Get Your Priorities Straight

“Who’s the f’n new guy?”

Ah, that would be me.

Do you remember Sesame Street?  They had a feature on the show where they would show 3 items/objects.  Two of the objects would be similar or related somehow and one of them would be totally out of place.  For example: a bed, a chaise lounge and a carrot.

The song that went along with it was, “One of these things is not like the others.  Two of these things are kinda the same.  One of these things is not like the others.  Now it’s time to play our game.”

Well at this particular moment I was definitely the one thing that was not like the others…

It was the summer of 1980 and I was working on a special student landscape crew for the North Vancouver School Board.  We were all grade 12 students from schools in North Van.  We were all kinda the same.

However, the regular school board crew, comprised of full time maintenance guys, needed some help on a big job at Argyle School.  So, my boss sent me to work with “the adults”.  Being a fairly sheltered upper middle class kid I had never really met these kind of guys before.

To put it kindly, they were “rough”.  Their favourite word was “f’n” – in all its glory.  Quite frankly, I had never really heard that word much before.  In fact, it was never uttered in our home.  What struck me though, was the ability of these guys to weave a tapestry of profanity on whatever subject they decided to expound upon.

The topics they most enjoyed yattering about were, of course, women and motorcycles.  Again, I’d never really heard women talked about like that before.  This was a vacabulational education I really did not want to receive.  Sadly though, I was sentenced to work with these guys for a week.  I would indeed receive a cross-cultural experience I had never imagined I ever would, nor one I desired.

My memory of the week was spent minding my own business working alongside this group of 3 biker buddies laying sod on a new soccer field.  Pick up a roll of sod, lay it down, roll it out, and kick it into place, over and over and over again.  I tried to be pleasant and engage with them as best I could, but I was pretty shell-shocked by the F Bombs they kept dropping – amongst many other unmentionables.

I’ll never forget one particular relational scenario described in great detail by one of the guys.  He was talking about an argument he had with his “f’n old lady”.  She wasn’t happy with some of his behaviour so he had to set her straight…

“So I says to her, ‘Hey, you f’n don’t get it – first comes my f’n friends, then comes my f’n bike, then comes f’n you.  And if you f’n don’t like it you can f’n leave.’  So she f’n left.”

I almost burst out in guffaws of laughter.  Valuing my life though, I did not.  My respect for his “old lady” definitely went up that day.

He had a clear understanding of his priorities, but he did not have his priorities straight.

How about you, do you have your priorities straight?

Our priorities need to be the following:

  1. God
  2. Wife (if you are married)
  3. Children (if you have kids)

Our first priority needs to be our relationship with God no matter what our station is in life.  He’s the source of everything in our lives.  He’s life.  He’s our wellspring of living water.

If you’re married, the best gift you can give your wife is a great relationship with the Lord.

Our relationship with our wife needs to our second priority, right behind Jesus.  The best gift we can give to our children is a good marriage – and that’s only possible when we’re making God #1.

What are you putting in front of your relationship with the Lord?

Anything we put in front of the Lord is idolatry, and that does not lead to life.  What do you need to surrender to God?

Let’s get our priorities straight.

Exodus 20:3

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

Luke 14:26

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.

Luke 16:13

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Jeremiah 2:13

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

Colossians 3:5

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

Stop Going To Church

Yup, you heard me correctly.  Stop going to church!

It’s actually impossible to go to church.  Church is not something we attend, it is something we are.

Jesus came to birth the church.  He came to call forth a people who would be the body of Christ, the people of God, a Kingdom of priests to God, ambassadors of the Kingdom, the family of God, the army of God – the Church.

The church is not a building.  Where the church gathers can be called a church building, but it’s completely unbiblical language to refer to the building as the church.  Equally as unbiblical is referring to the gathering of God’s people as church.

“Go to church.”, is a phrase you will never see in scripture because it is unbiblical.

We gather together as the church, we don’t go to church.  Our language betrays our belief and also informs our belief.  If we’re going to truly get hold of God’s heart for us and for the world though us we need to choose biblical language.

The church is an organism.  It is not an organization.  The church is the body of believers who have chosen to surrender to the Lordship of Christ and carry His call as ambassadors of His government to this world.

The church is the hope of the world.  The church carries the word of God to this world.  We’re sons and daughters of our God, His family, partnering with Him in the work of His kingdom coming and His will being done on earth as it is in Heaven.

The church has been given the glory of God on earth.  We are commissioned to bring the constitution of the Kingdom in the authority of Christ to a fallen, broken and imprisoned world to see them set free and born again as beloved children of our Heavenly Father – living in His righteous, peace and joy.

As Peter told us in 1 Peter 2:9,

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

We need to stop attending church and start being the church.  We need to recognize who we are and who we’re called to be.  We have to understand our spiritual DNA and the purpose for which Jesus died and rose from the dead.

Our North American mindset is so individualistic.  We read scripture through the lens of “me” instead of “us”, “I” instead of “we”.  God’s heart is for a body of believers who will be the body of Christ on earth – it’s about us, not me.

It’s about us being the church.  We’re born again to be the family of God.  You can’t attend ‘family’.  You have a family, you’re part of a family.  Your family gets together, and sometimes your family has meetings.  Your family does life together.

The church is no different: we do life together.  We’re all part of the church.  The church gets together.  The church cares for each other.  The church cares for others.  The church has meetings.

Following Jesus is a team game, not an individual sport.  Jesus came to launch a team called the church.  To follow Him is to be part of the team, and we all have a unique position of the team.

Jesus didn’t come to call spectators – He called players.  We’re not called to sit in the stands and watch someone else play the game.  We’re born again to be on the field playing the game as part of God’s team.

It’s time for us to understand we can’t attend church, we must be the church.  Let’s get out of the stands and get on the field.  Let’s gather together as the church in the church building to encourage and equip one another to magnificently “…declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. “  Let’s come together to give, not just receive.  Let’s be the church for each other.

Stop going to church, but rather let’s gather together as the church so we can be equipped to be the church.

Matthew 16:18b

“…I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

Revelation 5:10

“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

2 Corinthians 6:16

“For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’”

Ephesians 4:11, 12

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up”

Hebrews 10: 24, 25

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Be Kind, Rewind.

Ah, yes.  Do you remember?

There are a number of you who read the title to this article and knew exactly what I was referring to.  And, there are a number of you, who are of a younger demographic cohort, who have no idea what the title is all about.

Way back in late 1970’s the first VCR was introduced to the consumer market.  VCR stands for Video Cassette Recorder.  A VCR played videos – which were taped copies of movies or shows you could watch on your TV.  Initially there were two formats:  VHS and Beta.  VHS won the battle of the video formats and took over the market.

When VCRs first came out you would go down to your friendly neighbourhood video store to rent videos.  Very few people actually owned a VCR so you would rent the VCR as well.

I remember coming home from the video store near our house lugging a big black suitcase with the VCR inside.  I would open it up on the red shag rug in our family room and then hook up the wires to our 27” Electrohome console TV.  Which, of course, had no remote control.  To flip through the channels you had to sit on the floor within arm’s length of the TV turning the knob through both channels if you had an antenna, and a handful of channels if you had cable.

However, this magical device known as a VCR opened up a whole new world of entertainment.  Sure, we were used to music coming on tapes – 8-tracks and then cassettes – but now we could get movies.  Yes!  My love of movies began to grow and flourish.

Then one day my dad came home with what would revolutionize my leisure life – our very own VCR!  No more renting, no more $200 deposit, no more lugging home a massive suitcase of electronics.  Now I could watch videos whenever I wanted.

Before we amassed our own video collection we’d still make regular trips down to the video store to rent video cassettes.  Every video cassette had a start and a finish – a beginning and an end.  When you watched the video you’d finish up at the end of the tape.  Then, of course you would need to rewind the video back to the beginning.

Many consumers would neglect to rewind the video cassette, so rental stores would place a sticker on the video,

“Be kind, rewind.”

I was reminded recently of this message, and how relevant it is for our lives.

What relationships do you need to rewind?  What issues do you need to rewind?

Is there someone in your life you’ve been holding something against?  It may be something small.  It may be something significant.  It may involve forgiveness.  Or, it may simply be shifting your perception of someone.

To rewind a relationship is to take it back to the pre-offense, or the pre-ticked-off stage.

There are 2 ways we can rewind a relationship: 1. Forgive someone, or 2. Extend grace to someone.

We need to forgive someone when they’ve done something to hurt us.  Perhaps they said or did something they shouldn’t have, or they didn’t say or didn’t do something they should have.  To forgive is to let them out of your prison of resentment and bitterness.  And, it sets you free from the prison as well.

Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself because the resentment will kill you, not them.

However, oftentimes what a strained relationship needs is to extend grace to a person who said or did something that negatively impacted your relationship.  No forgiveness is actually needed, it’s a simple reset.  Just believe the best about someone, let it go and move on.

Have grace for them.

Knowing we’re all broken and unintentionally hurt others, means that we all need to be adept at “rewinding” relationships.  We must choose to be kind and rewind.  It may involve a “courageous carefrontation”, or it may involve saying nothing.

Who do you need to forgive?  What do you need to let go?  Where do you need to believe the best about someone and move on?

Be kind, rewind.

Colossians 3:12-14

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

2 Thessalonians 3:18

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”

Hebrews 12:15

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

1 Peter 4:8

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

Whisper Man or 2×4 Guy?

Do you know any 2×4 guys?  Are you a 2×4 guy?

