We have a tradition at our church where the women do the entire service one Sunday in October in order to help celebrate appreciation for our pastor. I was honored to be asked to give the sermon. The link below will take you to the video at YouTube.
Friday, October 23, 2015
The world we live in measures success by things like how many “followers” do you have and how many “likes” did you get. Success values results and production. The end result is all that counts no matter what you have to do to get there.
It’s all about the “return on investment.” and it doesn’t matter whether the investment is money, time, or talents. We measure our success by how many came to our event, how much money we raised, or how many raised their hands to accept Christ. My success isn’t about the results. Jesus didn’t measure the disciples success by their results. He gave them grace when they failed. He had patience with them while they were learning.
Success for the disciples (and for me) Is an internal thing, not an external thing. It isn’t something that can be seen or measured. It’s a matter of changing me. It’s about my character becoming what it needs to be. It’s about continually being conformed to the image of Christ – because that is the ultimate goal for my life.
The world would have me sacrifice my character in order to reach my goals. What Jesus wants to do is refine my character. He knows if I handle what’s going on in my life from an eternal perspective, I will be what is changed. As I change and am different, I can then make a difference in the world around me.
Forget success based on measurable results. Success is about character transformation. Let God transform you into the person He created you to be so that you can impact the world in the way He imaged you could from the start.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
I think we’ve lost our fear of God, our reverence for Him.
We’ve remade Him in our own image. Jesus has become our “bro”, our friend, our problem-solver, the “big guy upstairs.”
That’s not who He is. He’s the eternal, everlasting God of the universe. He is holy and righteous and demands our worship… and deserves our worship.
He is the One for whose glory I live.
“I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of your wonders.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praises to Your name, O Most High.”
We, as a body of believers, lack conviction and intensity. We lack whole-hearted worship. We miss the idea that when we worship, we are coming into the presence of the Most High God.
We need to reread Isaiah 6 and see Isaiah’s response to being in the presence of God. We need to reread Revelation 1 and see John’s response to being in the presence of God.
A.W.Tozer said “The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.”
The Apostle Paul wrote “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:21)
Lord, help us keep a proper perspective on who You are. You are the creator of the universe. You are almighty, infinite, omniscient, and sovereign. You choose to have a relationship with us – Your creation. Help us to to come to You with an attitude of awe and reverence.
Monday, July 27, 2015
I come to God in complete surrender. I have no rights. My rights were nailed to the cross when I accepted Jesus as my Savior. It’s all about Jesus – His glory, His mission. Knowing and loving Jesus is the goal of my existence. And so because of this, I study the Word, pray, seek, press on to know Him better every day.
Surrender. Then surrender some more. Sometimes it is surrendering the same things over and over again. Other times God reveals new things in my life that need surrendered – things I didn’t even know were a problem.
The more I surrender, the more I discover I need to surrender, and so the more I surrender. And the more I surrender, the more I discover it is really a moment-by-moment practice of surrendering. Then I need to remember to keep my hands off – leave it on the altar.
God is constantly working in the midst of my crazy life. God is preparing me for His purposes. He is working in me so that He might work through me.
Be faithful in wherever He has me. Be faithful in my job. Be faithful in the Word. Be faithful in prayer. Be faithful in reaching out to others. Be faithful in teaching. Be faithful as a wife and a mom. Represent Jesus well everywhere and all the time. Be faithful in the small things. God is shaping me and remaking me into the vessel that He is going to use. Relax and enjoy the process.
Surrender my desires. Surrender my wisdom. Surrender everything. Trust God with everything. Surrender the desire to be comfortable. Surrender the desire to know the plan. God’s going to get me from Point A (here) to Point B (who knows where). I don’t need to know the details on how.
It’s not about “just doing it” or “gittin er done”. It’s about waiting and growing. It’s about trusting and obeying. It’s about letting God be God.
He who has promised is faithful. God will not break His Word. Nothing is impossible for Him.
