Monthly Archives: September 2015

Let There Be Light (Video)

4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.

John 1:4-5 (NLT)

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Choices And Obligations

  
Have you ever felt you were obligated to do something you didn’t want to do? For me, when those situations occur, it always happens when something better is going on and I have to pass on it in order to do something I felt obligated to do. That causes frustration, disappointment, and a bad attitude. I spend the whole time thinking of what I could have done instead of being stuck doing what I felt obligated to do. It’s very disappointing to say the least.

Have you ever felt that way spiritually? Have you felt obligated to do something you knew wasn’t right or that God didn’t approve of? We all have at one time or another because we’ve all failed God. In every situation or temptation, we have a choice. We can do what God wants or what our sinful nature wants. Many times we choose what our sinful nature wants while knowing what God wants. After a while, we can begin to think we can’t beat the sin, so we give in to it every time.

James 4:17 says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it” (NLT). When we do what’s wrong when we know what’s right, we have the same emotions we do when we do something out of obligation over desire. In Romans 7, Paul talks about the struggle of wanting to do what’s right, but not being able to. When that happens, we realize we are a slave to sin and feel obligated to do what it wants instead of what God wants. In those moments, we can feel frustrated and disappointed in ourselves.

Coming out of that chapter of failure to do what God wants, I like what Paul reminds us of in Romans 8. He said, “Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.” You and I don’t have to have those feelings of disappointment. We don’t have to feel like we let God and ourselves down. We are not obligated to sin just because that’s what our mind and body wants. We can choose to do what God wants and forego the guilt and disappointment that comes from doing what’s wrong.

We don’t have to be slaves to our sinful nature. Christ has set us free from the law that binds us to go against God. He has placed His Spirit within us to bring the freedom to choose what God wants us to do. Once you accept Jesus as your savior, you are no longer obligated to do what you used to. You are no longer a slave to sin. You have been set free to live a Spirit-led life free from your obligation to sin. If you’re struggling still with slavery to sin, pray that God would give you a Spirit-led mind so you’ll be set free from slavery to sin and do what God wants.

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Quiet Place Of Peace

  
Have you ever found yourself looking for a quiet place to get away from it all? In today’s connected world, it’s hard to find a quiet place. We are besieged by emails, texts, and phone calls. Social media calls to us constantly begging for our attention. Our jobs hunt us down after hours to find solutions and our families deserve our time as well. It can be hard to find that place where we find peace among the craziness of life, but it does exist.

David looked for it as well. He didn’t have a cell phone ringing or a boss demanding over time. He had people who were hunting him down to kill him. He lived a lot of his life on the run. He was either being chased or was chasing someone. On top of that, add in that he was running a country. He was a very busy person, yet he longed for that quiet place of peace as well. He wanted a place where he could just rest.

In Psalm 27:3, he describes a little bit of his situation and how it makes him feel. He wrote, “When besieged, I’m calm as a baby. When all hell breaks loose, I’m collected and cool” (MSG). For most of us, we can’t identify with those statements. When we are besieged by our todo list, we are not calm as a baby. We are stressed. When everything seems to come apart at once, we aren’t cool and collected. We become frantic at the situation with no solution. How could David be this way in those situations? He found his quiet place of peace.

In the next few verses, David writes, “I’m asking GOD for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet. That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, The perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic.” He knew that prayer was essential in finding that peace in the storm of life. When we pray, we acknowledge God is in control, even when we aren’t.

He also mentioned meditating on God’s beauty was as well. It’s not enough to just pray. We have to keep our mind on God throughout the day in order to stay in that place. The other thing he did was to study at God’s feet. He made the time to study God’s Word. Knowing what God says and understanding how it applies to your life is critical in finding that place of peace. Stress comes from not being able to balance everything on our plate and losing control of our life. Peace comes from knowing God is in control and then leaving the outcome to Him.

David ends this Psalm with the a way to find confidence in God that comes from the faith that knows God is in control of your life. “I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth. Stay with GOD! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with GOD.” He gives himself a reminder in the chaos. He wants his mind to stay with God instead of wandering away to all the what if’s. He also reminds himself not to quit or give up. He knows that if we stick with God in every situation, we will find that quiet place of peace.

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Healing Scars

  
If you’ve followed my site for a while, you know September 25th holds a special place in my heart. It’s the day I reached rock bottom in my life and decided to make changes necessary to move forward. After dealing with months of perpetual loss, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I cried out to God that day and said, “I quit!” I couldn’t bear the pain anymore. I couldn’t live with the disappointment either. I was embarrassed at what had happened to me and I lacked the strength to fight anymore.

After deciding I would no longer accept moving backwards, I chose to forget that part of my life ever existed. I thought if I changed jobs, changed friends, and never spoke of it again, I could convince myself it was just a dream. A really bad dream. So I spent years never speaking of it and letting people know it was off limits. I became defensive when anyone asked about it. Instead of dealing with the pain, I covered it up.