Do you know what a 2×4 guy is?  I have no doubt that you do, even if you may not be familiar with the term.

A 2×4 guy is that guy who is… well, fairly self-consumed.  He has little awareness of other people’s needs.  He is probably loud, brash and bombastic.  He can be in your face.  He is independent and self-reliant.   He’s demanding and commanding.  He’s imperative.  He’s large and in charge.

Or, maybe not.

He could be withdrawn and disengaged.  He may not be loud and bombastic.  He may not be demanding and commanding.  He is independent though, and he doesn’t have much awareness of other people’s needs.

So what do I mean by 2×4?  Quite simple really, a 2×4 guy is a guy who you have to hit with a 2×4 to get his attention.

Figuratively of course.

A 2×4 guy is so wrapped up in himself that if anyone wants to get his attention they need to be very direct, assertive and bold.  You need to haul out the figurative 2×4 and wack him in the head.  At that point you may get a response like,

“What are you trying to say?”

It takes a significant amount of effort to get the 2×4 guy to notice the needs of the people around him, or to really listen to other people.  Bottom line: 2×4 guys don’t listen well.

We can be 2×4 guys with the Lord.  We don’t really listen well to him.  We’re so consumed and concerned with our own stuff that we pay little attention to how the Lord wants to interact with us.  We don’t practice listening to the Lord.

In order for the Lord to get the attention of a 2×4 guy He needs to hit him across the head with something significant, perhaps something painful, or something costly.  Then the 2×4 guys cries out to God for help, wondering why things have gone so bad.

Finally God has his attention.

In reality, the Lord has been speaking to the 2×4 guy for a long time, 2×4 has simply not been listening.  In His love, the Lord has had to orchestrate something significant to get the attention of 2×4 guy.

The Lord has created, crafted and called us to be in relationship with Him.  That means we do life together, every minute of every day, walking together with God as Father and beloved son.  Our primary objective every day is to commune with God, know His heart, and partner with Him in what He wants to do on earth, as it is in heaven.

We need to shift from being a 2×4 guy, to being a whisper man.

A whisper man is a man who is tuned into the Lord, who communes with Him throughout the day, who shares with Jesus the journey of life and the epic adventure of the Kingdom of God on earth, who intently listens to His heavenly Father and who makes time to simply be with God in prayer, contemplation and meditation on His word.

A whisper man hears the whisper of God.  And, consequently, can hear the hearts of other people and is aware of their needs.

A whisper man has cultivated that secret place, that alone time with the Lord to listen – to hear God.  He is not threatened by quiet or silence because he is training himself to hear the subtlety of God, to find Him in the simple, the subtle and the silence.

Elijah experienced this.  He was hiding in a cave discouraged and despairing.  He needed to hear from God.  He needed to connect.  And God showed up in a whisper.

Elijah, one of the most powerful and significant men in all of scripture, met with God in the whisper.

May we be men who cultivate alone time with the Lord to listen to Him.  May we know His voice such that in the din of life’s daily demands we can hear and respond to the whisper of God.  And, therefore, connect with and respond to other people as well.

Whisper man or 2×4 guy – the choice is yours.

1 Kings 19:11-13

“The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”  Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.  Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”

Psalm 46:10

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’”

Write to Remember

I had to buy it.  It was simply too cool to pass up.

But now that I owned it what was I going to do with it?  I had one already I used regularly, so why did I need another one?  Well, I guess I really didn’t need it, I just really wanted it.

“It”, is a journal.  But not just any journal.  This is an Italian leather journal with an antique metal clasp to keep it closed.  It looks like something a European explorer would have used to document his explorations in the new world.  It looks like adventure, it smells like adventure, it feels like adventure.

I love it!

And now I’ve finally figured out what to do with it…

Anne and I went for a holiday this summer to a resort on the sunshine coast of British Columbia.  Our goal was to simply unplug and take it easy.  We wanted to do some hikes, do a little kayaking, eat and drink, and rest.

With all the downtime we were scheduling to have I planned a little activity I’ve wanted to do for some time.  I’ve wanted to go through my recent journals and pull out the directional words the Lord has given me over the years.

So, I took my journals dating back 14 years and methodically went through them each morning.  When I came across something I had written down I believed God has spoken to me, like taking some kind of action, or praying for something in particular, or a prophetic word of encouragement or of direction, I wrote it down in my new “explorer’s” journal.

What an experience.

It was amazing to look back over 14 years and see what the Lord has been speaking to me.  Much of it is very relevant to where I’m at right now.  And, much of it was also accomplished during that time frame.

I have to say, it was very encouraging.  It really helped me to refocus on the mandate God has given me.  It also re-energized me for the work the Lord is asking me to do.  I realized anew how critically important it is for us to remember what God spoken to us.

Why is it important to remember what God has spoken to us?

Well, quite simply so we can fully embrace what God’s will is for us and for others through us.

One thing in particular was on my mind while I was working through my journals.  Someone had spoken to me in the recent past about the need for us to partner with the Lord in what He is saying to us.  For example, if God has spoken to you prophetically, what do you need to do to partner with Him in that?  To take hold of it in faith?

I realized I had been passive in a number of areas where God had spoken to me.  My thought had been, “Well, if God has said it then He is going to do it.”  However, there was a role that I needed to play in partnering with God in it.

For example, over the years I discovered I had received a number of words about asking God for more of something so I could fully partner with Him in the work He was calling me to do with Him.  I discovered there were actually 13 things God has asked me to pray for more of, and I simply had not been doing it.

So, I am now praying for more anointing, authority, courage, faith, Holy Spirit, leadership, power, provision, revelation, strategy, vision, wisdom and zeal.  I want to ensure I am wholeheartedly partnering with the Lord as best I can.

So what has God said to you?  Did you care enough to write it down?  Have you taken the time to go back and read through what the Lord has said to you?

Let’s care enough about what the Risen Lord of Glory has to say to us, to write it down.  God is speaking, are we listening?

Let’s write to remember, so we’re not destined to forget, and miss all the Lord has for us – and for others through us.

Psalm 103:17-18

“But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.”

James 1:25

“But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”

Jeremiah 30:2

“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you.’”

Deuteronomy 8:11

“Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.”

Know Him and Make Him Known

Are you a Frank Sinatra fan?

I have a friend who is a huge Sinatra fan. In fact, my friend is actually a great singer and sings Sinatra classics. When I had my agency we produced 5 albums for him. During that time I certainly had an education in Sinatra’s music.

Sinatra certainly has a massive impact on North American culture, and arguably global culture as well. He performed for 6 decades, sold millions of records, acted in dozens of films and won all manner of awards from Grammy’s to Oscars.

He is truly a cultural icon.

I thought about Mr. Sinatra recently when I was chewing through something the Lord was helping me to understand. What I recalled was a simple lyric from the song, “Strangers in the Night”

At one point in the song he simply croons the words, “Do-be-do-be-do”

I thought, “That’s it. That’s how we’re called to live.”

Let me explain before you begin to think I’ve lost it…

We are human beings. Sometimes though, we are more about doing and can be accused of being “human doings”. In fact, at one point in time someone pointed out to me that I was a pretty good human doing, but not a great human being.

In other words, I was great at doing things; at working. But, I was not very good at resting, at being still – at being.

I believe we need to be like Mr. Sinatra sang – we need to know how to do and be. Do-be-do-be-do, that’s how we’re called to live.

I believe we all have a propensity toward one of these 2 ways to live. Some of us are motivated to get out and “do” things. We want to make it happen. We can’t sit still for very long. We don’t do nothing well – doing nothing is difficult for us.

This is actually a God-given strength. We take action. We get stuff done.

However, the corollary weakness to this strength is that we can define ourselves by our performance. We can believe that the better we perform, the more valuable we are. We can actually believe that what we do defines us.

That is a very dangerous belief indeed.

For those who have a propensity to “be”, they believe that what they do does not define them. They have a deep understanding of who they are. They know how to be still, they know how to rest, they can actually do nothing and not go crazy. They can be at rest.

This is a God-given strength as well. They can rest and be at peace.

However, the corollary weakness to this strength is that they can be very unproductive. They don’t get much done. They don’t “do” anything. They can be lazy and are quite content with “being”.

We’re all created and called to both be and do. Mr. Sinatra actually got the order wrong though. I think we all need to have a deep revelation of our being – who we are. We’re beloved sons of our Father in heaven. There’s nothing we can do to earn His love or get Him to love us more.

It’s only out of a profound revelation of who we are that we can actually “do” in total freedom. We don’t do things to earn God’s love, or to prove our value and worth. We actually do things as an act of worship of God and obedience to Him.

We do because we’re loved and can rest in our value and worth in Him.

We need to know how to “be” – to know Him. And, we need to know how to “do” – to make Him known.

As we increasingly know God, we can increasingly make Him known. It is in knowing Him that we discover how to make Him known. It is in being a beloved son of our heavenly Father that we can powerfully partner with Him in all that He wants to do through us to see his kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Let’s commit ourselves to know our Father, so we can truly make Him known.


Romans 8:15, 16

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

John 15:16

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last-and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”

John 14:21

“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

James 2:17, 18

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.”

Psalm 46:10

“…Be still, and know that I am God;…”

From the Porch to the Kitchen

Where does most of the living happen in a family home?

The kitchen.

Prepping and eating the meals, and simply hanging out around food.  The highest traffic area in any house is the area around the fridge.

