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.

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.

What to Ask God When Things Go Wrong

When Things Go Wrong

I am firmly convinced that as human beings, we don’t like things to go wrong. It’s not like we think relationships, finances, family and just life in general will always end up the way we planned it but we stay away from mistakes and things going wrong (or we should) at all costs.

As a person who gives Jesus number one priority in my life the perception can be that when you ask Jesus into your heart and life everything you do or that happens to you has two things; an out or an explanation but sometimes, neither are true. When I got sick with my eye condition one the hardest things to deal with was the fact of not knowing why I was going through such hell. I evaluated my life (as most good highly religious people do) and immediately started to compare what I was going through with my perceived level of religious goodness. (Like that one? It took me a while to come up with that last sentence) The balance of what was happening to me did not fit all the “good” things I thought I had done my whole life. Sadly, I had to learn the hard way that if I knew what God knew in my situation then I would be God…and I’m not.

Even after everything I went through, and still dealing with damage to my retina and vision in my left eye, It is still very difficult for me to deal with things that don’t go my way. I am still learning a very important principle that I think God is trying to teach me.

So here is my story. I had some custom work done on my car headlights recently but needed to add a part to make the LED halos blink on each side. It took me about an hour to get everything wired up and working the way I wanted. It had started to rain and I was trying to hurry and get everything finished. I put all the wires where they needed to be, shut the hood, put all my tools away then tested my headlights. My fix didn’t work and I was NOT happy. I got out of my car, in the rain this time, to get my tools and continue to fix on my STUPID lights.

I had been working an additional 15 minutes on my problem lights when my neighbor who lives around the corner walked up and stood behind my car. She and her family have always been on my heart and I have prayed for and helped them previously just trying to show the love of Jesus. She proceeded to ask me if I go to a church that she could come with Yolanda and me on a Sunday. She told me that she had wanted to ask me for a while but there was never an opportunity for her to ask. I told her yes and scheduled a Sunday to bring her with us.

The point I am making is that if the fix for my lights would have worked before I had to redo them, then I would not have been there in my driveway and able to connect with my neighbor. So because my life had a “detour” thrown in it for a few minutes I was able to reap the investment of prayer and kindness for the years previous. She walked away from our quick conversation and I felt like an idiot for getting mad at, first of all, something so stupid and then not stopping when my wiring went wrong and asking God, “What is the opportunity you are presenting to me?” Sometimes we can have something go wrong and nothing happens as far as our interaction with anyone but IF WE DON’T ASK WE WILL NEVER SEE THE NEED.

So I am programming myself to ask first to take the place of getting angry. The only thing that keeps us from God’s WILL is our WILLingness to ask and then do.

Have a great week and praying that God helps you with the things that may be keeping you from experiencing him in his fullness!

Pastors & Ministry Leaders: A Few Keys To Help Guard Your Heart and Life

Pastor Caution Sign
I just read an article about the pastor of a large church here in Denver and the apparent revelation of an affair. News like this always rocks me and makes me very sad for the body of Christ. Below are some of my thoughts for people in full time ministry or who consider themselves a ministry leader, especially those who are married. My wife and I have been in ministry over twenty years and feel like I have a few observations that could help a pastor/leader who will be tempted by the devil on a regular basis.

You are not above a moral failure
First and foremost, when a person in leadership hears about another leader who has had some kind of moral failing, the first thing to do is pray for them and realize that NO ONE is above falling to temptation. When you realize that you are as vulnerable as anyone else in the world then you begin to put the elements below in place to keep your eyes focused on Jesus.

Firewalls
My dad is a mechanic so I have been around cars my whole life. If you didn’t know, there is a very important part of every car that could save your life if your engine ever caught fire. It is called the “firewall” and separates the engine compartment from the rest of the vehicle. It is made of reinforced metal and fire retardant material to help shield passengers from fire and is an INTENTIONAL element of every vehicle. I have multiple firewalls in my life including my best friend and my wife who are allowed to randomly ask me how I am doing in my mind and actions. Not just sexually, but in financial dealings and just to help me stay on track in life, especially being in television ministry. Now, I can always lie and tell them everything is fine when it may not be, but if I do that I am endangering myself with relationships in my life. That would basically be the equivalent of taking a hacksaw to the protective element of a car and opening myself up to danger. Something important to realize is that accountability is only as good as the desire to WANT to be held accountable. That “want” comes from value we put on our marriages, our ministry and ourselves.

If you are married, wear your wedding ring
One of the easiest ways to help deter advances from anyone, if you are married, is to wear your dang wedding ring. This is not a hard and fast rule, because people can be so unhappy or broken in life that they wouldn’t care if you were wearing your wedding tux or dress and carrying around a crystal framed picture of your spouse, they would still make a pass at you. Wearing your ring shows intentionality in your relationship to your spouse. If for nothing else, it can be a reminder to the vow you made when you are being tempted in some way. If you don’t like wearing rings then get a tattoo of one on your ring finger or get a gel ring or use a twisty tie. Now there are times where you will not have a ring on. For me it is when I go shooting, hiking or running. The point is that when you make an effort to wear your ring, you don’t know how that can help deter someone from making advances. Again, it is not fool proof but everything helps.

If you are married, have a great, honest sex life
I truly believe that one of the main issues that trip up married people in ministry is their sex life. You also notice that I didn’t just say “great” sex life but added the word “honest” as far as communication with your spouse. Men, you need to let your wife know that sex is important (if it is) and come up with an agreement on how much sex you will have. Women, you need to be honest with your husbands about your sexual needs as well and if either of you feel like you have a low sex drive or are losing the desire for sex. When you are honest about things like this, you are making sure that your sexual needs are met in the context of marriage and not leaving a door open for someone else to fulfill that need that was only and always meant to be enjoyed in the context of marriage. I know that for Yolanda and me, just being busy in life can be a main factor in disrupting a healthy sex life. The key is COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION!

Be Careful about Movies/Entertainment you Watch
I am always astounded at the number of church/ministry leaders who go to movies (that can be easily checked online for content) that have nudity in them. You need to evaluate the desire for entertainment in your life and at what cost. Everything you watch, even on television, needs to be evaluated and screened as far as where it encourages your mind to go. I am not saying that watching a movie with nudity will keep you out of heaven but actually something just as bad. It can cause your mind to wander and be tempted to do something with someone that will tear down what you are called to do on this earth to help people see Jesus in and through you. Essentially, becoming a stumbling block to someone else and standing in the way of them developing a relationship with Jesus. We need to do everything we can to mitigate entertainment that causes us to have a wandering mind sexually. The world we live in is not getting better with sexual content in movies and television and actually getting worse. The choices we make about entertainment is not trying to prove that we are more spiritual than anyone else, but protecting the things we see and hear that fully shape who we are and how we act.

Again, none of these are magical rules for life but just common sense suggestions to help secure a healthy and happy marriage in ministry. Because ministry is about people and dealing with vulnerable moments for them, it is important that we live an INTENTIONAL life in the area or moral purity. Temptation will ALWAYS be around us as long as we walk this earth, but we always have a choice to prioritize our lives and decide what we are willing to protect on a daily basis.

I had some GREAT advice today from a friend about diffusing gossip with someone. When people bring you some juicy morsel of information you can stop that person and say, “Wow. You really care a lot about that person. Have you tried to call them yet and pray with them?” I thought that was a great way to keep in context why people are sharing information that can only be construed as destructive and not constructive.

Praying for you all and the great work you do to help people walk this life to reflect Jesus. Keep fighting the good fight and make sure that you value the right things in life and guard them with all your heart.

The Power in Submission To God and His Will

Submission To God
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.