Around ten years later, Dave Roever spoke at our church. In Vietnam, he survived a phosphorous grenade blowing up by his head. He told the story of how he was in the hospital waiting for his wife to arrive. He was afraid she would leave him because of how bad he looked. He shared the struggles he has had with the way people look at him now. When God called him to preach, he argued that no one would listen to someone who looked like him. He thought of covering up the scars, but God said, “Don’t hide your scars, for in them, others will find their healing.”

When he said those words, it was as if God was speaking directly to me. I had spent a decade hiding my scars, pretending that they weren’t there. My emotional inside looked like his physical outside. I was riddled with the scars of a divorce, a failed business, a life running from God, and sins too many to count. I knew that day that I had to pull back the layers I had placed on top of my scars so that I could find healing myself. I had to expose them to God and to others and allow them to scab over and eventually heal, leaving the scars.

The things I most wanted hidden in my life are now what God uses to speak to others. If He did that in my life, He wants to do it in yours. Your failures and pain have not disqualified you from being used by God. He can use your scars to bring healing to others, but you’re going to have to find healing for yourself first. I found mine by opening up about them and talking with others. I wrote out everything I went through so that it could be exposed. Once it was out in the open, God brought healing. 

God wants to heal your emotional scars too. He wants to forgive your failures and shortcomings. He wants to put the pieces of your broken life back together. It won’t look like it did before. It will be a beautiful mosaic that points to the only Artist who can make beauty from ashes. Isaiah 61:3 best sums up what God wants to do for you. He wants “To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion–to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit–that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified” (AMP).

If you would like to read more of my story, I recommend reading these posts:

Free From Walls Of Hurt

Dead Ends

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Seize The Day

  
“Follow me,” the call of Jesus, has gone out to everyone in every generation since He stepped foot on the earth. Since He was physically here, people have given excuses as to why they can’t. Some aren’t ready to rough it by giving up selfish pleasures. Others have priorities that take precedence in their lives. Some are waiting until they become financially stable before they follow Him. But others, like the disciples, drop everything and follow Him when He calls.

In Luke 9, Jesus experienced people with excuses. In verse 57, a person said, “I’ll go with you, wherever” (MSG). Jesus replied, “Are you ready to rough it? We’re not staying in the best inns, you know”. We don’t know how this person responded, but we can based on the rest of) the text we can assume he didn’t want to give up the security of his home for the security of Heaven. Like many of us, he valued the perishable things of this world instead of the imperishable.

In verse 59, “He [Jesus] said to another person, ‘Become my disciple, side with My party, and accompany Me!’ But he replied, ‘Lord, permit me first to go and bury (await the death of my father'” (AMP). Jesus refused and said, “First things first. Your business is life, not death. And life is urgent: Announce God’s kingdom!” (MSG). You see, he wanted to go home, wait for his father to die, collect his inheritance, and then follow Jesus. We carry the Word of Life in us, and as Jesus said, life is urgent! We can’t wait to share our faith. We must do it now.

Then another person said, “I’m ready to follow you, Master, but first excuse me while I get things straightened out at home” (MSG). He wanted to sell his belongings, get the cash, and then follow Jesus. In verse 62, Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backwards looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.” We cannot procrastinate when we are called to follow Jesus. We are not guaranteed another day. Immediate obedience is what He’s looking for.

Which of these excuses have you given God? You don’t have time, so you’ll do it later? You can’t afford to do what God called you to? Your life isn’t at the right place right now? We’ve all given God an excuse as to why we can’t do what He’s called us to, but there’s still time if you have breath in your lungs. Pray that God would put an urgency in your heart to follow Him wherever and however He sees fit. Eternity is in the balance, and it can’t wait for some. Go out and give His life to everyone you meet today.

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Love All. Serve All. (Video)

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:28 (NLT)

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Return On Investment

  
Would you sell your house, your car, your collections and all your belongings for this machine? What if I told you that if you put sand in this machine, it would produce high-quality, precious gems worth thousands of dollars each? Would you do it then? Most people would because you would get a return on your investment of giving everything up. The things you would have to sell in order to purchase it could all be replaced once you get the machine.

In Matthew 13, Jesus proposed something similar to the people listening to His sermon. He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!” (NLT).

Like you, I’ve read these scriptures my whole life, and thought, “I’ve purchased the pearl of great price by giving my life to God.” As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to realize that Jesus was asking each one of us if we are willing to give up everything for Him. Are we willing to give up our home, our belongings, our beds, our tables, our furniture, our things that give us a sense of security, all for him? Now, how do you think about the pearl of great value? Are you willing to give up all of that for it?

Be careful how you answer that question. Jesus asks us to give up even more than that in order to be His disciple. In Luke 14:25-27, Jesus had a large crowd following Him. He turned to them and said, “Anyone who comes to me, but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters – yes, even one’s own self! – can’t be my disciple” (MSG). It costs a lot to be a follower of Jesus. You may be asked to give up everything in order to be His disciple, but your return on investment is out of this world. Just like the machine above, you will get back everything you gave up if you’re willing to let go of it.

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