Getting past a big mistake

Jacob had twelve sons.  Two of his sons, Simeon and Levi, were full brothers, meaning they had the same mother.  Their full sister, Dinah, went out into the local city to see all the local girls.  If she was anything like the some of the girls I know, she wanted to see what they were wearing.  While she was out surveying the fashions and styles of the region, One of the princes of the land saw her and was smitten.  She was “taken” by the prince of the country.  His name was Shechem.  The scripture gives the inference that she might have been raped by him.  The sons of Jacob heard about it and blew a gasket.  So they made a deceitful deal with Shechem’s father.  They said the prince could marry Dinah, and that Jacob’s sons would be open to inter-marry the locals.  The locals wanted this for economic reasons.  The only hitch was that all the local men in their city would need to be circumcised.  The men of the city agreed because Jacob had wealth and they wanted access to it.  Three days after the mass circumcision, while all the men were painfully incapacitated and unable to move, Simeon and Levi went in, killed every single man, and spoiled the city.  You can read it in Gen 34.

When Jacob found out about it he said (Gen 34:30)  “You have troubled me, to make me stink among those living in the land, among the Canaanites, and among the Perizzites. And I being few in number, and they gathering against me, they will strike me, and I and my house shall be wasted”. But Simeon and Levi were unrepentant.  They said “Should he treat our sister like a harlot?”

I think the Lord’s response in chapter 35 illustrates how serious this became.  The Lord immediately told Jacob to move to Bethel and build an altar to God there. The Bible says that as Jacob moved his family, the terror of God came on the cities all around them so that the men of the cities didn’t pursue them as they went.

I’m not trying to minimize what happened to the Dinah, but any action to be taken should have come from Jacob.  It was not the place of Simeon or Levi to decide how this situation should have been handled.  The entire family was affected by the result. They were all put in jeopardy.

That brings us to Gen 49:1, where Jacob is calling his sons to his bedside to bless them, here he begins to tell them of their future.  When he gets to Simeon and Levi, he declares “Instruments of cruelty are in their habitations.  O my soul, come not into their secret; unto their assembly, my spirit, be not united: for in their anger they slew a man and in their self-will they dug down a wall.  Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel”.

In the very first post I wrote on this blog, I wrote about the beginning of honor.  You can read the post here.  The point of that post is that to truly honor your mom, dad and family, you must first determine to not cause them shame.  It seems that the older we get, the greater the cost becomes to remain a fool.  A teen boy can can get himself into so much trouble that the consequences could last for years.  I can think of at least three occasions where my stupid actions brought the police to our house.  Remembering my days as a young man, when I think back on the times I got into real trouble, it seemed like each time, things just “suddenly” went wrong.  While my friends and I were always goofing off and pushing the boundaries, each time we got into real trouble, it seemed like a “suddenly”.  We just suddenly knew that we had gone too far.

Unfortunately, these “suddenly” episodes didn’t have a “suddenly” resolution.  We couldn’t get out of trouble as quickly as we got into it.  The consequences in my case were hard, but could have been so much worse and took quite a long time to get through.  In some cases, it took years to pay the price for being stupid.  Some people will pay for the rest of their lives for mistakes made when they were young.  Some are no longer with us because their consequences were immediate and final.

My brother and I were talking about these things the other day and the thing that kept coming up in my heart was that God can turn things around.  These things don’t have to become a life sentence.  Even with Simeon and Levi, later we see Balak trying to get Balaam to curse Israel, but all he can do is bless them.  This includes Simeon and Levi.  Balaam says I can’t curse what God has blessed.  Later we find that Simeon received his inheritance out of the inheritance of Judah, because Judah’s inheritance was too great for just him.  We also see that the Lord made Himself the inheritance of Levi and commanded the other tribes to give Levi cities in each of their inheritances.

The point I’m making is that, the mistake they made was a big deal.  It cost the family and the Lord had to step in and give Jacob specific direction to deal with it, but it wasn’t the end.  They still had a future filled with hope.

There are a couple of points here worth noticing.

First – What the sons of Jacob did cost them down the road.  We can see from Jacob’s declaration over them that they were scattered in Jacob.

Second – It wasn’t over for them just because they blew it.  While what they did cost them, they were still blessed, and they still received a part in the inheritance, and the promises God made them.

Third – Almighty God cared enough to get involved.  He led and protected Jacob while He brought him to a safe place.  This included Simeon and Levi.

Sometimes people can get themselves into messes so bad, that it takes all the faith they have to get out of it.  This is the reason God gives us standards to live by.  It’s when people harden themselves against God that they get into trouble.  We know from the story of Job that God puts a hedge of protection around His people.  The problem is that when we harden our heart against obeying God, we take ourselves out from under His protection.

