What Are You Doing Here?

Pic from rgbstock by lusi

Pic from rgbstock by lusi

I remember a time when I was driving my Mustang to Savannah. It was a time that I will not soon forget. It was pouring down rain. My tire lost traction when it hit a patch of water. The car spun wildly out of control across both lanes of I-16. I felt the back of the car start to go down the embankment. The next thing I knew, I was in a huge ditch. I could no longer see the road. The car had buried itself in mud up to the driver’s door. I couldn’t open it. I managed to open the passenger door and climb out. I climbed out the ditch and made it back to the interstate.

When God calls you to salvation, you begin a path, a journey. This is called sanctification. It is a process. You are on this journey to conform to the image of Christ. The journey is complete when either God takes you home or Jesus returns and takes us all with Him.
Elijah is known for being a man of obedience. He preached and went only when God told him. He listened carefully to listen to God’s voice and God’s voice only.
Ahab had to make up a story to tell his wife because Elijah killed over 800 prophets of Jezebel.
Jezebel sent a message to Elijah that she was going to kill him.
Elijah left and ran – without consulting God first. He did not pray. He did not seek counsel. He ran.
Elijah ran for over six days.
God is not finished with Elijah.
The angel is God’s first move to get Elijah back on the path from which he left.
God did not leave Elijah. Elijah left God.
What are you doing here Elijah?
Why are you where you are right now in your life?
It is easy for people to blame others for their current circumstances.
People want to live as if the decisions they make today have no impact on tomorrow.
If that was the truth, guilt, regret, and shame would almost be non-existent.
Decisions have consequences. Look back at how you got here:
  • Why do people have credit cards with an average balance of $7000?
  • Why are women pregnant outside of marriage?
  • Why do men find more pleasure in pornography or the arms of another woman than they do their own wife?
  • Why do men not lead their families physically or spiritually?
  • Why do people sing lies at church?
  • Why do pastors plead with the congregations every Sunday and the altars like peoples’ lives remain empty?
  • Why do people chase dreams while sacrificing their marriage and families?
  • Why do people pray for opportunities to share the gospel and the gospel never leaves their lips?
Elijah was in a hole. The angel was Elijah’s wake up call. The ditch was mine. Elijah went to the only place where he believed that he would hear from God. Mount Horeb. This is the mountain where Moses heard from God.
Elijah forgot about God’s providence, sovereignty, omnipotence.
God did not speak to Elijah in loud, flamboyant, extravagant ways.
God spoke to Elijah in a whisper.
God still speaks. He speaks in a still small voice – a whisper. You have to prepare yourself to hear from God.
Do you want to hear from God?
Go to the cross!
Some people have been on their path so long that they cannot see where they first went wrong.
Go back to the cross.
The place where you as a sinner first encountered Jesus and He rocked your world!
Lay your thoughts, guilt, shame, regret, habits, burdens, baggage, junk at the cross!
Pray that God would restore in you a passion and desire for His face…for holiness.
Pray Hebrews 12:29
God consume me with your fire!
If we became a people with a passion and a burning desire for God, this would affect
  • marriages
  • parents
  • youth
  • college students
  • churches
  • cities
The first step to getting out of your pit is going back to the cross.
Go back to Jesus!

Coffeehouse Conversations

In the Book of Acts, the church begins at an event called Pentecost. The apostles take time during the week to study the Scriptures and pray. The people start to form small groups in their homes and discussing what they had heard in the sermon. People were being saved inside people’s homes.  I find this very encouraging.

This translates to us today. We go to church and then wherever we go, we share what we have learned from the sermon. This could happen in a house, restaurant, coffeehouse, or wherever people gather for fellowship.

A sermon, Bible study, quiet time, small group study, could and should be shared. It opens a topic for conversation. Once laid on the table, you can easily see how people become involved or how people remove themselves from the conversation.

