True Contentment In Life…Is Not More Things

I am in Las Vegas this week for NAB and learning about media trends from the people who work around the world to create media and connection for the masses. My focus and heart this week is to hear what is being done and what people see on the horizon for media. I then want to combine those principles with prayer and see what God comes up with to help me move Christian Television along and into the future.  
I am struck with the speed of changing technology and the insatiable desire for humankind to want things faster and more customized to their life even when the newest technology is already out. I firmly believe that this is a result of unhappiness in the human condition without God. Let me explain.  

I love and enjoy technology as much as anyone but I know that I can fall into the trap of needing to have the latest or greatest of whatever gadget, game or app that I currently own. Technology in itself is not a bad thing and can make our lives more productive as well as help us stay connected to family and friends. The issue comes when we are consumed in our minds with dissatisfaction and the technology we own and use. It used to be where technology would change about once a year but now there are not really even any estimates as to how fast things change. That means that even if I have the newest technology right now that it could potentially be out of date by the end of the first week or month that I own it! When my mind is not set on the things I own but the people that I can touch with the love of Jesus around me, then those technological pieces of equipment are only a means to an end and not a destination. I cannot talk for others but can only say for myself that I have fallen into the trap of wanting what I don’t have more times that I can count.  

The problem with wanting what you don’t have is that you make your thoughts about YOU and not about reaching others. We were not created to only serve ourselves and it is interesting to hear comments at NAB about companies that are standing out from the crowd because they are helping people feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. For example, a company called Warbly Parker competes with Lens Crafters in the world of eye glasses. An important but overlooked sales technique is that they donate money to developing countries for every pair of glasses purchased.. Because people feel like they are giving to something bigger than themselves they decide to spend their money with that company. What people don’t know is that their giving towards developing countries in that way is only a reflection of their creator.  

Today, take an inventory of what you are pursuing in life. Maybe it is a new car, house or some temporary thing on this earth and in proper perspective, that is fine. But when we desire or value the newest/best and not people we realize there are no amount of “things” that can fill our lives to make us feel content. A life with Jesus is a life looking at how we can be a blessing to others and using the technology/things we have to accomplish that task. 

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.

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.

Don’t Be “Nearsighted” or “Farsighted” In Pain

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Below is a quick paragraph from my book, Holy Crap; Finding God’s Presence In Your Pain. You can click here for more information about how to pick up your own copy.

From Chapter 3: The Definition of C.R.A.P.
“We allow the devil victory in our lives when we let him keep us farsighted on the PAIN in life (making us think painful crap will never end) and nearsighted on the PLAN that God has for our lives (making us think God doesn’t have a plan to teach us something greater than the things we know at present).”

There were MANY times I thought that my pain, trouble and sickness would never end during the four years I was sick. Usually, the lowest times for me was when the doctor would have me try a new medication to pair with the prednisone I would be on and it would fail and I would have to be on up 120 mg doses of prednisone again. Those low points were coupled with a fact I had constructed in my mind that what I was going through could NOT be something beneficial for my development as a person and follower of Christ. These two firm impressions in life sent me on a downward spiral that affected my attitude, my focus in what I was going through and almost had me end my life.

I don’t say these things to make people feel bad for me or that what I dealt with was anything worse than anyone else but to bring up a very important point when dealing with any kind of pain; the determinations in your mind will direct your life.

1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 

A couple of things to point out that can help us and give us direction about dealing with the devil in painful situations. The very first sentence references a “sober mind” and then a definition of what the devil is always trying to relentlessly do; devour. Notice that it does not say, “Don’t worry about the devil because he knows he is defeated and won’t mess with you and try to take you out when you follow Christ. It is actually the opposite with a warning about the state of mind we need to be in at all times.

A sober mind leads to the last verse mentioning the importance of knowing that you are not the only one dealing with pain! Pain is very selfish and can make us think that no one else can even begin to understand what is happening which links itself to thinking that even God doesn’t understand or care for us. Just the opposite is true in God’s love and plan for us.

