Walls, Giants & Grasshoppers. The Lies That Hold Us Back.

 

“When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

“The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

“I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”   — Steve Jobs

I love this quote.  I find it very inspiring.  The truth is though, I was that guy.  I was living “inside” the life that I had, trying not to bump into the walls.  Not realizing that I had any control, that I could change things and make them happen instead of just letting them happen and responding to them.

K2 remove the limits

It reminds me of the verse in Acts 27 when during Paul’s voyage to Rome, the ship owner and the captain ignored Paul’s warning that they should not loose from the Fair Havens of Lasea, but instead launched out with a soft wind.  Not long after they were out at sea, they ran right into a typhoon.  When the winds were so strong that the ship wouldn’t respond to any attempt to steer it, the just turned it over to the wind.

And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close in shore.  But after no long time there beat down from it a tempestuous wind, which is called Euraquilo: and when the ship was caught, and could not face the wind, we gave way to it, and were driven. – Act 27:13-15 

We gave way to it, and were driven!  If you continue reading they got to the point where they literally did not know where they were.  They were lost.  That’s what I did for many years, and I see people everywhere doing that with their lives today.  The truth is that God has a VERY, VERY BIG plan for your live.  It’s a life that Ephesians 2:10 says that God hand crafted you to live, and that it’s been waiting for you. It was “before ordained that you should walk in it”.  It’s a good life.  It’s the very best, and most fulfilling life you could possibly live.  We see from Ephesians 3:14-21 that part of our problem is that we have trouble comprehending the extent of the love that God has for us.  He wants us to know that He is able to do Exceeding Abundantly Above all that we ask or think when we allow Him to work in us.  The short of it is this…God wants to help us but we have a vision problem.

The sad truth is that God is not limited by His ability to help us, He’s limited by our ability to receive His help.  We are the limiting factor in whether or not God can move in our lives.  We receive by faith and faith is of the heart.  Our heart problems limit God in our lives.

We don’t see ourselves the way God sees us.  Consider this.  Remember the story in the Bible about when Moses sent the 12 spies into the promised land to spy it out?  They went into the promised land and surveyed it for 40 days.  They said:

“We went to the land where you sent us. It is a land filled with many good things! Here is some of the fruit that grows there. But the people living there are very powerful. The cities are very large and strongly defended. We even saw some Anakites there (Giants). Caleb told the people near Moses to be quiet. Then Caleb said, “We should go up and take that land for ourselves. We can easily take that land.” But the men who had gone with him said, “We cannot fight those people! They are much stronger than we are.” So those men gave a report that discouraged the people. They said, “The land we saw is full of strong people. They are strong enough to easily defeat anyone who goes there. We saw the giant Nephilim people there! (The descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim.) We felt like little grasshoppers. Yes, we were like grasshoppers to them!”   Num 13:27-33 ERV

Are you hearing that? Was what they said true?  For the last 400 years, someone else had designed their lives. Someone else who didn’t care about them but only wanted to use them and exploit them for their labor. God had led them into the wilderness for about two years at this point.  The Bible says that He did it to prove them.  Now God Almighty has led them right up to the land that He promised them and it’s finally here…It’s Go Time!  Time to believe God’s Word and move into the “Exceedingly Good Land”.  So – Was what they said true?  No!  and to prove it, 40 years later their children took the land!  After 40 years, the inhabitants of the land were the same, the walled cities were the same and the giants were still there.  But 40 years later all those things didn’t matter because the people believed God’s promise and didn’t allow the circumstances to stop them from moving forward.  They refused the limits and the lies. They proved it could be done.  The Grasshopper vision was gone!  God’s plan for them was soooo much more than anything they could have done for themselves.  It truly was Exceeding Abundantly Above all they could ask or think.

Jeff Goins writes in his book “The Art of Work” about the unlived life.  He writes about allowing yourself to become who you are supposed to be in order to be able to do what you are supposed to do.  So, I ask you today, there, looking down at my writing from your glowing screen.  Are you ready?  Are you ready to accept God’s call to you to live the life you were born to live?  Are you ready for the Exceeding Abundantly Above path for your life? Are you following your path and making your life happen instead of just “giving way to it and being driven”?

This is a prayer that Paul the Apostle prayed for the Colossian church.  It is a Holy Spirit inspired prayer.  I ask you to pray this over yourself every day.  Believe it knowing that God wants to do it in your life.

“Since the day we heard these things about you, we have continued praying for you. This is what we pray:

that God will make you completely sure of what he wants by giving you all the wisdom and spiritual understanding you need; 

that this will help you live in a way that brings honor to the Lord and pleases him in every way; that your life will produce good works of every kind and that you will grow in your knowledge of God; 

that God will strengthen you with his own great power, so that you will be patient and not give up when troubles come. Then you will be happy”   Col 1:9-11 ERV

 If you not sure about your relationship with God and you’re not sure of His willingness to help you, Please Click here.

I Am A Father – Part One

I am a father video image

Click the image of the attractive fellow above to view the video.

A few weeks ago I realized that 22 years ago I became a father.  This was a life changing and defining moment in my life.  As I reminisced about that day and the days following, I was reminded of some of the things that God helped me to see concerning not only being a father, but being the best father I could be.