Our family often hangs out at our kitchen island.  Late night nacho nibbling, popcorn prep, microwaved cheese buns, chocolate milk, cheese and crackers, leftovers, you name it, all in the kitchen at the island.

The kitchen is the heart of the family home.

The porch is where non-family wait to be invited in by the family.  Family don’t have to be invited in, we have an open invitation to enter the heart of our home.  Strangers can’t walk straight into our home.  Stranger wait on the porch for an invitation to come inside.

Our relationship with the Lord is like that.  We’ve been created to live as family in the heart of the family home.  We’ve been created to have full access to all the rights and privileges of a beloved child in our Father’s family.

However, our sin – our insistence to do life our way – means we’re relegated to living outside of the family of God.  And, the closest we can come is the porch.

But Jesus is at the front door to the house, to the family of God.  He made a way for each of us to be born again into the family of God.  Through Jesus’ death and resurrection we can move from the porch to the kitchen.

This week I had the pleasure and privilege of witnessing a friend of mine responding to Jesus’ invitation to move from the porch to the kitchen.  He was born again into the family of God with full access to God’s kitchen!

Daniel has been a client of mine for close to 4 years now.  We began talking about Jesus a number of months ago.  It had become very apparent the Lord was calling him – he just didn’t recognize it yet.  He was very open to learn more and he was very keen to have me close our coaching sessions by praying for him.

I was going to a Heaven in Business conference at Bethel Church in Redding California, and invited a number of my Christian friends to join me.  None could make it.  So, I invited Daniel.  I figured if he came he would somehow have a profound encounter with Jesus.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Though a little apprehensive, he was game to come, and Jesus powerfully met with him in many different ways.  We talked on a number of occasions about moving from the porch to the kitchen, but he wasn’t quite ready yet.  Then, he experienced something that in 46 years of walking with Jesus I have never experienced…

Basically, Jesus visited him at the beginning of a session.

Daniel said it was like Jesus stepped inside him and sat down in a big comfy leather chair, and asked Daniel to sit down with him.  Daniel sat with Jesus and said he had never felt such peace and love in his life.

We then, as part of the conference, got together in a small group to pray for each other.  Daniel stepped in the circle and God, through the prayers and words of others, continued to do even more to woo Daniel.

That was it.  He gave up resisting God and trying to do it on his own.  He talked with Jesus on the porch and asked if He would forgive his sin.  Daniel asked if he could become a beloved son in God’s family and move into God’s kitchen.

After heart-felt hugs he looked at me and said, “Am I allowed to be this happy?”

Absolutely!  Welcome to the family!

God’s heart is for all of us to move from the porch to the kitchen.  Jesus made a way for all of us to commune with our Father around His kitchen table.  Don’t relegate yourself to the porch – gather round the kitchen table of our father and commune with Him and the rest of the family.

Jesus made the way for you to move from the porch to the kitchen.

1 John 3:1

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

James 1:17

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Romans 8: 15-17 (The Message)

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?’ God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!”

John 15:11

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

He Wants to Connect

Brown Eyed Girl, Domino, Moondance, Crazy Love, Have I Told You Lately That I Love You, In The Garden, Gloria, ‘Til We Get The Healing Done and over 550 more songs through which Van Morrison has touched millions.  I have always enjoyed his music and his lyrics:

“…No guru, no method, no teacher, just you and I and nature and the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in the garden…”

“…Till you live in the glory of the One, Till you live in the land of the sun, Till you feel like your life has just begun, Till we get the healing done, Till we get the healing done…”

He has penned some powerful heartfelt lyrics and created some incredibly heart moving music.  I had always wanted to see him in concert and now here I was – 8 rows back on the floor directly in front of him.

There is something very moving about live music, but what I really enjoy is somehow, in some slight way, getting to know the artist.  I particularly enjoy it when the artist interacts with the audience – they talk, they tell stories, they share a bit about themselves.

We connect somehow.

Well, the music was big and bold, the energy was electric, the solos were outstanding; he played many of his classic hits, but he never said one word to the audience.  He never talked.  He never connected.  I never got invited into his life.

He took the stage amidst a song, sang and played for an hour and a half and left the stage amidst the final song.  No “hello”.  No “goodbye”.  No “good to be here”.  No stories.

I wanted to connect, but he didn’t.  Even though the concert was great, I left feeling a little empty.  We had no connection.

It made me think that this is how we sometimes feel about God and church meetings.  We want to connect with God.  The music can be great, the ‘performance’ fabulous, but there is no connection.

Does God actually want to connect with us?  Does He want to share Himself with us?  Or, is He content to simply put on a great performance and stay aloof?  Is God someone who wants to stay far off and not really engage in our lives, or does He want to be intimately engaged in every part of our lives?

Does God actually want to do life with us?  Or perhaps more accurately, does He want us to do life with Him?  Does He want to be known by us?

I am confident that God wants to be engaged with and connected to us.  He wants to be intimately engaged in our lives – He wants to connect.  He was the one who initiated the relationship.   You didn’t choose Him.  He chose you.  He came after you.  He pursued you.  He loved you first.  None of us can come to the Father of our own accord – He draws us.

He woos us.

In fact, the whole purpose of Jesus coming to earth and dying on the cross was to create connection between man and God.  Jesus made a way so that we can draw near to God and actually know Him, to be in relationship with Him, to connect with His heart and purpose for us and for others through us.

Through the redemptive work of Jesus God invites us to connect with Him.  But it’s more than an invitation, it’s a longing to connect with us.  He wants us to know Him and call Him Father.

In Jeremiah 29:13 and 14 (The Message) God expresses His longing for us to pursue Him:

“’When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.’ God’s Decree.”

Wow – the God of the Universe chose you so that you could be in a deep meaningful relationship with Him.  Jesus made a way for us to draw near to God.  Yes, He wants to connect with you.

God is serious about connecting with you.  How serious are you serious about connecting with Him?

Jeremiah 3:19

“I myself said,” ‘How gladly would I treat you like sons and give you a desirable land,       the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’ I thought you would call me ‘Father’ and not turn away from following me.”

Matthew 15:16

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”

John 6:44

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Hebrews 10:22

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”

How Sanctified Are You?

My son and I recently went to see a movie together.  I really didn’t do much research into the movie.  It was rated 14A, not restricted, had an interesting premise, and Ryan Reynolds was one of the main actors.

I have to confess that previous to this movie I liked Ryan Reynolds as an actor, primarily because I think he looks like our oldest son David, and that he comes from Vancouver.  This particular movie was called the Hitman’s Bodyguard.

I’m not going to describe the movie or its story line other than to say I was really disappointed.  My disappointment was primarily grounded in the language.  I have to say that the language was appalling.   It seemed that every sentence contained some form of “mother ‘f’er”, with frequent filthy talk of some kind, and repeated use of Jesus’ name in derogatory terms.

Now, I typically don’t have trouble with rough language in real life.  Hey, I know that’s simply how many people talk and that’s just the way they are.  I work with some people like that.  However, choosing to expose myself to copious amounts of what I consider crude and vile language in my entertainment choices is not something I want to make a habit of doing.

I left the theater feeling slimed.  I felt like I needed a shower.  I actually asked the Lord to forgive me and cleanse my heart.

Now I realize this may sound super-spiritual and ‘religious’.  I understand that.  However, I have recently felt challenged by the Lord in regard to the concept of “sanctification”.

So what does “sanctification” mean?  Well, simply stated it means, “to make holy, or to sanctify”.  To sanctify means to “set apart for particular use in a special purpose or work and to make holy or sacred.”

Sanctification is a very significant concept in theological debate.  I’m not going to solve that debate in this simple blog.  I would simply like to comment on the role we play in sanctification.

Scripture is clear that we are sanctified by the blood of Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.  I believe we are and are becoming sanctified.  By the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in our spiritual new birth we are sanctified.

And, I also believe we now play a role in our sanctification.  We can choose to submit and surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and we can also choose to meditate on/ingest the Word of God – which is living and active – to transform our mind and heart.

We have a personal responsibility to surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit, and to become students of the Word of God.  This is the role we play in our sanctification.  Our minds and hearts need to be transformed by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

This is the journey we embark upon to grow in maturity.  We learn to believe, think and then act differently.  We all know this doesn’t happen overnight.  This only happens over years of journeying with Jesus in obedience to His Word and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

This, therefore, is our act of worship.

So how does all this apply to the movie I just watched?

Well, what I chose to expose myself to did not contribute to my further sanctification.  Sure, it was entertaining, it was fun, but the thoughts and language I ingested gave me mental and spiritual heart burn.  It was kind of like eating the worst junk food you can think of in the middle of a healthy cleanse of some kind.

I certainly didn’t feel sanctified after watching the movie.

What’s the lesson?

We play a role in our further sanctification – becoming more like Jesus – by what we choose to expose ourselves to.  We are what we eat basically.
So what are you eating?  What role are you playing in your sanctification?  Are you partnering with the Holy Spirit and the Word of God?  Or, are you feeding on that which sets your sanctification process backward?

How are you partnering with the Spirit of God in your process of sanctification?

Philippians 4:8
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Romans 12:2
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

2 Thessalonians 2:13
“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”

John 17: 17-19
“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”

Can I Pray For You?

Strangers in Starbucks.

A buddy on my boat.

A good friend in his office.

A client on the phone.

A pastor up a mountain.

A new acquaintance at a church meeting.

What do all these people have in common?  Well, I have had the privilege and pleasure of praying for them at various times over the past week.

