Move Forward With Confidence! Here’s How.

We know that Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. (Rom 10:17).  When Jesus said we would know the Truth, and the Truth would make us free, the implication of the verse is that it’s the TRUTH YOU KNOW that makes you free.

About a week ago, while I was having stuff done to my house, there was something that I wanted done, and I was pretty sure it was supposed to be done, but it kept getting passed over by the contractors.  I watched day after day as they worked around the area I was looking at, but day after day, they didn’t do anything.  I started getting anxious.  I even went and found the quote, just to look and see if it had been overlooked in the pricing.  Nope!  It was there!  So why do they keep working around it?  I began to create a  picture in my head of a big confrontation with the contractor in my front yard – out there in front of God and everybody.

It suddenly hit me.  This is not faith.  This is fear!  Fear is perverted faith, and I know better than this.  God gives me favor with people.  Then I thought….wait a minute, where is that in the Bible?  I couldn’t think of a specific scripture that promised that God has given me favor with everybody.  But what does the Bible say?

I remembered Rom 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Then right on the heels of that,  Rom 8:31 & 32  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 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?

To me, knowing where that truth was located was very important.  Many times we get ideas about what God is like or how He will act, but without actually having a scripture to back that up, you can’t really have faith.

Why?  Because as soon as your good thoughts about God get challenged, and they will be challenged, you will realize that what you believe about God is not based on a firm foundation.  Faith must be based on a firm foundation.  In order for something to be scriptural, we have to actually have scripture.

I began to think about it.  He will cause this to work out for my good.  He loves me.  He’s working in this situation on my behalf.  I made the shift on the inside.  I prayed about it, basing my prayer and my faith on the scriptures that the Holy Spirit brought to my memory.  I was now in a place of confidence.  I had faith that God was involved, and that it was going to be alright.  The next day, I had a passing conversation with the contractor, who all on his own, pointed out the part I had been wondering about and indicated that he wasn’t finished, and that it would all be done. Thank God!

Faith calls for the manifestation of itself.  It’s where we learn from God’s own example that we are to call those things that be not, as though they were (Rom 4:17).  We see from Job’s example that Fear also has a voice (Job 3:25).   It calls for the manifestation of itself too, because it’s perverted faith. Fear is having confidence in the circumstance and it’s ability to hurt you.

How do you move forward in your life?  When you navigate through your day, how do you know that the choices you make are the right ones?  Do you often see potential issues before they happen and successfully avoid them, or do you often find yourself knee deep in drama and wonder how you got there?

Recently I was having a conversation with someone at work.  They pointed out that they thought I was well suited for my work.  They commented that I am so confident in what I and my team do, that I am not easily pushed around.

The truth is that I do my job like I live my life.  I live by standards. A standard is defined as “an idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations”.  One way to look at standards is that they are the rule by which everything else is measured.  They are the ideal.  It’s helpful if these are also unchanging.

In Metrology (The Science of Measurement), Primary standards are the highest order of standard.  They were at one time based on artifacts.  Items that were assigned final authority concerning a set measurement.  The problem with this is that artifacts are objects that are subject to change.  In recent years, science has been working to move the standards from artifact basis to a basis of fundamental physical constants.  That way, if anything happened to the standard bar for a meter, we could still measure a true meter.

A Standard is true.  It’s always the right answer.  When I’m at work, I operate according to the standards set forth by our executives regarding production speeds, processes and costs.  To me, these standards are like the company constitution.  When I operate in accordance with them, I am always in a defensible position.  I can have confidence that I operated according to the will of the executives.

The same is true with my life.  I can live in confidence to the extent that I am living according to the standard of God’s Word.  It is my final authority above all else.

In recent years, the world has become more vocal in its resistance to all things Christian.  It seems to have become popular to make fun of Christians for believing that the Bible is the truth.  There are even people who grew up in church that now take verbal “cheap shots” at Christians for believing what the Bible says. The Bible is the truth though, and it is the standard by which all things will be measured in the end.

It’s important not only to know about the standard but to actually know it.  Jesus said in John 8:31 & 32  If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. It’s important to know God loves you, but it’s more important to know specifically where the promise is that tells you that God loves you.

When it comes to knowing what to do, it’s so important to know what the standards are, and to submit yourself to them.  Only then can you stand firm when the world is telling you something different.