This is the first of a small series of videos about the realizations and responsibilities of being a quality father and man.

Click the image of yours truly above to view the video, or you can click HERE,          HERE,        or           HERE.

If it helps you, or you think it can help someone else, please share and subscribe.

Part 2 – Want To Give Up? Here’s What To Do Instead.

So how do we maintain our focus?

When we look at what God said to Joshua, we can see that the first thing that God told him to do was to get focused and to get obstinate about keeping focused. Then God told him where to focus. In Joshua 1:8 God told him “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.”

brass loop focus

Pay close attention to the details here. Here we can see the key to renewing our mind as scripture instructs us in Romans 12:1 & 2. Here God’s promise is that we can make our way prosperous and have good success. There (Rom 12:2) the promise is that we can PROVE the good, acceptable & perfect will of God.

We really need to notice here that God is not just instructing him to read it continually. Joshua was instructed to SAY IT continually. “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth…” Rev. Mark Hankins said in quoting Kenneth E. Hagin that confession opens the door to the supernatural. Very often people will hear the truth and say “I believe that”. Mark Hankins said “it’s not enough to believe it! You’ve got to declare it if you want circumstances in your life to change”.

Remember in a previous post I talked about Deuteronomy 6:6-9 where the Lord commanded the Children of Israel.

(ISV)”Let these words that I’m commanding you today be always on your heart. 7 Teach them repeatedly to your children. Talk about them while sitting in your house or walking on the road, and as you lie down or get up. 8 Tie them as reminders on your forearm, bind them on your forehead, 9 and write them on the door frames of your house and on your gates.”

The truth that I keep driving at with this passage is it has to be in our mouth and it has to be repeatedly. It is the constant exposure to the Word of God that brings faith in God, and specific exposure brings faith in God for specific things. A good personal example would be that I thank God every day for bringing Col 1:9-11 to pass in my life and in the lives of my family.

Col 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about this, we have not stopped praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the full knowledge of God’s will with respect to all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you might live in a manner worthy of the Lord and be fully pleasing to him as you bear fruit while doing all kinds of good things and growing in the full knowledge of God. 11 You are being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, so that you might patiently endure everything with joy. (ISV).

We can actually pray this for the entire church and I sometimes do, but I pray this in first person, over myself continually, thanking God for making it true concerning me. Very specific promise for very specific faith. When we intentionally expose ourselves to the promises in God’s Word, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us into all the truth (Jn 16:13) and to make the Word real to us.

In Matthew 16 Jesus asked His disciples who people were saying he was. They gave various answers but He then asked them who they (the disciples) say He was.  Simon said “You are the Christ. Son of the living God”. Jesus said “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (ASV).

I left this in the American Standard Version because it says something specific that many of the paraphrase versions change. Jesus said that Simon was made firm and solid (Petros – [piece of] rock) by the understanding of the revelation from God that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God. Then Jesus goes on to say that on the (Petra – [mass of] rock), the revelation that He was the Christ, the son of the living God,  He was going to build His church. He then says that the Gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. Against what? Against that revelation. Jesus then says that he was giving the church the keys to the kingdom of Heaven and the right to bind and loose that would affect both earth and Heaven.  He gave His church the power to lock and unlock gates!

So lets put last week and this week together and summarize –

When your dream is being challenged, you are discouraged and close to giving up:

  1. Be strong and of a good courage. Remember, the Hebrew word translated Be Strong is “To fasten, fortify, strengthen”, and the definition of the word used here for Courage means “To be alert, steadfastly minded, obstinate”. Again, we can see that God was encouraging Joshua to become laser focused on the promise and to protect that focus.
  2. Meditate on the promises of God’s Word. Meditate is not just something you do with your mind. Meditate according to scripture is something you do with your mouth. It’s outlined in Deuteronomy 6:6-9 and in Joshua 1:8. This is where we learn what our focus should be.
  3. Stay in the Word until the Holy Spirit turns the light on. It’s when He brings light that real faith comes. Allow Him to make it real to you. It’s when this happens that you become solid and immovable concerning your focus. This is also where the keys come into play. When The Lord reveals your answer to what you’ve been praying for from the Word, then you now have a key that unlocks the gates of Hades. A locked gate can’t prevail against the key. You now have the God given power and wisdom to remove the bars that have been holding you back. Now is the time to open your mouth! Remember, Jesus said in Mark 11:23 “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou taken up and cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he saith cometh to pass; he shall have it” (ASV). While believing is important, it needs to be mixed with saying.

Lets take a minute and put this into practice. Make this something you declare everyday for yourself.

Lord, I am your workmanship. I was created in Christ Jesus for a good work and you planned this work before the world was formed (Eph 2:10). I stand on your promise that you will guide me into all the truth, and so I know that you are leading me today. I thank you for it. I am so glad that you have created me with divine purpose and I have significance in the earth and my life has meaning. I commit myself to be available to be used to the utmost today and everyday. I will accomplish great things as I obey your plan for me. Thank you Lord for your love for me, your care for me and for the blood of Jesus that was shed so that I can enjoy this relationship with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Want To Give Up? Here’s What To Do Instead.

