Blessing for Change

Have you ever wanted to change someone? Does that sound too controlling? How about, have you ever wanted to motivate someone to do something positive in their life?

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There are essentially two ways to help motivate someone. The first, motivate someone through the pain of discipline. The old school coach or teacher that is convinced that yelling and intensity of speech will do the trick is an example of negative motivation. This approach has an upside and that is helping one see their blind spots or their negative areas in hopes that they can improve upon them. The downside is when a spouse does this they becoming about annoying as a dripping faucet (Proverbs 19:13).

The second way to motivate someone is to use the power of blessing. Blessing someone respects who they are as a person and pulls out their poteHave you ever wanted to change someone? Does that sound too controlling? How about, have you ever wanted to motivate someone to do something positive in their life?ntial.

Blessing for change in parenting, marriage and leadership is powerful. It’s actually the premise of the gospel. The gospel exemplifies this by giving us what we don’t deserve, when we don’t deserve it, to motivate us to overcome where we deserve judgement.

In Luke 3, Jesus gets baptized by John the Baptist. Jesus is submerged under the river and as He rises the voice of God the Father declares, “This is my beloved Son in who I am well pleased.” Jesus hadn’t started his ministry yet. He hadn’t done anything yet other then get baptized. The Father blessed Jesus before He earned the affirmation.

There’s a place for discipline. Love isn’t ooshy gooshy all the time. “Love doesn’t rejoice in evil, but rejoice in the truth (1 Corinthians 13). Sometimes the truth is a hard pill to swallow.

How do you motivate others? How are you motivated most effectively?

What if parents blessed their kids even in areas of weakness before they earned it and the kids rose up to the level of that blessing? What if people reach as high as they are blessed?

Shia Lebeouf was told by his mom as a toddler that he would one day meet Steven Spielberg and he ended up working with him. While a controversial figure at times, he rose to the level of his parents blessing.

Phil Knight, founder and former CEO of Nike shoes was a young man that literally sought his father’s blessing to take a journey around the world and pitch an idea to a Japanese business so that he could start a shoe company. I don’t need to elaborate on the success of Nike or Phil Knight to know that he rose to the level of his father’s blessing.

Take some Bible history, the controversial character Jacob, who had to manipulate and lie to his Dad Isaac to receive the blessing of the firstborn belonging to his older brother Esau. Jacob became Israel. The blessing of His dad while he was a liar caused his whole world to change. He went from a name meaning manipulator or supplanter to a name meaning prince. He’s a patriarch. He rose to the level of his father’s blessing.

I’m telling you that there is something to the power of blessing for change. I remember being so broken over my addiction to pornography and feeling like my whole life was going to be a failure. Then my dad stepped in and wrote this letter to me around Mother’s Day 2001 (he wrote a letter to my mom and siblings as well). I still go back to the letter sometimes because it was a full on assault to the shame that I was carrying.

What if you blessed your spouse to change, even when they didn’t deserve it? Your kids? Your employees? I’m not a pie in the sky kind of positive guy that thinks we should ignore problems at all costs. That’s fatal to put your head in the sand while something is hemorrhaging. And while we all need a little discipline, have we ignored the power of blessing?

How have you been changed by the power of blessing? Who do you need to unleash the power of blessing upon?

The Man Formerly Known as Blind

“Do you also want to become His disciples?” said the former blind man to the Pharisees (the religious community leaders of Jesus day). That’s right. That’s what the former blind man said.

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There was this man who was blind from birth and it was a popular notion among the Jews that if you had a disease it was due to your own sin or the sin of your parents. So, Jesus disciples asked Him when they came upon said blind man, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.  I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.”‘

No sight, for life and all of a sudden, this blind man has one encounter with Jesus, the Light of the world, and everything changes. The Pharisees were so enraged that Jesus healed this man. Why is that religion is more concerned about their rules, then the needs of hurting people? They come and corner this young man, questioning him and his parents. That’s when he asks them if they want to be His disciples. Oh, they didn’t want to hear it. They thought He was mocking. But He wasn’t mocking, he was just so purely in love with Jesus because Jesus did the impossible.

