Powerful or Full of Power?

July 10th, 2017 Filed under Bible, Intentional Living, Personal No Comments

Each year Forbes magazine ranks the world’s most powerful people. In 2016, this list included rulers of nations such as Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump; business moguls like Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos and even the Pope. These people control billions if not trillions of dollars (Bill Gates alone has a net worth of almost $90B.) They have the fate of millions of people in their hands. They tend to be authoritative, controlling, strong and even intimidating –don’t you have to be to be powerful?

A few Sundays back, I was worshiping at Lifeway Church where my friend, William Deagle was preaching. Something he said, which for the life of me I can’t remember, prompted me to write this question: Am I powerful or am I full of Power?

Unfortunately, very often and in so many different ways, I want to be powerful as the world sees it. I want to be in control. I want to tell people what to do. I want it my way. And if they just did it my way I wouldn’t have to be so bossy.

But the Lord gently reminded me that the first will be the last. If you want to be great, you must be a servant to all. I must be filled with the Power of the Holy Spirit and not my power. When I am filled with the Holy Spirit, I am approachable. I am meek (strength under control.) I am clothed with dignity and can laugh at the future. I am more concerned about the mission than I am about my position.

I am able to walk in all the fruit of the Spirit.

  • To love the unlovely.
  • To find joy in hard times.
  • To have peace in the chaos.
  • To be patient when things are not going my way.
  • To be kind to the cruel.
  • To be good when my flesh desires to be bad.
  • To be faithful in the midst of disloyalty.
  • To be gentle despite the pain.
  • To be self-controlled with my mouth.

Will these things that put me on Forbes most powerful person list? Probably not, but it is not man’s list that I am looking to be on.

His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:21 (ESV)

 

 

What are you preaching?

June 26th, 2017 Filed under Bible, Intentional Living 4 Comments

The Bible tells us in several places that we are running a race. Some of you may say, “Oh, yeah! It’s a rat race and I am ready to get off this treadmill.” Others may think that we are not. I am saved…going to the heaven…Jesus did all work…I am just going to sit back and wait for it to all play out.

However, the Truth is we are in a race and the Coach of our team is expecting us to cross the finish line and obtain the prize. Please do not immediately go to where I would have the natural tendency to go and think, “Great! Another blog about working harder and striving more.” This is not about endeavoring or accomplishing. For me, it would be easier if that where the case. If I were just given a list and told to accomplish this and the first one done wins, I’d be all in and quickly asking, “Where do I register and pick up my uniform?”

But rather the race is about following God’s call and direction in our own lives and trust in His ways and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish it. Paul shares in I Corinthians 9:24-27 what the purpose of the race is, how we are to run it and why we need to run as God would call us to run.

Let’s look at the purpose of the race: to obtain the prize. What is that prize? I don’t know what it is but I know that it is amazing, stupendous and beyond our wildest imagination. The reason I know this is that the prize is from God. In Hebrews, it says that if you want to please the Lord you have to believe that He exists and that He is a Rewarder. The demons believe – even know – that He exists but what makes us different is that we know He is a Rewarder. If God gives it, it is always good.

So we are in the race and we have this prize we will get at the end that is imperishable, how than am we to run this race? Paul points out two ways. First, we are to run with self-control in all things. We must practice delayed gratification. We must choose the best over the good. We must defer to the greater mission and not our selfish desires.

Secondly, we are to run with efficiency and effectiveness. Paul says we are not like boxers aimlessly beating the air but we are to be disciplined. A boxer trains his body to have reflexes that are fast. He knows that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line so a quick jab to the jaw will be more effectual. We need to learn life hacks to run this race God has called us to. Hacks that will make us more effective and efficient with our time, talents and treasures.

Finally, why do we need to run this race and run it in a way that allows us to win the prize? Paul makes it clear, “…lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” Whether we like it or not, we are always on a pulpit. There is constantly someone watching. There are cheerleaders and opposing fans looking at the way we are running this race. What are you preaching from your pulpit? Preach in such a way that you and those around you will all get the prize.