While the argument can be made that we need adversity and challenge to live a fulfilled life, all of us have faced situations where it just seemed like the dream that God gave us would never come true. For some unseen reason, our heart’s desire was repeatedly denied. We struggle to get traction or maybe adversity made it look impossible and it seemed like the only thing that made sense was to just give up.

Don’t lose heart. Adversity is not the indicator that you are on the wrong path. Let me repeat that. Adversity is not the indicator that you are on the wrong path! If adversity was the litmus test as to whether or not we were in the will of God, we would have to say that Jesus was never in the will of God. He was constantly being tested and the scribes and the Pharisees were always trying to find a reason to kill him. THAT’S some serious adversity!

Focus image

About a month before I turned 18 I recommitted my life to Christ. This was the single most important decision that I have ever made. I went “All In” that day and it had been the governing influence on my life from then until now.

Not long after that a dream began to emerge in my heart. I wanted to go to Bible School and become a minister. I began to think about how cool it would be if I could just help & minister to people all the time. Of course, at the time, I was green as grass and didn’t know anything about the Bible or God. Even though there was a great desire, for some reason I could never seem to get my life put together enough to go to Bible school.

Over the next few years, I had a few false starts but still was never able to get the dream off the ground. I grew in my industry and had a pretty good job. I found my bride and we started a family together. I was involved and developing in our church. Things were good. I was able to help and minister to people sometimes…I was almost there, but not quite. Pastor Keith Moore says it this way, “If its not quite, its not right”. That was the situation with me. I still had this enormous pull in my heart that I couldn’t get away from.

Fast forward 20 years. Its the week between Christmas and New Years eve 2005 when the Lord made it known to me that it’s time. I didn’t hear an audible voice but I had a VERY strong assurance in my heart that it was now time to go to Bible school and I knew exactly where. The school that I was going to attend only admitted in the fall. They didn’t have mid year admittance at the time, so I knew that I had until August 2006 to get my business in order. I still didn’t know how I was going to do it but the Lord helped me to understand that If He’s calling me to do it, He’s also equipped me to do it. As the next several months unfolded, we uprooted our lives and moved to another state, I got a second shift job, we bought a home and I went back to school.  It all worked out amazingly.  It was true divine guidance.

While it sounds like an immense step to uproot your life and rebuild in an area where it appears that you have no contacts, family or support network, the right thing to do is to always obey. I will also add this comment. The safest place on earth in the will of God. What I’ve discovered about God’s will for your life is this. He will always work in you until you want it. He will not have you do anything that you are afraid of or that you are unequipped to do.

Consider Joshua in the Bible. Joshua, along with Caleb and 10 other men were sent into the Promised land across the Jordan river to spy it out and bring a report back to Moses. You can read the tragedy of what happened in Numbers 13 & 14.  The 10 spies brought back an evil report that caused the people’s hearts to melt. Joshua and Caleb brought back a good report and tried to stir the people up to believe the promise and move forward. The people believed the 10 spies and their evil report and actually wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb.

Here’s the thing. Joshua knew it was God’s plan for him to go into the promised land but the rebellion of the people put that promise off for a full 40 years. So for the next four decades Joshua serves Moses as they lead the people in the wilderness. Four decades of Promise Land Dreamin’ while wandering in the hot sun and sand.

When the time finally came, Moses had died and it was Joshua’s job to lead the children of Israel into the promised land. It was such a big deal for Joshua that the Lord encouraged him and said in Joshua 1:6 “Be strong and of a good courage”, in 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous” and in 1:9 “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” The Hebrew definition of the word translated “be strong” is: to fasten, fortify, strengthen. It paints a picture of laying hold of or grabbing and not letting go. Likewise, the definition of the word used here for “courage” means: Be alert. Steadfastly minded. Obstinate. We can see that God was encouraging Joshua to grab a hold of the promise and become stubborn about letting it go. To become laser focused on the promise and to protect that focus.

Joshua needed to hear that because of the massive job he had been handed and had to over-see. That is exactly what you need to do too. You need to go back to the beginning. Back to the promise that started you on your path, and then lock your focus on it. Become stubborn about it. When people are discouraged, its because they have been distracted. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by things that have far less importance in your life.  Don’t be distracted by pressure, busyness or what seems like slow progress. Look how long it took me? Look how long it took Joshua.

I can say now as I look behind me that all that time that I thought I was just waiting, I was actually growing. The Lord led me to make my move when I was mature enough and had faith enough to do it. Had I jumped the gun, I could have messed up my life and possibly destroyed my marriage. My point is that God is on your side and He wants to bring you in to your promise. Don’t get impatient or become weary, just trust.

I have had to divide this post up because of length. I have a lot more to say but your time is valuable to me and I never want to take if for granted.

So what can you do this week to re-engage your focus? God has put a dream in your heart but you need to move toward it. Write the scripture promises concerning your dream on cards or post-it style notes and put them on your bathroom mirror and in your car so you can be constantly reminded of them. Read them and say them out-loud every day. Make them first person and put your name in them as you say them.

Scripture references: Deut 6. Josh 1:9. Mark 11:23,24. Heb 4:14 & 10:23.

The Priority of Fatherhood.