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5
Thursday, July 9, 2015
Here’s a preview:
What gets you excited? When you get up in the morning, what can't you wait to do? Who can't you wait to see? Who do you long to spend time with? Who do you seek when you need advice? Who or what can't you live without? What inspires you? Have you discovered God's calling on your life? What's the most important thing in your life? Are you satisfied with your passion for God? Are you satisfied in that relationship? Or, are you seeking more? How do you love God more? How do you seek Him above anything else? How do serve Him better?
This book will attempt to answer those questions. So, won't you join me in "Passionately Pursuing Jesus"?
Here’s a direct link to the page on Amazon.
All proceeds from my books go to missions.
Monday, May 4, 2015
Ever have one of those days when you feel like you are supposed to pray for someone and you don’t know why. I’m having one of those today and it is for my pastor. Our church is blessed with a pastor who loves God with his whole heart. He brings the Word every week and doesn’t hold back. You can tell he’s sought God and heard from Him. He preaches with passion and conviction. I am so glad that I get to sit under his teaching each week, but I know that he also needs prayer.
As I was thinking through just what to pray for him this morning, I came up with these ideas:
- I pray that he will love Jesus with his whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and that the “ministry” never steals him away from his first love.
- I pray that he will continue to lead with passion and conviction.
- I pray that he will continue to walk in confidence.
- I pray that he will continue to be a good “shepherd” caring for his sheep with love and compassion.
- I pray for his encouragement. I pray for protection from the attacks of the devil. I pray for protection from people who might seek to discredit him, slander him, or speak evil about him.
- I pray that his teaching and preaching will continue to be bold, convicting, encouraging, anointed, and Christ-centered.
- I pray that God will protect him from burnout.
- I pray for his rest spiritually and physically. I pray that he stays physically healthy.
- I pray for his study time and his prayer time. I pray that God will minister to him through his Word.
- I pray that he takes time to have fun, do things he enjoys, spend time with his wife, and that he takes time to find solitude.
- I pray that God will raise up people around him to assist him, serve him, encourage him, and pray for him. And, I pray he allows people to help him.
- I pray that ministry, teaching, preaching, and leading will never become a chore for him, but that it would always be a joy and a blessing to serve the Lord. I pray that he will enjoy every aspect of leading, whether hard or easy, for the glory of God.
- I pray that he will be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit in his own life. That he will continue to grow in grace, truth, and character.
- I pray that God will abundantly provide for him and his family. I pray that they lack nothing.
- I pray that God will give him wisdom and direction.
- I pray that he will have godly friends that he can receive encouragement from.
- I pray that he will walk humbly with God every day of his life.
Pastors are people, too. They need our love and support. They need our prayers. They work long hours and are a blessing to the people they encounter every day.
Take some time today to give thanks for your pastor and to pray for him.
Monday, April 27, 2015
My devotional time this morning was in 2 Kings 20-21. The story of King Hezekiah. In 2 Kings 20:1 God tells Hezekiah to put his house in order because he is going to die. Hezekiah prays and reminds God that he has walked faithfully with him his who life. He cries and prays for his life to be spared.
In verse 6, God says that He has heard his prayers and seen his tears and that He will heal him. God tells Hezekiah that He will give him 15 more years to live.
What happens next? Hezekiah gets proud. He welcomes visitors from Babylon. He shows them all this treasures (vv 13-18). Isaiah rebukes him and tells him that he is going to lose everything. (vv17-18)
When Hezekiah dies, his 12 year old son, Manasseh, takes over. That means Manasseh was born in the “extra 15 years” that God gave Hezekiah. In 2 Kings 21:9, it says that Manasseh led the people astray and “did more evil than the other nations that the Lord had destroyed.” It goes on in verse 16 to describe how he shed innocent blood.
Because of Manasseh’s sin, God brought judgment on Israel.
So the last 15 years of Hezekiah’s life was an absolute disaster. God answered his prayer even though it wasn’t in Hezekiah’s best interest. He gave Hezekiah what he asked for even though it meant a disaster for the nation of Israel.
Perhaps the reason God was going to take Hezekiah home 15 years earlier was because He could see what the future was going to bring. It was God’s will to take him before all these problems.
