Monthly Archives: February 2013

Move Forward

There’s a commercial out right now for the 2013 Lexus GS that caught my eye. It starts off with a Zack Morris phone on its side. All of a sudden it starts to vibrate on the ground and then it gets sucked backwards. It’s quickly followed by a Sony Walkman and then a record player. The announcer starts off and then says, “Anything not moving forward is moving backward.” Other things you recognize from years past go flying by as the camera moves forward to the car. It starts to get sucked backwards, but it peels out and moves forward.

It’s a great example of our spiritual walk. We are constantly being pulled backwards. We are being drawn to our old lives and the things we’ve left behind. While we’ve had successes in the past, we cannot rely on them to keep us moving forward. We must constantly be finding ways to move forward in our walk with Christ. Paul said in Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal.” He knew it wasn’t so etching easy. It was something you have to strive for.

If anyone could have rested on their past successes, it was Paul. A couple of verses before he said that, he said, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have reached perfection.” He knew there was more to do. He has not yet attained so he needed to keep pressing on. We all need to make sure that we don’t rest in our walk with Christ. We have not attained where he wants us. There’s always room for growth.

Just like the commercial said, “Anything not moving forward is moving backward.” So are we in our walk with God. The gravity of our old life, of this world is pulling us backward. We must break the bonds of the things that pull us back so we can move forward. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to strip off every weight that slows us down so we can run with endurance and not get tripped up. Those weights slow you down to the point that it’s easier to move backwards than forwards.

Pray today and ask God what weights are holding you back. You probably already know what they are. Whatever it is that is holding you back from moving forward with God, must be cast aside. Your spiritual life is more important than your physical comfort. Free yourself of the things that hold you back so you can embrace the future God has for you. Keep moving forward and drawing close to Him each day. He will not only draw close to you, but you will no longer miss the things that once weighed you down.

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Sleep in the Storm

I was reading in the Old Testament this morning. I went to the minor prophets section of it. For some reason, I typically stay away from that area of the Bible. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not as familiar with each of them as the rest of the Bible or if it’s just when I get that close to the New Testament, I get excited and want to jump ahead. Anyway, I read through a couple of them and I came upon a verse in Haggai chapter 1 that stood out to me. It said, “I am with you, says The Lord!” What a powerful reminder from God today.

We all need to hear that verse. God is with you today. No matter what you are facing, what you are going through or what the doctor says, God is with you. There’s a peace in knowing that. My mind goes back to the disciples when they were crossing the sea. Suddenly a storm came over the mountains and caught them by surprise. The boat started taking on water. The thunder was so loud they had to scream to talk to each other. Lightning was flashing brighter than ever. The boat was being rocked and tossed by the waves. Then someone remembered that Jesus was with them.

They went down into the ship only to find Him asleep. How could He sleep through a storm? It was simply that He knew His Father was with Him. The disciples really didn’t understand what it meant at that point to have God with them. They woke Him up in panic and chastised Him. In Mark 4:38, they said, “Don’t you care that we’re going to drown?!?!” Jesus, looked at the storm and said, “Peace. Be still.” Then He asked, “Where is your faith?”

Ouch. They didn’t understand that God was with them. They allowed the storm to cloud their vision. Maybe you’re going through a storm right now. The waves of trouble are tossing you around. The lightning of bad news keeps striking in your life. The thunder of circumstances are so loud that it’s hard to hear God. You’re taking on water and you feel like you’re sinking. I’ve been there. Panic sets in. Stress keeps you from sleeping or eating much. Thoughts of worry creep in and cloud your vision. If that’s you, I want to remind you what Haggai 1:13 says, “I am with you, says The Lord!”

In our Sunday school class, we have a confession we read each week. It says, “The Lord is with me. The Lord is in me. The Lord is for me. The Lord is one with me. I am with The Lord. I am in The Lord. I am for The Lord. I am one with The Lord.” I think that’s a good prayer and reminder for each of us today. We need to not forget that God is with you. He is in you and He is for you. If He is for you, what storm can be victorious over you? You, like Jesus can sleep in the storm.

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Spiritual Baths

One of my first jobs was washing garbage trucks. I know what you’re thinking and yes, they do get washed. Why? I don’t know. I would be in the lot where they park them after dumping the trash in the landfill and walk down the line with a pressure washer to clean them. It was nasty. It was disgusting. It didn’t pay well either. I was still in high school at the time and didn’t have a driver’s license yet. My parents would pick me up at the end of my shift and I’m sure they were thankful they had a truck.

I had to ride in the back of it to the house because all of that filth and junk that was inside if them shot out at me while I washed them. I stunk. Badly. My parents would make me hose off in the yard and then get undressed in the garage before I went to take a shower. My clothes were permeated by the smell of garbage. Thankfully the washing machine was just inside the door to the house from the garage and they were washed quickly.