It’s quite simple really.  I find myself talking with people who are facing challenges of all kinds:  starting a new business, moving cities, the rigors of everyday life, marriage troubles, job loss, health issues, stresses of all sorts…basically dealing with the stuff of life.  When we finish talking I ask a very simple, yet powerful question,

“Can I pray for you?”

I’ve decided as often as possible, and whenever appropriate, I will finish my interaction with someone by praying for them.  Most times these people are Jesus followers, but sometimes they’re not.  In all the times I’ve done this throughout the years I have only had one person say “no”.  So, I simply said that’s ok, and prayed for them at another time when I was alone.

Do you struggle sometimes with how you can make a difference, how you can be a kingdom builder, a marketplace minister?  Well, I’ve found this is a simple, yet profound and powerful way to touch people’s lives and facilitate the work of the Holy Spirit: care enough to ask questions and listen to people, then ask if you can pray for them.

Now, I’m not a prayer expert by any means, but I’ve had the privilege of being taught and mentored by men who are powerful prayers.  What I do know is this:  God responds to prayer.  By some incredible grace amidst His divine omnipotence, and omniscience the Lord of All has chosen to “limit” Himself to our prayers.

God has chosen to invite and engage us in His plans and purposes by asking us to ask Him.  Wow.  I know, it sounds crazy – part of how we partner with the Sovereign Lord in His purposes is to pray.  Listen, commune, and ask.

When we pray God moves.  When we pray the spirit realm shifts.  When we pray the purposes of God are released and things happen.  I’m no incredible man of faith and power, but many, many times people have said to me, “Wow, I really appreciated it when you prayed for me – my heart was really touched.”  Is that because of my awesomely orated prayerful expression?  No, my simple sentiments synergize with the all-powerful God who moves in the heart of the focus of my petition.

This is awesome men.  How can we make a powerful and profound impact in people’s lives?  Pray for them.  Ask them for permission to do so and do it right there out loud – let them hear you.  Don’t make a scene, be discreet, but be verbal.

So, what to pray?

Well, here’s what I do:  I try to pray scripture.  I thank God for how much He loves them, how He will never leave them, how they’re not alone, how the Lord will provide for all their needs – I affirm God’s care and love.  Then I ask the Lord to meet them where they are – whatever that may look like:  to provide encouragement, strength, hope, faith, resources, freedom, revelation, a job, etc.

I may do spiritual warfare and bring the cross of Christ between them and the strategy of the enemy.  I thank the Lord for this person and who He has created, crafted and called them to be.  I also always pray that God’s Kingdom would come and His will would be done in them and through them.

I will also listen in my spirit for something specific the Lord may be asking me to pray or share – a scripture, a picture, a lesson, etc.  Then I share that too.  So, I listen in my spirit for some direction from the Lord and I pray scriptures.  Simple really.  But the impact is profound because of the work of the Holy Spirit.

So guys, let’s go for it.  Let’s commit to engaging with and listening to people – friends, family, strangers, employees, co-workers, etc – and simply then love on them through prayer.  The miracle of prayer is what God does in the heart of the person for whom we pray – and that’s very cool to see.

This great adventure starts with a simple question, “Can I pray for you?”

Go for it.

Ephesians 6:18

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

James 5:16

“…the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Mark 11:24

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Check Your Engine Light

My engine light came on.

Don’t you hate it when that happens?!  It doesn’t tell you why it’s on, it just tells you there’s a problem.  Is it a big expensive problem, or a minor service issue?  You don’t know.

When my light came on I didn’t pay much attention to it because my “service due” message had been on for a couple of weeks.  My cynical self thinks it’s simply the manufacturers attempt to get me to go into the dealership and pay an exorbitant sum for them to scope out my car and tell me everything is ok.

I saw the engine light as the manufacturer ramping up the intensity of the message for me to take it in.  So, I ended up taking my car into my trusted mechanic, not the dealer, who scoped it all out and found no issues.  He determined the light was simply a reminder to change the oil – which I had done already – so he reset the light, checked out my brakes, charged me $79 and sent me on my way.

Perfect.  I was a happy camper.

Anne and I went on a driving holiday to the Sunshine Coast and the car worked perfectly.  No issues.

Then, when I got home the light came on again.  I quickly took it in for them to scope it out again.  Something about my turbo charger didn’t reach the required pressure level.  They reset the light and told me to bring it in if it goes on again.  It could mean nothing, or not, but they will have to do more tests to figure out what the issue is – if there really is one at all.

So here’s what I learned going through all this:  I was more concerned about getting rid of the engine light, than I was about fixing the issue.  To be honest, inside I was thinking,

“Just make it go away.  I don’t want to have to fix anything significant.”

And when I got back in my car and the light was off, I was strangely comforted by that.  Nothing had changed on the inside of my engine, the warning light was just gone, and I felt better.

I realize that I can approach life this way.  I want to get rid of whatever is making me uncomfortable instead of going deeper to uncover an issue that really needs to be addressed.

My dash light went on to tell me something needs to be addressed in my engine.  It didn’t come on to tell me to turn off the dash light.

Likewise, when something makes us very angry, for example, that’s a heart dash light telling us there’s something deeper going on.  Our reaction in that situation should not be to simply get rid of the anger, but to understand what’s going on inside us that’s causing the anger.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that anger is necessarily sin.  Scripture tells us that God gets angry.  In fact, I have heard it said that we can tell something about our love for God by the things that make us angry.  Should we be angry with injustice and sin?  Yes.

However, anger we often feel is not righteous indignation, but our selfish reaction to not getting what we want.  Someone once said, “A man is only as big as the things that make him angry.”  So, when we feel the heart dash light of anger, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us to understand what’s going on in our hearts.

Is your reaction disproportionate to the stimuli?  If “yes”, then check what’s going on under your hood.  Ask the Master Mechanic to do the work needed to adjust your heart so you’re running well.  Sometimes we need some major work, and other times we need a little adjustment.

It’s not prudent to ignore your heart “engine” light.  What are you feeling?  It could be revealing stress, resentment, unforgiveness, unhealed wounds, agreements with lies, inappropriate beliefs, selfishness, self-centeredness, fatigue, a lack of gratitude, etc.  You need Jesus, the Master Mechanic, to scope you out and do the work necessary.

Check your engine light – regularly.

Proverbs 20:5

“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.”

Proverbs 4:23

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Matthew 11:28-30

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Philippians 2:12, 13

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

Making Faith-Filled Decisions

How do you make decisions?

Not those small day to day decisions, but the big ones.  You know, those decisions that create some fairly significant ripple effects in your life: decisions about your job, your career, your home, your community, your relationships, etc.

Someone once said to me that we should not move forward in a major decision “…until we know, that we know, that we know this is how the Lord is leading us”

I disagree with that.

I believe the Lord sometimes is very gracious to us and speaks in a fashion that is undeniable.  When that which He is calling us to is of such a magnitude, significance, or sacrifice that we need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt this is indeed His calling, I believe He does speak to us and lead us undeniably.  Moses and the burning bush, Paul on the road to Damascus, Isaiah and his vision in the temple – these are all Biblical examples, amongst many others, of an undeniable call or leading by the Lord.

When the Lord calls us clearly and dramatically it actually requires less faith.  In those situations we know that we know.  However, there are many times in everyday life when the Lord’s leading in our lives is far less dramatic.  In the vast majority of decisions the Lord is more subtle in His leading; it takes more faith to follow Him then because we don’t really “know”, but we “believe” this is how He is leading us.

So, how do we make decisions in the absence of a dramatic and clear call?

Well, here are a few ways that I have sought to discern the Lord’s leading over the years:

  1. Prayer and scripture
    • Start by surrendering your heart and will to the Lord.  Declare that you want to do His will, not your own, even though you may not be that excited about what you sense He is saying to you
    • Ask Him to help you hear His voice and to give you wisdom
    • Seek wisdom through scripture and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you while you read
  2. Peace
    • Even in the midst of very intimidating decisions we must find the Lord’s peace.  Scripture encourages us to let the peace of God rule in our hearts – kind of like an umpire.  Is the peace of God indicating this decision is “safe” or “out”?  If you find no peace in your heart when you are going to make a certain decision, then don’t make it.  Find God’s peace.
  3. Desire
    • God puts desire in our hearts, so start by taking an honest look at what you want.  Be open with the Lord about what is in your heart.  Does this new situation line up with already existing desires you carry.  Or, has your heart shifted and you find yourself strangely open to something that you were not open to previously?  Now, keep in mind that desire can also come from the flesh, the world and the enemy so judge desire against scripture.
  4. Agreement
    • If you’re married you must walk through this process with your spouse – each of you seeking God’s heart, will and wisdom.  If after doing so you are not in agreement, then keep seeking and walking with Him until you come to agreement in Him.
  5. Counsel
    • Seek counsel from wise, Godly people.  Don’t just talk with anyone; seek input from people you know to be wise and Godly Christ followers.
  6. Previous words
    • Is what you are sensing in-keeping with what you believe the Lord has previously spoken to you?
  7. Visualize
    • When I am making a big decision I envision myself in that which I sense the Lord is leading me and gauge the state of my heart.  Am I growing in vision?  Am I excited?  Am I in faith?
  8. Stop light
    • I believe living in faith is like living life as a “green light” and waiting for a “red light” – in other words, moving forward until the Lord says stop.  So, once I get a few indications that this could indeed be what the Lord is saying to me I start to move forward and ask the Lord to put up a stop light if I am not hearing Him clearly.