This week I was planning to make a video post and I set out Monday night to shoot it.  When I was done it was 24 minutes long.  Too long for a video blog post.  It’s funny how there are times when you really have to mine your heart for things to say and then there are times when you strike a live wire and the content just gushes out of you.  Monday night was like that one.  Anyway, I am in the process of editing it down into 4 or 5 video posts, and because of the time that the editing process takes (when you barely know what you’re doing), we will NOT be posting that video this week.  We’ll just wait & see how the editing goes.

Billy Graham quote on brown background

One of the joys of my life is talking with my daughters.  I absolutely love it when awesome conversations spontaneously break out and the next thing we know, an hour has gone by and we didn’t even miss it.  In times like these we sometimes talk about friends & boyfriends, while other times we talk about things like integrity, honor, humility & honesty.  Sometimes the conversation is about both, like people they know who have messed up lives because of the choices they’ve made.  One time I was talking to my eldest daughter & we were having one of those conversations.  I made a comment about what a particular friend should have done to avoid the fall-out from a bad decision. My daughter looked up at me and said “yeah, but they don’t have YOU for a dad”.  Her implication was that if I were this person’s dad, they probably wouldn’t have made the poor choice.  While it pleased me that my daughter said that, it also caused me to think.

My children have never had to face many of the struggles and suffering that I have faced, and that some of their friends are currently facing. I know that at least in part, it’s because they have parents who make them a priority and have made it a point to teach them Godly principles from an early age.  As I looked back over my life as a son and as a father, I began to see that, as a boy, the thing that mattered most to me about my parents was that I wanted them to be there.  As a father, one of my highest priorities is that I want to be there when my girls need me.  I want to be there even if they don’t need me.  I just like being around them.  Even if it’s just to talk about the drama at their workplace or what’s going on with their friends.  I need to be there for them.  They need me to be there.

What will they need from me tomorrow?  I don’t know.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings and I’ll do my absolute best to help them navigate it.  I told my daughter one time, “Don’t ever run from me.  When all the dust settles and everyone else has left you high and dry, I will be the one behind you helping you dig out of this hole”.  I can’t do that if I’m not there.  Fathers, If you don’t live with your kids, I’m not trying to condemn you, but while your kids need you to support them financially, what they need more than that is for you to be a strong part of their life for good.  So what’s the priority of Fatherhood?  Be there. Even if you don’t live with them, be a big positive part of their life. Even when they’ve grown up, make sure they know that you’re still there and still on their side.

God the Father demonstrates His own commitment toward us as our Heavenly Father in Deuteronomy 4:31, 31:6 and in Hebrews 13:5 when He says “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”.  That leaves us with a strong example of what fatherhood should look like, and it gives us a strong consolation that He will never leave us twisting in the wind.  We will never be out of his reach!  Wow! Thank you Father!

I challenge you to take it to the next level this week.  Make special effort to be with your children and do something memorable.  Intentionally teach them something that will help them down the road.

What are some things that you have done, or places you have gone, to have quality time with your kids?  Please share by leaving a comment.

God WANTS to help you!

Happy New Year! 

What a great time to start something new!  Right? Today we’re going to start something different.  Below is my first ever blog video, also known as Vlog.  It’s new for me so I would just ask that you forgive my “Hack n Slash” editing job.  I have been wanting to do video for some time now and have been quietly learning as much as I could about it. Most of my training has been from trial and error and also from the now famous “YouTube academy”.

Today’s topic is very close to my heart.  Many people need to hear God’s position concerning them.  My sincere prayer is that this will speak to you and strengthen your trust in God.  The scriptures used and some that were not used but are related will be posted below for you to look up for yourselves if you want.

 

Consider doing three things.

If this has helped you, please consider sharing.  Also, if you want to join the cool kids and not miss anything from artmills.org, consider subscribing to my email list.  When you do you will receive “Your Path and Your Provision” a short PDF teaching that will help you see the goodness of God toward you.

I want to hear from you!  Join the conversation.  I would love for you to share your own experience about the goodness of God.  Please share by leaving a comment.

Supporting scripture.

Pro 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Mat 7:17-18 Even so, every good tree gives good fruit; but the bad tree gives evil fruit.  It is not possible for a good tree to give bad fruit, and a bad tree will not give good fruit.

Psa 115:16 The heavens are the Lord’s; but the earth he has given to the children of men.

Psa 100:5 For the Lord is good, and his mercy is never-ending; his faith is unchanging through all generations.

Psa 145:9 The Lord is good to all men; and his mercies are over all his works.

Psa 107:1 O give praise to the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy is unchanging for ever.

Psa 34:8 By experience you will see that the Lord is good; happy is the man who has faith in him.

Psa 33:5 His delight is in righteousness and wisdom; the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord.

Ezr 3:11 And they gave praise to the Lord, answering one another in their songs and saying, For he is good, for his mercy to Israel is eternal. And all the people gave a great cry of joy, when they gave praise to the Lord, because the base of the Lord’s house was put in place.

Here’s to a strong start for your 2015!

Your friend,

Art.

Why I’m not afraid of God.

