Tag Archives: Christ

The Walk Of Shame

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

One of the things I love about our car is when you get low on gas, not only does it notify you, the navigation screen automatically shows you where all the gas stations are. If I keep going, the alarm will continue to let me know every few miles that it’s time to fill up. So far I haven’t run out of gas in it. That’s a good thing because I know what it’s like to run out of gas and to have to do the walk of shame to the gas station.

What about you? Have you ever run out of gas? Have you ever run out of gas spiritually? Again, I’m guilt of that too. I’ve let myself run out gas spiritually and I’ve stalled. There were warnings that I over looked and things that I did that caused me to run out. One of the first things I quit doing was reading the Bible daily. It was more of a box to check off for me at the time and I saw it as a chore. When I quit reading my Bible, my faith took a hit.

Romans tells us that faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God. I increase my faith by putting God’s Word in me. I wasn’t doing that, and I quickly found out that I was susceptible to attacks. It turns out that faith is also our shield that helps protect us against the fiery darts of the devil. I then began to slip in areas I had never had trouble in. I started to go places and to do things that I never dreamed I would have.

After that, I noticed that my church attendance began to slip. “I wasn’t getting anything out of it,” I would say. I wasn’t getting anything out of it because I wasn’t trying to. I wasn’t listening because I didn’t want to be convicted of the things I was doing. I didn’t want to be questioned by people at church when I did go, so I started leaving as soon as the pastor ended his sermons. I cut myself off from the community of believers.

Hebrews 10 tells us not to forsake the assembling of fellow believers. I looked up “forsake” and dictionary.com said, “to quit or leave entirely.” Because I did it, I know why the writer said we shouldn’t. I left a group of people who loved me, prayed for me and lifted me up when I needed it. Church is more than just a group of believers going to hear a message. It’s a place where we connect and find a sense of belonging.

After I left, it didn’t take long before I ran out of gas. When I couldn’t move forward in my life anymore, I decided to take that walk to the altar. The good news is that this walk isn’t a walk of shame. It’s a walk of rejoicing because God comes in, fills us with His love and restores us to a right relationship with Him. If you’re on empty today, you might have made the same mistakes I did. The good news is that He’s waiting to fill you up again and to restore your life. He did it for me and my church accepted me back with open arms. There’s no shame in walking home. 


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Dreams And Goals

I like to ask people, “What’s the difference between a dream and a goal?” A lot of people struggle with this question at first because it’s hard to articulate on the spot. But think about it for a second. They’re very similar with one exception. A goal is something you have a plan for in order to accomplish it. Dreams are usually large goals without a plan. The problem is most of us think we have set goals when really all we have done is created a bunch of dreams without a plan to accomplish them.

The people I know who are goal oriented aren’t easily swayed into doing things that don’t align with their goals. They know exactly what they need to do in order to accomplish them and they are pretty disciplined. Dreamers aren’t as disciplined. They live with their heads in the clouds and are easily knocked off course by distractions. Unfortunately that’s the way many of us live our lives and it bleeds into our faith as well. We’re living for Christ without a purpose, and that’s dangerous. 

One night on a roof in Egypt, the head of middle east missions for a large denomination asked me, “What’s your goal as a Christian?” I had never thought of that. I answered almost asking a question, “To get to Heaven?” He said, “We’ve found your answer is not enough to live a spiritually successful life. You’ve got to have other goals if you’re going to impact this world.” That question and answer haunted me for months. Our goal can’t be to just get to Heaven. We’ll live spiritually unfulfilled lives if it is.

In I Corinthians 9:24, Paul mentions that in a race, everyone runs, but only one wins. He then tells us to run to win. Verse 26 says, “Therefore I do not run without a definite goal” (AMP). Not only are we to run to win the ultimate prize, we are to run with purpose. We are to run with goals. To keep from being easily distracted by all this world has to offer, and to keep our head out of the clouds, we need to have spiritual goals. There’s no other way for us to have the impact on this world that we’re called to have.

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What Determines Your Worth?

I read an article yesterday about a server at a Steak ‘n Shake who got a $446 tip. The lady was clearly excited to receive it. She said some of her other tables had been giving her a hard time and she thought that was the reason behind the tip. In the article, she said something that stuck out to me. She said, “I didn’t think I was worth $400, but that customer does.” She valued herself at less than $400. I started thinking, “How many people value themselves so little?”