Faith is not necessarily knowing that we know that we know “what to do”, but with a sense of uncertainty we courageously move forward knowing that the Lord loves us, leads us, directs us, guides us, counsels us, watches over us, gives us wisdom, provides for us and will never leave us.

Wow, in light of who the Lord is we can afford to take risks – making courageous, faith-filled decisions journeying with Jesus deeper into His will in us and through us.  Indeed, this is the only way we have been called to live.

We are called to live by faith, and therefore make faith-filled decisions.  Faith is not knowing all the answers and not believing without proof, but trusting without reservation.

Psalm 32:8

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”

Isaiah 30:21

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”

Proverbs 11:14

“For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.”

Philippians 2:13

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

Colossians 3:15

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”

What Are You Looking At?

I was on a mission.  I knew what I was looking for and I was intently focused on the object of my attention.

To be more specific I was searching for the object of my affection.

Mounted upon my trusty steed I was moving at a speed in keeping with my exploratory expedition.  Knowing I was nearing the habitation of that for which I was searching, I endeavored to ensure my gaze was intent upon the discovery I was hoping for.

Unbeknownst to me, an unforeseen foe was lurking outside the parameters of my rapt attention.  To my utter and complete surprise I would soon discover the limitation and danger involved with being negligent in my willingness to be aware of the potential dangers that surrounded me.

My journey would end in complete failure.  I managed to escape with no lasting injuries.  The only real damage was done to my fragile ego – wounded, but not broken.

So what was my quest?  What was that for which I was searching?

Well, it was 1970.  I was 8 years of age, and I was on the lookout for someone very special to me at the time – Peggy Bailey.  She lived down the street from me.  She was in my class at school and she had caught my eye, and my heart.

My plan?

Well, I would ride down the street to her house on my 3-speed banana seat bike.  Then, when at the point where she could see me passing by on the street I would impress her beyond belief by riding with no hands.  That would surely catch her attention and secure a special place for me in her heart.

My plan was proceeding perfectly.  Everything was going just as I had envisioned… except for the parked car.  I was so intently focused on Peggy’s house that I neglected to look at the path I was on.  Sadly, and painfully for me, my path would lead me directly into the bumper of a rock solid, heavily chromed, late 60’s “boat” of a vehicle.

Just as I took my hands off the handle bars to execute the last component of my plan, I slammed into the car.  I flew off my bike onto the hood, then rolled off onto the street.  I didn’t bother to look back and see if Peggy had indeed been watching me out her window.  I grabbed my bike, hopped on and rode home to lick my wounds.

Even though this is a silly childhood story I think it contains a lesson for all of us.

We can choose what we focus on.  We can choose that which receives our time and attention.

I was on a prayer walk with a good friend of mine recently and we were talking about how easy it is to focus on the things of this world and miss that which is really important.  We are meant to be in this world, but not of it.  Our minds are meant to be set on things above – on eternal things.

When we focus on the things of this world we will hit obstacles that keep us from getting hold of all that Jesus has for us.  We will miss the Kingdom of God in us and through us if we don’t chose to partner with the Lord in His will in our lives.  We’ve got to realize that the tide set against us is a propensity to desire the things of this world.

We must ardently seek God’s heart for us and for others through us.  So how do we do that?  Time, time time: time with Him, time with His word, time with His people, time serving others.

Our focus needs to be on God’s Kingdom, His will, His heart, His government on earth as it is in heaven.  When we focus on Him and His Truth we avoid the pitfalls of the enemy – those parked cars that stop our forward progress.

So what are you focusing on?  What are you looking at?

Let’s ask the Lord to help us focus on that which is unseen – that which is eternal.  Let’s  ensure we’re looking at Him.

Matthew 6:33

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

2 Corinthians 4:18

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

John 12:25

“Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Romans 12:2

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Give What You’ve Been Given

“God sent you thousands of miles to minister hope and encouragement to me.  Thank you!”, she tearfully exclaimed to our son Benjamin.

Benjamin was taken aback by the impact of what he had done.  He had no idea what God could do when he simply gave away what he’d been given…

We were on a family holiday in Hawaii.  Benjamin had wanted to buy a Ukulele with a pick-up in it.  So, we shopped a couple of music stores and settled on one where he found the instrument he wanted at a price that was right.

When he was paying for the purchase the woman handling the transaction engaged us in conversation.  It soon became evident she was a Jesus follower.  In fact, her husband was the pastor of a local church.  She enthusiastically invited us to visit their church the following Sunday.

We agreed.

Then, with increased enthusiasm, she encouraged Benjamin to share a song with the congregation.  She was the worship leader and would fit Benjamin in at the end of the set.  She succeeded in convincing Benjamin to bring his new Ukulele and do a special song for the church.

That weekend we showed up at their church service with about 50-75 other people who had arrived before us.  It took us longer to find their building than we thought so we were a little later than we had hoped.  Our new friend effusively welcomed us and quickly ushered Benjamin up to do a sound check.  Once Benjamin sat down with us she started worship.

At the end of her set her husband got up to welcome everyone, but she interrupted him and said she had a special song from a visitor – he sat back down.  Benjamin was warmly welcomed to the stage by the congregation.  He plugged in his new Ukulele and began sing “My Lighthouse” by Rend Collective.  The church didn’t know the song, but they clapped along and then ended up joining in on the last few choruses.

When Benjamin finished, they erupted in grateful applause.

At the end of the service a number of people, mainly young ladies and teenage girls, came up to tell Benjamin what a great job he did.  Two women waited patiently for their turn to thank Benjamin.  One of the women with tears in her eyes emotionally told Benjamin how God has used the song to encourage her…

She and her friend are flight attendants.  Whenever they get a flight to Kauai they come to this church – which is not necessarily that frequent.  She was in a particularly difficult time in her life due to the fact that her brother was battling cancer.  She had been struggling to keep her hope in the Lord and to find encouragement in Him.

There had been one thing the Lord had been speaking to her that gave her hope and encouraged her heart.  She had been listening to Rend Collective and God had powerfully and profoundly touched her through the song, “My Lighthouse”.  It seemed whenever she was feeling particularly down the Lord would encourage her that He is her lighthouse…

“Your great love will lead me through.  You are the peace in my troubled sea. My lighthouse…  Shining in the darkness. I will follow You…I will trust the promise, You will carry me safe to shore…God’s love will lead me through…”

And now, here was Benjamin thousands of miles away from home, singing the Lord’s words of encouragement to her once again.  She was overwhelmed by God’s gracious love for her.  We all felt the emotion of that moment.

And all Benjamin did was give away what he had to give – God took it from there and multiplied the impact.

So what do you have to give?  What talent, time or treasure do you have to give away?  Whatever you’ve got, give it away.  You will be amazed at how the Lord will multiply it.  Whatever gifts you have are meant to be given away.  Don’t let your fear keep you in the closet.

Give what you’ve got, what you’ve been given.  Then watch what the Lord does with it to encourage others…

1 Peter 4:10

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

Matthew 10:7, 8

“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”

Luke 6:38

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Matthew 25:21

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

Our One Job

Have you ever felt a little disillusioned with life?  You know that feeling when you aren’t as passionate as you once were?  The fire in your belly may have been reduced to a smoldering ember?  Or worse, perhaps your fire feels extinguished all together?

These emotions are all too familiar to many of us – if not all of us.  I have no doubt that may be the case with you, because life this side of heaven will never be perfect.  We will all battle to maintain our passion, our enthusiasm, our vision, our engagement and our hope.

Our mission is not unopposed.

I must confess, I have recently felt like the fire in my belly has been reduced.  My vision isn’t as clear and strong as I would like it to be, and my zeal is lessened as well.

It was in this state I had the opportunity to speak with the leader of a global mission organization.  This organization is doing phenomenal work to grow the Kingdom of God around the world.  Their work is changing the lives of thousands of people in over 40 countries.  They are leading people to Christ all over the globe.

Whenever I have the opportunity to work with this leader, he seems to always be on mission and full of vision and passion.  So, I asked him, “How long have you been on this mission?”  “Thirty-four years.”, was his reply.

“How do you stay so engaged, so envisioned, so passionate for your work?”, I inquired.

He shared how he certainly, like anyone, has to fight to stay engaged.  But then he said something that so riveted my attention.  I had to pause the conversation to write it down…

“My one job is to maintain a vital, unbroken communication with the Holy Spirit every day.”

He emphasized the phrase “my one job”.  To maintain a vital, unbroken communication with the Holy Spirit is his objective and his commitment every day.

He went on to explain that as long as he is truly communing with the Holy Spirit – listening, interacting, sensing, following, obeying, partnering, discerning, being ministered to – he is encouraged, envisioned, engaged and enthused.  In light of that he makes it his commitment to begin every day by focussing on the Holy Spirit.

When he wakes up in the morning the first thing he does is get down on his knees beside his bed to offer his heart afresh to the Lord.  He gives his day to the Lord and asks the Holy Spirit to fill him up.  As best he knows he surrenders himself fully to the work and will of the Lord, and confesses his utter dependence on the work of the Holy Spirit.

He then gets up and spends the first hour of his day with the Lord.  He feeds himself with Truth by studying and meditating on the Word of God.  He prays, he listens, he worships – he gets filled up with the Spirit of God.  Then, he spends the rest of his day, to the best of his ability, maintaining this vital communication with the Holy Spirit.