The Pharisees would go on to try and malign the character of Jesus, but this formerly blind man says, “Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” He’s not having it. Jesus touched the core need of His life with His power. Think about it. Everything changed for this guy. He goes from disabled to normal. He couldn’t see the face of his mom, but now he can. He can’t walk without assistance, but now he can. He couldn’t work a regular job, but now he can.

It’s amazing to me that after 2,000 years of Jesus walking the earth with all of our modern science and medicine that people’s core needs are still healing for physical disease and the forgiveness of their sins. People are still people, wondering why they were born with certain conditions of infirmity and pain. Blind people are still in need of their physical eyes being opened and spiritually blind people are still in need of the light of Jesus to open the eyes of their heart.

In the last year I saw God heal a man in the Philippines who was near blindness. I prayed for His eyes and He started to weep. His family started rejoicing as well as His blindness was reversing. A man at my home church, Sonrise Christian Center was praying with an elderly woman who was blind after a service within the past few months and Jesus opened her eyes. Jesus is still healing people’s blind eyes.

Jesus also went on in this story to follow up with the man formerly known as blind,

 “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?”And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him.

And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.”‘

So, Jesus uses this physical miracle to also demonstrate the need for all of us to have Jesus heal our spiritual blindness. This is the salvation that Jesus brings. He is the Light in our darkness of sin. Sin has made us blind. If we acknowledge our blindness, then Jesus can heal us and forgive our sins. If we say that “we see” or that “we’re cool” without Jesus, we are blind and our sin remains.

I love Jesus. He opened my eyes. I was bound in the darkness of sin and He changed me. What love. What compassion. What power.  Jesus told the blind man to go wash in the pool called “Sent.” Jesus was sent by the Father in heaven to heal the blind literally and to heal the blind spiritually. And when our eyes are opened by Jesus, we too are to wash our eyes in the pool called “Sent.” We are sent to tell people the story just like this former blind man. We are not trying to irritate people or be proud or even be “right.” We are just being true to tell the story. I once was blind but now I see. I once was trapped in darkness but my eyes were opened by Jesus.

Do you want to be His disciple too?

*All Scripture Quotations for this story were taken from John 9 NKJV.

Preachers: Pushers of Hope

Hope. What a powerful force. Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl studied people that survived imprisonment and horrific situations to find that what separated them from those that didn’t make it was that the survivors found meaning in the midst of suffering. You see one of the greatest ways to defeat someone is to strip them of hope.

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I believe that we are living in a generation plagued with hopelessness. The headlines are full of stories about jobs being replaced by automation, company layoffs, unemployment, terrorism and political chaos. But it’s not just current events that leave people hopeless. We live in an increasing godless society and with beliefs like  there is no God, no redemption or no afterlife, people start to lose meaning. When meaning is lost, hope is lost.

Preachers have the unique ability to give people hope. We have hope in this life and hope for the world to come knowing that because Jesus is alive we have a place in this world and the next. Preacher, does the hearer walk away from your sermon and overflow with hope?

I believe that every time we preach the gospel something happens. Sin is confronted with grace and forgiveness. Sickness is healed and the oppressed go free. The gospel is good news. Good news produces hope!

Jesus stood up in the temple in Luke 4 and quoted from the prophet Isaiah in the daily temple reading and declared that He is the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18-19 NKJV).”

What hope is in His preaching. If you are poor you are getting good news. If you are brokenhearted there is healing for you. If you’re a captive there is liberty. If you are blind, you are going to see. If you are oppressed, that’s right, there is freedom for you. And to top it off, this year is the acceptable year of the Lord or the time of God’s favor!

Preachers are hope pushers. Even James in James 1 and Paul in Romans 5, teach us through the Holy Spirit that trials and tribulation are opportunities for us to grow in patience and in character so that we can become complete people living in hope. In every situation, even trials and suffering, we are to preach hope.

