Archive for June, 2011

June 26, 2011

Radical

“Too simple?”

Luke 18:17; John 3:16, 20:29; 2 Cor 4:18

“Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Luke 18:17 (MSG) Why do we have such a hard accepting the simple message of grace, unconditional love, and salvation? The word “simple” is not used to denote easy, it is used to mean uncomplicated…transparent. I interpret the words Christ spoke about God’s kingdom to say that unless we accept the message of grace, love, and salvation at face value, without clouding it up with any analytical, scholarly, or intellectual insight, we will miss the point entirely and could very well find ourselves on the outside looking in. It is difficult to relate to loving unconditionally and extending unconditional forgiveness to those we know, like, and love, much less those we don’t know, don’t like, don’t like us, etc…Why? As we go through life, the filter we see the things through is impacted by our experiences, knowledge, etc…Children, on the other hand, do not have those filters. They don’t look at anything beyond its face value…its simplicity. Isn’t it funny that the more knowledge we acquire, the less we are able to accept the most simple, basic, and transparent concepts.

Challenge:  There are those that tout a belief in the reality of heaven, grace, unconditional love, salvation, absolute truth, an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and loving God, and an all sufficient Savior who hung on a cross and died for the sins of humanity, past-present-future, is a naïve, uneducated, and simpleton perspective and point of view. The world tell us that things that sound “too good to be true”…usually are. However, we are clearly told in God’s word that it will take a childlike faith in order to enter heaven. If we will humble ourselves and seek His wisdom ,and not our own, He will reveal a message of grace, forgiveness, freedom, salvation, and eternal life that truly is…“just that simple.”

Prayer: Lord, You are so worthy of my praise. Thank You so much for loving me…for Your grace and forgiveness. Lord, I know that from You comes all things. That includes knowledge, perspective, and wisdom. In today’s world of information overload, please help me accept Your life changing and eternal message of grace, love, and salvation as truth, and as You intended. In Jesus’ name. Amen.   

For more about getting involved and supporting Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.   

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June 19, 2011

Real:

Who am I kidding?

Psalm 139:13-16

In this day of “never let’em see you sweat” and “don’t show all your cards”, the permeating sentiment among men in our country is that we need to look a certain way, talk a certain way, act a certain way, in other words…be who we are not. Why? Is it because society tells us to? Is it because we have created expectations that we need to live up to? Is it because we feel if we don’t, we won’t fit in at the neighborhood pool, at work, at school, or at church? Why do we put on an act for those around us when the One who we will ultimately stand before as He judges all of creation, who knew us before the world began, who formed us in the womb, who knows every hair on our head, who knows our heart and our motives, sees us for who we truly are? Who are we fooling?  God, in His sovereignty, created us and gave us personalities, talents, characteristics…gifts, to specifications unlike any other – past, present, future – has set forth a plan for us….a perfect plan, and has given us the opportunity to spend eternity with Him in heaven if we will accept His Son, Jesus Christ, as Lord of our life. All of this leads me to a question: Why in the world would we put on an act and seek the approval and acceptance of the people in the world rather than be who we truly are, be who we were created and called to be, accept the unconditional love and grace of Almighty God and live a life worthy of Him?

Challenge:  The pressures to be accepted, both self imposed and of the world, have a significant impact on how we act, how we portray ourselves, and how we want others to see us. This is true across age segments, especially in our youth. The more we try to be what we are not, or what we think we need to be, the more we are setting ourselves up for failure and a life unfulfilled. Why? Because it’s not from God. He tells me “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” And that, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:14,16 (NIV).  This week, take a good look at yourself, your life, and ask yourself: Am I authentic and real with myself and others or am I an actor? Are the lenses I see myself in mine, the world’s, or God’s”? Know this: He will never let us down and we are the apple of His eye.

Prayer: Lord, thank you so much for loving me. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness. The pressures I face to succeed, to fit in, live up to an expectation, are sometimes overwhelming. And You know my struggle as You faced those same pressures while You were on earth. Help me see me as You see me. Help me see Your plan for my life. Please give me the courage to be who You have created me to be. I know that through You, I can do all things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.  

For more about getting involved and supporting Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.   

June 12, 2011

Relevant:

“I don’t feel like it.”