This means he listens and obeys.  It means he avoids sin and does all he can not to grieve the Spirit.  This also means he ensures he focuses on the Truth and takes captive any thoughts that are in opposition to the Truth.  And, this means he hangs around with others who are on mission with him.

What a great example for us to follow.

We are all on mission to partner with our Lord in the work He has given us.  We are all on mission to be ambassadors of the Government of God on earth.  Jesus called all of us to give Him our whole life – not part of it.  We are all full-time ministers.

We cannot do this without the empowering of the Holy Spirit.  We must do life in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Like my friend, we have one job: to maintain a vital, unbroken communication with the Holy Spirit every day, so that we can effectively partner with Jesus in the will of our Father in the lives of those around us.

John 14:26

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

Luke 11:13

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Romans 15:13

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

2 Timothy 1:14

“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

The Miracle of New Life

Have you ever witnessed a birth?  It is miraculous to say the least.

Have you ever actually participated in a birthing?  That takes the experience to a whole new level.  And to think that some people get to participate in the miracle of new life on a regular basis – what a privilege!

I was present at the birth of both of our sons, which was life altering to say the least.  I’ve never been the same.  I’m sure you share my sentiments about your experience with the birth of your children.

Recently I had the privilege of participating a different kind of birth – the new birth of a new friend of mine.  His story is miraculous…

My friend moved to Kelowna from a different city.  He’s a successful business owner; married with a young family.  Their life in another province was enviable in many, many ways.  However, he felt compelled to make a move and lead his family to Kelowna.

We connected through a business associate of mine.  My associate suggested this out of town entrepreneur needed to meet me.  We met and had a great connection.  We began a business relationship where I was engaged to provide some executive coaching.

In all of my business endeavors I ask the Lord to give me the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation so that I might know Jesus more, and know His heart for the people with whom I will be working.  I ask the Lord to help me to provide wisdom to my clients and hear anything the Lord may want to say to them.

We began our session with digging into my friend’s definition of success.  He began to tell me his story.  It became very evident to me that the Lord had been speaking to this man, but he was totally unaware that it was actually God speaking to him.  So, I took a risk.  I said to my client,

“I’m going to say something to you that could take our relationship to the next level, or end it right here.”

I then began to point out that what was compelling him to move, and what he was hearing, was actually God speaking to him.  I suggested that the Lord was leading him to Kelowna to invite him into new life with Him.  As I shared this perspective, tears began to well up in his eyes and stream down his cheeks.

I knew the Holy Spirit was up to something.

He shared more of his story and I suggested, “I believe Jesus is inviting you to give Him your life so He can give you His life.”

My new friend simply responded with, “How do I do that?”

We talked further about the invitation Jesus is giving him to leave the family of darkness led by the father of lies, and be born again into the family of God as a beloved son of our Heavenly Father – the Father of Lights.

He said he wanted to do that.

So, we prayed together and he exchanged his life for Jesus’ new life in him.  Wow!  When we finished he said it felt like a massive weight had been lifted off his shoulders.  He said he felt like he was breathing in life with every new breath he was taking.

What a miracle!  What a privilege to participate in his new birth!  And we now continue our journey into this new life together…

I learned through this amazing encounter that we need to have our hearts open to see with different eyes what the Lord may be up to.  Then by the leading of the Spirit to simply point out what we’re seeing.  And then be prepared to share the hope we’ve discovered in Jesus.

We don’t know where we are in that person’s journey: their first encounter with a Jesus follower, someone sowing seeds of truth along their journey, or someone who gets the privilege of introducing them to Jesus.  We must simply be willing to partner with Jesus and give away what He has given us to give.

When we do, we will sometime, somewhere, get to experience the miracle of new life – and it is awesome!

Ephesians 1:17

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”

1 Peter 3:15

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”

2 Corinthians 6:1-2

“As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’  I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”

1 Timothy 4:1-2  (The Message)

“I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.”

Standing Firm in Him

Do you have patio umbrellas?

We have 3 of them.  They are all 9’ in diameter.

One is in our patio dining table and the other 2 are stand-alone umbrellas plugged into 2 different bases to give them support.  One sits behind and over top of 2 Muskoka chairs where Anne and I often sit.  The other one is an “extra” that we set up behind our sectional if the sun is shining directly onto it.

All three block out the sun and the rain.  They are all attractive and add to the aesthetic of the patio.  They all have the same cranking mechanism to open up and close the umbrella.  Each one of them can tilt as well.

However, there is a key difference in one of them…

We generally leave the umbrellas up regardless of the weather, but whenever the wind starts to blow we crank them all down to reduce wind resistance to ensure they don’t blow away.

I noticed something today when the wind began to blow.  Two of the umbrellas held fast – no chance of them falling down or blowing away.  One of them fell down immediately.  As I watched it fall over I thought,

“I don’t want to be that kind of man – toppling over at the first sign of opposition.”

So why do the 2 umbrellas hold fast and the 1 umbrella falls over when the wind blows?  The secret to their strength lies in their base.  All three umbrellas are equal except for the base they stand upon.

The umbrella in the dining table has 2 points of support, at the ground level and at the table height.  The umbrella covering the Muskoka chairs has a very heavy cast iron 4 square foot base with a locking nut to hold the umbrella firm.

The weakest umbrella, the one that easily falls down, is in a light weight round metal base.  It has a locking nut as well, but the round base is too light and unstable because of its shape.  That’s the reason this umbrella cannot hold fast in the face of opposition.

What about you?  What kind of base are you standing upon?  Are you like the umbrellas holding fast to a firm foundation that can withstand strong winds?  Or, are you like the one umbrella standing upon a weak foundation that topples over when the wind comes?

What enables us to stand firm when we face opposition?  What is the foundation we need to be standing upon?


What does that mean?  How do we stand in Jesus?

King David spoke often about the Lord being his rock, his fortress, his refuge, his stronghold.
David would run to the Lord for His help.  David would stand in the Truth of who God is and what God had promised.  David also spoke about how the Lord would lift him out of a pit and put him on a rock.  The rock of Truth.

David had to choose to believe God, and that He is who He said He is.  He had to put his faith in God.

Jesus came saying that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  He also said that if we want to build our lives on a firm foundation we need to obey His words.  Not just believe His words, but put them into practice.  We must believe that He is who He said He is, and then obey what He has asked us to do.

Belief in, and obedience to God is our rock.

Paul outlines how we can stand firm in the face of spiritual opposition: Truth, Faith, the Word of God, the righteousness and salvation of Christ, and the Gospel of the Kingdom.  This is a life that is built on belief in and obedience to Jesus and His Word.

The only firm foundation we can stand on is Jesus, believing and obeying the Truth.

If you find yourself “toppling over” in the face of opposition, take a look at where you’re standing on your own and not in Christ.  Where are you not believing in and obeying Him?

Let’s be wise “umbrellas” standing firm in Him.

Matthew 7:24, 25

 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”

Psalm 40:2

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Ephesians 6:14-17

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Psalm 18:2

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Jesus In You and Through You

As we sat in the sunshine looking out at the beautiful calm waters of Okanagan Lake my friend looked at me and said,

“I don’t think the enemy cares as much about Christ in us as he does about Christ coming out of us.”

That is brilliant.

Scripture clearly tells us that Christ is in us.  The Spirit of the Living God is alive in us.  In fact, it is Christ in us that is our hope of glory.  The Holy Spirit is like a river of living water inside us.  The miracle of our life in Christ is that we are in Him and He is in us by His spirit.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the pinnacle of our human existence in Self-Actualization.  That philosophy is built on the tenants of Humanistic Psychology.  As followers of Christ our goal is not self-actualization, but Jesus-actualization – more of Him and less of me.  We want to see more of the nature and character of Christ in our lives.

Have you been uniquely created, and crafted in the image of God?  Yes.  Do you have unique gifts, talents and abilities?  Yes.  Do you have unique experiences and perspectives that have shaped who you are?  Yes.  And, it is through the uniqueness of who you are that Jesus wants to demonstrate who He is.

Do we have a sin nature we need to take to the cross?  Yes.  Do we have sinful habits and desires we need to surrender to Jesus?  Yes.  Do we need to continue to fight for freedom from the lies of the enemy, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life?  Yes.

It is Christ in us by the power of His Spirit that cleanses us, and transformers us to be like Christ.  Our minds and hearts are renewed in Christ so we are more like Him.

And that is where the real power lies.

We must not stay in a complacent state of ignorant contentment to simply have Christ in us, but must endeavor to have Christ come out of us by way of a transformed life.  How do we live differently because Christ is in us?  How is our life in Christ put into action?

How does Jesus come out of us?

Scripture tells us in Philippians 2:12-13

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

This is basically saying that Christ is in you through your salvation, and now you need to work out your salvation so Christ will be demonstrated through you – and God makes you both willing and able to do that.  Jesus wants to work through you to impact the people around you.

Jesus is in us so He can flow out of us like living water to the quench the thirsty souls of those in our spheres of influence and authority.

Jesus is in you so He can work through you.

Don’t be content with simply having Christ in you.  Don’t be content with simply being saved.  Now we need to work out our salvation so Christ works through us for the benefit of others.  We need to grow in our understanding of how Jesus wants to love others through us.

You may be the only Jesus someone every meets.

How will you be His hands, His feet, His voice, His arms, His heart for someone today?

Our prayer needs to be, “Lord Your Kingdom come and Your will be done in me and through me today.  Jesus, by the power of your Spirit would you work in me and through me today.”