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable (1 Corinthians 15:19 NKJV),” the apostle Paul stated. So the hope we preach is not just one dimensional for a better life now, it is an eternal hope. In fact, when we can’t figure out how to find hope in a given situation then it is exactly the reality of eternity that can give us meaning to find the hope we need.

Someone once said, “I used to be a hopeless dope fiend, now I’m a dope-less hope fiend.” Drug dealers push dope. The media pushes fear. Casinos push fantasies. Preachers push hope.

While the people are in fear, we the preachers give them hope to rise above.
While the people feel the pain of perseverance, we the preacher give them meaning to keep going through.

While the people have a limited perspective, we the preacher give them hope to see through the lens of eternity.

Preacher, how are you pushing hope in your preaching?

Creative Nemesis: Distractions

Time to write. Sit down. The phone rings. I have to take this call. And while I’m on the phone I get two text messages. I wonder what’s on the news today. I need to stay informed. I don’t want to be out of touch. I just realized that I have two private messages on Facebook that I forgot to respond to.

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Oh, what’s that? Turtles that do synchronized swimming to Michael Jackson songs?! Next up a video of chimpanzees doing motorcycle stunts. An endless stream of time wasters.

Distractions strike again. My nemesis is so subtle. 7 minutes into writing and all I’ve done is pour my writing time down the drain. If only I could get those 7 minutes back. Distractions come first and then I’m hit by the guilt of caving into distractions. It’s embarrassing really. Why can’t I just focus and hold it together?

Why I am such an emotional writer after all? Allowing my feelings to dictate what I am going to accomplish today. I’m in a rut and it’s only ten minutes into writing. Maybe I should look up an article on overcoming distractions. That will surely help. Only to get sucked into other random articles about weight loss and developing better sleep habits.

I don’t even have anything new written on the page. Distraction, my nemesis does whatever is necessary to stifle my creativity. I can’t take this one lying down. This is life and death. All out warfare.

My nemesis takes many forms but disguising himself as something else is his greatest tactic. That way I forget that he exists. I can’t always tell that I’m dealing with him when he looks like an interruption, a to do list, a phone call or people watching.

Don’t forget that he exists and he wants to make you numb with distractions. Be on the look out. G.I. Joe said, “Knowing is half the battle.” Don’t forget your creativity is warfare and you have a nemesis armed with the weapon of distraction.

What distraction takes you away from producing creatively? What can you do to neutralize that distraction?

Political Elections Driving you Crazy? What they Reveal about the Longings of the Human Heart

Does the presidential election feel like a circus to you sometimes? Does it have you all crazy? Is your Facebook and Twitter feed filled with election gossip, slander and conspiracies that stress you out and get your family and friends all divided? Here I want to show you what this frustration reveals about the human heart and what republicans, democrats, socialists and communists all have in common.

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That’s right, I believe that there is a common thread that is weaved between the hearts of us who are at times filled with angst and grief over the drama of the presidential election that cycles through every four years. What could republicans and democrats have in common? What could libertarians and the green party mutually desire? I’m not talking about specify policies, I am talking about the big picture and the core longings of the human heart.

I believe that the human heart is wired for good government. Our core desires include needing to attach, to be accepted, to have purpose or meaning and also to rule and be ruled. Maybe the idea of being “ruled” sounds like a monarchy or a dictatorship but all government is a form of rulership.

We are all researching, processing, even praying and trying to discern who the best elected official will be to rule our land. I believe that most of us are all looking for these qualities in our leader:

  1. A president who has integrity and keeps their promises.
  2. A president who repairs our system of caring for the sick and dying.
  3. A president who allows us to have a peaceful and safe life.
  4. A president who gives equal opportunities to all people and races and rules with fairness.
  5. A president who allows everyone to prosper.
  6. A president who creates a culture of acceptance and unity amongst all people.
  7. A president who allows us to be rewarded for hard work and for our ideas and contributions.
  8. A president who cares for the poor and oppressed.
  9. A president who removes corruption.
  10. A president who cares for our resources and economy.