Today, you can move forward with confidence.  The very next step you take can be the first step toward the things you so desperately need.  What it takes…what it always takes, is a commitment.  Without a solid decision on your part, you will still be pushed around.  You must be as committed to the truth as the truth is to you.

I want to remind you of the choice Joshua required Israel to make in Joshua 24:15.  “Choose you this day whom you will serve”, and then he adds “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.

The choice is yours.

Your buddy Art.

For more info about your standing with God, Click Here.

 

 

 

How to get clarity & direction.

For many years I struggled with knowing what to do.  I usually ended up drifting. I would make the best choice of the opportunities that would float by me, but I had no idea what the future held.  I just hoped that it would be good and sometimes worried that it wouldn’t be.  Yes, I said worried.

Today I don’t believe in worry.  Worry is a form of fear, and fear is the opposite of faith.  We know by scripture that faith comes from hearing God’s Word continually.  I now know that when I’m tempted to worry now, I need more exposure to God’s promises.

I took some time off from Blogging this last month to spend some extra time praying and getting clarity regarding direction in 2017.  I put some of the things I’ve been thinking about in this video.  I pray you find it helpful.

So – Are you with me?  I would really like to hear from you.  What are you focusing on for the coming year?

If this video helps you at all, please share.

I sure do appreciate you all.

Art

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”?

The Driving Force That Is Dad

father-child-on-beach

A guitar playing friend and I were having a conversation about David Gilmour a while back. We were discussing how we both believe that, Pound for Pound, he’s one of the best lead guitarists ever – for playing with feeling. No one is as good as he is at putting emotion into his leads.

While thinking about this, it occurred to me that as good as David Gilmour is, he was not the primary driving force behind the success of the band Pink Floyd. One of the other prominent members of the band was Roger Waters. Roger played the bass, wrote most of the songs with David, and also sang many of the songs. I am not crazy about the sound of Roger’s voice but he writes good songs.

A lot of Roger’s writing motivation came from the loss of his father. There are references to it in his songs throughout his career. Roger’s dad was killed in Italy during World War II when Roger was only five months old. Sadly, it wasn’t until just a few years ago that Roger learned this. For most of his life, he only knew that his father was missing in action and presumed dead. When I listen to the song Wish You Were Here, I can hear Roger’s heart about not knowing what happened to his dad.

This caused me to wonder. Would the Band Pink Floyd have ever reached the status that they have achieved had this sadness not existed in the heart of one man?  The things that I identify with, and enjoy in their music are in part, because of the veiled references to this very thing.

The truth is that fathers matter. Even absent ones have a remarkable effect on their children. The ripple that’s caused by a missing father can be seen and felt over multiple generations. I see in some people, how the training they received from their father concerning money has affected how even their children think about money. The opposite can also be seen. Fatherlessness often results in families that struggle financially. I can see it in the lives of people I know. So many struggle when it comes to money, and it becomes a generational mindset that gets passed down. Fathers matter.

In his article Manifesto of the new Fatherhood, Stephen Marche wrote “Fatherlessness significantly affects suicide, incarceration risk, and mental health. The new fatherhood is not merely a lifestyle question. Fathers spending time with their children results in a better, healthier, more educated, more stable, less criminal world. Exposure to fathers is a public good.”

You may be a man who’s dad isn’t present very often anymore, and now you find yourself being a dad.  What do you do?  What’s the right thing to do?  Below are some important guidelines every father needs to follow.

  1. Show up. You can’t have any influence for good in your child’s life if you’re not there. I promise, there will be tons of negative stuff to take your place when you are not there. Many fathers don’t realize that it’s not just what you bring into the relationship that matters, it’s what stays away because you’re there.
  2. Teach what you know is right. The lasting solution is to raise our children God’s way. That means that we teach our children the right way, and we exemplify what it means in our own lives. By precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little & there a little (Isaiah 28:10). It’s important for you to teach what you know is right. Some things are too important to just leave them to find out for themselves.  If you’ve found some right answers in your life, some things that work, then it’s incumbent upon you to pass it down.
  3. Lead by example. It means that fathers need to discipline themselves to model the right behavior. Paul the Apostle also tells us in Ephesians 6 that we as fathers are not to provoke our children to wrath (anger) but to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Scripture also tells us to train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it. The next verse is also connected to it, the rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
    To me, fatherhood is one of the most important things I do. I think it’s vitally important to not only teach my children the right things, but to also live the right things out in the open where my children can see me. I do not give myself permission to be sloppy in this area. These are my children, and in the end, I will be accountable to God for what I did and didn’t put into them.

Like Roger Waters used his pain to fuel his creativity, I use the pain that came from growing up without my dad to fuel my desire to help others who are enduring it now. There are just so many of us.

I say to all fathers that read this. You are more important than you may think. Your children are worth fighting for. Remember – Show up, teach what’s right & lead by example.

Until next week – be encouraged.

Art

Has your past defined your future?

What do you think of when you hear the word Authentic?

One show that I watch on a fairly regular basis is The Antiques Roadshow. On that show they talk a lot about authenticity. They often use the word Provenance.

While authenticity means real, or genuine, provenance means a record of ownership used as a guide to authenticity or quality. Provenance is a traceable past, and it can often determine the value of an antique.

20160724_170709

Michael Flanigan, a Baltimore dealer of antique American furniture, says “Provenance separates the special, almost sacred objects of the past from the ordinary ones.” On the PBS website, Michael describes provenance as an object’s “itinerary through time.”

In 1997 while the Antiques Roadshow was in San Francisco, a woman brought in a gold presentation cane that was given to a man named Enoch Gerdst by his fellow citizens of Stockton, CA on October 25, 1855. The cane was finely decorated and well documented. In addition to having this provenance, it was also well documented that the wooden part of this cane was made from wood taken from Independence Hall in Philadelphia after a remodel. The highly engraved metal cap of the cane was made from the bell that rang to signify the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The history was all there and documented.

Now I don’t know anything about the value of your average cane, so I googled pricing to find that you can get a pretty decent cane made of metal and wood online for about $70. We don’t know where that cane online came from. It’s one of thousands and it’s provenance is either unknown or unimportant. In contrast, the cane given to Enoch Gerdst is worth $30,000 today. (Read More here)

While authenticity and provenance are great ways to determine the value of objects, they seem to be terrible ways to determine the value of men.  When we use history to determine the potential of a young man, we may be putting limits on him that under neutral circumstances, he could easily surpass.

I’ve written before about how there are people from my past, who look down on anyone with my last name.  Or my former co-worker who, it seems, will forever see me as a 19 year old with a bad attitude.  (Read post here).

What’s even worse than the sentence that comes from without is the one that comes from within.  Many young people can’t see themselves ever being worth very much because their provenance is abuse, a broken home, or a missing father.

I remember being there. As a young man, I remember fighting for respect and spending so much time trying to craft an image that people would like.  I was just sure that if I didn’t work hard to get respect, that no value, respect or care would come. I felt like most people didn’t think I was worth anything.  Compared to the guys I went to school with, who’s dads owned their own businesses or were executives, I felt like I had no advantage.  I felt stuck.  There was nothing significant or special about me.

I learned that I didn’t have to be stuck!  I discovered that I was valued.  I learned that God loved me.  I learned that He wanted a relationship with me and wanted to help me. Jer 29:11 says – I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. (Gods Word Translation).

It all began with a choice on my part.  (Find out more here).  An amazing thing happened when I did that.  God made me part of His family.  He changed my provenance.  I am now authentically accepted in the beloved.  He has become my Father and I have become His son.  I know the price that was paid for me.  Jesus laid down His very life.  I know, know, know that I have value and worth.

You don’t have to let your past determine your worth either.  You can make a change.  Just click this link to find out more.  (Find out more here).

 

Christmas From Heaven’s Perspective.

When I type the word “Zeal” into a Google search, the definition that comes back is as follows: Noun. “Great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.”

I think it’s important to establish the meaning because God specifically used this word when talking about Himself in Isaiah 9:6-7.

It reads as follows in the New King James Version –

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

The angel speaking to the shepherds the night Jesus was born said “I bring you Good tidings of great joy”.  (Luke 2:10-14). Think on this for a minute.  An emissary of Heaven is speaking words into the atmosphere of Earth.  Good tidings of great joy.  We who are under grace may not fully recognize the significance of these words.  God Himself was making it known that if you fully understand this message, it will give you GREAT JOY.  Then something else happened.  Suddenly that angel wasn’t alone.

“There was with the Angel A Multitude of Heavenly Host praising God & saying “Glory to God in the highest, And on Earth Peace, Good will toward Men”.

Think about what they are saying!

An Angel told Joseph “You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21).

Think about what he was saying!

This is Heaven’s perspective.

When I read the Old Testament, I can hear God’s heart behind the ordinances. His heart longed for the closeness with His man that He had established in the beginning but had been corrupted by sin.

When Jesus was born, Heaven was saying Finally!

Just like the younger generation loses perspective of the wartime sacrifices of their elders, and do not comprehend the reasons for the fight; so sometimes we who are under grace don’t have a clear understanding of how good we have it or the reasons why we need grace and the cost paid so that we could have it.  Heaven’s perspective of Christmas is the most important perspective of Christmas.

This event heaps upon God, glory in the highest.

On Earth, Peace – Finally! The curse has a cure.
The way has been made for life to flow to man from God again.

The gap has been closed.

Men can now see, experience, know and enjoy the good will from Heaven. It has been there all along but had no sufficient access to be able to flow.

It flowed a little in the Old Testament. Now it flows in it’s Fullness – In Christ!

Christmas represents the long enduring passion of God.  His Love charged heart to have fellowship with us.  His heart’s desire to be able to close the gap that separated us…So that we can have Life…Finally!

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

 

The Zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this!  To understand God’s heart for you is to understand Heaven’s perspective concerning Christmas!

Joy to the world!

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.

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.

You Can Make A Difference. Will You?

Recently I was watching a TED talk with Tony Robbins. Tony pointed out in his talk that many people who have parents who gave them the best of everything and made sure they had all the right tools to succeed will many times end up not being anything but ordinary and in spite of the advantages that they have, they never really make exceptional positive contributions to society.  By contrast, when people have a significant struggle, when they come up in adversity and in some cases, terrible tragedy, these people will many times go on to make remarkable positive contributions to society.

Old style mic resized

To make a difference in someone’s life, you do not have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect.  You just have to care.  – Mandy Hale

We all have struggles of some kind.  We live in a world full of sin and selfishness.  None of us are without scars. Many of us are still in the thick of the fight but some have made it through and that’s one of the two important things about the struggle.

  • First – Don’t stop moving forward.
    It’s very, VERY easy to stop, plop down and start feeling sorry for yourself.  I get it, it hurts.  You many not have done anything to deserve this and if you didn’t, then you shouldn’t be suffering like this. But if we get caught up in paying attention to the injustice of it, we will have a tendency to lose forward momentum.  I am honestly surprised sometimes by the unwillingness of some to move forward.  They never want to let go and leave the suffering and the hurt.  They instead want to wear it like a sweater and constantly talk about it.  The important thing to them is that everyone can see how wronged they were, how unjust it was, and how much pity they deserve. This is really sad.  This important thing when you’re hurt or offended is to keep your eye on the exit sign and keep moving toward it.  The true exit is forgiveness.  Why is it so important to God that we forgive?  The Bible says in James 3:16 “For wherever jealousy and rivalry exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil”.  Every kind of evil is the manifest presence of the devil. When we open ourselves to strife, he’s there – doing what he does; stealing, killing and destroying (John 10:10).  It means that you are yielding to your enemy.  It also means that if you continue, things will only get worse.  The way out is forgiveness.   It’s only through forgiveness that you can move on to the second important thing.

    “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”  ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Second – Use it to make a difference.
    It’s only when we overcome these painful experiences that we truly become qualified to help others who are also going through the same suffering.  When you’ve made it through the wind, the fire, the mud and the blood and you’re still standing, you inspire others.  When you’ve made it and are better for it, you can speak with credibility.  When you are unafraid to reveal your scars, you will more easily find trust in those with the same scars.  Your message of hope will resonate in them when you talk about your journey and how you have made it through.

I would ask you to look at your life and the struggles you have faced.  Do you know anyone else who’s facing anything like that?  I want to encourage you to reach out.  Not everyone will want help, some just want to stew in their sorrow.  Others though, will hear you and you can help them.

This week – purpose in your heart that you will make a difference.

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”  ― Catherine of Siena

If This helps you and you think it can help someone else, please consider sharing.  Also, please join the conversation by leaving a comment.

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.