Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Hello and welcome to February…the month that card companies, florists, and chocolatiers battle for supremacy and market share. Why can’t we just all get along? Come on…it’s about love…and Valentine’s Day.

We are continuing the Spiritual Warfare series this month and talking about real warfare. This month it’s all about the guy to your right and the guy to your left. It’s about the guys in the rear…back home…in training…and especially those who just arrived in theatre. It’s about making sure you are looking out for your battle buddy…and that he’s looking out for you. It’s about making sure you also look out for the new guys…especially the new guys…keeping them out of the danger zones…be there for them…and have their back. By the way…the danger and kill zones are not just for the newbies…seasoned warriors can end up there as well. In 1 Corinthians 10:12, Paul was telling the Church in Corinth, the spiritual studs, to make sure not to get prideful and allow themselves to look away as those before them did. He said, “Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.” (MSG)

We all know of someone…a leader in the Christian community…a friend…a family member…a brother in Christ…who has fallen…been taken out by one of Satan’s schemes…traps…one of his snipers. Remember, we’re not fighting against flesh and blood, here, but against spiritual forces. The devil is crafty…he’s the master of deception…trickery…and lies. He is the ultimate double agent who wants nothing more than to destroy lives…to destroy families…to destroy churches…to destroy warriors.

The enemy likes to divide and conquer….separate and destroy. To use an analogy from the jungle, a baby animal or an animal that is wounded is much easier prey than one that is faster, and/or experienced….or a part of a larger group. If the devil can get us away from other warriors…our battle buddies…our warrior battalion…our spiritual headquarters…we become much easier prey. I’m talking about you…me…all guys…even the stalwarts in the church. You know…the guys who could never be taken out. Hint: Refer back to 1 Corinthians 10:12…often.

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations…sometimes out of our own doing…sometimes not…that will test our mettle…our faith…our skills…even threaten our lives or the lives of those around us…our buddies. The only way many servant warriors make it through these situations is because other…more experienced…warriors…are there to help us through and keep us from getting taken out.

soldier-sunriseIn the life of a new believer in Christ, the decision to surrender their life to Christ  initiates an awesome, incredible, eternal new life. Hands down it’s the greatest decision of one’s life and a decision that can bring more freedom…peace…fulfillment… and “life” than we can possibly imagine.

The other side of that decision is equally as awesome but a bit scary, painful, and not necessarily for the marketing posters. When someone accepts Christ into their hearts, their life is changed forever. That decision also propels them right into the middle of an all out war…against them. New Christians, and even older Christians seeking to get closer to the Lord, pose a threat to the devil. And the devil will do everything he can, as quickly as possible, to stop this life direction and choice. That means he will come with everything he has, from all sides and sources. He will expel all available ammunition. That’s why we have to make sure none go down. But, again, if they do…we need to be there to patch them up…lift them up…get them out of harms way and out of the line of fire. We have to realize that we…as warriors…need each other…more importantly…we need each other to be ready, razor sharp, and “ALERT… because the enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. The cool thing here and something we all need to remember…the devil loses. Need confirmation? Revelation 20:10: “10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Forever’s a long time…can I get an Amen?!

We do a great job of congratulating folks when they come to Christ. Unfortunately…we don’t do a great job of looking out for them afterwards…to make sure none of them, or us, get splintered from each other and, as a result of our own decisions…actions…or inexperience, wind up in the middle of a trap…an enemy ambush…or even on the wrong end of a evil sniper bullet. Don’t leave your wingman. Remember, we were never meant to go on this earthly journey…alone. Until next time…Keep it Real…and Armor Up!

The above article appeared in the February 2013 Power Source Magazine. The actual article can be viewed HERE.

Make sure to check out Servant Warrior Ministries & stay tuned for new episodes of Servant Warrior Radio coming soon to ServantWarriorRadio.com.

Happy New Year! Wow…2013. Now…given the fact that you are reading this article means the 12/21/2012 doomsday folks did NOT get it right. Who’d a thunk it? Of course…we are still here and the world is still turning. So…who’s up for another trip around the sun? I am. You know, it’s been said that time waits for no one…So let’s get on with it. Every day we draw breath, God has something for us to do. And every day…we are in a war…a Spiritual War.

Over the next few months, we are going to be looking at our calling as Christians…as men of God…as Servant Warriors…and how that calling mirrors the mission of a Marine Corps Rifle Squad…which is to: Locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver, and repel the enemy’s assault by fire and close combat. Oorah! We will be hanging out in the book of Ephesians…chapter 6…verses 10-18. It’s a familiar passage and one that I think is one of the most empowering and inspiring passages in all of Scripture.

In preparation for the next few months, let’s quickly break down Ephesians 6:10-18 and parallel the passage with the USMCMission of a Marine Rifle Squad – to locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver and repel the enemy’s assault by fire and close combat. The “fire” we use to destroy the enemy are the weapons of God…belt of truth and breastplate of righteousness (v.14)…helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit – God’s Word (v.17)…and prayer (v.18). The “maneuver” is fitting your feet with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace (v.15). We repel the enemy’s assault and his arrows with the shield of faith (v.16). “Close combat” is our interactions with others…how we treat them…and how we handle the trials of this world and the struggles of life.

The way we, as Christians, engage the enemy is done through very similar tactics when comparing to the traditional aspects of war. However, we are not fighting against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:12).

Now, one of the things our military learn during their training…and throughout their military career…especially if they are in a combat unit…is how to handle themselves in close quarters. Hand to hand…mano e mano. Effective close combat is one of the deadliest tactics we as Christians…as Servant Warriors…can employ to flat out kick the enemy’s tail…and hit him right where it hurts.  What am I talking about you ask? Here it is…

The devil’s tactics and weapons are the things of this world. He uses things such as arrogance, pride, status, and judgment to create separation among people…among God’s children…among our brothers and sisters…and thus making them, and us, easy prey for him and his henchmen. Divide and conquer is one of his most effective tactics. Why? Because we are the ones often delivering it…that’s why. And if we don’t recognize it…we will continue to be the weapons he uses to deploy his tactics. “What do you mean, Searcy?”

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick….For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt 9:10-13) Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He didn’t spend all of His time with “church” people. He spent time with and loved, only as an all sufficient Savior could, those society deemed outcasts, unclean, unworthy.

In John chapter 15, verse 12, Jesus commands us to “Love each other as I have loved you.” Who did Jesus hang out with and gravitate to during His earthly ministry? That’s right…sinners. Want to know what irritates and hurts the devil the most? The tactical weaponry that we, as Servant Warriors…Christians…can let loose on the evil one and really rock his world? It’s when we love our neighbors as ourselves. It’s when we share the message and love of Christ with those often shunned and turned away because they don’t look like us…or act like us…or who has messed up…made mistakes. We must remember that we ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Our righteousness is like filthy rags…and none of us could be saved if not for the unconditional love and grace of God through Jesus’ death on the cross.

The Spiritual Warfare training will continue next month. Until then, keep it Real…Radical…Relentless…Relevant…and definitely Armor Up.

Make sure to check out ServantWarriorRadio.com.

