Thoughts on January 6, 2021…Something BIGGER

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the situation some are calling one of the worst days in the history of the US. This blog is NOT to defend or refute what happened (because frankly, no one has ALL the information/truth but only comments about what others purport to have happened that day) but want to share a few important thoughts to consider especially for someone who calls themselves a follower of Christ.

We are as Divided as EVER in America
I am wearing my FLEX watch that has the American flag on it to remind me to pray for our country today. There are those on the left and the right saying they have ALL the answers to America’s ills and if you just vote for this or that then everything will be nirvana and bliss in your life. It is true that there are two distinct philosophies for how to run this country. I choose to look at the track record of similar policy decisions in the past because to me, that is the best way to judge what will be the future results. But more than policies and procedures of the country is the heart to pray for our DIVIDED States of America. That truth would prevail AND people would see the value in another person as a human being and not just someone from the “opposing political party”. We need to be part of the solution and not part of the problem when it comes to division in our country. I consider myself a man of God first and then anything else second.

Speaking the Truth is Not Automatically Love
I can remember preaching to my kids when I was a youth pastor that two of the most important things in communication are timing and tone. You can absolutely have the right things to say but if you use the wrong tone and the timing is not right then it has no chance of being received. Jesus always gave us the perfect example of human interaction in that he would listen MORE than he would speak. Do we really listen well and especially to people we disagree with? Every person in this country is not going to see the same on every issue and there will be policy differences forever. But we need to always be listening to those around us FIRST and speaking second. Now some would say that we have a responsibility to stand up for truth and speak the truth. I 100% agree with that statement, but if it is not spoken in love then it will not change who it needs to change. What I mean is that there will be people you speak truth to, and they will not accept it and just get angry but if you have acted like Christ and spoken the truth then you don’t need to worry about the outcome. We need to learn to speak truth like Christ and trust HIM with the outcome.

If You Don’t Like the Direction of our Country then Go Get Involved!
Become a member of the school board or run for a city office or go support the candidate that reflects your values. I ALWAYS use the Bible as my plumb line when supporting a candidate and make sure and vote every election cycle. I am praying for truth and transparency in all of our voting systems and procedures in this country and that GOD would promote and put into office those people who need to be there.

You are going to hear and see lots of comments today about what people thought of the January 6th situation but please remember a few things.

  • We will all be judged not only by our actions but by the words that come out of our mouth (and that includes social media).
  • No single elected official or social system should be the true source of your happiness and if they are, then you are putting something or someone in the place of Jesus in your life.
  • If you cannot listen to someone who you disagree with then you are part of the problem and not the solution in America.
  • If you are not praying for whomever is president of the US (Biden OR Trump when he was in office) then you are part of the problem.
  • Truth should NEVER be shied away from but if it is not spoken in love then it is not like Jesus. PLEASE REMEMBER: Jesus did not come to the earth to convince people that he was right. He came to speak about a better way to live to get a different result and have access to eternity in heaven with him. That was his emphasis with the disciples; speak true words MATCHING true actions.
  • Disagreement in life is not hate. That is a construct of the current culture attempting to keep people apart and only around “yes people” in life. There is no growth where there is no opposition of thought.

Have a great day today and know that God is still in all of what we do as America but we need to BE Jesus to those we come in contact with on a daily basis.

One Usable Arm Helps Bring Perspective in Life

I had rotator cuff surgery about a month ago and am now starting the process of physical therapy. I can say that you never really realize what you have with two functional arms when you only have one. From folding a blanket to putting on your socks to tying your shoes! When everything happened with almost losing my eye it was a similar journey in that there were never things I considered with my vision until I was confronted with the potential of vision loss. 

So the question is what are you taking for granted in life? Is it your health or maybe mobility in some way? Is it relationships and something as simple as appreciating your parents? Maybe it is your job that you complain about when there are others who would give their right arm (pun intended) for what you do. Maybe it is a relationship with Jesus. I know for me, I have known Christ all my life and sometimes the gravity of what God did for me is lost in the milieu of life even being in full-time Christian television ministry. 