When we pray, we need to be sure to be seeking God’s will and God’s best solution to problems and issues. He is so much wiser than we are. We can’t see what tomorrow holds, but God can. We need to trust in His love and care for us.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
I am working on a new book. The title is “Passionately Pursuing Jesus”. It is quite different from my first book. This book is at my editor and should be available in a few weeks.
This must be the year that God is teaching me to lay aside all my fears. Writing is scary – especially the stuff I have written. I’ve tried to insert personal stories from my life as examples and that is not easy for me. I’ve always been a fairly private person.
Publishing a book is scary because I will answer to God for what I write. I must be sure it is filled with His truth. What I write could affect someone for eternity. I have prayed over these books. I’ve asked the Lord to lead me in my writing. I know God can use these to impact the lives of other people.
I have no idea who will pick up my books and read them. I want them to be a clear message from God to them. It’s all about God getting glory and honor and praise. I pray that He hides me behind the cross and that people only see Jesus. I pray for them to be a blessing in the lives of others.
Writing the material in “Passionately Pursuing Jesus” is scary because it puts my life under a microscope. Do I walk every day like what I wrote about? Do people see obedience and faithfulness in my life? They will watch me to see if I am living up to what I wrote.
Writing the truth will bring attacks from the enemy. The calling on my life to stand for Jesus makes me a marked target. Satan will do anything to make me fall. If he can get me to fall, it will discredit anything and everything I’ve written, said, or done. I need to be sure to put my armor on every day. (Ephesians 6)
Publishing this book is scary because someone (probably lots of someones) isn’t going to like it. I can’t take their criticism personally. For some it will be too short and for others, too long. For some it will be too much from the Bible, and for others not enough….. too serious, not serious enough… too much application…too personal… I just need to trust it is what God wants it to be.
It’s scary because some people will read it and apply it. They will take what I’ve written and believe it and act on it. It needs to be truth not opinion. I need to take it seriously. Once the book is published and people purchase it, it’s out there. I can’t take it back. There’s no undo. It has to be right the first time.
I am praying that God will help me accurately deliver truth. God’s Word has the power to transform lives. I am praying to be bold, transparent, honest, courageous, and humble. I am praying that I will stand strong no matter what. I am praying that I will only care about what my Savior thinks. I am praying that can live out what I’ve written.
I welcome your prayers….
Friday, April 10, 2015
Humility is not a very popular word. In fact it is often associated with weakness or a lack of assertiveness. However, it is really the opposite. Pride and humility are also opposites. A proud person wants to do things that will bring importance or attention to himself. He thinks what he does is what makes him special. A humble person understands that his worth comes from God. He understands that it has nothing to do with what he does, but has everything to do with who he is.
Writing about humility is humbling, as I am no expert. However, I see humility as a key to living a powerful Christian life. It is crucial to pursuing Jesus. It is in humility that we take a correct attitude before God. Without humility, it is impossible to live the Christian life. No matter what our gift is or how good we are at what we do - whether that be teaching, writing, singing, leading, preaching, or counseling - these are all worthless without humility. They are hollow. They are meaningless. Without humility no one will see Christ in us. We may proclaim to know him, but they won’t see him living in us.
Humble people are satisfied doing what God has for them to do. They are content. They understand that it’s Ok to ask for help. They don’t insist on having everything done their way. They are selfless people and are seen as putting other people’s needs ahead of their own (Philippians 2). They refuse to take credit where it is not due. They recognize that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father (James 1:17). They do their best to help others succeed. They are understanding and patient. They are quick to forgive others and they are quick to admit their own mistakes. They see themselves accurately. They don’t have a false overinflated view of themselves, but they also don’t put themselves down. They are often quiet, but they know when to speak up. Humble people serve others. Humble people realize who God is in relation to who they are.
In Matthew 23, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for wanting the seats of honor at a feast. He told them that they should pick out the lowest seat. We are quick to condemn the Pharisees but how often do we do the same thing? Do we maneuver for the front of the line at the store? Do we pick the best seats at a meeting or a church service? Heaven forbid someone else sit in our pew! Do we seek our own wants and desires at the expense of others, or do we put others first? We need to learn to be humble. We need to learn to honor one another above ourselves. The Spirit doesn’t make us humble, he enables us to humble ourselves as we give him control of our lives.