The above article appeared in the January 2013 edition of Power Source Magazine and can be viewed HERE.

“But the tag says…”

Posted: December 3, 2012 in Articles

Ho…Ho…Ho…Welcome to December! Wow. I blinked and here we are again…rummaging through attics and storage closets for décor that we hope can survive just one more Christmas season…body checking at the toy and electronics store (that is, if we’re even still allowed in the stores after the “jockeying for position” we did just before 4:00am on Black Friday)…and hoping that the obscure gifts we bought for those special “someones” on our list, especially those gifts we grabbed online, are…“what they are supposed to be.”

Have you ever been in a store…picked up an item off the shelf…read the tag…and realized that what you were holding was not the tag said it should be? Even the most experienced and savvy salesperson would not be able to convince a person holding a chainsaw that it was actually a bag of M&M’s…despite being identified as such by the tag. One of my all-time favorite songs is “Jesus Freak” by dc Talk. Hands down…one of the greatest Christian rock songs of all-time. When it pops up on the iPod, the volume can’t be loud enough for me. I sing like I have the ability and, for a few seconds during the song, I can rap. “What will people think when they hear that I’m a Jesus Freak? What will people do when they find that it’s true? I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus Freak. There ain’t no disguisin’ the truth.”  What about you?Does the merchandise (you) match the tag? There is a saying I have heard many times and is one that hits me square in the gut every time I think about it because I know there are times that I struggle with my own answer. That question is: If I were to be accused of being a follower of Christ, would there be enough evidence to convict me?”  

tag

Have you ever strolled through an urban market or a gauntlet of street vendors selling “genuine, knock-offs”? What does that actually mean? That it’s a genuine fake as opposed to a… what…non-genuine fake? I mean…is that a good thing? I make light of it but when it comes to us, as people, it is no joking matter. Take a fake Rolex watch, for example. On the surface and at a quick glance, it may look real…genuine. But after a closer look, when it’s really examined, its true identity is revealed. I have to admit that I have a fake Rolex that I bought from a street vendor in the Bahamas one year while on vacation. It’s a fairly nice watch and it looks a lot like a real Rolex. At a quick glance, it’s hard to tell the difference. I know it’s not real. And I am reluctant to wear it in case someone sees it and either thinks it’s real or thinks I’m trying to pull it off as being real. However, I do wear it periodically as a reminder that I can fool anyone at first glance, maybe even for a little while, but at some point…if I’m a fake…I’ll be found out. I’m talking about me as much as the watch.

In today’s world of maintaining a certain look, status, or lifestyle, we can find ourselves trying to “fake it until we make it”. Why? To be accepted? Fit in? What happens if we’re found out? What happens to our credibility? And, if by some chance we are able to live out the charade without anyone finding out, it’s all for not because we know the truth…and so does God. “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9)

Despite what my tag might read, I will be known by my actions, lifestyle, work ethic, character, and integrity…my fruit. We, the body of Christ, can be the biggest obstacle to people coming to know Jesus if what our tag reads and what people actually see…don’t match. Remember, the only way God can truly work through us is for the merchandise (us) to match the tag. Until next time…KEEP IT REAL…and Armor Up!

Christmas is the time we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the greatest Gift ever given. “God showed us how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.” (1 John 4:9 NLT)

Please remember our military that are away from their loved ones…in harm’s way…protecting our freedoms and our way of life. May God be with them and protect them. I pray they…and you…have a blessed Christmas and New Year.

Make sure to tune in to Servant Warrior Radio each Friday at www.ServantWarriorRadio.com. Also, please consider a year-end tax deductible gift to Servant Warrior Ministries, www.servantwarriorministries.org.

 

Hello, October! Fall is in full swing…my craving for North GA fried apple pies has peaked…the Fall Classic is once again upon us…college football dominates conversations…and God is expecting His kids, that’s you and me by the way, to shine a little brighter this month and give the trick or treaters a few more lumens than lollypops.

Creation: Day 1. God set the tone for His plan. Genesis 1:4 ‘God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.” God made it very clear that He wanted the light to be completely separate from darkness. His Son, Jesus Christ, the true Light of the World, said in John 9:5 “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”…a responsibility He passed on to us. (see Matthew 5:14-16)

In Ephesians 5, Paul tells all believers, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”

Now, I’m not saying that being the light of the world is easy. It’s tough! Why? Because to be the light that we have been called to be, we have to put ourselves out there…exposed…on display…in the middle of the arena…which is why we’ll often shy away from being the “light”.

It’s common knowledge that one of the things feared most by people is speaking in public. Well, except for crazy folks like me who feel perfectly at home and comfortable talking on a stage in front of a million people. However, when we are light, as God calls us to be light, we are to be “on a hill…put on a stand to give light to everyone in the house…to let your light shine before men” (Matthew 5). I hear the screams now…”NOOOOOO! Anything but that, God!”

Sorry folks. We are not called to be lampshade Christians. We are called to be super L.E.D.’s…shining for all to see.

In fact, three things are going to happen to you when you are the light God has called you to be.

  1. People are going to look AT you.   Sorry. Get over it. Remember “ …the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self discipline.” People want to see how you live your life. If you are what you say you are. They want to see if you’re genuine. God wants people to look at us…His children. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  Some of you may be saying…”Jeff, I just don’t think I shine that brightly.” Trust me. You shine brighter than you think. The thought that you don’t is a lie the devil wants you to believe because he knows what will happen once you allow the light of Christ to shine through you.
  2. People are going to look TO you. When you bring light, truth, to people, to situations, to circumstances, people are going to look to you for guidance, direction, to show them the way. The light of Christ in us will be the flashlight for those walking in darkness.  Often people say, “Jeff, I’ve made so many mistakes, how can I lead anyone? How can I show anyone the way?” I understand where you are…been there…still there sometimes. Again…those are lies meant to discourage you and make you believe you have nothing to offer. God doesn’t allow anything to happen in our lives that He doesn’t intend for us to use to impact another life for His glory. Yes, that includes all of the mistakes…bad decisions…we’ve made throughout our lives. Remember, “God works all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.
  3. People are going to look FOR you. So many look for fulfillment in things of the world, possessions, power, in other people, and continue to end up unfulfilled. The more they search for fulfillment, the more fall. “But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.” Proverbs 4:19. As followers of Christ, we emit a light, a joy, and a peace that people are looking for. While they may not think so or realize it…they’re looking. They recognize there’s something different about a follower of Christ…a child of light…and if we are genuine and real…if we lead people in light and in truth…people will seek us out to see if they can get what we have. How awesome is it that we can say with a resounding YES! You can have the peace…the joy…the light…His name is Jesus.

So…check your batteries…plug into His power…and be the light, the L.E.D., you have been called to be. Until next time, keep it real…and Armor Up.

View the actual article as published in Power Source Magazine HERE.

Make sure to check out Servant Warrior® Radio each week at ServantWarriorRadio.com. Servant Warrior® Ministries is a Real…Radical…Relentless…Relevant…movement to reach guys, of all ages, where they are and empower and inspire them to be who God has created and called them to be. Find out more and how you can keep us in the fight at ServantWarriorMinistries.org.