The first piece of advice I would give you is this – Don’t disobey.  It’s through obedience that things go the best possible way they CAN go. The second piece of advice is – I’ve you’ve messed up, repent!  Repent means turn around.  Stop going down that path.  If you will humble yourself before God and turn away from your rebellion and hardness, His grace will begin to flow into your situation.  His grace includes His power, His favor, His equipping, and His calling.  God will get involved in your situation and lead you.  Then, keep doing what you know to do.  Don’t stray from the path you know, and keep the switch of faith turned on. Don’t stop believing.  When it comes to trouble – If you follow Him, submit to Him, allow Him to lead you, and obey every time, the promise is that “a thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come nigh you.  Only with your eyes will you behold the reward of the wicked” (Ps 91:7-8).

 

 

Be Like Mary, Not Like Zack!

While I don’t think most people would equate having a lack of faith with being rebellious, there is a kind of unbelief that is exactly that.  This week while studying, I found myself reading the passage in Luke 1 where the angel Gabriel appeared to Zachariah.  Later in the same chapter, that same Gabriel appeared to Mary, mother of Jesus.  His announcement to both Mary and Zachariah was that they were both about to become parents.  It appears at first glance that when Gabriel made that announcement, they both responded the same way and with the same type of question.  They each received a very different result though.

How were they similar?

They were the same in that in each case, God sent a messenger, an angel named Gabriel, from His presence to declare to each of them His (God’s) will.  Gabriel declares to both of them that they were going to have a child. He also declares to each of them that the birth of their child would be a miracle.  Each case would take faith to receive because in each case, the circumstances said it was impossible.

How were they different?

While it seems on the surface that they were the same, there had to be a difference.  The Bible says that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).  If they were the same, they would have both received the same results.  We see that the difference was faith.

The Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17).  Weymouth says it this way  “And this proves that faith comes from a Message heard, and that the Message comes through its having been spoken by Christ. ”  Believing is a choice, and the ability to believe comes from the faithfulness of the speaker.  You believe me because I have kept my word to you consistently. I have been faithful.  That is faith in me.  Faith in God comes from being thoroughly convinced that He will do what He said He would do in His Word. We believe the promise, because we believe the speaker.

When Mary asked the question “How will this be since I’m a virgin?”  Her question was a question of process.  If you think about it, this had never happened before and she had no basis for faith.  There was no precedence.  Also, we see that once she heard Gabriel’s explanation, her heart went out and laid hold of it.  “Be it unto me according to your word!”  Her faith had kicked in and she believed the promise.

Zachariah had a very large precedence set for him.  He had examples of the Lord opening the barren womb with Hannah.  He also had examples of the Lord giving children in old age with Abraham and Sarah. They were in the same boat he was.  Zachariah had a basis for faith.  Not only that, but the Bible says when Gabriel first appeared to him, he said “Fear not, your prayer is heard”.  Zachariah had been praying for a child.  The issue is that once Gabriel told him the message, Zachariah wanted a sign to prove that the promise was true.  Even the promise from the mouth of an angel wasn’t enough. He wanted a sign.  He was looking at the promise through the circumstances the same way the 10 spies did in back in Numbers 13.

His sign was also his sentence.  He lost his ability to speak until the promise was fulfilled.  Gabriel told him why in Luke 1:20.  “Because you didn’t believe my words”.  I think it’s important to note that the angel took away his ability to speak.  Zachariah’s mouth, and confession may have been a problem that needed to be stopped.

Zachariah may have had strong faith at some point.  We can see from Gabriel’s statement that he had enough faith at one point to ask the Lord for a child.  Just like a muscle though, faith can atrophy.  The world is constantly feeding information that creates fear and doubt.  If we don’t take active steps to minimize that message & replace it with a faith giving message, our faith will become week.

So if faith comes by hearing, then if there is no hearing, there can be no faith.  I have heard complaints about how some ministers will give 10 minute mini-sermons about giving & believing for finances before they receive an offering in their church.  While I’ve been in churches where this was an attempt to squeeze more money out of people, I have also been in churches where the mini-sermon was very faith building.  It was good solid illuminated truth regarding God’s will and His promises.  It helped my faith.  What I’m trying to say is this.  If there is no hearing, there can be no faith.  To say that people don’t need to hear any more preaching about certain promises is in contradiction to scripture.  2 Peter 1:12 says “I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.”   Jude 1:5 says “I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this…”  You can never have too much faith in God’s Word.

Special focus.

There have been times in my own life where I was struggling with my health.  After a few days of messing around, I finally came to the conclusion that my faith was weak in this area.  Instead of pretending that I was more spiritual than I really was, I humbled myself.  I realized that I was not where I needed to be and believing that the Bible was true, I determined that what I needed was to hear faith building words regarding healing.  I went about searching for the best material I could find on the topic.  I found a tape series, (yes, they were tapes back then), called Receive Miracle Healing by Dr. T.L. Osborn, and I listened to it…and only it, for more than 10 months.  I realized that my ailment wasn’t going to disappear by itself and I couldn’t afford to handle it medically.  I put my hope in God and trusted that He would get me to the place I needed to be, in order to receive by faith.