There will always be pain in life but how we handle it will be primarily based on our trust and belief in God’s greater plan for us. I cannot say why pain and sickness happen in life, but I can say that what you learn from those situations will either make you a better person or break you down. When you have a relationship with Jesus, you have the advantage of leaning on Him in those times of struggle and walking through the valleys of life.

God wants us to have perfect emotional and Spiritual “vision” as we go through life and focus that is not contingent on our circumstances but firmly rooted in his purposes and plan for our lives.

Praying for you tonight and have a great rest of the week!

The ONLY Reason Why I Didn’t Kill Myself

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Who would have thought that a simple kid from Montana, who grew up in church all his life and went to Bible College to became a pastor, would ever have thoughts of suicide and killing himself. Well, that was the situation I found myself in when I got sick with an eye disease that the doctors knew I had but could not find the root cause. I can say that there are not many things that I am afraid of in this life but blindness is certainly one of them. When I started to have vision problems my whole world shut down and I felt like I was drowning in my own skin. It was like I was suffocating from the inside and no matter where I went I was overwhelmed with grief and despair. This led to thoughts of suicide and wanting to end my life because I didn’t see a way out and was not willing to even consider a life shift like going blind.

I am now on the other side of my eye episode and I can say that I appreciate everything I learned emotionally from what I dealt with for over four years. All the people that God put in my life and the times of being at the end of myself when I would find hope in so many ways that I believe God provided for me.

I was listening to a song by Hillsong Young and Free called “Passion” last week and I just started to cry uncontrollably because I had a FULL realization of why I never went through with my thoughts to kill myself. It was Jesus. Him alone. Not positive thoughts from people, not kind words, or money people gave us so we would not lose our house. Even though ALL those things were great and had a part in me making it, without JESUS I would be dead. I am not trying to make people that only believe in positive thoughts mad, but I know that the good intentions and positive thoughts of others is not what brought me out of my cold, dark, lonely and suffocating spiral. I found God in a way that church could not encourage me to believe and school could not teach me to understand. In fact, for all the things that I learned in school and the love I feel even at church today, without a revelation of God’s passionate love for me, those things would be out of reach in my mind. Even listening to that song right now as I type this in a coffee shop in Denver I am tearing up because I FOUND Jesus. Here are the words to the song below. I typed them all because the whole song is such a great illustration.

Passion (Hillsong Young and Free – Youth Revival)
In the grove, when your cup seemed too much
With the worst yet to come
I was on your mind
On the cross, as the crowds cursed your name
Heaven’s eyes turned away
Still you thought of me

I know you love me so

Through it all, you were thinking of me
Even death couldn’t keep all your love for me
But you died, so that I could have life
There’s no greater love than this

I know you love me so [x2]

Your love is still the same
Beginning and forever
I sing of all your passion won for me
I sing of all your love first done in me

Your love will never change
Beginning and forever
I sing of all your passion won for me
I sing of all your love first done in me

I found you [x6]

You’re brighter than the sun
Risen from the shadows
Seated on the throne of majesty
Higher than the skies and all the sea

I found you [x6]
I love you [x6]

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/youth-revival-live/id1081955392

The devil wanted me to kill myself so I would not have a voice in people’s life of encouragement and joy. I am more determined now than ever to be the man of God I need to be for this hurt, lost and dying world.

I can tell you today that kind words, positive thoughts and “good vibrations” will not carry you through the darkest days of your life. I will NEVER apologize for my relationship to Jesus and KNOW that He is the only answer. If you cry out to him, he will hear you and answer you. If you need help, please message me and reach out. Love you all and pray that Jesus reveals himself to you today in a new way!

Don’t Quit. Don’t Stop. Don’t resist the love of Jesus.

