K-Love Radio Features – May 2012

Beware the Counterfeit

Each of us is drawn to beauty! We love to laugh! We long for peace of mind!

Wouldn’t the God who made sunsets and starry nights know something about beauty? Is it too hard to imagine that the Creator of laughter knows all about fun? Certainly, the rest offered by the Prince of Peace would compare to none. Since God offers all pleasures to us, the pleasures are ours to choose. Will they be superior pleasures that satisfy and fill to overflowing into eternity, or the shallow sensations that last for a moment, leaving us empty and filled with regret?

Be drawn to beauty—the beauty of God and His holiness!

Seek pleasure—the pleasure of His company!

Beware the counterfeit…

Deepest of All Desires

Would you believe that God wants to give you the desire of your heart? He does! But only He knows what that deepest of all desires is.

Let your heart be filled with desire—the desire to know Him more!

Deep down, we each have a longing to love and be loved in an infinite way. That’s the primary hook behind a recent book and movie series. Its principle audience, teenage girls, looks for love beyond the physical. The deepest of all desires is to be “first loved” and “then to love.”

Until we believe God is fascinated with us, we will search in vain to find someone who is! We were created first for God’s pleasure—the One who love us the most. But the admission price to this endlessly delightful relationship requires complete surrender and commitment.

Storming Heaven

If you’re like me, I’m sure your heart aches as you see the level of darkness and deception in our broken culture.

Yet, it is the storms of Earth that compel us to storm Heaven!

The history of the church of Jesus Christ has been shaped by those willing to break free from the pack—to risk it all for the sake of obeying God’s Spirit even if it costs their lives. These were the true world changers!

Who among us will stand up and become a difference-maker?

Who will inspire those who are too numb to do what they know is right? Who will pay the ultimate price and awaken the conscience of this generation?

Revival is coming! It’s up around the bend! It’s within reach!

You were made for it, and it was made for you!

Fully Awake

What would it take to live fully awake? To be wholeheartedly surrendered, all day, every day.

The great missionary C.T. Studd once said, “Preach as though you’ll never preach again. What a dying man would say to dying men.” He followed this challenge by sacrificially laying down his life on the mission field. Though I am not a perfect example of this approach to life, I have tried ever since to live every day of my life as if it might be my last: my last time to worship, to pray, and to express love, my last moment to be fully awake!

The God, who died for me, rescued me for the very purpose of living a fully conscious, fully committed life. Now it is my responsibility to live at that level of commitment.

What I Really Believe

What we really believe is shown in how we live…   the things most important to us can be found in our checkbook ledgers and where we spend our time

How I treat my spouse is what I really believe about marriage. How I care for my children is the clearest indication of my convictions about family. How connected I am to God’s Word demonstrates best of all what I think of the Bible.

When Jesus said, “You shall know them by their fruit,” (Matthew 7:16) He was saying, “Show Me your life, and I’ll show you who you really are.”

I’ve been many things in my life, some good and some not so good. But in the deepest part of my heart, I know I was created to love and represent my Creator well.

Fear

Fear is a part of each of our lives. Every day we make decisions what to fear, and what not to fear. We should fear being foolish and reckless. We should not fear doing the right thing.

When Jesus died and rose again, He broke the power of sin and death. The Bible says I no longer need to fear death: “…only by dying could He (Jesus) break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)

Jesus Himself challenges me, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

In the Name of Christ. Stop!

In the fourth century a monk named Telemachus heard God’s Spirit tell him to go to Rome. Upon arrival, he followed a crowd to the Coliseum.

Realizing the gladiators were about to fight to the death he cried out, “In the name of Christ, stop!” Over and over again he shouted it. Finally he ran onto the arena floor, all the while yelling, “In the name of Christ, stop!”

When a gladiator killed him with a sword, the atmosphere changed! They stopped fighting and the crowd became mute!

Slowly, one spectator at a time left the stadium, until it was abandoned. It would be the last event between gladiators in the Roman Coliseum. One man obeyed God, fearlessly doing what no one had ever done. He proclaimed, “Enough is enough! I’m willing to give my life to change this tide of injustice.”

Earth-Shaking and Heaven Summoning

Of the handful of nation-transforming revivals that have taken place since Pentecost and the birth of the church, many consider the Welsh revival of 1904 the most Earth-shaking and Heaven summoning.

It came, as revivals invariably do, during a low-tide spiritual moment. Empty churches, cold hearts, lethargic Christians, and flourishing evil. Sounds like some of the church and culture in North America and Europe today.

Up steps a 27-year-old miner named Evan Roberts with a far younger band of men and women, each eager to see God move as He did in the beginning of creation: “…and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2)

Jesus, move upon our hearts to take us out of darkness, into Your marvelous light!

Don’t Despair

Are you going through a difficult time? Don’t despair! God knows, and wants to help you!

When the depth of man’s heart is filled with darkness, God shows up and says, “ ‘Let there be light,’ and there is light.” (Genesis 1:3) Did He intend this command for exclusive periods of history? Or can we declare its power now? The Bible is crystal clear. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV)

Jesus still wants to fill our darkness with light! He still longs to remove the depth of sin that imprisons our hearts.

No matter how dark your life may seem, never forget, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37, NIV)

Jesus, fill us with Your liberating light—fill us with Your love!

Making God Smile

There is a battle going on in each of us, between who we once were, and who we are called to be. It will either fill us with light or darkness. “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8) Yet, Jesus said, “If your eye is single, your whole body will be filled with light.” (Luke 11:34)

Will we face the duplicity in us, our churches, and within our culture, or will we bow to fear, doubt, and turn away?

Will I put an end to the numbness buried in my own heart?

This is the question that haunts me; may it haunt you as well. And may, at the end of our soul searching, we come to the best-of-all conclusions: that the only life worth living is the fully abandoned one, a life that makes God smile and the devil tremble.

K-LOVE Radio Features – April 2012

Plans For Good

Do you know that God’s got BIG plans for you? Plans that will make you laugh and cry for joy. That’s His promise. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT)
Some of God’s desires are universal, for everyone. He “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1Timothy 2:4, ESV) Other plans are unique to each of us. Either way, whether they are universal or unique, we need to believe that they are plans for our good, and not for evil. They will always lead to a life filled with hope, if we will learn to trust that God knows exactly what He’s doing.

Left Hooks

Do you feel like your life is under attack? Are you overwhelmed by an unexpected life event?
Whether they’re left hooks from Hell or Heaven, how we respond to life’s challenges will determine if a situation works out for good or evil.
Frankly, I’m not as concerned about who’s behind the circumstances in my life, because I know who’s above watching over my life. I want to be as anxious about what’s happening to me as God is. If He’s not, I’m not. Why? Because His infinite plan is better than my finite understanding.
“All things work for our good if we love God and are called and committed to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) God will be faithful to make us the people that He wants us to be, and that makes it all worth it.

“Kairos” Moments

We can lose many things in life and get them back again, but there’s one thing we don’t want to waste, because we won’t get it back. Its called time! Time is one of the most precious gifts any of us have.
The Bible says, “Redeem your time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16) The word “time” here is the Greek word “kairos.” It refers to the time in our life when things are brought to a crisis. It’s the decisive, opportune or supreme moment.
Every day we have “kairos” opportunities—they are the right time to respond well to life’s surprises. Don’t be afraid of tomorrow, for it will be filled with God-ordained opportunities that are made in Heaven and played out on Earth.
Trust God. You’ll find His script for your life is perfect.

Exact Expressions

Who has God created me to be?
Is my life engraved with the image of my Creator?
Striving to be someone other than who God created me to be is a waste of my time and a misrepresentation of His heart. In the New Testament, the Greek word for “character” is used only once. It describes Jesus as the “exact expression” of the Father.
The Bible says, “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God…” (Hebrews 1:3, NLT) This is the word used when kings stamp their images on coins. We are each called to an exact expression of God. We’re not God, but we’re created to reflect Him as sons and daughters.
It is this image of Himself that God wants to imprint on us. As painful as it sometimes seems, it is ALWAYS worth it.

God’s Calling

The Bible says that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
Call it providential or prophetic, sovereign or spirit-led; God only finishes what He starts. He fulfills what He alone knows is eternal. Therefore, the most important question we should ask before launching anything is:
Who’s initiating what I’m doing? If it’s me, it’s doomed to fail. If it’s birthed in my fallen heart, it’s a flighty wish upon a star!
In the most sane, lucid moments of life, the only questions that have any real consequence are: “God, what are you thinking? Only You know what’s best, what’s real, what will last? What’s on Your heart?”
The only answers that have real value will call to you from God’s deep place. May we all listen and answer when God calls!

Draining the Swamp

Are you putting up with something that’s less than God’s best for your life?
All of us at times are.
We can’t just swat mosquitoes. Sometimes, we have to drain the swamp.
We can’t experience true convergence in our lives if we continually give into convenience. Convergence is the harmony between our spirit, soul and body. It can happen only when we refuse the easy way and follow the road God chooses.
It will always cost something to not give into convenience, but if it’s God’s will, it’s always worth it.
We can’t blame the next generation when frankly the numb apple hasn’t fallen far from the numb tree! “Jesus, awaken me to this convergent moment. Drain every swamp in my life, so I can live the priceless life you’ve given me.”

Starving!

One of the most overstated comments people say, especially children, is: “I’m starving!” Invariably it means they haven’t eaten in a few hours.
In a spiritual sense, we shouldn’t whine when we’re hungry or complain when we’re thirsty, for it’s only when we feel thoroughly empty that we lean totally upon God. Jesus affirmed this when He said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6, NIV)
Accept, too, that our being filled will last no more than a day. We can’t live on yesterday’s manna; it turns rancid and unfit to eat. In order to keep faith alive and fresh, we have to draw from God’s Spirit and Word every day. The Bible says, “…as newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the word…” (Peter 2:2, KJV)
Frankly, it’s the only way to truly live.

Divine interruptions

We shouldn’t be surprised when God interrupts us. Often times, it’s the only way He can get our attention.
In my youth, I would stay up late to seek the Lord. As I’ve gotten older, I get up early, pretty much every morning, to pray and get into the Word while listening to worship music. This uninterrupted time alone with the Lord is vital for me. In these moments, I hear His voice and know His direction for my life and those I am called to lead.
Most of us are leading someone, or in time we will be. So, it’s vitally important that we learn to let God lead us. That will usually begin with divine interruptions. Today, will you let God interrupt you? It will certainly be worth your while.