As James said, “…faith without deeds is useless.”  Jesus is in you so He can work through you.  Let’s make sure Jesus comes out of us in the form of love and good deeds toward others.

Jesus in you and Jesus through you.  Let Him out.

Romans 12:2

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

John 7:38

“’Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”

Galatians 1:27

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

A Life of Repentance

I had the pleasure and privilege of golfing Pebble Beach a while ago – one of the greatest golf courses in the world.  Spectacular scenery, challenging holes: an incredible experience.  And, you know what?  I shot par.  Yup, I shot par at Pebble Beach.

Pretty amazing eh?

Now, before you go thinking that I am an amazing golfer I need to tell you more of the story.  I didn’t play Pebble Beach at Pebble Beach.  I played Pebble Beach at a hotel in Seattle – on their golf simulator.  I chose to play Pebble Beach out of more than 50 golf courses from around the world.

If you haven’t tried out one of these simulators, they are quite extraordinary.  You hit off of artificial grass towards a huge video screen that projects computer graphics of the course accurately simulated through the use of GPS.  The computer is able to calculate the distance and direction of your shot as you watch the trajectory of your ball on the screen.

Your ball lands, you check the hole coordinates on the screen, pick a club and hit again.  I found putting the real tricky part, but you know what they say, “Drive for show, putt for dough.”

There was one other part of the computer simulation that was particularly helpful for me to shoot par.  It’s called the Mulligan button.  After every shot I had the choice of keeping my shot, or pressing the Mulligan button on the computer screen and shooting another shot.  I could choose to not have that stroke counted against me in my game.

I loved that button.  I must have pressed that button over 100 times.  I would hit a shot that I wasn’t pleased with, press Mulligan, adjust my grip, my stance, my angle, and then hit again.  I did this over and over again until my shots started to get truer and farther and I needed the Mulligan button less.

As I was doing this I began to think that this is like repentance.

In life we do something that isn’t good – our shot goes astray.  So, we ask the Lord to forgive us and to help us to change – to hit truer next time.  Then we take some sort of action to ensure that next time we “hit that shot” we get a better outcome.

You see, we are called to a life of repentance.  Repentance is a daily choice – a daily gift from the Lord to start again.  It’s an ongoing gift of mercy and grace from the Lord to lay aside the sin that besets us and keep moving forward in the game of life.

Sadly, many people have a negative perception of the word “repent”.  It can feel like someone is pointing a finger of condemnation at us, pointing out all our wrongs, all our sin, all our shortcoming, all our shame, all the things about ourselves that we don’t like and we’re not proud of.

Jesus doesn’t condemn us though.  Scripture tells us that He didn’t come to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  Repentance is our opportunity to simply say, “Yes, I want a new start.  I want a divine do-over, a spiritual start-again, a miraculous mulligan.”

And this is not a one-time offer.  We are invited to live a life of repentance.  We can choose to live with an ongoing attitude to lay aside the sin that trips us up and press on toward God’s heart for us.

We are not perfect, and are not going to be this side of heaven.  So don’t let your pride trip you up and prohibit you from feely admitting that you blew it.  Admit your ‘sin’, repent and embrace the grace that God has for you.

Your sin does not disqualify you, only your pride will, because that is what stops you from repenting and receiving God’s forgiveness and grace.  Let’s choose humility, freely admit and confess our sin so we can receive God’s gift of life and grace.

Let’s choose to live a life of repentance and receive all the life and grace God has for us.

Hebrews 12:1

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

1 Peter 5:5b-6

“’God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.’  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand that He may lift you up in due time.”

John 3:17

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world though Him.”

Excalibur Is Your Sword Too

My son and I recently went to see the new King Arthur movie.  I was pleasantly surprised.

I’m sure all of us are familiar with the legend of King Arthur to some degree.  I was vaguely aware of the story of a beloved English King named Arthur who had ruled with amazing grace and strength.  His true identity as the chosen king was publicly revealed when he was able to pull the sword from the stone – Excalibur.

I didn’t go into this latest version of this legend with many preconceived ideas because I couldn’t remember previously seeing an epic movie about King Arthur.  I did know enough to know that the story had been told in myriad ways in modern history.

I understand that this latest version is told with a very different twist.  A twist I found very engaging…

Arthur is portrayed as a young man who is completely unaware of who he is.  He is actually the son of the murdered king, and, therefore, the rightful heir to the throne.  His father and mother were both killed when he was a toddler by his wicked uncle.  He was miraculously whisked away to safety down river in a boat.  (Very Moses-esque)

He ends up being taken in and raised by prostitutes in a brothel.  By his own confession he is the “bastard child of a prostitute”.  That is his identity.  That is who he believes he is.  Nothing more.

Through a miraculous event, Excalibur is revealed and the legend of a coming King – a new ruler with a Kingdom of freedom – grows and grows.  This terrifies the evil King who rules with fear and intimidation.  So, he sets out to find out who can pull the sword from the stone and kill the one who is able to claim Excalibur.

To cut a long story short, Arthur is able to pull the sword from the stone and is immediately imprisoned awaiting his execution.  He pleads with the evil king that he’s got the wrong man – “I am no King, I don’t want to be king.  I am a child of a prostitute.  I have no father.”

We are then invited into Arthur’s journey of discovery into who he really is.  He has to choose to believe the truth about himself, and the responsibility that comes with that truth.  He has to put aside what he has previously believed about himself.  It is a journey into apprehending his true identity.

I loved the perspective this film took on this epic tale.  A young man who doesn’t understand who he really is gets invited into a story far greater than himself – for the benefit of others.  He has a choice: will he hold to the lies he has believed and live a small life, or will he embrace the truth and become who he was created, crafted and called to be?

Do you know why I loved this story so much?  Because it’s our story!

We are all ‘King Arthurs’.  We are sons of the King – sons of God.  We have grown up in a world of lies, sowed by the evil one who is terrified of who we truly are.  And the only way we get hold of our true identity is by taking hold of our sword.  What Arthur called Excalibur, we call the Bible.

By pulling our Excalibur out of the stone of apathy, complacency, cowardice and unbelief we take up the sword of the Spirit and what we believe about ourselves begins to change.  The Truth transforms us when we take hold of it in both hands and own it.  We have a choice to believe the lies we have believed about ourselves, or believe the Truth that we are beloved sons of God called to rule in His authority as Kingdom ambassadors.

We have actually been tasked by our King to make His spiritual enemies a footstool for his feet by fighting for the freedom of His Kingdom in the lives of people trapped in darkness.

You are a ‘King Arthur’ called my God to take hold of His sword of Truth and rule in His name for the benefit of others.

“Excalibur” is your sword too!  Pick it up and believe the Truth of who you are.

Ephesians 6:7

“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Psalm 110:1-3

“The Lord says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’  The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying, ‘Rule in the midst of your enemies!’  Your troops will be willing on your day of battle.  Arrayed in holy splendor, your young men will come to you like dew from the morning’s womb.”

2 Corinthians 6:18

“And, ‘I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’”

1 Peter 2:9-10 (The Message)

“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”

Integrity is Like Bologna

“What does integrity mean?”

We were 2 young men at a college and career retreat and the speaker had mentioned integrity.  We really didn’t know what it meant.  We were both in university, we weren’t stupid, we just didn’t know what integrity really was.  So, we tracked the guest speaker down after the session and asked him to help us understand what integrity was.

His answer really surprised us.

“It’s kind of like bologna.  You know, those big loaves of bologna?  No matter where you slice it, or how you slice it, you always get the same thing.”, was his reply.

What does that mean??

We chewed through our thoughts for a while and came up with an understanding of what we thought he meant.  Integrity is a consistent high moral standard of behavior.  A man of integrity consistently lives by a high moral standard.  No matter where, no matter when, it’s the same high standard of behavior.

I witnessed great integrity recently – in a very unique circumstance.

My brother, his wife and I were having dinner on their deck.  A small bird flew into the second story window.  Stunned by the impact it fluttered down to the ground beside the table.  Not dead, but not totally alive, it lay on the ground gasping for breath.

My brother is a pastor.  In fact, he’s been pastoring the same church for close to 40 years.    He has dedicated his life to caring for people.  He’s been doing so for decades.  No matter where he is, no matter what he’s doing, he cares for people.

I have watched him for the vast majority of my life reaching out to people with God’s love.  He encourages, he exhorts, he teaches, he serves, he preaches, he prays for people, he leads them to Christ, whatever way he can minister to people he does.

So what I watched next in the life of that little bird was no surprise.  He got out of his chair, he walked over to the bird and he prayed for its recovery.  Gently stroking that bird’s head he prayed for its healing in Jesus’ name.

But he didn’t stop there.  He made a little bed for it out of a small cardboard box which he lined with Kleenex and napkins.  He gently placed the bird in the box and put a little napkin over it for safe keeping.  He put the box within eyesight, but far enough away not to scare or intimidate the bird.

And sure enough, that little bird recovered and flew away just after we had finished dessert.

That little scenario was a great illustration of the heart of my brother.  As I watched this scene unfold I realized my brother cared for that bird in a similar way he has treated people for years.

That’s integrity.

This was also a great demonstration of the heart of our Father.   Jesus told us that God takes care of the birds of the air.  How much more will He care for us?

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”  Matthew 6:26

“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”  Luke 12:24

God created the birds.  He cares for the birds.  God feeds the birds.  The birds are not too small for God to care for.  How much more will God take care of us?