Of course each political party and philosophy of government has a totally different and sometimes radically different way at arriving to these desired outcomes through our president. I get emotional looking over this short list above because there is an aching in my heart for the wars to stop, the economy to improve, the mess of healthcare to be fixed and a unity to be established amongst all people.

This ache, this longing, even the frustration and disappointment we feel when promises are broken and our systems of government are not functioning for the benefit of all people point to our core desire of good government. God gave Adam and Eve dominion, or rulership, over the earth in Genesis 1. This dominion mandate was to manage all the systems and resources of the earth, not to rule over or dominate people. Adam and Eve were under the rulership of God their Creator and they were to rule over the creation.

Our core desires are to have good rulership over us and to express rulership (again not over other people but over resources and systems of the creation). This longing that we desire and at times even ache for is found in the kingdom of God.

The Biblical narrative promises all the points above through the rulership or the reign of the kingdom of God on the earth through Jesus Christ.

  1. Jesus is the King who has integrity and keeps His promises (Hebrews 6:18).
  2. Jesus is the King who repairs our system of caring for the sick and dying and sustains life (Isaiah 65:20-25).
  3. Jesus is the King who allows us to have a peaceful and safe life (Isaiah 2:4, 11:6).
  4. Jesus is the King who gives equal opportunities to all people and races and rules with fairness (Jeremiah 3:17, Daniel 7:13-14).
  5. Jesus is the King who allows everyone to prosper (Isaiah 9:7).
  6. Jesus is the King who creates a culture of acceptance and unity amongst all people (Revelation 4, 5 & 7).
  7. Jesus is the King who allows us to be rewarded for hard work and for our ideas and contributions (Matthew 25:14-30).
  8. Jesus is the King who cares for the poor and oppressed (Luke 4:17-19).
  9. Jesus is the King who who removes corruption (Proverbs 11:1, Daniel 2:44).
  10. Jesus is the King who cares for our resources and economy (Isaiah 51:3, Ezekiel 34:29).

The system or the isms for man: capitalism, socialism, communism, fascism, etc. they offer us promises like the kingdom of God. But what they all have in common is man ruling over man. Our great longing for unity and equality among all people and for this good government can only be fully established when Jesus reigns over all kingdoms and establishes the kingdom of God upon the earth. Your desires and longings are provided for in God’s kingdom.

Jesus taught that His kingdom has been started or inaugurated on the earth by His first coming. In John 3, Jesus said that if we are born again we can enter the kingdom of God. We can come under the rulership of God. If you believe in Jesus and make Him your King you enter into the kingdom of God now. God’s kingdom is fully established in heaven, where you enter spiritually by faith now. But one day, Jesus kingdom that has been started on the earth will be fully established and all those who believe in Jesus will pass from death to life and reign with Him on the earth (Revelation 5:10).

Those that follow Jesus, Christians, should influence our current government and political parties with the values of God’s kingdom. I am not advocating for disengagement. What I am trying to get you the reader to see is that Jesus is the King, the Ruler that everyone desires. I believe that the Biblical narrative makes the greatest sense of our desires. The Bible was so specific about Jesus first coming. Literally dozens of prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus in His first coming, His death, His burial and His resurrection. There are many more prophecies about Jesus second coming. As certain as the Scriptures were about Jesus first coming, so are they certain about His second coming.

Jesus is alive and He rules over all now, but it is a spiritual rulership over the hearts of men and women who have turned from their sin to receive pardon, freedom from hell and the gift of eternal life. Jesus will visibly return and His kingdom will not just be spiritually manifest and you need to decide now before its too late if you want to be a part of His kingdom (Acts 1:11, Revelation 19:11-16). Your desire to live long, to be free from death, debt and poverty, to see all people of all nations unify will be fully realized for all those who have bowed their knee to Jesus now in this life.

Jesus is King and He is the King that we desire to rule us in unity, fairness, love and justice! I urge you reader, search the Scriptures and the sayings of Jesus to see if these things are so. You get one life and death is certain. Come alive in the kingdom of God and receive Jesus today. He is waiting to be the ruler of your life, the kind of ruler that you have been longing for all along.

