Solving Anemic Christianity

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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.

The Short But MIGHTY Phrase

Short and Mighty Phrase
I felt the full gravity today of thanking the person that helps manage the property for our television station. I could tell when I first met her that she deals with more than her fair share of negative words and attitudes with tenants and people telling her that crap is broken and for her to drop everything and assist them.

We had some leaks that have existed in our portion of the building even before we moved in. The church that used to own the building we lease in had done everything in their power to try and help get the leaks fixed but it always ended up with water pouring in everywhere. When the new company took over our lease, we contacted the lady who was the asset manager and asked them to fix the leaks in our area. After a few phone calls back a forth, they brought out a roofing specialist and they made the appropriate repairs that have been working great for probably two weeks.

I decided to give our property manager a call and thank her for their company fully fixing our leaks and preserving the electrical equipment that we have stored all over our office. It was funny because when I called her she didn’t really know how to respond at first. I told her I was sure that 99% of the phone calls she receives are negative in nature and can be wearing on her. I told her I wanted to encourage her and thanked her for her help. I could hear her voice loosen and she said that I made her day. I am not sure if she is a follower of Jesus but from my simple thank you I have gained entrance into her life just from being grateful.

Then I thought of the verses in Luke 17:11-19 where it says that Jesus healed 10 lepers and only ONE came back to thank him.

Jesus Heals Ten Men With Leprosy

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Verse 17 gives such an interesting response from Jesus before he tells the man to rise and go. He mentions the nine other lepers that had the same condition of this man but did not come back to find Jesus and thank him. I wonder if this portion of scripture is here to remind us of the importance of a thank you? Or is it an example of being obedient to the urging of God when thanking people in your life and not looking for an equally generous response? I think it was a bit of both.

You can NEVER underestimate the power of a simple thank you. Thinking of all the things that Jesus endured while here on the earth and the countless stories of his power moving in people’s lives, there are very few examples of people actually saying thank you.

Think today about your life and if people around you would consider you a grateful person. Is there someone in your life that you need to thank for something they did or they do on a consistent basis? I have heard many people say, “That person knows I appreciate them. Why do I have to say anything?” Verbalizing a thank you is not only for encouraging a person, but it is also for you to hear yourself appreciating those around you.

Your words have power to speak life or death and a simple thank you is the best example of life-giving power in someone else’s AND your own life.

The MOST Overlooked Element of A Walk With God

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There is an important principle that many people forget when wanting to be used by God. Countless people have started a relationship with Jesus to only think that it is boring and lifeless but they forget one simple principle. It is the one defining point that takes someone from an observer in his or her walk with God to a vibrant active follower of Jesus. It is so simple that many people overlook it when trying to read and follow what the Word of God says.

This simple and mind blowing principle is simply ASKING God to use you. There is a simple but powerful principle in asking. In Mark 10:51 Jesus asks a BLIND man a question – “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
Now, if this were me who was blind, I would have probably said, “DUH! What do you THINK I need?” This is the KEY: It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t see his need it was that he was waiting for the man to ask Jesus for help.

I think that same principle applies to our walk with God and asking to be used by him.
I am just like any other person who has given their life to Jesus and living each day here on earth with the same emotional, physical and sometimes financial struggles. I have started simply asking God each morning, “God, use me in an extraordinary way today” instead of thinking “I am sure that God will use me if he wants to.”

It is very important to realize that God is not holding back his desire for us to be used in the world we live in. EVERY DAY God is speaking to us and wants us to interact with people and for them to see the love of God in the lives we live. I believe that we sometimes use a form of procrastination in our walk with God by saying, “If I feel like God wants me to say or do something for him today then I will do it” instead of saying, “God, I know it is always your will to reach your creation through people who follow you and let me be a simple part of that interaction.” This may not be necessarily saying something to someone but it could be just praying over where you walk, sit, drink coffee (chai for me) or work. Being used in an extraordinary way is not always just being seen or heard for Jesus. It can be that you are laying the groundwork for someone else to step in and interact with people who don’t know how awesome Jesus is yet. But it can also be a time for you to step outside your comfort zone do something for Jesus that you will never regret.

So today, if you are a follower of Christ, start to ask God to use you in an extraordinary way and then just listen. It can be the most simple and wonderful decision you will make today. It is time to take your walk with God from boring and just asking for things for yourself to being a world changer that is involved in altering destinies! Have a great week!

Aaron Hernandez and Broken Reasoning

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Reading about Aaron Hernandez’s death today made me think of where he had come from, his rise and eventual fall in the sports world and his personal life. I found this picture of Tim Tebow and Aaron Hernandez when they played together at the University of Florida. I am not sure that many people remember the two winning a national championship together for the Gators and the talent that they both showed on the field in front of millions. Two men, who had everything to live for but because of personal decisions, had lives that went in very different directions.