The bottom line.

When we get right down to it, we’re talking about trust.  We need to know that God can do it, but that’s only the first part. We also need to be convinced that He will do it for us.  We don’t receive from God based on His ability, we receive based on the level of our faith – our trust in Him to do what He said.  Literally, you can not receive beyond your faith.  And to pretend you have faith in order to appear more spiritual is actually a lame substitute.  It’s your Ishmael. Fake faith will not produce results and it’s actually a form of pride that will BLOCK you from receiving.  God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Pet 5:5).

F.F. Bosworth said “Faith begins where the will of God is known”.  If you find yourself struggling in an area of your life, and you find yourself defeated more than you are victorious, take heart. Immerse yourself in the Word & ask the Lord to help you.  Don’t let up until He turns the light on.  He will show you light in a verse that you may have read a thousand times, but all the sudden, you see what it really says.  Faith springs alive in your heart.  Once He brings revelation, and has given you a Living Word that you can believe, it’s time to receive it!  Don’t resist the message!  Don’t require an additional sign!  Don’t be unbelieving.  Don’t rebel against the promise.

Instead – Be like Mary!  “Be it unto me according to your word!”

 

 

Are you of a different spirit?

Many of you are familiar with the Bible story where Moses sent the 12 spies into the promised land to check it out. They searched out the land for forty days and returned to give their report. If you remember the story, ten of the spies came back with what the Bible calls an Evil report. It was all negative. These spies didn’t see the promise that God had given them, instead they looked at the circumstances and determined that they were too small and too weak to take the land.

Num 13:31  But the men that went up with him (Caleb) said, We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched to the sons of Israel, saying, The land through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eats up those who live in it. And all the people whom we saw in it were men of stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, of the giants. And we were in our own sight like grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

Scripture says that these reports caused the people’s hearts to melt. It wasn’t the giants that were keeping them out of the land, it was the grasshoppers. They were comparing their enemy to themselves. They were not figuring God into the equation.

Hebrews 3 tells us that the children of Israel had “An evil heart of unbelief”. When we look further, we see that, instead of trusting God, they had a spirit of disobedience. They were obstinate, rebellious, intentionally unbelieving and unpersuadable. Hebrews 3:12 warns us that we should pay attention, to make sure that none of us has an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.

Do you see the issue in that verse? They came right up to the point of making a choice to believe or not and they chose to separate. They departed from God…multiple times. At one point, they even chided Moses (Ex 17:2). The Online Dictionary defines Chide as “To give someone a piece of one’s mind. To take to task, rake over the coals, to tell off”. God called them a “Stiff Necked and Rebellious People”.

Joshua and Caleb were the only two spies that came back with a different point of view. Caleb said “Let us go up at once, for we are well able to overcome it”. They had seen the promised land through a vision of the promise of God and they could see the possibilities. They said things like “Their defense has departed from them, let us go up at once!” All that faith talk started making the faithless people mad. Joshua and Caleb warned the people that they should not rebel against the Lord. The people decided that what they really needed to do was stone Joshua and Caleb. It was at that moment that the Glory of the Lord showed up in a big way! It was also at this moment that Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground. They knew something serious was happening. They knew God wasn’t just dropping by to say howdy.

There is a ton of stuff to learn in this passage, and I am inspired by the words of Joshua and Caleb. The Lord summed it up best when He was talking about Caleb.

“Num 14:24 But My servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and has followed Me fully, I will bring him into the land into which he went. And his seed shall possess it.”

The Bishops Bible says it like this “Because he has followed me unto the utmost.”

The Bible in basic English says “Because he is true to me with all his heart.”

The Literal version says “he is fully following me.”

The Septuagint says “Fulfilled to walk behind me.”

God said he had another spirit with him. What was that spirit?

The answer can be found in 2 Corinthians 4:13, where Paul, writing to the Corinthian Church, says “We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.”

Joshua and Caleb were IN FAITH. That simply means that they were fully trusting God to keep His promise. They had a good understanding of what it means to be in COVENANT with God. You and I can have covenant with God today through submitting ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus. In doing that, we open ourselves up to all that God promised. In Him (Jesus) we have ACCESS to God.

Rom 5:2 By whom (Jesus) also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Eph 2:18 For through Him (Jesus) we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Eph 3:12 In whom (Jesus) we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him.

God wants us to get to the place of trusting Him where we are like Abraham. “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what He (God) had promised, he was able also to perform”.

If you are a believer, it should mean something to you to actually be in covenant with God. It should change the way you think. The way you think about health, direction, even money. According to some reading I’ve done recently, some Jewish scholars believe that poverty is an unjustifiable suffering. It should not be revered or associated with closeness with God.