 

It is Well With My Soul

January 27th, 2017 Filed under Bible, Intentional Living, Personal 4 Comments

How many times have I sung that wonderful hymn, It is Well with My Soul? Dozens? Hundreds? And to know the story behind adds even more meaning and depth to it. (Check out the story here.)

Many of those times I sang because I knew that it was true mentally but I was not “feeling” it. I was following the advice of one of my favorite motivational speakers, Zig Ziglar, “You can never feel you way into acting but you can act your way into feeling.”

So, by faith I just sang it and most of the time the feelings did follow and it was well with my soul. My soul. My mind, my will, my emotions were all rightly aligned with God and there was peace and even joy.

Other times I sang and life was going great. All the ducks I wanted/owned/loved were in a row. My soul was at peace because my circumstances were right.

However, lately, through the amazing work of the Never Changing God Who is ever changing me (thank you, Jennifer K. Dean), I can sing that song with truth and clarity despite my circumstances and not in a “fake it until you make it mode.” But, deeply knowing that all is well with my soul not because of “good” circumstances or despite “bad” circumstances. It is well because God is on the throne and He calls me His own.

Are there people close to me that are not walking in the abundancy Christ died on the cross to give them? Yes, they are but it is still well with my soul.

Is my dad struggling after the loss of his wife of almost 30 years? Yes, he is but it is still well with my soul.

Is my schedule still full and sometimes overwhelming? Yes, it is but it is still well with my soul.

Is God continuing to reveal to me my deep need for a Savior? Yes, He is but it is still well with my soul.

Am I still walking in singleness? Yes, I am but it is still well with my soul.

What about you? Do your circumstances control your soul? Does bad stuff cause you to make poor choices in your thought life, your eating, your relationships, etc.? Do challenges cause you to worry and fret and not trust? How are things with your soul?

Longing for a Fulfilling Life: Part 8

January 2nd, 2017 Filed under Bible, Intentional Living, Walk by Faith 3 Comments

As I have asked before, do you have peace and contentment in your life? Are you living a John 10:10 kind of life? Do you believe Ephesians 3:20 can be a reality for you? Are you experiencing the transforming growth described in 2 Corinthians 3:18?

For the past several blogs, I have shared that living this type of life can be found in this verse:

So get rid of all uncleanness and all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21 Amplified)

We have already unpacked the following concepts, uncleanness, wickedness, humble, receive, implant and save. Today we will look at the last concept of souls.

In my last blog, I referenced the fact that our soul is made up of three parts…mind, will and emotions. The process of transforming our soul to be more like Christ is called sanctification. As new believers in Christ – as one who has accepted the free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, I believe my spirit is saved and I am going to heaven no matter what I do between that day and my death. (Side note: however, if I continue to live an ungodly life and do not change from year to year to be more like Christ and do not suffer from conviction of the Holy Spirit, I would question whether I have been truly justified in Christ.)

However, if my soul is not being sanctified, I will live a miserable life with much conviction, discontentment and no peace. I will do what I don’t want to do and not do the things that I want to do. Christine Caine talks about Christ followers having tormented minds, broken hearts (I refer to this as will) and wounded souls (I refer to this as emotions.)

Because we live in a fallen world, our minds are tormented by lies, our wills are broken because of disappointments and our emotions are a mess because of unforgiveness.  So the sanctification process works by replacing the lies with Truth, the disappointments with reliance on Christ and the unforgiveness with forgiveness. As I go through life and I respond inappropriately to a situation (i.e. get flustered while waiting in line, get angry when corrected, get depressed when plans are cancelled), I need to look deeply within me to see if that has been caused because of lies I am believing, false expectations I have set up or forgiveness that I have withheld.

A quick example is when I get flustered while waiting in line at the grocery store. This usually comes about because I am having several thoughts that are lies:

  1. My time is valuable. (Lie: I am more important than others.)
  2. That cashier is bad. (Lie: I do not ever need grace extended to me.)
  3. I am the boss. (Lie: If they did things my way, they would be faster.)

To change from being flustered to being at peace and even grace filled all I need to do is replace those lies with Truth. The Truth is that I am to think more highly of others than myself because I have needed and been given much grace. Another Truth is that I have not been called to be the manager of this store and aren’t I glad? In a moment, I am back to living the fulfilled life that I so desire.