Reality

Are you running to something, or from something?
Simply fleeing from darkness won’t transform us. We must run toward the light of God if we are to be truly changed. C.S. Lewis wrote, “Sunlight is the great disinfectant.” “…if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1John 1:7, ESV)
Nature abhors a vacuum. We can’t be emptied of sin, without it being replaced with something. The Bible says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21, ESV) In other words, stop filling your mind and heart with evil, but allow God’s Word and Spirit to fill you with His goodness.
Our days will be filled with something. Let God choose what that something is.

Are You Alone?

Are you alone? God wants to help.
The Bible says, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18, NKJV)
Seeking God means seeking godly community. I’m thankful that since receiving Jesus, I’ve always had a vital connection to a local church. Some of the churches I’ve attended have been healthier than others, but this act of obedience to Scripture is essential.
The Bible says: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching…” (Hebrews 10:25, NIV) This discipline has proven to be a crucial safeguard for my life. Though finding the right church for this season in your life can be a lengthy process, in the end, it’s really worth it.

Super-Heroes

Jesus was God come to Earth. He healed people of sickness and disease, delivered them from demonic strongholds, and miraculously performed signs and wonders, even raising the dead. He was the original Superhero. Yet, He never dangled these super-human feats as an unattainable carrot before frail humanity.
Jesus even guaranteed, “I tell you the solemn truth, the person who believes in me will perform the miraculous deeds that I am doing, and will perform greater deeds than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12, NET)
If we’ll let Him, God will propel our lives from subzero to superhero, from average to exceptional, from one-in-a-billion to one-of-a-kind. But never forget, without Jesus, all we’ll ever become is a mild-mannered version of Clark Kent.

Pleasures Forevermore

Unless the pleasure we find in God is greater than the pleasure we find in sin, we will succumb to the evils of Earth rather than obtain the holiness of Heaven.
A fascinating God imparted a zealous need for fascination. If we refuse to allow the Creator of the Universe to fascinate us, we will chase after pleasure imposters. Boredom, dullness, and passivity will eventually fill the void.
Unless we respond to God’s fascination, the allure of the immediate pleasure of sin trumps the fear of sin’s long-term consequence.
The secret to conquering sin is satisfaction in God.
The One who created eternal pleasure dispenses it liberally. The Psalmist knew it first hand: “In Your presence is fullness of joy. At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11b, NKJV)

K-LOVE Radio Features – March 2012

Finding God’s Word Again

In the Old Testament, King Josiah didn’t just begin to re-read the Bible; he had to first find it. (2 Kings 22) It wasn’t misplaced; it had been discarded, exchanged for something more desirable.

Has something replaced the Word of God in your own life? Entertainment? Fun? Work? Career? Another person? Or just idleness?

Too many of us  sow the wind of distraction and reap the whirlwind of destruction. Personal preference replaces God-given purpose—passivity supersedes passion.

Do you need to reconnect with the Bible again? Somewhere along the way has it become a relic stored in a dusty attic? You know it’s important, but it’s ceased to be essential for your survival. Don’t continue to fill the numb places in your heart with cheap imitations.

There’s no substitute for God’s Word. Find it again, and live!

Your Best Chance to Change

If your fire has grown cold, let God rekindle your heart.  For “you will find [Him] when you seek [Him] with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13, NIV) We get to know God by feasting on His Word. I’ve found that life without the living passion of God’s Word is tedious and dreary at best.

If we allow the Word of God to die in our hearts, the truth will not only need restoration; it will first need resurrection. Our greatest enemy becomes that part of us that’s willing to settle for the way things are, whether it’s producing life or death.

Don’t pamper your passivity! Your opportunities for doing so are fading fast. Today may be your best chance to change—don’t let it slip by!

WORD COUNT: 126 words

Salt and Light

We’re created to be the salt and light of this earth. (Matthew 5:13–16) Salt preserves what is good, melts what is cold, and flavors what is bland.

Light eradicates darkness, shows direction, and reveals the truth. By blending into the world, adopting its values, and compromising Biblical wisdom, we misrepresent God and our life experience ends in regret. Eventually, we become exactly what we detest, living and dying in mediocrity.

If we, as Christ’s church, misrepresent Jesus, then we lose the essence of our purpose. Either we reflect the likeness of Jesus, or tarnish it and live a forgettable life. We must change, reflect our true Source, or accept the reality that we aren’t living up to our full potential.

The God of second chances awaits our decision.

Breaking the Speed Limit of Life

In 1850, the average American got 9.5 hours of sleep each night. By 1950, it had dropped to 8 hours. Now it’s between 6.5 and 7 hours per night, and it’s continuing to dwindle.

Many of us are chronically rushed, chronically late, and chronically exhausted. Americans work longer workweeks and take shorter vacations than other nationalities, yet struggle all the while. We are breaking the “speed limit of life!”

Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30, NLT)

You know you’ve found Jesus when you find His rest. Don’t settle for less. Only Jesus can give you the rest you’re looking for.

Normalcy Bias

We all have a tendency toward a normalcy bias—the mental state people settle into when facing a disaster. It causes us to underestimate the possibility that a disaster could occur and then hampers us in coping with its effects. We often interpret warnings in an overly optimistic way. We assume, because it never has happened to me, it never will happen. We are left unprepared and ultimately unhinged!

Are you suffering from a normalcy bias? Do you believe the need and urgency in your own life is overstated? Perhaps that’s your normalcy bias! It says, “I believe I’m basically okay, because I can’t face not being okay!”

The wonderful thing about knowing Jesus is that I don’t have to live an illusion: He actually helped me the most when I finally admitted I wasn’t OK.

Believing the Worst

Should we believe for the best, or prepare for the worst? Both!

What if government officials refused to look at worse case scenarios? If they merely encouraged the public with positive statements, but never seriously faced real issues and sought for solutions to our problems.

What if they said, “We need to believe for the best!” “Things could always be worse!”

That’s the last thing I’d want to hear them saying. I want them to be up to their eyeballs planning for worst-case scenarios!

So, what’s my point? Spend your life believing that God’s bigger then any worst-case scenario you could EVER face. The Bible says, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2Corinthians 9:8, ESV)

Never Again

Throughout history, people have consistently underestimated their problems until it’s too late.

During World War II, the actual danger Jewish people were facing in Nazi-occupied Europe was continually minimized… Whenever the gross mistreatment of Jews was reported, many refused to believe it. When rumors circulated of death camps, they dismissed them as too outrageous to believe. Who could do such unspeakable things? They were unable to believe it was actually happening.

Thus the present Jewish Defense League’s motto: “Never again!” Never again will we be blind-sided by an unthinkable reality!

Have you been rescued by God’s grace but find yourself starting to ignore the warning signs in your own life? Can I encourage you… don’t ignore what God is saying to you…

Never again give in to the things of this fallen world.

Truly Safe

Unless the church in America changes quickly, we may soon find empty buildings standing as reminders of greater days when God once had His way.

Unless we pray for, love, reach out to, teach and train the next generation of young people, there may not be a new generation of whole-hearted followers of Jesus in America.

Unless we recognize the need to fall on our faces before a holy God and repent of our compromise and coldness of heart, we will miss our last best opportunity to see God once again transform families, churches and our nation.

God’s calling us! Do you sense it? He’s drawing us into a deeper place than we’ve ever been before. Respond to His voice and begin to walk confidently in your future with Him.

No Victims in Heaven

There are no victims in Heaven, only celebrating saints rejoicing in the price Jesus paid to purchase their salvation. If we’re not filled with gratitude for what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross, eternity in Heaven won’t change that. Our gratitude begins on Earth, and is a direct indication of our salvation.

Jesus made Himself a victim so we could be victors, but He will never force us to be grateful. He will never trick us into accepting His identity and destiny for our lives. I’ve heard it said, “The person who loves you the most is the one who tells you what you don’t want to hear.” So, please hear this: don’t live your life as a victim. Let Jesus make you the victor He created you to be.

Distorting Reality

We live in an upside down world. Our society distorts reality calling right “wrong” and wrong “right”; good “evil” and evil “good”; truth “lies” and lies “truth”, while treating lust as love, and love as hate.

When I was an atheist, I chose to believe unreality for seven years, but when I surrendered my life to Jesus, I began to believe the truth and stopped living a lie.

It’s always our choice in life: medicate the symptoms or eradicate the root. The root in each of our lives is sin. And the only cure is the God who was willing to die for our sins. His name is Jesus.

“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’–and I am the worst of them all.” (1Timothy 1:15, NLT)

Feeling Again

I’ve spent the last 13 years meeting weekly with young men and women who beg me to tell them the truth more aggressively—to take the gloves off—to stop sugar-coating it.

What they’re saying is, “I’m numb—disconnected from my emotions. Please! Help me feel again!”

And while I strive to use words as scalpels and not swords—to unpack pain without damaging spirits, there’s great danger in soliciting someone else to uncover your destiny. Only one Person can help you become who you’re created to be, and that’s our all-powerful God and Creator.

“God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.” (2Peter 1:3, NLT) Look to Jesus to show you who you really are. For only He knows. “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all of your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13, NKJV)

4D

On Earth, the rage is three-dimensional – 3D. Even the three physical dimensions consist of width, length, and height. Yet, the Bible speaks of God’s love in terms of four dimensions: “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is.” (Ephesians 3:18) It sounds like deep is the fourth dimension! With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we’re now fully immersed in the age of deep calling to deep. Since God’s always deep, to commune with Him, we must go deep as well.

In theaters, it will cost a few dollars more to see movies in 3D. In the Spirit realm, it will cost everything to establish a focused relationship with our Creator—to see our own lives as God intended—in 4D.

K-LOVE Radio Features – February 2012

The Power of Words

Think about how important words were over the course of your life—words that built you up, or words that tore you down. The Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (Proverbs 18:21, ESV)

How many indispensable, life-affirming words have not been said? How many brave sentences were never spoken? Words like, “I never told you how much I love you! I’m so sorry!” How many life-giving words have gone to the grave because a father or mother bowed to fear, pride, or selfishness?

It makes me sick to think that on my own deathbed I might look back with regret that I lacked boldness to say or do something.

