Tag Archives: mark Batterson

Loving God For Real

Several years ago I read a book called “Primal” by Mark Batterson and it wrecked me. It was based on Deuteronomy 6:5 that says, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and mind and with all your soul and with all your strength [your entire being]” (AMP). It’s a verse we all know that Jesus said was the greatest commandment. Think about that. Everything in the Bible, all the wisdom, all the lessons, all the do’s and don’t’s are below what this commandment says. The most important thing we can do with our lives is to love God with our entire being.

In the book he described how loving the Lord with all your heart is about having a heart filled with compassion for the things God is compassionate about. Loving Him with all your mind is about having a holy curiosity to know who God is. Loving Him with your soul is to love Him with a sense of wonder and awe that once wowed you about Him. Finally, loving Him with your strength is about being energized to do things for Him because He excites you. As I read those, it hit me, I wasn’t loving God in all four areas. I was good in some and just ok in others. That wasn’t ok with me.

God didn’t command us to love Him in one or two of these ways. We must love Him in all four. The call to the Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2, goes out to us. We must return to our first love. We must reignite the passion we once had. God is calling us to step out of the complacency of our relationship with Him so we can serve and love Him with everything in us. If we’re going to change this world, it starts with you and getting our relationship with God right first. Search over this verse today and ask God to show you what areas you’re missing the mark in. After you repent like I did, start doing something about it. We all have room to grow and get our love for God firing on all four cylinders.

Photo by Rohit Guntur on Unsplash

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Love People

  
I read a quote from Mark Batterson’s book “If” that hit home with me. He wrote, “Love people when they least expect it and least deserve it. That’s how you change someone’s life forever.” At a Toby Mac concert, his drummer shared a story of a man who had three kids with three different women. He wasn’t a present father in their lives and was a mess of a human. The Diverse City band loved him when he was broken and didn’t deserve it. They showed him the love of Christ through their actions and led him to the Lord. He then revealed he was that man.

When I think of that quote, I think of what God has done for each of us. At our worst, He still loved us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (NLT). God didn’t wait for you and I to clean ourselves up and to start living right before He demonstrated His love. He did it while we were covered in the filth of sin. He did it when we were living in rebellion to His way of life. 

He expects us to demonstrate that kind of love to others. He expects us to love those who least deserve it. I John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is (springs) from God; and he who loves [his fellowmen] is begotten (born) of God and is coming [progressively] to know and understand God [to perceive and recognize and get a better and clearer knowledge of Him]” (AMP). The more we love others the way God loves us, the more we get to know who He is.

After the Toby Mac concert, I went to find the drummer. He was taking photos with fans and signing autographs. He looked each person in the eye and said, “I love you and there’s nothing you can do about it!” I smiled when I heard him say it and thought, “That’s exactly what God says to each of us.” We’ve got to get to the point where we love others no matter who they are, how they live, or what they do. If we’re truly interested in changing lives, it starts with loving others where they are. 

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Free To Pray Boldly

It’s Free Friday! Today is the day you let go of the things in your life that keep you down or hold you back. To celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

There’s a video that has gone viral of a toddler trying to convince his mom to give him a cupcake. He’s not shy about what he wants and is very determined to get it. A few years down the road, he’ll change his tune and try to butter up his mother for what he wants. A few years after that, he’ll begin to feel like he’s bothering her if he wants something. Not long after that, he will be embarrassed to ask anything of her because he’ll think he shouldn’t need her help anymore. That’s how life goes. The older we get, the less likely we are to ask for something we need.

I’m taken back to Jesus’ words when He encouraged us to have the faith of a child. When you watch the video of that child arguing with his mother, he has no doubt he’s going to get the cupcakes. The doubt I do have is that the mother can hold out and not give him what he wants. His persistence and determination are what we need when we go to God in prayer. He wasn’t willing to take no for an answer. He knew what he wanted and he wasn’t going to stop until he got it. If you have kids, you know this is true!

Jesus told a parable in Luke 11:5-13 about prayer. He used the example of a neighbor who had a friend show up in the middle of the night unexpectedly. He wasn’t prepared to feed his friend so he went to his neighbor’s house. The neighbor told him to go away because they were sleeping. Finally, because of his persistence, the neighbor got up and gave him food. Verse 10 really hits home. It says, “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need.” Instead of hinting around to God at what you need, be direct. Instead of being embarrassed that you need something, be bold.

Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.” We need to be like that kid with our prayers. We need to be like that neighbor who won’t give up when praying. Just because you don’t see an immediate answer, it doesn’t mean that God isn’t working on it (see Daniel 10:12-13). We can’t give up on our prayers when we don’t see an immediate answer. We can’t quit knocking just because the door hasn’t opened yet. We can quit seeking because we haven’t found it yet. James 5:16 says, “The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available.”

Today, I want each of us to have the faith of a child again. I want us to be free to shed the things that hold back boldness in our prayers. I want us to be like that neighbor and never give up on our requests to God. He hears each prayer and begins to work on our behalf the moment your prayers enter the Throne Room. Be earnest in your prayers. Keep them heartfelt and continue to bring them to His attention. I am confident that when we do, He’ll have no choice but to answer us. Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep knocking. Your answer is on its way.