While I have a different job now, the same thing happens to me spiritually. I hear people’s conversations, I watch TV or movies, I hang out with non Christian friends and I go out to public places. All of those can have the same impact on my spirit man as the trash did on my physical man. I get contaminated by the things I hear or see. My spirit is permeated with the spiritual trash that I get around. I pick up the stench of the world and all I want to do is clean my spirit man off.

We can’t run from being in this world. We were called to be separate, but we were also called to be in the world. Jesus didn’t keep away from the things that got Him spiritually dirty. In fact, that’s where He spent most of His time. He went into the houses of sinners. He ate dinner with people who were unclean. He allowed a prostitute to wash His feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. I’m sure all of those things collected on Him like stench.

Just like when I was younger and needed a bath, my spirit man needs a bath every now and then. How did Jesus do it? He always went away to a private place and spent time with God. The only way to stay clean from the filth of this world is to get into God’s Word and to spend time in prayer. Just like you don’t bathe in public, this is something you do in private. You get alone with God. You get away from everything that will distract you.

Jesus showed His disciples this. He often went away to a secluded place. He would take them with Him and then go a stone’s throw farther. Corporate prayer is good. Reading and studying the Bible in a group setting is great. You also need to be doing those things on your own to give God time to speak to you personally. Let Him clean you up daily so you can go back out into the world each day fresh with His presence and aroma around you.

Discussion Question: What are some things you do to wash your mind and spirit from the things of this world?

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3 Be’s of Leadership

Today, I’m departing a little from my normal focus and doing a guest post on a leadership blog. Here’s how it starts out.

I’ve heard it said that if you’re leading others, you better look behind you and make sure others are following. Just because you think you’re a leader or have manager in your title, it doesn’t mean you’re a leader. Leaders find a way to inspire others to follow them even when the goals seem unrealistic or unattainable. They know how to foster a belief that says, “We can do this.” In my years as a business owner and now as a manager, I’ve found three things every leader needs in order to make sure people follow.

You can finish this post by clicking here.

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Why following Jesus is like playing Monopoly

I took a 16 hour solo road trip recently. Normally I have a policy against that, but for whatever reason, it just had to be done. So there I was sitting in my car, mile after mile, alone with my thoughts. That’s not quite true, I had Pete Wilson’s book Plan B playing on the stereo. But that was it, just mine and Pete Wilson’s thoughts.

What do you do when where God has you just doesn’t make sense? What do you do when “the plan” just isn’t working out, you get off course, or you lose track of the course altogether? That’s what Pete and I were thinking about on my drive. I remembered some old prayers I had prayed. Not the easy/cheesy ones. I mean prayers to know God better and that He would care enough about me to interfere with my life. What was I thinking? I remembered the first such prayer before my senior year of high school. I had simply invited God to take away anything He felt necessary for my life to belong more to Him. A couple months later the girl I had a crush on all through high school began dating one of my football teammates. Soon after that one of my best friends moved out of his home and our church and in with his girlfriend. Next, my hopes for a national championship in an important (to me) Bible competition were dashed. By the time I graduated, I was gulping for air.

Then last year, a decade later, I had the guts to do it again. Lord, take me to the next level in my relationship with You, I prayed. I don’t have any other explanation for the erratic events of the past year than that God is answering that prayer. That’s when I realized the following Jesus is a lot like playing Monopoly.

In the game of Monopoly, you’ll occasionally land on a spot that invites you to draw one of two cards: a Chance or a Community Chest. That can set a completely new course in motion. You can move drastically ahead in the game. You can win free money. Or you could experience a major setback. You could owe money or be forced to forfeit property. You could even go jail (directly, I might add). The thing is, you don’t know what the result will be until you draw the card.
When we pray for God’s best, it’s like drawing a Chance card in Monopoly. We don’t know if it’ll help or hurt. It may not change the whole trajectory of our lives, but then again, it may. God’s answers may be big or small. They may last a short time or for the rest of our lives. The only way to avoid them is to not play at all. But then what is the point?

I coined a new phrase lately. My circumstances are precarious but my future is secure. And that includes my short-term future as well as my eternal future. I don’t know why God stretches my faith the way He does, but I don’t know any other way than to keep playing the game on His terms. Lord, help me in my unbelief. I won’t let You go until You bless me.

This has been a guest post by a friend of mine who knows what it means to live by faith. Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, and thought leader. Visit him today at NathanMagnuson.com or follow him on Twitter.

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Truth or Consequences

Do you have what it takes to do what’s right when everyone is telling you to do otherwise? We all face choices like this in our lives. For some the consequences are higher than for others. Would you be willing to lose your job over doing what God told you versus what’s politically correct? Would you be willing to risk your life? Would you be willing to go to jail? The choices I’m presenting are faced by Christians all over the world every single day.

