Write Well

graduation-caps-in-airToday graduates are closing one door and opening of another. Year after year it has been the daily grind of school. Making friends, complaining about lunch and wondering if you could make it to graduation. Today they stare at a future that is as broad as the horizon. It can be a bit overwhelming. So many options. So much uncertainty. And, if we admit it, a little bit fearful.

To navigate these upcoming challenges and the life that lies ahead there are three priorities that can make the journey easier. First, we must pray and read our Bible daily. Second, we must seek out wisdom from people whom we admire and have successfully walked the journey. Finally, we must take chances. Enjoy the journey. Dream big! Moses likely never dreamed that one day he would lead a nation to freedom. Joseph couldn’t have imagined that he would be second in command over a nation. David, from a hillside, likely never thought, my name will be a name that will be remembered throughout history. What will these graduates stories be? Only God knows. For our graduates it all begins today. One word. One sentence. One paragraph. One chapter at a time until their story is written. Pray that they write well.

 

God in the Storm

imagesThe calendar says it’s still spring. The activities and heat say it’s summer. Heat and humidity are here and plants and grass are already gasping for water. What we need is a storm. A gully washer. A downpour. Though we enjoy the fun of the sun, we need the storms. Without storms we don’t get the necessary rain. Storms slow us down. Storms bring clouds to shade us from the sun, breezes that purge the dead limbs, and water to the areas that are in drought. What is true in nature is true in the spiritual. We enjoy the good times, when troubles are few and life is light. But then God sends a storm. Something that rocks our world, slows us down and brings us to our knees. Not always what we want, but often what we need. Without storms we can burn ourselves out. Without storms, areas in our lives that need a purge, would never be cleaned out. Without storms, the refreshing of God’s Spirit that brings our hearts back to life, wouldn’t come. Going through a storm? Be thankful. He see’s something in our lives that is dying. Something in our heart or soul that needs watered. He allows a spiritual rain, disguised as a storm, to come into our lives. He sees we need a pause. A rest.  A time of refreshing. He’s the God in the storm and when it’s time He’ll say, “peace be still.”

Because They Served

memorial18Memorial Day. A day that we remember those who served and gave their lives for our freedom. Because of those who believed in the values of our country, for what it stands for, they fought and died that we might have liberty and freedom. We celebrate this weekend because they battled and struggled with enemies who opposed our beliefs. We don’t know most of their names and we can’t name many of the battles, but we can look back and celebrate their lives and victories that allow us to cookout, watch a race and make lots of memories. For there to be a memorial there has to be several components. There must be a cause, an adversary, a struggle or battle and finally there must be closure. In the closure we count our loses, remember the struggle and hopefully celebrate our victories. It is a time to honor, be thankful and remember the sacrifices. We are blessed to be Americans. We are blessed by those who served and died. May we never forget those who have and will continue to make America a great nation. God bless America and those who serve.

Two Fishermen

 

1Two fishermen. One had two poles, the other a single pole. I watched as they cast their lines into the water. After what seemed like only a few minutes of casting the one who had brought two poles had stopped. Instead of casting, his poles were lying beside him and he was setting on the ground on his cell phone. The second fisherman, the one with a single pole, continued casting relentlessly. He had focus. He was going to catch a fish. Watching the two walking toward the pond, one might have assumed the man with two poles was the fisherman. The reality was, the man with the single pole brought something no one could see. Desire. He came to catch a fish regardless of the circumstances. What is true of fishermen is true of Christians. There are some who dress and look the part, but the moment things get difficult they wilt like a flower in the summer heat. Others have a passion like Paul who said, “oh that I may know Him.” Paul was determined that regardless of obstacles, shipwrecks, beatings or stoning, that He was going to pursue God with all his heart. A passion for God, it can’t be taught, passed down or learned. It must come from a heart that has desire. Pray that God will give you a passion to know Him.