If you don’t know, let me be the one to tell you that you are worth well more than $400. How you see yourself or how others see you does not change your worth. It may affect your self confidence, but not your worth. You are a priceless work of art created by God to fulfill a purpose that only you can fulfill. You are valued by God above all other created things. Don’t let your mind or anyone else keep you from seeing that.

I can say that because God didn’t sacrifice His son for any other created being. Think of the angels and how highly we regard them. When Satan got a third of them to rebel against God and God cast them out of Heaven, did He pay a price to redeem them? No. Yet for you, He paid the ultimate price of sending His son to this earth to pay for what you and I do against Him.

Why would He do that for you and not for an angel? It’s because you are worth it to Him. Your life matters. What you do matters. Even if no one else around you values you or who you are, God does. Ultimately it’s His opinion that matters. I know it’s difficult to see when everyone around you values you less than $400. It’s easy to get that mindset when you’re verbally and physically abused. It’s not hard to believe that when those you love don’t appreciate you.

It’s hard to fight those thoughts and believe your worth doesn’t depend on others when everything around you is making you feel lower than dirt. I know. I’ve been there. I used to allow others to determine my worth. Not anymore. I find my worth and my value in who God says I am. I’ve learned to combat those thoughts with the Word of God. I’ve had to recognize when those thoughts come in so I can stop them and replace them with who God says I am. It’s a battle, but one that is worth fighting.

Your worth doesn’t depend on a tip, what someone else says or how they treat you. It depends on the price that God put on you and that’s a high price. You can not be replaced. There never has been or never will be another you. This is your time on earth to do what you were made to do. You have a purpose even if you haven’t found it yet. Keep looking. Keep believing. Keep trusting in Him. You are loved beyond measure and worth more than all the gold in the world.

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He is

I had the opportunity last year to meet William Paul Young, author of “The Shack”. In that time, he shared his heart and how that book came about. He also talked about the controversy that was created when in his allegory the person who represented God was a female. His message was simple, “Don’t put God in a box. He is who we need Him to be at the moment of our need.”

As I was reading the Bible this morning, God directed me to Ruth. As I was reading about Boaz being the kinsman redeemer, my mind went back to an old song called “He Is” by Aaron Geoffrey. In my mind, I heard them sing, “In Ruth He is our kinsman redeemer.” The song goes through every book of the Bible and says who God is in that book. All of a sudden it clicked. God truly is everything we need Him to be for us.

To confine Him to a box of male or female would be ridiculous. That’s the point that William Paul Young was trying to make. He was forcing us out of limiting who God is in our lives by trying to define Him with something that has limitations. Our minds want to grasp who He is, but don’t have the ability to so we try to compartmentalize Him. We try to make Him fit, but we can’t.

The song illustrates that in the Bible God is who each person needed Him to be. All throughout the scriptures God is sufficient to meet the needs of the people. He is sufficient today to meet your needs as well. He is more than able to be who you need Him to be when you need Him to be it. To David, He was a strong and mighty tower when His enemies came after Him.

Who do you need Him to be today? Are you worried and stressed out? According to Isaiah, He is the Prince of Peace. Have you lost your dad and are in need of fatherly advice? Psalms 68 says that He is a Father to the fatherless. Are you in desperate need of healing? He is the God that heals you. Are you in need of forgiveness of things you’d rather not talk about? He is the God who not only forgives, but casts your sins into the Sea of Forgetfulness.

The Bible is full of scriptures that show God as the One who can be who you need Him to be. Wherever you are, whatever you need, He is able to be and do abundantly above and beyond all you could ever ask or think. He is not confined to be only the God of the box we try to fit Him into. He is the King of Kings and The Lord of Lords. He is deeply concerned with your life and knows the number of hairs on your head. He knows what you’ve done and what you’ve been through and still loves you. He is all you will ever need. He is.

Here’s a link to the YouTube video of the song I mentioned.


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Approachable Jesus

My pastor asked a question last Sunday that still has me thinking about it. He asked, “Are you approachable by the world or are you so self righteous that they want nothing to do with you?” His next point was that Jesus was approachable. So approachable in fact that a prostitute came and washed his feet, a tax collector invited Him into his house and a Samaritan woman brought her whole village out to meet Him. His life wasn’t about showing how much holier He was. It was about showing love to others despite how the world labeled them.