Consider what Paul says to the Romans. Rom 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Is this not the mind of Joshua and Caleb? They were convinced that the Lord was with them and that He had taken away the strength of their enemies. They were fully persuaded that it was “Take the Land time”!

Are you in covenant with God? Have you made Jesus your Lord, and submitted yourself to Him? If not, click here. If so, are you standing where you should be standing in regard to God and His promises? Do you trust Him to make good on His Word?

This week, spend some time and examine your heart. Let God say of you, as He said of Caleb, “They have a different spirit, and have followed me fully”?

What It Really Takes To Be Fearless.

Have you ever gotten yourself in over your head? You said yes to something, maybe it was a job or something similar, and the next thing you knew, you were looking up at the surface of the water. Maybe you got your dream job but then realized that you had to work with people you were reasonably sure was related to Satan. You find yourself swimming in a tank full of sharks.

When I left my home, my old job, my family & friends to move to a new city and go to Bible school, it felt a little like starting a new life. I was launching out into the plan of God for my life & I was very excited for what the future held. I was certain that I was on the right path. I knew it was right. I emphasize this because it wasn’t too many days later, that the rear end started going out in my truck. Back in my hometown, I knew where to go for the parts. If I didn’t have the ability, I knew several people close by who could advise and help me fix it. Here, I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t know where the honest mechanic was. I ended up deciding to replace the truck but I didn’t know where the good used cars were sold. I checked the paper but there were not very many listings. I was stuck. I was hundreds of miles away from the community where I knew where everything was. Now, I didn’t know what to do.

The Fearless Path

One Saturday, I went to the store with my family. While they went into the store, I just stayed in the van and laid the seat back. I closed my eyes and I just sank. I was so consumed by this problem that I was beginning to get a little fearful. All the sudden, these words drifted up from my spirit. “Reckon on the faithfulness of God”. I had read that phrase in a book. I thought about it and the more I thought on it, the better things began to look. “Reckon on the faithfulness of God”. Then I began to remember. When God leads, He empowers. Remember Peter getting out of the boat & walking on the water? The main thing he was walking on was the word “Come” that Jesus had spoken to him. If God led me all the way out here to go to Bible school, He also empowered me to be successful. My faith began to surge. I had the realization that the car I needed was already here…somewhere. I just needed to listen, be led & find it. I believe with all of my heart that the provision for my life is found on God’s chosen path for me. I just need to stay on the path. God loves me too much to leave me shipwrecked. He wants me to succeed more than I even know. I immediately changed what I had been saying. I was saying that I didn’t know what to do. Now I declared that “My God shall supply all of my needs according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19). The provision was there somewhere. We ended up just a few days later finding a really nice car that was way more than we had hoped for and it was a very affordable price. Remembering God’s love pushed fear out of my mind. My faith was strengthened. God is faithful.

There have been days on the job where problems were so abundant that it seemed like all I did was put out fires all day long. You get to the end of the day absolutely exhausted but it doesn’t look like there’s anything to show for it. In times like these, I have gone out to my car during my lunch break and again, I would lean the seat back & just thank God for the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

I learned a long time ago that the Holy Spirit is the difference maker. When I’m facing a situation and I don’t measure up, He makes up the difference. He strengthens me in every situation if I will follow Him. But its not just being strengthened, it’s being made strong enough. He is enough. He causes me to not only meet but exceed & be victorious in every situation. The King James Bible calls Him the comforter. Comforter = strengthener. He makes us adequate for the task. What task? The one you’re facing. He is faithful.

It’s through absolute dependence on Him that we can be fearless. I know that when I’m following Him and leaving nothing undone that I know I’m supposed to do, If it’s not enough, He makes up the difference. That’s why we can truly say “In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” Rom 8:37).

I want to encourage you this week to look to Him for strength. He will help you with the smallest of things. He cares about the details of your life.

In what ways have you seen God work in your own life? Please testify by leaving a comment.

The Power of One Voice

Recently I was listening to an interview where Michael Hyatt was interviewing Stu McLaren. I discovered some pretty impressive things about Stu. He and his wife have created a charity that builds schools in places like Kenya & Uganda. As I was listening to Stu talk and the passion that dripped from every word, I was stirred. Stu is impacting the world with the power of one voice.

This morning while working out, I was thinking on these things and I remembered the story in the Bible about the man in the tombs who was possessed with demons. (Mark 5) The Bible says He was in the country of the Gadarenes. And the place he lived was called Decapolis. When people tried to bind him, he would break the bands. He ran around naked and would cut himself with stones. When Jesus showed up, He cast the demons out of the man and into a herd of pigs. The story tells that 2,000 pigs immediately ran down a steep place and drowned themselves.

News got out. The people came to see. What they saw was a man who they usually saw naked and crazy, sitting clothed and in his right mind. Once they heard the whole story, they asked Jesus to leave. They were scared and didn’t want him around.

