Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks.

I want to brag on one of my best good friends Danny. He is part of our Pastoral staff here at LifeWay and we are so fortunate to have he and his sweet wife Ronda on our team. One of the things that most impresses me about Danny is his willingness to try new things. Here is a perfect example -

As we age we tend to take fewer risks. A friend of mine who is a Christian Counselor recently said, 'We view our tomorrow through the lens of our yesterday.' In other words we have a habit of projecting yesterday's failures and pain onto tomorrow's possibilities. The end result is we miss out on the adventure of life. Danny has started and sold businesses, traveled around the world sharing the love of Jesus and just last year jumped out of an airplane just for fun.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
- Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

There are a thousand reasons why you can't   (fill in the blank)  . But you only need one reason why you can - Because God said so. If you have a dream that He placed in your heart then go chase it down and don't let anyone stop you. Especially YOU! God's plans for your tomorrow aren't held captive by your yesterday. We have to be willing to do something different, to welcome change and embrace the unknown if we are going to grow, to live, to flourish. When we try something new and step into unfamiliar territory it may feel a little scary, a little unnatural, perhaps like riding a hoverboard for the very first time. But with a little practice we'll be flying around like an old pro in no time at all.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Word Please.

One Word from God can change everything.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” - John 1:1-5 NIV

It can create the heavens and the earth. It can calm the fiercest storm. It can even bring the dead to life.

“… and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Last year I asked God for a word for 2019 and He spoke 3 things. The Holy Spirit said that 2019 would be a year of miracles, breakthrough and long awaited harvest. I know it was a word for me, my family and our church. I also believe that if you are reading this then it is a word for you as well. I am not a believer in coincidence, but I am trust absolutely in God’s sovereign guidance.

“For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.” - Luke 1:37 AMPC

So now begins the journey of asking God what that means specifically for each of us and for all of us. If we are willing to ask I know that God is ready to speak.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year's Resolutions.

The first day of the New Year.

A gogillion people are going to make a resolution. Read more, eat healthier, exercise regularly, start school, stop smoking and the list goes on and on and on… By the end of January the vast majority of those people will have slipped back into the same old habits. The only difference is the disappointment and guilt. It eventually subsides until we start the whole process over again next year. Wash, rinse, repeat.

It reminds me of a story from the Bible. The Ninevites were supremely wicked and God’s judgment was imminent. In His grace he sent the prophet Jonah to warn them and give them a chance to change. Now most of the time we focus on Jonah, who fled from God, got tossed into the ocean, eaten by a fish, puked up on shore and finally did what God requested. But I want to look at the people from Nineveh today. To put it mildly they definitely had room for personal improvement. When confronted with their shortcomings there were a couple of things that they did AND a couple of things they didn’t do.

Here is what they didn’t do –
  1. They didn’t make excuses and justify their actions.
  2. They didn’t pass the buck and blame others.

Here is what they did do –
  1. They accepted responsibility for themselves.
  2. They enacted a plan to make lasting changes.

“Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: “Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”” – Jonah 3:3-9 NIV

The Ninevites didn’t start well but they sure did finish well which brings me to my point –

“The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” – Ecclesiastes 7:8 NIV

I want to encourage you to be the best possible you that you can be. God has put so much inside of you and has great plans for your life. Look for an area to improve, set a goal, make a plan and gather some people around you to make it happen. Starting is important, but it’s how we finish that really matters.

2019 IS YOUR YEAR!!!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Pushing Limits

Last week we did a ‘Hero’ workout at the gym. A ‘Hero’ workout is something we do to honor someone who gave their life in service to others and they are typically ridiculously challenging. Just for some perspective here is what it looked like –

100 Burpees
200 Pushups
300 Walking Lunges
200 Squats
Run 2400 Meters (1.5 miles)

The goal was to do it as fast as possible. I did a scaled down version of about 80% and it still took me 56 minutes and change. I was spent by the end but it wasn’t until the next day that I felt the full effect. I could barely get out of bed. I can’t remember the last time I was that sore and I have been going to the gym consistently for YEARS. So of course I did what any rational person would do and went back the next day for more. Sore muscles mean that you are making progress. You are challenging yourself and that leads to growth. There have been times in the past where I my workout routine has become a rut. The things that used to challenge me no longer did.  There is nothing wrong with a routine as long as it is still moving us towards our goals.

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14 NIV

We were talking about it at our Men’s LifeGroup and we realized that our spiritual life is much the same. We go to church on Sunday, pray before we eat, give in the offering and read our Bible with some regularity. Wash, rinse, repeat. Nothing wrong with any of those things but we can’t just keep doing the same thing over and over and expect to get a different result. We have to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones and step out in faith.

Just for fun let’s say you woke up even 15 minutes earlier tomorrow than you have to. First things first you greet God with a big ‘Good Morning’ and ask Him for an adventure that day. Maybe ask Him for someone to pray for, to share your testimony or to bless financially. You could even ask Him to let the Gifts of the Holy Spirit work through you as you interact with someone that day. There is so much more inside of you than you have ever realized. That isn’t a criticism, it’s a call to action.