Whether it is said or not, I believe people see the actions of others and label them as “good” or a “trouble maker” immediately which helps to encourage those people to live in that box created by the world around them. I am not saying that good or bad decisions don’t have consequences, but that God sees us ALL as equal. Each of us make mistakes at times in life but the key is what we do to correct patterns that are destructive versus things that lead to a fulfilled life. We all have the ability to reach out to God and seek direction. There is not a SINGLE person on this earth that is predisposed to make decisions like Aaron made in life. People have potential to make a turn around in life from negative decisions keeping in mind that the decisions people make will define the kind of life they make for themselves. That is why we need God’s help making those good decisions that not only benefit us but those around us.

When you think about it, our lives are just a series of decisions each moment we are alive. The question is not if we are going to make poor decisions in this life but what will we do the moment after that poor decision is made. Or, when something bad happens to us what do we do with that opportunity? Will we continue down a path of bad decisions as Aaron did, or will we reach out to God and begin to make investments in our relationship with Jesus? I can remember all the times of despair when I was sick and the mind games the devil would play with me causing me to sometimes give in and get discouraged and hate God because of my situation. I created a pattern of losses in my life because I reasoned that God was not honoring my holy and righteous actions in life and that I didn’t deserve the pain I was in. The fact is, pain in life is a fact whether it is something that happens to us or something we bring on ourselves.

Poor decisions in life are a result of broken reasoning. This is not something religious or non-religious but from a place of what makes sense to us personally. Aaron Hernandez being accused of shooting someone because he spilled a drink on him at a nightclub was a poor decision but that decision was based on broken reasoning. So his reasoning was that if someone does something to make him angry that they need to be shot. This is a textbook example of broken reasoning leading to poor decisions and his eventual hopelessness that lead to suicide. Asking God to take control of our lives is an exercise is asking God to help us make good decisions. That is why the Bible is such an instrumental tool of wise decision-making. Forgive your neighbor. Turn the other cheek. Love one another even as you are loved. Basically, to love and know God with all your heart and love the people put in your path.

Consider the love of God today. Think about the power you have to turn your life over to him and ask him to help you start to make good decisions instead of bad ones. It is NEVER too late to start making good decisions. Such an amazing thought that God doesn’t label us based on what we do. God has NEVER been mad at us a day in our lives. He is certainly disappointed when we make poor decisions but not mad at what we do.

I pray for Aaron Hernandez’s family and his young daughter. I pray for the family who was affected by Aaron’s actions and maybe feel like Aaron killing himself robbed them of justice. I pray for those people who will post things on social media and make light of or think it is a joke that he killed himself. I pray for those people who have developed a reputation that they want to change but feel like they can’t. We have time on this earth to make good decisions and that includes maybe giving Jesus a chance to help guide and direct us from a place of victory and not defeat. It is time to allow God to fix your reasoning so you can begin to make good decisions in life.

The Devil’s Greatest and Worst Moment…All in 72 Hours

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All the assumed wins that ended in failures through the years setting him up for the “big one”. All the times in the Old Testament where he had been on the path to victory but God stepped in and took control. He started in the garden tempting Eve and continued through the Old Testament time after time. There was the time on Mt. Carmel where Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal and had a showdown that ended in a loss. There was the time the Philistines had captured the Ark and thought they were going to start a winning streak against God’s people. Only to have it cause terror and tumors with the Philistines who came in contact with it only to be returned WITH OFFERINGS. So many apparent victories that ended up in utter defeat from Moses, to David to Saul. The list goes on and on.

Then Jesus came on the scene. The stage was set for the “biggie” of failures for the Devil and a crippling loss of power he had in the lives of humans. Jesus was on the earth for thirty years before his official ministry began but he was already known as a young man who spoke with authority in the synagogue. When John the Baptist baptized Jesus and he was sent in to the desert to be tempted that was where it all started to unravel for the devil. Temptations of hunger, protection and fame were all thwarted and so began the frustration. This weekend is Easter, which formally started with Good Friday, the best night of the devil’s existence. He was finally going to get his revenge. For being kicked out of heaven, the humiliations through the years of God coming through for his people and it was all coming down to this one moment. Jesus’ final breath on the cross and the words “It is finished” brought a sigh of relief to the devil. I am sure the smile that came over his face could not be contained and the celebration ringing through hell was boisterous and arrogant.

Then came Sunday. I can only imagine how defeated the devil felt when his master plan of trying to eliminate Jesus on earth ultimately and completely failed. When the stone was rolled away and Jesus was resurrected back to life like after what was like a three-day nap. And to add insult to injury, it says in 1 Corinthians 15 that over 500 people saw Jesus before his return to heaven! Not only did Jesus overcome death but he took a victory lap to encourage those people who were going to stay on earth to carry the message of not only his power but his love and compassion for people that needed to know him.