If you would like to win “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson, all you have to do is go to my Facebook page here and “like” it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (March 15, 2014) who has liked my page. If you have already liked my page and enjoy reading these daily devotionals, you are already entered. Please invite your friends to like my page so they can receive encouragement from God’s Word too.

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The Pathless Journey

I’m on a journey right now. I know my destination. I know what God has called me to do. I’ve known for a while now. After running from it for years, I decided to embrace it. I told God I was ready to step into my calling. All of a sudden things started happening quickly. Faster than I could keep up with. I began to make life changing plans to accommodate where I was going. Confirmations that I was on the right path were coming left and right. I knew I was on my way to my destiny. My calling was sure. My path was clear.

One night, my pastor pulled me aside to talk about it. He saw the changes happening and God spoke to him about it. Prophetically he told me, “Be patient on your journey.” Almost immediately the trail went cold. The path disappeared. The confirmations quit rolling in. I can still see where I’m going, but not the path. I still believe in what God has called me to do, but I can’t see how to get there from here. That was two years ago that he spoke those words to me. I’ve had two years of asking God, “Where did you go? Why did you quit leading me? Why is the path hidden? What’s my next step?”

I’ve traced the cold path back to that night. I’ve blamed the lack of progress on those words. I’ve looked for excuses and other paths that will lead me to where I’m going, but have had no luck. I’ve struggled with God as He’s had me at the point for a while. I’ve listened to His voice and waited for His direction, but I’m still sitting here. I’m still waiting. I’m still hoping. I’m still believing. Each day that I wait, the desire to do what He has called me to grows. Each day I become more restless and fed up with where I am. I’m a doer, not a sitter. I’m a go getter, not a watcher. That’s my personality. Sitting still is hard for me.

God used Mark Batterson’s words to help me in this limbo. One of the things he said is, “The longer you wait, the more you appreciate.” That hit my soul. He also said, “God wants you to get where you are going more than you want to get where you’re going.” Then He must really want it! Then he hit me between the eyes. He said, “God is more concerned with who you become in the journey than with getting you to the destination.” That changed my thoughts. If God is more concerned with who I become on this journey, so should I. This is the training ground before I step into my calling. He is molding me and shaping me into the person He needs me to be so I can completely fulfill His calling.

Then there were the words of reassurance to calm me down. He said, “God knows how to get you to become who He wants you to become in the process of the journey.” All of a sudden my pastor’s prophetic words made sense. Change takes time. It takes pressure. It takes faith to trust God and to keep going when you can’t see the path. It takes patience. I want things now. I want them to happen in my time. I want to be in control of how God moves my life. On the journey I’ve learned to trust His timing. I’ve learned that I shouldn’t take matters into my own hands and try to force the calling to come to a reality. I should be patient and be faithful in the process of becoming who He wants me to be on this journey.

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Love With Your Strength

And you must love The Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. – Mark 12:30

About a year and a half ago, I was reading Mark Batterson’s book “Primal”. It dealt with this verse as well. When I got to the part about loving God with all your strength, I began to see that I had not been loving Him with my strength. I had loved Him with my heart, my soul and my mind, but I had left out an important part. I had failed to love Him through my actions and abilities. That chapter created the birth of this website.

I had always felt called to write, but never had done anything more than talk about it. I had visions (fantasies) of having never written and somehow I would be granted a book deal. When I read that loving God with my strength meant that I was to use my talents and abilities for Him, I knew I had to start writing. I may never get a book deal and I’m ok with that because I’m doing what He asked me to do. I’m writing in order to love Him with my strength. His approval is more to me than anyone else’s.

Jesus told the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. A man went on a trip and called his servants together. To one he gave five talents to, to another he gave two and to another he gave one. The first two servants went out, used their talents and doubled their worth. The third dug a hole and carefully buried the talent given to him. When the man returned he took account of what they had done with what he had entrusted to them. He partnered with the first two and took away the talent from the third. The attitude of the third is what I want to look at because it’s what I saw in the mirror.

In the Message in verses 24-27 the conversation went almost like I had been with God. The servant said, “Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless… I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place.” Unfortunately, that was my attitude about what God had given me. I didn’t want to mess up so I just sat on it waiting for the day to come when He asked for it. The master’s response is what motivates me now. He said, “That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least?”

When we don’t love God with all our strength, we are doing less than the least. We are putting our pride of how others will critique us over our obedience to what He asked of us. As He put it, that’s a terrible way to live. Each of us have been given an ability to do something for God no matter how great or small. We can’t all be a Mark Batterson, Max Lucado, Billy Graham, Mother Theresa, Chris Tomlin or Darlene Zschech, but we can be who God called us to be. We can love Him with what He gave us instead of burying it because we’re not as good as the best out there.

What talent has God given you and called you to use that you’re sitting on? It’s time for you to dig it up and start investing it in the Kingdom. It’s time to love God with your strength.

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The Best Writer’s Conference

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Since it’s Labor Day, I’m going to take a break from my normal devotional message to share with you about a conference that got me writing devotionals like I do. I don’t get a kickback or anything from this conference for telling you about it. I was simply blown away by attending and want to share with you the difference it made in me.

I can’t believe it has been several months since I attended the inaugural Re:Write Conference. I had never been to a writer’s conference so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The truth is, I paid the money for the conference just so I could have a chance to meet Mark Batterson. I had heard of a couple of the other speakers, but wasn’t familiar with many of them. I had only one goal in mind by attending: meet Mark. That being said, I was totally unprepared for what would happen at the conference and in turn, I was blown away.

What was supposed to be a trip to meet one person and pick up a few skills to better my writing turned out to be a spiritual journey beyond my imagination as well. The speakers who attended the conference didn’t get up and give us formulas for success. They poured out their hearts into our lives instead. They shared their heartbeat of why they write, their insights into having a relationship with God and how to be satisfied with how God uses you wherever you are. Where I expected clinics, I got wisdom. Where I expected reclusive authors, I got to sit by them and have personal conversations.

What conference can you go to that has people like Paul Young author of The Shack (20,000,000 copies sold), George Barna the authority on church statistics, Ken Blanchard who wrote the book on business leadership, Peter Strople who is the most connected man in the world and so many more authors who won’t go hide in a green room, but will sit at a table with you while you learn? These authors were the opposite of reclusive. They sat at our tables during the conference and at breakfast. When I was at the airport leaving, I ran into Jim Henson. He initiated a conversation. Later I walked past Paul Young. He called out to me, came over, gave me a hug and said goodbye.

This conference instilled in me the importance of relationships in the writing community. None of us have all the answers or the market cornered. It is through relationships that we build our platforms. We are not competitors against each other fighting for readers. We are co-workers in the Kingdom trying to spread His message, not ours. I got to meet other bloggers, published authors, speakers and other incredible people from all walks of life and levels in writing at this conference who still keep in touch and offer practical advice.

The relationships, the information and the spiritual growth that I came away with from that conference are invaluable. This year, the conference is going to be in Austin, Texas on October 18-20. The list of authors headlining this event is second to none. We’re talking Mark Batterson, Ted Dekker, Lisa TerKuerst, George Barna, Crystal Paine, Carlos Whittaker, David Kinnaman, Mary DeMuth, Peter Strople, Chad Allen, Emily Freeman and Jim Henderson. If you are looking to grow spiritually and improve your writing ability, this is the conference for you. I encourage you to check out their website here for information. You can also follow them on Twitter here for info, highlights and even discounts. It’s a small investment compared to the eternal changes you will experience. I hope to see you there!

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Christianity Is A Verb

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Our Wednesday night small group wrapped up our series on “Unstuck” last night. The video portion that included commentary from several people was challenging. Each person that spoke on that video had a question or comment that got them to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others around them. They also inspired me to do more than I’ve ever done for others, so I want to share with you in hopes of it challenging you as well.

One of the first things Mark Batterson mentioned in this segment is that Christianity was never meant to be a noun. It has always been intended to be a verb. When we allow our Christianity to become a noun, it leaves a bad taste in other people’s mouth. It becomes who we are and not what we do. Jesus said, “Go into all the world. Preach the Gospel to every nation. Make disciples of all men.” Those are all verbs that command us to do something.

There was also a lady on the video who shared her story of how God has used her. She was asked the question, “Who are three people you know who don’t know Jesus and need you to be His hands and feet to?” She couldn’t answer that question. Instead of thinking it didn’t apply to her, she prayed that God would increase her circle of influence. God began opening doors for her to minister to others through washing laundry, helping with résumés and providing necessities for. All because she didn’t think her Christianity should be a noun.

The next part that really spoke to me had to do with stats. Did you know 25,000 people in the world will die today from starvation? Did you know that 5,760 children will become orphans today? Numbers are numbing. They don’t cause action usually. Names are what matters. If you want to see the names and faces of some orphans behind those numbers, click here. I dare you to click that link and move beyond a stat to the face and name of an orphan who needs your help. The real question here is, “Are you ok with this?” Can you live in the house you live in, drive the car you drive, eat at the restaurants you eat at and still be ok with the numbers above? If so, your Christianity is probably a noun.

Mark Batterson said, “When all of the rules and regulations, all of the traditions and institutions, all of the liturgies and methodologies are peeled back, what’s left is the Great Commandment: Love The Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. That is Christianity in its purest form. It’s not enough to love God with 2 or 3 out of the 4 listed. We must find ways to love with all 4. He didn’t give us a choice. He said to do this was the greatest commandment.

Finally, Mark challenged me with this phrase, “On the final day, God isn’t going to say, ‘Well thought, good and faithful servant’ or ‘Well said’. He is going to say, ‘Well done.'” It’s not enough to think of others or to say, “Have a good day; stay warm and eat well” to the cold and hungry according to James 2:16. God is looking for us to stop using Christianity as a noun and to start doing something with it. If your circle of influence of others who need Jesus is too small, I challenge you today to pray what that lady prayed. Ask God today to increase your circle of influence and to give you courage to do something for others because you aren’t ok with where you are.

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