Watching my brother care for that bird caused me to ask a few questions of myself.  I don’t think I would have done what my brother did.  In fact, I urged Ron not to touch it and contaminate it with his scent.  Lame, really lame Dave.

My brother went the extra mile.  His integrity spoke loud and clear.

That’s the kind of man I trust we want to be.  No matter where, no matter when, no matter which way you slice us, may we be men of integrity – consistently living by a high moral standard.

Just like bologna.

1 Corinthians 15:58

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

Psalm 78:72

“And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.”

Proverbs 11:3

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”

Desires and Plans

Both of our sons are in a really exciting season of their lives – the beginning of their careers.

Do you remember that season of your life?  Were you excited and terrified at the same time?  Were you full of hopes and dreams for what the future would hold?

They’re full of big desires and big plans.  In light of that they’re excited and scared at the same time.  They’re exhilarated and terrified – they’re exhilified.  Their desires are big on all fronts.  And they’re making big plans based on those desires.

They’re causing me to think back to when I was their age.  Anything seemed possible.  The sky was the limit.  I had lots of desires I wanted to see come to fruition.  I had lots of desires that I was making plans for in order to bring them into reality.

Some of my desires were God-breathed, and some of them weren’t.  God knew that.  In His great mercy and grace God helped me to see where my desires were not in alignment with His.

In addition, some of my plans were not necessarily His.  Once again, He graciously directed me and even thwarted my plans that were not His plans.  And sometimes, because of my stubbornness and arrogance, He crushed my plans in order to draw me closer to Him in humble surrender so that my desires and plans would come into alignment with God’s best for me.

Desires and plans can get you in trouble.  And, desires and plans can get you into God’s will.

I don’t know about you, but when I was in my 20’s and 30’s I had lots of desires and plans.  However, it was during these years the Lord began purifying my desires.  He was also thwarting some of my plans that were not His.  The more this happened, the more cautious I became about looking at the desires in my heart and making plans accordingly.

Following this time of “purifying” it would have been easy to simply shut down my heart and not dare to desire anything more, to simply settle for what was – “This is all I can hope for.”  Desire could easily flame out, and plans become non-existent.  It would be easy to cave into the monotony of life, surrender desire and begin living a resigned life.

If we do not discover the delight of God by pressing through our issues that keep us at a distance from God, we can easily, as Thoreau said, “Live lives of quiet desperation.”  Discovering the heart of God catapults us into a new realm of desire and plans – that of the desires of God and partnering with Him in His plans for us and for others through us.

In addition, as we age over the years and accomplish plans and fulfill desires we can end up having less and less desires and plans, and therefore, we age prematurely.  I believe desires and plans can keep us young and vibrant.

Psalm 20:4 caught my attention recently.  Well, actually, it stopped me cold right in the middle of my morning time with God.

“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”

I sat there reading it over and over.  I began musing with the Lord, what desires do I have?  And, what corresponding plans do I have?  Are my desires reflective of God’s desires? Are my plans in sync with His?

C.S. Lewis said, “Our problem is not that we desire too much, but that we desire too little.”

I’m feeling the nudging of the Lord to take a look at my desires.  Am I desiring too little?  Do my desires reflect the heart of God, or do they reflect the values of this world?  Do my plans reflect the vision God has given me and the desires He has put in my heart, or do they reflect the things of this world?

What about you?  Do you have desires and plans?  Do you desire too little?

Ask the Lord about the desires He’s put in your heart, and the plans He has for you – I’ll bet they’re bigger than you think!

Psalm 37:4

“Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Proverbs 16:9

“The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

Psalm 73:25

“Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.”

Jeremiah 29:11

“’For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.’”

Truth Meals for a Rich and Full Faith

“What do you eat for breakfast?” I asked.

“I eat the same thing every day.” he replied.

My colleague had just presented me with a copy of his new book on health and nutrition.  In light of this I thought it was time for me to defer to his expertise.

I confessed to him my neglect in the ingestion department.  I tended to eat for taste and not for fuel.  I didn’t feed my body well.  I often didn’t eat breakfast; I would eat sporadically throughout the day; eat something sweet in the afternoon to give me some energy; eat a good dinner because of my wife’s faithful care; then eat some tasty snack in the evening.

I now sat across the table from my friend 20 pounds overweight.  I needed help.

“So what do you eat for breakfast?” I inquired.

“My special shake: 2.5 cups water, 1 banana, ½ cup berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries), 1 tablespoon each of oat bran, wheat bran, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, ¼ tablespoon of matcha and 1 scoop of whey isolate protein powder.” He responded.

That shake, combined with eating less junk, and 30 minutes of mountainside walking 3 times a week, took 20 pounds off me and has kept it off for 2 years.

Our physical health is the result of 4 main components:  what we eat, what we drink, how we rest, and how we move.  Sure there are many other factors, but these are 4 key elements.

So what about our spiritual health?

Recently I embarked upon an intentional truth diet with my wife.  We’re committing to memorize and meditate on weekly scriptural truths in an effort to increase our spiritual health.  We’re focusing on truth related to God’s love and our identity as beloved children of God.

Reading Truth is good.  Memorizing Truth is powerful.  And meditating on Truth is profoundly transformational.

To meditate on Truth is to commit it to memory, and then chew over every word, every morsel of the passage.  Meditating is an intentional extraction of the meaning the Spirit reveals.  Meditating is a commitment to seek God’s revelation for all the depth of Truth the passage contains.

It’s a commitment to suck the marrow out of the Word.

This week we’re on Psalm 139:13, 14:

I am chewing each section of this over and over… “For you created my inmost being”; “You knit me together in my mother’s womb”; “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”; “Your works are wonderful”; “I know this full well”.

How can you hate yourself if you understand the Truth of this verse?  If God says we’re wonderful, if He formed us in our mother’s womb, then who are we to say we’re a piece of junk?  God doesn’t make junk!

You are wonderful!

We’ve just started this diet of Truth but have enjoyed rich meals the 2 previous weeks:

Jeremiah 31:3

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

Zephaniah 3:17

“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

We have the following meal plan laid out over the next 6 weeks:

Romans 8:14, 15

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”

Galatians 4:6, 7

“Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”

1 John 3:1

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

John 15:9-11

 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

Philippians 1:6

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:38, 39

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Join us – feast on Truth and live!

A Man of Prayer

How would you describe King David?

When I think of David I think of a mighty warrior and a courageous king.  I also think of a prolific poet and an open-hearted songwriter.  David has always struck me as being a man who could catch a lightning bolt in one hand and a tear in the other.

He was also a broken man who understood the grace and mercy of God.  He is also a shining example of a man who could have disqualified himself from the purposes of God because of his sin, but he chose instead to live a life of repentance.  He knew when to surrender and submit to the Lord and His correction.

David knew when to stand up and fight, and when to lay down.

I think we’re familiar with how God described him, ‘A man after God’s own heart.’  Wow.  How did David become a man after God’s heart?  How did he cultivate a relationship of that kind of intimacy with God?

I think I stumbled upon the answer to that question in Psalm 109.  David begins the psalm by asking the Lord to intervene on his behalf in the lives of those who hate David, speak and lie against him, attack and accuse him.  He’s clearly in a difficult situation.  In the middle of pointing out to the Lord the damage all the wicked and deceitful me in his life are causing, he states this:

“But I am a man of prayer.”

If leapt off the page at me.

I don’t know if I would have described David as a man of prayer…

What does that mean?

Well, I would describe prayer as ‘conversing’ with God.  Sometimes we speak, sometimes we listen – like any good conversation.  Good conversation is giving and receiving in an open-hearted exchange.

I believe David lived a life of ongoing interaction with God.  He knew when to talk and he knew when to listen.  He knew when to be still and quiet before the Lord.  He knew when to confess his sin.  He knew when to declare the Truth of who God is.  He knew when to simply open up his heart in raw honesty before God.

He knew the power of praise and worship.  He knew the greatness of gratitude and thanksgiving.

I believe David understood 3 foundational elements of conversing with God:

  1. Talking
  2. Listening
  3. Obeying

Listening to God doesn’t make much of a difference if we don’t obey what He is calling us to do does it?

How we pray really matters.  What kind of conversations do we have with God?  Are they primarily comprised of whining and complaining?  Are our prayers self-centered and filled with self-pity?

Are we praying God’s will, or our will?  Are we praying in arrogance, or humility?  Are we praying in alignment with the Truth of scripture, or the lies of the enemy?

Our prayers are powerful when we pray in accordance with scripture; when we pray for God’s will to be done and His kingdom to come in us and through us on earth as it is in Heaven.  David prayed the Lord would create in him a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit in him; that he would have Truth and wisdom in his inmost parts.

Scripture encourages us to pray continually – which seems impossible.  However, I would not doubt that David spoke with the Lord as a constant companion.  When he was alone, he knew he wasn’t alone.

When you’re driving alone, or working, or walking, or relaxing, or ‘playing’, do you converse with God?  Do you also set aside times alone with God for the specific purpose of conversing with Him?  I think this is what a man of prayer does.

I believe a man of prayer turns to God first and gives God the final word.  I believe a man of prayer talks to, listens to and obeys God.  I believe a man of prayer is honest and open-hearted before God, and chooses to stand on and pray into the Truth of God.

I also believe you and I can choose to be men of prayer – like David.

Psalm 109:4

“In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer.”

Psalm 100:4

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”

James 5:16

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

1 Thessalonians 5:17

“ pray continually,”

Ephesians 6:18

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”