Humility is vital for Christians We can only receive Christ as we humble ourselves and admit our need and our unworthiness. Jesus was the perfect example as he humbled himself even unto death. We see the humility of Christ in his servant’s heart. Mark 10:45 tells us that he came not be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for us. He did not seek his own glory. He did not insist on his own will. He demonstrated humility, time and time again. He washed the disciples feet, he kissed Judas at the last supper, he loved his enemies and forgave them even from the cross.
And what did Jesus get for his humility? He was crucified for our sin. He got the death penalty we deserve. He willingly took that penalty. He could have called down angels to save him from the cross, but he chose the Father’s will and he chose to die. He was then raised from the dead and exalted by God and now sits at the right hand of the God in a place of authority. Therefore joy and power come through humility. We have a confidence that is based on Jesus’ love for us. Our sin was so great, but the blood of Jesus took it all away. Why – because his love for us was even greater!
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me.”
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Jeremiah 29:13 states, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” I need to choose to seek God with my whole heart. This can’t be a half-hearted approach. I have to go all-in. I can’t hold anything back.
In order to obtain intimacy with Christ, I need to purposefully remove things from my life that will hinder my relationship with him. I need to choose what is best.
God invites me in James 4:8 to "Draw near to God and He will draw near to me.” Drawing near is a choice I make.
I desire an intimate relationship, not a legalistic relationship. Too many people I talk to today treat their relationship with Jesus like one more thing to scratch off their to-do list each day. They read their Bible – check. They prayed this morning – check. They have reduced their relationship with God to a meaningless list of dos and don’ts. And that’s all there really is to their daily Christian life. They have completely missed the purpose that God has for them. There’s no seeking, no yearning, no meditating, no intimacy.
Intimacy with Jesus can be intimidating. When I get close to Jesus, I can’t hide my inadequacies or my sin. He knows me completely. When I come into His presence, all of a sudden I see everything that is wrong and nasty about my life. Sometimes it is easier to flee than to pursue intimacy. And Satan doesn’t help things. He tells me that I am unworthy. He tells me that I am not good enough and that I need to get my act together. When the truth is I can’t do it myself. I have to allow Jesus to work in me and through me.
Pursing intimacy with my Savior may require me to leave my comfort zone. It may require me to do things that I never really thought about before or things I never wanted to do before. It may be a struggle, but it is what I need to do. I need to lay aside anything that would hinder me from this pursuit.
I need to spend time seeking what the Lord’s desires and purposes are for me. Then ask myself if I am truly interested in the same thing? If not, why not? Am I interested in a relationship with the Lord or am I only interested in what he can do for me? If I am only interested in what he can do for me, then what I really want is the “genie in the bottle” who grants my wishes, not the God of the universe who wants what is best for me.
In Luke 10, Jesus tells Martha that she is worried about many things, but that only one thing is needed. What was that one thing? Intimacy with Jesus. This is still true today. My day can become filled with so many things to do that it easy to overlook that “one thing”. And yet, it is the “one thing” that I must not overlook. It is the “one thing” that will get me through my daily struggles. It is the “one thing” that I need. It changes my heart and empowers my life. It keeps me from being overwhelmed. I need to lay everything else aside and make sure I focus on that “one thing” every day of my life.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
What is commitment? Do we really understand what it is to stand for God? We understand John 3:16 - that God so loved the world that he sent Jesus to die for us. We understand that God loves us, but is it really that simple. God loves you and just accept him as your Savior and everything will be wonderful from now on.
As I am writing this, ISIS is all over the news for having beheaded 21 Christians. As I sing “Oh, how I love Jesus”, is that really enough? Is loving God enough? Do I really know how to love God? Is my love real? Would it withstand a test like the one these men were put through?
His love for me is enough to take away all my sin. His love for me is enough to clean up the mess I’ve made of my life. His love for me is enough to get me through anything. His love for me is enough to save me and present me blameless before the Father. The question here is not about His love for me, but rather about my love for Him.
Do I have enough courage and backbone to really stand for Him in times of trouble? Is my love for Him strong enough that I would be willing to die for it? People around the world have that kind of faith. People are dying for Christ. Am I willing to be that kind of Christian? Or if the going were to get tough, would I take my light and hide it under a bushel? Am I a person who takes my faith seriously enough that I would willingly die for it?
Thoughts like this are difficult. It’s hard to honestly examine my own life and faith. As I take a hard look at where I am, what I am doing, am I okay with what my life stands for? Perhaps if I were really honest, I’d tell you that I need to be down on my knees weeping over my own sin, my own lukewarmness, my own lack of conviction.
Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) There’s no other way to get to heaven. You have to go through Jesus. And what else did he say? “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
I’ve thought a lot lately about what it means to pick up my cross. I think it means different things for different people but I keep coming back to the idea that I need to humbly lay my life down for the message of the cross. The cross was messy. The cross was harsh. The cross doesn’t look nice, or happy, or lovely, or comfortable. The cross was pain. The cross was necessary to purchase our redemption. The cross is offensive. The cross is the power of God.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18
I’ve heard a lot of teaching against the idea of cheap grace. Where we take the forgiveness of Jesus like a “get out of hell free card” and then go and do whatever we want. Jesus never taught that idea. Our faith in Christ was always supposed to be costly – that’s how we know it is real. If we want safety and an easy life, then we don’t really want to be a Christian.
For too long, Christians in America have had it easy and we’ve gotten comfortable. We’ve taken so much for granted. We’re soft. We want an easy faith. We want a “free” faith. It’s time to see that that kind of faith doesn’t stand in a crisis. The church was built on the blood of martyrs. The persecuted church across the world is growing and strong. It’s time to take our stand. It’s time to be serious about our faith and quit playing games.
That’s where my heart is today. I’m done with living a life of comfort. Jesus loved me so much he chose to hang on the cross and die for me. He demands no less of a commitment from me. How committed are you?
Monday, February 16, 2015
Pause and think about this idea for just a moment. How much does God the Father love Jesus? Now try to understand what Jesus was saying in John 15:9. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” Take how much God loves Jesus and think – that’s how much Jesus loves me. Then it says to remain in his love. Or in other words, abide in his love. Walk in his love. Be strengthened by his love. Be confident in his love. In the words of the songwriter – Oh, How He loves you and me! It should take our breath away just to think about it.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Wow – Paul is asking us to imitate his life because he is imitating Christ. Would I be able to say such a thing! Do I love others the way Jesus loved people? Does my life look anything like Jesus’ life? Am I even striving for that? Does it matter to me? Am I even concerned about other people?
It’s not about being intelligent. It’s not about what I know. It has nothing to do with whether I read through the whole Bible last year. It has nothing to do with how many verses I memorized. It’s about who I know. Do I really know Jesus? It’s about how I live. Is my life patterned after my Savior? Romans 8:29 tells us that our ultimate goal is to be conformed to the image of Christ. Am I getting any closer to that goal?
I pray that God will break my heart for the lost, that he will give me a true love for other people, and that he will help me live out the things that I know to be true. I pray that I will be seeking to build others up in their faith. I pray that God will allow my life to demonstrate the love of Christ to the point that when others watch me, they will get a glimpse of Jesus.
What about you? What are you praying for God to do in your heart and life?
Thursday, January 8, 2015
How do we survive the storms of life? We have all been faced with situations that seemed overwhelming. We have experienced hurts that are so deep we don’t know how to get past them. Even just the everyday stress of life can wear us down until we want to give up. The storms in our lives come in all sizes and shapes. Some are gentle like a spring rain and others are as harsh as a hurricane. Where do we go? What do we do?
We can take comfort that God is in control. God may not always deliver us from the storms of life, but he is always faithful to be with us as we go through them. That alone should give us hope.
This book will walk you through how to allow God to meet you in the middle of your storm. He can handle your tears, your fears, and your anger. He can heal your heart and show you that there is “Hope in the Midst of the Storm”.