Hello and welcome to September. Summer is wrapping up…at least on the calendar…college football has begun its 2012 campaign, and school is back in session. Now, while this message is for all of us, God put the youth on my heart.

I don’t know about you, but I love puzzles. And I think it would be hard pressed to find anyone, anywhere, who has never been exposed to or put together a puzzle. The nature of a puzzle is quite simple. It is made up of numerous pieces of distinct shapes and imagery and when put together exactly where they were designed to reside, the pieces reveal the desired image or shape as intended by the puzzle’s designer. Let me tell you, there are some awesome puzzles, a whole lot more than when I was a kid, to include the double sided two-dimensional kind as well as three-dimensional puzzles of Egyptian Pyramids, the Statue of Liberty, the Washington Monument, airplanes and aircraft carriers, even Fenway Park (Go Sox!), to name a few. And regardless of whether the puzzle is two dimensional or three, the concept is the same: Each piece has a specific spot in the puzzle. I’ve got an idea. Let’s look at God’s plan as an incredibly super-awesome puzzle and our lives as pieces of it. When you think about this in the scope of God’s plan, we all have a distinct purpose…calling…place in His plan…His puzzle.

Like it or not, God doesn’t provide us with a “top of the box” picture of His overall plan and how we “fit” into it. What we do know is that we are a hand crafted, one-of-a-kind creation that has been put on this earth at a specific time and place in history, with specific and distinct abilities and gifts for a purpose within God’s plan that only we can fulfill. How do I know? In Psalms 139:13-16(NIV), David writes, “For You created my inmost being, You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them ever came to be.”

Let’s put this thing into perspective. David wasn’t talking to Joe Schmoe, the clay-mation figure builder guy. He was talking to and speaking of the Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Creator of the heavens and the earth…the One who spoke the heavens and earth into being but wove together, with His own hands, you and me. We are a one-of-a-kind puzzle piece…created by the ultimate Designer. There has never been, nor will there ever be, another you…another me. That’s how. In other words, we all have a specific place in God’s puzzle. And, no matter how hard we might try and force a puzzle piece into a spot where it doesn’t fit, like trying to be something we’re not or what we may think others want, it becomes pretty obvious the piece is in the wrong spot. Here’s a perfect example. Remember that nice horse puzzle that we had as kids? You know the one…the gift we received from an elementary school Christmas party. Yeah, that one. It’s like trying to jam the round piece showing…well…let’s say the south end of the horse’s north bound direction into the square spot where the head should be. Get the picture? The key is not to allow the world and its lies and influences to mold and shape us but to allow God, the Master Designer, to shape and mold us into the people…the puzzle pieces…that He desires, so that we can fulfill the calling on our lives and experience all that He has in store for us…so that we’ll fit into His “perfect” puzzle.

Guys, I get it. The pressures to be what the world deems…desirable…in order to fit into its puzzle are powerful and everywhere. It’s in what we watch…look at…and hear. It’s in our conversations…who we hang with. The thing is, we decide what we watch…look at…and listen to. We choose the content and direction of our conversations…who we talk to and hang with. In other words, we have ultimate control in what we allow to shape us. If we will allow the Master Designer to shape us into the puzzle pieces that fit into His puzzle, and not the world’s, I guarantee your horse won’t be looking through the south end of its north bound direction. Until next time, keep it real…and Armor Up!

View the actual article HERE.

Make sure to check out ServantWarriorRadio.com each Friday morning at 6am CST (7am EST) on AM630 TruthTalk 630 St Louis, MO (www.truthtalk630.com) or anytime day or night at www.ServantWarriorRadio.com

Servant Warrior Ministries is a Real…Radical…Relentless…Relevant…movement to reach guys, 5 to 105, where they are, share the life changing Message of Jesus Christ, and empower and inspire them to be who God created and called them to be. Visit www.ServantWarriorMinistries.org for more information.

I would like to welcome everyone to August. Summer and the heat roll on…kids face the reality that their summer vacation is virtually over…and folks all over will be squeezing in that one last getaway. And you’re planning that last chance road trip, I’ll bet you’ll rely on some type of navigational device to get you there.

You know, when you get right down to it there is very little difference between our lives and a road trip. And in life, like a road trip, getting good directional information could be the difference between, well, getting where you want to go…or not. Let’s take a trip down memory lane (Insert blurry picture and wavy lines across the TV screen here). Remember when… maps were what we used.  Let’s look at the difference between a GPS and a map.

A GPS literally provides direction. It tells us when to turn, the best route to take, often warns us of traffic (on the souped up versions). All we have to do is to do exactly what it says and we’ll end up at our destination. It’s a no-brainer on how to get to where we’re going. Maps, on the other hand, show us the spatial data but we must interpret that information and make our own directional decisions. Maps tell us nothing of best routes, traffic issues, or when or where to turn. I can tell you that if your head is buried in a huge Rand McNally or you’re trying to fold up the 10’x5’ road atlas of Texas, chances of you missing that turn are better than average. Bottom line: with maps our directional decisions are left up to us.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have someone telling me when to turn than for the decision to be left to me. Can I be real with you? Despite the navigational training I received in the Marine Corps, I am and have always been directionally challenged. Land navigation was NOT my strong suit. I can get to where I’m going, mind you, but my trips are usually not without color or scenery. I think we all agree that a GPS is the preferred method of navigation.

Now, you might not know it but there are two types of Positioning Systems: a Global Positioning System, and a God Positioning System. A Global Positioning System represents the world. And the direction we get from a worldly perspective always points us to self. The world’s perspective points us to riches, applause, power, desires, pleasures, etc…“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Prov 14:12) A God Positioning System, on the other hand, represents direction from a Biblical and spiritual perspective. The direction comes from God and His word…and it always points us to Him. “Direct me in the path of Your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward Your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your Word.”  (Ps 119:35-37).

Let’s have some fun. Imagine we have dual, side-by-side machines. One Global Positioning System and one God Positioning System. The destination we plug in…Heaven. Yep…Heaven.

Here’s what we’ll get from the Global Positioning System: Do this. Do that. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Be a good person. Go to church. Blah, blah, blah. I’ll bet the money in my pocket that if we got the directions to Heaven from a Global Positioning System, or Mapquest, there would be thousands of turns and direction changes. The world is always asking what do we need to DO. And it wasn’t any different a few thousand years ago. Read John chapter 6. When the people finally caught up to Jesus after He fed the 5,000, they asked the million dollar eternal life question. “…’What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.’” (John 6:28-29) Now, let’s plug “Heaven” into God’s Positioning System. What directions do we get? One word: Jesus. That’s it. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6). No map…no compass…no voice in a box…only a Savior…Jesus Christ.

Now, don’t go throwing away your Garmin. You’ll need it for your family excursions. But make sure to get directions to your eternal getaway from His GPS. “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John2:17) Until next time, Keep it Real…and Armor Up!

If you’d like to hear the audio version of the “GPS” message, visit ServantWarriorRadio.com.

Make sure to check out Servant Warrior Ministries.

To see the article as it appeared in the August 2012 Issue of Power Source Magazine, click HERE.

