Friday, December 1, 2017

Here comes the BOOM!

I was spending some time with the Lord the other day and I heard the Holy Spirit speak 2 specific things to my heart –
  1. You are tougher than you think. 
  2. God is bigger than you can ever imagine.

 The word God spoke to my heart wasn’t just for me. In God’s providence I trust that if you are reading this then it’s a word of hope and encouragement for you as well.

Let me expound. Some of us don’t feel very tough. As a matter of fact some of us feel like we are barely holding on by a thread. But here is the deal – we are still holding on. We are still alive and the devil has yet to defeat us. Despite his very best efforts here we are. We may have a taken a few licks but we are still in this fight. If there is still breath in your lungs then there is still fight in your bones!

And when we feel like we are on the ropes, when it seems like the enemy as the upper hand, when it seems like life is spinning out of control remember that the God who holds the universe in His hand is in control. Absolutely. Of everything. We may not see it with our eyes but we have to see it with our spirit.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV

It’s time to get back in the fight. It’s time to get prayed up, praised up and fight for what’s ours! The devil is a liar and he’s already been defeated. Jesus is victory and his Spirit lives inside of those who believe. His blood is coursing through our veins and His plans for us will come to pass!

“Don’t interfere with good people’s lives; don’t try to get the best of them. No matter how many times you trip them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; soon they’re up on their feet, while the wicked end up flat on their faces.” – Proverbs 24:15-16 MSG

So let me say it one more time – You are tougher than you think and God is bigger than you can ever imagine!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Out of Gas

If you have ever run out of gas then you know the feeling. And it’s not a great one. I’ve run out of gas twice in my life. The first time I had just bought a ‘new’ 1967 Camaro project car. My wife and I headed out for a short drive with what I thought was a quarter tank of gas. I thought wrong, or at least the gauge lied. The best part of the story is that my wife was pregnant with our first child. So I had to leave her with the car, jog back to our other car, drive home to get a gas can, drive to the gas station and then back to the car. It wasn’t one of my best moments!

The next time was legit though. My wife and I were headed home from a conference that was on an island just off the coast of South Carolina. We had enough in the tank to get a ways down the road where fuel would be significantly less expensive. We set the cruise control and headed inland. When we drive we talk; about everything and nothing and this trip was no different. We got involved in some deep conversation and the next thing I knew the cruise control kicked off, the car sputtered once and then we coasted to the side of the road. At least she wasn’t pregnant this time! Fortunately we made it to the shade of an underpass but there was no running to the nearest gas station. I climbed the embankment to see what was around and the only thing I found was some barbed wire hidden under some vines. So back to the car I retreated with a hole in my pants and a matching one in my thigh. We called roadside assistance and waited an hour or so before we were back on our way.

So here is the lesson. The lower the level in your tank the greater the chance you will run out. Obvious right? I know people who seem to perpetually drive around with the gas light on. I also know people who start looking for the nearest station as soon as they get below a half of a tank. Running out of gas is more than a minor inconvenience. It costs time, energy, money (yours and sometimes others) and has the potential to cause greater damage. When you run a tank down to the last drop you often suck up trash that can clog filters, lines, injectors, etc. And that costs LOTS more time, energy and money.

You might be getting the idea that what I’m getting to isn’t just about cars. See we have all kinds of tanks in our lives. Health tanks, love tanks, relational tanks, emotional tanks, financial tanks, spiritual tanks and that’s just scratching the surface. And when one of those tanks runs out bad things happen. And often they don’t just affect us.

Just like cars we have to fill those tanks up on a regular basis to keep running. And we have to fill them up with the right fuel! So let’s take a minute today and look at the levels in our tanks. Some may be full which is great, some may be running a little low so let’s make sure to get those filled up and some may be completely dry (which is called a crisis). Not all crises are avoidable, but some are. And when our tanks are full we are definitely better able to handle them when they do come our way.

One last quick thought – Did you know that you can fill other people’s tanks? That’s right! Some of what God has given you doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to Him and He has entrusted you with the responsibility and privilege of passing it along to someone else. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

0 Dark Thirty

It’s 5:45 AM. It’s dark. And I’m awake and writing this.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against sleep. I know that the Bible says -

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.” – Proverbs 6:10-11 NIV

But it also says -

“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.” – Psalms 127:2 NIV

If there is one thing I know it’s that God loves me. They say, ‘The early bird gets the worm’, but I haven’t ever eaten a worm and I really don’t plan to. After all we’re not on Survivor! I’m not typically what you would call a ‘morning person’. Actually I would be more or what you would consider as a ‘night owl’. So why am I up so early this morning? Well to be honest I’m just too excited to sleep. I’m running another Spartan Race today and I’m fired up! 13+ miles of mud and barbed wire and obstacles are calling my name. You know when I was a kid there were certain days I would wake up way before I needed to – Christmas morning, trips to Disneyland, the day of our annual family camping trip; I was just too wound up to sleep.

I’ve realized that there is another day when I find myself awake long before my alarm goes off – Sundays. I am just so excited to be in God’s presence, to hang out with God’s people and to see what He has in store for us. He is the Creator of the universe after all! Now I know that God is there on Monday and Tuesday and every other day of the week but when we gather together as the church it’s just different. It’s full of potential and promise and power. And if I’m preaching that day I’m not even sure how I ever fall asleep!

Jesus said the greatest commandment is –

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” – Mark 12:30 NIV


There is so much there in that statement. Our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength – our desires, our emotions, our thoughts and our actions. To me the key word in that verse is ‘ALL’. God deserves nothing less than our everything. We should be so passionate about Him that it changes our whole world. I know it has changed mine. See passion is all consuming, it can’t be parked off in some little corner only to be dusted off every once in a while. Life has a way of redefining our priorities without us even realizing it. Maybe you’re realizing that your passion level is a little lower than you would like it to be. The good news is it’s not hard to fix. See passion is a product of priority. Make it a priority to spend more time with God, more time with His people and I promise that your passion problem will fix itself. I can’t promise that you won’t lose a little sleep! God bless.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Suddenly.

I was recently reading through the book of Esther and came across this passage –

“… like the days when the Jews had rest from their enemies, and like the month when things turned around for them—changing from sorrow to joy and from mourning into a favorable day—so that they could celebrate a season of feasting and rejoicing and sending food portions to one another and gifts to the poor.” – Esther 9:22 MEV

It’s an incredible story. If you’ve never read it you need to. God’s people were just days from being wiped off the face of the earth. They were already in captivity as if that wasn’t bad enough. But God in His infinite wisdom had orchestrating everything to absolute perfection. What looked like a setback was really a set up for God to reveal Himself to His people and to everyone else for that matter. God used the very thing the enemy had built to destroy the Jewish people to deliver them. In a day the enemy’s own weapon was used against him.

“The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.” – Deuteronomy 28:7 NIV

God is the master of suddenly. Sometimes we look at our situation and we lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. We feel like God has taken us TO the valley of the shadow of death and not THROUGH it. We sing songs that say ‘He will never forsake us’ but do we really believe it? Really? If I’m really being honest there are some times when I feel like victory is a million miles or years or dollars away. And it may be but what is a million anything to the God we worship?


I just want to encourage you that you are just as much a son or daughter of God as Mordecai and Esther were. He loves you just as much. Their seemingly hopeless situation was God’s perfect plan to deliver His people. What if God has you in a hard place to make a huge difference? What if God wants to use your life to reveal Himself? What if everything you are worried about today never comes to pass? What if this is the day or the month where things turned around for you? What if your ‘suddenly’ is just around the corner?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The plastic church isn’t ever going to reach the real world.

First let me say that I’m not fussing – I’m amused. Back in college I had a roommate that smoked like a freight train. Never in the room but everything he owned smelled like he had just chain smoked a pack of generic cigarettes. Because he probably had. Hey that’s his choice but I specifically requested a non-smoking room. Both of my parents smoked when I was a kid and I had pretty bad allergies, regular asthma attacks, recurring bronchitis, sinus infections, etc. They all cleared up when I moved out so I obviously had a sensitivity to smoke, hence my request. He was a nice guy but at the end of the semester I requested a different room. When he was notified he came to me to talk about it. I gave him my reasons and left it at that. His answer was that he didn’t want his parents to know that he smoked. So when they were filling out the admissions information he lied. Here’s my point. Dude you are a grown man, you need to act like one.

Fast forward a couple of decades. Has it really been that long?! As a pastor in a college town one of life’s little joys is when a college student brings their parents to church. Or should I say when parents take their college student to church. It’s the same scenario every time. The parents come up and introduce themselves and Johnny’s or Jane’s parents with their son or daughter in tow. I can always see it on their face. ‘PLEASE PASTOR DON’T SELL ME OUT! I’M BEGGING YOU.’  I usually pause just long enough to make it a bit awkward and then say something like, ‘It’s great to have you with us today!’ You can see the relief on the kid’s face as they finally take a breath. Although I’ve never seen their son or daughter in my life I know the deal. They’ve told mom and dad that they’ve been attending church since they moved off to college. But they haven’t. And they’re too afraid to tell the truth.

It’s been the same since the beginning.

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” – Genesis 3:8-10 NIV


People are afraid of being exposed so they hide. Adam and Eve hid in the bushes. They tried their best to cover up their embarrassment with leaves. And we do the same thing with our lies. Let’s be honest. No really. Let’s be honest. Let’s own our decisions. If we’re not proud of our choices let’s repent and make different ones. Let’s be real about our struggles so we can get the help we need to overcome (James 5:16). Because these little games we play aren’t fooling anyone (except maybe parents of college students although I doubt it). Let’s embrace each other, as real people with real problem and tackle them together. The plastic church isn’t ever going to reach the real world. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Too Many Tomatoes!

I was talking with a good friend this past week about sowing and reaping.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. – Galatians 6:7-10 NIV

He began to ask me questions.

“What do you get if you plant tomatoes?“

“Tomatoes.”

“What do you get if you plant corn?“

“Corn.”

“What do you get if you plant a little tomatoes?“

“A little tomatoes.”

“What do you get if you so plant a lot of tomatoes?“

“A lot of tomatoes.”

“What do you get if you plant nothing?”

“Nothing.”

“WRONG. You get weeds!”

Let me share another passage of Scripture with you.

“Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.” – Matthew 13:24-28 NIV

You don’t have to do anything to grow weeds! And that applies to every area of our life. That is one of the things I really appreciate about what Paul said in Galatians. God’s law of sowing and reaping applies to natural things and spiritual things. It applies to relationships and money. It applies to this life and eternity.

Farmers plant every year so they can harvest every year.  And we need to keep sowing faithfully. We need to invest in our families, in our health, in God’s Kingdom, in friendships and in our walk with God. My friend also pointed out that we need to sow the most in our areas of need, not our areas of abundance. See if you have more tomatoes than you know what to do with maybe you should focus on something else like corn.

And that’s a sacrifice. When there is an area of need in your life it takes an act of faith to let it go. But faith is the real seed that moves God’s heart. When you plant that seed of love, of compassion, of forgiveness or of generosity you are putting it into God’s hands where it can truly begin to grow.

“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” - 1 Corinthians 3:7 NIV


All God asks is that you trust Him with your seed. You will reap what you sow IF you don't give up! I used to see that as waiting patiently, but then I noticed the 'therefore'. Not giving up isn't sitting around, it's getting up and sowing some more, "as we have opportunity."

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Mirror, Mirror.

Once Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was -

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”” – Matthew 22:37-40 NIV

There are a couple of things that I want to draw attention to –

First Jesus says the second greatest command is ‘like’ the first. The original Greek word for ‘like’ means similar or resembling but it can also mean corresponding. Jesus was saying that loving your neighbor is connected to loving God. Of course He elaborated on this when he taught,

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25:40b NIV

The second point I want to make is that we are to, ‘love others as ourselves’. Here we find the foundation of the ‘Golden Rule’.

Here is where the problem lies. To truly love others as ourselves we must learn to genuinely love ourselves. Since the Fall the devil has been peddling his lies and offering a counterfeit to everything God has. Most people either have very little love for themselves or if they do it’s not the ‘agapao’ love spoken of in this verse.

The lie is that I/you/we are unlovable. That is simply not the case. You were created in God very image and so loved by Him that He traded His Son for you. I wish we could really get that to sink in to the core of our being. The lie robs us of our confidence and keeps us either isolated from others or trapped inside of destructive relational cycles. People who don’t value themselves frequently find themselves the victim of their own insecurity. True validation cannot come from an outward source, it can only come from an inward revelation of who we are in Christ.

The counterfeit to confidence is arrogance. Arrogance elevates oneself above all others seeing them as simply a means to an end - the end in this case being self. On the other end of the spectrum is false humility which whispers to us that we are less than everyone else. It may appear more ‘spiritual’ but is no less detrimental in the end. To see yourself as anything less than what God sees is to say that He made a mistake and doesn’t know what He is doing!

True confidence and humility brings everyone else up to our level as we begin to see ourselves and others as God sees us. It is from that place that we can begin to love others as Christ commanded -

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35 NIV

How we see ourselves is THE most important opinion there is because that is the one we will become. Take time today to forgive yourself, to take care of yourself and to see yourself through God’s eyes. It may seem silly but for the next seven days I would like you to start your day by looking in the mirror and telling yourself, out loud, “I love you.” Say it like you mean it and keep saying it until you believe it!


P.S. Remember that God loves you and so do I!

Friday, August 11, 2017

When The Worship Train Came Off The Tracks.

Periodically I am blessed with the opportunity to help lead worship. It is something I enjoy very much and feel quite honored to do. I was playing the drums and the worship team and I practiced our transition from one song to the next several times before service. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t interrupt the ‘flow’ of worship and so we worked until we had it down.

Except that we didn’t. Things didn’t go as planned and honestly the song got off to a rocky start. At one point I was pretty certain that the worship train was so far off the tracks we were going to have to stop and start again. But the team pulled it together and by the chorus things were steaming ahead. As a matter of fact the presence of God showed up in a powerful way through that song.
Afterwards I commended our worship leader for pressing through. God showed up in spite of our hiccup and at the end of the day, or the set list, that is the goal. God’s ability to perform does not depend on our ability to perform. Worship isn’t a performance. Worship after all is first and foremost a matter of the heart.

The whole situation got me thinking about the difference between perfection and excellence. First let me say that there is only one who is perfect and it’s NOT me! Perfectionism is a cruel task master and I believe the enemy’s counterfeit to excellence. My definition of excellence is, ‘doing the very best we can with the resources and training we have currently available with a heart to grow better in the future’. That is attainable. Perfection is not. We didn’t go into worship half-hearted and unprepared. On the contrary, we were giving God our very best.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” – Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

See with perfection everything depends on us. With excellence we have left room for the Holy Spirit to move. God is worthy of our best in everything that we do. But excellence gives us room to grow, to mature and even to fail. Because excellence leaves room for His grace! And that is what we experienced that day. Maybe that is what the apostle Paul was talking about.

“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.”” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV


So be your very best but make sure to leave room for Him to be His very best!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Why I shaved my legs.

No I’m not trying to get in touch with my feminine side. The truth is I injured myself training for a race I ran last weekend. I’ve been pushing pretty hard building up my mileage to get ready for an 8+ mile obstacle course race. I didn’t warm up and stretch properly and pulled a muscle in my calf. I was about 100 yards into my run when it happened and instead of turning around I kept going… for 8 long miles. It wasn’t the best life choice I’ve ever made. It was painful to walk on and turned a cool rainbow of colors.

So I was nursing it and doing everything I could think of to hasten the healing process. Hence this story. I purchased some Kinesiology Tape hoping it would help. For those who are unaware this product is basically a next level ace bandage. Physical therapists swear by the stuff. Endurance athletes cover themselves with the neon strips like it is a badge of honor. I figured I’d give it a try. I went online to watch the ‘how to’ video and the first thing they say is to apply it to clean, dry skin. They went on to say for ‘best results’ you should ‘remove all hair from the affected area’ before using the product. Wait? What?! Now I’ve had some friends who were serious about cycling or swam competitively who shaved their legs. Now let me be clear. I HAVE MADE FUN OF EVERY SINGLE LAST ONE OF THEM!!!

But I was desperate. So much to the chagrin of my daughter I borrowed her razor and asked if she had any pointers. She said, ‘Try not to cut yourself.’ Gee thanks.

Here is my point. I was desperate. I had trained for almost a year for this race. I had spent real money registering for this event. So I was willing to go to take drastic actions to make this happen. And that is what it takes. We have to get to the point that we are so appalled with where we are at that we are willing to do whatever is necessary to move forward. Maybe it’s a recurring sin in our life. Maybe it’s a destructive behavior or addiction or even a toxic relationship. It’s time we got sick and tired of being so sick and tired. It’s time to break the pattern of being broke every month. It’s time to get so fed up that we are willing to swallow our pride, get the help that we need and make the changes that will finally set us FREE! Although hell stands ready to resist our efforts all of Heaven is cheering us on and God is on our side!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10 NIV

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” - Romans 8: 31 NIV

““…no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.”- Isaiah 54:17 NIV

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1 NIV


“…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” – Matthew 16:18b NIV

By the way - my calf did great, I finished my race and now I'm ready to tackle the next challenge. 12-14 miles, 30-35 obstacles, November 4th. Who is with me?

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Making A Difference.

Yesterday I had the honor of attending the ribbon cutting for the ‘Little Pantry’ in Sylva. If you haven’t heard about the ‘Little Pantry’ it’s a small box that was recently placed at our Sylva Campus where anyone can come and get food and personal items, anytime, for any reason. If you want to check out the article the Sylva Herald wrote about it just CLICK HERE.

Today I had the honor of seeing it at work. I was taking care of a few odds and ends at the office when I happened to see a minivan park out front. A woman stepped out of the passenger seat, walked over to the ‘Little Pantry’, picked out an armload of necessities and headed back to the car. I don’t know her name or her situation but God does. Today I witnessed someone being loved and God alone getting the glory.

Fourteen years after his encounter with Jesus on the way to Damascus Paul traveled to Jerusalem. He met with the Apostles to discuss his message to the Gentiles because He wanted to make sure that he was on track. They had one encouragement for him -

“All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.” - Galatians 2:10 NIV

James said it this way -

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” - James 1:27 NIV

We have a list of 16 Core Values that make LifeWay well… LifeWay. The first is an Outward Focus. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He also came to serve not to be served. Another Core Value is Gracious Generosity – see ‘God so loved the world that He gave…’ We give because we can, not because we have to. We are gracious because it is who He is and it is who we are! The final Core Value I want to mention is Personal Responsibility. She may fuss but I want to thank Ruby Peoples for making this happen. Ruby attends our Sylva Campus and works with our Children’s Ministry. A few weeks back she came to me with this idea. She had the vision, took personal responsibility and made it happen. Well done Ruby!

Don't wait for someone else to do something that God has called you to do. Focus outward, be graciously generous and take personal responsibility. It will change your life, it will change someone else's life (and maybe their forever) and God will get the glory!

Over the years we have had the opportunity to help launch several ministries that serve those in need including The Community Table, God’s Abundance Soup Kitchen and the Jackson Neighbors’ in Need Homeless Shelter. I am proud to pastor such an amazing church! Well done LifeWay! This month we celebrate 20 years of God's faithfulness as a church and from what I have seen today I am absolutely convinced that He is just getting started here at LifeWay.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

3 Ordinary Guys

So I’m reading through the book of Ezekiel and come across the following passage –

“Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its people and their animals, even if these three men—Noah, Daniel and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign Lord.” – Ezekiel 14:13-14 NIV

Basically God is talking to the prophet about how sinful Jerusalem has become. What stood out to me were the three names. I mean there were dozens of righteous men and women who had lived before this time that God could have chosen. Why Noah, Daniel & Job? I’ve been praying and pondering on that for a few days and this is the conclusion I’ve come to –

God does extraordinary things for ordinary people who are radically devoted to Him.

Noah built a huge boat… in the middle of the desert… when it had never rained before. He was radically obedient. God saved Noah, his family and all of humanity because of it.

Daniel refused to eat meat sacrificed to idols… and prayed to God even though it might cost him his life. He was radically committed. God promoted him, protected him in the lions’ den and destroyed his enemies.

Job praised God… when he lost his wealth… and his children… and his health. He was radically faithful. God paid him back double for everything that the enemy had stolen.

We often think of these guys, and other men and women like them in the Bible, as super-saints. The reality is that they were ordinary people in difficult situations who chose to trust God in spite of the world around them.

Noah was ridiculed by everyone around him and had to do a ridiculous amount of work. What God asked him to do made absolutely no earthly sense.

Daniel was carried off into captivity to serve an ungodly king and was sentenced to death for doing what was right.

Job lost everything he had, then was unjustly accused by his ‘friends’ and tormented by his wife just because God pointed him out to the devil.

We can be radically obedient, radically committed and radically faithful even though we are just ordinary people. And I believe we will see God do extraordinary things in our lives and through our lives because of it.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” - John 14:12-14 NIV


I’m just human’ isn’t a legitimate excuse for those who know Jesus to settle for ordinary. God expects us to be the Noahs, the Daniels and the Jobs of today so that He gets the glory and we get the rewards!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Am I crazy?

I overheard my wife having a conversation with my daughters the other day and she finally said, "Everyone else is crazy. I'm the only sane one!" Of course being a fantastic husband (and not being an idiot) I had to agree. The context of their conversation was the current state of our culture and what is considered 'normal'. My wife and I were born in the 70's, raised in the 80's (best decade), graduated in the 90's which makes us Gen Xers (and therefore cool by default). So Boomers still think we're kids and Millennials think we're ancient. We’re not really old but we’re not really young either. But we are old enough to remember a time where things were different. VERY DIFFERENT.

So much of what we see today wasn’t even a thought 20 years ago. I look at some of things my daughters are facing in school and realize that they weren’t on the radar as recently as 5 years ago. The garbage that is so prevalent on prime-time TV wouldn’t even have been allowed on late night, or HBO for that matter, when I was growing up. As a matter of fact the current trend is that what was ‘normal’ when I was a child is now considered abnormal and closed-minded.

In the 17th chapter of John Jesus clearly teaches us that we are, ‘not of this world.’ Maybe I’m just na├»ve but I still believe that how we live our lives matters. The little choices we make do make a difference both in our lives and in the lives of those around us. I don’t think that you can effectively preach the Kingdom of God while practicing the kingdom of this world. If I’ve learned anything from reading the Bible and form practical experience it’s that the crowd rarely gets it right. It kills me when my young daughter asks me to explain a vulgar T-shirt or bumper sticker and I just have to say, ‘They’re just a moron sweetie.’ When did we lose respect for one another? When did we quit caring about the innocence of our children? And when did being vulgar become something to celebrate?

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” – Isaiah 5:20-21 NIV

Please hear me. I am not speaking to society. I am talking to Christians who are being lured down the same path in the name of ‘liberty’. So here is the point I’m trying to make… If you are a follower of Jesus Christ DO NOT let culture dictate your sense of right and wrong. Let the truth of God’s Word and the voice of the Holy Spirit be your guide.


““Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”” – Romans 3:4 NIV

Friday, April 28, 2017

That was quick!

I assume that most of the people reading this post are Jesus followers. Therefore I assume that most of us believe in the power of prayer. Now that that’s settled –

I usually begin my day by reading the Bible and praying. First things first right? I pray for all kinds of things, whatever is on my heart. But yesterday I had a burden to pray for very specific people in very specific ways. And so I did.

On the ride to take the kids to school we prayed together for the day ahead. As we do most days. Then I asked my girls if they thought that prayer made a difference. I got the right response but maybe lacking a bit of the whole-hearted conviction I had hoped for. It was after all morning and they were on their way to school so I’ll cut them a little slack. So I said, ‘If prayer makes a difference then let’s ask God to put someone in our path today that we can pray for specifically.’ So we did.

No joke we didn’t even get to the drop off at the school and God answered our request. Less than 2 minutes after we prayed someone we knew was walking through the parking lot so we jumped at the chance. We stopped the car, rolled down the windows and just prayed a simple blessing over her day ahead. On a side note she was getting ready to substitute teach at an elementary school so you know she needed prayer! We no sooner said amen to which she heartily replied, “I’ll receive that!!!”

Two things happened in that moment –
  1. God answered our prayer by specifically placing someone in our path to pray for which built up our faith.
  2. A sister in the Lord was strengthened and encouraged unexpectedly just as her day was getting started. You could see in her face and hear in her voice how much that little encounter meant to her.

So here is where the rubber meets the road. If you are a Christian then you are a minister of Christ. So ask God TODAY to specifically put someone in your path TODAY that you can pray for TODAY. Then do it. Right there, right then, out loud. You never know. God just might show up because after all prayer makes a difference right?

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16b NIV

That's your prayer!

Friday, April 21, 2017

100%

I have a good friend who recently asked me what the key to giving God 100% was. He said he felt like he had given 95% but couldn’t quite get the ‘old man’ to give up that last 5%. I’ve given it a lot of thought and this morning I responded to him. I thought it might be something others would find helpful. This is what I sent him –

“I get this sense that God still has more for you so don't ever settle into 'the routine' and think that you've 'arrived'. I've been in ministry since 1996. I've pastored since 1998. All that matters is today. Will I pick up my cross today? Will I follow him wholeheartedly today? Will I press into relationship with him today and seek his will today? I think that is the key to 100% surrender. And do we live out of the finished work of Christ on the cross or are we still trying to prove something as if that wasn't enough.”

At 18 I rededicated my life to Jesus. I guess to describe it more accurately I submitted my life to him as Lord. I cannot remember a time in my life where I did not believe in Jesus and recognize my need for his forgiveness. I liked the idea of not going to hell as much as the next guy. But I also liked being in control. Therein lies the conundrum – how can he save us if we won’t allow him to?

“And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” – Mark 8:34 NASB

It’s been almost 25 years since I became a Jesus freak; 20 of those in ministry. I’ve read the Bible dozens of times. I’ve preached hundreds of sermons to tens of thousands of people and shared the Gospel on five continents. I’ve had the honor of leading countless people to Christ and witnessed more miracles than I can remember with my own eyes. And with all of that I can only ask myself, “What does God desire of me today? How can I express my love and devotion to him today?”

The friend I mentioned is a full time missionary. He and his family left the American Dream behind to chase after something greater. Most people would see that as giving 110%. But for those who are passionate about being passionate yesterday’s encounters will never satisfy today’s cravings. It’s not about rules and regulations or jumping through a bunch of religious hoops. 100% is all about relationship. I think maybe that’s what the apostle Paul was talking about when he wrote the following passage -

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 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 3:12-14 NIV


By the way if you want to learn more about my friends and their ministry you can CLICK HERE and you can support them with an online gift you at mylifeway.net. Just choose the ‘Bunnows in Papua New Guinea’ option. Thanks and God bless!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday.

Good Friday. When we reflect on what happened some 2000 years ago it seems anything but good on the surface. Jesus was falsely accused, convicted and condemned. He was ridiculed, beaten and executed without mercy. On top of all that was abandoned and alone. The word ‘good’ seems to be sorely out of place. Except that he endured all of these things so we wouldn’t have to.



“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah 53:4-6 NIV

Separated from God by our sin there was no other way to bridge the chasm between God and us. Justice demanded a judgment and the debt was just too great for us to ever repay. So God in his great mercy and love took it upon himself to settle the account. All of the brokenness of mankind Jesus carried to that cross and it was buried with him.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV


Take a moment to recognize today that you, YOU, are the joy that was set before him. Take a minute to reflect on all that Jesus has done for you, and how much he loves you. See it’s not just Good Friday; it’s the Best Friday ever!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

My first Spartan Race!

Last weekend I ran my first Spartan Race and it was an absolute blast! The course was 4.8 miles long with 23 obstacles and over 1200 feet of elevation change. The obstacles included a sand bag hoist, barbed wire crawl, Atlas stone carry and cargo net climb up a cliff just to name a few.

My favorite part wasn't the finish line or nailing all the challenges. It wasn't the cool medal or even my new favorite T-shirt. My favorite part was the 5 guys I ran the race with. We overcome obstacles as a team, we struggled through the mud as a team, we cheered each other on as a team and when someone couldn't complete a challenge we did burpees as a team. All of us.

See the race rules say that for every obstacle that isn't completed successfully a participant is assessed a 30 burpee penalty. Now for the uninitiated a burpee is pretty much the bane of the fitness world. Starting from a standing position you drop to the deck, do a pushup and then jump back up, feet off the floor and hands touching overhead. If that doesn't sound too bad you obviously haven't done one recently. Much less 30. Much less 100's of them.

Early on we decided that if any of us failed an obstacle we would split the burpees up amongst the team. It wasn't ringing the bell at the top of the rope climb or sticking the spear throw (which only 14% of racers do FYI) that defined my race. It was on my face, in the mud, counting off burpees with my brothers by my side.

"But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." - 1 Corinthians 12:24-27 NIV

The best life has to offer is found in the people we surround ourselves with. The best church has to offer us isn't the music or even the message. The best church has to offer is relationship, with Jesus and with each other.

"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." - Acts 2:42-47 NIV

If we're running alone we may cross the finish line but I have to wonder are we really winning?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Help is closer than you think.

I'm getting ready to run my first Spartan Race this weekend near Atlanta. It's basically a 4 mile long obstacle course with water, mud, ropes, walls, fire, etc. I've been training for 6 months and I'm really looking forward to conquering a new challenge. In addition to the physical preparation I've done I'm making sure that I have all the right equipment to succeed - trail shoes, running socks, quick drying clothes, a hydration pack and fuel. I've done a good bit of research since I'm new to all this and most people recommend energy gel packs to keep your body fueled and blood sugar up during the strenuous exercise. They're small, light and quick to consume so it makes sense. However in the little town I call home they are apparently not easy to find. 

My friend, who is racing with me, and I went out looking for them this week. We tried GNC. Then Walmart. Then the local backpacking store in town. Nothing. As we were walking around, in the bitter cold mind you, my friend has a great thought, "What about the bike store?!" We walked to the end of the block, down the hill, across the street and into the shop. Not only did they have EXACTLY what we were looking for but they had two displays full of them!

The funny thing is that the bike store is literally right across the street from where we work. I mean there isn't another building physically closer to ours than theirs. We spent all that time running around and the whole time what we needed was less than 100 feet from where we started. It took us 3 days, several miles and multiple trips to find it. 

I think life is like that sometimes. We forget just how close and how good God is. We spend more time worrying about things than we do praying about them. The more time we spend praising Jesus the less time we have left to stress.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” – Psalm 46:1 NIV


Prayer shouldn't be our last resort; it should be our first response. Whatever it is that we need God has more than enough. He has aisle and aisle of displays full of physical healing, financial provision, emotional support, spiritual transformation and so much more. And God has given us brothers and sisters to wait with us and to pray for us. Our church family is there to share life together with all its ups and downs and unexpected turns along the way. Sometimes we just have to walk across the street. And sometime we just have to be willing to reach out. Who knows? Maybe we’ll find exactly what we need!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Final Score.

I’m not a big sports fan but I do enjoy a great game. I am however a HUGE fan of the Superbowl. Every year some friends and I get together and cook a ridiculous amount of food and hang out. We eat, we laugh till we cry and sometimes we even watch a little football.

This year was no different. At halftime it looked like the game was pretty much over. The Falcons had a commanding lead and it appeared as though the Patriots forgot to show up. Atlanta fans were already going nuts on social media. And Patriots fans were, well pretty discouraged to say the least. The commentators were discussing all the historical stats as to why a comeback from this deficit wasn’t going to happen. But it did. The first Superbowl to go into overtime. Ever. People who left early and headed off to bed woke up in utter disbelief.

But what if you knew the final score before the game was even played? Would it make a difference? Of course it would! If you were a Patriots fan and knew that they were going to win by 6 in overtime you wouldn’t have batted an eye at the halftime score. As a matter of fact the further behind your team fell the bolder you would get – KNOWING that a huge upset was right around the corner.

See the thing is we do know the final score –

“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” – Revelation 12:11 NASB

We are ‘they’ and ‘him’ is the enemy just to be clear. So many of us live day to day like we don’t know the outcome. Insecurity, fear, doubt and unbelief worm their way into our heads and our hearts. Sure we may be down but WE ARE NOT DONE! As my good friend once said, ‘Your setback might just be God’s setup!’ We need to remind ourselves and each other what God has said about the final score…

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28 NASB

“”No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication is from Me,” declares the Lord.” – Isaiah 54:17 NASB

And then God gave us a glimpse of the future glory we have in Revelation 22.


When Jesus died on the cross it looked like the devil had won. The disciples scattered, the woman wept, all hope was lost. But little did they know that the game had gone into overtime and when Jesus rose from the grave he emerged victorious! It’s the greatest comeback story the world has ever known. And guess what? It’s our story too!

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...