Have you received Jesus as King? Are you alive in the kingdom of God? Are your hopes in a perfect president or ruler of man? Are you wiling to turn from your sin and believe upon Jesus as the King of your life?

“For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13 NKJV).’” Never has His salvation meant so much to me in light of the kingdom of God.

Millennials Watch out for This Trap

I love Millennials. There is a big trap out there that for you Millennials and I am issuing you a warning. ‘Millennials’ is the social term used to categorize young people born in the 80’s or 90’s (according to Webster). I was born in 1980 and so depending on who does the definition I am an old millennial or the youngest of Generation X (a child of the post baby boom 60s – 70s).

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As a young adult pastor and Bible school teacher I get the privilege to work with Millennials. In my experience I have found them to be brilliant, resourceful, resilient, often coming out of brokenness but with a strong sense of destiny.

Young people, millennials, youth and young adults, etc. as I hear it are judged to lack the qualities of commitment and faithfulness. What makes this generation so lazy, so apathetic to commitment some wonder?

I am not claiming to be the bastion of all wisdom and knowledge concerning millenials nor am I saying that all millenials have a fear of commitment. However, I believe I’m on to something here that might be helpful. If it is, you’re welcome, if not then just dismiss my advice as ramblings from someone you don’t agree with.

Well, the young may certainly be afraid to commit because they have witnessed their parents not happy in giving a lifetime to one company or career path. They have seen their parents sacrifice their dreams for a pension that may not be there when they retire. Young people are told to pay into social security now with legitimate threats that they may not get back what they put into it. Millennials have heard the lecture, do good in high school, graduate from college and you will get a good job only to find that they aren’t always able to get a job anymore with a college degree in hand.

Research confirms the changing narrative that a college degree = good career. Last year a study showed that 44% of college graduates in their 20s are stuck in low wage jobs. Companies aren’t hiring you just because you have a degree anymore.

From my observation, my parents generation (Baby Boomers) believed that you get a degree, you get hired at a good company, you stay faithful to them and they will be faithful to you. The goal was to get promoted, stay loyal for a long time and retire with a good pension when you are 62. The shifting economy and social landscape of this generation sees an employer as a step to being able to pursue personal destiny. Employees are less faithful to their employers and with disappearing pension plans, reduced health benefits and automation, employers are also less faithful to their employees.

However, we are still in the early days of what is possible with the internet. Millennials have seen “nobodies” rise from obscurity to fame and wealth via YouTube, reality TV, Facebook or starting their own internet business. Self-publishing, free recording and editing software has removed so many barriers to people doing their dream.

I get it. There is a tension. Do I do my dream or do I work 40+ hours a week for someone who might lay me off and cut my benefits?

I do believe that in this time of unprecedented opportunity, their is a subtle but powerful fear that is motivating the young generation. It goes like this, “If I tie myself down to a commitment, then I might miss the big opportunity that is coming around the corner.” It’s like there is some gut feeling that a big red shiny train of breakthrough on the tracks to destiny is coming at any moment and when it comes if I am committed to something or someone then I won’t be able to jump on that train in the tiny window of time that I have to make the leap.

It’s fear of missing out. I am all for encouraging people to have big dreams and compelling vision for their life but if you don’t commit out of fear you are missing out on the rewards of faithfulness. If you can’t be faithful with something small then you won’t be faithful with something big. Faithfulness and commitment will make you stand out in a culture where everyone is in “wait” mode. “I just have this feeling…” “My big break is coming…” “Blah…blah…blah…” You want to hit it big in music then start practicing everyday, take lessons, find an internship at a recording studio. You want to run a successful business, then get a job in a related field, ask for a mentor, read books on the topic.

Start small and stay committed to your relationships. Relational integrity will create capital for you and people will trust you so much that they will go out of their way to open doors for you. Don’t be a doormat, but serve and develop your skills by putting some roots down in relationship. It doesn’t mean you have to stick around at the same job, school, internship or church forever. But don’t expect a walk in the park. Work hard, serve, commit to people and to a process of development.