Carnival Games

Posted: July 3, 2012 in Articles

Hello, July. We are knee deep into the summer…and it’s HOT. Many of us have already enjoyed a family vacation. Others are getting ready and some of us are wishing we had the time or the means. Regardless of the vacation status, we are continuing our summer amusement park series. Last month we talked about roller coasters and carousels. This month, we are staying true to the call and are stepping up to the plate…the counter…the foul line…the stool…the GAME…all with our eyes fixed on the prize…the 5 foot tall stuffed animal.

We have all seen them: skee ball, the bean bag throw, knock down the bottles, water-gun races, free throws, ring toss, and many, many more. They all look so easy. But don’t be fooled. These amusement park folks are smart. They draw us in, like someone else I know, by using the awesome, super cool, oversized, gaudy, obnoxious, and incredibly cheap (in terms of quality) prizes. Amusement parks and carnivals know how competitive we are, especially us guys, and that we, as the hunters, get our thrill from the kill…from meeting the challenge head on…defeating it…and telling that stack of three bottles that despite the fact that they weigh 25 pounds each and we are trying to knock them over with a Nerf ball, “You’re going down!” Nothing is going to stand in the way of bragging rights and us taking home our prize.

These amusement park and carnival games are eerily similar to the lies of Satan. The games seem so easy. “I mean, come on. How hard could it be to toss a hard plastic ring onto a glass bottle neck, anyway? And basketball? You’re kidding. Right? I am the king of the court. I don’t miss. The free throw game is a piece of cake. I’m walking away with hardware.” What we quickly find out is that the games are not so easy. The plastic ring is barely large enough to fit around the bottle and is so hard that all it does is bounce from one bottle to another. And the basketball hoop…well…it is NOT regulation size and I bet that if we did a little measuring, the ball would barely fit through if it would fit through at all. As it is with the evil one, there’s always a catch. He is the ultimate bait and switch artist. But, hey, I don’t want to be a kill joy. Let’s say we, by some crazy act of supernatural chance, actually do get a ring to land on a bottle top or a basketball to squeeze through a hoop and win. Did we really? Win…I mean.

Let me break it down for you. These games aren’t inexpensive to play…nor are the games promoted by Satan and the world. And after a bit of basic math, we realize that we just spent 5 times the amount of money it would’ve cost to buy that 5 foot tall stuffed animal at the local toy store for us to “win” the thing. Which is absolutely bizarre because as guys, we will wear, iron and re-iron a shirt 4 or 5 times because we don’t want to spend the $1.49 it costs to have it dry cleaned but we’ll drop $100 dollars on trying to shoot a basketball into an undersized hoop just to walk away with a $20 stuffed animal. In all seriousness, the games we are enticed by the evil one to play ALWAYS cost us far more than money. Now, back to the stuffed animal. Even if we can somehow justify the ridiculous investment, now we get to carry that awesome, super cool, oversized, gaudy, obnoxious, and incredibly burdensome prize all over the amusement park…on rides…to the bathroom… everywhere. The stuffed animal (aka, the prize) that we spent so much on, both literal and figuratively, represents the sin in which we find ourselves enslaved. However, we have THE true Liberator in our corner…the One who came to pay the debt we could never afford and give us real freedom. We are reminded by Paul in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” So leave the “prize” with the obnoxious and pushy used car salesman, walk away from the game, and save your money and efforts for better, more kingdomly, purchases.

As we celebrate our country’s 237th anniversary of independence, we humbly thank those who have rung and continue to ring the bell of freedom through the selfless giving of their blood and sacrifice. That bell rings due to the blood and lives of patriots…not by the swing of a sledgehammer. May God continue to bless the United States of America. Until next time, keep it real…and Armor Up!

The above article appeared in the July 2012 Issue of Power Source Magazine. You can view the actual article HERE.

Make sure to check out Servant Warrior Radio every Friday morning @ 6am CST on KJSL AM 630 TruthTalk630 St Louis, MO and worldwide at www.truthtalk630.com. The mission of Servant Warrior Ministries is to reach guys, from 5 to 105, where they are to impact and empower them to be who God created and called them to be. For more information go to www.servantwarriorministries.org.

Roller Coasters and Carousels

Posted: June 4, 2012 in Articles

Hello, June. Summer is here. Well…even though summer officially begins in a few weeks, for many, it has already begun. Favorite vacation spots…here we come! Some folks will head for the beach. Some, for the mountains. And others…for the amusement parks. For me growing up, summer was chock full of sports and frequent trips to Six Flags over Georgia. I was blessed to grow up just a few miles from the park. I remember watching the nightly fireworks from the end of my driveway and being lulled to sleep by the whistle of the train that still circles the park to this day. Much has changed, though. One thing that hasn’t…the thrill of the rides. And while the advancement of technology and imagination has brought all types of rides and attractions to amusement parks across America and around the world, two standards remain: Roller Coasters and Carousels.

No matter where you go across this great land of ours, see an amusement park, fair, carnival, even some birthday parties, and you will find roller coasters and carousels. Why? Because people of all ages love them, that’s why. Take my family, for instance. My wife loves carousels. I, on the other hand, along with my boys, love roller coasters. Different strokes for different folks. But when we apply the nature of the two rides to the differences in believers’ walk with Christ, their differences, both the rides’ and believers’, couldn’t be more applicable to each other. If you’re a bit confused, it’s okay. It will become very clear…very soon.

What’s the first thing that pops into your head when I say, “Roller Coaster?” Perhaps words like: scary, exhilarating, exciting, fast, even dangerous or unsafe come to mind. Now, how about when I say, “Carousel?” Words like: peaceful, slow, safe, even boring are likely to spring forth. When we look at the nature of the two amusement park favorites, one is fast with patches of slow stretches. It’s exciting, has a track filled with twists, turns, bends, loops, high hills, low valleys, provides surprises around every bend, sometimes leaves us breathless, usually leaves us wanting more, and, despite the fear that many feel toward it, brings us safely back to the station…every time. The other is slow, methodical, predictable, safe, never ventures out of its circular path (which is not all that bad as it allows it’s riders to wave at the same people at least 10 times), and except for the random instance someone has difficulty getting either on or off the horse (come on, you can laugh….it’s ok), a ride on a carousel is rather uneventful. Now…if I asked the question: “Which ride and its description more resemble the life of a follower of Christ?”, which would you choose? Before you answer, let me make sure you understand the question.

As followers of Christ, we are called to live a life of faith-filled reckless abandonment of our own wills, plans, dreams, logic, security, abilities, control, and future, despite our fear, to the One who knit us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), who ordained our days before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16), who hung on a cross and bore the sins of humanity, past-present-future, so that those who believe in him may have eternal life (Romans 4:25; John 3:16), and who said, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:24). I don’t know about you. But I can say with absolute certainty that it would be very difficult to find any person who has answered God’s call, from the beginning of time until now, whose life was more like a ride on a carousel than a roller coaster. So I ask again. Which ride and its description more resemble the life of a follower of Christ? Which ride best describes your life?

