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.

Friday, May 18, 2018

A beautiful setting, a family reunion and a pair of brand new white shoes.

A couple of weeks ago we had some family visiting from out of town and so we took a trip to our favorite BBQ place. How can I describe this place? Well I guess I would have to say that it’s on the edge of the middle of nowhere. You turn off a two lane road out in the country. This place is so rural that they didn’t even bother to paint lines on the road. Just before the pavement turns to dirt you turn off into a gravel driveway between a couple of small farms. You can eat inside or sit under the covered porch next to the stream behind the restaurant.

Here is where my story begins - a beautiful setting, a family reunion and a pair of brand new white shoes. My niece was so proud of her newest purchase and wanted to show them off. But the moms were in full force with their cameras determined to get everyone huddled together for a barrage of ‘candid’ photos. As people jockeyed for position you can guess what happened. Someone stepped on the shoes. The perfectly white shoes. Someone who had recently been wading in the creek. Oh snap!

In the New Testament we have an account of Jesus sending out disciples on a ministry trip. He gives them some specific instructions on what to do, what to bring and how to act. He also said this –

“If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” – Luke 9:5 NIV

The original word that was translated into English as ‘against’ could also be translated ‘before’. Let me explain. This world has a way of messing up your new shoes but we have to choose how we will respond. You could see the look on my niece’s face. She was not happy but fortunately she is a gracious young lady. They were after all just a pair of shoes and the perpetrator was her cousin that she loved and rarely gets to see. She chose what was most important.

I think the lesson here is to not let other people’s mistakes, offense and sin transfer to you. Dust it off. Right away. If we aren’t careful dirt on our shoes can quickly become a smudge on our heart.

“Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His Holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart…” – Psalm 24:3-4b NIV

… and white shoes.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Re-Charged!


I have a car for sale. I spent a weekend detailing it so I have it stored away and only take it out every once in a while to keep the battery charged or to show it to prospective buyers. Evidently I don’t take it out enough because I got in it today and click, click, click… Not enough juice to fire it up.

See when a vehicle is operating properly it recharges the battery while it is running. Over time if the car just sits the battery slowly loses it charge until there isn’t enough left to crank the engine. The truth is that there are many areas of our lives that are very similar to a car’s battery - our health, our relationships, our faith, etc. Any of these neglected over time drains the life out of them.

I’d like to focus on a specific area today in my post – the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” – 2 Timothy 1:6 NIV

Paul understood this concept and so he encouraged his spiritual son Timothy to be diligent in the care of his spiritual gift(s). I guess another way to say it is, ‘practice makes perfect.’ The more we operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit the more natural the supernatural becomes. So I want to encourage you today to use your gifts. If you don’t know what your spiritual gifts are then you are in for an adventure! You can find a list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12 & Romans 12:3-8. Find some other believers who are operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and ask them to pray for you to receive your gift(s). Not unlike the guy I had to have help my jump start my car!

Let’s recharge and get fired up Church!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Rivers and Reservoirs


I am fortunate enough to live in beautiful Western North Carolina right outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s a land full of rivers, streams and lakes where the water flows right out of the ground. It’s very different from the high desert where I grew up in Southern California. As a matter of fact the water at my home comes from a pristine mountain spring where it is collected and piped into a reservoir. We usually don’t give it much thought until something goes wrong which is usually at the least opportune time.

Over the years a few things have happened to stop the flow of water. Periodically our friendly neighborhood bear decides he wants a drink and tips over the collection box. Other times smaller animals have nibbled holes into the pipe. Even though they are small enough of them start to make a big difference. Once our neighbor adjusted the valves and inadvertently bypassed our tank. Oops. And there was the time when we were in an extended drought and the spring just couldn’t keep up with the demand. That was exciting!

But I want to focus on one specific time where we lost water. The spring was fine, the pipe intact and the reservoir was full but we still had no water. What happened was roots had clogged the line between the tank and the house. It was an ordeal to fix. See water is life –

“He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” - John 7:38 KJV

So what happens when the living water stops flowing in our life? Well I promise nothing good. Just look at the difference between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea in Israel. Both have water flowing into them but only Galilee has water flowing out. The Sea of Galilee is teeming with life, the Dead Sea well, is named appropriately. Where water is stagnant bad things begin to happen. See God wants our lives to be rivers not reservoirs. He wants to fill us with life so that we can share it with other.

I love that Jesus said ‘streams’, as in more than one. I believe that He has living water for us spiritually, relationally, physically, emotionally, financially… You get the picture. But when that life flows in and stops it’s not good for us or anyone else around us. We are supposed to be conduits not consumers. We have to release the flow!

As best as I can tell there are 3 things that can stop the flow through our lives. God. The enemy. Us. Let me explain.

God parted the Red Sea and stopped the Jordan River. He also dried up the brook Elijah was drinking from. When God stops the flow it is because we are in transition. We need to recognize the season we are in and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as we move forward. Sometimes God must create some discomfort for us to leave what has become familiar.

Sometime the enemy stops the flow. In Genesis 26:15-22 we see the Philistines stop up the wells that Abraham dug. Isaac had to re-dig 3 wells before he was successful. He named the last well Rehoboth which translates as ‘spaciousness’. Spiritual Warfare is work but if we want to walk in victory we have to engage in the battle.

And at times we are responsible for the blockage. Sin, greed, selfishness, misplaced priorities, unforgiveness and pride are just a few of the dams in our lives. See we stop the flow when we get full! When we are full of ourselves or any of these other things there isn’t room left for God to pour into us. We have to get empty which means getting rid of all the things that don’t belong. It also means allowing what does belong to flow freely out of us and into other people. We must recognize that the living water comes from Jesus and is the Holy Spirit. In John 4 Jesus floods the life of a Samaritan woman who immediately begins to pour into others. The result was that many from her town put their faith in Jesus too. Let’s trust Him today to tear down the dams and to get life flowing once again!

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 other...