How about you? How are you doing with lies, false expectations or unforgiveness? Please be in touch if there is any way I can help you live a more fulfilling life!

Longing for a Fulfilling Life: Part 7

December 26th, 2016 Filed under Bible, Intentional Living, Leadership Comments Off on Longing for a Fulfilling Life: Part 7

As I have asked before, (and will again just one more time) do you have peace and contentment in your life? Are you living a John 10:10 kind of life? Do you believe Ephesians 3:20 can be a reality for you? Are you experiencing the transforming growth described in 2 Corinthians 3:18?

As I have said before, the ability to live this type of life can be found in this verse:

So get rid of all uncleanness and all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21 Amplified)

We have already unpacked the following concepts, uncleanness, wickedness, humble, receive and implant. Today we will look at the concept of save. One of my favorite hoodie sweatshirts which I purchased at Edisto Beach a few years back says, “No Lifeguard on duty, save yourself.” Even just typing that brings a smile to my face because it is impossible to save one’s self if they do not know how to swim.

And oh how does this apply to the concept of save from this verse. As human beings, we are born with a need that we cannot fulfill. The need is to satisfy a just God and His demand to live a life of perfection to enter into eternal bliss rather than wrath. We must live a life that is holy and righteous. He demands nothing less than perfection. But our problem is that no effect or hard work will allow us to do this…to save ourselves. No amount of piousness will fulfill the commandment to live a sinless life. We simply cannot do it because of the sin nature in us. As we all know, we do not need to teach a toddler to be mean or selfish…we must teach her to be kind and to share.

It is only when the Word of God that we received is rooted in us, that we can be saved. Rescued. Delivered. Kept from harm.

I believe this salvation is a process. We are created in the image of God and are therefore triune beings – spirit, soul and body. Immediately upon believing the Gospel, our spirit is made new and is saved – this is justification. Our soul (mind, will and emotions) is saved through the process of sanctification (which we will talk about more next time) and our body is saved through glorification upon the return of Jesus or when we die and meet Him face to face.

So the question for you today is, “Are you saved by God’s grace?” or are you still trying to save yourself?

Longing for a Fulfilling Life: Part 6

December 19th, 2016 Filed under Bible, Intentional Living, Walk by Faith Comments Off on Longing for a Fulfilling Life: Part 6

As I have asked before, (and will again for a few more times) do you have peace and contentment in your life? Are you living a John 10:10 kind of life? Do you believe Ephesians 3:20 can be a reality for you? Are you experiencing the transforming growth described in 2 Corinthians 3:18?

For the past several blogs, I have shared that living this type of life can be found in this verse:

So get rid of all uncleanness and all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21 Amplified)

We have already unpacked the following concepts: uncleanness, wickedness, humble and receive. Today we will look at the concept of implanting. As is the case of many terms in scripture, there is an agricultural concept associated with this word. To implant is to not just put a seed in the ground but for it germinate and have its roots gone deep into the ground so that it will bear fruit.

For us to live a life of peace, contentment and fulfillment, the Word of God cannot just be something that has a surface impact on our lives. We must take the Bible and have it planted deep into our hearts. We cannot let the cares of this world and the deceptions around us distract us from making sure the seed of God’s Word is not only planted in good soil but allowed to grow deep roots.

A few ways to do that are to read the Bible, out loud, daily. If just starting, read a Proverb a day each day of the month for a year. This practice will grow your knowledge and when applied, increase your wisdom. Another way to saturate the soul of your heart with the Word of God is to play it all the time in your home. A great way to do that is using the app created by Life Church that allows you to download the audio of the Bible and then play it continuously in your home. The Word of God is active, alive and transformational. Your faith will grow because faith comes by hearing.

What about you? Do you have any suggestions of how to implant the Scripture into your heart?

Next time, we will be discussing the concept, save.

