The Unchangeable Choices

We all make hundreds of decisions each day and thousands if not a million in a week.

Some are incredibly insignificant such as what kind of muffin;  blueberry or cinnamon.

Others could have greater impact in the short-term, turn left or go straight at the next traffic light.

And still others take on a much greater importance such as to take a full time job or go to college.

There are also those also that seem life altering and they are; such as getting married, move across country for the career or become a missionary.

As many of our son’s and daughters get ready to graduate high school and potentially move away from home for the first time I think this message of unchangeable choices which hold life long ramifications is critical to convey (or re-convey).

An unchangeable choice is one that once made and the consequences come to bear they can never be undone or if they can be altered it comes with painful consequences.

  • Getting your girlfriend pregnant
  • Catching a sexually transmitted disease
  • Having an abortion
  • Committing a crime
  • Committing suicide

Yes through Christ there may be found forgiveness and redemption however you cannot avoid the life-altering consequences that comes with it.

You can change a house, a college choice, a career and even get divorced and have an abortion but you cannot un-abort, or un-suicide, un-std, or un-steal.

Yes you can indulge in the pleasures and shortcuts in life that Satan puts on our options list, but if the consequences are reaped it will be something you live with the rest of your life.

The expression of wisdom doesn’t comes from knowing you have choices but moreover having the courage to make a stand on the decisions that extend life and promote our dreams and avoid at all cost making the short-sighted decisions that can shut the door on or make incredibly harder the hopes and dreams you currently have.

Father God we pray for protection over our son’s and daughters that are graduating high school and soon to be walking into a major life transition. May their newfound freedom with driving, money, relationships and living situations not tempt them beyond their ability to make wise choices or make irreversible life-altering decisions. Help them to know they always have an advocate in You Lord and that the Holy Spirit within those who are saved will always be the guidepost to making life affirming choices that will open exciting new horizons every step of the way.

We place their care and protection in your all powerful and capable hands Lord. Surround our children with men and women who know You well and will help continue to guide and nurture our children while they are away from us. In the mighty and precious name of Jesus we pray.  

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Man Fully Alive

Philippians 3:13-14

13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

saul to paul

Imagine the shame the Apostle Paul likely felt over and over throughout his life in Christ as he would reflect on the miracle of his life transformation and then the Enemy of our souls would remind him how he tortured and killed the very Christians he now loves and serves.

{links now open to the verses in full context of the point being made}

1 Timothy 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

Imagine Peter, the Rock himself who when reflected about Jesus greatest and ultimate sacrifice remembers his role of denying Him 3 times then running away in shame and not even being there to support his closest friend; especially after being positive in his soul that “he would die for him”

Mark 14:31 “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same

Or how about David’s confession and mourning after coming to grips with the horrifying reality Nathan revealed to him about his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband.

Psalm 51:1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

Also worthy to note there were immediate consequences to sin with the death of his son and curse on future generations. However – He was fully forgiven, considered a man after God’s own heart and in the lineage of Christ!

Consequences of sin is not the same as condemnation for sin.

The point of which I’m prayerful is coming into clear view is that God does not love or bestow calling upon those “other people” who are pure in heart and perfect in faith. He is not looking over our resume’s and determining our value based upon our high morale history.

Romans 8: 1-2 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Our sins (past, present and future) do come with a price however NOTHING can separate us from the love of Christ or the redemption found through the cross.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We are at war. There is an Enemy and he wants us to believe that we have gone too far in our sin. He less concerned about non-believers because in their current state he already has a lock on their destiny. He after believers!

Our enemy wants us silenced and sidelined and he uses shame and guilt and overwhelming senses of hopelessness and unworthiness to take us out.

But God…

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

He does not say He came to save us; to give us the opportunity to barely get buy in our suffering state…

LIFE TO THE FULL

Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Do we glorify our Creator, Savior, King, Comforter, Confidant, and Redeemer from a past filled with wreckage by continuing in strongholds, shame, depression and fear?