Pauses in life are vital to reflect and reevaluate what is important in life. But what we don’t realize is that pauses can come in all kinds of ways. For me, my shoulder situation is something that has caused me to pause and reflect on the things that matter most in my life. Not to mention my wife who has done an outstanding job taking care of me while executing all the other responsibilities in her life. 

Today, take a moment and reflect on the good things in life but also the challenges or things that hurt. Maybe take a moment and consider where you are with Jesus. I mentioned in a devotion time the other day that Jesus didn’t come to the earth to try and convince people that they needed to follow him. He would love people, listen to their story and then offer a different way of living. Some “contemporary Christians/churches” have the loving and listening part down to a science but there needs to be engagement when it comes to interacting with people who don’t know how great Jesus is when the Holy Spirit leads. Jesus would offer a “pause” to people’s thinking to help them evaluate the results of their actions in life and followers of Christ need to look for opportunities to do the same! 

Today is the day to consider where you are in life, where you would like to be, and what is bringing you TRUE happiness. Remember this practical lesson when you go through life today; when you buy a vehicle the BRAKE is as important as the ACCELERATOR. 

Have a great day and use or take those pauses in life to make sure you are going the direction you think you are and consider giving Jesus control. I’ve got 49 years of following Him and He has never let me down!  

Memorial Day 2021 – Remembering Heroes Doesn’t Mean Justifying Past Mistakes

Right now, our country is in an interesting place. Memorial Day is today, and there is a part of this country that cannot understand what “remembering” truly means.

The freedoms we have in this country have not just been inherently given and simply granted but have been fought for by men and women who have sacrificed their lives for the ability to stand for or even burn an American flag. Remembering and honoring those who came before us in defense of our country doesn’t mean they always did everything right.  

The power in remembering the past is that we can see what was good and what was wrong and then work FORWARD to not repeat those same mistakes again. There are people/organizations who would want to erase or rewrite history or to “start over” with a clean slate but there are dangers in that thinking, especially for future generations.

In my life, I cannot just erase the things that I have done wrong and start over. This may sound strange, but as a follower of Christ, there is actually power in being able to not look at your past and be depressed about what you did, but to look at where you have come from and the strides you have made towards becoming a better person with the help of Jesus. Errors in life can either be markers to show how far you have come or can be anchors that keep you from being able to move forward into the best version of you for yourself and the world around you.

In looking back at the history and growth of America, I can say that we did not always do everything right. But those things that were not done right do not discount all the GOOD that has been done for the citizens of America and the world in general. I am an eternal optimist when it comes to our country and its members to find the right way, with God’s help, and to be the best version it can be for the sake of the country as a whole and the world. This is not turning a blind eye to the things that have been done incorrectly through the years but taking moments like Memorial Day and committing to never walk or do those same things ever again.

We cannot truly rewrite history, but we CAN commit to making good decisions going forward and honoring those who have brought us this far in this great country called America. 

Solving Anemic Christianity

bible-1868070_640
I changed the way I do devotions and it has absolutely revolutionized my life! That may sound like an overstatement but the things I feel like God is showing me now in my quiet time has jumped exponentially.

I would have people tell me that they wake up early in the morning to spend time with Jesus and I would think, “That sounds like some kind of religious activity to make yourself feel more spiritual than everyone else.” Then I decided to wake up early a couple of months ago and doubled down by starting to journal as well! Journaling was something else that seemed so foreign to me when people would say it is good to write things down in your quiet time. I am not a writer by trade and even the fact that I wrote a book is more of a miracle than it is a simple obedient exercise of retelling what I went through with my eye. And now that I think about what helps me be the man of God that he wants me to be I could never think of my life being WITHOUT getting up early to do devotions and journaling. Even my journaling is something that works for me. I don’t sit and write multiple pages in a book but use intentionality with meaningful things that I feel God reveals.

I always read something in scripture and then ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Bible in some way. I also write down the names and needs of people every day and sometimes God uses that exercise to write something.