Stone Christian CrossI grew up in a Christian  family and had a lot of exposure to God, Jesus, prayer, bible reading & Sunday school.  For several years though, during my teens, I ran from it and wanted nothing to do with Church or Christians.  I remember being in my high and lofty teens looking down on the idea of God and religion.  I thought at the time that rational thinking didn’t really support a world view with God in it.  There were too many loop holes, too many un-provable claims. I also had trouble with the example set by those I loved and trusted.  The corruption that showed up in my own family was almost too much to overcome.  I was really angry and like so many people, I was hiding behind the excuse of “Victim”.  What I didn’t really consider at the time though, was that the seeds had already been planted in my heart and were already in there, growing.  And truth be told, I had already seen too much.  I could not really deny that God existed because I had already seen Him working in my life on many occasions when I was younger.

When I first made the commitment to God for myself, I was 17 years old.  I remember praying to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior in late October 1985.  My uncle led me and some of my friends in that life changing prayer.  I had prayed that same prayer before more than once. This time the difference was that I meant it.  I received that night with all of my heart.  When I look back I can see that I received for three reasons.

  • First was the example of my uncle.  While many of my relatives are Christians, he stepped up like no other. He showed me love and support when it seemed like I had no one else.  He was the best man I knew, and he was the real deal when it came to his faith.  As Christians, we should all aspire to be this kind of influence in the lives of others.  He has set a pretty high benchmark for me and I am committed to make sure he wasn’t wasting his time.
  • Second, I had come to the end of myself.  Everything in my life seemed to have gone wrong at once.  In my young man’s perspective, I thought I had no where to go.  I know as an adult that no distress lasts forever, but I didn’t see that then.  Rev. Marvin Yoder, the Dean of Rhema Bible Training Center while I was attending, has a saying. “Today is not a life sentence”. That’s good advise when you’re being pressed between the rock and the hard place and it seems like nothing is going right.  At that time in my life, I couldn’t see. I was stuck and didn’t have any vision.

    The Bible says in Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

    That’s where I was.  Without vision.  I called out to God because I was losing hope.  It’s interesting how “Open” to the idea of God people get when they are out of options.  I was no exception.  Sadly, He could have been helping all along.

  • Third was the teaching and example of my parents when I was young.  The seeds of truth about God had been planted in my heart from an early age.  It wasn’t just the teaching though, it was the example.  When I was young, my parents lived what they believed in front of me.  I saw that God was real to them and they formed and strengthened in me a reverence for God that was there even when I was trying to pretend He didn’t exist.

I didn’t fully understand what I had done that night.  All I knew was that I was serious about it.  I had a strong conviction that God was not interested in hurting me, but that He really wanted to be a part of my life. It took me years to understand that the entire Salvation plan, the whole thing, from the animal skins in the garden to the covenant with Abraham, to Jesus bleeding & dying on the cross, it was all His idea; and it was all for the purpose of bringing me closer to Him and clothing me with His goodness.  Wow!

The Bible says in Isaiah (BBE)

48:17 The Lord who takes up your cause, the Holy One of Israel, says, I am the Lord your God, who is teaching you for your profit, guiding you by the way in which you are to go.  48:18 If only you had given ear to my orders, then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea:

Very often when people see the word Profit, they immediately begin to think in terms of money & wealth building.  The word Profit used in verse 17 is the word Ya’al.     יעל  ya‛al  yaw-al’  It’s a root word in Hebrew that means to ascend with the connotation of “in a good way”. To profit.  A simple way to say it is “Increase” but not just in the financial area.  He teaches us to increase in every good way. Family, relationships, growing up spiritually, on the job, health, peace, so many areas.  Again – all His idea.  This is not man looking for God and God saying “Well, I suppose if you don’t act stupid, or embarrass me in front of the angels, I suppose you can worship me”.  No!  While we were lost and dying, He came to us.  God’s loves you and has taken up your cause. 

2 Cor 5:19 says that God is not imputing our trespasses unto us.  The word impute isn’t a word you hear very often but the Greek word used here literally means to take inventory, to count, to estimate, or to reckon.  God is not doing that to you.  Can you just imagine – clipboard in hand – “On August 22nd, 1972 at 11:34 A.M. you hit your sister.  On August 22nd 1972 at 11:36 A.M. you lied to your mother and said you didn’t hit your sister”.  No! No! Thank God, No!  His heart toward you is full of good!  He’s not taking inventory of all of the times that we’ve blown it. 

Finally, I need to point out Isaiah 48:18 though.  God is saying “If you would only listen to me…Then you would have peace like a river.  So many people think that God will do what ever He wants in our lives and they don’t understand why He doesn’t seem to get as involved as they would like Him to.  After all, He’s God! He’s all powerful.  Right?  But they fail to understand that He created us with a choice.  We can choose to reject Him.  Many do, without saying so.  They just always have to do it their way.  He says “Look!  If you would just listen to me and do what I’m telling you, man – you would have peace all up in here!  You could stack the awesomeness 5 high”.  What I want you to take away is this – God is for us, not against us.  It’s us who are usually acting as our own enemy.  We hurt ourselves when we don’t listen to His wisdom.  We think He’s trying to ruin our fun but what He’s really doing is plotting our course around disaster.  Here’s an assignment for us this week.  Daily pray Col 1:9-11 over yourself in the 1st person.