People in all walks of life are going to talk about God. They may not necessarily talk about Jesus but they will talk about God. They will talk about what they believe and don’t believe or what they like and don’t like. Now while some of their beliefs or theories might be wrong or confusing, why not use the Bible to help steer the conversation towards a more Christ – centered conversation?

This is an easy way to share about sermons, Bible studies, or your own personal relationship with Christ. You can speak into the conversation from your own personal experience.  I believe that God can and will work anywhere he wants. I believe that we need to make sure that we are available to him when he wants to use us for his purposes.

We are called to be salt. We are called to be light. We are called to be disciples and love our neighbors. Why not love them by buying them a cup of coffee and share with them what God is doing in your life?

To do this effectively, we must know the gospel. Another way of saying this is that we must be fluent in the gospel. We need to be able to speak the gospel in every situation of our lives. We want all of life to be influenced by the gospel.

To reach people the way that Jesus has called us to reach them means that we must be intentional. We must realize that our lives are to be lived with the mission of Jesus in mind.

We need to figure out the rhythms and routines of their lives and join with them.

We want them to see God as their Heavenly Father and show them how He wants them to be His child. We want them to tell us their story and we can share God’s story and show them that God wants to redeem their story.

This is going to be an exciting part of our journey. Having gospel centered conversations with people to point them to Jesus.

Let’s be loving and compassionate as we have these gospel centered conversations. We need to both listen and lead well.

Life changing conversations, pointing people to Jesus and a cup of coffee. What could be better?

Who are you currently talking to about what God is doing in your life? Join the conversation on Facebook.

 

Crave

esv_coffee.jpgHave you ever wanted something so badly that you would go out of your way to get it? Maybe it is a doughnut. Maybe it is a Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks. Whatever it is…you crave it.

We crave all sorts of things:

  • food
  • attention
  • sex
  • football
  • learning
  • to be known

Do we ever crave spending time with God?

Maybe that is the wrong question.

Have you ever been spiritually dehydrated?

You know what it is like to be physically dehydrated. You come in from an intense workout or a long cycling ride and you are thirsty. Your body is telling you that it doesn’t want milk, soda, juice, energy drinks, coffee, not even lemonade. It only wants water.

Psalm 42 opens with a deer that longs for flowing streams. For that deer, nothing else will satisfy the craving for the water. Only that specific water from that stream will do. The deer craves the water. Why? The deer has been to that stream before. The water there must be so good, no other water would be considered good enough. When the deer drinks, the deer’s thirst will be satisfied.

The verse continues by connecting the idea of the deer craving water to our souls craving God. It is highly possible to become spiritually dehydrated.

Let’s say that you stop being intentional. You start binge watching your favorite shows on Netflix, you make excuses for why you don’t pray with your kids, you only pick up your Bible when you are headed out the door on Sunday morning. Get the picture.

Something happened.

Maybe you got distracted. Maybe you were tired one day and you skipped spending time with God that day. That day became another, and another, and another until you can’t remember when you actually sat down and spent time with God.

Have you ever been there? I have.

For whatever reason, I let distractions get in the way. It was easier to pick up the remote than it was to pick up my Bible.  It was also easier to make excuses than it was to make a course correction. I became lax in my relationship with God.

Here is the problem with being lax in your spiritual journey: Lax is the exact opposite of what the Bible calls us to be.

We are called to be:

  • diligent
  • determined
  • focused
  • firm
  • unwavering

How do you change? Being lax is not a character quality that we want to be know for.

I believe that God placed this thought in my head. How would I feel if either one of my boys didn’t want to spend time with their Daddy anymore?

I would be crushed. I love my boys. I take joy in spending time with them. I love being with them, playing with them, taking them to special places, watching movies with them, I love my boys. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have my boys tell me that they don’t want to spend time with me.

We can’t afford not to cultivate the relationship that we have with our Heavenly Father. That relationship is key to learning and growing as we walk our journey.

The more lax we become in our spiritual journey, the less effective we become at what Jesus has called us to do.