The man who was delivered from this possession wanted to go with Jesus, but Jesus didn’t let him. Jesus told him “Go home to your friends, and tell them how great things the Lord has done for you and has had compassion on you”.

– The Power of One Voice. He went on his way, and made public in the country of Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him: and all men were full of wonder – BBE.

In Mark 7:31 We see Jesus coming back through Decapolis. This time the people were not asking Him to leave. Instead, they immediately brought Him a deaf and dumb boy so that Jesus could heal him. Jesus had to take him aside from a MULTITUDE. Why was there such a radical transformation in the hearts of the people in this region? Could it be because of the power of one voice? A changed man with a message?

Jesus said to His disciples in John 12:24 That unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground & dies, it abides alone. If it falls to the ground & dies, only then will it bring forth much fruit.

“The purpose of influence is to “speak up for those who have no influence.” (Pr.31:8) It’s not about you.”   ― Rick Warren

God is calling you to something bigger. To bear much fruit. The one thing that needs to happen first, before fruit can be produced is that a seed needs to be planted.  No seed, no fruit.  The Great commission given by Jesus to His disciples before He was taken up into Heaven, was for all of us to tell people what God has done for us. To leverage our personal experiences with God to affect and influence as many people as possible. To exercise the power of our one voice with the message of hope.

If you have submitted yourself to the Lordship of Jesus, according to scripture, your old man has died. You are now a new creature in Christ Jesus. You are the seed sown by God into the earth to bring forth much fruit. With the Power of One Voice. With the power of your Voice.

Will you step up and take your place?

Here Are Three Specific Attributes Of A Good Man.

Last week I wrote about building a good man and the personal responsibility each of us has to become the best Us we can be. I want to expound on that a little bit this week because while we need to understand our roll in becoming who we are, often many of us don’t know how. We don’t know where to start.

Suit & tie

Photo courtesy of StockSnap.IO

I was reading an article recently entitled “10 things to teach your son about being a man”. The article was good and I enjoyed it. It focused on things like being a gentleman, holding the door, walking on the street side of the sidewalk & stuff like that. While I was thinking about the article, it occurred to me that many men DO NOT have a dad around to teach them these things. Many of the ones who are fortunate enough to have their dads around may not be hearing it either because their dads don’t think its important to pass on. I didn’t have a dad around to instruct me on “all things men”. As I think about it now, one of the only things I remember hearing from my dad about being a man was “grown men don’t hug”. As I look back over my life though, God gave me plenty of good examples to follow. He put men around me that helped me immeasurably. And thankfully, He gave me a listening ear.

While I agree with the things in the article I read about being a gentleman, I think there are more weighty issues that young men need to know about while becoming good men. I believe you can become a man just by growing up, but that doesn’t mean you are worth anything. The goal should be to become a good man, a mature man and a godly man. And just exactly what constitutes a Good Man? Because I believe the Bible, and the Bible says that Jesus is perfect. I think we need to look at His example to truly know what a good man is. Hebrews 5 says this about Him.

“Heb 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; Heb 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”

The word “Perfect” used here in the Greek means complete, accomplished, finished fulfilled, perfect & fully mature. This is the absolute picture of Jesus. Ephesians 4:13-16 says that we as godly men, are to grow unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

So what does that mean for us as we move toward being the best men we can be?

Growing up means maturity. This is hard sometimes. We (that is, our flesh and our un-renewed mind) don’t always want to be mature. Sometimes all we want to do is “flesh out” and throw a fit. The Bible calls this being “Carnal”. Carnal comes from the root word that means “meat”. To be carnally minded just means that you’re spending all your time paying attention to the flesh. A mature person will not do this though. So what does it mean to be a good man?

No Strife

It means no more strife. While this verse is talking specifically about strife & unity in the Body of Christ, it is important to understand that a mature man will not tend toward strife. Strife is defined as bitter disagreement over fundamental issues – conflict. It’s a true sign of growth and maturity when you as a man demonstrate that you are the master of your emotions, attitude and anger. Good men are men of peace.

No FlakinessIt means no more flakiness. We are not to allow ourselves to be victims of the deceitfulness and manipulation in our beliefs or in our life. Even while we are not to be victims of such things, we are also not supposed to engage in them.  We are not to be deceitful and the manipulators of others.  Scripture says in Eph 4:14 that “Speaking the truth in love we will grow up in Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ”. Good men are stable men

No SelfishnessIt means no more selfishness. According to Ephesians 4:16, the man of God will be working to increase the effectiveness of others. A good man will not have a “Me First” mentality. He will be looking for opportunities to assist others in doing good and helping to facilitate their success as well as his own. Good men are helpful men.

I want to write more on specific issues in future posts and give more specific actionable steps. But today I want to ask you a question. Think about the good men you’ve know in your life. Were these things in their life too? I would encourage you this week to act on these for yourself. I would love for you to share how you plan to step into them. Leave a comment and share your three things.