I share all of these words to help you understand the authority you have when you accept Jesus into your heart and make him the leader of your life. You have that same power over death and hell and access to God to share your heart and take authority over any earthly situation. This is not a guarantee of everything happening in life the way you want it to but when you understand that God has it all under control then your worry can subside and you can rest in his power and ability. It is also a reminder of how brief our life on this earth is and that we can have a hope of heaven when we die in addition to guidance, direction and purpose for life now.

Have a great Easter weekend and always remember; the devil lost, Jesus won and you have access to that very same power. I have mentioned this before, but it says in Matthew 7:7 that if you seek God you will find him. It can start with a simple prayer that says, “Jesus, I need you “ and maybe a trip to your local Bible-based church to see what this Jesus thing is all about. Or maybe it is time for you to come home, and even when you read this you know exactly what I mean. Have a great weekend and Happy Easter!! JESUS IS ALIVE!!

The Power in Submission To God and His Will

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This week I was thinking about the times I saw the most growth with God in my life and felt like I really learned important life lessons. There were all kinds of seasons and circumstances that surrounded times of growth for me but one thing was always constant with every single one of them and it was submission. Submitting of my will in accordance with God’s will or even leadership that I was under. Submission is, by definition, all about accepting and yielding to an opposing thought or position.

Let me give you an example of submission to leadership. I can remember when I first came on staff at Orchard Road with Pastor Sarah as my leader in the youth department. We were talking about her doing a review for me to help with my public speaking ability. I told her that I thought I was pretty good at public speaking and didn’t really need a review. She then asked me, “So you think how you speak now is as good as you will ever get?” I had to really evaluate what she was asking me, not realizing that she had her own experience earlier in life with an even higher profile pastor/leader who had asked her the exact same thing. I thought about it for a minute and decided that I wanted to get better as a public speaker and we began to do reviews for each other and it has become a very important element of my current role with television and helping people to excel at presenting to audiences. I am still not the best public speaker I know, but those moments of pushing have really helped shape me as a leader and speaker myself.

I shared that story to help illustrate my natural bend when it comes to correction and making changes in my life. I understand that growth, whatever area it is in, is important but it takes me having a revelation about it’s importance until I actually make a change.

Looking back now, I can see that my sickness with my eye brought a very important lesson to me about submitting to God’s will. Some people will read that comment and think that I considered what I went through in sickness with almost losing my eye as God’s will but it is MUCH bigger than that. I want to say something very important that you MUST get if and when pain hits in life. If we always think that God’s power in life is about keeping us OUT of painful situations instead of keeping us safe IN painful situations then we will be in a perpetual state of questioning based on outward circumstances instead of inward convictions.

Today, learn to submit QUICKLY to God and his will for your life. Reading the Bible is important as well as learning to just sit and LISTEN to what God is saying to you and not just TELLING him what you need. It will take you from a reactionary relationship with God to an inward conviction of power and strength that is stronger and will last longer than any painful season in this life we live on earth.

Is Pain from the Devil or From God? Excerpt from Holy Crap

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Below is a quick paragraph from Chapter 1 of my book about pain in life and where it comes from.

“Something important I want to make sure you understand before you continue reading is my perspective on the cause of sickness and on dealing with pain. I know there are at least two sides to why pain happens in life. There is a camp that believes sickness is purely a direct attack from satan that is not a part of the natural order of our existence on this earth, while others believe that God allows things to happen to teach us life lessons that we would never learn without them. This book is not to try to help you decide whether pain and sickness is directly a demonic attack or if it’s God allowing a necessary season of teaching.
The only fact I want you to realize, no matter what theological standpoint you come from, is that, if you don’t learn from the crap of life, it becomes purely a game of survival and not growth.”

When you are sick you don’t really care where it came from, you just want it to end.

Today, think of someone going through a struggle of some kind and reach out to them. Maybe say a prayer for them or just text them and let them know you are there. The other key is don’t get offended if they push you away or don’t respond at all. People going through pain react in all kinds of ways that may not make sense. Keep loving them and be available.

I Serve a Pushy God…And I Like It

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I had a conversation with Ken, one of our team members at work, and we were talking about God taking care of us as we walk through life. We specifically were talking about Psalms 23 because it is such a great example of God telling us what he will do for us in pretty much all seasons of life.

I mentioned something to him and when I said it, I knew it came from God so I want to share it with you today. It has to do with the first three verses of chapter 23 and there are three terms that I want to emphasize because it says a lot about what God knows we will need in this life we live.

1     The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3     he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right path for his name’s sake.

It is amazing to think that when God created us he knew we would need to be “made, led and guided” in this crazy life that we live. We are naturally stubborn and want to do our own thing, walk our own path and then just deal with the consequences of those decisions. When I read or listen to the Bible I get a better revelation of the principles in there that are wrapped around and answer the issues I am either dealing with or will deal with the longer I am alive.

