Receiving Jesus is easy . . . following Him is much harder . . . and pleasing Him through human effort is, frankly, impossible. The reason we’ll spend eternity praising and thanking Jesus for what He has done, and not showering one another with accolades of accomplishment for our efforts, is because our success only came because of His suffering. As Oswald Chambers says so precisely, “The reason salvation is so easy to obtain is because it cost God so much.” If we didn’t deserve it, and couldn’t earn it, then the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus becoming sin for us and dying in our place, is the only reason our lives are now so valuable. Jesus exchanged what was worthless: our shattered lives – for what is priceless: His blood being shed on our behalf.


Is your life a nice, tidy, little package: easy, simple, clear and non-complex? I doubt it. That would be a waste of your time. What the Lord said to King Cyrus of Persia, He now says to us. “‘I will go before you and make the crooked places straight . . . I will give you the treasures of darkness and the riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD…’” (Isaiah 45:2, 3) God gets more glory out of transforming our lives, and maturing us to walk by faith, than He would by spoiling us and handing our finished lives to us on a silver platter. Don’t chafe at the Cross. Embrace it. It is in dying we live. The complexity of our lives is a confirmation of our priceless value. 


Prior to pastoring for 21 years, I traveled full-time for 18 years ministering as an evangelist. Being with pastors every week during that time period, I came away with strong convictions about how to survive and even thrive being a leader. So, when I began to pastor, my leadership training was more prevention than cure. Consequently, the #1 question I asked 450 leaders in small leadership groups of 12, for 15 years, that my wife Suzie and I answered first was: “If there was one area in your life where the devil could pick you off, what would that be?” This question provided hours of vulnerable, honest, transparent discussion and prayer in small groups. By the grace of God, we had very few leaders blow up their lives. There are only two options in life: turn yourself in or wait to get caught.


Singing in a falsetto voice is defined as “singing in a voice that is not your normal or natural range.” The unnaturalness of its tone is why it is called false. Thus, the word, “false-setto.” The emasculating of men and defeminizing of women produces an unnatural connection to the true identity God intended for each of us. Genesis 1:27 says, “God created human beings in His own image. In the image of God, He created them; male and female He created them.” Living in our true voice is living the purpose God intended. He doesn’t make mistakes, only miracles. If we trust Him, we’ll see that His plan is actually flawless. Attempting to take on His role as Creator only leaves us empty and unfulfilled. Accept that God is  the Author and Finisher of your life, and you will find the peace you’re longing for. 


Are you satisfied with your life? That’s great! But don’t settle for a life less than God intended. Look at God’s pristinely beautiful creation and tell me God would make eternal sons and daughters less than magnificent as well! His vision and plan for us is infinitely better than anything we can imagine. So, don’t be shortchanged by writing your own script when God’s already written the best of all possible options. Be full, yet hungry! Paul the Apostle said it perfectly, “I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” (Philippians 4:12, NLT) Be content, but still contend for all God has for you. The psalmist wrote, “I will be [fully] satisfied when I awake [to find myself] seeing Your likeness.” (Psalm 17:15, AMP) 


Have you ever seen a relay race where the runners blew it on passing the baton? It’s happened, even in the Summer Olympics with the best athletes in the world. The baton passes in our own lives are even more important. The two critical  baton passes we need to make sure we get right are these: receiving the Rescue Jesus provided for each of us when He substituted His life by dying on the Cross for your sins. Only the God who created us could do that. But that Rescue Baton is worthless for us if our Response is less than fully committed. Jesus got it right when He completely surrendered to the will of His Father, and so we must fully surrender as well. Success only comes when our wholehearted acceptance of God’s will matches the selfless handoff of Jesus.    


One of the peculiar qualities of nature is the predominant absence of straight lines. Individualized patterns are everywhere you look. The unpredictable God has made our lives just as unique. Therefore, if we find ourselves thinking we know what God is going to do next, we should think again. The God who guarantees, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and My ways are not your ways” (Isaiah 55:8) is assuring us that we will never be able to predict His next move. The fact is, God designed our dependency upon Him to keep us in a continuous relationship with Him. Without that, each of us would gradually presume we know the future. On the other hand, by continually relying upon God, we learn to walk by faith and will, frankly, avoid future disappointment.


There’s always a possibility, when God is being gracious and pouring out His blessings upon our lives that we begin to entertain the thought that it must be because we are in some way special. I first saw this in my own heart during the earliest days of the Jesus Movement revival. When it seemed as if, every day, people were getting radically saved, I’d periodically find myself thinking that perhaps it was because there was something special about us. It was pure illusion. When the exceptional became rare, I realized how foolish my thinking had been. In reality, God had moved in spite of us, not because of us. It’s a chilling reminder of how our hearts can wander if we think we are in some way better than others. “It is God who is working for us.” (Philippians 2:12) 


The world is enamored by flashy, but what impresses God is steady. We all realize an all-powerful God could do spectacular things throughout our day. Each morning, He could splash across the horizon, “This morning’s sunrise is brought to you by God. Praise Him!” Or stamp every flower, “Made in Heaven. Worship Jesus!” Thankfully, the Creator of all things is not a narcissist, obsessed with prancing down the Universe’s runway. In reality, God is a humble servant, more interested in serving and unconditionally loving. Looking back on my own life, I was flashy in college, and sadly, left a trail of carnage. Since then, I’ve endeavored to be faithful to Jesus, and by His grace, trying to leave a legacy of integrity. Use your gifts for God’s glory and not your own. Only His will last.


Are there things you’re holding on to that you need to let go? We all have them. What we once thought enhanced our lives, is actually impeding our potential. Attachments we should have cut loose a long time ago distract us from believing for the bright future God has for each of us. They chain us to the past and fuel our fear of the future. Hidden from sight because they fly so far from us, tiny threads keep us tethered to past pain and false comforts. I call them kite strings, and we need to cut them loose and let them go. If we see them for what they really are, we’ll realize they’re more of a curse than a blessing. God designed us to be relationally connected to Him. Anyone or anything that hinders this is not our friend.  


My wife and I often walk along a trail near our home. Recently, we saw something amazing we’d never seen before. It was at a blind curve on the path. Because, at that spot, you can’t see if a person or dog is coming, we are always straining to look past what is directly in front of us. One day, when I went to film on the trail, I realized the best spot was at that blind curve. Standing there I noticed what I’d not seen: a beautiful fruit tree, lush with hundreds of figs. I was shocked. How could we have missed seeing it? It was the only fruit tree on the entire trail. As I reflected on how it was hidden from our sight, I realized we had missed what was right in front of us, because we were more concerned about the potential problem ahead. Hmm? How true, and how sad.


Here’s a riddle in life people often miss. Should I work harder when things are in abundance or when they are sparse? In feast or in famine? If we are wise and insightful, we’ll follow the biblical pattern that Joseph shared with Pharoah. “Store up during years of prosperity, so that you will have enough during seasons of scarcity.” How counterintuitive! But it will keep you from being seduced by the decadence of prosperity, and the discouragement of poverty. Proverbs says, “…give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:8-9) “Jesus, keep us fully dependent upon You and living safe.”