It’s easy to not want to associate with certain types of people. It’s become normal for us to wonder about those who hang out with sinners. Why? I heard Kirk Franklin say, “If everyone I know loves Jesus, I don’t know enough people.” I get it. We need to surround ourselves with other believers and grow in the faith. We also need to make sure we have relationships with those who aren’t believers.

How can we have influence on someone we don’t have a relationship with? Jesus taught in the temples on the Sabbath, but the rest of the week He was in the streets, villages and hillsides building relationships with those who weren’t in the temple. He left the 99 who were safe in the temple to search for that one who would listen outside. He made Himself available to others. He healed those who weren’t religious. If He didn’t, why did He often say, “Go and sin no more”?

We limit God by thinking certain things are only for believers. God wants us to demonstrate His love to all so that none would perish. I was praying this week a prayer that I heard from a friend of mine. The prayer he told me he prays isn’t, “God show me your will and I’ll do it.” He said, “I’ve been praying, ‘God, what are you dreaming of doing? Pick me. I’ll volunteer to make that dream a reality.'”

As I was praying that this week, I asked God, “What do you dream about?” The answer was, “That none should perish.” God’s dream isn’t that we have large churches, debt free buildings or an amazing light show during praise and worship. Are those things great to have? Yes. But are we putting our time, energy and money into building relationships that grow the Kingdom? That’s where God’s heart is.

Today, think about your life. How approachable are you by those outside the church? If an unbeliever is around you at work, are you the type of person they could come to and ask questions about faith? Would you give them the churchy answer? Or do they know you will be real and transparent about your faith? None of us are perfect. We just serve a perfect God and do our best to be like Him. Build relationships. Win the lost. That’s God’s heartbeat.

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Moving Day

Today is the first day in a new office. There’s first day jitters like I experienced as a kid on the first day of school. All the familiar faces will be here, but it will be in a new environment. Boxes will need to be unpacked. Desks will need to be arranged. You’ll have to find out where everyone sits so you can find them when you need them. There’s a sense of excitement and nervousness at the same time. I can’t wait to go see the new place.

I wonder if that’s what Heaven will be like. It’s the familiar faces we’ve known just in an unfamiliar setting. We’ll get acquainted with how the streets of gold are layer out. Find our bearings around the sea of glass. Walk in awe through the pearly gates as we wonder in amazement at a place that was designed just for us. There’s a home there built with us in mind. Designed specifically to our standards. I can’t wait to go see it.

Jesus said in John 14 that He is preparing a place for us. In verse three, He says, “When everything’s ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me.” Just like at work where we’ve been anticipating this move, we need to be anticipating His return. We don’t know when He’ll come for us or when our life will be over and we go there. The important thing is to be ready at any given moment.

You don’t realize how much stuff you’re holding on to until it’s time to move. I threw away so much stuff last week because I realized I really didn’t need it. I started thinking about how much stuff in my own life that I’ve been holding onto that I need to release. Things like forgiveness for those who’ve wronged me, grudges against others who’ve made me angry, resentment for not being dealt a hand as good as others in life and so many other things we pack into our lives and hold onto.

When we hold onto those things, our hands aren’t free to receive all that God has for us. God has great things in store for each of us, but so many times we haven’t freed ourselves of the things that so easily weigh us down. We haven’t given them over to God and we end up putting ourselves into a yoke of bondage. God’s desire is that we live free of any yokes, especially those that are self imposed.

If you were moving to Heaven today, what would you need to pack and what would you need to throw away in your own life? What have you been holding onto that you don’t need? Why hold onto it any more? Free yourself today from those things that weigh you down. You will find freedom when you release them. God has already offered us freedom. He’s just waiting for us to take off the unnecessary weights and things that hold us down. Walk in freedom today!


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I listened to a seven minute excerpt from “A Call to Anguish” by David Wilkerson this morning. It’s one of the heaviest, convicting sermons I’ve ever heard. I listen to it ever so often to challenge myself spiritually. Every time I hear that sermon, I know there is more I can do. I realize I don’t have enough passion yet to do everything God wants to do through me. This morning I saw a map to long term effective action while listening to that sermon. I’d like to share it with you and at the end, I’ll link to that sermon.