Let’s forget about being lax, lazy, complacent, and stagnant.

Let’s take ACTION and responsibility for cultivating our relationship with our Heavenly Father and for our own spiritual growth.

We don’t need another day to pass us by.

We don’t need to delay and say that we will start on a Monday or on the first of the month or on some other time. That gives us too much leeway for excuses and not starting at all.

If your soul is thirsty, you are craving the living water that only Jesus can give. There is no other source where that kind of water can be found.

You are not alone. We are on this journey together.

Start.

Today.

Now.

 

 

Leadership Lessons from Jim Collins

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Pic from rgbstock by SeeVee.

If you do or do not succeed, it is not because of your circumstances. It is about the decisions you make as a leader.

That will make you think.

Why be good when you can be great? Good is the enemy of great. Don’t settle for just being good or you might as well just settle for being mediocre.

Think of your church or organization as a bus. As leaders, we are responsible for getting the right people in the right seats on the bus. Then we can drive them to where we need to go.

Too many times we ask what questions when we should be asking who questions. The answer to what we are searching for may lie in a person that we need to place in a position.

Bad decisions made with good intentions are still bad decisions. The only mistakes you learn from are the ones that you survive.

Leadership begins with humility. A leader is first a servant. A leader must have fanatic discipline. The people that follow the leader and the organization will only be as disciplined as the leader is disciplined. Leadership empowers both emperical creativity and productive paranoia. Use your imagination. Think outside the box. Be inspired and then inspire others.

Fire bullets before you fire cannonballs. Test decisions to see if they will work and when you find what works go for it with all you have.

The signature to mediocrity is chronic inconsistency. Hold on to your values. Change and adapt your practices but keep your values.

Ten things that Jim Collins gave us as leaders.

1. Run the Good to Great diagnostic at www.jimcollins.com
2. How many seats are available on the bus to be filled with the right people?
3. Who will you allow to mentor you? A great mentor changes your life in seconds.
4. Find your personal hedgehog. Collins explains this in his books and website.
5. 20 mile march – Persevere. Push through trials and difficulty. Keep going.
6. Fire bullets.
7. Turn off electronic gadgets two days every two weeks or once a week.
8. Do you need to make a Stop Doing List?
9. Double your reach to people half your age by changing your practices and keeping your values.
10. Make yourself useful.

Be rigorous not ruthless. The work is too important to have the wrong people in the seats on the bus. You need to have the right people in the right seats.

Innovation needs discipline. Discipline amplifies creativity.

Create.

Obedience Is Not Troublesome

failed1 John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”

That verse cannot get any more simple. We show that we love God by keeping his commandments. In other words, we show that we love God, by doing what he says.

I believe that there are a lot of people in our churches today that call themselves Christians but you would not know it by the way that they live their lives. Obedience helps to conform us to the image of Christ. There is no greater reward than to be conformed to the image of Jesus.

God wants us to approach him as a child approaches their father. God is a good father and he wants what is best for us. What is best for us? Conforming to the image of Jesus and glorifying our Heavenly Father.

Obedience to God is not burdensome. We just act like it is. We act like it is difficult and we act like little kids that do not get their way. Sometimes we know God is calling us to obedience and we throw our version of a spiritual temper tantrum. We seek to rebel because obedience is not what we want.

Obedience is not what we want because our hearts are naturally drawn to what is selfish and sinful. What is selfish and sinful will destroy us. Our hearts are naturally prone to wander and stray from what God has designed for us. We must be mindful to discipline ourselves to do what is right in the eyes of God. We must work at it.

You cannot eat one salad and expect to lose weight. You cannot go to the gym for a week and meet your ideal goals. It takes time and discipline. We must train for obedience. It comes down to whether or not we really love God. Do we desire to be obedient because God is all we desire? Is God our true treasure? Do we value being in his presence? When you truthfully answer those questions you will know where you stand.

Obedience Is Not Troublesome.