“I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]” – Philippians 4:13 AMP

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” – Romans 8:37 NASB

You, my friend, are destined for greatness!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Are you ready for a LEAP of faith?

I’ve always been a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I was usually the first of my friends to see if we could clear a jump with our bikes, scale a rock face or literally jump off a cliff. I started my first legit business at 16 (not like incorporated but I had for real business cards so that counts). Anyways I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge or cave in to my fear. I’ve had some really amazing adventures in life and I definitely have some scars to prove it. Now in my mid-forties I’ve realized that I’m a little more cautious, a bit more hesitant. Some might call it wisdom but if I’m being honest I don’t think that’s the real reason.

I don’t want to play it safe - especially when it comes to my faith. I want to take risks, push boundaries, take chances. I don’t want to pray weak prayers I want to ask BIG things from God and see Him move in miraculous ways. I was recently talking with a friend who was on a ministry trip to Mexico when he watched God heal a guy’s crippled, disfigured hands right before his eyes. That’s what I’m talking about! Mountain moving, prison shaking, grave robbing faith is what I want to have!

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” – Hebrews 11:1-2 NIV

If you really want to be inspired read the rest of Hebrews 11. Those guys and gals had guts!

It seems to me like the older we become the less inclined we are to take big risks. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We have to fight against the tide if we are going to live on the edge and not get sucked under by life’s current. It makes those unwilling to go (read religious) uncomfortable but I’m not looking for their approval because I already have His. I’m ready for the next adventure. Who’s ready to take a LEAP of faith with me?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Who loves 80's music?!

In 1984 Deniece Williams released the song "Let's Hear It For The Boy" featured on the soundtrack to the movie "Footloose". For some of us just the thought of that song transports us right back to the time of neon shirts, pegged pants and leg warmers. It was an instant hit and rose to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 music chart. It was a catchy tune but when you stopped to actually listen to the lyrics... Let's take a quick look -
  • He can’t express his emotions verbally.
  • He has poor taste in clothes.
  • He isn't romantic.
  • He's broke.
  • And he can't sing.
That about sums it up. When we jump to the chorus we're told to – 
  • "Let's hear it for the boy" because apparently he isn't a man.
  • "Let's give the boy a hand" he obviously needs help.
  • "Let's hear it for my baby" again not a man.
  • You know you gotta understand" because clearly he doesn't!
That leaves us with only one rational conclusion... GIRL DUMP THAT CHILD, YOU CAN DO SO MUCH BETTER!!!

So what's my point? This poor girl has deceived herself into believing that she has found something special when in fact she has settled for so much less than what she deserves. The questions is I wonder where we have done the same?

"This is what the LORD says: “Those who survive the coming destruction will find blessings even in the barren land, for I will give rest to the people of Israel.” Long ago the LORD said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”” - Jeremiah 31:2-3 NLT

The 3rd chapter of Galatians teaches us that our faith in Jesus makes us God’s children and heirs of ALL of His blessings. That doesn’t mean that we don’t periodically walk through challenges but it absolutely means that our loving Father has purposed in His heart to bless us. We should expect favor, open doors and opportunity. Always. Not with arrogance but with confidence. When we do encounter an obstacle we should do it knowing that God is with us and He is for us and nothing can stand in the way of His everlasting love.

So let’s not settle for anything less than his best in our lives. Let's grab on to EVERY SINGLE THING that God has for us!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

$5 Oakleys

There is a market in Managua, Nicaragua where you can get Oakley sunglasses for about 5 bucks. We’ve sent several teams down there over the years and our teens affectionately refer to them as FOakleys (Fake Oakleys). From 10 feet away they look pretty good but when you get up close it’s a different story. In your hand they just don’t feel right and of course when one of the lenses pops out they don’t look right either!

The devil is a master of the counterfeit. Just like the guy on the street corner in New York selling knockoff Rolaxes he peddles his merchandise claiming it’s the real deal. It’s not. He tried it with Jesus in the wilderness and he’ll try it with you. Here are just a few of his forgeries –
  • Arrogance vs. Confidence.
  • Tolerance vs. Love.
  • Psychics vs. Prophecy.
  • Happiness vs. Joy.
  • Security vs. Peace.
  • Being Right vs. Being Righteous.
  • Success vs. Significance.
  • Religion vs. Relationship.

I'm sure you can think of a few more examples. From a distance they look pretty good but upon closer inspection you begin to see the not so subtle differences.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” – Matthew 7:24-27 NIV

Other than the foundation both houses were identical. The walls, the roof, the tile, the countertops, the furniture – right up until the storm came and revealed what was underneath. The fake stuff just doesn’t hold up. We all want the nice stuff but sometimes we’re not willing to pay the price. You can’t touch real Oakleys for under $100. You can’t get a real Rolex for $15 (or 2 for $20). Here’s the deal though… Jesus covers the cost. All we have to do is let go of the counterfeits and trust Him for the goods. Let’s commit to trading our trash for God’s treasures today.

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks.

I want to brag on one of my best good friends Danny. He is part of our Pastoral staff here at LifeWay and we are so fortunate to have he an...