Even though I now do television, I have been a licensed pastor for over 25 years and so my devotion time went the way of prayer, reading the Bible, God sharing something with me in that time and then I would instantly equate those ideas and thoughts with new and ground-breaking sermons to share with the world.

After about a month of doing my devotions with journaling, I felt like God told me that when I only think of others when he shares something with me that I actually CHEAPEN my time with Him. That doesn’t sound     very spiritual to “keep things God shares to yourself and not share those things with others.” I would actually say that ALL the things God shares with me would make a bunch of great sermons but that those words he shares in my quiet time are for ME. They are not just for my impulsion to share what Jesus says to me with others. Growing up in church for so many years has possibly programmed me to think that the obvious process is God shares something with me, I package it and then share it with whoever will listen to change their lives and get them to ask Jesus into their heart. There is NOTHING wrong with sharing Jesus with lost people who don’t know how much God loves them, but we need to realize that when God shares something with us in our quiet time we need to first meditate on it and hold it as a precious gift. Now I am not saying that everything God shares with me in my quiet time never makes it out of my devotion time but that I always honor what God tells me as a holy moment between me and Him.

The form or timing of your personal time with Jesus may look different than mine, but I will say that it is necessary and that there is certainly something to setting your day in the right direction and writing down deep impressions given to you by God. The point is that I believe a contributing factor to the anemic Godly actions of Christians in our culture today is not from the Bible losing its power or Jesus’ concern for the lost waning, but a lack of a MEANINGFUL personal time with Jesus in the lives of believers. We each need to be spending that time with Jesus so that we can know our personal part in bringing the Gospel to the people around us but also bringing vibrancy to OUR relationship to Jesus. How can we tell others about a relationship with Jesus if we cannot be that example in our relationship with him?

Praying for you to have INTENTIONAL time with Christ that not only changes you but everyone you come in contact with today.

Where People Find Jesus…

end of road
I was praying for the viewers of my TV station this morning that they would find Jesus if they don’t know him. I also prayed for people who have known God for a long time that they would continue to deepen their relationship and be open to Him showing them new revelations of his glory, grace and peace.

As I was praying, I thought about a term I have used many times while talking to people about having a relationship with Jesus and “coming to end of themselves.” I considered what that term actually meant to someone finding and deciding to follow Christ. Then I felt impressed by this statement:

People normally don’t find Jesus in the “middle” but at the “end” of themselves.

When people are still in the “middle” they can think of a relationship with Jesus as something else to add to their lives. But when they are at the end of themselves, they are done “doing” things to find peace and they are willing to accept the peace and direction from Jesus, which has fully to do with surrender.

Even the term “surrender” for some people can be difficult because that word can be synonymous with hurt/pain or being taken advantage of. Hurt from the past can be a deterrent from people walking into a relationship with Jesus but I can tell you that trusting in Him is a step towards a freedom you have never experienced before. The difference is that Jesus only wants the best for us when we give him control of our lives.

Following and trusting Jesus is simple but can be difficult at the same time because the “effort” shifts from us trying to FIND peace to ACCEPTING Jesus, who actually IS peace. When we accept Jesus we get peace and don’t have to wait for something additional to fill the voids in life. This is where the power and importance of the Bible comes into play. The Bible is the guidebook for life and not just a book of suggestions to help train our minds to trust in God. For example, the book of John can be a great overview of who Jesus is to humanity and the book of Romans helps illustrate the power and importance of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

Today, no matter where you are with God, take one step closer. If you have don’t know Jesus and have trouble in life, just cry out to Him and tell him you need help. If you are a follower of Christ and don’t have a good church home, find a church that teaches the Bible and Jesus. If you attend church somewhere and are not currently involved in anything more than Sunday am, find a way to serve.

Praying for you today to find the peace that I found so many years ago as a kid and then with my physical issues, realizing that Jesus NEVER left me through my entire life. Jesus loves YOU that much too!