Time for a Realign

potholePot holes, chug holes, crater. Does it matter what we call them? They seemingly are a part of rites of spring in central Indiana. We try to avoid them. We swerve. We dodge. Invariably though, we hit one. There is no sound like the thud of tire hitting a pothole. Hit one and you’re praying that the hubcap stayed on and your tire isn’t flat. But a pothole does more. It damages the balance of the tire and knocks your car out of alignment. Hit one and in a moment a round tire is an egg making the ride anything but pleasant. Hit enough and when you let go of the wheel, your car can make a left or right turn without you even turning it. So, what do we do? We get to our local tire store or mechanic.

Much like central Indiana and potholes our spiritual lives have seasons, moments in life that can knock us out of balance or alignment. We’re traveling along and suddenly, bang, we hit a hard spot in life. Unexpectedly our life is out of order and our walk with God is going the wrong way. Again, the question, what do we do? Just like you would take your car to get repaired, we get our self to church. We get to an altar. Hit your knees. Cry out to God. Get realigned and refilled with the Spirit. Be confident. God can realign you and get your life in balance.

Attached to the Source

hoseGarden hoses. They are made of multiple materials, come in any color you can imagine, and depending the length, can cost anywhere from $10 – $150. The thing is, no matter the color or the material, unless it is hooked up to a water source it doesn’t have much worth. Attached to a water source it fills buckets, gives water to flowers, keeps grass green and washes cars. A garden hose is not the source, simply the conduent. It is an iconic symbol of a Christian life. We live and breathe, not by our own ability, but God in us. To live an effective and successful Christian life, to have a marriage and home that is filled with calm and to be a person who impact others with the gospel we must be people who allow God to flow through them. It’s only when we are attached to Him, being a conduent that he flows through, that we have impact. Regardless of how talented, how distinguished our degree or impressive we look, we are simply an unattached garden hose if we don’t have His Spirit flowing through us. How do we do it? It happens when we ask God to get us in alignment. We must be aligned with His Spirit. His will. His plan. Get attached to the Spirit and let Him flow through your life.

A New Look

spring.jpegIt appears that spring has finally sprung. The grass is turning green. Flowers are beginning to pop and trees are starting to sprout their leaves. Winter is gone and it’s time to get out in the yard. It’s time to trim some trees, prune some branches, move some plants and plant new flowers. It’s time to freshen things up, clean some things out and get ready for the warmth of a new season. What if we did some spring cleaning in our spiritual life? What if we trimmed back some of the things that have gotten out of control in our lives? Pruned back some negativity and attitudes so new growth could bloom? What if we allowed God to move some things out of our hearts and put some new things in? Imagine what our hearts and souls might look like? David understood he needed a spring time. After a hard season in life, David’s prayer was, “create in me a clean heart, renew in me a right spirit.” What was he saying? Make my life happy, joyful and invigorating again. What a great prayer! Spend some time over the next few weeks in your devotional time thinking about what you want life to look like. Then as you are on your knees and in the Word, ask God to make you new again.

Change the Atmosphere

atmosphereFor the first time this Spring the windows were up. It was a little muggy but the smell of fresh air made the tradeoff worth it. Sitting on the couch I noticed a shift. The mugginess in the air is gone and there is a slight chill. A few hours later the temperature had dropped drastically and a cold rain was falling. In just a few hours there had been a dramatic change in the atmosphere. Know this, what happens in the natural can happen in the Spirit. A handful of fishermen are fighting a fierce storm. In a moment they find the cause is a prophet running from God. Jonah says toss me over and things will change, initially they resist, but as the storm rages they have no choice. They toss Jonah over and in an instant the seas calm. Paul and Silas, sitting bruised and beaten in a jail, not exactly knowing how they had got there. It’s dark, they’re in pain and in chains but a song service changes the atmosphere and suddenly they are freed from their prison walls. Jesus hangs on a cross. One moment men are mocking and gambling for His garment, but with the words, “it is finished,” the atmosphere changes. The skies grow gray and the earth quakes and those mocking suddenly are saying, “surely He was the Son of God.” Take hope! Regardless of what your circumstance looks like at this second God can change the atmosphere in a moment.