Longing for a Fulfilling Life: Part 5

December 12th, 2016 Filed under Bible, Intentional Living, Ministry, Personal Comments Off on Longing for a Fulfilling Life: Part 5

As I have asked before, (and will again for a few more times) do you have peace and contentment in your life? Are you living a John 10:10 kind of life? Do you believe Ephesians 3:20 can be a reality for you? Are you experiencing the transforming growth described in 2 Corinthians 3:18?

As I have shared, living this type of life can be found in this verse:

So get rid of all uncleanness and all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21 Amplified)

We have already unpacked the following concepts, uncleanness, wickedness and humble. Today we will look at the concept of receive. Some of the synonyms for receive are to get, obtain, accept or to collect. With a humble spirit, we should pursue this Word of God. It is a not a passive activity but one that requires action. I have given this example in the past but I think in bears repeating as we learn what it means to “receive” the Word of God.

Suppose I told you that in your back yard about 50 – 75 feet down there was a treasure chest filled with gold and silver and rubies and pearls.  It was filled with more than you could desire or even count. It is deep down but if you can get to it, it is yours!!

However, there are a few, little caveats in this arrangement…you cannot use anything mechanical and the only time you can dig is from 4 – 8 each morning.  Now you do not have to dig the whole time but you can only dig for four hours per day.  You can use a shovel or a pick but you must do it yourself.  No one else can dig for you but, again, once you reach the treasure, it is yours and nobody can take it away from you and you can freely give it to others around you.

If this were all true, what do you think tomorrow morning would look like at your house (and it would look the same at my house if the treasure chest was in my backyard)?  At 3:59 am, you would be standing at your back door with your hand on the knob.  You would have probably slept in your clothes and I doubt you would have needed an alarm.  All the shovels and picks you purchased today at the Home Depot would be lined up just outside the door.  And when it is the top of the hour, you would start digging and would not stop until 8!

No one would complain that they are not a morning person.  Clothes would have been laid out the night before.  Breakfast would have been planned.  Emails and social media ignored. Car pools arranged and appointments deferred because nothing was going to stop you from getting your treasure.

The Bible says in Proverbs 8:10-11 and 18-19 that His wisdom – His word – is choice gold and better than precious stones.  Do we really believe this? If so, we do all we could to receive this treasure.

Next time we will look at the concept, implant.

Longing for a Fulfilling Life: Part 4

December 5th, 2016 Filed under Bible, Intentional Living, Leadership Comments Off on Longing for a Fulfilling Life: Part 4

As I have asked before, (and will again for a few more times) do you have peace and contentment in your life? Are you living a John 10:10 kind of life? Do you believe Ephesians 3:20 can be a reality for you? Are you experiencing the transforming growth described in 2 Corinthians 3:18?

For the past several blogs, I have shared that living this type of life can be found in this verse:

So get rid of all uncleanness and all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21 Amplified)

We have already unpacked the following concepts, uncleanness and wickedness. Today we will look at the concept of humility. This opposite of humility is of course pride and pride is often reflected in two different extremes: boastful or arrogant and false humility. Most of us understand arrogance and can quickly spot it in others (and hopefully ourselves.) However, the concept of false humility is often not so easy to see.

False humility is seen when people belittle or degrade themselves. For example, I have been given the gift of preaching. Because of God’s grace and power in my life, I can communicate effectively and efficiently. When I first started speaking, people would came up to me afterwards and complimented me. I would often shrug it off by saying “Oh that wasn’t that good” or “Anyone can do this.” After a few times of doing that the Lord quickly rebuked me and said that I was belittling His gift in me by not receiving these compliments for His glory. It was false humility because I was not a right measure of myself or God. Now when someone compliments me I using say something like, “Thank you! It was good. God has blessed me with a great gift. All glory to Him.”

So how do you develop humility. The first step is having a right understanding of God – He is the sovereign, all knowing, all present, all powerful King of kings. There is none like Him nor will there ever be. The second step is having a right understanding of yourself – I am a sinner that is in desperate need of a Savior but because I do have His Spirit in me, I am a righteous child of this amazing King. Lastly, you need to find a way to practice this humility. For me, it is picking up trash. As I walk through my church or jog along the road or head into a store, if there is trash on the ground I am to pick it up and put it into a trashcan. Yes, this is disgusting at times (wash hands as soon as possible) and delays me sometimes (hate stopping in the middle of a run) but it does humble me. And it really humbles me when I have passed a piece of trash and the Lord has me turn around and pick it up.