There are some legitimate questions and concerns to raise about finding your path in the world according to traditional wisdom. But do not throw out the timeless principles of faithfulness and commitment in your quest for destiny. Don’t let fear be your motivator. Opportunities come to the faithful. Don’t be afraid to put roots down. Those roots going down might produce the fruit that opens the next opportunity that you were dreaming about all along.

What are you afraid to commit to?

Pulpits on Fire

All across the nation, churches are ridding themselves of the ancient pulpit. Pulpits are on fire, burned because they are no longer of use.

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Churches are using flat tables now or no table now. Maybe the preacher is seated. The sermon is a talk. The preacher doesn’t want to sound “preachy” so he “shares” instead. The speaking time needs to feel as a conversation for some.

Not using a pulpit isn’t necessarily bad. Pulpits weren’t used in the time of Jesus or the apostle Paul. There is no Biblical mandates to use pulpits. So it makes sense to get rid of them for some I guess. Pulpits are on fire all across the nation as it’s symbol of authority is not longer relevant.

But that’s my problem, not that the literal pulpit being replaced with something more modern or not being used at all, is that pulpit has been replaced in an era where people are no longer giving authority to the Word of God. We the people have set the pulpit on fire, but it’s time for pulpits to be burning with the fire of God.

The preacher standing at the pulpit (again literally or figuratively for those that want to keep a fresh look, no judgement) speaks for God. That’s why pulpits were lifted up on the stage above the people. The preacher speaks for God. Some would argue, “but Jesus came not to stand behind a pulpit, but as a Servant of the people, lowly and born in a manger.” This is true but Jesus was also a Preacher, Teacher and Prophet. All throughout His ministry the people said, He teaches with such “authority.”

Jesus came as a Servant to die for the sins of all people. Jesus came as a Servant loving the sinner and the broken. But He also came preaching about the kingdom of God, repent and believe! Jesus came preaching that the way to eternal life is narrow. Jesus was never vague about His identity and He was never vague about demanding total allegiance.

Preachers, we must preach with authority. We must have humility in our hearts and let God work in us before He works through us. But I am afraid that we have stripped our churches of symbols of authority and somewhere in the minds of people we are eroding the concept that God’s Word is the authority in our lives. May the authority of the pulpit never be so much about the preacher as much as the authority of God and His Word that the preacher represents.

As one man said, preachers are to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. I am afraid we have replaced that type of preaching with comforting the comfortable. God help us.

So, should preachers be harsh and judgmental, hardly. But we should not be following the trends of the culture or even necessarily the trends in the church. Preachers speak the truth in love. Preachers confront people with truth about their present condition and lead them to the Source of unconditional hope. Preachers move angels and demons. Preachers with  pulpits on fire cut people to the heart and cause them to long for the gospel. Preachers stir up a spirit of repentance and hunger for God. Preachers call people to a fresh commitment and application to walk with God.

Preacher, I don’t care if you have a house church, an internet church or a big church where your pulpit is a coffee table and you sit on a couch. What I do care about is men and women of God who preach with authority from the Scriptures. Every awakening has voices. May God set pulpits on fire with the fire of the Holy Spirit all across our nation again. May men and women of God burn with that holy flame of Pentecost as they declare the truth in love. May God restore the voice of authority to preachers who love the Scriptures all across our land.

Humility

The Benefits of Getting Dressed Up

The rewards of being clothed in humility are too great to ignore its importance. Self-promotion, self-help and self-actualization are the buzz of the culture but what happened to self-denial?

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“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,(1 Peter 5:5-6 NKJV).”

Bible teacher Peter Wagner states that if humility is something we are instructed to be “clothed with” then we can know if we are being humble or not. We know if we put our pants on or if we didn’t. Some would argue that if you think you are humble you are not. I agree with Wagner, we can evaluate whether or not we are humble.

What is Humility?

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, its thinking of yourself less,” said C.S. Lewis. James Ryle said, “Humility is the God-given self assurance that eliminates the need to prove to others the worth of who you are, and the rightness of what you do.” Humility is a dependance on God and on what God says about you. When you know who God is and who you are there is freedom to be less occupied with yourself.