 

 

Weakness is the KEY in the Struggles of Life

strength in weakness

It is funny to talk to people and hear them complain about the summer heat we have been having in Colorado. I can remember, not too many months ago, when people were complaining about the COLD temperatures and record snow fall we were seeing in the mountains around Denver. It is almost like people like to complain and find things to be negative about no matter if it is snowing or sunny.

I was looking at some incredible cloud formations around Denver associated with hail storms we had a couple of weeks ago. It amazes me that something so beautiful looking in the sky can contain so much power to damage and destroy property.
The weather that we deal with in our physical life is a perfect example of the spiritual life we also lead each day. It doesn’t matter what weather is happening in life that tries to cover the sun up, it doesn’t make the sun go away. It is only a system that is temporarily blocking the sun and it’s power and doesn’t change the position, axis or location of the sun considering our earth. Storms will come and go in life but we need to ALWAYS remember that those storms are just that…a storm. Not a “new ecosystem” to have to get used to or a permanent cloud that we have to walk under and just learn to live with.
One of the most important things to remember when going through storms of life is the difference of what an unbeliever works towards versus someone who trusts in God.
People who don’t know about or understand who God is have a focus on strengthening the self or MAN to be able to get through the storms mentally/emotionally. True success with Christ is focused on coming into a full knowledge that we are completely and totally weak, flawed and cannot in any stretch of the imagination withstand any true test of life without God at the very epicenter of everything. Once we see that we are actually trying to WEAKEN our flesh so that God can be STRENGTHENED in us, we move from self preservation in struggles and into actual VICTORY over situations through the power of God. It is backwards thinking even in the church to say that we want to strive for weakness versus seeking strength in the struggles of life.
Look at this verse where Paul is talking about Christ’s power at work and how it works in his life:
2 Corithians 12:9-10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
We confuse the strength of Christ IN us versus the strength that Christ GIVES us. The strength God gives us is a resolve to trust that it is God and only him who can bring us through and that in our weakness HE is strong. Actually, the ability to trust God’s strength while forgoing your own worry is the greatest form of strength this world could know and NEEDS to know.
Today, if you are in the middle of a life struggle, trust that God has the best for you, will see you through and that just because you can’t see the sun in life right now doesn’t mean that it’s not there. Praying for you to recognize DEFEAT in what only your flesh can do and realize VICTORY when you give it all to God.

The Promises and Plans of God

A Sunset on a Texas Farm

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This is probably one of my favorite verses in the Bible because it is like a promise and a plan all rolled up into one. That God will take care of us and has the plan all worked out.
When trouble hits your life, it can seem like the plan God has for you is off track and that He has stepped away from a promise of care and provision. It is interesting that we judge whether something is good or not based on how we feel and the circumstances around us observing everything through human thought and reasoning. A key to remember when going through a struggle in life is that if we knew what God was doing in the situation then WE would BE God…and we are not.
Pain is no respecter of persons and can hit in life for no apparent reason with crippling force. So if we know that trouble can and will happen in life, the question should not be IF pain hits but what are we going to do with that pain? If you are a follower of Christ, will you trust that God has the plan all worked out? You have the ability to rest in the fact that He has plans to give you a “hope and a future” instead of actually blaming him for the problems. If you don’t know Jesus, there is a place to take the hurt and pain you may feel right now. The Bible talks about God giving us a “peace that passes ALL understanding.” Basically, it is a peace that seems crazy to the rest of the world and it is there for us if we would throw ourselves into the arms of God.
It is amazing when problems are eliminated by prayers and God instantly moves on someone’s behalf but there are also times of walking THRU the valley of the shadow of death and God sustaining someone which can also be an answer to prayer. No one really knows why prayers are answered differently for people but one thing is true; there has never been a case of a follower of Christ complaining and being mad at God that has changed a situation for the better. And actually, those attitudes have made situations worse.
Today, maybe you are in a place to just thank God for all the blessings in your life and are doing pretty well. Maybe you are in a place of deep challenge and feel like giving up. I have been in both places and made good and bad decisions in both cases. It is important that you are praying and asking God for his will in your life even when things are going wrong. True faith in Christ is built when we trust God in the process instead of turning to complaints and questioning his ways. It doesn’t make things easier to have faith but what have you ever gained in life that meant something to you and didn’t take effort?
Have a great day and know that you have prayer and will make it if you just don’t quit!!

Billy Graham: Lessons from a Life Well Lived

This morning I woke to news that Billy Graham had died at the age of 99. I have always been fascinated with the fact that most people were not turned off by his message of the gospel and would actually embrace him and his teachings. He was not watering down what he believed whenever he would speak or make special allowances for people who disagreed with the Bible. He even carried the title “America’s Pastor” from not just people in the church.

Then I thought of his lifestyle and how he was known around the world: as a man of integrity. Never can I remember a headline that mentioned him embezzling money or being inappropriate with funds from his ministry or a news story about how he was caught in some illicit affair with a woman or that he was seen stumbling out of a party doing or saying/quoting something that he didn’t remember and that was offensive. Of course, I am not saying that Reverend Graham was perfect and I am sure he had his faults, but it seemed like he was concerned about his “non-religious” actions and how people saw him because it would affect the Gospel he represented.

So I think the answer in how to minister the Gospel, which is FULL of opposition to the current culture we live in but carries all of the answers to life, is to not just think about our religion but our personal relationship with Jesus. When we recognize that people will not care about what we say about God until they see how we VALUE that relationship, we will have a much greater influence on culture and infusing the love and purposeful direction of Christ in people’s lives.

Today, every single believer in Jesus needs to take an inventory as to how we are viewed and if we are living a life that is concerned with how Jesus is seen through us as much as the words we speak about Him. If we are using social media platforms to try and belittle people we disagree with and make sure they know that we are right and they are wrong instead of pausing before reacting to everything. That we are leading with LOVE for people and not just trying to shove the truth of the Gospel down people’s throats. (By the way, leading with love doesn’t reduce the truth of the Bible and actually amplifies it to people because it doesn’t happen as much as it needs to). Maybe we need to reach out to someone we possibly offended and make it right to bring alignment in life. It may be a great time to get a couple of accountability partners in an area of personal weakness to make sure you are actually living the life you think you are in your mind.

With the passing of a man like Reverend Graham, we need to evaluate our actions and tighten up areas of our life that we may think are irrelevant to the words we speak about Jesus. If we want to be operating at maximum capacity in our Christianity we need to even consider our life as a whole and not compartmentalize our relationship to Jesus and our relationship to people.

 

Take Feeling Overwhelmed as a Compliment from God

Today, I want to encourage people who have tried to make a commitment to God expecting everything to get better and for a special exemption from pain but ended up feeling overwhelmed in life. Maybe you felt or feel like God is actually against you and not for you. Like the universe is playing some cruel and twisted joke each day of your life. Well, you are not alone.

There is a verse in Matthew 5:45 that talks about the sun rising and the rain falling on both the just and unjust. Pain is no respecter of persons and the only difference between a person who follows Christ and gives him first priority in life and someone trying to go it alone, is knowing God will not let one of his followers be crushed beyond what they can handle. Now, if you are in the middle of some kind of test, you may have already rolled your eyes at that statement before I even got done typing this sentence. There are a few things to consider when we think about the term being “overwhelmed” in life.

First of all, we can actually TAKE ON more than we can handle. An example would be carrying the pain or despair of people we know. Not even anything happening to us personally but hearing of someone else in despair and thinking that by worrying for him or her that we can help his or her situation, which will never happen.

This is not saying that things will only ever happen to you one at a time. When you feel overwhelmed and are a follower of Christ, think of this truth; at that moment of despair, God probably trusts you more than you trust yourself. Want proof?
Check out 1 Corinthians 10:13. (NLT)
“But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.”

Listen to this thought from the Believer’s Bible Commentary:
“Paul adds a marvelous word of encouragement for those who are tempted. He teaches that the testings, trials, and temptations which face us are common to all. However, God is faithful, who will not allow us to be tested beyond what we are able. He does not promise to deliver us from temptation or testing, but He does promise to limit its intensity. He further promises to provide the way of escape, that we may be able to bear it. Reading this verse, one cannot help but be struck by the tremendous comfort it has afforded to tested saints of God through the centuries.”

So basically, when you feel overwhelmed ALWAYS remember that God is for you and not against you and trusts that you can stand up under the pain you are enduring. You can say that you will not make it but guess what…God believes in you and your ability to TRUST IN HIM for the outcome.

Today, be encouraged that God is for you and not against you and that He trusts in your strength. Maybe it is time for you to start believing the same thing God does about you instead of what the devil may be whispering in your ear.

Have a great day and praying for you!

 

 

 

Godliness STARTS with Kindness

Kindness image
I love it when God shows me something AFTER I am obedient and listen to his promptings in my life. It is like the dessert capping off an amazing meal. They are moments that make me want to not just ASK God to give me an opportunity to step out in faith but to actually follow through with promptings from the Holy Spirit. Sadly, this doesn’t happen as often as it should. Something happened to me last week with an outcome that meant more than what I expected. Let me explain.

I was at a shoe store and by the time I got done looking around, didn’t even realize why I was in there. I knew I was in there looking for shoes, but not sure why I had picked that day to go to that particular store. I had found a pair of shoes that I liked, but decided to put them back. This is SUPER unusual for me, as I love to shop and especially if I find a pair of shoes for the right price.

As I was finishing looking around, I walked by a lady and her son who was probably in his early 20’s. They were walking through the aisles and I had walked by them a few times in the course of walking through the store. As I was passing them I overheard the lady mention to another shopper that it was her son’s birthday the following day. I thought that was nice and continued to walk towards the front door to leave. As I was walking out, I felt the Holy Spirit say to me that I needed to get that kid a gift card and give it to him.

At first I thought it was just me and not something that God was putting on my heart. As I continued to walk out of the store, I got almost sick to my stomach that I knew I needed to be obedient and do as the Holy Spirit directed me. As I was standing in line, the thought came to me that I wanted to do this and not share anything about it (like the blog I am typing right now) or say anything to my wife, which THAT thought turned out being just me and not God.

I purchased the gift card and as I was walking up to the mom and her son, I was thinking of all the amazing things that this interaction could do. Maybe they would start crying or maybe they would say that this was a confirmation of something else that they felt was happening in their lives. The possibilities were endless. I walked up them and said, “I overheard that it was your birthday tomorrow and wanted to bless you with a gift card and say happy birthday.” While the mom grinned ear-to-ear and said thanks, the young man gave me a handshake and said, “Thank you very much!” I told him to enjoy his birthday and to have a great night. The interaction was simple, quick and straight to the point.

Now, as I tell that story some in the “church” community would wonder why I didn’t take advantage of the situation because I was giving him something as a stranger and try and share the plan of salvation that God offered as a free gift as this gift card was being given to him. Nope. None of those things came out of my mouth and I think there was a great reason.

I am going to say something, not as a blanket statement about all followers of Christ, but as many who do not have a fundamental truth operating in their life that needs to be addressed. Godliness starts with KINDNESS. Kindness and being a loving and giving member of this earth is not automatically given to people who have maybe the best intentions for introducing people to Jesus without seeing how they can meet a basic need and just be kind.

I had a conversation with an older lady who is a viewer of our programming on CTN here in Denver and she said that someone came up to her and said something derogatory about her love of animals and it offended her so bad that she never went back to church. This statement broke my heart for her because she based the ENTIRE church congregation on the idiotic statement from a member of her church. Also, this church member forgot the first principle of Godliness: KINDNESS.

I think the reason why God impressed on me to be kind to that mom and her son was so that I WOULD be able to share my experience and have each of us take inventory on how we treat our fellow man. If every person who called Jesus the Lord of their lives, would put kindness first and focus on being a part of people’s journey to find God then I think we could actually make a difference in this world we live in. Never forget that even though heaven is the ultimate goal that we have a RESPONSIBILITY to represent God in everything we do and say and that starts with nothing religious.