We are quickly approaching the conference and we are deciding to make a speacial offer. The first 50 people to text or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org will be offered tickets to the conference for 25 dollars. This is a limited time offer. Dr. Ted Roberts will be speaking as well as Dr. Paul Travis, pro strong man David Hansen will be there and Charlotte One will be leading in praise. This is an excellent line up and you do not want to miss it. I look forward to hearing from you. Remember the first 50!!!!
We have never been more tethered in today’s world, yet ironically, never more disconnected. We have multiple communication devices and platforms, yet we’re disengaged in personal contact. Telling the world about our lives, while hiding our hearts.
CONSIDER THESE 5 QUESTIONS:
–How accessible are you?
–What do people have to do to reach you?
–How are you filtering who reaches you and who doesn’t?
–Where does that filter come from or what motivates it?
We must honestly evaluate how we are engaging the world and being perceived. And, as believers, evaluate how we are impacting people’s lives for the Kingdom. Of course, we can’t take every phone call, respond to every email when it comes, or have a conversation with every person we encounter. But, honestly, that isn’t the issue, is it? We stay behind the gun, because we weren’t available last week when the initial connection was made.
So, is there an answer? . . . There’s always an answer, but they’re rarely easy and always take work.
Take some time and think these 3 questions through:
Now, here’s 5 practical suggestions you can use right now:
The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. Who ever knows what you’re thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God–except that he not only knows what he’s thinking, but he lets us in on it. –1 Corinthians 2:10 MSG
Whose voice will you listen to?
2 Corinthians 6:7 states God speaks to us with a voice of truth and power.
God says I'm not done with you yet.
He says this is all training ground.
He says I have something better in store for you.
He says push through to the blessing.
I'm with you.
I love you so much I have my some for you.
I love you enough to do for you what you could never do for yourself.
1 Timothy 4 says Satan is the accuser of the believers.
He says your finished and washed up.
He says your not good enought for this.
He says there is nothing else out there for you give up.
He says you'll never make it.
No ones with you.
No one loves you.
God does not care.
How can God love you.
Both voice make statements. One is to break you the other is to build you up. One has to be truth the other a lie. Which one will you listen to today?
Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah." - Judges 11:29a
We've all heard stories of individuals who have overcome extreme hardship during their childhood years. Children of alcoholics, orphans who never have parents, loss of parents to a fatal crash, childhood disease - these are all difficult circumstances to overcome.
Jephthah was a man who overcame his obstacles and refused to allow his circumstances to prevent him from becoming great in God's sight. He was born to Gilead, a result of his father's adulterous encounter with a prostitute. Jephthah's half-brothers decided to reject Jephthah, and drove him away from their home saying, "You are not going to get any inheritance in our family because you are the son of another woman." Imagine the rejection this young man felt as he was cast away from his own family.
This experience taught Jephthah to become a hardened warrior. Today he probably would have been part of a street gang. As he got older, his reputation as a warrior became known to those in his country, so much so that when the Ammonites made war on Israel, the elders of Gilead went to Jephthah and asked him to be their commander. Jephthah had to fight off those feelings of rejection from previous years.
"Didn't you hate me and drive me from my father's house?" he responded. He overcame his hurt and pain, and responded to the call God had on his life.
It is said that if we were to help the butterfly remove itself from the cocoon, the butterfly would not be strong enough to survive. It is the struggle that prepares the butterfly to become strong enough to fly. Without the struggle in the cocoon, it could not survive as a butterfly.
The Lord prepares each of us in similar ways. Some of our childhoods seem to have been harsh and born from a seemingly unloving God. However, the Lord knows our struggle and will make our life an instrument in His hand if we will follow Him with an upright heart. He does make all things beautiful in His time if we are willing to be patient.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1
It’s time to drop the burden. It’s time to allow the chains to fall from your shoulders. It’s time to lift your head up and look toward the hope on thehorizon. It’s time to be the person God designed you to be.
When we begin to convince ourselves we aren’t worthy of God’s grace, when we can’t escape the prison of hopelessness, or when we allow someone to control who we are… we invite slavery. Christ did not hang on the cross and offer his life for you to live in slavery. Drop the chains, raise your chin, set your jaw, and advance on life… don’t retreat.
Never allow anyone to hold you captive. Never allow another person to own your freedom. Never allow another person the right to use you for their own gain. Christ died so you would have eternal life. And Christ died so you could experience the Kingdom of God right here… right now…in this present life.
Stand firm in your faith, stand firm in your hope, and never back down from the call of Christ. Never.
2 Minute Drill
Who has their thumb on you and controls your thoughts?
Name one talent you have that could offer hope to someone else.
PRAY: God, remove the chains from my life. I don’t want to live like an empty shell. Show me how to walk away from those who control me, and teach me how to help others drop their chains. Amen.
If someone asked you if you are a “fighter”, how would you answer them? Well, first, it would depend on how you interpret “fighting.” It could be all the way from “Yeah, man, I love a good fight. Let me at ‘em” to “Nobody tells me what to do or how to think. I’ll debate anyone into the ground” to “Dude, I hate conflict. Whether it’s my wife, boss, or a buddy, I avoid tension.”