Proverbs 12:27

At some point or another, it is safe to say that we have all come to a point where we don’t feel like doing something we either know we should or are supposed to do. The list is endless so there is really no need to begin naming the things that we, at some point or another, “don’t feel like doing.” However, we know that if we give into our feelings and not do something we should or are supposed to do, there will be repercussions. While the repercussions can certainly vary in levels of seriousness, many times the results are feelings of stress, hurriedness, fear, remorse, or unpreparedness. Let’s take a school or work project, for instance. We usually have an amount of lead time that we are given before we have to turn in and/or present the project. When looking at methods of addressing the work at hand, we have a number of options but at its essence, how we go about completing the assignment can be in placed in one of two camps: incremental or crammed. Many of us know the crammed method…wait until the last minute to try and knock out a project that is due…Monday…when just starting on it the Friday before. Let me speak from experience: inconvenience because now I have to likely stay up half the weekend focusing solely on the project (no fun), I’m stressed, wishing I had worked on it more over the past month, fear that I will not finish in time, and then when Monday rolls around and I am in front of my class or colleagues, I feel wholly unprepared to present. Sound familiar? Of course, this is the best case scenario…finishing the project. What about the spot where we wait until the last minute and something happens, beyond our control, that keeps us from working on the project and thus it does not get completed on time. And when our name is called to take front and center… the point of truth…we have to tell the teacher, professor, boss, client, etc…, “I am not ready.” I can think of a couple of results to the last scenario: bad grade, being fired, losing a client, just to name a few. Proverbs 12:24 says, “The diligent find freedom in their work; the lazy are oppressed by work.”(MSG) What if we went the incremental path…like we know we are really supposed to? Yes, it could mean over the next month we have to head to the office or quiet spot at home more than we may like (forgoing more pleasurable activities), get up early, stay up late, etc… in order to knock out some work on the project. Despite whether we feel like it or not…we do it. Why? Because of the potential outcome. It is no different with our time with God and in prayer. However, in the case of life, we are not given a “due date” for the life project He assigns us.

Challenge: Proverbs 12:27 says, “A lazy life is an empty life, but ‘early to rise’ gets the job done.”(MSG) Not doing something because we “don’t feel like it” obviously brings with it potential consequences and repercussions. Life is the ultimate project and contains more “unlikeable” assignments and tasks than any workplace or academic institution could ever dream of. But in the end, if we will do the things we know we should, regardless of whether we feel like it or not (that is especially true about our time talking to and getting to know our Heavenly Father), when we are called front and center or faced with a challenge, we are likely to be more prepared, fulfilled, less stressed, and less impacted by uncontrollable circumstances that will inevitably arise along the way.

Prayer: Lord, I am so thankful that You are faithful and always there when I need You. I want to have more consistent time with You, regardless of my circumstances or feelings. Please help me. I know there are and will be times I feel unworthy, faithless, and just plain ungodly. In those times, please fill me with your grace, forgiveness, and redemptive power. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For more about getting involved and supporting Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.   

June 5, 2011

Relentless:

“Being pursued…”

1 Peter 5:8-9

Do you like horror movies? I’m really not a fan of them at all. Of course, that doesn’t mean I haven’t seen my fair share. Despite the differences in plots, characters, etc…across the “horror movie spectrum”, there is one thing the majority of them all have in common: a chase scene. And I’m not talking about a good old fashion car chase, I’m talking about a bad guy, murderer, monster, alien, etc…chasing a seemingly helpless victim. And despite the fact that the victim always runs, and of course trips over something because the chase usually occurs at night…through the woods…in the fog…etc…, the monster never has to run but always seems to catch him or her. The soon-to-be victim is usually frantic, disoriented, fearful, helpless, etc… Enough of Hollywood’s make-believe. There is a REAL monster, murderer, liar, deceiver, and evil one who pursues us relentlessly. His name is Satan. And despite the fact that we cannot actually see him, like the victims see their pursuer in the movies, the fruits of his labor are seen every day in the world we live in through the things he deploys in his attempt to separate us from God. Take heart, men of God. Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Rom 8:38-39). We, the pursued, are NOT to be frantic, disoriented, fearful, or helpless. “God did not give us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self discipline.” (2 Tim 1:7) Additionally, “…we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Rom 8:37). How can we be assured that we can withstand the attacks Satan deploys against us in this world? Our strength does not come from us but from the One who overcame the world. Christ knew we would face trials and attacks. That is why He told His disciples and us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Challenge: It is so easy to allow the evil one to get the best of us through his lies, deceptions, and tactics. Satan knows exactly where the soft spots in the armor are and he knows the best times to hit us. However, we are called to stand firm in the faith, to be men of courage, to be strong (1 Cor 16:13). We are told to “Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Pet 5:8-9). Stand firm against Satan’s attacks and don’t run from him. Stand firm in the faith in, and promise of, Almighty God, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, the Great I Am. He tells us just as He told Joshua He “…will never leave us nor forsake us.” (Joshua 1:5)

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your love and your grace. Thank you for giving me a spirit of power, of love, and of self discipline. Lord, there are times that I allow the devil to get the best of me. But your grace abounds. I am so grateful that I can rest in your strength and stand firm against the devil’s schemes through your causative and overcoming power. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

For more about getting involved and supporting Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.   

