in Heaven is not captivating enough to make me long to be there, then I am not discerning what Heaven will really be like. 1st Peter adds, “…we have a priceless inheritance…that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.” (1 Peter 1:3-4, NLT) All of this encourages me to love the life God has prepared for me both now and forever.

 

God’s Good News Covers All Bad News

Have you ever thought: “There are so many bad things happening in my life, nothing good could ever come out of it?” Maybe this next thought will comfort you. The good news of the gospel is good enough to cover all of the bad news in your life. As God is bigger than my problems, His plan for my future won’t just work for my good, it will make me the person I really would want to be if I was in my right mind and trusted Him completely. We make the gospel bad news when we focus on what we’re not, and what God has not yet fulfilled in us. But, we keep the gospel “good news,” as He intended, when we concentrate on who Jesus is, our God and Savior, and not our sins and short-comings.

 

Character is Not a Consolation Prize

Did you ever wonder: what’s the main goal of being a Christ-follower? If you don’t know what it is, you will never hit the target. So here it is: The primary goal of following Jesus is to become like Him. The fact is—being like Jesus isn’t the pinstripes on a car. It’s the engine. Character is not a consolation prize. It’s the main event. Romans 8:29 says, that God chose us to become like His Son, so that His Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Our becoming like Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s original intention: creating us in the image and likeness of God. So, the next time you complain about your struggles, remember they are helping shape you into the person you were created to be.

 

 

 

KLOVE Features August 2015

Life’s Great Irony

Do you have father wounds or mother wounds? Though it is unsettling to retrieve the priceless value of past hurts, they are actually the birth pangs of renewed hope. Many of us have an unclaimed lottery ticket from our childhood in the pocket closest to our heart. Even though it will be painful, it is God’s will that what was stolen from us is restored, not just in our own life, but for generations to come. God can use the sadness in our past to help someone in our present. Every healed hurt in our lives offers hope to others. That’s life’s great irony: that every person takes what the devil meant for evil and sees it transformed into good. If we yield to God’s Spirit, nothing is ever wasted in the Kingdom of God.

 

The Richest Person You Know

Have you ever imagined someone rich dying and leaving you everything? It could happen! Actually, it did happen! 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.” And then in Romans, “…since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” (Romans 8:17, NLT) So, the next time you’re a little jealous of someone who has something you don’t, just remember, if you really are a follower of Jesus, you are the richest person you know.

 

Processing Your Past

We don’t bury our wounds dead. We bury them alive. If you haven’t fully processed your past, it’s not your past! It’s still your present. And you can’t get to your future, if you’re stuck in your present because you’re unwilling to sufficiently unpack your past. But the good news is, there was Someone with you during every hurtful, difficult moment. And, even though it’s hard for you to look at certain events, He’s already provided a marvelous way of escaping the endless pain in order to experience the healing and freedom your heart longs for. This healing process will not only bring you closer to your Creator, but it will provide the insight to free others as well. The Bible says, “…God is faithful…he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV)

Changing What You Believe

Repentance is not just a change of behavior; it’s a change of belief. I used to think the transformation process meant first changing my actions, but now I begin by focusing on changing what I really believe. It’s a simple principle! If you want to change your behavior, change your beliefs. I can believe the Bible is the Word of God, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to feed on it. In order for God’s Word to really change me, I have to believe it’s even more important than my food; only then do I see it’s true value. In the original language, the Greek word for “repent” is “metanoeo,” which means, “to change your mind.” Only God can do this, but He can’t do it without our surrender. “Jesus, change my behavior by helping me to change what I believe!”

 

God’s Presence

If you have been born again, then you have experienced the presence of God—and like me, you know God’s presence has been the difference between life and death. That’s why when God told Moses in the wilderness, “My presence will go with you…” Moses responded, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.” (Exodus 33:14-15) Moses was saying ‘God, if you’re not going with me, then I don’t want to go. I already saw that movie. It didn’t end well.’ Either we let Jesus lead us by His Spirit, or we return to following someone who doesn’t know where they’re going. Only God knows what is best for me. I never have, and following Him has been the greatest joy in my life.

 

Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)

Perhaps you’ve heard of the pseudo-psychological condition called FOMO, which stands for the Fear Of Missing Out. It is described, tongue and cheek, as “a medical condition of extreme anxiety regarding the fun others could be having without you.” HA! Now, if you’re extroverted, you probably know what I’m talking about. But if you’re an introvert, you may be really glad you missed the party. Either way, all of us want to be included in the best parts of life. And so, I’ve found the absolutely best part of living is getting to know the Creator of Life, all life, past, present and future life, and that’s the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s the God who is life. Accept no substitutes, and you’ll never feel like you’re missing out.

