Wednesday, September 11, 2019

I remember.

9.11.2001

On the anniversary of the terrorist attacks I pause to reflect on that day and it occurs to me what I remember. As I scroll through the posts on social media with pictures and flags and memorials I remember.

  • I remember exactly where I was.
  • I remember hearing the news on the radio.
  • I remember seeing the images for the first time.
  • I remember that people gathered together to pray.
  • I remember that people set aside their differences to focus on what unites us as Americans.

Today I remember that time is precious, tomorrow is not promised and we should love the people around us as if it were our last day. Or theirs. I remember that prayer is still important and I believe it makes all the difference in the world.

I also remember that they enemy's ploy is to divide us - racially, economically, politically, generationally and the list goes on and on. From broken families to a broken nation he is sowing his discord every chance he gets. Even in the church.

The Church is God's plan to share His redemption with all of humanity. Let's fight together - against the enemy and for one another. Let's forgive like we've been forgiven and love like we've been loved. Let's live with faith and not fear. Let's give the world a little glimpse of heaven and live like people's eternities hang in the balance. Let's remember that we matter, and remember that what we do matters.


“This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” – Ephesians 5:14-17 NIV

Saturday, September 7, 2019

What's Your Worldview?


As a pastor one of the most painful things to watch is when someone begins to struggle with and question their faith. This is especially difficult when it is a young person making the transition into adulthood. As a parent my GREATEST hope for my children isn’t for them to be successful, rich or even happy. My greatest hope is for them to know and love God.

One of the things that I have noticed over the years is that there has been a radical shift in perspective. My generation largely viewed ‘truth’ as something existent outside of self. It was absolute, unchanging and not subject to personal opinion. For instance the ‘truth’ of gravity really doesn’t care if you believe it or not. It just is.

Today many view ‘truth’ as something personal, internal and malleable. What is ‘true’ for one may or may not be ‘true’ for another. What is ‘true’ today may not be tomorrow. Herein lies the million dollar question…

Do we view God through the eyes of our worldview or do we view the world through God’s eyes?

If God must fit within my worldview then he/she/it is really no god at all; no bigger than my understanding or imagination and no more powerful than I am. This was the realization I had at the age of 18. I had an epiphany that if there was truly a God then He was at the center of everything and I was not. He was not subject to the whims of my emotions or limited to the finite capacity of my mind. If there really was an eternal being that held time and space in His hand then He was the author of ‘Truth’. More accurately He is TRUTH.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” - Isaiah 55:9 NIV

I recently met a young man, newly saved, who had attended church as a teen. Since God didn’t fit within his worldview he admittedly embraced a pagan lifestyle to the extent of serving as a pagan priest. In his desire to break with all things Christian he set up a meeting with a pastor to vent and share his ‘truth’. In that meeting he found love, and more importantly found LOVE. When we stop trying to force God into our worldview and make Him Lord of our lives everything else comes into focus.

I am so thankful that it is not my place to judge God, or anyone else for that matter. I am grateful that ‘Truth’ is constant, because He is constant.

“Do not be deceived, my dear friends! Every good gift and every perfect present comes from heaven; it comes down from God, the Creator of the heavenly lights, who does not change or cause darkness by turning. By his own will he brought us into being through the word of truth, so that we should have first place among all his creatures.” – James 1:16-18 GNT

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Do the Hustle.


Last year, as a ministry staff, we believed that the Lord was saying that 2019 would begin a season of Miracles, Breakthrough and Long-Awaited Harvest. Praise the Lord we are seeing that come to pass. What many of us failed to realize is that many of answers came with conditions – i.e. hard work. A good friend of mine pointed out that harvest is one of the busiest seasons in the life of a farmer. If the crop isn’t gathered in quickly the harvest can go from ripe to rotten in the blink of an eye.

I guess another way we could say it is that you, ‘got to strike while the iron is hot.’ Another friend of mine is a blacksmith and I've had the opportunity to work with him on a few occasions. You have a limited time to work the metal once it comes out of the fire. Another friend of mine is a successful business owner. He once told me that his success wasn’t because he was the best or brightest in the room, but that he would ‘out hustle 99 out of 100 people.’ I believe it. Someone once said that, ‘good things come to those who wait.’ I agree, but when it’s time for action patience will cause you to miss your opportunity.