Only when we acknowledge that we are at war and we know that the Enemy will constantly be hurling insults and hardships our way will we begin to get over ourselves and recognize that the glory and joy of our new lives in Christ has nothing to do with our circumstances but instead about the glorious new ownership and destiny that is upon us today and forevermore.

FOCUS = FEELINGS

If we focus on what the enemy is doing we are going to be filled with fear, anguish and depression

If we focus on what God is doing we are going to be filled with a confident hope, praise and worship

Gut check: how are you feeling right now?

Are you looking forward to a great day of opportunity to watch God at work in and through you – to be the thermostat setting the temperature in the room instead of the thermometer responding to others emotion states?

Or are you feeling a sense of dread that you have to wake to the same hurtful people, work at the same miserable job, fight the same miserable traffic, scratch for the same miserable existence.

WE ARE NOT VICTIMS ANY LONGER

Everything starts with our attitude. We have to keep forefront 3 critical truths at all times

  1. Yes I am a sinner
  2. There is a God who covers my deficit
  3. I am His and He is mine

With that foundation our lives becomes an outpouring of service and love and response to Kingdom calling. We acknowledge our sin when our flesh or fears rear it’s ugly head but WE DIDNT SURPRISE GOD with it, nor did we disqualify ourselves from “life on earth as it is in heaven”.

WE MUST GET OVER OURSELVES!

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life

 

John 5:40 come to me to have life

 

Acts 5:20 Tell the people the full message of this new life

 

Romans 6:4 Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives

So today and everyday we get to choose what kind of day it will be. There will always be hardship, but we have been given the weapons of war by God Himself

 

Ephesians 10-18

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not 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. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Father God here our cry. Search our hearts. Leave no hurt uncovered. Reveal to us Lord those places that we still desperately cling to for identity and escape which were born of the Enemy of our souls. Let the voices of our past, the condemnations of those who don’t truly know you be silenced. Write on our hearts Lord the new identity which You purchased for us. We desperately need help to claim our new birthright as Your son’s and daughters, co-heirs with Christ Himself. This is the Good News that we will never be able to give away to others if we don’t first have this message written deeply into our own souls. We have been set free – only through a growing faith and believe in You Lord will we ever be able to claim that victory which likely stands in great contrast to our current circumstances. The Enemy no longer holds claim to any part of our hearts Father, we joyfully surrender to all the goodness You have for us. In the precious name of Jesus we pray…

To learn more about who you are in Christ check out the I AM series

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Mental Masturbation

James 3:17

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

wisdom

I have spent years studying scripture, attending bible studies, reading devotionals and have invested hundreds of hours in various 12-step and other recovery groups and yet somehow my emotions continue to betray me.

After many recent months of wrestling with this Ecclesiastes-like conundrum in my own life (nothing I do seems to make a difference in how I feel) I have come to a single conclusion.

The pursuit of knowledge alone will never positively affect one’s emotional health or change one’s life.

Much like reading about flying a plane. The imagination of being in the cockpit and soaring through the sky can produce a euphoric sensation as we can really feel like we are flying.

But soon enough reality kicks in and I realize I can’t fly. I could take lessons and learn how to fly… but that takes time, money and great effort. Too much work.

It would seem since coming to Christ I have in many ways simply been in love with the idea of being a disciple of Christ; that my imagination has reveled in how different my inner and outer world “could be” if I woke each morning truly transformed by the gospel.

But that knowledge requires a response

Proverbs 16:32 Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.

Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.

Acts 24:25 As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”

1 Corinthians 7:5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Galatians 5:23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

1 Timothy 3:2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

2 Timothy 3:3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,

Titus 1:8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.

Titus 2:2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Titus 2:6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.

Titus 2:12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,

2 Peter 1:6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;

Satan tricks the fool into believing knowledge is wisdom however, true wisdom takes advantage of the new choices knowledge provides and it is the new behaviors that bear fruit. 

It’s easy to visualize a child of abuse being in an emotional prison created by others.

It also shouldn’t be hard to sympathize with that child becoming an adult locked in that same emotional prison even if they are now the key holder created by their own poor choices to medicate through drugs, alcohol, sex, food, etc…

But as we learn that we are indeed set free by the blood of Christ and that God has given us a new name and free will the prison door truly swings wide open.