Let No One Deceive You

Jesus said the days would come when there would be leaders who would “…deceive, if possible, even (the elect) God’s chosen ones.” (Matthew 24:24) It’s a scary thought, and why the Bible says, “Let no one deceive you with empty words…” (Ephesians 5:6) So, here is one of the clearest ways of know someone is trying to deceive you with empty words. When they try and diminish the Bible as God’s Word—explaining why it’s wrong when it says this or that…that they have a more advanced moral, philosophical, and spiritual perspective. The truth is “All Scripture is inspired by God…” (2 Timothy 3:16a) and as the Bible says in its final verses, there are grave consequences to those who would attempt to add or subtract from the words of this book. God’s Word is truth, and the only truth that will set you free.

 

False Summits

Every mountain climber has a goal of reaching the summit. In our pursuit of getting to the top, we often take the most obvious route. Yet, quite often, in thinking we are nearing the peak we find we are actually at what is called a false summit. It’s defined as a precipice we can see directly in front of us, that actually shadows or hides the true summit. At these anti-climactic moments, it is essential to realize that these false summits were placed there by God to keep us dependent upon Him, and trust in what He says is true and not what we feel or see. If we fail to do this, we will be discouraged by what is before us. We must set our sights not on the obvious, but on the ultimate goal: the summit, the highest point God has called us to.

 

Trusting God’s Motive

Do you feel like God has let you down? All of us will at some point think this. Even Jesus groaned, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) Yet, attributing a bad motive to God only means we’re not seeing Him clearly. After Adam and Eve sinned, God covered them with animal skins not because he was ashamed of them, but because he wanted to comfort them. This is why the motive we ascribe to God is perhaps the clearest indication of how well we know Him. God is love. God is kind, forgiving and gracious. Is that the God you know? If not, somewhere along the way your perspective of God has been skewed by a wrong attitude or lack of understanding. Guard your responses to life, for they will show if you really know and trust God.

 

Favor

I was using the word “success” in relation to God with one of my daughters when she said, “You know Dad, even though I know what you mean, a better word to use is the word “favor.” I loved her recommendation, and when I looked up a definition of “favor,” it only got better. Favor is defined as “support or advancement given as a sign of approval, overgenerous preferential treatment, and an act of kindness beyond what is due.” WOW! Isn’t that what God does for us? How would our experience of life change if we viewed every challenge as a promotion, every struggle as an opportunity, and every difficulty as divinely ordained by God. If we really trusted that a loving, gracious, generous God had planned the best life possible for each of us, we’d live in the peace beyond our understanding; fully embracing His favor.

 

Inches to Miles, Molehills to Mountains

Not every time you and I obey God and step out in faith will we get the desired result. But, I truly believe every time I obey God it will result in my character being formed, my trust and relationship with Him being strengthened, and being further prepared for the greater acts of faith ahead. I would never have believed for the mile, if I had not first believed for the first inch. If I can’t trust God to remove the molehill, I’ll never trust Him to remove the mountain. The Bible says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT) Jesus affirmed this principle as well. “First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens.” (Mark 4:28, NLT)

 

Unanswered Prayers

Do you feel that God is not answering your prayers? Does He seem far away? All of us will experience this. Yet, our faith is proven, not by answered prayer, but by our willingness to be obedient even when prayers seemed to be unanswered. By the way, every prayer gets answered. Sometimes, the answer is just “No!” But it’s never an angry or indifferent “No!” It’s always a wise, discerning, loving, Fatherly “No. No, my son or daughter, that wouldn’t be best for you! Just trust Me, and down the road you’ll see I had your best interest in mind.” Finally, we should never forget, the purpose of prayer is not to get a desired answer, but to develop the desired relationship with our all-wise, all-loving, all-powerful Creator. And, if we trust God, that prayer always gets answered.

 

 

KLOVE Features July 2015

Rear View Mirrors

Did you ever consider why your rear view mirror is so much smaller than your windshield? It’s because we should be infinitely more concerned with what’s ahead of us than what’s behind us. We may glimpse at the past, but we must fully focus on what’s present and future. Frankly, there’s a high probability that we will wreck if we are overly fixated on what’s happening behind us. Paul the Apostle wrote a similar admonition, “…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:13-14, NLT) I learn from my past, but I live in the present and long for the future. It’s a safe way to live.