“The reason most people do not recognize an opportunity when they meet it is because it usually goes around wearing overalls and looking like Hard Work.” – Anonymous

The apostle Paul understood,

“There’s an amazing door of opportunity standing wide open for me to minister here, even though there are many who oppose and stand against me.” – 1 Corinthians 16:9 TPT

When God provides an opportunity we have to seize the moment. That’s not the time to be patient, that’s when it’s time to hustle.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” – Ephesians 5:15-17 NIV

Every day is a gift from the Lord, what you choose to do with it is your gift to Him. I believe God has GREAT things in store for you!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

When bad things happen to good people.


When I was eight years old my parents went through a bitter divorce. I was clueless and had never even seen them speak a cross word to one another. My little world came crashing down overnight. My mom moved from southern to northern California so I only got to see her on holidays and summers. In the seventh grade I decided to move in with her and my step dad and go to school there. It was a tiny school out in the country with less than 10 people in my class. It was so small in fact that they joined classes to save money on staff and so we were in the same room as the eighth graders. One of those students happened to be the girl that is now my wife.

I would never wish divorce on any couple or family. But I also wouldn’t change my situation in a million years because God brought something beautiful out of the brokenness.

My wife and I had been married for only nine months when her mother, 47 at the time, was diagnosed with cancer. Two weeks after getting the news that she was sick my wife and I packed up our little apartment on campus in Reno, NV and headed east for North Carolina. She finished her race less than a year later and went home to be with the Lord. People aren’t supposed to die at 48 and our girls never had the chance to meet their Grandma Linda. But in that time of caring for her family we found a church that forever changed our lives. What we thought would be a short intermission became a life calling.

It seems everyone has been touched by cancer’s curse at some point in their life. It’s an ugly disease and it’s just not fair. Let me be clear that I DO NOT BELIEVE that God gave my wife’s mother cancer. But in the midst of the tragedy he was at work guiding our path toward yours.

See if my parents never divorced then I wouldn’t have met my wife. If my wife’s mother hadn’t become sick we never would have moved to Western North Carolina, went into ministry and started writing this blog.

He is the God of meaning in meaningless situations. He is the God of hope in hopeless circumstances. He is the God of purpose in the middle of life’s messes. He is the great redeemer and we can trust that He is bigger than whatever it is we are dealing with. We can trust Him.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 NIV

Jesus is proof of the lengths that God will go to, lovingly working for your good because you are called according to his purpose. If you have made it through and can see God’s hand praise him for what he’s already done. If you are in the middle then trust that he is in control, he loves you forever and he IS taking care of you whether you can see it or not.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

My favorite person's favorite verse.


My wife is my favorite person in the world. One of her favorite verses from the Bible is Philippians 4:8. Therefore this in one of my favorite verses.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8 NIV

When Paul says “finally” he is saving the best for last. I was recently chatting with a friend and he said that life is about 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent your attitude about it. I believe he is correct. There is always a reason to be negative, critical, frustrated, discouraged. But there is always a reason to be thankful, hopeful, appreciative, encouraged. Both are true in every area of our lives – our careers, our relationships, our finances, our church…

I think for most of us it is easy to dwell on the bad. Most of our time spent on ‘what ifs’ don’t lean toward the good. But the Apostle Paul continues his instructions –

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:9 NIV

He uses the word ‘practice’. People who want to become better at something practice. People who want to become great at something practice and practice and practice. Some of us have practiced worry for years. We have become quite exceptional at it. God is willing and able to help us renew our minds, after all He is the ‘God of peace’.

There is always a reason to be positive because there is always GOD. In every situation He is always in control, He always has a purpose and He always loves you. Will you purpose in your heart today to join me on a journey of practicing a positive life? Let’s take our negative thoughts captive, make them obedient to Christ and choose to focus on good and Godly things! It may not be easy, especially at first, but I promise it will be worth it.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV

Friday, June 21, 2019

THRIVE!


“Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually].” – 3 John 1:2 AMP

What an amazing passage of Scripture. I believe that God wants to touch EVERY area of our lives. He is not just a spiritual Savior that will one day deliver us at death into glory. He cares about our physical, emotional, relational, financial AND spiritual well-being today.