Why then do so many sincere Christians actively pursuing restoration and recovery continue to struggle with emotional strongholds of addictions, anxiety, depression, poverty and hopelessness?

Fear

Much like the serenity prayer laments:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Wisdom without the Courage To Change is merely mental masturbation  

For many years I have been under the impression that the wisdom I was gaining in pursuit of both gospel truth and the neuroscience of addictions combined with my ability to lead other men toward greater levels of awareness in these areas should be having a greater impact on my inner well-being

Why then with a nearly immeasurable number of of ‘ah-ha’ moments of revelation and clarity do I seemingly still struggle at the soul level with the emotional bondage of lack of self worth and bouts of isolation and mild depression?

It comes down to a lack of self control.

Romans 7:19 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

How much do we all struggle with living out “the courage to change the things I can

  • We have a toothache but don’t go to the dentist
  • We don’t like our job but don’t persue a new one
  • We have friends who are unhealthy but don’t change them
  • We may be overweight but still eat cheeseburgers and fries
  • We could be out of shape but never even take walks
  • We may have an estranged relationship with a parent but don’t pursue amends
  • We know we are judged by the level we judge others yet still gossip or road-rage
  • We desire deeper relationships but still text more often than we call
  • We may struggle financially but don’t maintain a budget
  • We could feel lonely yet isolate often
  • We know drugs, alcohol or porn are the enemy but we still go to them for comfort
  • We are told we a great person who helps many but we don’t believe them
  • We desire better relationships with our spouse or children but don’t pursue their hearts
  • We love Jesus but don’t heed his commandments
  • We constantly confess our need for more prayer but never make more time

Daniel 9:4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Yes, the Good News of Christ Jesus is REALLY GOOD NEWS, but response to the gospel requires the courage to make new choices and behave differently.

Simply being aware of the option of living a new life is an exciting prospect but Jesus purchased our freedom that we may LIVE DIFFERENTLY.

Father God, you alone know the hearts of men. Search us Lord and leave no stone unturned. But please Father don’t just leave us with the knowledge and wisdom of our own sin-nature and shortcomings but infuse us with the courage and power to live out the very freedom You alone paid for through Your life, death and resurrection. Help us all to see that claiming freedom comes up far short of  courageously and boldly living free. Let us not mistake knowledge as fruit but instead let our actions bear witness to the glory of God. It is in Your precious and holy name I pray Jesus… 

Posted in 12-steps, Addiction, alcohol, bible study, conviction, drugs, encouragement, God's story, Jesus, pornagraphy, Recovery, Salvation, sex, The Cross | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why I Make Resolutions

Revelation 21:5 
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.

new-years-day

What a GREAT feeling to wake yesterday (January 1st) with the energy to JUMP out of bed and greet the New Year with enthusiasm. Filled with a sense of a clean slate, new promise, renewed hope, motivated with goals and action steps defined.

It didn’t hurt that New Years fell on a Sunday so the occasional feeling of “ugh, not this morning, I’ll just listen to the sermon online tomorrow” was nowhere to be seen. I was excited to go greet all my friends, true friends. The brothers and sisters that know my story and struggles from years of serving along side them and knowing many of them intimately from the various seasons of Life Groups, men’s conferences and other events we share together.

And I was my best self, encouraging, filled with the Spirit and engaged in listening to where others were that morning. I took notes at the service, cried as the Holy Spirit used the sermon to touch a deep place of hurt and shame over my shortcomings as a dad and felt the grace that reminded me that God is the one who will restore what the locust have taken and that I need to let go of the many “yesterdays” and PRESS ON into the now-ness and new-ness of TODAY.

On New Years Eve I shot my sponsor what I felt was a good New Years resolution list. In response he reminded me to KISS (keep it simple stupid)

AA Step 11.JPG

And it hit me – we are to do this daily, not just once and consider it done.

We don’t just say the Sinners Prayer and then get back to living life the way we decide.  We are called to FOLLOW HIM.