What about you? Do you have any ways in which you practice humility?

Next time we will look at the concept, receive.

Do It Afraid!

November 28th, 2016 Filed under Bible, Food, Intentional Living Comments Off on Do It Afraid!

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. LUKE 2:9-11Angel

Isn’t it interesting that the glory of the Lord brought about fear in the shepherds? Fear in itself is not a bad thing – it is not a sin. It is a defense mechanism that heightens our awareness and places on minds and bodies on alert.

The problem with fear is when we allow those fears to stop us – to paralyze us. The fear of rejection stops us from asking someone out. The fear of hurt stops us from loving deeply. The fear of judgment stops us from confessing our greatest temptations or sins. The fear of failure stops us from pursuing our goals.

A dear friend of mine who lost over 170 pounds on the First Place 4 Health program, appeared to all outsiders to be free from the bondage of food but the truth was she was scared. She feared that if she ever deviated from her “plan” for even a meal, she would gain all of the weight back.  This did not bring great joy in her life nor allow the Savior to be all that He could be in her life. She had to face her fear – do it afraid – and have chips and salsa (just not every night.) To enjoy a dessert occasionally but not the entire pie. To trust the Power that raised her Savior from the ground and now lived in her to help her walk in freedom to food.

If you struggle with weight loss during the Christmas season, ask the Holy Spirit in you to grant you the power to make wise choices and practice self-control in every meal. Do not allow fear to stop you from going to the neighborhood Christmas party because you may eat too much or because you do not know how many calories are in each bite. Also, do not allow fear of rejection stop you from asking for prayer from others as you step out and trust Christ to be strong in your weakness. And if you make poor choices or overeat, do not allow fear of condemnation stop you from confessing that to one other trusted friend and begin again immediately.

When the glory of the Lord rises up in you and you do it afraid, His great joy will flood your soul.

 

Longing for a Fulfilling Life: Part 3

September 16th, 2016 Filed under Intentional Living, Walk by Faith 2 Comments

gossip_1280How are things going? Are you living a John 10:10, Ephesians 3:20 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 life? Are you experiencing abundancy and a life full of peace and contentment? I am living this life and as I have shared in the past I want all to live life this way.

For me, a key verse that has helped me live this kind of life is the following: So get rid of all uncleanness and all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21 Amplified)

In the last entry, we looked at uncleanness. Today, I want to dig a bit deeper into the word wickedness. Wickedness as defined in the Vine’s Expository Dictionary is depravity, malignity, maliciousness, naughtiness. Often when one thinks of wickedness, they go to Hitler or Stalin or some of the awful cases of child abuse and neglect that we unfortunately hear about on a daily basis. Those are all true of what wickedness entails but if I am not careful, I will think that this is not something I, personally, have to deal with and I would be so wrong.

When I think of wickedness, what first comes to mind is mean people. People that are belligerent, angry, spiteful, hateful and cause harm because it makes them feel better or builds them up. A wonderful friend once said to me, “Hurt people hurt and 95% of the time you are wonderful but there are times when you hurt.” Ouch but oh so good – the wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy.

This comment forced me to dig deeper in my motives and my actions and how often I was responding out of a wound and not out of wisdom. The kicker for me was the definition of malignity – Oxford says it is to speak about someone in a spitefully critical manner: i.e. don’t you dare malign her in my presence.

Oh my! Another ouch! There is a fine line between speaking of someone critically and being critical in a spiteful way. To be safe…to avoid wickedness…to maintain purity in what I say and do, my goal is to never speak critically of someone. And to not hang around long with those that do.

Let’s be known as people who lift up. People who see the best in others. People who not only have clean hands in all that we do but the very words out of our mouth and the motives of our hearts are pure. That we are never ashamed of nor excusing the words that we speak or the comments that we make. Is this a high calling? Oh yes!! But when we do it, peace and contentment are a normal part of our lives.

Next time, we will look at the word humble.

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