Yes, the word “fighting” can have all those connotations, but there’s a spiritual and emotional fighting that becomes necessary to live and grow and mature as a follower of Christ. If a man has no fight in him, he will likely not grow, and can easily fall. Why? Because the enemy is going to fight you, whether you fight him or not. And a man who just takes punch after punch and doesn’t even raise his arms will eventually get KOed.
In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul tells us clearly that we are in a fight. He tells us to put on our spiritual armor that God has handed us. He also tells us that our enemy is not one another, but the powers of darkness. Paul doesn’t say IF we will have a struggle, or IF the day of evil will come, or IF the flaming arrows of the evil one will fly, but WHEN they come. Considering this, here’s three thoughts:
1–Before we can successfully fight spiritually, we have to stop fighting physically. If you find yourself wasting a lot of time and energy fighting your wife, your kids, your boss, your church, your friends, etc., you have to start by laying down the battle against flesh and blood. Not saying you shouldn’t ever disagree or argue or have a bad day with communication. That’s different and is going to happen, because you’re breathing. I’m talking about the attitude some guys get of “me against the world” and looking for a conflict with the humans around you. If your life mode is “my battle IS against flesh and blood, by golly,” then there’s not much point in hearing about your spiritual armor. It’s a matter of time before your knockout punch is delivered.
2–Before we can mount a successful defense against the enemy and move forward offensively for the Kingdom, we must learn to “stand our ground.” To “stand firm.” This is not, I repeat not, just maintaining neutral ground. Standing against an attack is also holding your ground. Not being pushed back and not being knocked down. Standing. The question is how? Here’s rule #1 on standing–You can’t stand alone! You might make it a while, but a single soldier does not make an army; it’s a POW who hasn’t been captured yet. You must get other warriors into your life to help you stand and those whom you also help to stand. Back to back when the battle is fierce. And to stand and move forward, when it’s time to advance.
3–When we have laid down our battle with the world of flesh, when we have gathered our brothers to stand with, then You receive the armor of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, together with the Word of God, and carry the Gospel forward to the hearts of men. The real and only purpose for all this fighting and standing is furthering the Gospel. It’s what this war is all about. And the incredibly cool news is the Gospel has already won; it’s only a matter of how many will receive it. Which is why we fight on!
Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil’s tricks. We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm. Be ready! Let the truth be like a belt around your waist, and let God’s justice protect you like armor. Your desire to tell the good news about peace should be like shoes on your feet. Let your faith be like a shield, and you will be able to stop all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Let God’s saving power be like a helmet, and for a sword use God’s message that comes from the Spirit. Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people. –Ephesians 6:10-18 CEV
Is there anything better than vine ripened fruit? What’s not to love about a juicy, sweet orange, or perfectly ripened mango? I was watching a rerun of a favorite episode of Seinfeld – where Kramer is banned from the fruit stand and sends Jerry in to secretly buy fruit for him… check it out– then read on.
Christians use the fruit analogy as an indicator of faithfulness. The tangible nature of fruit is perfectly understood. We can observe it’s exterior, but we really don’t know it’s full flavor until we test the interior.
We can relate to fruit because we can see it. We know the appeal of a fresh, ripe melon and we respect the stench of a decaying, rotten tomato. I guess that’s why Jesus Christ so readily used fruit as an example for us to understand his teaching. In fact, the word “fruit” appears more than 150 times in the Bible and is used by almost every writer to convey a message of good and bad. The analogy is too perfect for our lives.
Recently, I was reading through some of the conversations that Jesus Christ was having among his disciples and stopped in Matthew chapter 12. This is the place where Jesus was confronted with accusations that He was perhaps spawned from evil for the miracles He had been performing. After healing the sick to make them well, the accusation was hurled at Him and he responded this way:
33“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.35The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” –Jesus Christ as recorded in the Holy Bible (Matthew 12:33-37)
These words stung me when I read them because I am guilty of being in the brood of vipers on occasion… striking out at others. I’m not celebrating that. As Christians, it is our challenge to cut out the evil in our lives so we become better fruit. The worst we can do is take care of the skin, but allow the inside to decay and rot.
Many times we find ourselves spewing venom out of our mouths – We cut people down, we make jokes at the expense of others, we hurl insults to people who cut us off in traffic, and we rip people apart behind their backs with hearsay. It’s just a few harmful little words… right? If you don’t think there is a problem with the words you use… go read the passage above one more time.
Listen to me when I tell you this. What comes out of your mouth is a direct link to the condition of your soul. And our words are the aroma of our spiritual fruit.
We should challenge one another to clean it up.
We should pray daily that God reveals those places in our lives that condemn us. We should stop and listen to our words so we can hear what our witness sounds like. And may we surround ourselves with honest brothers who are willing to let us know when the aroma of our fruit begins to stink.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:16 (NIV)
Jeremy sat at his desk and watched the news coverage. Every channel crawled with information about the tragedy. Reporters swarmed the scene, nearly outnumbering the first response teams scrambling to stabilize the victims.