You might be more connected than you think!

I recently heard a prominent minister tell a story about his daughter. He said that when she was five, she came up to the ministry office and she was running down the hall to see her dad. When someone stopped her and scolded her for running in the executive hallway at the ministry, her response was “Don’t you know who I am?” and then she turned and kept on running down the hall. The point was that when you’re born into the family, you have privilege that others don’t have. He said that even when he didn’t live at home anymore, he would still have the right to go over into his dad’s garage & borrow a tool.  The minister used these illustrations to demonstrate where we stand with God if we have made Jesus our Lord and are God’s children.

I was 10 years old when my parents divorced. I was the oldest boy in my family and with my dad being out of the picture, one of the things that became evident was that I was now responsible for fixing my mom’s exhaust pipe on her car. While my dad was very mechanically inclined, I didn’t have a lot of experience with cars or tools. As a matter of fact, I had very few tools and one of the main tools I had was a fence tool.

A fence tool is a tool that combines pliers, a flat head screw driver, a hammer, a hatchet and a sort of open end wrench. With very few exceptions, this was all I had to work with. I could work virtual wonders with an empty tin can, a couple of wire coat hangers & that fence tool. As you can guess, my solutions were temporary but I gave it my pre-teen best.

Multitool fence tool

Fence Tool

A year or so later, we were at my aunt & uncle’s house for Christmas and my uncle gave me a socket set. He didn’t buy it for me, he actually bought it for his brother but his brother was unable to make. I always wondered why he didn’t just send it to his brother. Anyway, he gave me my first socket set. I don’t know if any of the sockets survived but I do know that I still have the ratchet and I still use it.

A few years later, when I was about 17, another uncle took me out to his garage, he got an old tool box that he wasn’t using and then proceeded to build me a tool collection with all of the tools that he had duplicates of. I walked away that day with a better than average set of tools. I still have and use most of them today.

If I look at my life based on my broken home, or my absentee dad, it doesn’t look like I had anything working for me. For years I used this as my excuse for not getting anywhere in life. After all, I didn’t have access to the garage with the tools, the house, the family or the man. Even if I knew where it was, I was not allowed in. I didn’t have so much that I thought I should have had, and because of that I spent years feeling sorry for myself. I soaked in self pity because I was disadvantaged and didn’t have so many of the opportunities that others had. Poor me.

It took me a long time to realize that God did not leave me without help. Not only did He give me good examples to follow, but He also provided the tools I needed to get by. He put men in my life who had compassion on me and who taught me so many things. Those experiences working on my mom’s exhaust taught me that I could do a lot with a little. They also taught me how to improvise.

I began to understand a very profound truth that changed my life forever. It’s found in Rom 8:31. It says “What, then, can we say about all of this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” When I began to understand this truth, I began to understand that, even though I don’t know anybody, and even though I am not born into money, I am not disadvantaged. God IS for me. He wants the best for me. He’s working behind the scenes all the time to cause all things to work out for my good because I love Him and have submitted to His call and purpose. All I need is faith in God! Faith in God is enough.

The Bible says that God is no respecter of persons. This means that if He did it for me, He will do it for you. If you turn to Him and allow Him to be big in your life, you will not be disadvantaged either. He will get into your situations and begin working behind the scenes to cause the best possible outcome. Remember, Nothing is impossible with God and all things are possible to them who believe. (Matt 19:26, Mark 10:27, Luke 1:37 & Mark 9:23)

That fence tool is long gone, but if I had it now, I’d probably display it in a shadow box on my wall to remind me of where I’ve been and to be thankful that I’m not where I used to be. I have to admit though, I would probably take it out from time to time and throw it at a tree. The 12 year old me used to do that too.

Are Your Wounds Not Healing As Fast As You Want Them To?

I like to work with wood. Many of the tools I use in woodworking are used for cutting and so they need to be sharp. That includes hand tools. While I usually clamp my projects in a vise, sometimes, if they are too large or oddly shaped, I have to hold them while working on them. Because I’m right handed, I’m usually holding the board or project with my left hand and because of that, my left hand ends up with all of the scars from the various accidents I’ve had over the years. My left hand has quite a few. Anyway, I have had a few cuts that probably should have had stitches but I didn’t get any. Because I didn’t though, the wound kept re-opening when I would move my hand a certain way. I used butterfly band-aids & all kinds of dressing, but certain movements would still open up the wound. Because of that, it took these cuts far longer to heal and the scar may be more visible because of it.

3 hand planes

When I close my eyes and think back to when I was a little boy, I can see my mom scolding me because I wouldn’t leave my scabbed knee alone. I would scratch and pick at it until sometimes I would cause it to start bleeding all over again. As adults, sometimes we are like that with emotional wounds. We won’t leave them alone to heal. We keep ripping the scab off of the wound. We do it with our words. We keep bringing up a hurt and rehearsing it. With someone who has hurt us in the past, all that has to happen is that their name comes up in conversation, and then so does the past and that time when they did that thing that you just can’t seem to get over. The wound starts to seep again because you couldn’t leave it alone for some reason. What’s the answer?