Psalm 81:13
“If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways

Jeremiah 3:19
“I myself said, “‘How gladly would I treat you like my children and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’ I thought you would call me ‘Father’ and not turn away from following me.

Matthew 4:19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

Matthew 8:22
But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 10:27
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

John 12:26
Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

And this is not an exhaustive list!

I’ve heard many so-called experts in psychology say we shouldn’t set unrealistic New Years resolutions because it only sets us up for failure and further self-condemnation when we inevitably fail again. And there was a time when I stopped setting resolutions because I agreed with that but I woke this morning with a question.

What – we should drop our God-sized desires for losing 100lbs, or stopping a bad habit, releasing a stronghold or overcoming an addictions, we should stop striving for that promotion or new job, saving for the down payment on the new house, stop praying to beat cancer or get married or restore broken family relationships and crush generational curses?

I suggest we should hang on to those God-sized dreams and…

WAKE EVERY DAY LIKE IT IS NEW YEARS DAY

Every morning re-affirm the healthy God-honoring desires of our hearts and PRESS ON!

We need to double down each morning and even morose when the apathetic and lazy voice of the Liar starts whispering “it’s too hard” rebuke that with God’s word which says

HE MAKES ALL THINGS NEW

Goals.JPGThe world tells us we need to cater to our feelings, find our self-worth through power, wealth, fame and materialistic gains. But God can see the best version of ourselves and it is that which He desires for His glory and our growth.

2 Corinthians 3:18
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

What if Nehemiah gave up on rebuilding the wall

What if Moses gave up on leading his people to the promised land

What if David changed his mind on Goliath

What if Ruth chickened out in confronting the king

What if Jesus felt the cross was too big of a burden

If you have a God-sized desire in your heart then PRESS ON EVERY MORNING with the same zeal, focus, enthusiasm and commitment that you did on January 1st.

Prayer For Today

Father God, You are the center of it all. Help us to remain inspired and filled with hope, determination and committed to the causes with the knowledge that if the deepest desires of our heart honor You then You will bring that dream to reality. We are more than conquerors when we first seek Your will for our lives and then pursue each step through Your power. I know that You desire us to be healthy physically, desire for us to be connected deeply to others, empower us to break generational curses and relinquish strongholds, that You can inspire one person to lead a movement that will redeem a broken social condition, that You can feed the hungry, clothe and shelter the cold, heal the sick. You will do those things through us Father God by your grace Lord may our deepest desires revolve around glorifying You. May this be our prayer and vision every day and may we not grow weary in pursuit of the works You created us for. In Jesus precious name we pray…

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50 Days of Promises (46): Do you have a little “g” god?

1 John 4:4

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

My last conversation with my recovery mentor was not so much a conversation but more of an outpouring of my own lamentations;

… My son is 18 and we rarely have significant life-affirming conversations

… My position as IT Manager of the last 16 years has been eliminated at my company

… the career changes now taking place are cutting into my time serving in various church ministries and will likely get worse not better

… I’m nearly 53 years old and have never been married

… my emergency fund would only cover 30 days, not several months as they should

… I have chronic health issues which the doctors have basically written off as “fatigue”  as they can find no underlying medical problems

And my sponsors response? “You have a little “g” god.

I hate it when he says that!

But at the same time I’m always incredibly grateful for his laser guided convictions that cut through the noise in my head and leads to the same place that all truth leads; how’s my faith?

God never promised an easy life. Much to the contrary actually.

Luke 9:23 
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Luke 14:33
In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

2 Corinthians 6:4
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;

2 Corinthians 12:10
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

1 Thessalonians 2:9
Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

2 Timothy 4:5
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

Hebrews 12:7
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?

Revelation 2:3
You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

For probably everyone reading this, our daily struggles are borderline pathetic compared to the very real persecution, poverty and suffering that our brothers and sisters in Christ are facing around the world. When we ruminate on our trials we are succumbing to prideful arrogance and entitlements that dictate somehow we should be above hardship.

This is Satan’s oldest ploy since his reign over earthly things began

Genesis 3
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Adam and Eve were in perfect union with God until Satan planted the seed “you are missing out on something better”.