Pity Parties

Want to go to a really small party and have no fun? Have a pity party! There’s only room for one person, because no one else wants to come. You’ll have to laugh at your jokes, cry over your own stories, and clean up after yourself. While parties are meant to make us feel better, pity parties always make not only us feel worse, but they’re downers for anyone foolish enough to accept our invitation. As a matter of fact, you can’t even get God to attend a pity party and He’s omnipresent. But when God throws a party they’re filled with joy. His invitation 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) I like God’s parties! They’re just better!

The Winning Side of Expectations

Are you disappointed because something you were really looking forward to didn’t happen? Has it left you devastated and discouraged? Let me offer a thought on how to get on the winning side of expectations? It’s made my life infinitely better. Expect nothing from others and much from yourself. Assume other people will not necessarily do what is right or what I hope, but be completely committed to do right and respond well no matter what happens or what others do. In the end, what I do is my responsibility, what others do is theirs. Lastly, even when I mess up and respond poorly, I must remember what the Bible says, “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts…” (1 John 3:20, NIV) I like God and, the really good news is, He likes me.

Abandonment and Rejection

Have you struggled with abandonment and rejection? I know I have! I left my family at 11 years of age to live in an oppressive boarding school, and never lived at home again. It created deep wounds inside my heart. I felt completely abandoned and rejected by my father in particular who is in control of the decision. Because of that experience I’ve had to really concentrate on learning to trust that, though my natural father abandoned and rejected me, my Heavenly Father never has. It’s been a long process, but one I have far more victory in then I could ever have imagined. Many years ago, this Bible verse greatly encouraged me, “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.” (Psalm 27:10, NLT)

Using God

Have you ever been used by someone else? And then, when they were done with you, you were discarded. Your usefulness had expired. It can be one of the most hurtful experiences in life. Sadly, it happens all the time: in relationships, in jobs—used and discarded, out with the old and in with the new. Once, during an extended time of worship in the presence of God, He spoke clearly to my heart, “I don’t want to be used.” Wow! It jolted me! I didn’t just want a relationship with God; I was using Him for what He could do for me. As none of us want to be used, neither does God. Perhaps you would like to join me in this prayer, “God, I don’t want to use You! I want to live for you…to know You! I want to love you! That’s what I really want!”Word Count: 149 words

Defining Grace

Would it surprise you if I said I’ve learned far more from my failures than my successes? Actually, we all need to fail in order to learn about what we each need most. It’s called grace! I can’t fully appreciate who I’m called to be, until I fail to be just that. One Christian leader defined grace in a similar way, “Grace is the empowering presence of God enabling you to be who He created you to be, and to do what He has called you to do.” (James Ryle) As God is the difference-maker in each of our lives, unless we see our desperate need for Him, we’ll try and live without Him. This always leads to un-fulfillment. I was created by God and for God. Only when I acknowledge this can I find my true purpose.

Depending On the Vine

All of us would rather show off our fruit than let others see where we’ve been pruned. But without the pruning we would eventually lose our dependency on the vine. Then, in time, we’d think we are the ones who produced the fruit, rather than the vine being our source. Jesus said, “…every branch that bears fruit (the Father) prunes, that it may bear more fruit…Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:2, 4-5 NKJV) “Prune me Oh God, that I may bear fruit that looks like You.”

True Freedom

We live in a world that mistakes freedom for being free. Sure, we have license to do whatever we want, but there is always a consequence, a cause and effect for every action. My name Francis means “free one.” During my reckless years I was free to do whatever I wanted to. But free love cost me so much, I’m still making payments. Only when the Son of God set me free did I experience God’s promise, “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17, NIV) The Bible challenges us, “…you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13, NLT)

Disappointed With the Church

Have you been disappointed with the Church? I know I have! It reminds me so much of me, at times, its depressing. I wish I was more consistent, more loving, everything God asks me to be. But, often, I’m not. Paul the Apostle described it this way. “I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t… Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:18-19, 24-25, NLT) Yes, the church is imperfect, just like the people who are part of it, but the moments we genuinely reflect Jesus give me hope that He who has begun a good work in us will bring it to completion. (Philippians 1:6)

The Sound of Your Voice

Do you like the sound of your voice? God does! The Bible says, “The LORD hears His people when they call to Him for help.” (Psalm 34:17, NLT) Growing up I didn’t like the way my voice sounded. I wanted it to be deeper, richer. Now, I find it ironic that I’m on radio. God’s got a great sense of humor. But it also demonstrates that God is far more gracious than critical. He focuses on what really matters. The Bible says, “The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT) Maybe, if God likes the sound of my voice, I should like it also. Let me take it one step further. If God likes me, I should like me too.

God’s Known You Forever

We may be just getting to know God, but He’s not just getting to know us. We’ve been in His heart since the beginning of time. God said to the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV) Growing up I felt like an afterthought to my natural father, but that’s never been what my Heavenly Father thinks of me. He’s been waiting for my life to come forth since time immemorial. Each of us is given such a unique part of God’s heart that we actually bring Him pleasure. The Bible says, “…the LORD takes pleasure in his people…” (Psalm 149:4, ESV) Even when I don’t take pleasure in me, I take comfort in the reality that God does.

Loneliness & Fellowship

Are you lonely? If you are, you’re not alone. There’s a woman in Korea who makes $9,000 a month dining with people online. Though studies have shown people who believe in God are less lonely than those who don’t, even Christ-followers can have a broad web of connections through social media but still be lonely. Acts 2:42 clearly states that one of the four essential dimensions in the early church was that they devoted themselves to fellowship: a deep expression of love between Christians. I once asked a man who had a large library of early Christian writings what one aspect of the New Testament church most impacted him. He said, every Sunday believers had “love feasts,” where they spent much of the day breaking bread in fellowship. Sounds like a God idea!

KLOVE Features June 2015

Grace Isn’t 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. It’s God’s gift to us. God’s unmerited favor! Kindness we don’t deserve, or could ever earn. Grace is the divine assistance given to humans for their rebirth and sanctification, allowing us to actually become holy. It’s our “Get Out Of Hell Free Card,” but it didn’t come cheap. It cost Jesus His life! But, there is something we can do to miss all of that marvelous grace. 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…” (Hebrews 12:15, ESV) Who wants to flunk being forgiven? Forgive those who have hurt you!

 Don’t Be Creative…Be Obedient

When it comes to obeying God, “stopping” may be as courageous as “starting.” No action is more heroic than another. All that matters is, what is God asking you to do. If God is saying, “Go forward!” then go forward. But, if He’s saying, “Stop,” then stopping is the most-gutsy thing you can do at that moment. This is why I have no preference when it comes to God’s will. I don’t know enough to have one. I’d have to know the future and all possibilities. I accept that the wisest thing I can ever do is “obey God.” I don’t even need to be creative. I just need to submit to the will of the only Person who knows what really should happen. And this obedience has truly allowed my life to be blessed.

 Dying To Live

Are you prepared for the future? I’ve found in my own life, nothing jars me more than a left-hook from nowhere that rocks my world. So, it’s important to ask, “Am I merely preparing my heart for success, or am I getting ready for the inevitable reality of facing some measure failure…setback…or severe struggle?” Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24, ESV) Am I practically, tangibly, daily, preparing my heart to take up my cross…dying to myself…dying to my will? Is there really such a thing as a cross-less resurrection? The truth is, the cross is not an option if I’m truly going to follow Jesus? There is no cross-less resurrection. I accept the reality that I am dying to live.

The Least of These

We all know the admonition of Jesus, that as much as you’ve done it to the least of these you’ve done it to Me. It is in constant reminder of the reality that everyone, the matter how weak or seemingly insignificant is important to God. We have a special needs man named Michael who comes every week with adult supervision to clean our church. When he found himself in an ICU ward, word came to me that he had asked for me in particular to come. It broke my heart and made me cry when I realized I was more excited about him contacting me and requesting my presence then if he had been a well-known public figure. From God’s perspective, we must never forget, everyone we meet is, to Him, a well-known public figure.

 Backstage Pass With God

I have a backstage pass with God. But don’t be jealous, if Jesus is your Lord, so do you. Because God’s heart is for me, I can jump into His lap any time I want to. He’s always excited to see me. He enjoys me infinitely more than I could ever enjoy Him. Because He created me to be a fascination to Him there is nothing I could ever do to turn His heart away from me. Jesus died to insure that I always have right standing before my Heavenly Father. I am a delight to God, and He’s promised me, if I delight myself in Him He will grant me the desires of my heart. Desires I guard, so that they come from Him alone, and not from my shallow understanding.

 The Most Trust Worthy Person of All

God brings each of us to the end of ourselves! But don’t be discouraged. It’s the safest place to be. For only there can we meet God, when we have no other recourse but to turn to Him. Often it’s after we have tried every other option but Him. We find ourselves with a deep dissatisfaction, that frankly is Heaven-sent. So, the question is, are you desperate enough to want God—first and foremost? I’ve found it’s the healthiest place to be. Where Jesus plus nothing is everything! Where we finally accept that only what God authors will He finish. Where at last I learn to trust, the most trust worthy Person of all time. The Bible says, “…those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:10, ESV)

Prayers That Move Mountains

It takes God to love God. We have never initiated anything eternal. Either God authors it or it will eventually cease to exist. What is God initiating in your heart? What cloud, the size of a fist, is on the horizon that will bring the rain your heart longs for and will help those around you? Our prayers merely affirm what God has already started. Our prayers are meant to agree with what’s on God’s heart. That’s when we commune with Him as a son and daughter, a beloved member of His family, and not some disconnected part of Christ’s body. Pray with the power of agreement that moves mountains, raises the dead, shake cities, and brings Heaven to Earth. Our prayers help fulfill God’s will on Earth.

 Getting Healed and Whole

Some people get healed, but are still not whole. Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one got whole, and returned to glorify and thank God (Luke 17:15-16). Ironically, he was a Samaritan: half-Jew and half-Gentile, but a whole follower of Jesus. In Acts 3, the man unable to walk from birth at the Beautiful Gate, not only got healed, he became so whole he went away walking, leaping and praising God. (Acts 3: 8) I’m not looking to God for a quick fix. I’m trusting in Him for the long haul. He doesn’t want to date me. He wants to marry me. Getting my temporary, natural body healed would be wonderful, but what is infinitely better is my spirit communing with my Creator, and my eternal soul, mind will and emotions completely restored.

 Emotional Safety Nests

Do you have an emotional safety net? I believe it’s vital in oder for us to thrive in life. An emotional safety net is that place I go in God when I’m overwhelmed about what’s happening or what could happen to me. It’s the perspective that brings me peace of mind. I’m not talking about donuts and drugs or fantasy and other false comforts. It’s confidence in God that is so secure, so unwavering, that it brings me the greatest comfort when I am most fragile. The Bible says experience gives us hope. Initially it was the experience of Bible characters, historic Christ-followers, or people I knew and respected that brought me hope. In time it was my own experience. I just need to remember and take shelter in the emotional safety net that if God is for me, who can be against me?

The Game of Faith

I’ve been playing a wonderful game with God for many years. I call it the Game of Faith. It’s actually quite serious, but fun too. Here’s how it works. When you are absolutely persuaded God has spoken a clear word from Scripture to your spirit, the longer you are able to stand on that word without seeing any tangible answer to your prayers, you win. I try and trust longer and longer without doubting. It builds spiritual muscles, glorifies God, and makes me smile. Why do I play the game? Because I know that God is completely trustworthy, and I’m really tired of not trusting Him. It’s a way to remind myself that He’s worth waiting for. He’s always been faithful, whether I see it, feel it, or know it.

 Unconditional Love Requires Conditional Faith

God’s love is unconditional, but accessing His life and grace always requires conditional faith. The Bible says, “Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.” (James 2:26, NLT) This principle was evident even in the Old Testament story about Naaman, the Syrian general. He would not have been healed of his leprosy if he had been unwilling to obey God, speaking through the prophet Elijah, to dip in the Jordan River seven times. So, yes, God’s love is unconditional, it is freely given to each of us. But, in order to receive this marvelous love, we’re going to have to step out in faith. This will take effort, obedience, and often, great courage. But, the reward for this faith will intimately connect us with the God who is love.

 What Do You Really Want?

There’s a question I sense Jesus asking me quite often that doesn’t have an easy answer. He says, “What do you really want? Do you want Me, or just what I can do for you? Do you want to use Me, or get to know Me?” I can answer it quickly, and say I want to know You Jesus! But do my thoughts and actions confirm this? In the Book of John, two disciples were following Jesus. Then He turned and said, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Teacher, where are You staying?” Jesus said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw…and remained with Him… (John 1:37-39) At the end of the day, God doesn’t want to be used any more than we do. He wants a relationship that lasts forever.

 

KLOVE Features May 2015

Knowing God’s Motive

Learning to fight in the ring is dangerous. We must first practice in the gym. It’s only through preparation that we can be truly prepared. What Jesus resisted personally in the desert, He defeated permanently on the Cross. He became rejected so I can be accepted; uncovered so I can be covered; needy, so I can be satisfied; and weak, so I can live strong. God didn’t find Adam and Eve in the Garden to shame them. He found them wallowing in their sin, so He could cover them. Unless we trust that the motive of God is good and kind, merciful and forgiving, we’ll live in shame and regret, instead of His endless peace and forgiveness. What God thinks of me is infinitely more important than what I think of myself.

Little By Little

All of us would like God to move faster to help us, and slower to discipline us, but the reason He doesn’t fulfill this desire is because His plan is better. When the Children of Israel were concerned about the giants in the land of Canaan, God said, “I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you…” (Exodus 23:29-30a, NKJV) If God gave us the Garden of Eden all at once, it would turn into a jungle. God is leading us one step at a time, one prayer at a time, and one act of faith at a time. Trust in His leading. It is the only way to arrive safely home.

The Value of Little Things

As a young man I had a job cleaning a restaurant’s kitchen. No matter how spotless I made it, it would be a mess the next day. One day as I was mopping my way out, I caught a strand of the mop on the leg of a dishwasher. Though I initially thought, “I’ll get it tomorrow.” God send me back 15 minutes later to pick it up. Now, forty years down the road, I’m still obeying and seeing the value of little things. We can spend our lives waiting to see a tree, when God wants us to first see a seed. The abundance of a garden starts with the tiniest sprout. If we can’t see the value of the seed, we’ll never reap its abundance. The Bible says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin.” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT)

Complete in Him, Alone

In a world of seemingly infinite options, we can consider God’s will as just another possibility, one choice in a countless number of equally good alternatives. Yet, only God’s will brings about the fullness of our true potential. Only God’s will brings us to the best of all possible options. Our will can only magnify our lack of completeness. When the Bible says, “…you are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10, NKJV), it is not listing Jesus as one of a number of perfectly fine would-be gods. It is saying that only through Jesus Christ, God the Son come to Earth, can we be forgiven for our sins and fulfill His one-of-a-kind destiny. The Bible says, “…there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, ESV)

Circular Journeys

As I was getting off a plane to go to a connecting flight, I glanced at the electronic Departure Board to see what gate was next. Having flown so much, I was confident I knew what I was doing. Taking the tram in this busy airport, I arrived at the gate only to realize I had read the flight information incorrectly and actually needed to go back to the original gate I had arrived at 15 minutes before. After racing to get there, I walked back into my first plane and even was assigned the exact same seat. As I sat back, now sweating, 30 minutes into my circular journey, I laughed at my foolishness, and God gently reminded me to pay attention, and to not take even little things for granted. It was a good lesson I hope I never forget.

The Humor and Holiness of God

One of the indicators for me that a person really knows God is that they understand, not just His Holiness, but also His humor. A person who really knows God can cry or laugh in His presence, because the reason they feel, care, and enjoy life is because God feels and cares, and is the most joyful Person who ever lived. Jesus wept, but He also laughed and had such an enjoyable personality that children were attracted to Him. When we see God as both a Father and a friend, we can then fully honor, love and enjoy Him. When we can laugh at the challenges of life, without being anxious or worried, we are then trusting that God is greater than the struggles of Earth and always has our lives in His safe hands.

The Tests of Earth

How we view our challenges will determine whether they work for our good or not. It is vitally important that I see my struggles as a test and not a threat. Greater is he who is in me than anything that could assault me. Considering the tests of Earth as threats to my wellbeing ultimately turns my life into a fear-based experience rather than a faith-filled opportunity, perfectly crafted for my good. No one can force me to bow to fear and unbelief. The enemy cannot intimidate me, unless I allow him to. I must choose to reverently bow, each and every day, to the Holy Spirit and His protective will for my life. The Bible says, “…for in Him we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:28, NKJV)

The Prayer of Jabez

All of us have identity issues. Our challenge is: will we see ourselves as God intended or as others determine? There’s a famous prayer in the Bible. Prayed by a man named Jabez, whose name meant “sorrow and pain.” He prayed, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed…that I may not cause pain!” God granted Jabez what he requested. (1 Chronicles 4:10) Jabez had spent his life viewing himself through someone else’s lens. They saw him as one who brought pain and sorrow. He wanted to break that curse and did. What curse have others placed on you that God wants to break off? May we each pray prayers that connect us to God’s true identity and destiny for us, and not the hurtful misrepresentations of others.

Complete Forgiveness, Acceptance and Peace

There are many absolute truths in life, but there’s one we should never forget. I can’t relive what happened to me, but I can reprocess its affect on my life and future. How others see me is their choice, but how I see me is always mine. Most people’s regrets are NOT about what they did do, but about what they didn’t do. And many times, corrective actions can get my life back on track. The most predominant, one-word command given to all humanity by God is: “Repent!” It means, “turn away from the way you’ve been thinking and begin to see your life the way God sees it.” That perspective will always bring us to a place of complete forgiveness, acceptance and peace.

Being a Positive Person

One of my goals is to be a positive person. Why? Because that’s how God views, not just my future, but also everyone He created. We can fixate on the wrong in others and ourselves for so long that’s all we wind up seeing. We can naively think, because I’ve always viewed myself a certain way, it must be how God sees me. But nothing could be further from the truth. No one has ever been encouraged by criticism, built up by negativism, or inspired by sarcasm. There is not a judgmental, angry Creator in Heaven, but rather a loving, forgiving Father, who wants to make right every wrong done to us, or by us. His greatest desire should be ours as well: to spend eternity with us, accepted and loved.

Trusting the God Who Knows

If you have to know what’s going on before you can trust God, you will never fully trust Him. I don’t have to know what’s happening, I just have to trust God knows. I have never banged on a cockpit door asking the pilot if he knew where he was going. How we respond to life is infinitely more important than what happens to us. I’m going to focus on what’s happening IN me not around me! I want to trust in God’s irrevocable promises, and to remember God’s undeniable goodness. Whatever reality I focus on, I will eventually become. I will believe the truth that there’s a loving God who was not just delighted when He created me, but is delighted whenever He thinks of me, and He thinks of me all the time. It is God’s goodness that leads me to change.

Blessed Beyond Measure

Here are some absolutes I’ve found that have brought me both pain and pleasure: if I have a preference, I won’t get God’s will. If I give into fear, or question whether God is able, I won’t get His best for my life. But if I believe the truth: that God not only knows what’s best for me, but if I trust Him, He’s ordered my steps in such a way that my life will turn out infinitely better than I could ever have imagined. If I focus on the tiny amount of faith He’s given me, I will find it’s more than enough to transform any impossible situation into one of infinite hope. And lastly, if I believe as the Bible says that God 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), my life will be blessed beyond measure.

 

 

K-LOVE Radio Features April 2015

Prayer Burdens

Do you have a burden to pray? If you do, it didn’t start as your burden. It started with God. We don’t pray to get God’s attention, we pray because God had gotten our attention. I’ve never initiated anything of eternal value. If I happened to strike everlasting gold, it’s because God shook me hard enough to awaken me to do His will. The Bible says, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” (Ephesians 5:14, NLT) I want to live fully awake. I want to die fully awake. I want to pray what’s on God’s heart, for only then will my prayers be answered. God’s will is not limiting. It is the invitation we have each been waiting for, to the best of all possible options for our lives.

God’s Plan “A”

Want to know a secret in finding out the will of God? Start by realizing you don’t know it. James wrote, “If any of you lack wisdom…” That would be all of us. “…let him ask God.” (James 1:5) So, asking God for wisdom should be like breathing—a moment-by-moment expression of our need for Him. We think we know what’s best. We don’t! God’s Plan “A” is often our Plan “B” or “C.” But, if we trust God, even every worse-case scenario will have a silver lining! And that silver lining is called grace, accessed by faith, and planted in each of our hearts. “Jesus, give me the faith to always believe that you not only know best, but that You are activating Your best for my life, even now.”

 

Habits

Habits are an interesting thing. They can be either good or bad, but always hard to break. Call them routines or patterns, traditions or addictions. They can be our best friend or our worst enemy. Habits have been defined as “regular tendencies or practices that are hard to give up.” Godly habits can keep us on track, fuel us when we’re empty and encourage us when we’re down. Bad habits can likewise rob us of our peace, break our hearts and make us beg for mercy. But I have found pursuing God is the best habit of all. He is the deep groove I want etched into my life; my best compulsion, my most magnificent obsession and my faithful fixation. “Jesus, You are the one habit I never want to lose!

 

Why You Were Created

One of the devil’s biggest lies is telling us that what happens here on Earth stays on Earth. In reality, what happens on Earth affects us forever. The truth is—our life on Earth is a mere dress rehearsal for eternity. Unless our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus, we’ll be smothered by the shame of having not received our only hope of being forgiven. Accept the sacrifice of God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, NLT) If we refuse to accept the gift Heaven has sent, Jesus, one day we’ll realize the sad truth, no One else is coming. Let Jesus be your Savior and Lord today, and you will at last understand why you were created.

 

 

Walking Toward Jesus

I want to live a safe life, but I don’t want to live so safe I never rely completely on God. Mark Twain once wrote, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bow lines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” How true! We can stay close to the shore, and never launch out into the depth of God’s great adventure. If we never break a nail, we likewise may never break free from the fear of the unknown, which may just be a lack of willingness to trust God. The Bible says, “Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus” (Matthew 14:19) We’re always safer walking toward Jesus than cowering in the boat.

 

 

Holy Anger

Someone once said, “the first time something holy in you gets violated, you get angry.” Though this initial anger is justified, it can lead to anger that has no justification. Pay attention to the root of your anger. Are you lashing back at a past injustice, or a present response to what needs to be set right. When the Bible says, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry…” (Ephesians 4:26, NLT) it implies there are times when anger is appropriate: when we see injustice, prejudice, evil or cruelty. We feel indignation, an anger provoked by what we perceive is unfair treatment. At that moment, unless we allow God’s Spirit to guide us, we may realize all too late that “human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” (James 1:20, NLT)

 

Life is a Maze

Life is a maze. We go this way and that, looking for a way up and out— somewhere beyond the pain and disillusionment of the moment. But that’s where what we really want is always tested. Are we searching for that which satisfies for a moment, or that which lasts forever? Never underestimate deception’s ability to embrace a false reality as an absolute truth—to explain away the simplicity of God’s reality. I can’t persuade you to believe the obvious, but it is this: we can see in the beautiful creation that there is a Creator, and we can see in our conscience, that we are not Him. This reality is simple and present if you’d just take a moment to look around. The maze of your life may seem complicated to you, but it’s not complicated to God.

 

 

The Blessed Option

Life is filled with an infinite number of options, but only one alternative is best when it comes to living a blessed life. Only one choice leads to the peace that goes beyond my understanding. Just one possibility opens my heart to joy unspeakable and mercies that never end. The way to a blessed life is to fully trust God. Every other option for how to live is an infinitely distant second. The Bible says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.” (Psalm 37:4-5, NLT) I have found that trusting God is the only option that doesn’t disappoint, and my only hope to live the life I’ve always dreamed of.

Laughing Last

We all fall and fail! But, our failing and the despair it generates can’t compare with the depth of despair the devil faces every day. He knows deep down, his efforts to destroy us will only end in absolute failure. Our failing is our sad beginning! His failing will be his tragic end! Our failing creates the plot and tension that eventually leads to our rescue, and one of the great joys in life: realizing that all the devil meant for evil has turned out for God’s glory and my good. He who laughs last, laughs best! That Person would be God, and those who belong to Him. Never forget, the God who created laughter, loves to laugh, and if we surrender our lives to Him, we will laugh and rejoice around His throne forever.

 

Three Basic Life Questions

When my father died, though his picture was placed on the front page of the New York Times, he died empty, having never answered life’s three most basic questions. The same questions each of us ask ourselves everyday: Am I enough? Do I have enough? Have I done enough?

Am I enough? Is fed by our insecurities, and can only be answered when we receive our Creator’s approval. Do I have enough? Is fueled by our fear of tomorrow, and our insatiable appetites. And lastly, have I done enough or not done enough? Is stirred by the guilt of unachievable ambitions. The truth is, when God is enough for me, I realize I am enough for Him, I have enough in Him, and I don’t have to do enough to please Him. He’s already pleased.

 

 

God’s Good News

Most Christian’s perspective of who they are begins in Genesis 3, The Fall, and not Genesis 1, The Creation; that we are mostly bad, and not good! But, I believe what was most true about who we were in the beginning, is still true about us. We were made in the image and likeness of God, and that’s still true. In the first chapter of Genesis, the Bible says, “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31, NKJV) Even though we fell from that grace and sinned, we can fall once again into His arms and be forgiven. He never intended to let us merely wallow in the bad, but instead sent His Son to die and rise so that we can live and bask in the good. Don’t turn God’s good news into bad news. Remember who He created you to be, and rejoice in that.

 

The Best Part of the Story

The greatest failures in my life occurred when I believed lies about what is most true about me. The fact is: we are all living in various stages of repentance. We are either acknowledging or denying when we fail, and then repenting of our sins, or going our merry way as if nothing happened. But, something has happened. We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s best for us. Yet, if that’s all we know, we’re missing the best part of the story, that what is most true about me is not just what God is focusing on, but what He wants me to focus on as well. Don’t fixate on what your not, when God’s centering in on what you are: created to be sons and daughters of the living God.

 

 

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!”