Scripture gives us a clear road to recovery.

  1. Love. Jesus said to His disciples in John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I loved you.” This is a specific Love to a specific group. As we follow Him, we are to love one another as He has loved us. There is no greater expression of His love toward us than that He has forgiven us. The Bible says in 2 Cor 5:19 that God was not and is not imputing our trespasses against us. God’s not holding your past against you but has in Christ completely forgiven you so that if you have received Christ as your Lord, you can stand before Him as if you have never done anything wrong. That is complete forgiveness.
  2. Forgive. Jesus said in Mark 11:25 “And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive it, so that your Father in Heaven may also forgive your deviations” LITV. The word forgive here in scripture literally means to send forth, to forsake, lay aside or yield up. You probably have heard people say “I forgive them but I can never forget” but that can not be true. To truly forgive means that when those thoughts come up, not only do you not talk them out but you intentionally cast them down and purposefully not think on them. You choose to forsake the hurt. You choose to lay aside the injury. You choose to forgive
  3. Turn your mouth around. Instead of rehearsing the past hurts, next time the opportunity arises to talk about the hurt, don’t do it! Make a decision that you will not continue to rehearse the past and scratch the wound back open. Instead, choose words of love, kindness and forgiveness. Intentionally say good things about the person who hurt you. Ask God to guide you. He will give you words to say.
  4. Walk in wisdom. Just like in woodworking, I learned the hard way that I need to pay attention to my actions and the potential for accidents and trouble. I need to look down the road and consider the results of my actions and words. If I don’t want people to be offended, then I need to make sure I’m not offensive. The easiest way to get past a physical or emotional injury is to simply not have one.


“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” 
 Mark Twain

 

When you find yourself in the thick of it though, remember, walk in love, walk in forgiveness, turn your mouth around and finally, walk in wisdom to avoid trouble in the future.

When true forgiveness is present, it shows us that real love is also present because love is shown in forgiveness. It is the hallmark that God is on the scene.

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” 
 Martin Luther King Jr.

I want to encourage you this week to examine yourself & look for pockets of unforgiveness in your heart. Don’t be easy on yourself. Are you holding a grudge? Are there things that you haven’t let go of? Make the choice this week to forgive. Don’t let your hurt contaminate any more of your future. Choose freedom.

I Mean It!

Years ago there was a Citi bank “Thankyou” rewards commercial where they were trying to express the power of “Thank You”. In the commercial a woman told a man that she loved him. He hesitated and a heart breaking look washed over her face. He finally replied with “Thank You!” and she, with a surprised and joyful look said “Really?” To which he responded “I mean it!”. The commercial ended with a happy note as Citi bank showed you how a heart felt “I love you” could be adequately answered with “Thank you” and a broken heart crisis was affectively averted.

Worship

Too many times I have found myself in situations and I am acting by rote. It’s almost as if I’m just performing by basic muscle memory. My mind is barely involved and my heart is no where to be seen. I am running on autopilot. Years of habit have kicked in and allowed me to mentally “step out” for a minute. I have noticed recently though, that it seems to be in areas that matter.

“What is uttered from the heart alone, Will win the hearts of others to your own.”
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

We are creatures of habit and when we face situations over and over again, we learn what behavior is appropriate for these situations and we respond appropriately. When we first encounter these situations, we think about what response is needed and we choose carefully how to act or what to say. As time wears on though, we learn what response the situation requires and render it as needed. We can do this so often that the meaning behind the action or the word can become quite meaningless. It’s just what we do…in that situation. It’s just what we say…when that comes up.

I Love You Too! I say this with ease when I’m talking to my wife, my children, my mother or most of my relation. I have noticed though that sometimes, I need to step back and take stock of what I’m actually saying. Many times I have said this and it was just the appropriate response, but I don’t ever want to say this and not mean it.

As a man and a Christian, I believe in the power of my words. I know that my words matter and that with my words I am authorizing and restricting things, people and events in my life. Words represent and carry the contents of the heart. It’s with our words that we promise and it’s with our words that we make covenant. Our words are the audible expression of our hearts. They are precious and they are immeasurably important. We should never waste them. Our words can both break or mend hearts.

Our words are how we authorize God to work in our lives. Did you know that? In Malachi 3 The Lord told the priests that their words were stout against Him. They were complaining about having to serve Him. Jesus said in Matthew that with our words we would be either justified or condemned (Mat 12:37). Our words matter.

It’s so important that when we are using important words, that we also have our heart behind them. When I tell my wife and children how much I love and adore them, I don’t ever want them to go away without truly understanding that my whole heart is behind my words and that I truly mean them.