1 Peter 5:8
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

When we drift away from reading the bible daily, when we find it harder and harder to squeeze in times of solitude and prayer, when we forsake meeting with other believers, when we return to leaning on our own understanding and power to get through the challenges and hardships of this life; it will always open us up to the voice of the Evil One who seeks to implant a feeling of self-pity.

Self-Pity is defined as a self-indulgent dwelling on one’s own sorrows or misfortunes


When we have a little ‘g’ god our troubles overwhelm our thoughts and feelings and we no longer are focused on how we can be a light to those around us but instead fearful that the darkness may overtake us.


This is why it is so critical to stay rooted in God’s word and be constantly reminded of WHO I AM IN CHRIST.

prayer

It is HE who has overcome, is overcoming, and will overcome. Satan doesn’t know that he has already lost and that his lies are powerless to the one with a Big “G” God.

More Than Conquerors

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Prayer For Today

Father God, forgive me that I relegate You to a vending machine at times as I whine about how things seem unfair and the trials seem beyond my ability to not only endure but overcome in a mighty way through Your strength and power. The price You paid through Your Son is beyond comparison throughout all of time and creation and yet I indulge in self-pity? Today Lord I gratefully lay down my small burdens and instead press into the rebirth of gratitude and hope and purpose and calling. You are a mighty God, all powerful and worthy of our praise. Let there be no doubt in Your children this day that we are not burdened with the need to generate the light but instead simply reflect the light and hope that You alone produce Father. We pray for our eyes to be opened to the needs of those around us and that You will provide the desires of our hearts, the direction of our feet and production of our hands for Your glory this day Lord. In Jesus name I pray…

Posted in bible study, conviction, faith, God's story, hope, I Am, Jesus, my story, Recovery, trials | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

50 Days of Promises (45): Called & Equipped

John 14:12

12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

being-prepared

I can’t believe it has been another 4 months since I’ve “made” time to post. God is constantly at work in the lives of the forgiven and redeemed and I actually feel the need to apologize to my readers for not more consistently sharing the insight, struggles and joys found in our Lord and Savior each day.

As I pray over this verse for direction this morning I find myself reflecting upon the year which is rapidly coming to a close. I didn’t create a formal “goals for 2016” list that I can refer too to see if I met or fell short of them however if I was to now pick a kingdom based reflection point I would simply ask myself “did I feed His sheep & tend His lamb”.

John 21:16
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

My answer would be “yes… but…”

… but I’ve been so distracted…

… with career choices & challenges

… money

…recovery

… difficult relationships

…feelings of rejections, unimportance, unworthiness, failure and weakness.

I believe God has been revealing to me lately more than ever how desperately I need to stay rooted in the affirmations of who “I am” in Christ because the enemy in the form of my “inner voice” is constantly reporting that “I’m coming up short, the sky’s are cloudy and life is hard”.

But that is NOT the voice of our Redeemer. His gospel message is that of Calling and Power.

Ephesians 2:10
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

John 14:25-27
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

What did Jesus mean when He said “we will do greater things”?

Obviously we will not physically raise the dead or give physical sight to the blind, however…

His actual ministry was only 3 years long and his outreach was geographically small footrpint. We however once awakened to the Truth of the gospel have access to the entire planet. Whether through cyberspace or physically through planes, trains and automobiles (love that movie… sidetrack, sorry). We have access to a greater audience than He ever had in the flesh in His time on earth.

And yes, I believe we can raise the dead just as He raises us who are dead in transgressions, by watching people come alive through the Gospel. And I believe we can give sight to those those blinded to the Truth of God’s healing and redemption which is made available to all who will call on Him as Lord and Savior.

We need only ask and rely on Him for the words and power in the PRESENT MOMENT and stop worrying about what happened yesterday or fear what might or might not happen tomorrow.

Jesus is the great I AM, not the I WAS or I WILL BE.