Hello, all. Welcome to June…vacation month. School is out, for many, the weather is hot, and I have no doubt that many of you will be hitting the road very soon in search of great adventures…and possibly some much needed Advil as a result of those adventures. Nevertheless, the roads will be full of travelers. Last month, we took a slight departure from our road trip to hit the skies and ‘Lighten the Load’. If I may, I’d like to bring us back to the black top…or should I say, repair shop.

What is the last thing you want to have happen when you are a few hundred miles away from home? Oh, the answers are endless and certainly depend on a number of factors. There are a few that come to mind right away: someone gets sick (of course), a flat tire, blown hose, credit card trouble, DVD player in the back seat goes down, etc…For me, it’s the “Check Engine” light. Why? It can produce a level of uncertainty which could lead to feelings of uneasiness, anger, frustration, doubt, even fear. From something harmless to something “shut down engine” serious, that little light could be triggered by anything. However, there are God-elements to every frustrating situation, I call them divinely facilitated opportunities, that we often miss unless we are able to look past the situation at hand and are willing to be open to seeing things as God sees them or be used as He intends to use us. For example…

This year while on a trip with my family, the “Check Engine” light came on in our 1999 Suburban. It got my attention but we didn’t drive it the rest of the weekend so I didn’t think much about it until we started home. We hadn’t gone 5 miles before the car began to act up. I wasn’t going to take any chances. We went to a local auto parts store that does the free error code scan. I got the codes and a recommended repair shop. So I took my family back to our relatives’ house, unloaded it and them, and then took the family bus to the recommended shop. Based on the computer scan, I was looking at a rather costly repair…well over $600 between parts, labor, diagnostics, etc…. To be honest, I was a bit discouraged. I did NOT have the money to pay for car repairs. But rather than get upset, which is usually my reaction, I accepted there wasn’t much I could do about it and began to pray and ask God to reveal why I was there because the repair shop was NOT where I wanted to spend the day. Besides the obvious, the car issue meant we were going to miss my son’s baseball game. Did I also mention I am the head coach? Despite this, I knew in my heart there was a reason that I was there that had absolutely nothing to do with the Suburban. I just felt it.

The parts associated with the codes were replaced. Problem now…the error codes remained. I had to laugh. After some further diagnostics and voltage checks the problem was found…a blown fuse. Needless to say, the repair was not as costly as anticipated. And even though every indication and troubleshooting result said one thing, the actual problem was something completely different…and in hindsight, much more simple. The shop owner, an accomplished technician, was clearly embarrassed…and said as much. He said that he had never seen that before. I told him there was no need to be embarrassed. He did all he knew to do and followed the obvious path resulting from what the indications told him. During my time at the shop and through our conversations, I realized he was a man of faith…affirming that I was there for a reason. To make a long story short, as we were wrapping up I was able to share with him about Servant Warrior Ministries, give him some Full Armor prayer cards that he could use and pass onto others, and hopefully gained a new friend. He said it was funny that we were having this conversation because his pastor’s message the day before was about stepping out of our comfort zones and why we don’t reach out to others. You know, I always smile when someone hints at irony because I know there is NO irony or coincidences when you are dealing with God.

Why did all this happen? Why was I pointed to that shop and not another? Why did He keep me there 5 hours? Why did God place an undeniable prompting on my heart that there was a reason I was there that morning? I don’t know. I hope that one day I find out. One thing I do know is that it was God working in and through me that kept me from losing my cool. Additionally, I am pretty confident that what happened at the end of my 5 hour visit to the repair shop would not have happened or would likely have had no impact if I hadn’t been open to God’s prompting and whisper…realizing that all was not what it seemed.  We never know how God will orchestrate and use circumstances. We just have to always be ready.

None of us know the future. Nor are things always what they seem. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Allow things to play out, especially those that have the potential of being less than optimal, and ask God to show Himself and His will through the circumstance. Trust me. If you will ask Him to give you perspective and discernment so as not to miss an opportunity or hinder His work through you…because of you…you will be amazed at God’s faithfulness. I was…and always am. We serve a truly faithful God. Keep it real…and Armor Up.

As featured in the June 2011 Issue of Power Source Magazine, www.powersourcemagazine.com