Today, don’t let the sun go down without telling those you love what you really feel.

What Makes Someone Beautiful?

I have the privilege of ministering each month to forty young women with emotional scars. From within a wonderful restorative community, they were asked to describe someone beautiful and tell what makes him or her beautiful.

They each agreed that true beauty is seen in someone willing to be authentic.  One young lady said, “What makes people beautiful is that they’re always real. They’re not afraid to be who they are—sharing their real emotions, feelings, thoughts, and ideas. They are confident and uncomplicated. They never play mind games and are always honest and candid. When I see a person living her life in this way, it makes me yearn to live my life that way also, and gives me the confidence to believe I can do so.”

“Jesus, make me that kind of person!”

Pretend Christianity

We once conducted a survey asking people who had church wounds what hurt them the most. Hypocrisy was at the very top of the list. In my own life I became an atheist for seven years because of the blatant hypocrisy of those who claimed to know God.

The Bible says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” (Romans 12:9) None of us want to be “Pretend Christians,” attempting to impress others by pretending to be something we’re not.

If I can’t be honest with myself, I’ll never be honest with others. The truth is, I’m a sinner in need of a Savior—my sin problem was so great the God of the Universe had to comet o Earth to die in my place. That’s a truth I can live with.

A True Friend

When does a parent cease to be responsible to care about their children? When does a friend stop sharing the truth with a friend? Never!

One of the great lies being spread by friends about friends, and even by parents about their children, is: “It’s their life! Who am I to tell them how to live?” You’re their friend! You’re their parent, their brother, their sister—you’re the person who’s supposed to protect them from destroying themselves.

There’s a big difference between meddling and protecting. Faithful are the challenges of a friend, but the person who applauds everything you do is not your true friend. (Proverbs 27:6) It takes courage to speak the truth in love. A friend will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.

Who in your life is waiting for you to be their true friend?

True Believers

The Bible describes Christians as “believers” four times in the New Testament, but it refers to them as “disciples” 262 times. It mentions God as “Savior” 24 times in the New Testament, but it refers to Him as “Lord” a whopping 711 times. Many believers claim Jesus as Savior, but fewer are disciples who know Him as the Lord of their lives. Is it possible that the primary reason for lack of abundant life for many Christians is due to what’s known as “easy believism”—claiming Jesus as Savior, but not knowing Him as Lord? We confess belief in Him but don’t follow Him. Jesus said, “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) Today, be a doer of God’s Word. It will make all the difference.

Build Wisely

All of us are called to be builders. We’re all building something. If we build on what’s eternal, we’ll look back without regret. If we build on the shallow sand of this world’s values, when the floods come, and they will, what’s precious to us will be washed away.

Jesus said, “…when someone comes to Me, listens to My teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built.” (Luke 6:47-49)

Floods are coming! Build wisely! Everything that can be shaken will be shaken!

Your future, and perhaps even the future of those around you, depends on it!

Viewing the Next Generation

How we view the next generation is so important.

When my wife and I were raising our twin daughters, I had a bad tendency to challenge them by focusing on what they were not doing right. My wife, on the other hand, would speak vision concerning who they were created to be. She was right!

Like you and me, the next generation is flawed but needs to be loved and affirmed. Only then can we build bridges of faith, not walls of failure. If we embrace the role of encourager, not discourager, it will fill their hearts, and not kill their spirits.

If we speak what a person is not, they will view themselves negatively. If we share who God has created them to be, they will rise with vision in their hearts.

Created To Be Exceptional

The fact that many of us have grown up with an inner longing to be exceptional, to even do the extraordinary, is not just because a parent, teacher, or motivational speaker inspired us one day. It exists in all of us because our One-of-a-kind Creator hardwired us with this desire. God has placed this seed of unique calling and destiny inside each of us.

From God’s perspective, every person He created is totally unique, and capable of doing and being what He considers remarkable. But unless our goals match God’s unparalleled plan, they are ultimately misguided and not worth pursuing.

We cannot add one measure of genuine excitement to the script God’s already written. Who could improve on perfect? But we can and must yield to God’s sublime plan and allow Him to take His rightful place as the Lord of our lives.

Reality is Our Friend

One of the expressions I say over and over again to people I feel are heading in the wrong direction is, “Reality is our friend.”

Yet, unless our God-given reality is seen as superior to any man created fantasy, we will spend our lives chasing our tail. “Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth,” (2Timothy 3:7, NKJV) the very truth Jesus promised would set us free. (John 8:32)

Instead of creating alternate stories impossible to enjoy, we can discover the very life God intended. Only a daily dependency on God can keep our eye single and filled with light that leads to life. (Luke 11:34) While it’s great to dream, it’s even more critical that our hopes and dreams are based on God’s reality and not wishful thinking.

From Shaky Start to Amazing Finish

Do you feel like your life had a shaky start? Many of us do.

The only cure for this shaky foundation is a healed and transformed relationship with the God who is eager to rescue, willing to revive, and able to reaffirm our true identity and destiny. For only He knows the true person I’m created to be.

Sure, it’ll take a whole-hearted commitment to be retooled in order to experience the abundant life Jesus promised, but far more than our lone desire, this hope is God’s will and plan for our lives. (John 10:10)

If we can trust Him, He will not fail us! Our lives will be fully healed and restored! Accept no substitutes! Only Jesus is worth following, for He not only knows the way, He is the Way.

Afraid To Lead

Are you afraid to lead? The fear of leading isn’t new. Everyone fights its insidious grip, while few overcome it. From feeble Lot who lost his family’s respect, refusing to lead them out of a city that was being destroyed, to outspoken Peter who warmed himself by the fires of the world, denied Jesus, and later wept bitterly.

At times we have to hate what we have become in order to embrace what we are meant to be. It will take courage to lead others toward what is eternally good in an age where most people are willing follow what they’ll eventually realize was eternally bad for them. It will take even more courage to first reject compromise.

If you let God be first in your life, you’ll become a person worth following.

Pre-Revival Malaise

Throughout the history of the Church, prior to a mighty move of God, the Church and culture were invariably at a low-tide moment. Without exception, a seismic shift in spiritual temperature was desperately needed! So too in our day!

Champions are needed to awaken God’s people to their true identity and purpose. We need David’s to lead God’s people into battle; Esther’s who’ll intercede before the King for the life of others; and Daniels to fearlessly face deception and intimidation.

Where are the men and women of conviction, who will stand alone in the gap by faith, and refuse to bow to the fear of man?

God, revive Your Church! Awaken the lost! Shake us out of our complacency!

We want more! We were made for more!

K-LOVE Radio Features – January 2012

God of New Beginnings

Once a year, at midnight, a strange ritual takes place. From homes to hotels a shout goes up all over the world—“Happy New Year!”
It’s another indelible sign we’re created in the image of a merciful God—the God of New Beginnings—of fresh starts. We realize once again God’s more concerned with our tomorrow than our yesterday. That’s why He’s slated finite time for now and infinite time—the eternal—for later. The Bible describes what’s taking place down here as a vapor, a moment; in Heaven things are everlasting—never-ending. Everything up there is forever new—new bodies; new surroundings, even new names. Yet, the joys of tomorrow can be accessed by faith today.
Would you let Jesus give you a fresh start? Ask Him!

Yesterday Can’t Define You

Are you tired of your life? If you’re willing to give up the old, God will make your life new. Give up your tired, troubled perspective. Trade it in for the always hope-filled mind of Christ. Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63b) Let the Word of God give you the life your soul longs for.
Step into eternity! Let the fears of yesterday be eclipsed by the faith of today and the hope of tomorrow. A change of heart and mind is all that’s needed; surrendering to the loving will of a gracious God. Your best days are ahead, if you want them to be. That was God’s plan from the beginning. It’s His flawless will for your life. Now, you have to decide if it’s your will as well.

God Makes All Things New

All of us have needs. Are you beginning this year in need a new job, a new body, or perhaps a new outlook on life? God alone has the means to fulfill all our needs. But remember, He promises to meet ALL our needs, not ALL of our wants.
“Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)
Why are so many of us fearful of the future? Do we really believe a faithful God will not let us down? He won’t! He promises,“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)
God wants to make this your best year ever. Can you trust Him for that?

Are You Feeling Numb?

If you’re feeling emotionally and spiritually numb, you’re not alone. It’s an epidemic in our nation, our culture, and even the church.
Perhaps we’re less numb then we used to be, or more alive then many around us, but if we’re honest with ourselves, we’re not as fully awake as God desires us to be. We live in the age of the fair-weather Christian, the Sunday believer—the undisciplined disciple. I see in my own life how I’ve grown to accept the unacceptable—to tolerate the intolerable. I must relearn to resist the devil and submit to God.
Such was the scene when David faced the giant Goliath; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar, and Queen Esther said, “If I perish, I perish,” choosing to give her life in order to rescue her people.
Let God awaken us to the battles we’re facing today!

Are You Looking For Truth?

Are you looking for truth that will set your free? All of us should be!
But beware the counterfeit! Every day, attempts are being made to redefine what is good—to reinvent truth. Even using the words of Jesus out of context to promote self-serving philosophies, saying, “the truth will set you free,” as if any man-conceived concept of truth will work.
Either truth is God-breathed, or it’s not truth at all.
Jesus clearly defined the only truth that truly liberates. “He said to the people who believed in Him, ‘You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:31–32, NLT)
Accept no substitutes for the Holy Bible—it’s God’s Word for all generations.

Inconvenient Faith

Have you noticed it’s getting more inconvenient to be a follower of Jesus, that, as the darkness gets darker, it takes more courage to let your light shine? Don’t be discouraged, Jesus faced the same thing, and promised we would as well. He said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV)
Christians who embrace Christ only when it’s convenient won’t be ready for the subtle deceptions ahead! But, if we humble ourselves daily and receive the manna of His Word, He’ll give us all the courage we need to face our struggles ahead.
Today, may you be encouraged! May you walk in the confidence that if God is for you, who can be against you? (Romans 8:31)

Do You Feel Safe?

You may not feel safe or protected right now but never forget, God’s a perfect Father who is always ready to protect us.
When my twin daughters were 12 years old and about to enter adolescence, I took them each out on a special dinner date in which I pledged to watch over them throughout their teen years. I gave them beautiful rings to seal our father-daughter commitment. It was a very special night!
Fifteen years later, they gave those rings back to me on their wedding days, as I gave their hands to their new protectors, their husbands.
When I gave my life to Jesus, He promised to protect me from harm. Sure, at times I’ve been hurt, but in the end God’s always showed up to protect and heal me. If you’ll trust Him, He’ll do the same for you.