“When pure sincerity forms within, it is outwardly realized in other people’s hearts.” ― Lao Tzu

 

It’s that way with my Lord sometimes too. I find myself saying things in prayer and it’s just “what I do”. I don’t want my relationship with Him to be that way either. I want to always be fully present with Him. When I say I love Him, I want it to always come from the very depth of my heart. I never want to just “Phone it in”. I remember Pastor Keith Moore saying on a recorded message one time that the Lord ministered to him in a time of prayer and said “If you are not enjoying our time together, don’t think that I’m enjoying it either”. The Lord wants a relationship with us where our hearts are involved, because His heart is involved. He loves us with all His heart. He desires for our times together with Him to be full of love, full of heart and very meaningful. Sometimes we allow our relationship with Him to grow a little stale. We say things but our heart is not in them. Our relationship with Him may not matter to us as much as we say it does. Let me let you in on something though. It matters to Him. It mattered so much that He fully gave Himself for us. But it didn’t end there. It continually matters to Him…even right now. He takes His relationship with you so seriously that when He gave Himself, He never took it back. His giving of Himself is not over and will not ever be over.

The Good News Bible says it this way

Heb 7:25 And so he is able, now and always, to save those who come to God through him, because he lives forever to plead with God for them.

He is forever our High Priest. It is through Him and by Him that we have access to this Life, to this Love, to this God, who is Love.

This week I invite you to take stock of where you are in your relationships with your family and the Lord. Have you been fully present? Set aside some time this week to reach out to your family to tell them how much they mean to you and really mean it. Take some time in prayer this week and purpose in your heart to spend some quality time with Him. When we humble ourselves before Him, He shows up in His heaviness.

If you don’t have a relationship with Him and want to know more, Click Here.

Thank you for reading what the Lord puts on my heart to write. If this has helped you in any way, I’m so glad. I appreciate you more than you know. If you think this can help others, I want to encourage you to share it. I want to be a good steward of what the Lord has put on my heart and I want it to reach and help as many people as possible.

You Have What It Takes To Make A Difference!

God desires for His people to walk by Faith, to walk in continual victory, and to testify of that victory in order for others who don’t know God, to hear the testimony and desire a relationship for themselves.

hold fast

Heb_10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

If you are a Christian, what makes your witness affective is your personal testimony. When you begin to share what God has done for YOU, then you put yourself beyond the realm of argument. You were there! You are a first hand witness to what happened and that gives your witness credibility.

I bring this up because it’s so important for us to understand the part we play in God’s plan. He desires for us to be influential in our world. In the Unites States, we’ve enjoyed a Government that had great respect for God, Christianity and Israel and because we as believers have had it so good, we as believers have grown complacent. We have been shielded from the suffering and persecution that Christians endure around the world. Because we have not experienced that kind of heat, many American Christians don’t pray or read their Bibles regularly and many have even quit attending church regularly. In this country we seem to have a Low Impact Christianity. This low impact Christianity has created a group of Christians that often endure the Sunday sermon through a hang-over from Saturday night.

The Supreme Court has announced a change in the policy of the United States Government that puts the 14th amendment on a collision course with the 1st amendment. We are now seeing Christian business owners persecuted, sued & fined because they refused to violate their conscience.  Jesus said persecution would come – (see John 16:2).

The reality is that some will fall away because of persecution. Those who are not fully persuaded will abandon the truth they have heard when persecution arises. (Mark 4:16 & 17).

Unlike so many other religions where someone can be born into it, Christianity is chosen. It’s a personal decision. You can not legislate the hearts of men.  I have firmly held beliefs concerning God & what’s right and wrong.  No law brought on by legislature or judicial interpretation can change that belief if I will not let it go.  That’s why Paul admonished Timothy, the writer of Hebrews admonished the Hebrew Church, and Jesus admonishes all believers to HOLD FAST.

2Ti 1:13 – Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Heb 10:23 – Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

Rev 3:11 – Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

Each of us makes choices based on evidence. In a sense, we all have a personal court room where testimony is heard and witnesses are allowed to speak. We make choices based on the evidence seen and the testimony heard.  A good example of this is my friends at Quality Comfort Air.  I chose them to put in my furnace and air conditioning based on the evidence provided and the personal testimony of those who are first hand witnesses of their fine work. I have not been disappointed. We all do this.  This very thing is why the BBB and Angie’s List even exist.  Do you read online reviews before you make a purchase? We use reviews to help us make better, more informed choices.  The court that matters most in this hour is the personal, judgment bench where each individual judges truth and makes choices based on the evidence that convinces THEM.  This is where the witness and personal testimony of Bible believing Christians matters most. Don’t be shy about talking about what the Lord has done for you. Don’t be afraid to allow the Lord to take your scars, suffering and victories and use them to give some lost soul new hope.  By living a life pleasing to God and using your personal testimony, you can help win one heart at a time and when we do that, the Holy Spirit will confirm the Word with signs following.

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