The first step any of us have toward action is Awareness. How can you act unless you are aware of a problem? The old saying “Ignorance is bliss” comes to mind. If we don’t know about things, we don’t have to worry about them or be burdened with them. Once you become aware of a problem, you have a choice to either ignore that information or to dig deeper. Sadly, when most of us hear a shocking statistic, we choose to ignore it and think we could never make a difference.

For those who choose not to ignore it, they want to know more about it which leads us to Knowledge. To successfully overcome any problem or need, you first must understand it completely. You need knowledge of what is going on, how did it get this bad and what is the cost of inaction. For many, knowledge prompts concern which prompts some action. It can be giving money, temporarily helping or praying for a solution. If you only gain knowledge, this is where your action stops.

If you let that knowledge sink down into your soul, it will engulf you. You will begin to move into the next step which is Anguish. This is where God places this burden deep in your soul. You begin to feel the pain that He feels for the situation. You cry over it, weep over it and intercede. During these times, God begins to weave this need into your soul and into the fibers of who you are. You can never look at anything the same way again. Everything frivolous thing you do will translate to what could have been done to solve that problem with that money, time or energy.

Once that Anguish is placed in you, it creates Passion. Passion isn’t something that is a fly by night feeling. It is powerful. It is contagious. It shows in everything you do. When you are passionate about something, you don’t have to tell others, they can see it in you. Passion is what will give you light in the dark nights. It will see the possible when you are surrounded by the impossible. It is what gets you to take that step of faith when you can’t see the path. It is that “it” factor that no one can describe.

Once you have Passion in you, it will translate to Action. Not just a temporary action born out of concern, but a long lasting action that keeps working when it feels like you aren’t making a difference. This action doesn’t require faith, it produces it. There is no force that can stop this because your heart is beating with God’s heart. Your actions are His actions. You have become His hands and feet and put His Word into practice on a daily, consistent basis. This is how movements get started and real change is created.

So, where are you in this journey? Are you at Awareness, Knowledge, Anguish, Passion or Action? I once had someone ask me, “What are you passionate about?” I didn’t have an answer as far as a cause went. You see, like many of us, I stop at Knowledge because I know the price of the next step. I haven’t been willing to pay it. That’s changing now. My prayer today is for God to break my heart and lead me into Anguish because I know that will produce Passion and then long term Action. Are you brave enough to pray that prayer?

Here is the link to that sermon I promised. Please, don’t click this lightly. This will challenge you and probably convict you. It does me every time.

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How do you forgive the unforgivable? How do you come to the place where you can forgive someone for the ultimate betrayal? When you’ve trusted someone with everything and they stab you in the back as they take it all away, it’s hard to come to that place. It’s even more difficult when you have daily reminders. It’s like someone is just twisting the knife in you. The pain becomes unbearable. Not understanding why just makes it more difficult.

For me, I’ve had to let go of that last question to come to a place of forgiveness. The question of why will eat you up like a cancer. It causes you to hold on to the pain, the depression and it keeps the wounds open. I tried to drown my pain. I tried to run from it too. I did anything and everything I could to find a way to get rid of the constant reminders. I eventually covered up the wound and just pretended that it didn’t exist.

If I could forget it happened, I could numb the pain. If I could pretend it was a bad dream, somehow it would make me forget. Over time, that seemed to work. It sat there though dormant waiting in the dark. I would never be able to forget or make the scars go away though. It wasn’t until I confronted the pain, the hurt and the scars that I found forgiveness.

I heard Dave Roever speak about a year ago. His body is riddled with physical scars from having a phosphorous grenade blow up by his head as he was throwing it. His words pierced me. He said, “Don’t hide your scars. In them lies healing for you and for others.” Could it be that by hiding the scars and withholding forgiveness I was preventing myself and others from healing? I now know he was right. By looking at what happened and uncovering the layers of things I used to cover up the pain, I was able to find forgiveness.

Jesus gave the best example of forgiveness as He was on the cross. He was able to look the men in the eye who beat Him, mocked Him and betrayed Him. He was able to find forgiveness while the nails were still in His hands. He was able to find peace while the blood was pouring out of His body and say, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” He was able to see the whole plan of what was happening. You and I aren’t afforded that luxury.

It took years to see the plan and the reasons why. The betrayal in my life knocked me completely off the path I was on and put me on another one. It changed my outlook, the way I think and ultimately who I am. If it hadn’t been for that one act, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Being able to have that perspective this far away is what helped me find forgiveness. I know that what happened, while it hurt deeply and still does, was a course correction that God used to get me where He wanted me.

If they were the tool that God used to get me here, how can I withhold forgiveness? When I withhold forgiveness, I can’t be who I am supposed to be. It will keep me in a prison of pain and bitterness and I will miss what God has for me. I knew the day would come when I would have to forgive because Jesus also said, “If you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Were the sins committed against me any worse than my sins against God? No. He found a way to forgive me, I have to find a way to forgive others.

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Make Today Count

Several years ago, a guy I worked with would get on the store intercom each morning before we opened. He would give a motivational speech with some great quotes and remind us about why we work. He would always close his speeches the same way. You could hear him take a breath and then slowly say, “Make…. today…. count.” He signed off on all of his emails with it too.

All of these years later, I don’t remember each speech he gave, but I still remember those words: make today count. I believe we are to live purposeful lives. We are to be proactive not reactive. Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened.” These are all proactive steps that require you to act. The Bible is full of things we are to be proactive at.

A proactive person sees a need and helps. They look for ways to get involved. They don’t just want to do something for God, they do it. A reactive person responds to things that happen. They wait until there is no other choice but to act. It s not done out of willfulness, but out of obligation. As a manager, I can tell you that those who do things willfully are more successful and do better work than those who do things out of obligation.

It’s simple really. Proactive, willing people put their hearts into whatever they do. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says what my coworker used to say, “Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange for the hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one! (MSG)” I don’t know if he knew if what he was saying came from the Bible or not, but there it is. We are commanded to make the most out of each day. They are gifts from God in which we are to be proactive and do something for others.

Colossians 3:23 in the Message also says, “Don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from your heart for your real master, for God.” God knows that if you work from your heart, what you do will cause others to be motivated to do better. Our job is not simply to do things on our own, it’s to get others motivated to do things better too. When each of us in the body of Christ start working with all of our potential and are living a life of purpose, the Kingdom of God will grow.

I know many people are going back to work today after having been off for the holidays. Don’t go back with a sour attitude. That is infectious too. That is not what you want others to catch or to think about you as a Christian. Choose to go to work with a great attitude. Choose to find someone in need today and be the hands and feet of Jesus to them. Choose to make today count.

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Friends in Need

I have several friends going through some difficult times right now. Some have lost a parent, others have been given news that one of their parents has a terminal disease, one is fighting for her life in ICU and another going through a painful divorce. I’m sure there are others who have kept their struggles private not wanting to bother anyone else. This year has started off very difficult for a lot of people I know.

While every circumstance is unique, their pains and fears can be empathized with. When I went through a difficult period in my life, I was the one who didn’t want to bother others with my pain. People didn’t know how to respond. Some would say, “Time heals all wounds.” Others would say, “What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.” Then there were those who would not know what to say and simply say, “I’m sorry.” I’ve often thought about what could someone have said to ease the pain.

For me, I think there was nothing anyone could have said. Pain, loss and suffering are part of the furnace of life. It’s what molds us, strengthens us and pushes us onto other paths. There were no words that could have brought the healing I desperately needed. Looking back, I simply wanted someone to love me enough to stand by me in the hard times. Someone who would put their arm around me and say, “You’re not alone in this.”

One of my friends, who is going through one of these situations right now, once said, “When you have someone to stand with you through thick and thin, pain is divided and joy is multiplied.” While I can’t take the hurt, fears or questions away, I can stand with my friends to help divide their pain. Platitudes don’t bring much relief, but actions do. One action each of these friends can use right now is prayer.

When you struggle through difficult times like these, you need others who will lift you up and pray for you. When you don’t have the strength or words to pray for yourself, it helps to know that other believers are standing in the gap and fighting on your behalf. Psalm 28:7 says the Lord is our strength and shield. That’s what these people need. They need strength to make it through each day. They need protection from other things that would come against them when they’re down. They need peace that passes all understanding to come into their lives.

When there are no answers to the question of “Why”, God can still give peace in the midst of a storm. We may not understand why each of us experience these difficult times, but we can rest in the peace of knowing our God walks with us in difficult times. We can find comfort in knowing that God is still on His throne and He sees us in our dark times. He still heals. He still comforts. He still answers prayers. He still comes to those in need. May He do all of these to my friends in need and anyone reading this in need.


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