John 14:13-14
13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Father God I thank you for the desire in my heart to spend time with You this morning through this venue. I thank You for the reminder that the times that I spent this last year truly engaged with others with the sole intent of revealing You to them through my time, treasures and talents is great victory brought about by Your calling and power in my own life. I thank You for the redemption that offers me new choices each and every moment of every day where I can choose to trust and be empowered by You. And Lord I pray for forgiveness for the multitude of times that I leaned on myself and fell into a state of fear, weakness, anxiety, depression, anger, judgment, pride and outright sin. 

Father God, I pray that those who know You and are in pursuit of You will realize the amazing gift we are given, no only through the discovery of our purpose and calling, but in the freedom that comes from Your Cross which you willing took upon Yourself for the redemption of our sins… and our sin’s go deep Father which only magnifies Your grace and power.

Thank you for the year behind us Father with both it’s struggles and victories and lead us in the year ahead. Help us to quiet our own thoughts and put aside our selfish ambitions so that we may more fully become the fruit bearers You created us to be.

In the precious name of Jesus I pray… 

Posted in bible study, God's story, I Am, Jesus, love, my story, Salvation, The Cross | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Cost of Being a Disciple

Luke 14:28 28  “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?

discipleship

I don’t know what I thought being a Christ follower would be when I dropped to my knees over 5 years ago and cried out for a transformed life. In fact, I don’t know that I was looking forward at all, I just knew I hated where I was and where I had been.

Sure I was a rock star in my career earning rewards and bonuses, I had long term friendships and a son who I’ve always been so incredibly proud of – but I was dead inside living a double life as a porn addict and alcoholic. There was a hurt that nothing could reach.

That morning was simply the deepest place of brokenness and surrender I have ever experienced in my life. After 45 years of dong it my way I was done and I’ve often shared in my testimony that if I would have had a gun in my hand instead of a bible that morning I could have easily used it instead for relief from the pain and misery.

I started out incredibly zealous. I saw God moving all around me and as my eyes were opened to what I never noticed before I was amazed. Like the crowds following Jesus watching Him do miracles of healing the sick, resurrecting the dead and feeding thousands of hungry people in a single sitting… well how could they NOT be mesmerized; He was the best show in town.

In that first year I think I had this Pollyanna view of Christianity that if I was just patient enough God would fix my relationships & finances and use me to change the world.

And as I waited, I professed over and over “I’m all in Lord” through tears of joy in my newfound relationship with an all powerful and holy God.

And in my new freedom I gained a new level of self-control and my health was restored through a commitment to healthy eating, exercise and working with my doctors. I lost 80 lbs, got off all meds and after just 10 months my doctor paraded me through her waiting room as a testimony to a life physically transformed.

I also went all-in at church by volunteering as an usher, got plugged in to Celebrate Recovery, and began consuming the bible with a hunger to know more of Him and His Word. And I grew spiritually, all the while continuing to profess “I’m all in Lord”.

Through CR and other men’s bible study and recovery groups God began to reveal the source of all those years of alcohol, drug and lust addictions. As an only child raised in a Godless home with a father who was a rageaholic and a mother who was a suicidal alcoholic and being physically, emotionally and sexually abused by several people both inside and outside the home my inner self was deeply confused, wounded and fighting ghosts of my past.

I have come to learn that Satan had written a narrative on my soul that I didn’t even know existed.

The more I realized how much I was governed by those thoughts and beliefs outside of my conscious awareness I got down to work in letting God restore what the locusts had stolen with a continual profession – I’m all in Lord.

I pressed into Christian counseling and got even more involved in church and recovery groups. A seemingly endless stream of workbooks, deeper relationships and rivers of tears boiled over uncontrollably as I bravely looked into the face of evil.

Not only by rightly placing ownership of the evil that was done to me as a child on the perpetrators that committed those acts; but what was becoming more prevalent in my awareness was the pain I had caused others through my own misdirected self-preservation through addictions and isolation.

And through those first few years when I wasn’t even looking I found myself pressing toward my calling. As I discovered the power of forgiveness and making amends I found a new purpose in the midst of the hurts. I had discovered I could encourage other men to lean into Christ for direction and healing on our shared journey of redemption simply by openly sharing my journey, the good and the bad.