 

Radical – A Review

I have been wrecked by reading David Platt’s Radical.

Pic from Amazon.com

Have you ever wondered what true Christianity looks like? Have you ever wondered what it would be like if your life was actually conforming to the image of Jesus?

After reading Radical, my thoughts about the American culture and the Church were pretty much on target. However, I was not prepared for what I was going to find out about myself.

From the time we are born, people give us stuff. We spend early childhood being brought up in a culture of getting more toys and books even if we do not play with them all and we can’t give anything away because its ours.

A child is not taught how to be selfish. A child easily learns to say the word mine. The child goes through school and college to get a degree, to get a job, to get married, have a nice house, have a couple of nice cars, have a few kids, go on a couple vacations a year and then retire when they have done their time at their job.

Really? I do not recall ever reading the word retire in the Bible. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt at the age of 80. He was a leader. He wasn’t kickin’ it in Florida playing golf and sipping pina coladas.

God does not give us our lives to waste. God does not give us our lives to use how we see fit. God does give us our lives to glorify Him. Think about that. Our lives are given to us by God to glorify Him. Isn’t that awesome?

Houses and cars and things are to be used for our enjoyment but to the glory of God. Houses are not for the accumulation of crap. We are not meant to become hoarders of junk until we have to have a yard sale to get rid of crap to go and buy more crap to replace the crap we just got rid of.

I want to be known for being a giver. I want no thing to have control over me. I want to be able to freely give whatever God tells me to give….money, time, things, whatever. I want to serve and share the gospel with the people that need it most. If I am unable to go I want to equip the ones who are going.

I want my life to look normal by biblical standards and drastically weird by culture’s standards.

It’s easy to just go to church and never be passionate about Christ. It’s easy to only pick up your Bible on Sunday if you remember to take it to church. It’s easy to hear a sermon and never reflect on it again. It’s easy to hear a sermon and never apply it to your life.

However…Jesus clearly says in Luke 14:33 that if we do not renounce all things we cannot be His disciple.

Jesus did not die on the cross so that we could passionately follow the American Dream. Jesus died so we could have a new life in Him. That new life according to the Bible looks nothing like the American Dream.

You can buy David Platt’s Radical at Amazon.

Childlike- Risk

mountain-bike-503738_1920My boys have no concept of danger. No one has told them that certain things that they might want to do might be impossible for him. No one has told them that the risk is too great. They have no idea what fear is. Obstacles mean nothing to them. They both look at a toy, or some other object and in their mind, set a goal. They want to acquire that object, usually the remote or my cell phone. They both go for it. There are no pie charts, there are no graphs or some Powerpoint presentation that calculates the risk. Both boys will push themselves to whatever limit is necessary for them to get what they want. It doesn’t matter if they fall down, bump their head, have obstacles in their path. They see what they want and they go after it no matter what it takes.

We should be as bold. Crippling fear has no place in the life of a disciple. What is it about living the life that Christ has called us to live that makes us over complicate what he says?

Fear cripples progress. We fail to achieve what God wants to use us to accomplish because we listen to people who tell us that it is impossible or that it doesn’t make sense. We are not to listen to the wisdom of man but to focus intently on God.

God has not given us a spirit of fear. If we trust God to lead us in some areas of our life, why not trust him with all of our life? It is time for us to give up control and give it all over to God. It is time for us to risk looking stupid and foolish. Risk being called names. Risk making mistakes. Risk it all for the sake of the gospel.

God, give us the boldness and confidence to follow you in complete obedience. Help us to risk being called names and looking stupid because following you and treasuring you is more important. Help us to never be too comfortable but to risk it all for the sake of the gospel. Amen.

What are you willing to risk to follow Christ?

 

 

Pull The Trigger

Grifter. Pic from Flickr by Professor Arte

Grifter. Pic from Flickr by Professor Arte

John Owen, the great Puritan theologian, said, “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.” That is heavy to think about. Let that weigh on your mind for a few moments.

Once you become a Christian, you are in a war. Your spirit will be fighting against your old sinful desires. Sin is relentless. It will come at you in all sorts of ways. It will come through your actions, thoughts, things you see or hear, and temptation. The best way to do this is to realize what you have to help you fight.

You have fellow Christians who are fighting the war with you. Learn from them. Let them come alongside you and fight with you. Let them mentor you. Let them disciple you and train you. When you or another Christian stumbles, seek to reconcile them back to fellowship with Jesus. Don’t kick a fellow soldier while he is down. We will refuse to live in the mindset of shooting our wounded. No man gets left behind. We want to see every person that comes to faith in Christ grow into full maturity.

This war will last until Jesus comes back or we die. Become discipled. Make disciples that make disciples. Be part of the Disciple cycle.

The truth is on your side. The Gospel of Christ. Let it penetrate you to the core of your soul. Let it pierce you and cut out what does not conform you to the image of Christ. Let it influence you in thoughts and actions.

Ephesians 6:10-18 lists out your armor that is designed for your protection.

  • The belt of truth
  • breastplate of righteousness
  • shoes for your feet so that you can run with the message of the Gospel
  • the shield of faith
  • the helmet of salvation

There is only one offensive weapon. The sword. The Word of God. In 2015, I like to think of that as a gun. Pull the trigger! Cut down sin before it gets a hold on you.

Do not hesitate. Do not become comfortable. Comfortable leads to complacency. Complacency leads to stagnation. Stagnation leads to death. Pull the trigger!

Verse 12 of Ephesians 6 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

A soldier that does not know his weapon is a dead soldier. I encourage you to get in the precious Word of God. Get in the Bible and let the Bible get into you. If you get cut or shot, you should bleed the Bible. Know your weapon. Study it well. It will become a part of you.

Know your enemy. Your enemy is like a roaring lion. He roams seeking someone to devour. He is not cute. He is not cuddly. He is deadly.

He is a liar. He is a thief. He is a deceiver. He is a master of disguise. He masquerades around as an angel of light trying to hide the fact that he leads the kingdom of darkness. His strategies and tactics have not changed. He continues to use them because they are effective.

We are in a war.

Go hard or go home!

When Jesus returns, He will bring real peace. The struggle against sin, flesh, the devil, the cosmic powers and principalities will be over.

Until then, fight.

Make war.

Pull the trigger!

Podcasts for the Journey

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Pic from Flickr by Emily Dye

Spiritual growth is not something that we should take lightly. We should be active and intentional in growing in Christlikeness.

When Jesus saved you, you became a Christian and entered into a process of sanctification.

It is a process.

When I shared my plan for spiritual growth with you, I included books, podcasts and conferences. The podcasts that I listen to are available on YouTube.

These podcasts are actually sermon videos from pastors that I highly respect.

I really enjoy listening to other pastors preach. I love learning from them and I love the insight and application given through the sermon. Listening to other pastors also helps me become a better communicator. I believe that we should listen to preachers that are going to point us to Jesus. The further I advance in my sanctification process or grow deeper in my relationship with God, the more I realize the need to get Scripture in my mind. I want to grow closer to Jesus. I want my eyes, my mind, my words, my actions and every area of my life to conform to the image of Jesus….whatever the cost.

I hope that you find these videos to engage your spirit and provoke you to want to follow Jesus more.

Here is a list of 15 pastors that I listen to regularly on YouTube.

  1. Jeremy Lundmark
  2. Matt Chandler
  3. Darrin Patrick
  4. Eric Mason
  5. Jeff Vanderstelt
  6. Perry Noble
  7. Francis Chan
  8. John Piper
  9. Dhati Lewis
  10. Leonce Crump
  11. Tony Merida
  12. Bubba Jennings
  13. Dave Ferguson
  14. Andy Stanley
  15. James MacDonald

What pastors do you listen to that provoke you to want to live more like Christ?