For those who love carousels, please know that I am not slighting you or making fun of your desire to simulate nailing one foot to the floor and walking a marathon. Sorry. I couldn’t resist. I know not everyone likes roller coasters. But I believe in my heart that if we would truly reflect on the times we stepped out in complete faith, against all logic and rational thinking, against perhaps even the urgings of those who are closest to us, to follow God’s calling, our experience was less like a slow, circular ride on a stationary horse and more like flying up and down hills of steel at break neck speeds, where it was hard to distinguish fear from exhilaration, yet was comforted by a confidence and assurance that the train we were on would remain securely attached to the track…despite the hair pin turns that sparked frequent thoughts to the contrary. That confidence was not in man-made machines. Our confidence…our assurance…was, and is, in God. Until next time…Keep it real…and Armor Up!

Make sure to check out Servant Warrior Radio every Friday morning @ 6am CST on KJSL AM 630 TruthTalk630 St Louis, MO and worldwide at www.truthtalk630.com with replays and more information at www.servantwarriorradio.com. The mission of Servant Warrior Ministries is to reach guys, from 5 to 105, where they are to impact and empower them to be who God created and called them to be. For more information go to www.servantwarriorministries.org.

The article above appeared in the June 2012 Power Source Magazine, www.powersourcemagazine.com. You can view the actual article HERE.

Oooo, That Smell

Posted: May 3, 2012 in Articles

Before I get started, if I may, I would like to remind you that this month we honor some very, very important people: Mothers ( Mother’s Day – May 13th) and those military personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country (Memorial Day –  May 28th). I cannot think of two groups of people who deserve our thanks more. So to mothers everywhere, we say “Thanks, Mom. We love you. You’re the best.” And to those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our freedom and way of life, with humble adoration and the utmost respect, “Thank you.”  Now…on with the show.

We’ve all heard the saying “April showers bring May flowers”. How true…how true. April showers DO bring May flowers.

So, it’s time to go out and smell the awesome fragrances of late spring…flowers, fresh cut grass, the crispness of the morning air, and skunks. What? Did he just say, skunks? Yes I did. But we’ll get back to that furry little two-toned terror in a few minutes.

If you have not seen the movie Facing the Giants, I highly, highly recommend doing so. Buy it even. It is in my top 2 favorite movies of all time. The other is Field of Dreams.  Of course, if you’ve ever read any of my articles, seen me at the ball field, or been around me for more than 30 seconds it is not hard to draw that conclusion. I digress. Facing the Giants is from the same people who made Flywheel, Fireproof, and Courageous. The Kendrick Brothers and the folks at Sherwood Baptist in Albany, GA, do it right. What a ministry they have. Anyway, there is a scene in Facing the Giants where Head Coach Grant Taylor (played by Alex Kendrick) tells his football team during a practice that, “Your attitude is like the aroma of our heart. If it stinks, it means your heart is not right.” Just then, one of the assistant coaches walks up to Brock Kelly, star linebacker and leader of the team (played by Jason McCloud), sniffs and shakes his head after he hears Brock whisper, “He sure is preaching today.” Coach Taylor asks him,  “How’s your attitude, Brock?” “It’s fine,” Brock replies. Then Coach Taylor drops the bomb, “Then you’ll be okay doing the death crawl, right?” What follows the team drill and a short exchange between Coach Taylor and his team is, in my opinion, 5 minutes of the most inspiring, powerful, impactful, and motivating film footage I’ve ever seen. I won’t spoil it…see the movie. And if you’re a coach, of anything, it’s a must.           

Now…back to the skunk. It is absolutely amazing how the scent from the slight spray of a skunk  can impact such a large area around it. For those who have never had the benefit of experiencing the byproduct of a frightened or threatened skunk, let me tell you that everyone within a few square miles of the little guy will enjoy its distinct and rather undesirable scent. A bad attitude can have a similar impact. Just like the aroma from the skunk, the stench of a bad attitude can fill a home, permeate a business, a ball team, a church, or a neighborhood. Get just a little bit of the skunk’s spray on your clothes and the smell will accompany you everywhere you go…just like a bad attitude. And just like that little skunk’s spray, whoever comes in contact with it takes the smell with them…everywhere they go. Before you know it that smell (a.k.a. a bad attitude) has impacted multiple homes, multiple businesses, multiple ball teams, multiple churches, and multiple neighborhoods.

The immediate and lasting impact one attitude can have on so many cannot be dismissed or ignored. The great thing is that a positive attitude can have an effect that is just as impactful…long lasting…and viral. God’s word tells us to, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thes 5:16-18 NIV) It certainly is tough to have a bad attitude if we adhere to those instructions. So let the aroma of your heart be as sweet as pure nard (John 12:3)…and as glorifying. And remember, “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” (Gal 5:9 NIV)

Please pray this prayer with me: ‘Lord, thank You for Your grace, love, and forgiveness. Thank You for being faithful and true. Lord, all through Your word we are reminded of the large impact small things can have…such as the faith of a mustard seed or the tithe of a poor widow of two small copper coins. Lord, never let me forget the impact one attitude can have on so many. Let my attitude glorify You…and may people see You in me. Lord, please give me the strength to be who You see and who You created me to be. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Until next time…keep it real. And, Armor Up!

Also…BIG NEWS: Servant Warrior Ministries is on the air! Servant Warrior Radio hit the airwaves in April and can be heard every Friday morning, 6am CST (7am EST), on KJSL TruthTalk630, St Louis, MO. Join us! It is also streamed all over the world online at www.Truthtalk630.com .  Visit www.ServantWarriorRadio.com for more information, stations, listings, and times.

The above article is from Power Source Magazine, May 2012. The actual article can downloaded HERE.

“Judging by the cover…”

Posted: April 2, 2012 in Articles

‘Beauty is only skin deep’… ‘Its true depth lies just beneath the surface’… ‘Things are not always as they appear’ … these and other phrases are ones we have heard all our lives. What do they mean? While I am confident our answer to the question “What do these phrases mean?” would be very similar, I truly wonder if we really get it…if we really apply the answer’s core message to those we meet every day. If we’re honest with ourselves, I think we know the answer.

There was a story that came out in the late nineties about how Stanford University was founded. The account of the story was that Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, the home of Harvard University, in order to speak to the university’s president about erecting a building in honor of their son who attended Harvard but died unexpectedly. Apparently, the president of the university responded rather gruffly to the shabbily dressed ‘country hicks’ and asked if they had any idea how much it costs to build a building. He told them he had over seven and a half million dollars in the physical structures on the campus. Mrs. Stanford looked at her husband and commented that if that was all it cost to start a university they should start their own. Her comment left the Harvard president speechless and the Stanfords went back to California and started Stanford University. While this rendition of the origin of Stanford University is absolutely false, the underlying moral of the story and premise of “never judging someone by mere appearance” couldn’t be truer.

“My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith.  If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, “Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!” and either ignore the street person or say, “Better sit here in the back row,” haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted? Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God.” James 2:1-5 (MSG)

Every day, in the business marketplace…in schools…in our neighborhoods…in churches…people are judged based on their appearance. Of course, I am not speaking only of those who are looked down upon because they don’t quite meet a certain dress code or look. An attractive outer appearance has a similar impact but in the opposite way. How we present ourselves is very important. However, our outward appearance is not the determinant of who we are…and certainly is not what God looks at. A perfect example is the Lord’s appointment and rejection of Saul as king of Israel (1 Samuel 9, 15) and anointing of young David as the future king (1 Samuel 16). “When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.’ But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ 1 Samuel 16:6-7 (ESV).

I started at an early age to live by the creed “You only get one shot at making a first impression.” And appearance is a major factor in the impressions, both first and ongoing, that we make. However, one’s outer appearance doesn’t always reveal the “real” person. I have been guilty, more than I would like to admit, of judging someone based on appearance, both positively and negatively. I looked at them through my own filter and not God’s. And it’s interesting…and humbling…how God convicted me when I did…and how He still convicts me when I do.

“Lord, it is so easy to form opinions and impressions based on appearance. In today’s world, appearance has become so important and a condition of acceptance…of promotion. Lord, despite  what we look like to others and see others as, You know our heart and the people we are…and likely the people we want to be. Lord, give me the courage to look beyond the appearance to reach others and love them as You did…and do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

I have often said that following Christ is like riding in the front seat of a high speed roller coaster…with the lap bar up.  Join me this summer, right here, as we are going to be hanging out at the amusement park. It is going to be a wild ride. Until then, keep it real…and Armor Up!           

The above article appears in the April Issue of Power Source Magazine, www.powersourcemagazine.com and can be viewed HERE.

Quantity v. Quality

Posted: March 2, 2012 in Articles

Hello, March. The year is in full swing. Shamrock fields are a bloom. St Patrick, a true servant warrior in every respect, is on everyone’s mind. And our schedules are jumbled, tight, hectic, and overwhelming. Guess what…that’s life. We all get 24 hours a day and will give account for how we use them. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:15-17 to “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the Lord’s will is.” But in our “burning the candles at both ends” lifestyle…when do we have time to hear what the Lord’s will is for our lives? When do we have time to hear the Lord at all? Bottom line: In order to hear Him and recognize His prompting, we have to be with Him. And being with Him must extend beyond the few minutes we may have taken over the past few days to read our…‘5 Minute Bible’.  More and more we are trying to squeeze God into our schedules rather than being open and receptive to His. God-moments and messages come when He deems it appropriate. If we are not alert and ready to hear Him when He speaks, we’ll miss them.

Quiet time is defined as the time we spend in prayer and communication with our heavenly Father. If we are truly honest with ourselves, quiet time is likely to better resemble the few minutes, when we can spare it or remember it, that we jam in between something we are likely late for or looking towards, to turn off the radio, TV, computer, or put down the iPhone and read a short devotional and/or a verse or two…perhaps even throw some prayers  upward (usually a want list or requests for Him to change something or others)and then wait ever so (im)patiently for the Lord to answer us, in a clear and audible voice, of course, because we only have a few minutes left in the allotted “quiet time”. For those times we grab a quiet few minutes in the car between appointments and/or in route to somewhere important, an audible response from God is certainly desirable or one via billboard, burning bush, or some mega-phenomenon/life changing and cataclysmic occurrence that somehow no one else sees but us…but one that we can definitively pin our God-focused lifestyle and/or directional change to so when someone asks, we have a really cool answer (reason) to share with them. That is not to say that I don’t believe “Road to Damascus” experiences still occur. I believe they do.  What I don’t believe is that they occur when it fits nicely into a time slot or a schedule…of ours.

I have heard more times than I can count that quality time is more important than quantity time. I could not disagree more with that statement and approach. The longer I am on this spinning rock, I am absolutely convinced, especially as a parent, that life cannot be scripted. We don’t get the opportunity to dictate when our kids will say their first words, take their first step, get their first base hit, or say or do the coolest thing we have ever seen (which is daily, by the way). We have to be there when it happens. Life, as a whole, happens the same way. The greatest, most rewarding, fulfilling, exciting, unbelievable God-facilitated moments happen when we least expect them…and experiencing them, you guessed it, require us being there.

 Ever heard the phrase “priming the pump”? I just love that saying and use it often when talking to groups and companies, both for-profit and not-for-profit   ones, about selling, donor cultivation, relationship building, etc… In essence,  you just have to keep pumping that lever over…and over…and over…and  over…because you never know when the well is going to produce water.  But, you had better be ready with a bucket when it does. It’s no different with hearing God’s subtle messages, realizing God-moments, and sensing His nudges. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 we are told to “pray continually”. I love the Message version of, “Pray all the time.” While it says the same thing, there’s just something about it I can relate to. Maybe it’s that I can’t hear a southern preacher saying, “Pray continually.” But I sure can hear one saying, with a smooth southern draw, “Pray all the TIME.” You can hear it too, huh. Anyway, let me do a little translating of that verse. It doesn’t mean kneeling at an altar or bowed with our hands together 24/7.  I take it to simply mean that God wants us to talk with Him…all the time. He wants us to maintain an open line of communication with Him. Important point: Communication is a two way street. Even more important point: God gave us two ears and only one mouth, so we should…yep…listen twice as much as we speak. I know. I’m with you. It’s really tough for me, too.

God doesn’t need us to fulfill His perfect plan and will. But He wants the best for us and wants us to experience all that He has in store for our lives. If we choose to follow Him…to listen to Him…we are the ones who benefit and experience an awesome and exciting life fulfilled when we give it up and jump into the raging river of God’s grace, love, and plan for our lives. It’s amazing how, if we will simply stop fighting and go with it, that raging river’s current will actually hold us above the surface and give us the ride of our lives. Until next time, keep it real…and Armor Up!

The above article appeared in the March 2012 Issue of Power Source Magazine, www.powersourcemagazine.com. Download the article HERE.

“The Matter Between Our Ears”

Posted: January 1, 2012 in Articles

Hello, 2012. Wow. It seems like just the other day it was 2011. My…how time flies. I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year. I also hope 2011 was everything you had hoped it would be. If it wasn’t, rest easy my friend. It’s in the past and there is nothing we can do about it. It’s time to hit it again…a new year and new opportunities. I’m so glad I serve a God that makes all things new. Let’s get on with it…start the year off right…set the tone…and get folks talking.

I’m a sports guy. As a coach, leader, and strategist, I love to dive deep into the nuances and strategy of the game. The chess matches that occur between racing teams, dugouts, and sidelines are often as interesting, exciting, and enjoyable as the action itself. However, we sometimes get so caught up in the strategy and “out-smarting” the other guy, that we actually over analyze and out think ourselves. Admittedly, I catch myself doing this more often than I would like. One of my favorite movie lines comes from the movie “Major League”.  It’s top of the ninth…two outs…two strikes on the batter and Ricky Vaughn (played by Charlie Sheen) is standing on the mound, staring down a monster of a homerun hitter, and thinking about what pitch to throw. The screen then switches over to his coach and in a gruff and crusty voice the coach says, “Forget about the curve ball, Ricky. Give him the heater.”  What I hear in that is, ”Don’t think…just throw.”  If you are ever around a ball field with one of my little league pitchers on the mound, you will hear that phrase being preached…over and over.  It’s amazing how often our minds and the amount of knowledge, intellect, and skill we acquire get in the way.