Around year 3 of my new walk with Christ I felt a call to move to a new area but I didn’t know exactly why. Yes it was closer to my son and there was a pastor I was drawn too but I otherwise had no idea what this new season would bring.

Within a few months (long story short) I found myself helping my new church launch a men’s recovery and discipleship ministry. Simply by giving my testimony at a Saturday men’s conference it helped spur over 50 men to sign up for Every Man’s Battle and Pure Desire workshops.

Me of all people – just a broken man plucked from the ashes by a gracious Savior – with nothing but The Blood and a testimony in my arsenal now found myself at the core of a new ministry and men were responding.

And all the while I continued to profess “I’m all in Lord”.

It is now coming up on 2 years since that ministry started and men continue to respond to the call to go deeper.

There is a battle raging in our homes, communities and even our churches and Satan is winning the street war. Men are hurting, broken, weakened, silenced and medicating. Workaholism, addictions, anger, fear, materialism, adrenaline junkies; the tools are endless that Satan uses to kill, steal and destroys our relationships and to distract us from our true calling as Disciples of Christ.

Which brings me to the reason for this blog this morning and the struggles in my heart and soul. With all the successes on the front lines of men’s discipleship and recovery ministry I realize my own soul has become desolate and thirsty again.

My hope has been waning, my body is tired, my spirit grows weary as I look around and realize that unless Christ returns soon I will not witness with my own eyes a time when the need isn’t far outweighing the workers.

Along with 3 weekly groups and working 50-60 hours a week at my day job, every free moment in between is filled with my son or meeting with men one-on-one either in person or on the phone to encourage and counsel.

The hurts the men (and women) have are VERY real. Satan is good at what he does and marriages are suffering, addictions are destroying and even taking lives, fear is crippling and silencing and idols are distracting men from their God-given calling and purpose to be spiritual warriors in their homes, workplaces, churches and community.

And I now find myself all of a sudden 5+ years into this journey realizing that this is what all-in looks like, this is what I have been professing all these years.

I had been saying the words “I’m all in” but I now think inside I was still waiting for the relationships and finances to be fixed so I could get on with my own life.

Luke 14:25-26 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.

27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

I am realizing that my physical exhaustion is very possibly not because I’m taking on too much but because somewhere along the line of doing the right stuff I lost sight of the right reason.

My journey started out in awe of God. My toils were in pursuit of relationship and healing.

As a spiritual newborn “all in” simply means to bravely face the brokenness of our past by following, listening to, believing in and trusting Christ.

But as we mature eventually we must graduate and “all in” means we give up everything to serve Him by loving all of His creation sacrificially. It becomes our responsibility to respond to the equipping and calling God places on our lives.

Am I willing to do that?

Are you?

Revelations 2:3-4 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.

Revelation 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

Revelation 2:23b  …and all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

Excerpts from AA “How It Works”

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

2 Timothy 1:9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time

2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble


Father God I thank you this morning that you reveal Yourself in bite sized pieces. I don’t know if on that morning of January 3 2011 if You had shown me the depths of where you wanted to take me I would have been so eager to surrender, but now I confess just as Peter responded in John 6 “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

I believe on that morning I accepted You Jesus as my Savior but I now realize my struggle remains to make you my Lord. I still have one foot in each world seeking comfort, pleasure and freedom from hardship yet as I look at the men and the world around me and realize how my testimony IS my equipping and You are my strength that I here and now continue to profess “I’m all in Lord”.

Please Father continue to reveal the idols of selfishness, pride and fear which dictate to me that I need to do more or I need be different and simply allow me to just be content in serving You with all that I am and bravely continue to face those areas of my life that need repentance. I know that I am justified by the blood, help me to be OK in the journey of sanctification; to know it is YOU who will bring to completion what YOU began as I continue to discover what it means to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling. 

To you alone be the glory in all things and in all ways. In Jesus precious name I pray…

Posted in 12-steps, Addiction, alcohol, bible study, Celebrate Recovery, conviction, drugs, encouragement, faith, God's story, hope, Jesus, love, my story, pornagraphy, Recovery, Salvation, sex | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment