Monday, April 30, 2012

Gimme More

I have fallen victim to my desire for more. It's a fairly common malady that can be identified with by most folks. I need more coffee. I need more sleep. I need more time in each day to get things done. I need more energy. I need more time with my wife and kids. I need more money. I need more vision. 

My list of "I needs" could continue, but I have realized that my most primary necessity is this: I need God more today than yesterday.

I need more of God's grace. I need more of His presence in my life. I need more of His wisdom, vision, and clarity for my family and my ministry. I need more of His compassion for people around me. I need more of His genuine passion for people. I need more of His forgiveness for my sins. I need more of His patience in all aspects of my life.

I am not a better or worse person than I was 24 hours ago, but I recognize that as my relationship with God increases in depth my hunger for Him will also increase. It will create a daily awareness that causes me to press even more closely into who God is, and always be seeking more of His Spirit and influence in my life.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Settled Confidence

True men of God have confidence in the experiences they have been led through and the position that they currently find themselves in. It is not a mark of pride or conceit based on their own abilities, but is a firm faith in God's ability to work through them. This is a defining and essential characteristic in a leader. 

The lack of resolute confidence in God's past work in us will produce ineffective and weak leaders. It will lessen our impact as fathers, cause struggles in our relationship with our wives, and create inadequate leaders in our careers. 

In the story of David & Goliath, we see David exhibiting a settled confidence before King Saul. He chooses to step forward into battle and tells Saul that the same God that rescued him from the bear & lion will rescue him from this giant. This is not the act of a cocky young man who doesn't know any better. It is a bold testimony to a saving God that David has already experienced.

We are called to rely on the same strength that is gained from trusting God and then to follow up by taking action. This reflects the our determination to see God's will lived out in our lives once again, and produces leaders that are worth following as we follow Christ.

Friday, April 27, 2012


It is a cliche expression, but the experiences of this past week and the continual work of the Holy Spirit have me feeling as if I have been drinking from a fire hose. It's a whole lot of force and information coming at me at one time and it becomes difficult to process what is most essential right now.

I sat down with the intent of writing in more detail about what is being revealed to my spirit, but I find that so many things are going through my mind that it isn't possible just yet. I had glimpses and reminders of stirrings throughout the day today, but the end of the day has left me exhausted. While I want to flesh out ideas and seek God direction, He is also telling me tonight to simply rest. I have the desire to work on multiple thoughts and directions and He has directed me to enjoy the night.

Instead of offering up deep reflections, that is what I will do. I will sit outside with my gorgeous wife and enjoy the blessings of our lake view. Not a tough assignment to be obedient to at all.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


I have to spend some time processing all that God shared through so many people at the Exponential. It was powerful, challenging, and healing. I am grateful for the faithfulness of the leaders at Exponential for their preparation and obedience to share with so many pastors & spouses.

As I sat down to write tonight, I looked back through my multiple pages of notes and came back across a thought that I will have to continue to meditate on. Brian & Amy Bloye shared on stage in one of the main sessions and they asked a big question, "Is Jesus enough?"

Is Jesus enough if the circumstances in your life don't ever match up to what you expect? Is Jesus enough if your career doesn't ever take off the way you hoped it would? Is Jesus enough if each day is a struggle to do what is right and you feel as if you are constantly battling temptation? Is Jesus enough if the church you pastor never grows above 200 people?

As we are slowly transformed by our closeness with Christ, I believe we are able to finally say that He is sufficient for us no matter what our other life circumstances may be. We find fulfillment in our relationship with Him and not in any other detail of life. It is a mark of true faith to be able to affirm that even if the rest of the world disappoints or fails to live up to lofty expectations, we can find comfort and rest in our relationship with God.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Transfer of Energy

I am excited by the thought of what could be. I feel that it is a necessary characteristic of a leader-the ability to see the potential in people and in situations. The vision of the man and leader that I could be is what continues to drive me to press more firmly into God and to seek to grow. The danger of potential is that we can become seduced by it and never translate it into activity and actual transformation.

I'm not discounting God's timing or the work of the Holy Spirit, but in the midst of dreaming and vision casting there has to be follow through on our part. This requires faithful follow through in spiritual disciplines and old-fashioned hard work to become a reality. The combination of obedience and God's vision will change potential energy to kinetic and bring about results that fulfill the dream God placed in us.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Right Now

I am loved by God right now. Not because of anything I have done, but because of who He is. I will not be able to earn more of His love or increase my value in His eyes. I cannot preach a better sermon to change my standing. I cannot blog more frequently or write a statement that causes my status to change. No matter how much time I spend with my family I will always be a beloved son in His eyes. 

This is refreshing to my soul even as I struggle with grasping the concept. The culture that we live in operates mainly in a "what have you done for me lately" mentality that threatens to squeeze out God's cry of unconditional love. We find true rest and esteem in the knowledge that our Father loves us fully regardless of who we are attempting to be.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Moving On

I think it's important to stop and recognize the path of progress. It is an opportunity for positive reflection and celebration of how much things have changed. There is a place for this in our personal lives and even in the church. God even gave instructions on how to worship Him in homage to the great work that has been done in & through us. 

What I haven't read in Scripture is a mandate to stay in celebratory/reflective mode without moving forward. While God had His people build altars as a reminder of where they had come from, He never told them to stay there. We are called to give God the credit for what has been done and then to continue to press on towards our ultimate goal of becoming more like Christ. 

It was Babe Ruth who said, "Yesterday's home runs don't win today's games." That doesn't negate the power of the victory or decrease the significance of the lessons that were learned. It does remind us of the importance of continuing to improve daily even as we recognize how the growth of yesterday has strengthened the foundation we are building on.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Blame Game

I was online reading my hometown newspaper a few weeks ago, and saw this headline, "Drivers looking to place blame for higher gas prices." While I understand the frustration with increasing fuel costs, I think it is symptomatic of a larger problem. We are looking for a way to shift responsibility for our poor life choices onto someone else.

Unfortunately, the concept of assigning blame for our life circumstances has become a common pastime. There is a continual shifting of responsibility for unfavorable results that has permeated our culture. When our jobs are less than satisfactory we blame poor bosses and leadership. Our anger and addictive habits are charged to how we are treated by other people. When our children make poor choices they point their finger at friends and family. When a marriage is on the rocks it is the fault of our spouse. Any dysfunction in our family today is a result of how we grew up and the poor example that was set for us.

It's as if figuring out who we can blame for our life conditions will make us feel better (it doesn't) by giving us a target with whom we can be angry. This is simply a defense mechanism that fools us into ignoring the contributions our own choices have made to our situation. It prevents us from honestly assessing our character and decision making, and will only lead to another generation of people who are not wise enough to take responsibility for their own choices. It creates impotent lives that will never improve beyond their current level of maturity and will not truly resolve any conflict. 

Most significantly, it leaves no room for honest interaction with God as He works to transform our flawed character into His likeness.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Need for Speed

"We've become quickaholics, dependent on getting what we want when we want it." 
Empty Promises, Pete Wilson

We often take too many shortcuts in our life choices. Sometimes this is because we aren't willing to do the hard work of following through on dreams & visions and waiting for the natural progression of reward. We lose focus on what is important and try to find ways to get our desired results without having to put in the sweat equity to earn it. Often we become impatient because we don't trust God's timing.

I can think of a few specific examples:
  • acquiring credit card debt because we don't want to wait for purchases by saving
  • crossing physical boundaries before the intended intimacy of marriage
  • cheating to get ahead in school instead of investing in the discipline of preparation
  • taking shortcuts in work to advance instead of developing a consistent work ethic
  • taking unnecessary risks financially and emotionally instead of waiting for God's answer to our prayers
Spiritually speaking, we want it now even though we aren't ready for what we are asking God to give us. He is still doing work in us that is necessary before the next step can be revealed. We short-circuit the blessing when we try to jump ahead of the process.

There is a sweetness in the daily obedience of seeking what God is doing in us. When the blessing is finally revealed, we can see the progressive process that brought us to that point. The rewards of doing things the right way and in the right timing (with God's blessing) will be more fulfilling than trying to create an unnatural/unhealthy shortcut.

A slow-cooker style of discipline is difficult to learn when we live in a microwave culture.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

God Wants It More Than You

We struggle with changing & improving ourselves and often feel as if we are fighting an uphill battle. It should give us strength & confidence to know that God wants that transformation to occur more than we do. It is the fulfillment of our destiny to use our gifts & talents to honor Him. 

Having watched numerous graduations over the years of teaching high school & working in youth ministry, I think of how excited families were to celebrate their child's graduation. There were tears of joy & the passage of a child into adulthood. These emotions were all fundamentally centered around the completion of a phase of life and the fulfillment of potential. 

I imagine that God shares the same joy as we grow spiritually. Even though He knows it is coming, He has a deep joy for our maturation as He knows how it will impact us holistically. I would imagine there is a deep sense of pride as He gathers heaven around to brag on His children here on earth. He is our loving Father-why wouldn't He push us to be the very best we can be and then celebrate when we start to reach that goal?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Follow the Leader

In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel would define their devotion to God by the obedience of their mortal king. If he was focused on keeping God's law and honoring Him through regular worship and sacrifice, then the people would do the same. When this king decided to ignore God's direction, the people would blindly and willingly do the same. All of them would suffer the consequences for their sin or enjoy the blessings of God's favor.

I don't want to overestimate the power of one individual, but there is a heavy mantle of responsibility that falls on a leader. This applies whether you are the boss at the top of an organizational chart, the captain of your basketball team, a middle manager, parent, or a husband/wife. Our decision to pursue God's will and observe His commands will impact others. 

If God has placed us in a position of leadership (and we are all leaders in some respect,) we are challenged to lead well by God's standards. Our obedience is not only for our own sake, but for the influence we have on the lives around us.

Monday, April 16, 2012

2nd Home

Some of my greatest memories in ministry have taken place at the American Indian Christian Mission. It has been a catalyst for spiritual growth and also the scene of great triumphs and trials. 

The list of physical accomplishments throughout the years is too long to list even though many feats of brute strength and achievement come to mind. I have engaged in some of my most powerful moments of worship in the bunkhouse common room and around the campfire. I have seen teams come together in unity by the end of the week when I thought it would never happen and have also been part of teams that clicked from the very beginning. We have experienced sweat (although very little in low humidity), tears (of frustration, anger, repentance, joy, and empathy,) and even blood (not usually the intended result) on some occasions. Exhaustion has set in at some point in every trip-physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

The common denominator in each trip is that God has revealed Himself in some way to us all. For some it has been life-altering and for others it has served as a reminder of our individual, ongoing transformation. 

This place is a firm part of our lives, but each year also cements in us the calling to work diligently where we are called to serve full time. Our experiences have shaped our faith and deepened our marriage, but the true lesson is gained in the application of God's work at our 1st home-first in Florida and now here in Georgia.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Weak Sauce

I am convinced that my prayer is too weak. Don't misinterpret that first statement. I believe in the power of prayer and understand that God is able to do things through our prayers that is far beyond our own ability to complete. I know that I have an audience with the Creator any time that I desire to speak. I know that He hears my heart and is able to interpret my groanings, murmurings, and incoherent/incomplete thoughts into what they are intended to be. What I have been convicted of lately is that I don't pray as often or as boldly as I should.

If I know that I have a a direct line (as all people do) to the most powerful being in all history, shouldn't I spend more time communicating with Him? Shouldn't I find myself begging Him to change the plight of people around me? Why wouldn't I seek His grand & magnanimous vision for my family and His Church? Is it only my spiritual laziness that prevents me from being in constant prayer? I believe it may be a combination of that principle and my frustration with the timing of God's answers. 

In his book, The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson writes, "Every prayer is a time capsule. You never know when or where or how God is going to answer it, but He will answer it. There is no expiration date, and there are no exceptions. God answers prayer. Period. We don't always see it or understand it, but God always answers."

That truth should not only give me comfort for the answered prayers that have not been revealed yet, but should also challenge me to increase the fervency and frequency of my petitions. The only way for my prayer life to increase in strength is to exercise it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Walk This Way

The books of 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles tell of the history of the nation of Israel and their leaders. As I read through it some if it sounds too audacious to be true (even though it obviously is.) Men and women become drunk with power, kill off their entire families to preserve their ruling position, meet secretly to overthrow kings, manipulate entire nations to get what they want, bribe each other and other rulers for personal gain, submit to other forms of worship, and in some cases, worship the One True God.

The books provide only a brief commentary on the lives of people who ruled. They might give details on a few instances which sum up the character of the ruling parties, but each part essentially lets us know if that person was evil in the eyes of God or if they chose to follow Him.

Who we are and the legacy we leave will be determined by the sum total of all our life experiences and the decisions we make. Those closest to us will see the depth and intricacy of our lives, but it still leaves one big question. Did we live to serve God or not? In the footnotes of history that is what will matter most. 

That is the lasting inheritance that I want to leave for my children and the generations that follow. In spite of my flaws and many mistakes I pray that they would know that I loved God and did the best I could to follow His leading.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day by Day

I am a goal-setter and vision caster (although not as much as I would like to be.) I write every day in my Franklin Planner, keep task lists in my phone, and keep running lists of projects that I look over continually for thought & plans of attack. 

My wife & I just had a conversation about my day at work and I commented that I got some things done, but I wasn't satisfied with what I achieved because there is still so much to do. She replied that she always expected that answer and never anticipated hearing me say that I had finished everything on my list. 

That was not the style of life in Arizona on our mission trip last week however. I got up each morning with the first objectives of drinking as much coffee as possible, praying, and immersing myself in the Word. The rest of the day was determined by the work projects from AICM staff and hitting the rez on the blue bus. I didn't find myself constantly checking a task list or wondering how to spin things into greater productivity. I simply worked with our team to get that immediate job done and move on to the next one.

I don't want to lose my future focus in what I am doing now, but there was a simple satisfaction in striving to complete that day's task and nothing more. It is a balance I need to continue to learn to manage. By nature of my calling I must seek the future, yet I should also find satisfaction in completing what today holds and enjoy the journey while it lasts.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Finding Excitement

There are a lot of things that get me excited in life:
  • seeing my family after being away for a while
  • time alone with my gorgeous wife
  • watching someone commit their life to Christ in baptism
  • helping people experience fulfillment in Christ
  • investing in other people & seeing them trust God more fully
  • leading in worship & seeing people passionately engaging
  • seeing offerings increase as more people trust God with their finances
  • a crowded room of people who are desperate for truth
  • teaching God's truth to people of all ages
  • seeing pieces of the promises of God for my family's lives
  • immersing myself in the mission field with a unified group of workers
  • the veil being pulled back and a glimpse of heaven shared with fellow warriors as we pray for a nation of people to be set free in the middle of their territory
  • returning home to serve in the mission field we have been called to reach.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Band of 20

I could not have arranged to put together a more cohesive mission team this last week. God orchestrated (as He does every year) the exact grouping of people that He needed to accomplish His objectives. Not only we were set up to knock out tasks, invest in the full-time missionaries in Arizona, and love on Native American peoples, but it was the perfect group of people to care for each other. 

We experienced laughter, tears, genuine concern, spiritual stretching, hard labor, and exhaustion together. There was a rhythm to life in those seven days that thumped sweetly in our spirits. While we won't regain that exact communion again, I am grateful for each member of our mission family and the insight into authentic, Christian unity that God provided me through each one of them.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Speak to Me

As I doubt myself and my obedience to Your will
In the midst of satan's lies about my value
As I struggle to survive the difficult days
When the cacophony of worldly noise fills my ears
As I lie resting and seeking recovery
When I am in desperate need of refuge
When I have lost my way and sight of Your path
When I simply need encouragement to maintain my heading
While I long for reminders of Your boundless love for me
When shame and guilt over my past threatens me
As I strive to love my wife and children more completely
While I seek to make my vision Yours.

Here I am, everything. 
Father, speak Your life over mine.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It's Not What You Know

God tells us to actively seek out wisdom and that if we do, we will find it in Him. That is a promise that brings hope for us.

We can work much more easily to be knowledgeable (says the man with hundreds of books in his office), but to gain wisdom requires the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the difference in knowing all of the reasons that something is right or wrong and having the discernment & discipline to choose the right thing-even if it is difficult.

Knowledge puffs up-it increases our ego and we use it as a weapon against others. It is wisdom that is godly, character shifting, and world-changing. True wisdom is a gift from God that He is ready for us to open if we would but eagerly search for it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Press In Close

Relationships have times of closeness & synergy and other times that require much more work and effort to reap success. Our relationship with God is no different.

I have had periods of time where my prayer & Bible reading are flowing with fruitfulness and peace. It seems as if I am in a constant state of prayer and closeness with God. Every time I open up my Bible I receive an incredible insight and revelation. Being in this spiritual "zone" changes my focus and energy as I draw on the sweet intimacy of God.

What do we do when we are no longer in that zone? Our humanistic side tells us to pull back. Our frustration level rises-especially since we aren't seeing the results we hoped for. 

The phrase that God keeps telling me is "press in close." It strikes an image in my mind of a child clinging to the legs of their father-not even speaking, but simply pressing in close and hanging on. As someone who is always looking for new steps of growth & future vision perhaps this is the message that I need to hear the most. There will be times of growth and fresh understanding and yet some of the most refreshing times for our souls will be found when we simply press in close to our Father.