Another senseless act of violence unfolded thousands of miles away – but was magically made relevant in Jeremy’s life through media. Reporters struggled to tell the story behind dry eyes, children and parents struggled to find words to explain what they witnessed, and government officials began using the word “pray”.
What can one man, a thousand miles away, do? He can pray. Jeremy, still trying to understand how prayer can impact someone so far away, bowed his head for the first time over a distant world event…and he prayed. Jeremy knew that it wasn’t enough to simply post “I’m praying” on his social media. He was moved to follow through and submit a petition to Almighty God for peace and strength.
In moments of unexplainable acts of madness, the world turns to prayer. Government officials forsake political correctness to encourage prayer when tragedy begs for explanations. Prayer is more than a momentary meditation, it’s a pipeline of strength, courage, tolerance, and action.
Anyone can bow their head in a moment of silence and reflection. A quiet moment to center thoughts and find focus is meditation – not prayer. Prayer is a conversation built on talking, listening, and communicating with God through Christ.
Prayers become more effective as our faith becomes more connected to the truth of Christ. Christian men, pray.
Faith grows through prayer. You can expect to build a steady, vigorous faith if you talk to God. Feel free to drop the old english, the expensive words, and toss out the theological talk. Prayer is simply communication – reverent communication – between a man and his Creator.
Christian men must spend time in prayer – it’s a bottom-line requirement. Whether an hour or 30 seconds, the prayers – when prayed from a confessed soul – can unlock untold power in your life and the lives of others. The depth of our faith is directly proportional to time we spend in prayer. Our ability to overcome doubt, fear, and worry lies solely in prayer and confession. Have you prayed today?
THE RIGHT NEXT STEP
Tell someone you will pray for them today and do it.
PRAY: God, I don’t always know exactly what to say, but You know my heart. Forgive me of the dark spots and mistakes I’ve made – help me move past them, in order that my prayers to you are powerful and effective. Amen.
"Why, O Lord, do You stand far off? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?" - Psalm 10:1
One of the great mysteries of God is His ways. Some of His ways almost appear to bring us into the most difficult places, as if He were indifferent to our circumstances. It would appear that He is turning His head from our sorrows. These events in our lives have a particular objective to perform for us. That objective is to bring us to the end of ourselves that we might discover the treasure of darkness. "Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness" (Job 30:26).
When we are taken into these dark periods, we begin to see light that we never knew existed. Our sensitivities become heightened and our ability to see through spiritual eyes is illuminated. Unless we are taken into these times, our souls never develop any depth of character. We do not gain wisdom, only knowledge. Knowledge is gained through understanding; wisdom is gained through the experience of darkness.
After we go through these periods, we discover that God was, in fact, with us throughout the entire time. It does not feel or appear that He is there when we are in the midst of the dark periods. However, He is there walking with us. He has told us countless times that He will never leave us. However, when we are in those dark periods, it does not feel like He is there because He does not rescue us from the circumstances. He does this for our benefit in order that we might become more like Jesus. Jesus learned obedience from the things He suffered (see Heb. 5:8). What does that say about how you and I will learn obedience? Embrace the dark times and gain the wisdom that God intends for you from these times.
Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. – 1 Chronicles 16:11 (NIV)
The world is jealous of the Christian man’s supply of strength. The world doesn’t understand that we receive our power from Almighty God – the creator of the world. Like a frail, insecure, weak bully – the world wants to tear us down in order that it may appear strong. God cannot be beaten – He has sealed the victory.
The Christian man doesn’t shrink from a challenge. He’s willing to lay his life on the line for someone else’s sake. He continues to volunteer and serve his community while exhausted from his job. He makes time for his family, he serves his Christian community, and he provides for the hungry. He is never ashamed of his allegiance to Christ or his transformed life.
The Christian man shakes his head in the face of criticism for being a “good guy”. He’s not afraid to love those who are deemed unlovable. He always shows up, he never makes pitiful excuses, and he is an example for his family and the kids in his community to follow.
The Christian man is everywhere. You’ll find him quietly doing God’s work in the places where he lives, where he works, and where he plays. He sits in meetings and joins in conversations – just like every other guy. He isn’t fragile, he doesn’t talk like a pastor, and he rarely forces others to listen to his beliefs. He is a man – who is committed to his faith – and he is everywhere.
He makes mistakes and doesn’t run from the consequences. He always leaves room for Almighty God to receive the glory for his victories and he doesn’t brag about his righteousness. He prays when and where he chooses and he defends his faith with no compromise.
God provides a deep well of strength for men who seek Him. He restores our soul, gives us purpose, and ignites a burning desire that helps us to stand up to evil. There are no words that can describe the allegiance a Christian man shows to His King – only his actions rightly fill the bill.
The world fears this man, and its fear is directed at him through weak attacks and childish word games – attempting to keep him quiet. But God’s men will not remain silent. His followers will tell the story of Christ. His people will live with strength – all the time – everyday.