I also believe that humility is a posture of the heart. Its an attitude that you choose. The two easiest ways to measure my humility, are one, am I teachable? And two, am I serving others? At the end of the day you have to ask yourself will I “submit to elders?” Do I take seriously the counsel that those older and wiser speak into my life? Do I have a teachable spirit? Do I serve other people? Do I put the interests of others over myself? I am not speaking about having no boundaries and neglecting all self-care. But it is helpful to allow God to check our motives.

What are Humility’s Benefits?

If God exalts those that humble themselves, then humility is the key to all promotion in life. If you exalt yourself and live in pride, you only go as far as you can take yourself, but when you live in humility you go wherever God can take you. If you live in pride you are limited to what you can do, but when you humble yourself under the mighty hand of God you are limitless in what God can accomplish through you.

Humility is a magnet for grace of God, for God’s favor.

Humility opens you to the wisdom of sages and elders.

Humility saves you from the wrong opportunities and the right opportunities at the wrong time.

Humility limits you from opportunities that you don’t even know about and empowers you to not care about.

Humility qualifies you for opportunities and prepares you for opportunities that pride longs for and allows you into them when you are ready.

Humility draws people to you.

Humility is rewarded.

Humility stops you from things that will harm you or kill you.

God who hung the stars and holds the universe together, God big and powerful, God who does the impossible, He is paying attention to the posture of your heart to reward it in humility. The proud God will have nothing to do with, but the humble draws the resources of heaven.

“He will beautify the humble with salvation (Psalm 149:5 NKJV).”

Do you have any thoughts to add on the benefits of humility? Please leave them in the comments below and please share this blog post if it has encouraged you or helped you.

Log Eyed Preacher

I’m about to get real, really real from a preacher to a preacher (or anyone else who cares to read along). Jesus said, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5 ESV).”

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Then it dawned on me, preachers are professional speck pickers. A preacher’s job can be summed up in “let me take the speck out of your eye.” We preach to communicate truth that will allow people (the speck eyed) to walk in freedom and see from God’s perspective on love, life, spirituality and just about anything that comes up in the culture. When studying and praying for a sermon that I’m about to deliver, I even pray, “God help people to see this!”

Woe to the preacher who deals with the speck eyed audience while being a log eyed preacher. Talk about a wake up call. If our ministry is to remove the speck from our brother’s eye, then the prerequisite is to deal with log in our own eye.

A speck is small, a log is big. So the preacher’s task is to take most seriously their own issues. When a people who hear a preacher who has worked seriously (by the grace of God) to deal with the log in his or her eye, they are more apt to let you deal with their speck. Paul told the young Timothy, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you (1 Timothy 4:16 NKJV).” The gospel preaching is for the preacher first and then for the crowd. The doctrine is for the teacher first and then for the congregation. If it has not been developed in me, it’s not ready to flow through me.

Preacher, get alone with God and let Him burn the sermon into your heart. Don’t close your heart up and become a professional. Be hungry everyday for the Word that confronts the logs in your life. Let the Holy Spirit burn in you. When God deals with the log in the preacher’s eye, it gives us perspective on the smallness of other’s sins. If people have seen the log move out of our lives, then they can have faith for the speck in their eyes.

The greatest preaching qualification that matters is allowing God to take the log out of our eyes. It’s okay to help remove the speck from another, but not while the log remains in your eye. Besides you would hurt a lot of people if you are smacking them with log in your eye (I’m visual). If the log can be removed then we know the God who moves the impossible. Others’ specks don’t look too tough.

Let your life become the sermon. Your transparency about how God removed the log demonstrates humility and releases faith for God to clear their eyes too.  Jesus sees me as complete, now I use the Word as a mirror (James 1) to make sure that there is nothing blocking the wholeness I have in Christ. It’s not about working this out in my flesh, it’s about aligning my life with the Word of God and walking in obedience. I’ve been the log eyed preacher, but the longer I follow Jesus I want more of Him and the pulpit doesn’t matter as much. I love to preach but not as much as I love Him. I love to preach, but I’d rather just keep being formed into the image of Jesus.

My Prayer for Me as a Preacher (You may pray it too if it helps).

Father,

forgive me for preaching with a log in my eye. Forgive me for taking other’s sins more seriously than my own. I humble myself. I need you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for calling me to the incredible privilege of preaching Your Word. Thank you for allowing me to speak into others’ lives so that they may see more clearly. Jesus I want people to see You and not have anything in their perspective that blocks their freedom. But first Jesus I bring you all that stops me from seeing You. Set me on fire so that the log can only be consumed by your love, zeal and truth. Set me on fire to grow in Christlikeness. Thank you that I don’t have to strive but as I stay in Your Word and in Your presence, You show me where You are at work. Have your work in me first Holy Spirit so that you can work through me. In Jesus name,

Amen.

When the Drugs (or Sex or Booze) Start Using You

Who is your master?

“At that point I quit using drugs and the drugs started using me,” said the addict about the point in his story where everything went bust. Insert sex, drink, codependent relationship, pornography, anger, or ___________ for drugs and the story is pretty much the same. Change the names, change the cities, adjust the consequences and you pretty much have what we call a common theme.

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We tend to want to set the boundaries on our vices. “I’ll only go this far. I’ll only do this much,” says the addict. But oh, what a foolish mistake says the simple, “I didn’t know her door was the doorway to hell (Proverbs 7).” When you give addictions an inch, they take a mile. Did you hear about the lion tamer that was attacked by his tame lion? There are no tame lions. It’s in their nature to attack. So it is in the nature of vices and addictions to set the boundaries on you.

Is it really an “addiction?” Is it a sin? Maybe it’s a sickness of the mind or some kind of disease? Romans 6 instructs us to not let sin be master over us. Sin wants to master you, control, dominate and own you. That sounds like an addiction to me, something that wants to master your life and where you lose control. Sin is addictive. It’s both. It’s the cart and the horse.

I know the story so well because I lived in the bondage of sexual addiction and sin. If you are newer to my blog, you can get a copy of my book eXXXit (or for a short time get a free copy by signing up for my email list in the right hand column). When you feel good being out of control and numbing the pain, you deny that your medication is killing you. It’s sobering to realize that you no longer control the choices of your life because you have relinquished control to the bottle, the screen or the magazines.

We are all made to be ruled really. The question is not “are you mastered by anything?” The question is “what masters you?” “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that ones slave’s whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness (Romans 6:16).”

The hand of Jesus reaches out to the drug addict, the sex slave, the stripper, the serial gossiper and rage-aholic and offers  you death. When you come to the end of being used by sin as an addict, how about die? Not just any death. Death to sin in Jesus, the Christ, love Himself. He offers you a spiritual death to all that binds you and controls you. Not just death, but death and a resurrection. This is awakening from death to life, from slave to free. It’s the gospel, “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we will also be in the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6:5).”

Are you tired of the pattern of slavery, where you medicate your own pain with sin to try and treat your addiction but the result is death? Believe Jesus died for your sin and for your shame. Be baptized (submerged in water) in Jesus and identify with His death, burial and resurrection. Live in the power of this new life. Trade masters. Addiction and sin use you and pays you the wages of death but when Jesus masters you, you receive the gift of God, eternal life (Romans 6:23).

When Todd White, a former drug addict and atheist/now evangelist, wanted to kill himself, he ran into a pastor named Dan Mohler. Todd explained how much he hated his life. Dan replied, “If you don’t want your life, why don’t you give to someone who does? To Jesus!” (For more of Todd’s testimony click here). For those who are sick of being used by sin, you can give your life to Jesus today. Give your life to Jesus and let Him master your life. This can’t be half hearted. Your addiction demands all of you to kill you and Jesus demands all of you to give you resurrection life. Jesus loves you more than can you imagine. Keep coming to Him and let Him be the one that fixes you.