It’s nothing new. We just don’t hear about it on the news. I personally know people who would lose their lives if caught for doing what God asked them to do. The choice is, “Do I value myself greater than God’s Word?” If you value what God says above anything else, you’re willing to take that risk. You still aren’t guaranteed security just because you do what’s right. What is guaranteed is favor with God, which should be valued higher than favor with man.

In I Kings 22, King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat teamed up to go to war to retake one of King Ahab’s cities. King Ahab sent for his prophets to tell him whether he’d be victorious. The 400 prophets spoke in unison to the king and said he’d be victorious. Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not a prophet from The Lord here?” Ahab said there was one, but he always prophesied against him. Jehoshaphat said that they should hear from him too. So they sent a messenger to get him.

Here’s where it gets interesting. In verse 13, the messenger gets to Micaiah and says, “Look, all the prophets are promising victory for the king. Be sure to agree with them and promise success.” The Bible doesn’t say, but I’m sure he was instructed by someone above him to relay that message. The message came through loud and clear, “It will be bad for you if you don’t do what’s politically correct. Agree with all the others or else (My version).”

Micaiah had a choice to make. He could choose to bow to the pressure of what the rest of the “prophets” were saying or he could seek God for himself to see what God said. He chose to have a little fun. When Ahab asked him, he said, “Go ahead. An easy victory. God’s gift to the king (MSG).” King Ahab knew he wasn’t telling the truth and demanded it from him. So he told him that not only would he be defeated, but he would also be killed in the battle.

One of the men with King Ahab walked up and punched him in the face (look it up if you don’t believe me). The king then ordered that he be arrested and to only be given bread and water until he returned from battle safely. King Ahab was killed that day as the prophet had spoken. The bible doesn’t say what happened to Micaiah, but even if he spent the rest of his life in jail, he knew that it was more important to obey God than man.

What choices are you facing today? Are they opposed to God? Is it more popular to go with the public opinion? Ultimately what matters is your obedience to what God says. While its easier to follow the crowd or to do what others deem as acceptable, God’s Word is the standard for our lives. Here’s what Jesus said, “If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you. (John 15:18, 19 MSG)” Where do you stand?

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Truth or Consequences

Do you have what it takes to do what’s right when everyone is telling you to do otherwise? We all face choices like this in our lives. For some the consequences are higher than for others. Would you be willing to lose your job over doing what God told you versus what’s politically correct? Would you be willing to risk your life? Would you be willing to go to jail? The choices I’m presenting are faced by Christians all over the world every single day.

It’s nothing new. We just don’t hear about it on the news. I personally know people who would lose their lives if caught for doing what God asked them to do. The choice is, “Do I value myself greater than God’s Word?” If you value what God says above anything else, you’re willing to take that risk. You still aren’t guaranteed security just because you do what’s right. What is guaranteed is favor with God, which should be valued higher than favor with man.

In I Kings 22, King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat teamed up to go to war to retake one if King Ahab’s cities. King Ahab sent for his prophets to tell him whether he’d be victorious. The 400 prophets spoke in unison to the king and said he’d be victorious. Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not a prophet from The Lord here?” Ahab said there was one, but he always prophesied against him. Jehoshaphat said that they should hear from him too. So they sent a messenger to get him.

Here’s where it gets interesting. In verse 13, the messenger gets to Micaiah and says, “Look, all the prophets are promising victory for the king. Be sure to agree with them and promise success.” The Bible doesn’t say, but I’m sure he was instructed by someone above him to relay that message. The message came through loud and clear, “It will be bad for you if you don’t do what’s politically correct. Agree with all the others or else (My version).”

Micaiah had a choice to make. He could choose to bow to the pressure of what the rest of the “prophets” were saying or he could seek God for himself to see what God said. He chose to have a little fun. When Ahab asked him, he said, “Go ahead. An easy victory. God’s gift to the king (MSG).” King Ahab knew he wasn’t telling the truth and demanded it from him. So he told him that not only would he be defeated, but he would also be killed in the battle.

One of the men with King Ahab walked up and punched him in the face (look it up if you don’t believe me). The king then ordered that he be arrested and to only be given bread and water until he returned from battle safely. King Ahab was killed that day as the prophet had spoken. The bible doesn’t say what happened to Micaiah, but even if he spent the rest of his life in jail, he knew that it was more important to obey God than man.

What choices are you facing today? Are they opposed to God? Is it more popular to go with the public opinion? Ultimately what matters is your obedience to what God says. While its easier to follow the crowd or to do what others deem as acceptable, God’s Word is the standard for our lives. Here’s what Jesus said, “If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you. (John 15:18, 19 MSG)” Where do you stand?

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