Life’s Obstacles

wallObstacles; they are defined as something that obstructs or hinders progress. Every person faces obstacles, situations that obstruct or hinder our progress. Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden became a part of our DNA and as a result every person is entangled and bound by sin. Regardless of how hard we try to live well, we fail. The obstacle called sin is not something we could overcome, it took a Savior, His blood and a cross. Only Jesus can free you from the obstacle of sin. The second obstacle every person faces is the obstacle of circumstances that brings to light or challenge our faith. These obstacles appear to be overwhelming, but if we ask for God’s help He will make a way of escape. This escape involves our participation, God makes a way but we must be willing to walk through in acts of faith. The final obstacle that every person faces is the obstacle of our own mind. We hear God promises but we live in doubt. God has promises, successes and blessings far beyond our imagination, the problem is they require us to believe, to act upon them, to live and walk in faith and in the Spirit. Today, I want you to know if you will trust and believe in God, He will help you overcome every obstacle in your life. Run your life with faith in God!

He Is… Risen

RisenTo Abraham He is the lamb provided. To Moses He is the I AM that I AM. To David He is a very present help in a time of need. To the three Hebrew children He is the fourth man in the fire. To Isaiah He is the Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. To Mary He is Emmanuel, God with us, He is her baby, her son. To the blind, lame mute and diseased ridden He is a healer. To those overwhelmed by their sin and failure He is grace and mercy. To Simon Peter He is the Messiah, the anointed one, God with us. To John He is the Word. To the Pharisees He is a stumbling stone. To the disciples He is Rabbi, the teacher. To Mary, Martha and Lazarus He is a resurrecter. To Thomas, after seeing His nails prints, He is my Lord and my God. To Paul He is the God of all grace. To everyone who believes and comes to Him He is the Savior. To each and every individual, He is what you have needed Him to be and what you need Him to be.  He is help, strength, courage, healer, deliverer, redeemer and most importantly Savior. But three days after His death He became something that had never been done before and hasn’t been done since. He conquered death, hell and the grave. To the world, He is Risen!

In a Moment

change

It was an amazing day. The weather was perfect. People had risen early to get the best place along the streets of Jerusalem. They had brought palm branches to wave and blankets to lay on the ground as the celebrities would walk past them. The disciples had borrowed a colt from a local farmer and there was a nervous excitement in the room while waiting on Jesus. Jesus appeared and said, its time, lets go. The Triumphal entry began. The disciples waved and smiled, crowds cheered and shouted “Hosanna,” as Jesus ambled down the streets of Jerusalem. It was as though Jesus was personally acknowledging every person as he smiled and looked into their eyes as they shouted His name. In this moment who could imagine the events that would take place in the coming days. That this crowd would turn on Jesus. That these smiling disciples would deny they ever knew Him. That His body would be beaten to a nearly unrecognizable state. That He would be hanging on a cross in five short days. That in seven days, He would conqueror death, hell and the grave and life would never be the same again. The Passion Week, a reminder that no matter the circumstances in your life, they can change in a moment, seven short days.

Let it Go!

let go

Have you ever mopped or painted yourself in a corner, got trapped in a car or been locked in a freezer? Odd questions, I know, but our family has experienced all of these scenarios. Painting a floor, I painted myself in, ended up taking my shoes and socks off to get out of the corner.  Our son Gentry had a car where the front passenger door would lock and you couldn’t get out, talk about an uncomfortable feeling. Mary called one day from work and her and a co-worker had got locked in a freezer. Fortunately, someone freed them. Why do I bring up these moments? Because there are those who have painted their life in a corner, locked themselves in a life of bitterness. How? By holding on to unforgiveness. When we choose to hold onto unforgiveness, we build our own jail cell with bars made of bitterness, anger and hurt. When we choose to let bitterness and hatred live in our life, it doesn’t impact those who have hurt us, it hurts us. We become bound to emotions and feelings that steel joy, peace and happiness. There is only one who can free you from this jail cell, you! The moment you let it go, forgive, the door to freedom opens. You get a new lease on life, fresh joy, peace and happiness. Free yourself today, forgive. Let it go!

Life: It’s More Than Monopoly

Monopoly game Go squareLife is more like a game of Monopoly than we realize. We go around a board year by year.  We gain wealth to buy property and build assets. At the end of the game, regardless of who wins, everything goes back in the box. If all that we live for in this life is material possessions than we are basically playing monopoly. Whether we realize it or not all that we obtain in this life is simply leased. We strive to get the social status. We want a certain job. We buy the right home in the right community. We get the dream car. But it’s all just a lease. After whatever allotted time we have on earth, it all goes back in the box. If this is all there is to life then this life is very futile and worthless. Jesus said, “for what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world [wealth, fame, success], but forfeits his soul?” On the other hand, if we believe that this life is only down payment on an eternal destination, then this life is much different. Things don’t possess and control us. We live, not for this life, but for life in heaven. It changes everything. It changes perspective. It changes goals. It changes aspirations and values. Life changes from a game of Monopoly to life with purpose. Start living today for the eternal instead of the earthly. Quit playing the game.

Know Your Opponent

It’s important that we know our opposition. The adversary, our enemy, whatever you call Satan. Every Christian must be aware of his tactics, that he never stops trying to destroy. Understand that he is an opportunist and a isolationist. He is someone who questions God’s Word and twist and contradicts truth. He is the author of confusion, and a liar.

playbook

Once he has deceived and destroyed a life, he disappears, leaving a person alone with pain and sorrow. When Satan found Eve in the Garden of Eden, he used nearly every resource he had. As an isolationist and opportunist, he waits until Eve is alone, vulnerable and weak. As someone who twists truth and contradicts God’s Word Satan first words to Eve is, “has God said,” followed up with a direct lie, “you shall not die.” Once he had convinced Eve and she had surrendered to his temptation, his task is completed, he disappears and leaves Eve with her sin. Though the dispensations, environments and temptation are different, his ploys never change. He used the same tactics against Jesus and he plots the same tactics against us today. Know your adversary, stay alert, know his ways, and always be aware he is lurking as a lion trying to destroy your life.

It’s All I Have

5BreadHave you ever felt like you had so little to offer? Ever felt like you got the short stick when it comes to gifts or talents? Have you ever disqualified yourself? You are not alone. When God called Moses at the burning bush, Moses gave God four reasons for why he was not qualified. When Elijah asked for a cake, the widow said we have enough for my son an myself and then we’re going to perish. When Jesus is teaching a multitude of people when the disciples come to Jesus saying you need send the people away, we’ve searched, and all we have is five loaves and two fish. In each case God said just give thanks for what you have and give it to me. It’s the biblical principle of multiplication. God asked Moses, what do you have? Moses says, all I have is a stick. God said, that will do. The widow says all we have is some meal and oil and the prophet blessed it by the power of God and oil and meal never run out. When the disciples brought the sack lunch to Jesus, He gave thanks for what was provided and then He multiplied it. The principle is simple, focus on what you do have, acknowledge and give thanks for what God has provided, give it to Jesus and let him multiply it.

The Eternal Questions

EternityThe eternal questions are the most important questions of life. Four questions that will determine everything about our destiny. Do I believe in God, not in a god, but the God, the one found in Genesis 1:1, the “in the beginning God?” Answering that question leads to the next. Do I believe in the Word of God; the Bible, that it is the infallible Word of God, that it is true and that it is the final authority? If I believe that there is God, that His Word is true then the next question is, do I believe there is a heaven and a hell and that each of us will arrive at one of those destinations? If I believe there is a heaven and a hell then the next question to ask is, what must I do to secure my eternity? If I truly believe there is an eternity then who do I want to answer the question about getting there? Do I want a religion, a religious institution, a church, a pastor, a friend or an internet source? I suggest you want only God to answer that question. The question answered by Jesus, God in flesh, in John 3 when He said to Nicodemus, “unless one is born of the water and Spirit he cannot enter in.” The real questions of life. Four eternal questions. Answer wisely.

The Power of His Words

If we ever get an understanding of how powerful God’s Word is, it would revolutionize our faith and prayers. Psalm 119:89 says “God’s Word is forever settled in Heaven.” That means when God speaks it happens. Genesis 1 makes it so clear when it says, “and God said.” When God spoke something it happened; it became. When Satan came to Jesus in the wildereness, Jesus simply responded to him with, “it is written.” No need to debate this Satan, you know its settled. When someone is around Jesus and becomes convinced of the power of His Word it changes their perspective and life.

WhateverMary, the mother of Jesus, when she speaks to the servants at the wedding in Cana says, “whatever He says, do it.” She had been with Him and understood His power. A frustrated and tired fishermen by the name of Simon Peter is told to cast his nets again and fish, his words, “nevertheless, at your word.” Simon had experienced the power of His word enough to know, something is going to happen. I encourage you to ask God to give you revelation and faith in the power of His Word. We should expect to experience His Word to happen when we pray.

Communion, It was Holy and Human

UnworthyThe Last Supper. It was Holy but at the same time it was human. Artist render it as Holy, we view it as Holy and it was, but there was so much humanity in the moment. As the disciples entered the room they had failed to follow the custom, to make sure guest feet had been washed. Setting in the room, the conversation was not about scripture or sinners, but about who would be on the right and left of Jesus, who would be important. Jesus enters, and without condemnaiton or judgement, takes a basin of water and towel and begins washing the feet of those that in less than 24 hours would turn on Him. One would betray Him, another would curse Him and nearly all would abandon Him. Though He knew their future, He washed their feet, broke bread and had communion with them. Twelve very imperfect men; men looking for power and position and men that had faith but would fail, and yet, Jesus by His actions was saying, take this communion, because you believe in me and undestand you need me. Communion is not about your perfection, but His. It’s about understanding, acknowleging and saying, I believe in and need the work of Jesus in my life.

Some Time with God

time

This week much of the Life family will be participating in a fast. Fasting is a time when we pull away from the pleasures of life and turn our focus on God. Some will fast all food for a few days while others will restrict their diet like Daniel. Fasting shows God our hunger to know and grow closer to Him. When we fast we should try to mute worldly influences and focus on things that enhance our spiritual life. Even if you are someone who is unable to fast it is a good time to step away from social media, secular music, entertainment (movies, television) and sports. Taking a few days, a week, and for some, the next 21 days to read, watch and listen to media that will enhance your spiritual awareness will reap benefits through 2018. Read the Bible, books like Draw the Circle 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson, The Book of Mysteries by Jonathan Cahn and Storms by Jim Cymbala. In addition you can watch messages by Jentezen Franklin, Anthony Mangun and others on Youtube and make inspirational music the music of choice. While you will always be loved by God, fasting brings His favor and brings blessings. Lets take 2018 to another level!

Time for Change

Welcome to 2018! With each new year comes a blank canvas; its a time when we have new aspirations, make fresh commitments and vow to make changes in our lives. In the Bible the word for year is shannah and it can have two meanings. One definition is to duplicate or repeat, as in the repeating of the seasons year after year. The second definition is to change, as in things will be different. Wow! What a picture of the possibities in 2018. The two definitions are so polar opposite of each other and how the word is used and its meaning in the moment is totally determined by the person using the word. It brings me to a question, what will your year be like?

7eff6c0d2559be4039cbb250f9de6f8dWill it be a year of repetition or a year of change? Our nature is to make new commitments but after a few days or weeks we often fall back into the same old routines and habits. Will this year be a repeat of the same old patterns or will it be a year of newness and change. Want to make it a year of change? Seek God with all your heart, choose to daily live differently, have bold faith, pray big prayers, and choose to walk after the Spirit one day at a time. If we change our patterns we can change our lives, our families and 2018 will not be a year of repetition but a year of change.