Are You Leading Your Family?

This is a very challenging day to lead a family. Isn’t it? But if you’re a parent, there’s still the question of whether or not you’re actually leading your family? If you’re not, who is? Are you letting strangers raise them? Are you letting amoral actors, musicians, and celebrities do with them as they wish? I think we all realize there are plenty of unhealthy people who, if allowed to, will do great damage to those we love.
Either we lead our children as God intended, or we naively hand them over to others to raise them. The Bible says, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” (Proverbs 22:6, NLT)
Ask God for His help. He’ll give you all of the wisdom and discernment you need to lead your family.

Being Courageous

If there’s ever been a day in which we need to be courageous, it’s today.
A young lady I highly respect was trying to get her fiancé, who was hesitating, to make the right decision. As she ran her hand down the middle of his back, she asked with concern, “What’s that?”
He responded with equal unease, “I don’t know?”
Then looking him in the eyes she retorted, “It’s a spine! You can use it any time you want to!” Ha! What a great line! The good news is, they’re happily married today with three children, and he’s become a great leader.
Today, receive the courage that comes from God’s Word. “…God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2Timothy 1:7, NKJV)

Don’t Give Up On Those You Love

How do you help those you love who are resisting God’s will for their lives?
It’s hard to watch, but God provides a clear solution—requiring patience and courage, but when received by a humble soul, His remedy is always successful. “Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.” (2Timothy 2:25–26)
Frustration doesn’t move mountains, faith does! Trust God that His Word will not return empty, but will always accomplish what He promises it will do. (Isaiah 55:11)
Don’t give up on those you love. Pray their eyes will be opened to see all that Jesus died and rose to give them.

The God of Happy Endings

Do you believe in the God of happy endings? Well . . . He believes in you.
God the Father designed a rescue mission for His wayward children before we were even conceived. He planned for His own Son to make the greatest sacrifice of all: to willingly give His life in our place.
Christ’s intervention has completely changed the potential outcome for each of our lives, if we’ll receive it. God is saving the best wine for last—a victorious finale to His perfect will for our lives.
God’s Word promises, “…all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20, NLT)
I’m glad I don’t have to think it up. All I have to do is believe it!

Learning to Feel Again

Why is much of the world numb? The Bible provides a clear and emphatic answer, “the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” (1John 5:19a) There’s a price for this numbness. We not only forget what we know—we forfeit who we are.
Long-term emotional or spiritual numbness produces devastating results. Giving into self-imposed protection, by suppressing feelings, only creates a pattern of non-response. Eventually we are no longer able to respond at all. And when we cease to feel, in some significant way, we stop living.
“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:11, NLT) “Jesus, awaken our hearts to believe what You believe, and feel what You feel, for only then can we be truly healed.”

K-LOVE Radio Features – November 2011

Clear Conscience

Is there anything sweeter than a good conscience, or more unnerving than being overwhelmed with guilt and shame?
Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said, “There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience.” The opposite is also true. Who can rest with a guilty conscience? We will find no peace in life without a peace-filled conscience! And there’s only one way to get it. Turn yourself in! Admit to a holy God that you have sinned. He is always ready to forgive, and His blood will cover any sin. Jesus actually died in order for us to finally have a clear conscience.
May we take these words to heart: “Conscience is God’s built-in warning system. Be very happy when it hurts. Be very worried when it doesn’t.”

Frostbitten Souls

We live in a world where all of us must fight becoming emotionally and spiritually numb. One of the prime causes of physical numbness is extreme cold.
The first stage of frostbite is something called frostnip. Bits of the face or fingers go numb due to prolonged exposure to extreme cold. If this frozen tissue can be thawed quickly, it can be saved.
Frozen in disappointment, loss and grief; it’s easy for a heart to grow cold. For many of us, survival means letting God warm up the places in our heart that have become numb.
One of the greatest warnings in Scripture concerns a cold or dead heart. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)
Only God can warm a frozen limb far from a cold heart!

Leprous Souls

Do you feel like you’re growing numb because you grieve over something you’ve lost that was precious to you? Emotional numbness is often caused by grief of the soul.
It reminds me of leprosy—and the first sign of the disease, which is a feeling of numbness. Without feeling pain, people injure themselves, and when the injuries become infected they can even lead to death.
The number of people who suffer from emotional leprosy could number in the billions. Because of our deep sense of loss, over time we cease to feel and become desensitized and unable to express emotion.
Grieving is a normal part of life, for a season. But we must never allow our grief to become a way of life. Ask Jesus to heal your grieving heart, and over time, He will.

Emotionally Crushed

In life, we all suffer loss. Many of us have lived through drugs, failed relationships, economic setbacks, habits, and addictions. Because of the emotional assaults these experiences can produce, we can become jaded and crusted emotionally.
Our grief over regrets can usher in a normal and healthy season of mourning, or it can hold tormenting emotions captive. The jolt of unfulfilled expectations, devastating events, or the death of a dream can infect our soul with anguish. Eventually an emotional and even spiritual dysfunction surfaces.
But there is hope. The Bible says, “You were like an abandoned wife, devastated with grief, and God welcomed you back…” (Isaiah 54:3, The Message) God can forgive and heal any aspect of our past when we allow Him too. Don’t give up! Let Jesus heal your broken heart.

Identity Theft

Have you found your true identity, or are you looking for others to define who you are? So begins the charade of identity shopping: since I don’t know who I am, and you seem to know who you are, why don’t I try being like you for a while. Sadly, the shoe never fits!
If we cannot be true to ourselves, we’ve lost what most defines us: our identity.
God’s vision for our lives is the best of all possible options. Until we embrace His reality, we’ll vainly attempt to recreate ourselves in our own image—increasing our struggle with chronic emptiness.
Who are we really: a reflection of the latest celebrity—the imaginary persona of our dreams? Let God define who you are, and you’ll never regret who you have become.

Moments Define Us

When I was 19, my team won a college football game. Completely out of it, I shimmied to the top of the goal post as the crowd began to tear it down. The pole snapped and shook me off just four feet before it hit the ground.
A stranger walked up and said, “You’re an idiot!” It was a defining moment! Until then I didn’t know who I was. Now, I had clarity. I was an idiot!
This humorous image didn’t describe all of me, but it was a partial view. How many of us wake up eager to climb the imaginary goalposts of shallow recognition, not realizing we’ll soon fall?
I may have bowed to foolishness then, but I don’t want that to be my legacy. My Creator best defines who I am. I will gaze into His eyes to see my true reflection.

Chasing Celebrities

Why do so many of us care what celebrities are doing? It doesn’t require significant insight to see that celebrities can be as numb and empty as the next person.
Trying to reflect flawed humanity merely provides a distorted image of our true self. True manhood, once hard-wired to protect, has digressed into an impotent army of predators. Women, fashioned in part for beauty, have become specimens to be tasted.
Where have the great men and women of honor gone? Even the natural order of human genders wanders astray without God’s vision.
“God, You are the only Person whose life I want to reflect.” You alone promise: “When you search for Me, you will find Me; if you seek Me with all your heart…” (Jeremiah 29:13, NRSV)

Typical

In my late teens I had one date with the beautiful and bright daughter of a prominent New York City law school dean. I was 18 going on 8. She was 18 going on 28. After a couple of excruciating hours in my presence she slammed the door in my face saying, “Typical!”
Just what I always wanted to be: another slug in the rainforest of life. I can still vividly remember standing alone in the hallway of her parent’s high-rise Manhattan apartment, frozen in adolescence, feeling branded as hopelessly immature.
What causes someone, created by God to be exceptional, to remain typical? I was pursuing the wrong person. It would take a few more years before I was willing to submit to my Creator. Since then, my life has been anything but typical.

Skulls

What has deluded an entire generation into thinking of skulls as a fashion statement—to identify with the faceless symbols of death?
What potion turns a prince into a frog? Perhaps it’s just an outward reflection of emotional un-wholeness. Many in the next generation are frozen in adolescence.
A half-century of children have grown up with pleasure at their fingertips. Yet, the comforts of life don’t create growth. No one’s ever been transformed sitting in a hot tub eating Ben & Jerry’s. For many, laziness is the comfort-of-choice, and fantasies the preferred pastime.
Neglecting God will cause your teen years to continue indefinitely!
But choosing God will allow you to leave the broad land of fantasy for a narrow inheritance of promise and destiny. And it’s guarantied to exceed your wildest dreams!

Suspended Animation

Are you living a fulfilled life?
“Suspended animation” is a scientific term describing the slowing of life processes by external means without termination. Breathing, heartbeat, and other involuntary functions may still occur, but they can only be detected by artificial means.
This state of metabolic hibernation is reminiscent of human emotional lethargy. Learning to work through pain is an important part of developing maturity, and even getting healed. Yet many would rather live in a state of perpetual adolescence than deal with the wounds of life.
The pain of divorce leaves us indifferent to marriage. The wounds of face-to-face rejection leave us searching for online connection. The economic recession further perpetuates our regression.
Only our willingness to cry out to Jesus for help will lead to the abundant life He promised.

Sleepwalking

There’s a scene in Shakespeare’s Macbeth where Lady Macbeth sleepwalks, tormented with guilt for murdering her father-in-law. In her dream, unable to wash her hands of the blood from the murder, she ultimately drowns in remorse and goes insane.
The corridors of earth are jammed with sleepwalkers, mangled mortals tormented by the guilt and shame of past actions—yet to be resolved. And what’s sad is that sleepwalkers often have little or no memory of the incident at all. Although their eyes are open, their expression is dim and glazed over.
I can’t tell you how many times in recent years I’ve spoken to dim and glazed over individuals and audiences.
The Bible challenges us to awaken, “Wake up from your sleep, climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light!” (Ephesians 5:14, The Message)

Awakening

Many times in life people may surround us, yet we feel completely alone. It produces a numbness that can even be transferred to those closest to us. I’ve seen it spread across families and churches.
Right now, I’m so alarmed by its present effects I often find my heart screaming, “Wake up! You’re created for far more than this! Stop wasting your magnificent life!”
But people would think I was mad if I ran down the street yelling what I’m really thinking. So, I stuff it, and cry, and pray, and ask God to revive us once again.
The church in America will sink into unconsciousness, unless God sends a revival to the American church.
If you can hear this, please pray for God to revive us all!

You’re Not Bored

Do you think you’re bored? You’re not! You may actually be numb.
Everything God does is designed to lead us into intimacy with Him, to set us free from our boredom, loneliness, and self-absorbed distractions. He loves us enough to not allow us to be satisfied with less than Himself.
The Law of Displacement states that you cannot move away from a thought, you can only move toward a new thought. God wants to replace our misguided thoughts, fixed on idle pleasures, with His new, perfect ones, fixed on what’s truly eternal.
Unless we guard the epicenter of our affections—our heart—we’ll never live the life we’ve dreamed of.
God’s not trying to crash your party. He’s inviting you to His! And only His will last!

Praying for Illusions

A woman went to her pastor for prayer. She told him that a certain actor in a soap opera was in trouble and asked him to join in interceding for the TV character. The surprised pastor responded, “But this person is not real!” She quickly answered, “I know, I know, but he really needs our prayers.”
Every day people spend hours of virtual, face-to-face, TV time with media celebrities. It’s created a new form of relationship based on the “illusion of intimacy” that is both entrapping and “insidiously subliminal in its working.”
We’ve been created in the image and likeness of God, called to be princes and princesses in His Kingdom. Yet, when we obsess over celebrities and famous personalities we spend our lives trying to reflect flawed, deformed humanity, not our perfect Creator.

Vicarious Life

God is not a God of can’t and don’t, He’s a God of can and do! But only His will satisfies.
The word vicarious is defined as “experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person.” When we live vicariously, we exchange their imaginary lives for our hopes and dreams—their “reality” for our reality.
God alone can connect us to the eternal pleasures. But the only hope we have to overcome the seduction of destructive pleasures is to resist lesser pleasures for the God-given greater ones.
In essence, we trade an eternity of pleasure in God’s presence for a few nights in a shabby motel called Earth. Learn to enjoy your God-designed reality. Embrace the truth that there is more than what you can see in front of you!

Morphine

Over and over again, the devil offers an endless menu of numbing substitutes for oneness with God.
Morphine was originally developed as a cough suppressant. Yet, by the late 1800s, it had become a popular recreational drug. A German drug company named Bayer believed it had found a morphine replacement. So it advertised diacetylmorphine as an over the counter “non-addictive morphine substitute.” The new product Heroin derived its name from the Greek word heros, because of its seemingly heroic affects on the user.
Unfortunately, if you’ve ever known a heroin addict, the last thing they are is heroic. As is always the case, one numb-substitute leads to another. Accept no substitutes. Only one Person can provide the peace you need. His name is Jesus!

Culture Clones

Are you struggling with an addiction?
In an attempt to fill our deep sense of un-fulfillment we all tend to gravitate to whatever means of comfort, entertainment, or even alter-identity is available to us,
If we don’t embrace what God designed to inspire us we’ll eventually embrace what the devil intends to destroy us.
Like the strongman, Samson, how many have lost their strength in Delilah’s lap? Or, like King David, surfed the Internet one too many nights, only to be enticed by Bathsheba?
Unless we allow God to make our lives exceptional, there’ll be nothing wondrous about us. We’ll be stranded in history’s long line of moral zombies and culture clones—false reflections of fallen humanity, not flawless incarnations of Christ-like morality.
Look in God’s Word and remember who you really are.

Two Immutable Facts

Everyone can see from nature’s unspoiled creation that there’s a perfect God. In addition, we all get a shot at following our inner conscience. The combination of these two immutable facts leaves everyone without excuse.
There is a God. He’s perfect, and we’re not. We’ve all sinned and come short of God’s perfect standard. Only one Person could absorb the consequence for our sin—God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ.
We’re made in the image of our Creator, but given a free will. We must choose to reflect either the imagination of fallen man or embrace the destiny of a holy God.
The Bible says, “‘Don’t link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for Myself. I’ll be a Father to you; you’ll be sons and daughters to Me.’” (2Corinthians 6:17b–18a, The Message)

K-LOVE Radio Features – October 2011

Wanting a Different Life

Something is terribly wrong when you wish you had a different life—when you don’t look forward to getting up in the morning, when you believe your best days are behind you, or that past mistakes have disqualified you from ever having a great future. If you’re rarely or never content, then sooner or later you’ll try and replenish your inner emptiness with something—anything. You may try and fill it with fantasy, immerse it in illusion, or drown it in deception; but, as nature abhors a vacuum, nothing stays empty for long. Our lives are designed to be fully filled with one thing: our Creator. “I have asked the Lord for one thing – this is what I desire! I want to live in the Lord’s house all the days of my life…” (Psalm 27:4, NET)

Reality is No Friend

For many, reality is no friend. Their only hope is that a future dream will replace a present nightmare. In the meantime, a vicarious life is the only life they know. Living is experienced in their imagination, through the feelings or actions of another. They substitute who they could become for what someone else already is. It may be through a sport or a TV personality, or the neighbor down the street, but it’s a surrogate existence at best. In the long run, secondhand life is as deadly as secondhand smoke. All attempts to create an alternate ending to our present life will only confirm how much we need to submit to God’s perfect plan for us. “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.” (Ephesians 1:11a, The Message)

The Missing Fruit

A pastor friend of mine asked his congregation what fruit of God’s Spirit they believed was most actively working in their lives. Out of the hundreds of responses, one fruit was glaringly absent: self-control. This forgotten fruit will have to be found if we are to ever live lives worth living. Richard Nisbett, considered the world’s greatest authority on intelligence states that “he’d rather his son be high in self-control than intelligence; for self-control is key to a well-functioning life.” The Apostle Peter agrees and writes, “…make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness…” (2Peter 1:5-6, NLT)

Chasing Fantasy

Of the 50 most popular films of all time, nearly all have fantasy, supernatural, or otherworldly themes. Most of these successful film series have video game spin-offs, so you can be an unreal person in an unreal world any time you want to. But, why is there such a fascination in the paranormal, the supernatural, other worlds, fantasy, and super heroes? Why do we chase after illusion? Is it because deep down we know we’re capable of so much more? We long for life beyond our wildest dreams: true goodness, supernatural power, becoming all we were created to be and do. Only God can fulfill these longings—for He planted them in us! “It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it…found yourselves home free…” (Ephesians 1:13, The Message)

Essence of All Addictions

Every day we’re under siege. Many of us struggle with inner demons—experiencing infinitely less than God intended. We know we’re created to be more, even to dwell in a place far more pristine than this weary planet. Our Creator’s ultimate purpose has always been to give us more—more of Him. The essence of all addictions is empowerment through fantasy—life in the unreal. Fantasy can fulfill—at least for the moment. But only Jesus can fulfill forever. For those who follow Him, He promises “…God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4, NKJV) Today, reach out to Jesus for the life He created you to live.

Spiritual Frostbite

One of the greatest fears I have is that my heart will grow cold toward God. The experience of frostbite gives me a chilling reminder. When a part of our body is frostbitten, the blood in the tissue, half of which is water, freezes. The parts of our body furthest from our heart freeze first. Tissue that’s fully frozen can’t be revived and returned to normalcy. Frankly, it’s dead! The Bible refers to individuals who have drifted so far from Christ’s life-giving blood that they are twice dead, physically and spiritually. (Jude 1:12) This reminds us all of the greatest warning in Scripture concerning a cold or dead heart. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV) Jesus, keep our hearts from turning cold!

Hearing God

Are you able to hear God? Not with your natural ears, but with your spirit, your inner, supernatural ear? Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27, NKJV) And Paul the Apostle writes, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” (Romans 8:14, NLT) It seems the days it’s hardest to hear God, we need Him the most. I’m reminded of C.S. Lewis’ profound insight, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Jesus, open our ears to hear Your still-small voice. You are the One we need most. You are the One our heart longs for.

Imaginary Evil or Real Good

Every day, each of us fight to hold on to what is real and eternal—to not be deceived by the shallow and temporary. Abandoned by parents, exploited by peers, seduced by society, many of us are overexposed and underdeveloped. We’ve seen so much, yet become so little! Perhaps the greatest farce of our day is evil masquerading as good. Our

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age is a fashion show for evil. Simone Weil writes, “Imaginary evil is romantic and varied. Real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring. Real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.” (Weil S. Gravity and Grace. Rutledge; 1999.) “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31, ESV) Only God is truly good; and no one can fill our lives with goodness, except God!

Reality or Illusion

Is the life your living real, or an illusion? Are you putting your hope in what can never come to pass, or trusting in the guaranteed eternal realities that only come from your Creator. In the age of fake everything, evil has many facades: phony love, false peace, and imitation intimacy run rampant. Perhaps the most undermining of all is the loss of our true identity—who God created us to be. Can we call it thievery, when in most cases, like Esau of old; we give away our true identity and destiny for nothing? Unless we daily humble ourselves before God and submit to His will and purpose for us, our lives will merely reflect the counterfeits we have chased after. In the end, only God’s will—will be left standing!

The High Ground

Since the Garden of Eden, the devil’s goal has been to trick us into forfeiting our heavenly wealth for earthly trinkets. Disguising himself as good, he appears to occupy the high ground, the moral superiority—a better plan than God’s. He asked Eve, “Has God really said?” and then promised, “You won’t die!…God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5) Thousands of years later, the devil again attempted to marry good and evil by tempting the last Adam, Jesus. But this time he lost. Our Lord dismissed him with the Word of God. By knowing God’s truth we can expose any lie. And by believing God’s Word we are truly set free.

Numb

Why are so many people numb today? Numb to life, numb to God, numb to one another? The word numb literally means “taken or seized as by cold or grief.” It’s been defined as “deprived of the power to feel or move normally through cold or shock; emotionally unresponsive; indifferent; paralyzed.” (“numb.” TheFreeDictionary.com. 2009. Complete footnote: francisanfuso.com/numb) Living a numb existence leaves us desensitized, powerless, unresponsive, and unable to feel fully alive. Sadly, numb defines many in our generation! So, what will it take to propel us out of living a numb, boring existence? A fully surrendered heart; a desperate cry to the God of resurrection, “Jesus, remove from me all that drains Your life. Replace what is dead and dying with the abundant life You promised. Let me be truly free, even as You envisioned I would be.”

Un-Conscience

Much of the numbness that people experience today comes from a conscience that has ceased to feel. In the New Testament, Paul warned against this type of dead, hardened conscience, which has been seared and become callous. (1Timothy 4:1–2, ESV) It’s even more frightening when the deadness is not caused by delusion, but by a deliberate commitment to resist the will of God. In life, if we wait to get caught, instead of turning ourselves in, our conscience will become corrupted and polluted. Scripture confirms this. “Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted.” (Titus 1:15, ESV) “Jesus purify my heart! Let me run to the light, and not from it, for only there will I find You and my true self.”

K-LOVE Radio Features – September 2011

Struggling With Addiction

Are you struggling with an addiction? Many people are?

Society tries to make addictions a disease, which only removes our responsibility for our actions. We become victims with no need to repent, just to be understood and learn to manage our sin. All that does is increase the bondage.

Addictions are really “misdirected worship,” a false comfort! Instead of worshipping and receiving comfort from the Holy Spirit, the true Comforter, we look to things like food, entertainment, sports, drugs or shopping for comfort. It’s really idolatry…looking to someone or some thing to do for me what only God can do.

Today, spend some time worshipping Jesus or reading God’s Word.

He’ll comfort you like no one else can.

Pain, Passion, and Purpose

Each of us has a type of unclaimed lottery ticket from our childhood in the pocket closest to our heart. We will need faith and trust to fully retrieve its priceless value. It is not just death that brings pain, but the birth pangs of a renewed hope.

It always costs something to examine our hurts for the purpose of healing and not merely to reminisce our suffering. But, if we’re willing, our pain will reveal our passion, which, when submitted to God will unlock our purpose.

It is the will of God that what was stolen from us be restored, not just in our own life, but also for generations to come. May those yet to be born rise up and call us blessed for our willingness to examine the inner chambers of our heartache.

Fantasizing Fame and Fortune

Do you fantasize about fame and fortune?

8 out of 10 of 18- to 25-year-olds surveyed by Pew said getting rich is their most important or second- most-important life goal; half said the same about being famous.

If riches and fame were enough, then why does the song say, “It’s so hard to find. One rich man in ten with a satisfied mind.”

More and more, fantasy is offered as a substitute for reality. If you can’t have the life you want, get lost in the life you can imagine. But no reality-substitutes will ever truly satisfy; and only God can make the reality of our lives worth living. Jesus promised, “I have come that they may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10, NKJV) Take Him up on it!

Reality vs. Fantasy

Which is more exciting to you, your real life, or your imagination? Every day, millions of people choose fantasy as a substitute for reality—often times it’s through the use of media.

Technology offers the potential for “wonderful use” or “horrible abuse,” and not just for those of us who are very young. The average video gamer is 35. People of all ages get more excited about their imaginary lives than they do about their real lives.

This year, romantic e-books will surpass paper books in sales, making it easier for women to read them without having a picture of a hunk on the cover.

As the Bible teaches, “…each one should be careful how he builds.” (1Corinthians 3:10, NIV) What has captured your attention: the temporary illusions of Earth or the eternal realities of Heaven?

Looking For Love

Are you looking for love? I hope so, because love’s looking for you—that is, the God who is love.

Deep down inside, we each have a sense that we’re made to love someone and be loved by someone in an infinite way.

That’s the main hook behind the “Twilight” series. It’s primary audience, teenage girls, are looking for love beyond the physical. Deep down, we all know that we’re created to be “first loved” and “then to love”.

We were created first for God’s pleasure, and as we yield to His will, we experience His pleasure for us. This opens the door to experience the ultimate pleasure in life: a relationship with Jesus.

The Bible says, “…in God’s presence is fullness of joy; at His right hand are pleasures, ‘delightful and sweet’, forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

Magnificence of God

Our thoughts about God will in some way determine how blessed our life is. Do we see the magnificence of God? How extraordinary He is? Or do we lose sight of Him and minimize His influence. Wouldn’t the God who made sunsets and starry nights know something about beauty?

Wouldn’t the One who created laughter know how to have fun? Wouldn’t the Prince of Peace help us rest? And, wouldn’t the One who made puppies and babies know all about cute?

God created sensual pleasure: the eye to behold beauty, the ear to enjoy music, the nose to embrace the fragrance of flowers, and taste for food. But best of all, wouldn’t the God who is love know all about relationships? That’s because a relationship with Him is what each of us is looking for.

Pleasure

Is pleasure evil? Absolutely not! Pleasure’s not the problem, until we make it a God. Money’s not the problem, until we love it more than God. Love is not the problem. “God is love.” The problem comes when we try and make “love a god.”

That’s when people become “…lovers of pleasure (fond of sensual pleasure) rather than lovers of God…” (2Timothy 3:4, NKJV)

We live in a world that worship’s pleasure, and worshipping pleasure will kill you. Worshipping anything other then God…will kill your spirit. Only God can connect us to eternal pleasures; and everything God does is designed to lead us into intimacy with Him.

God loves you and I enough to not allow us to be satisfied with anyone or anything less than Him. Therefore, the greatest pleasure in life is knowing God.

Value of Pain

Have you seen the value of your pain?

Even if you don’t see it now, God knows the potential we have because of our pain. It can be the strength and power to motivate us for good. He can transform the worst experiences we’ve gone through to give us full, healed lives that are able to heal and help others.

God doesn’t want us to live out our lives with gaping holes in our heart. The miracle thread suturing our emotional wounds is that whatever happens, no matter how horrible, it will work for our good if we love and follow God more than any one or anything else. The Bible promises, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NKJV)

God Thoughts

God’s not a God of can’t and don’t…He’s a God of can and do.

He’s not trying to rain on your party He wants to invite you to His!

The Law of Displacement states that you cannot move away from a thought, you can only move toward a thought. As nature abhors a vacuum, so nothing stays empty for long. We can fill our minds and hearts with things that satisfy for a moment, or allow God to give us what will never get old and boring.

God wants to replace our depressed thoughts with His perfect ones. That’s why we have to guard the epicenter of our affections…our heart. The Bible says, “Above all else, guard your heart (your inner man), for it affects everything you do.” (Proverbs 4:23) Give God your heart, and your life will be blessed.

Reclaiming Your Childhood

As incomprehensible as my pain once was, so now is the joy of a healed heart. Once a prisoner of tormenting memories and a desperate longing for a dad, my relationship with my Heavenly Father now provides all of the time and attention I need—showering me with every imaginable gift a son could want.

Now, many years after the battle for my childhood heart was fought, I find myself carefully examining the remains of past emotions—the relics of relational ruins. At times, all I seem to uncover are the dead remnants of an irreplaceable past. At other more hopeful moments, my efforts surface unparalleled revelations I will treasure for eternity and far exceed the value of the pain I once experienced.

French Revolution

During the French Revolution many of its leaders were determined to put an end to Christianity forever. One beautiful, clear night an atheist told one of his poor countrymen of these plans. “Everything will be abolished–churches, Bibles, clergymen. Yes, even the Word ‘God’ itself! We shall remove everything that speaks of religion.” The listener gave a quiet chuckle. “Why do you laugh?” demanded the other. The peasant pointed to the stars and replied, “I was just wondering how you and your crew would manage to get them down!”

The Bible says, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship.” (Psalm 19:1, NLT)

“When I look at the night sky and see the work of Your fingers— the moon and the stars You set in place— what are mere mortals that You should think about them…?” (Psalm 8:3-4, NLT)

The Last Marathoner

During the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, as spectators prepared to leave, after the running of the marathon, suddenly the sound of sirens and police whistles were heard.

More than an hour earlier, the winner of the 26-mile event had crossed the finish line. Now, all eyes turned to the gate. John Stephen Akhwari, wearing the colors of Tanzania, was the last man to finish the marathon. Bloodied and bandaged after being severely injured in a fall, Akhwari grimaced with each step. As he hobbled around the track, spectators rose and applauded him as if he were the winner.

After the race someone asked him why he had not quit. He replied, “My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 7,000 miles to finish it.” Don’t give up… finish well!

IRS

Someone sent their tax returns to the IRS and wrote, “Enclosed you will find a check for $150. I cheated on my income tax return last year, and have not been able to sleep ever since. If I still have trouble sleeping, I will send you the rest. Sincerely!”

Though a funny story, it speaks to us about how well we take responsibility for our own actions. Are we half-hearted in our repentance toward God?

When Jesus was here, He preached, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:17, NLT)

He was saying, “Take full responsibility for the things you’ve done wrong, and you’ll be forgiven, and Heaven will come to Earth.”

May we each allow the Holy Spirit to do what He came to do: convict us of sin. (John 16:8)

Carrying Boulders

Years ago in Africa when people had to cross dangerous, fast-moving rivers and streams, they would pick up the heaviest boulder they could carry and walk across. They realized the extra weight gave them surer footing and kept the rushing waters from sweeping them away.

How true concerning our carrying the burdens of life.

In the Message version of the book of James the brother of Jesus, who was later martyred for his faith, says, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-3, The Message)

Running Without Legs

On November 6, 1986, Bob W. Ireland, finished dead last—19,413th in the New York City Marathon. So, why was this so memorable? Because Bob was the first person to run a marathon with his arms…instead of his legs.

Bob was a forty-year-old Californian who lost his legs in an explosion in Vietnam in 1969. In the race of 1986, he recorded the slowest time in that marathon’s history: 4 days, 2 hours, 48 minutes, and 17 seconds.

When asked why he ran the race, Bob, a born-again Christian, said with conviction, “Success is not based on where you start, it’s where you finish.”

Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62, ESV)

Don’t let your limitations define you. Let the limitless God inspire you.

Initiating Without God

Our failure to accomplish something we initiate for God, in our own strength, weakens our ability to fully obey Him at a later time. Peter tried to show his commitment to never deny Jesus by cutting off the High Priest’s servant’s ear. (John 18:10-11) This humiliating failure of judgment discouraged him, making Peter more vulnerable to the accuser. Don’t try and do something for God in your own strength. Obeying Him is better than the most sacrificial act.

Though humble obedience will always cost us much, there’s nothing more fulfilling than obeying God.

Peter then warms himself in the courtyard of the high priest, and denies Jesus. If the only comfort we find is connected to the safety of Earth, we shouldn’t be surprised if we miss the true comfort of Heaven.

No One can comfort us like God.

Karl Marx

Years ago, a Jewish boy grew up in Germany. He adored his father and wanted to become just like him. The family’s life revolved around their religious practices, and the boy’s father faithfully took them every week to synagogue.

When the son was a teenager, his family moved to a town in Germany where there was no synagogue, only a Lutheran church. The church was the center of town life—all community leaders belonged to it.

When the father decided to join the Lutheran Church because it was good for business, the family was stunned. His lack of integrity so disappointed his son that he became angry and bitter.

The son’s name was Karl…Karl Marx, the founder of Communism. May integrity guide each of our lives! (Proverbs 11:3) For better or worse, many are watching!

Looking For Love

We each grow up looking for perfect love. God alone is the Father we’ve always wanted. He’s the perfect parent we each longed for. Many times, when our earthly parents missed the mark of God’s perfect, selfless love, a wound was created.

Your dad may have overlooked you, but God never forgot you. Your mom may not have given you emotional support, but Jesus wants to undergird your life with His love and care. The Bible says, “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.” (Psalms 27:10, NLT)

My Father in Heaven never abandoned me, not even when I was openly denying Him.

God knows what we’re looking for—what we’re longing for. We want Him! And the best news we’ll ever hear is: He wants us to!

Lasting Pleasure

In this world, everyone experiences a measure of pleasure. Everyone wins something!

The devil’s happy to give you the pleasure of Connecticut and Vermont Avenues, as long as he gets the pleasure of Boardwalk and Park Place. Because, if you’ve ever played Monopoly, you know Connecticut and Vermont Avenues are ultimately worthless.

You’re a winner! But you’ve won nothing of real value!

The only hope we have to overcome the seduction of destructive pleasures is to leave lesser pleasures for the greater One. There is no greater pleasure in life than a personal relationship with our Creator—the One who loves us most. “…In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

Invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior today. Nothing compares to knowing Him.

K-LOVE Radio Features – August 2011

Why God?

Have you been saying, “God, why is this happening to me?” A better question would be, “God, what are you trying to show me?” The fact is God’s always trying to show us something of eternal value. Paul the Apostle assures us that “…it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13, NKJV) Though Paul was in prison and would eventually be beheaded, he still saw how God graciously used—for good—what Satan meant for evil. Refusing to see his circumstance in a negative light, Paul wrote, “…what [has happened] to me [this imprisonment] has actually only served to advance…the [spreading of the] good news.” (Philippians 1:12, Amplified) What a marvelous way to view life! The way God intended. Trusting Him every step of the way.

I Will Restore

Is your heart broken? God wants to help! His healing power can smother the smoldering pain, so that even remembering it is no longer painful. It may take years for the finished work to be accomplished, but God promises, “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…” (Joel 2:25, NKJV) It’s the very reason Jesus died on the Cross: “…it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down…He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5) Absolutely everything we have gone through in life can be healed, if our hearts remain open and trusting, surrendered to the One greater than our pain and our problems.

Hiding

Are you in any way hiding, either from God or people? It’s a sure way to NOT experience the wholeness you need. The Bible’s clear: “It is not good that man should be alone…” (Genesis 2:18, NKJV) In order to be healed, we must walk out into the light of God’s love, forgiveness, comfort, and power, with others—not alone. God’s love covers. His grace forgives, and His Spirit comforts and empowers us to be fully healed. Yet, since the Garden of Eden we’ve been prone to hide. (Genesis 3:10) Even from the God who loves us, but especially from the divinely orchestrated events designed for our maturing and growth. If we face our fears, they’ll dissolve. If we bow down to them, they become bondages, strongholds, and even generational curses. Run to the light! Jesus will meet you there!

Would Anybody Notice?

A 43-year-old man died while watching TV. For five years, no one noticed he was gone until his automatic payments stopped, when his money finally ran out. I hope someone notices when I die. I hope my presence will in some way be missed. In life, we reap what we sow. If we live, caring for others, at our point of need someone will care for us. We may NOT have been treated well, but we need to learn to live well…to forgive well…to love well. “To give,” as Jesus said, “expecting nothing in return.” (Luke 6:35) What others have done to us is their responsibility. What we do for others is ours. There is no valid reason to be self-absorbed. The God who gave His life for us expects us to do the same for others. Jesus, teach us to love like You love.

Worried?

Are you worried about your future? God isn’t! He’s got a plan. May we never give up on God’s will for us. May our hearts and minds remain steadfastly open to live our lives as He intended. May we always believe that our best days are ahead. Pessimism is from hell. The God who makes the sun rise every day is an eternal optimist, and so are His sons and daughters. Others may overlook us, but we’re never invisible to God. Our Father in Heaven is aware of all our needs. “… even the very hairs of your head are all numbered…so don’t be afraid…” (Matthew 10:30–31, NIV) Behind every challenge is a loving God whose victorious perspective is far greater than the trials we face. God owns the future. Trust Him!

Bored?

Are you bored? Boredom is a result of being unable or unwilling to see life from God’s perspective. The God who made galaxies isn’t boring. If we say we are following Him and yet lack the passion and purpose He intended, then, somewhere along the way, we’ve lost touch with the God who made us. Consequently, without knowing Him, we’ll never realize who we’re created to be. A friend of mine once challenged, “How many adventure movies do we have to watch before we begin to live the adventure God’s planned for us?” The Bible tells where to turn our attention, “Tune your ears to…wisdom; set your heart on a life of understanding… searching for it like a prospector panning for gold, like an adventurer on a treasure hunt…” (Proverbs 2:3, The Message) Search for God. There, you’ll find your life!

A Different Life

Do you wish you had a different life? Perhaps even that you were a different person? None of us are accidents! None of us are mistakes! A loving Creator has formed each one of us. May we join the psalmist and say, “I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:14, ESV) Every second we spend wishing we were somewhere else, or even someone else, is a waste of time and a slap in the face of a God Who’s done everything possible for our wellbeing. We must stop waiting to live and start living! Today can be one of the best days of your life, if you’ll surrender to God, and believe the truth of His Word, more than what you feel.

Live Awake

Do you know what time it is? It’s time to wake up! The Bible is our alarm clock. It says, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” (Eph 5:14, NLT) Unless we LIVE AWAKE, our God-given opportunities are quickly slipping through our fingers. Unless we open our hearts to what’s on God’s heart, we’ll miss what we’ve never seen before, and may never see again. I want to LIVE FULLY AWAKE! Believing the God who “only does wonderful things” (Psalm 72:18) has written the best possible script for my life. “…no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.” (1Corinthians 2:9-10, NIV) Awaken me Jesus! Awaken me to the life You’ve dreamed for me. Far better than anything I can imagine for myself.

“No”

We’ve all had a love-hate relationship with the word “No.” But as painful as “No” may be, it can be a lifesaver. If we don’t learn how to say “No,” we’ll eventually lose our ability to say, “Yes” to all that is eternal and good. Ask any addict, boss, or good parent and they’ll tell you that “No” can be the difference between life and death. At times, no amount of “Yes’s” can undo the damage done by a missed opportunity to say, “No!” Unless we learn to say, “No” to the world, our flesh, and the devil, (1John 2:15-17) we’ll eventually be overwhelmed by the seductive power of their combined “Yes.” Say “Yes” to God and “No” to the enemy of your soul. Say “Yes” to Jesus, and invite Him to be the Lord of your life.

“Yes”

In my own life, I not only wish I had said, “No” sooner and more often, I also wish I had said “Yes” to God a lot sooner as well. Each of us can experience either purposeful pain, which always works for our good, or pointless pain that beats us up for no good reason at all. It’s our choice! Frankly, a “Yes” to Jesus will save you a whole lot of pain as well. The Bible provides a clear remedy: “Humble yourselves…under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” (1Peter 5:6, NIV) As the Psalmist prayed to God, “…I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against You, and You alone, have I sinned…” (Psalm 51:3-4a, NLT) “Lord, I say ‘Yes’ to Your Spirit!”

More Faith

Do you feel like you need more faith? We all do! Receiving God-given faith will require our full surrender. Yet, true faith is effortless; like ripened fruit, it falls into our hands with ease. It just takes the right kind of heart. Jesus promised, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30) A partial faith in God means we distrust Him. When we are full of faith, He’s able to fill us with His life. Live a life filled with “…faith (that) comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17, ESV) God wants to speak to each of us every day through His Word, the Bible. It’s the best way to receive the faith we need to get to know God and see Him move mountains in our lives.

Hanging On

Do you feel like you’re barely hanging on? God’s not brought you this far to fail, but to finish…and to finish well. Paul the Apostle was “…certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6, NLT) If we are committed to live for Jesus, He will watch over our lives. If we allow God to finish what He’s started in us, we’ll be more than pleased with the results, we’ll be amazed! If we’re willing to first trust Him, like Job, “GOD blessed Job’s later life even more than his earlier life.” (Job 42:12, The Message) You may have had a rough start, even a troubled middle, but above all else, be committed to surrender fully to God and finish well.

Feel Like a Failure?

Do you feel like a failure? Even when we fail, it’s not the end of the story. It’s actually an opportunity for us to be humble enough to grasp the nail-scarred hand of a gracious God. The One who willingly gave His life for us so that our fellowship with Him could be restored, and never broken again. We’ve all failed God. As the Bible states, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23, NLT) We’ve failed, but He’s never failed us…and never will. Our failure may even be completely our fault, but it’s not a deal breaker. The Bible promises, “…if we are unfaithful, God remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2Timothy 2:13, NLT) He cannot deny His plan for us…His heart for us. Let today begin a new season of trusting the God who never fails.

Children

Why are children so special to us? Because they are first special to God. He created their innocence, genuineness and sincerity. The more it is preserved in them, the more it captures our hearts. Children give us a glimpse into pristine qualities found in God Himself. Jesus went so far as to say, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3, NIV) Every doorway to our future is purposefully designed to be entered with child-like faith; with arms reaching high, captivated by our faithful God. It begins when we are born again (John 3:3). Only then can God’s Spirit soften our heart as we allow Jesus to be our Lord and Savior. Today, pray and begin your new childlike walk with Jesus!

Blaming God

Are you blaming God for the difficulties in your life? At times, we each misinterpret our struggles and blame an innocent God. I can understand it, because I’ve done it, but it’s a complete dead end. It’s time to cast our fears aside, disregard past misunderstandings, and wrap our arms around the only completely trustworthy Person: Jesus Christ. Whether we realize it or not, He is the One who has never failed us. He was willing to die on a Cross in our place—for our sins. We’ll stop blaming God for anything when we realize Jesus took the blame for everything. “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2Corinthians 5:21, NLT) No one has ever loved you like Jesus!

Power of Pain

Even if we don’t see it, God knows the potential we have if we learn to process our pain. Pain can give us the strength and power needed to motivate us for good. God can transform the worst experiences we’ve gone through to give us full lives that are able to help and even heal others. He also never meant for us to live out our lives with gaping holes in our hearts. The miracle thread suturing these emotional wounds is that whatever happens, no matter how horrible, it will work for our good if we are willing to love and follow God. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NKJV) Today, love God and live your purpose!

Benefit of Pain

All the wounds in our lives have extraordinary value when we allow God to heal us. They become the doorways to His one-of-a kind destiny for our lives. God doesn’t just make all things work for our good—He allows all things to mold us into the people He created us to be. Without suffering, we will only be shallow representations of whom God intended. I used to dread the emptiness of suffering, but now I honestly value the growth suffering has brought to my life.

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The long-term benefit of pain far outweighs the temporary grief it causes. As the Bible teaches, “…the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18, ESV) Trust God! Embrace the pain! Enjoy the journey!

Suffering

The healing hand of our Creator can redeem absolutely everything we have ever gone through. Jesus intentionally allowed Himself to experience and overcome every temptation possible so that we would fully know He understands each of our struggles. The Bible tells us that because Jesus “…has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.” (Hebrews 2:18, NLT) God isn’t worried that my suffering will cripple me forever; He’s fully confident that my struggles will help develop His character in my life. God even allows suffering to be so intense at times that we’ll do whatever it takes to get free. Freedom is part of our destiny—we were made for it. But, at times, suffering is the doorway to being free.

Doctorate in Depression

Before I was a Christian, I spent six months contemplating ending my life. At that time I thought I would never get through it. I was an atheist, recovering from a failed relationship, and suffering from what I called a “doctorate in depression.” Was there any value in all I went through? Absolutely! Now I can empathize with people who feel hopeless and depressed. God wants to heal you so completely that He will use every sadness in your past to help someone in your present. Nothing is ever wasted in God’s Kingdom. I am absolutely convinced it’s God’s will for every person to take what the devil meant for evil and see it transformed into good. (Genesis 50:20) The way to reverse the damage done in our past is to allow God’s Spirit and truth to heal us in the present.

Beauty For Ashes

Many of my childhood were painful! But if I had wasted my life wallowing in the dysfunction of my youth, I would never have experienced wholeness in my marriage and the happiness of raising healthy children. If I hadn’t received God’s healing, I would have passed on the same sorrow and pain to my own kids. They have received a healthy start, not just a mangled past. They have their own challenges, but not the baggage I was unwilling to unpack. God wants to do so much healing in your life as well. “…He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3a, Amplified Bible) No one wants your ashes. That is, no one except God.

K-LOVE Radio Features – July 2011

The Purpose of Prayer

Don’t wait for God to answer your prayers. The purpose of prayer is not to get answers, but to get to know God!

Every answer to prayer will be followed by other requests.

We think: “If this or that would just happen, then I’d be fulfilled.”

Yet, even miracles will leave you dissatisfied if you don’t turn your attention back to God. It’s a great seduction! I fell into it for years.

Only one out of the ten lepers Jesus healed came back to thank Him. (Luke 17:17–18) Nine out of ten never looked back.

Don’t obsess over what you don’t have; rejoice in every morsel God provides, and more will come. He’s a loving Father who promises to give us everything we need.

Jesus saves the best wine for last.

 

Seeing Needs Not Offenses

When people hurt us, we always have a choice. Either we seek the healing God alone can give, or we find ourselves wallowing in the pain of past offenses.

No one escapes the planet unhurt. It’s the price of admission to the human race: a marathon not for the faint-hearted or faultfinding, but for the faithful few who are more humbled by their own shortcomings than the faults of others.

Ask God to show you people’s needs, not their offenses.

Be a pathfinder, not a faultfinder!

Learn to forgive, not just be forgiven.

God’s perfect plan is designed to heal my past, establish my present, and inspire me to run toward a future beyond my wildest dreams.

Do you see it? It’s right in front of you.

 

Dying To Live

How often should we die to our ambitions, our self-will, and even ourselves?

Resurrection life is only available to dead people.

If Jesus had to die to get it, so do we.

So, how can you tell if you’re dead to yourself? When you’re asleep in a boat in the middle of a violent storm. When someone slaps you on one cheek and you turn the other. When all Hell’s breaking loose outside of you and yet you keep allowing the peace of God to rise up inside you.

Resurrection life is only available through Jesus Christ—for He alone conquered sin and death for each of us.

Trust in Jesus and you’ll never taste of death . . . only everlasting life.

Not just in Heaven, but right here on Earth.

 

What’s On God’s Heart?

A friend of mine went into the wilderness to spend time with God and, frankly, get away from people. One night in the middle of nowhere looking up at the stars, he prayed a tender, humble prayer, “God, I’m always sharing what’s on my heart. What’s on Yours?”

Breaking the complete silence, the sound of a small plane flying high overhead caught his attention.

Immediately, God’s Spirit shot back, “The world—the world’s on My heart!”

Jesus described the Father’s heart so clearly when He said, “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)

The question is: do we love what God loves—the people in this broken world?

 

Losing Something to Gain Everything

A missionary I once met had spent years ministering to a remote tribe without seeing any converts.

One day, a member of the tribe accidentally electrocuted the missionary’s nine-year-old son. The tribe had a custom that when someone was killed, the victim’s relatives had the right to take revenge. They expected the missionary to take the life of the one who took his son’s life. But instead of exacting retribution, the missionary forgave him. This response sent a shockwave through the tribe. They’d never heard of anyone forgiving such a deed.

Eventually, because of he and his wife’s selfless attitude, the entire tribe came to know Jesus. His family had experienced an incomprehensible loss, but their willingness to forgive changed everything.

Forgive those who have hurt you. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

 

Being A Doctor Or A Patient

How do you recover when someone hurts you? If your goal is to understand—with a humble heart, eventually you’ll be healed.

But, if you refuse to budge, and merely nurse the hurt caused by others, then your pain will only grow deeper.

At times, our attitude is the clearest indication of what we’re most committed to: stewing or healing, remembering or reconciling.

Am I on a journey to become a doctor, or destined to remain a patient?

The only person who can make that decision is me. I may be hurt, but I must be more committed to being healed, than rehashing my pain.

Jesus suffered and died so we could become completely whole inside.

Receiving that healing is a life-long process, but worth every minute.

 

Forgetting God

Have you forgotten Who God is?

He doesn’t just act loving—God is love! And if we seek Him with all our heart, we’ll become like Him: a loving person.

Jesus commanded us to love ALL people at ALL times, no matter what they may say or do to harm us. Only this response accurately models the heart of a God who’s called us to live as He lived, and even be willing to die as He died.

If we’re leaning on Jesus, no one can ever do anything to make us not love them.

I must never lose sight of this reality: all of the grace I’ll ever need to obey God is continually available to me.

All God asks us to do is reach out and receive it.

 

We Are As Loved As Jesus

Learning to trust God accesses the peace of mind that seems impossible to attain. Yet, it’s always within reach—with arms of faith.

Believe God for the impossible. Not with presumption, based on the desires of your own heart, but with real faith. Faith that’s grounded upon the sublime plan of the God who knows all things, loves us infinitely, and always uses His wisdom for our good.

Jesus said, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” (John 15:9)

It may be hard to believe, but we are as loved by the Father as Jesus was. And He longs for us to remain in a constant connection with His unconditional love for us.

Only then can we process life as God intended.

 

Freedom’s Ahead When Self’s Behind

The self-centeredness of others may have hurt you, but it will be your own self-obsession that will keep the pain alive. The greatest enemy to your being as free as God intended is not sin, but self!

Jesus already took care of your sins when He died on the Cross. Now you must learn to die to yourself, in order to be truly free.

Freedom’s ahead, when self’s behind!

Learn to rest so completely in God’s perfection that you’re not overwhelmed by your own lack.

If we refuse to accept God’s plan for our lives, we consign ourselves to a brave new world of perpetual un-fulfillment.

Waiting for a better life is like staring at your dinner, hoping to improve its taste.

The magnificent life God created for you…it’s what’s for dinner.

 

God Takes Pleasure In You

If we believe Jesus died and rose again, and have allowed Him to be our Lord and Savior, then the Bible says we are now God’s sons and daughters.

Though we may firmly believe this, we can still at times feel God’s ashamed of us. We wonder if He is glad or sad; grateful or disappointed in whom we have become?

How we answer this question will shape our thinking in every dimension of our lives and could not possibly be over-estimated. Jesus said to His Heavenly Father, “You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:23b)

Ever see doting parents smile at their child? That’s how God feels about you. God takes pleasure in the very thought of you. You make God smile! Believe it. It’s a truth that will set you free.

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God Likes You

For the first 30 years of my Christian life I didn’t think God liked me.

Now, if God was an imperfect human, that would make sense. But He’s not! Each of us make decisions to like or dislike people based upon their past or present actions.

But imagine being completely aware of everything a person will ever do. No longer would your estimation be based upon individual events. Your picture of them would be complete. At that moment, if you like them, it would be because you see the entirety of their lives. That’s exactly how God sees us.

If you’ve ever believed God loved you, or liked you, He still does. Why? Because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) God enjoys you! “How precious…are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:17)

 

The Right Question

Whenever you find yourself wondering why something’s happening, realize it’s never a coincidence. It’s invariably God working in you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him.

Actually, WHY is typically the wrong question; WHAT is the word we should be asking. “God, WHAT are you trying to show me?” The situation, no matter how bleak, is not a mere accident; it’s God at work, even using what Satan meant for evil.

If we love God and are committed to doing His will, He promises us in Romans 8: 28, that all things, no matter how much they hurt, that happen to us will work for our good, either on Earth or in Heaven.

That’s a PROMISE God will keep.

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