Testimony From a Reader

glowing wooden cross

I have had people through the years share with me how much my story has meant to them but this testimony I received recently really struck a nerve with me. Maybe because it hit so close to home in my mind and reminded me of the depth of despair I was in when I was at my deepest darkest point.

As I have said many times, stories like the one below are not just about selling more books but about sharing what God has done with my simple story and how he can use what YOU have gone through for His glory too!

Here is the testimony I received from a reader. I pray it encourages you AND helps you know and recognize that you are not alone in the fight.

“I just finished your book. I can’t say just how much it touched my heart and soul. As soon as the new church I want to go to opens back up I am going to go. I am going to call the pastor tomorrow and ask him when I can start going.

I have been sick with a disease since I was 10 years old. I have been lost many times on the journey of life and am recovering now from being lost and making the wrong choice when it came to trying to take my life. I was in so much pain that all I wanted was for the pain to stop. All I remember is waking up in the ambulance and being so mad that my plan didn’t work. That was about 8 months ago and now I can say I am glad that I didn’t lose my life that lost moment.

Thank you for sharing your story and making me feel like I am not so alone in this world.”

As I pray for this new friend, I pray for you as well. That you would sense God in the middle of your darkest night and that Jesus’ great love would intersect you in a miraculous way.

There is just as great a chance of something wonderful happening in your life tonight as there is something terrible. How about you expect a MIRACLE and not just more crap in life? You can do it. I am cheering you on!

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!!

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.

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.

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!

The MOST Overlooked Element of A Walk With God

ASking
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!

How To Sin When Someone Offends You

Word on keyboard made in 3D
I wanted to give a few pointers on how to make sure to turn an offense of some kind into full-blown sin when someone offends you. Of course, I am typing this tongue in cheek, but how many times do we follow the rules below to make a situation even worse?

  1. Find 3 people that agree with you and disagree with the other person.
    It is VERY important to only tell your side of the story and not take responsibility for your side of the situation. Pulling people to your side is critical to insulating yourself from correction and making sure to discredit the other person.
  2. Concentrate on the offense as long as humanly possible.
    Make sure to let an offense fester in your mind and interfere with your prayer life and even let it change your personality. Making sure that others know you are mad at someone secures them feeling bad for you and hating the person in the altercation.
  1. ALERT: Stay FAR away from people will be honest with you and help you let go of what offended you.
    This is a KEY because others can help bring a sense of calm and levelheadedness that you DO NOT need when you are trying to stay mad at someone.
  1. Forget how many times Jesus forgave you when you did something to Him that would be considered an offense.
    Forgetting about your own shortcomings can definitely help to strengthen the length of time you can stay hateful and really feel like you are “getting them back” because of your anger.

The sad thing is that there is truth folded into the four points above when we get offended. I have a news flash for all of us; as long as we are breathing and walking on this earth we will be offended in life. So the question is not IF we will be offended but WHEN and how we will deal with those situations.

When someone offends us the FIRST thing we need to do is guard/watch our tongue and the people we try and pull into our painful situations. There is nothing good that can come from talking bad about someone else, no matter what the situation.

Our mind is where the devil wants to play and keep us distracted from working through painful situations and releasing them to God. A true sign of spiritual growth is turning over a destructive thought more quickly than before.

There is a power in the verse in Proverbs 27:17 about iron sharpening iron. When we put ourselves around people who we trust to be honest and give us Godly perspective in life we put ourselves in a place of growth in life and not destruction.

Remembering what we have been forgiven of with Jesus can be the very best way to release forgiveness to others. There is nothing worse than accepting forgiveness from Jesus and not releasing that same forgiveness to others that offend us. I am not saying there will be no process of releasing things to God, but when we keep our perspective on life and interaction with each other, we can work through pain and not let it keep us from growth in many areas of life.

Praying for you today!

Stop Fighting TO Victory and Start Fighting FROM Victory!

spring sunset
When we speak about “fighting the good fight” in Christian circles we have been misled in a huge way. We have been led to believe it is something that we are fighting TO instead of fighting FROM. Let me explain.

When we think of the term fighting in our earthly minds, we consider where we are and where we need to end up after we have “fought the good fight”. We consider the struggle and mentally prep ourselves for the long journey ahead planning on a celebration at the end of the sacrifices it took to get to victory. We consider the importance of Ephesians 6:10-12

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

The problem with that thinking when it comes to spiritual struggles and our fight against the devil is that we have ALREADY won. Jesus already completed the victory over the devil and his perceived power on this earth. We are not fighting TO a victory over the devil but fighting FROM the place of victory. God is not waiting for us to be strong enough or powerful enough to overcome the devil and his schemes in the lives we live. His hope for us is that we would have a full revelation of the victory we have when we ask Jesus to guide and direct our lives.

So the struggle is still real because our natural inclination in life is to allow our flesh to be glorified and win or to take the easy road. The fight is not against the devil as much as it is against our flesh and reminding ourselves each day that we have already won!

When we get a full revelation of victory in our lives we won’t let the devil push us around, tempt us and make us think we are less than the loved creation that God created us to be.

Walk in your authority today over the devil and his schemes. Put on your spiritual armor with the mindset of TAKING ground and not just barely getting by. You have EVERYTHING you need in your right now to be successful in this life. The key is to ask God to give you a revelation of that power because when you do, the world around you will never be the same again!