Jesus Christ said, “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. Rather, it means uncomplicated. I interpret the words Christ spoke about God’s kingdom to say that unless we accept the message of grace, love, salvation, and eternal life at face value, without clouding it up with the world’s analytical, scholarly, or intellectual insight, we will miss the point entirely and could very well find ourselves on the outside looking in. I don’t know about you but being on the outside of anything related to the God of heaven and earth is NOT where I want to be. 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 the more knowledge and experience we acquire, the less we are able to accept the most simple, basic, and transparent concepts.

Think about it. What were the academic resumes of the twelve…those first men that Christ chose to change the world by spreading the Message of salvation? Using today’s language, I don’t think there were many legal scholars or PhD’s. There is no doubt they were bright, gifted, and intelligent. Perhaps not by the world’s standards…or even the church’s…but the apostles accepted and understood the Good News Message at its core essence and were able to share it in a way that not only spoke to the hearts of people and changed lives forever, but they wowed the elite with their boldness and oratory skills (Acts 4:13 NLT). Don’t get me wrong. Getting an education and obtaining knowledge are essential….and Biblical. If you have any doubt, read through the book of Proverbs. But again I ask the question, “Why did He choose the twelve men that He did and not the scholarly elite? I’ll let you think about that one as it is a question that can be discussed at length…but it is a question for another time.

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, narrow-minded, 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. (Matthew 18:3)  And 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.” Remember, everything comes from the Lord. That includes knowledge, wisdom, and perspective. When we are praying, it would serve us well to pray that God will provide us the right amount of each. Until next time, keep it real…and Armor Up.

Don’t forget to visit www.servantwarriorministries.org

The above article was published in the January 2012 Power Source Magazine, www.powersourcemagazine.com, and can be viewed HERE.

God Dreams

Posted: December 1, 2011 in Articles

Well, guys, welcome to December. Can you believe that 2011 is almost over? Wow, how fast it goes. Christmas is here. The sound of bells and carols can be heard all around. Decorated trees have been erected and lights have been affixed (both with minimal injury, I hope) and buzz with a holiday glow…and massive amounts of electricity. The stockings are hung and the college football bowl season begins only days from now…which, for many of us, is really the most wonderful time of the year. I’m only half kidding.

Now, think back over the last 11 months. What kind of year was it? It was a challenging year, economically, for many individuals and for certain sectors of our economy. A large number of people spent much of the year out of work while others prospered in their business and vocational endeavors. Life is certainly never dull. However, I also know people who, despite their circumstances – whether bad or good, set courses for adventure and stepped out in faith to do something…something they felt called to do…something God put on their heart. What about you? Did the year transpire the way you thought it would? If you set goals, did you end up doing what you set out to do back in January…February? What about this…Did you act on a dream? I love the story of Joseph. Man, you can carve up the events in his life in so many ways and see so many truths of God’s sovereignty that it is astounding. Unfortunately, and I’m really bummed about it, time and magazine page space restraints won’t let me dive into them all. I think I literally heard your sigh of relief. For now, I want to talk about dreams…God dreams.

I once heard someone say that God dreams are always met with opposition, always require greater than our current capabilities and character, and are always for a purpose much greater than ourselves.  In my experience, that is a dead on assessment. And when we look in God’s word at the story of Joseph, these three characteristics fit his dreams perfectly. In Genesis 37, Joseph shares two of his dreams with his brothers and father. In both dreams, objects representing his brothers and family bowed down to him. That, of course, was met with significant opposition. Joseph’s brothers, who already didn’t like him because he was his dad’s “favorite”, essentially told him that he was sadly mistaken if he thought they would bow down to him. They even plotted to kill him. That sounds like push back to me. Secondly, his dreams were certainly greater than his current ability and character as he was just a young shepherd boy and not one who “the sun, moon, and eleven stars” would bow down to. And lastly, the reality of his dreams would end up for a purpose far greater than himself as he, through incredible circumstances and faith,  would eventually become second in Egypt only to Pharaoh and save millions from starvation because of his plan to gather grain during prosperity in preparation for a 7 year famine. It’s a great story and a must read.

While most of us will never have a life story like Joseph’s, we are all given God dreams. I will tell you that Servant Warrior Ministries was one. ..still is. There are countless testimonies of people who stepped out in faith and followed a God dream. From a vocational change, to a business venture, to something like teaching a Sunday school class, going back to school, even starting a new hobby, if it is a God dream, the three characteristics will be clearly evident. We often times place a level of expectation on a God dream and think it has to be some earth-shattering, world changing endeavor. It doesn’t.  God dreams are simply those things He places on our hearts that we cannot do ourselves in our power and abilities, require Him at the helm, and are for a purpose much greater than ourselves. They usually require us to leave a comfort zone and/or go where we feel wholly ill-equipped…knowing we have no reason to be there…but realizing it is exactly where we are supposed to be. “’I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree.’ Isaiah 55:8 (MSG).

Christmas is the time we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the greatest Gift ever given. “God showed us how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.” 1 John 4:9 (NLT) Just as we marvel at and celebrate the birth of a new life, we celebrate the blessing of a new life in Christ. “…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT). It is in Christ that we receive the blessings that come with a life given to Him to use as He sees fit. And it is through the dreams He places on our heart…dreams that through Him alone can become a reality… that we fulfill the purpose He has for us and receive our reward.

What dream has God put on your heart? If there is a question of which dream is from God and which one is the result of either bad pizza or a too-good-to-be-true infomercial…a dream from God has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him, is a major pride extractor and humbler, is the ultimate in risk/reward with the reward not readily visible but the risk clearly evident, scares us to death but excites us to live, allows us to watch others be blessed and experience God right before our eyes, and, puts us right in the middle of the Almighty’s will for our lives. Can you think of a better place to be in 2012 than smack in the middle of God’s will? Me, either. If God has put a dream on your heart…act. Take that step of faith. It’s worth it. Until next year…keep it real, Mighty Warrior…and Armor Up!

From my family to you and yours, have a Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year. And please remember our military men and women, many in harm’s way, who are away from their loved ones protecting our freedoms and our way of life. May God be with them and protect them.

The above article appears in the December 2011 Issue of Power Source Magazine, http://www.powersourcemagazine.com, and can be viewed HERE

Compromise…Not An Option

Posted: November 4, 2011 in Articles

Wow…I can’t believe it is already November. Fall is in full swing. Turkeys are feeling a bit uneasy. The anticipation of dressing and gravy, sweet potato soufflé (which, by the way, I only get at Thanksgiving and Christmas…despite my tantrums), and honey baked ham is almost too much to bear. The Lions and the Cowboys stay true to tradition and will once again ensure we have football on Thanksgiving Day. College football rivalries are at their peak. We find ourselves a bit more aware of the blessings in our lives. We make a point to thank and honor those men and women who have served their country, past and present, in our Armed Forces. For all who have served and who are currently serving, Thank You.  And, of course, we celebrate the birthday of the United State Marine Corps. Happy 236th Birthday, Marines. Oorah! Semper Fi.

