All I Had Left Was a Good Response
I once spoke at a large Christian Festival, right before one of the most popular Christian musicians performed. 30,000 people were in attendance and hundreds came forward to receive Jesus. It was marvelous! The next year, they invited me back to do the exact same thing. This time, I changed the airport I was going to fly in to, thinking another was closer. It wasn’t, and upon landing I realized I’d never make it in time to speak. It was crushing! With my wife and two pre-teen daughters in the car, I immediately realized all I had left was…a response. That’s it! And so, I disciplined my soul to respond well. I now believe that response, however painful, had a far greater impact on their lives, than if I everything had flowed seamlessly.
Cliff Ride vs. Thrill Ride
After an exhausting, overnight flight, my nephew picked me up at the airport. It was a rainy day, and as we came off an exit ramp, I was awakened by him yelling, “We’re going over!” As the car went airborne over a cliff, I yelled, “Jesus, help us!” The tiny sports car flipped over and over, but miraculously landed on its tires. Though we were not hurt, the car was totaled. On another occasion, I paid a lot of money to go on a thrill ride at an amusement park. One experience terrified me; the other entertained me. What’s the difference between the two experiences? One word: trust! My point is this: Is your relationship with Jesus a cliff ride or a thrill ride? How much you trust Him, will determine your answer.
God is always looking for champions who will stand and fight in the Spirit realm. The word “champion” comes from a Hebrew word meaning, “the middle man, the man between two.” A champion was a man who stood between two armies, and fought as a representative of one. Romans 8:37 says, “…we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” If we are not willing to conquer evil, evil will conquer us. This has happened to God’s people throughout history. At the writing of the Book of Ezekiel, Israel had rebelled against God and was taken away as slaves. The Lord spoke through Ezekiel: “I searched for someone to stand in the gap…but I found no one.” (Ezekiel 22:30) Wherever you are, whatever battles you face, stand in the gap as God’s champion.
My Life Sucks!
I heard about a young worship leader who, while leading worship in a large contemporary church, sang out during the middle of worship, “My life sucks!” To say the least, the crowd was stunned. Fortunately, there was an older visiting worship leader, leading worship with him, who had the presence of mind to immediately sing out, without missing a beat, “But it’s not going to suck forever!” HA! It saved the day, and redeemed a fragile moment that could have quenched the Spirit and distracted the entire service. Proving a few things: your life may suck now, but be of good cheer, it’s not going to suck forever. And secondly, God can redeem the most difficult circumstances, and give us a good laugh and a fun memory at the same time.
All of us fight feelings of insignificance. Some of this is fueled by the condescending words of others. One of the most hurtful things in life is when you have a good motive, and you’re judged for having a bad one. In the Old Testament, David’s older brother, Eliab, put David down when he offered to fight Goliath. Eliab felt David was an insignificant person who had no right to speak up. He thought he knew David’s motivation, but in reality, he didn’t. Eliab’s motive, on the other hand, was envy. Like Jesus, who was called the son of David, David had to face the derogatory comments of those who envied him. In the end, our significance comes from our Creator. Only He knows our true value, and if we keep our eyes on Him, we’ll realize His call on our lives is actually… priceless.
All Things Work for Our Good
My wife Suzie was married before me. When she received Jesus, her husband wasn’t interested. On the day he was going to file for divorce, he was killed flying a crop duster. When her parents came to tell her at midnight her husband had died, she went into her bedroom to pack some things, and through her tears read this scripture on the wall: Romans 8:28. Paul the Apostle wrote, “And we know that all things work together for good, (which means, for our benefit) to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” It became the defining scripture for the rest of her life: a life that God has truly blessed, primarily I believe, because she continues to trust God and His wonderful promises.
Becoming Someone Else
One of the great seductions in this age of social media saturation is the temptation to become someone other than who God intended you to be. Peer pressure is a principle influence. In the Old Testament, King Saul wanted David to wear his armor when he fought Goliath. (1 Samuel 17:38-39) Yet, the only way we can ever fulfill our destiny is to become the person God intended, not someone else. God will always test you to see if you are following Him, following yourself, or following someone you want to impress. What inner armor is God developing in you? At some point, you will be asked to exchange it for what others think is better. Don’t give in! Your Heavenly Father has prepared you for this moment and will give you the courage to say “Yes” to Him alone.
My Wife’s Amazing Gift
My wife, Suzie, has a supernatural gift. She can materialize physical things that don’t exist. For example, I look in our pantry or refrigerator for something, and many times it’s just not there. But, when Suzie looks for these items, they miraculously appear. Seconds before they were gone! It’s a miracle! She insists that I’m just not seeing them, but that’s just her being humble about her extraordinary gift. HA! OK! Seriously, my “temporary blindness” reminds me of so many genuine supernatural dimensions that, at times, seem invisible to us, but, once found, they bless our lives with abundance. Keep looking and believing in the promises of God. “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 19:13, NASB)
Optimist and Pessimist Twins
A father had twin boys: an optimist and a pessimist. One day, the father put the pessimist in a room full of incredible toys, and the optimist in a room with a giant bag of manure. He came back later to the pessimist’s room and found him sitting in a corner completely disinterested with the toys. The Dad said, “What’s wrong?” The son responded, “I figured if I started to play with the toys, I’d get bored, or break them.” The Dad walked out shaking his head. He then went into the optimist son’s room, and found this son tearing the bag of manure to shreds. The Dad said, “What are you doing?” The son yelled, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere?” Funny story with a good point. God’s an eternal optimist, and we should be too.
A year after we sold our home, the new owners sued us, claiming they discovered mold, and believed we knew about it. We didn’t! So, off to arbitration we went. The owners were so upset with us they wouldn’t meet in the same room. When we were presented pictures of the mold, it made us sick and sad. I then looked at the arbitrator and said, “I don’t believe we should give the owners what they’re asking for. We need to do much more!” At first, the arbitrator just stared, and then said, “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I’ve never heard anyone say to me what you just did. I believe the owners will be happy to meet you.” When the owners came in, we both had tears in our eyes. I said, “We had no idea”, and then hugged them. No one can choose humility for us, it’s our choice alone.
Picking Up Pieces of People
Please don’t consider the “small tests of life” as unimportant. They are a prerequisite for the greater tests ahead. Everything begins in a seed form. Jesus said, “The earth bears fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain…” (Mark 4:28) If we discard or ignore the day of small beginnings, we shouldn’t be surprised if we don’t have the future harvest we are hoping for. I was picking up a piece of paper on the street and God reminded me, of that “habit of obedience” was formed in me 40 years ago. What began with “picking up pieces of paper,” matured into “picking up pieces of people”. Don’t ignore the obedience of your youth. Without it, you will never become the person you were created to be.
Condescension Toward Believers
Have you had to deal with condescension from others because you are following Jesus? If you haven’t, you will. The giant Goliath sneered with contempt at David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with a stick? And he cursed David…” (1Samuel 17:41-42) Goliath was insulted that he even had to deal with someone so inferior as David. That’s how the high priests felt about Jesus…an insignificant carpenter from a lowly place in Galilee called Nazareth. That’s how many in higher education feel about Christians; how many evolutionists feel about “Intelligent Design”; and how many pro-choice people feel about pro-life people. There’s this condescending disdain…a disgust at our seeming inferiority. Just remember Who you will stand before at the end of time, and you’ll be fine.