Col 1:9 b  Father, I ask you to fill me with the knowledge of your will through every kind of spiritual wisdom and insight.

Col 1:10 I ask this so that I will live the kind of life that prove I belong to you Lord. Then I will want to please you in every way as I grow in producing every kind of good work by this knowledge about You, God.

Col 1:11 I ask you to strengthen me by your glorious might with all the power I need to patiently endure everything with joy.
-(God’s Word Translation – 1st person edit)

 

 

Dear young man, there’s more to you than your penis!

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Here are some phrases I keep hearing from young men in our modern culture. “Gonna hit that!”, “Gonna get wit that!”, or “Gonna nail it!”. While it’s not always men saying this stuff, it’s men that I’m thinking about when I’m writing this post. I’m a man and I believe I am qualified to speak to men in this area. The men who live like this have no honor. Notice how the phrases objectify the subject, usually a woman by reducing them to “That” or “It”. The kind of man that would use those phrases above would be a man who’s predominantly driven by conquest. He’s a predator. His goal is the score. He’s not looking beyond it. What he expects after his little victorious moment is for everything to go back to the way it was before the score. Go hang out with friends and maybe talk about the conquest. Get up. Live life. Nothing changed. Just a hit; just a score; just another notch. No real consequences, at least not for him. No honor. Of course the deception is that you can do the sin and not get the death. Death always rides with sin. As I was thinking on this I wrote down some characteristics of a guy like this. The dishonorable man.

  • His friends are probably not real friends. The friends that push you toward these things does not have your best interest at heart. Some may even try to shame you when your hunt is unsuccessful. These are not real friends. You can’t trust these guys to have your back in a time of trouble.
  • His life will be full of shallow relationships. He will not have many, if any, deep meaningful relationships because his priority will be the physical. He comes around usually for only one reason. He has a wandering eye and is always pursuing the next conquest.
  • He’s a man of no restraint. He may think he’s a tough guy but he’s not. Where it matters, he’s absolutely weak. Every time a temptation or an urge comes up, he caves under it’s weight. He doesn’t exercise any discipline over himself. He’s also prone to losing his temper. When it comes to his feelings and his urges, he just gives in.
  • He leaves blood & guts in his wake. Many, many, many times I’ve seen it where there are young mothers toughing it out on their own because some carnal boy in a man-suit doesn’t have the real honest strength to stand up and be a man. I’m not just talking about standing by your mistake. I’m talking about not making mistakes. Using wisdom. Not taking chances when you are not ready for the result. Let me just say that I believe with all of my heart that God’s grace is there for the single parent. I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is the difference maker and where He’s involved, a single parent family can come through lacking nothing. It’s just not the best way. It’s gonna be a rougher road.

By contrast, the man of honor looks a little different.

  • He is humble. According to Proverbs 22:4, Honor comes by humility and the fear of the Lord (KJV). An honorable man has an honest estimation of himself. He doesn’t think more highly of himself than he aught to think.
  • He follows after what is right. Provers 21:21 (KJV) He that follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor. A man of honor will do what’s right even if it costs him. A man of honor understands that there are things more important than money or being liked and accepted and he values justice and mercy.
  • He avoids strife. Proverbs 20:3 (BBE) It is an honor for a man to keep from fighting, but the foolish are ever at war. A man of honor isn’t out there trying to prove how tough he is.
  • He listens to instruction. Prov 13:18 (BBE) Need and shame will be the fate of him who is uncontrolled by training; but he who takes note of teaching will be honored. I can’t stress this enough. The problem with so many is that they can’t receive correction. It’s sad because many times you have to let them learn through “Hard Knocks University”. They have to take the beating for themselves. It’s foolish to think that we don’t need correction. If that were the case, we would be perfect. That is NOT the case though. When we know we’re not perfect, why do we resist instruction and correction?
  • He pursues wisdom. Prov 4:7-8 says to get wisdom with everything you have. Lift wisdom up and she will promote you. Embrace her and she will bring you honor. Wisdom, the skillful application of knowledge, should be a life-long pursuit. Wisdom sees down the road and makes adjustments for what is coming. A man of honor looks down the road to see the eventual end of his actions. This keeps him from getting girls pregnant. This keeps him out of jail. This keeps him from losing his job. A man of honor pursues wisdom. Wisdom for every area of his life. God has made wisdom available for you to know the next step. Wisdom to resist in areas where you keep falling. Wisdom to rebuild broken relationships. The wisdom is there and the man of honor will seek it out.

Are you in an affair with your problem…or are you in a covenant with your solution? Stir up the gift!  -(AJRK) From Coy Wade.

These are things that are close to my heart. I strive to be a man of honor everyday. It really is a better life. If you have been struggling with the stuff I’ve talked about here, there’s still hope. You can get there. The first thing is that you need a “Want to”. Nothing in your life changes until you are properly motivated to want it. Nothing. How do you make the change? Here are a few short steps to get you moving in the right direction.

  1. Ask for forgiveness. (Click here for more information).  Ask God and if there’s another person, ask them too.
  2. Humble yourself to ask for help. The bible says that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6 & 1 Pet 5:5). Grace is the unearned power of God. He wants to give it to you. By humility you recognize that you need His help and then just ask. Jesus said “Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full”.
  3. Trust Him. Believe that He’s on the case. Mark 11: 24.
  4. Let peace rule in your heart and be thankful that He’s helping you. Col 3:15.

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Dad. Bug killer and so much more!

Let’s talk about Arthropods for a minute.  Hold on, it will make sense in a minute.  I know, this is the weekend.  Why the organism classification lesson?  I’ll explain but first, here’s the definition.

Arthropod  [ ˈärTHrəˌpäd ]  noun: arthropod · plural noun: arthropods.   An invertebrate animal of the large phylum Arthropoda, such as an insect, spider, or crustacean.     Powered by OxfordDictionaries · © Oxford University Press.

Arthropod comes from the Greek and it literally means “joint-footed”.  It’s a phylum classification right under Kingdom in the seven levels of organism classification.  Pretty interesting right?  Why do I bring this up?  Because this phylum falls under the area of my boot.  These are all of the things that as a dad, it’s my job to kill.  I am the last line, nay, sometimes the only line of defense against the vile creepy crawly things that make the girls in my house shriek and climb on furniture.  Have mercy! If I’m not home when a “Bug Event” happens, I get to hear all about it when I do get home; every detail right down to a vivid description of the sound of the crunch.  Things have only gotten worse since we’ve moved to a state where the spiders grow big.  It doesn’t help much that we live out of town a little and there are fields, livestock and green areas nearby.  We don’t leave the porch light on too long because it will summon so many bugs that you will undoubtedly let several in with you when you come in the house.   These are things that I don’t mind though.  I’m dad.  Most of the time, I love being the place where the buck stops and I certainly don’t have a problem with my conscience while murdering Arthropods.

Shoe

One time, several years ago, our Boxer, his name was Hobbs, ate a dryer sheet or something like that.  We didn’t know about it until he went out to do his big business.  What ever it was that he ate didn’t have enough substance for his body to handle efficiently.  We looked out the back door to see our dog running around the yard with several inches of something hanging out of his nether regions. It didn’t seem to be bothering him a bit.  He wanted to come inside.  I don’t think so buddy!  After all the “Ew! Gross!” it became apparent that this was another job for the last line of defense.  Dad.  The bottom line.  The place where the buck stopped!  My first thought was, “Which pair of pliers are the cheapest and most disposable? And where are they?”  Needless to say, we got it taken care of and everyone laughs about it today.

When one has not had a good father, one must create one.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

There are lots of icky, disgusting things that will happen in a family, with pets, children and maybe even both at the same time.  If dad is there, these things will very often be his job to deal with.  And while these are important, there are some far more important things that dad should be bringing to the table.

  1. Be an example of an honest man to your family.  I can’t stress this enough.  Your children need to know that you are telling them the truth.  They will not be able to trust you and have confidence in your word if you are in the habit of lying to them.  The reason we can trust our Heavenly Father is because His Word doesn’t break down.  He’s behind it making it come to pass.  Like God, we as fathers should be willing to do what ever it takes and to go to extraordinary lengths in order to make our word stand up.  A man and his word are inseparable.  Also, your children will model what you do more than what you say.  If you don’t want your children to be dishonest, you need to get dishonesty out of you.
  2. Be an example of integrity to your family.  The simplest definition of integrity is “Undivided” and “Whole”.  If a man has integrity, that means that he’s undivided.  He’s not moving in two directions.  He’s not a hypocrite.  He is not presenting himself one way but behind the scenes, he’s doing something else.  Integrity falls in close to honesty.  A father with integrity is an open book.
  3. Be an example of humility to your family.  I don’t think most people fully understand what humility is.  I think most people equate being humble with being weak.  This is not the truth.  True humility is being completely honest about yourself.  The bible cautions us not to think more highly of ourselves that we aught to think (Rom 12:3 KJV), but to think soberly (Greek – sophroneo = right mind).  Humility is to have a very real, undiluted understanding of who you really are, what you really can do, and what you are really responsible for.  The Bible doesn’t say that you can’t think highly of yourself, it says not to think more highly than you aught.  A man of humility will have an honest look at himself and discern what is “of himself” and what is “the grace of God”.  When we realize that our very next breath and heartbeat comes from God, we get perspective about how much of our life is only possible because of His grace & mercy.  This mindset is true humility.
  4. Be an example of submission and authority to your family.  Your family needs to see you submitting to a higher authority.  It may be how you relate and respond to your own parents, your pastor or your boss.  It helps your children have an understanding that things need to have an order, and just as you stand in submission in certain areas of your life, in others you stand in authority.  Your example in these areas will teach your children that both are necessary.  People who struggle in submitting to authority will be severely handicapped in life and work. They will be held back by their own stubbornness and arrogance.
  5. Be an example of a faithful man to your family.  Are you worthy to have others put faith in you?  A few years back I served in church with someone that would sometimes not show up.  I used to get a little frustrated because when I went to rely on them, it was a gamble as to whether they would be there or not.  They were unfaithful.  Unfaithfulness doesn’t mean that you’re not there; it means that you are not consistent and therefore can’t be fully trusted with the heavy lifting in a relationship; whether it be personal or professional.  What this person didn’t realize was that by being unfaithful, they undermined their own trustworthiness and reputation.  Even though I like them as people and enjoy fellowshipping with them, when the chips are down, I don’t call them.  Faithfulness to your family should mean that their hearts SAFELY trust in you.  Proverbs 25:19 says that confidence in an unfaithful man in a time of trouble is like a broken tooth or a foot out of joint.  In either case, you will suffer when you put pressure on them.

My dad wasn’t there to teach these things to me, but if my example shows you anything, it’s that if you trust God, you will not be deficient.  He will see to it that you get what you need.

What other things can you add to my list?  Join the conversation by leaving a comment.  Also, if this has helped you in any way and you think it might help someone else, please share it.  Also, consider signing up to my mailing list.  You can receive these posts by email and not miss one.

Are You Ready To Step Beyond Yourself?

Do you have a giving heart?  A heart that tends toward generosity?  I’m not just talking about giving money to the guy standing at the side of the interstate ramp holding a sign.  I’m talking about having a HEART toward giving where your default setting is generous.  I have an uncle who is very special to me.  He is like that.  His default setting is to help others.  He has served as a great example to me of what a person can do if they only take the time to care about people.

Helping handWe all seem to know people who are not this way.  People who seem to be self absorbed. The “self focused”.  To some the primary concern is how people see me, while others want the latest model car and the house that keeps up with the Jones’.  Most of the time these people only talk about themselves and manage to find ways to always bring the conversation back around to them.  These people do not seem to be interested in others and while they may have thoughts of helping people, they do not have these thoughts very often.  As Michael Hyatt has often said “These people are tuned in to the WIIFM channel.  What’s In It For Me”.

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. – Winston Churchill

To have a giving heart, you have to be convinced that God has your back.  If you don’t have an understanding of this, you will have a hard time because you will be torn between being responsible to meet your own needs and reaching out to be selflessly generous to others.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:25,28,31 & 34 that we are to “Take no thought” for the natural things; What we should eat, drink or wear.  He wasn’t saying don’t ever think about these things, but he was saying don’t “Be Anxious” (WEB) about them.  “…for your Heavenly Father knows that you need all of these things.  But seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well”.  When we understand this and have confidence in our Heavenly Father to meet all of our needs, we can operate from a position of strength.  A position as Heirs.  A position as representatives of the family of God, conducting the Father’s business in the earth.

Having this confidence allows us to step beyond ourselves and operate as the Father would operate.  To truly care about people knowing that as we truly seek His kingdom, He takes personal responsibility for providing what we need.  We have the Father’s heart toward people and really care about them.

Some earmarks of a giving heart are:

  1. A heart that is touched by the need.  Hebrews 4:15 says Jesus himself was touched by the feelings of our feeble flesh.  In contrast, a heart that is calloused by years of me first thinking and selfishness will not see the importance.  Not My Problem. When we read in Isaiah 59 we find that God himself looked and saw that there was no judgment in the earth.  The people needed an intercessor but that one could not be found, so He sent His own son, (His Right Arm), to be an intercessor.  God Himself looked and saw the need and it displeased Him.  A giving heart will be like that in allowing the need to move them to at least pray, and if the Spirit leads, move them to action.
  2. A heart that doesn’t condemn.  People have problems and sometimes our tendency is to look and say “I just don’t know how they could have done that”.  But you are not faced with what they have faced and you are not in their shoes.  It is so important to understand that we should NEVER judge others.  The bible warns that when we judge others we are condemning ourselves.  Why? Because when you judge others, you are saying that you know right and wrong in that situation.  When you blow it, your own words condemn you.  In John 8:11 Jesus asked the woman who was caught in adultery where her accusers were.  “Has no man condemned thee? She said, “No man Lord”.  And Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more”.  There is more than one lesson here.  Jesus didn’t condemn her, but Jesus also didn’t approve of her sin.  His words were sin no more!
  3. A heart that speaks.  First, a heart that speaks for those who have can not speak.  A heart that is moved to action and to raise awareness.  Second, a heart that speaks to the wounded heart.  You have the power to minister encouragement to the wounded.  You can use your voice to bring words of faith and hope to those who need it most; to take a hand and say “You’re not alone in this”.
  4. A heart that doesn’t wait for someone else to do it.  If we are moved by compassion to help, then don’t wait.  You could be the very answer someone is praying for.  You could be the hands, feet & provision of God to a person in need.  Don’t wait for someone else to do it and miss your opportunity to sow good seeds for a future harvest.
  5. A heart that is willing to be spent.  Paul the Apostle in 2 Corinthians 12 indicated that he didn’t want to be burdensome to the Corinthian church because he didn’t want their stuff, but them.  He said that he would “Very gladly spend and be spent for you…”  A giving heart will spend expecting nothing in return so that others can be blessed.

I challenge you this week to reach out to help someone above and beyond your normal activity.  Step out beyond yourself a little more and see how God will use you to help someone. Take the bridle off of the goodness in your heart and see what happens.  You will be blessed, but you will not be the only one.

That’s what I consider true generosity. You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing. – Simone De Beauvoir

How were you able to help someone this week?  I would love to hear your story.  Join the party and leave a comment.  If you were helped by this and think it could help others, please feel free to share it.