It has been said many times that character is what happens when no one is watching. That is absolutely true. Unless we have the self discipline and the inner fortitude to do the right thing when no one is watching (of course, there is One who sees everything), chances are much greater that we will not have what it takes to stand our ground when it counts…when others are watching. In today’s world of instant gratification and eroding ethics, maintaining a high level of principles and living an uncompromising life is deemed…well…radical. The book of Daniel is definitely one of my favorite books of the Bible. No matter how many times I read it, I either learn something new or gain a new perspective. The stories of Daniel and the lion’s den and Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (better known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) being thrown into the fiery furnace are two of the most beloved stories of the Bible. Both stories end with God showing His faithfulness to those who love, trust, and follow Him. But we sometimes forget how God’s faithful servants ended up in the lion’s den and the furnace. Both situations resulted from an unwillingness to compromise principles, beliefs, and commitments to God despite the potential repercussions.  And in both stories, it could be argued that their (Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) compromise could be justified given the societal perspective and potential outcome …death. I marvel at the unwavering conviction, courage, faith and fortitude of the three young men, likely in their late teens, as they stood before a merciless king and essentially told him that their God would come through and save them. But even if He didn’t, death by fire was more appealing than bowing before anyone, or anything, other than the God of heaven.  Wow…that is awesome.

That sentiment of “acceptable compromise” is alive and well today. For the majority of us, we will never face a situation where our choice of whether or not to compromise means the difference between life and death. However, we have all faced the choice between what we know to be right and what we know to be wrong, despite the choice’s level of “worldly acceptance”.  When there is an audience of only one…the One…it is sometimes easier to do what is right. But when we are out in public, with a group, or even our family, and presented with a choice of whether or not to stand our ground…maintain our principles…doing what we know is right is sometimes more difficult, especially when the only other person in the group that agrees with our position is God. Peer and societal pressures, eroding values, and the sentiment of “acceptable compromise”, put significant pressure on all of us, especially young men, to maintain a Godly perspective and stand firm in principles and values. Every day, it seems, we hear of men, many prominent and respected men of faith, succumb to the pressure and compromise their values and ethics. Our challenge…bottom line: “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 Peter 5:8-9. We face choices every day. And even though we want to make the right ones, the ones that the Almighty would want us to make, we don’t always do it. However, there is an incredible thing called grace…and a promise that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. (Rom 8:39). Christ tells us that whatever we ask of Him in His name, He will do it. (John 14:14) So take Him up on His offer. Ask Him for the power to stand firm in faith when faced with choices large and small. Not sure you can? Remember… there is power in the blood of Jesus. And we can do everything through Him who gives us strength. (Philippians 4:13).

Until we meet again…keep it real…keep your focus vertical…and Armor Up.

 Don’t forget: Join the movement…wear the gear…spread the Message…and help save a soul. Make a powerful and life changing statement without saying a word. Visit www.DontDieStupid.net and get your limited edition “Don’t Die Stupid” t-shirt today. 

The above article was published in the November 2011 issue of Power Source Magazine (www.powersourcemagazine.com) and can be viewed HERE.

“The B-side…”

Posted: October 9, 2011 in Articles

“The B Side…”

Hello, October. Oh, how glad I am to see you. Leaves are changing…everywhere but here in Florida (bummer!). College football is in full swing. The Fall Classic is upon us.  The annual family pilgrimage to the apple and pumpkin farms of North Georgia is so close I can taste it…literally! And for all the fans of Inspirational Country Music, the ICM Awards are just days away. And in honor of the ICM’s and Power Source Magazine, both very near and dear to my heart, the theme of this month’s article has an obvious ‘musical inspiration’.

It hasn’t been that long ago that records or albums, the vinyl type played on a turntable, were the way we enjoyed music. I can still hear the 33’s played at 78…chipmunks! Those old enough to remember are laughing in nostalgia. Oh, the pain and anguish you felt when you left a record in sunlight or let it get scratched. We all still have memories of songs that would never end due to a stuck needle and a trip from the other side of the house was necessary to help the needle along so the song would finish. How many of you who remember the beloved vinyls ever found yourself mesmerized by the needle going up and down as a warped record went around…and around…and around on the turntable? Oh, the memories…and how times have changed.

Of course, now we can get individual songs electronically. But back in the day (For those of you over 40 please hang with me for another 30 seconds) we got individual songs via smaller records called 45’s, records played at 45 rpm’s. The 45’s had an A side and a B side. The A side was always the ‘hit single’ and the B side was another song from the artist’s album, usually not slated to be promoted as a ‘hit’. And even though every now and then it became as big of a hit as its A side counterpart, the B side song was simply a song to fill the back side of a record.

In the life of a new believer in Christ, the A side of the record is this awesome, incredible, eternal new life song with Christ and the decision for Him to be their Lord and Savior. This is the ‘hit’…as it should be. This is the side that receives most of the attention and the ‘airplay’. The B side to this record, however, is equally as important and awesome but a bit scarier, painful, and not necessarily material for the marketing posters. But it is critical to the spiritual life of this new believer that the B side be listened to as well. When someone accepts Christ into their hearts, their life is changed forever. That decision also propels this new Christian right into the middle of an all out war…one where every weapon of the enemy is pointed at, well, them. New Christians, even Christians further along in their faith seeking to get closer to the Lord, pose a serious threat to the devil. Satan will do everything he can, as quickly as possible, to stop this new life direction and choice. That means he will come with everything he has, from all sides and sources. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us “…the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” To use an analogy from the jungle, a baby antelope or an animal that is wounded is much easier prey than one that is older, faster, more experienced, and especially one that is part of a larger group.

As Christians, we need to reach out to, take responsibility for, and be real with people seeking a new or renewed life in Christ. They need to know that a decision to accept Christ as Lord of their life is the greatest decision they will ever make and one that will radically change their life forever. It is one that will bring them into direct and eternal fellowship with the all powerful and sovereign Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Great I Am, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Beginning and the End. They need to know it is also a decision that will bring about an all out spiritual attack intended to stop that ‘life’ before it gets started. However, they can take heart, and we need to remember, that the devil loses (Revelation 20:10), earthly troubles have benefit (1 Peter 1:6-9), Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33), and that believers are heirs to the throne of Glory (Galatians 4:7) and will live forever (1 John 2:17). That rocks…and so does our God!

So if you come across a music store that advertises classic records and music, I encourage you to go inside. Find the 45’s and check out some of the A side titles. Given the resurgence in popularity of music from the 60’s, 70’s, and even 80’s, you will likely recognize some of them…even if you’re a twenty something. But don’t stop there. Turn it over. There is a very good chance there is a great tune on the B side as well. To all those who fill our lives with music, we thank you and celebrate you. More so, however, we are thankful to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as He IS the song of our heart. “Let the Word of Christ – the Message – have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives….And sing, sing your hearts out to God!” (Colossians 3:16 MSG).   Keep it real…Armor Up…and Don’t Die Stupid!   JSS

The above article appeared in the October 2011 Issue of Power Source Magazine, www.powersourcemagazine.com. Click HERE to view the pdf of the actual article.