For those who Say They Can’t have Faith in God, Never Update Any Mobile Device…EVER

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I had an update pop up this am for my Apple Watch. I went through the normal ritual of accepting the update on my phone, which brought me to a screen that asks for my permission with micro writing that I KNOW no one even cares about and trusts blindly. I scrolled down to the bottom, as I do every time, and mindlessly clicked “agree” when I did not even read one word or warning.

Then it hit me.

I come in contact with people all the time who tell me that they just can’t have faith in God because they need to be able to see, know and understand everything He is doing and will do. Just like when Apple asks me to trust them with a device update that they feel will be necessary to help with security and new enhancements for my watch, when I trust God in my life I am doing the same thing. I trust he knows better than me because he is the “creator” of my life as Apple is the creator of my watch. I was not there when the watch or my body was put together, but I trust the update and God will do what is advertised and that it will enhance my life in some obvious way.

When we can see that we put our trust in all kinds of things each day without truly having complete knowledge of how they were put together and how they will work, it makes trusting God just a little bit easier. Updates for most devices are based on two things; security and enhancements. Putting your life in God’s hands and allowing him to guide and direct it, are based on very similar principles. God wants to enhance our life by giving us the security of knowing that no matter what happens to us, He will be right there with us and will never leave us.

In all reality, we do not have trust issues in this life. We have issues with who/what we put our trust IN. We need to consider heavenly trust in the same category as anything else in life and give trusting God a chance. The Bible says that if you seek Him you will find him.

I guess I just dared you to trust in God’s love, provision and help for your life.
Are you up for the “trust” challenge?

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

psalms-23-blog

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!

God’s Love and Our Moronic Activity

godislove
This past weekend I went on a run and pray. I love running in Colorado because even though it is supposed to snow in two days the path that I run on is completely clear. It is wonderful to be able to run pretty much through the entire year so it gives me some great time outside to pray for family and friends.

I also love observing the scenery around me including the people that I pass who are out on the trail enjoying the day. Today I passed a couple getting married by the river (even though everyone in the wedding party looked fairly cold), lots of birds and other wildlife and many families out with their kids. One mom I passed had 3 girls that all had scooters, skateboards or some alternate form of transportation. Her face said it all; “Get it ALL out of your system kids because momma is VERY exhausted and doesn’t want to have to deal with you all when we get home. In fact, it may be time for bed for everyone at 4:30pm when we get home.”

Even though I tease about her facial expression, you could see that she was there for one reason and one reason only; to wear out her kids so they would behave later on in the evening.

Then I passed a dad who had one kid in a stroller and the other on a small scooter. The kid was no older than five and kept crossing the centerline riding into my side of the trail. He would patiently pick up the scooter with the kid on it and reposition her to go straight and give her the best chance of staying on her side of the trail. This happened probably three times from when I saw them and I am sure this correcting procedure happened their entire walk. He was patient and only walked about two miles an hour. Basically, I witnessed two opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to parents interacting with kids on the trail.

When I got done running I felt like God say to me, “The patient dad is how I feel about humanity and those I created. I am not impatiently just putting up with people but I am a loving father that picks up the scooter, repositions it and waits patiently with you to figure out that there is a safe path or a harmful path that will get you run over.”

Maybe you think that God is up in heaven with a billy club waiting to beat you over the head and bring correction if you make some kind of mistake in life that even causes family and friends around to react with anger or disgust. If you will let him, you can ask God to help you by allowing him to grab the “scooter”of your life and reposition it correctly.

The key is asking God to help make those corrections in your life and recalibrate you for the better. The way you can tell if you need recalibration in an area of life is if something you are doing/thinking was birthed out of some kind of hurt. Just like that small kid who needed correction last weekend on the trail, they didn’t even realize that if they would keep heading in the wrong direction that it would be bad for them and may have even caused hurt.

Some of you reading this need to listen to that “tugging” in your heart right now and ask God for help.

If you need some to pray with then please click here and send me a message. I will do my best to help you and help believe for AMAZING things this year in life.

I am praying for you!