So why are so many of us walking around sick and tired of being sick and tired? Well some of it has to do with the impact of sin on our world, but some of it might have to do with our lifestyle choices. Here are four areas that can cause us to live beneath our God given potential -

  1. Exercise – Most of us don’t get near the amount of movement that our bodies were created for. Think of how much our lives have changed in the last couple hundred years. We built our own houses from trees we cut down by hand and ate food that we hunted, gathered or grew. Every day required hours of physical activity just to live. I’m not advocating that we go off the grid but we do need to find ways to move more. I’ve heard people tell me that they walk 5 miles a day at work. That is certainly better than sitting behind a desk but just to put that into perspective the average turtle walks at just over 1 mph and can ‘run’ at 3-4 mph. So in an 8 hours shift the turtle is leaving you in the dust. My suggestion is that you find something you enjoy doing and sweat for at least 30 minutes a day.
  2. Food – Much of what we eat isn’t actually food. It’s highly processed frankenfood that is basically devoid of any nutritional value. You can’t put garbage in the magnificent machine that God created and expect it to perform at peak levels. Drink more water, eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins. Shop primarily from the perimeter of the supermarket. Plan your meals ahead of time and avoid the dreaded drive thru. Full disclosure – This is one of the areas I am working on to do better! 
  3. Rest – Did you know that many pro athletes sleep 10+ hours per day when training? They know that sleep is necessary for optimum health. We are chronically sleep deprived and it affects us more than just physically. If you wake up tired on a regular basis and need coffee/energy drinks to keep you going throughout the day you need more sleep. Now God may not sleep but even he set aside a day a week to rest! Make it a priority. Try setting an alarm to go to bed, monitor your caffeine intake and how it affects you, limit screen use in the evenings and turn your phone off at night! 
  4. Stress – Speaking of phones I have a love/hate relationship with mine. It allows us to stay connected with family and friends and increases productivity but it also makes it really easy to take work home with you. People expect to be able to get a hold of you 24/7/365. That isn’t reasonable. That bears repeating. It is not reasonable to work 7 days a week. You need downtime. Find something that helps you de-stress. Exercise, sew, read, fish, whatever helps you relax and schedule time to do it. Caring for your soul isn’t selfish. It’s hard to effectively help others if your life is a wreck. Listen to what Jesus said –


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

Is it possible that we are carrying and caring about burdens that God hasn’t called us to?

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:31-33 NIV

One last passage I want to share with you to lighten your load.

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” – 1 Timothy 4:8 NIV

So if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired don’t despair. There is ALWAYS hope in Jesus. My suggestion is that you find one small thing in each of these areas to change and start there. Don’t sign up to run a 5K this weekend, go vegan, turn off the internet and throw your phone away. My guess is the wheels would come off that bus in less than a week. Maybe park farther away when you shop, pack a salad for lunch two days a week, go to sleep 30 minutes earlier, do something you enjoy and spend some time with God each day. You’ll be amazed at how little changes can make a big difference.

I love you, God loves you and we both want to see you THRIVE.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Distressed or De-stressed?


My oldest daughter has been on a mission trip for the past month to Greece and this morning left for her next assignment in France. She had to catch an early morning flight from Athens so she got everything ready the night before. She grabbed her bags, left her key to the apartment on the desk, locked the door behind her and headed downstairs to meet her ride. Except her ride was late – 15 minutes, 30 minutes, she started making phone calls, knocking on the door, downloading a taxi app. Here mom and I started reaching out to everyone we could think of through Messenger, Skype, texting, carrier pigeon… 45 minutes late and no word.

Now mind you it is the middle of the night in Greece and everyone is fast asleep. We were all becoming increasingly concerned that she is going to miss her flight. With each passing minute and every failed attempt to contact someone the stress level was swelling. So with our daughter on speaker phone the three of us stopped to pray. I reminded my girl, my wife and myself that God was in control when we weren’t and that the worst case scenario, missing her flight, wasn’t really that big of a deal. We could buy another ticket for later today or tomorrow for less than a hundred bucks. That brought everything into perspective and we were able to collectively exhale. We shot out a quick message to our friends asking them to join us in prayer.

Within a minute or two the phone rang, my friend in Greece was making calls and her ride was 5 minutes away. We started checking travel times, boarding times and when the gate closed and she had JUST enough time to make her flight. Then we checked the flight. Wouldn’t you know that it was delayed by about 30 minutes and she had plenty of time?

God is in control of all things, well almost all things.

See he has given us control of our own perspective and that makes all the difference in the world. We can’t always control what is happening around us but we can control whether we react or respond. In the chaos of life we have the choice to become distressed or de-stressed.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” – Jeremiah 17:9 NIV

Sometimes things don’t go according to our plan, but rest assured they always go according to God’s.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:12-13 NIV

I remember.

9.11.2001 On the anniversary of the terrorist attacks I pause to reflect on that day and it occurs to me what I remember. As I scroll thro...