It is further proof that God is FOR us and not AGAINST us and offers to help in three different ways as stated in Psalms 23. He will make us rest when we feel like we are running a thousand miles an hour, lead us beside quiet waters when our natural bend is to try and dance around raging rivers and guide us along the right path of life IF we will allow him. The key is getting the Bible in you and allowing it to permeate every part of your thinking, which in turn, will lead to a life that follows after God and brings peace.

Maybe some of you are in a place to not understand this peace that God offers and don’t know why reading a simple book could change your life in such a drastic way. Think of it this way; if life is really a struggle right now for you and you are running out of options, what do you have to lose?

Praying that you will be have hope in despair, wisdom where there is confusion and love where you feel hate. Have a great day!

The Bible ALREADY Knows What You Will Go Through

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Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Revelation 2:10
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

The two verses above are just a couple of examples in the Bible that talk about adversity in life and highlight the importance of where our MINDS are set more than any external circumstance we will encounter.

I have been listening to the Bible in the mornings on the way to work and then reading the Bible at night before I go to bed. While doing this I have made an important observance when it comes to direction from the Bible. Take the two verses above for example. The fact that the Bible even has to address being anxious in Philippians and suffering in Revelation identifies the fact that whomever reads these verses will probably be dealing with those exact issues in some way.

I think the impression sometimes can be that as long as we follow God, speak the right scriptures and generally do all the right things in life that we will have it fairly easy. Or, that the Bible is just a book of “ideal thoughts” that are speaking from the best-case scenario. Both of those thoughts are wrong and can steer us AWAY from the Bible instead of TOWARDS it when trouble in life hits. I know that when I was in the middle of my crap that I had fallen into both of those thought processes and experienced the consequences of that mental decision. The things I was focused on was blindness, killing myself, losing my house, being poor and basically total and utter failure. The Bible is so far from those things because the Bible is written from an internal perspective understanding that circumstances in life will be against you at some point in your existence on this earth.

There are no promises anywhere in the Bible that says the circumstances of life will always be in your favor. In fact, it highlights just the opposite BUT gives reassurances of better outcomes purely based on faith that God is in control.

When we read the Bible as a practical guidebook for every and all situations then we can fully access it’s power throughout life. Knowing and accepting the truths of the Bible does not keep circumstances away from us but it gives us a firm anchor and mental fortitude to resist the temptation to fold under the guaranteed pressures of life.

Today is the day to start to trust God and his plan for your life. That starts with surrendering your life to him. You can simply say, “God I want you to be in control of my life and I surrender to you.” Don’t overcomplicate a relationship with Jesus. He simply loves you no matter where you came from our what you have done. Difficult circumstances in life will always happen but your reactions to those things are a decision that starts with trusting God and following his lead.

You can do it. Don’t give up. I am praying for you.

 

 

 

 

Talkers are Praised While Listeners Go Unnoticed

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I cannot say that I know very many people who are great listeners, including myself. Someone who, when their name comes up, is known to others as an exceptional listener. At the same time, we can name numerous amazing speakers when it comes to people we think have full command of the words that come out of their mouth. It is an interesting thing to me that we praise talkers but great listeners in life go unnoticed. Maybe it’s because we feel like if we don’t share how we feel we will not be able to change our corner of the world. Maybe you grew up in a large family and if you were not able to express yourself well that you were ignored or even forgotten.

As a follower of Christ, I was ALWAYS taught growing up the importance of telling others about my relationship with Jesus. Even now, Christians far and wide believe the most important thing is telling the world about how much Jesus loves them. We even sing worship songs about “telling” and build vision/mission statements around talking! When was the last time you read the vision statement of a religious organization that says, “We will listen to the broken and answer with love first and words second.”

Please hear me. I am not poking holes in religious organizations or churches but just making a statement about maybe some of the pacing we do as followers of Christ that tries to mimic the people who don’t have a relationship with Jesus yet. The world is all about telling others who they are, how they feel and the convictions they have and operate by.

There is an incredible power exhibited when you LISTEN to someone who either disagrees with your stance on something or even says things based from a place of hurt or pain. Stop trying to come up with a witty antidote to something being told to you and just tell yourself to shut off your mouth and engage your ears and mind to just listen.

The amazing byproduct of listening is that it encourages others to hear what YOU have to say because they felt honored that you would listen to them. So it is not whether you ONLY listen or ONLY talk but that listening opens up the channels of communication with others and helps you share what is on your heart. Maybe it is a priority of listening with a result of talking. Even Jesus would interact with people in a question format, listen to what they would have to say and then share. The greatest communicator to walk the earth was first and foremost the greatest listener, and He is who I want to be.