Category Archives: Blog

The Centurion Who Honored Jesus

There’s a lovely story in the gospels about a centurion who’s servant was very sick. Matthew (Matthew 8:5-13) said the centurion approached Jesus and Luke (Luke 7:1-10) says that he sent elders of the Jews to speak for him. In both accounts, all he asked Jesus to do was speak the word of healing because he understood authority. “For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

Jesus was amazingly impressed by this man’s faith. “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” In all of the travels that Jesus did up and down the region where people were being healed everyday, he’d never seen this much faith. What’s even more amazing is that the man was a Roman, not even Jewish.

I love this centurion so much because he epitomizes what a believer should look like. According to Luke, he sent others to speak for him because he didn’t feel worthy to have Jesus come to his home. I think that kind of humility must have been uncharacteristic for most Romans. And he loved the Jewish people enough to build them a synagogue with his own money. He was humble, loving, and generous–all the qualities that we should exhibit.

On top of that, he was a man who understood power and authority. I don’t believe for a moment that any order he gave was second-guessed or ignored. The Roman army was notorious for its discipline. His orders would be obeyed or heads would roll. Imagine that combination of gentle caring and power. That’s exactly what we are called to live in.

We’ve been given all authority to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons.  (Matthew 10:8) We are to do what Jesus did, and more, but we are to do it in the power of the Holy Spirit who is the source of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22) Gentle, loving, power and authority, working in the kingdom for the sake of others without needing recognition. This centurion has a lot to model for us. I, for one, can’t wait to meet him in heaven.

Seek His face

Work Out Your Own Salvation

When Paul said to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), he didn’t mean to make up your own rules for what salvation is, he meant make sure you know you are saved because the consequences are unthinkable if you are wrong. We know that, “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) God didn’t want to make it difficult. The thief on the cross was with Jesus in paradise.

But what comes after salvation? How do we “work it out”? Jesus had some very chilling words to say about that, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7: 21-23)

Think about that! Someone who can prophesy and do miracles in Jesus’s name cannot make it into heaven. Jesus calls them workers of lawlessness because they took the power of God to do miracles without loving Him. Jesus there would be many!

Who then can be saved? “Only he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” When we do the Father’s will, Jesus will “know” us because the only way we can do the Father’s will is to be in communion with Him. Jesus is our example. He spent hours and hours in prayer going to the Mount of Olives to pray “as was His custom.” (Luke 22:39) He spent precious time with God worshiping and listening. We have to know how to hear Him if we are going to do His will. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

I don’t believe that God wants us to live in terror not knowing if we are saved. He’s a good Father and wants us to be with Him, but we have the responsibility to be good children. It’s not always easy, but it’s never boring. “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Do that and you can’t go wrong.

What Is Your Calling?

We all want to know what we were born to do. There’s something inside us that cries out to know purpose. Some of that is born from fairy tales where a poor, insignificant youth is called upon to become a hero and find a great destiny. Those born into a royal lineage know from an early age what they are meant to do. The rest of us have to figure it out. God will direct some through obvious or subtle means as testimonies will show, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for everyone.

I think that’s because God lets us make choices. We are free to be who we want to be. God doesn’t require that we find His perfect will to go into specific areas of employment. He lets us explore and decide. We can ask for His help and His favor, but He has given us a tremendous amount of freedom to do what we want. Our calling is our own heart’s desire.

As believers, we often rate those in ministry higher than those who work outside the church, but God doesn’t do that. In fact, we are told, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” (Colossians 3:23) Your work is your calling. Wherever you work, you are a light set upon a lamp stand. You are God’s emissary. Be kind. Be generous. Be patient and compassionate. You are more of an influence working among nonbelievers than anyone working in the church because you are known and they are not.

You have as much access to God as anyone on earth. The time you spend seeking Him and learning from Him is not lesser than the same time spent by great ministers of the faith. You can hear the Lord just like they do. You can glean wisdom from the Bible, be inspired by His voice, and see signs and wonders all in a day at work. Living in the Kingdom is far from dull. Your calling is to live in grace of God to be a blessing to others. Start there and see where you go.

How To Come Home When Your Heart Wanders Off

There’s a place that feels right, that feels centered. When we know we are right with God, it’s the most secure place in the world. There’s a peace there that you can’t find anywhere else. It’s where we hear His voice, where we sleep the best, where we are free to dream. But human that we are, we will wander away. Sometimes we wander so far it’s hard to know how to come home.

Sometimes we wander through neglect. We stop reading our Bible. We stop going to church, or skip it regularly. We ignore that still, small voice that tells us to be responsible with our faith. Sometimes we don’t just wander, we knowingly make choices that are bad for us. That’s the most dangerous because rebellion makes hearing God almost impossible. The enemy is convincing when it comes to justifying our bad decisions and the longer we allow ourselves to listen to lies, the harder it is to come back.

If you’re lucky, your spirit will feel conviction. That’s different from guilt. Guilt makes you feel worthless with no possible redemption. Conviction knows what is wrong and what is right with the hope of forgiveness. Once you recognize conviction, it’s up to you to do something about it. That’s why we’re told to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (Philippians 2:12) No one can do it for you. You have to make the choices that bring you back.

The first thing to do is to ask God for forgiveness. It’s the easiest thing to do. Just admit that you screwed up. Admit your anger, frustration, fear, or whatever it is that you know you have to let go of. Ask God to forgive you and help you. The weight that falls off will feel like a breath of fresh air.

The second thing to do is stop the direction that took you away from God. You can’t just ask for forgiveness and carry on doing the same wrong things. You have to decide to make changes. They may be only minor changes, or they may be big ones. Ask for help if you need it. Find someone you respect and get help.

And then start doing what you know you need to do. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you get centered again. Spend time with Him. Enjoy His company. Be refreshed in your spirit. Papa is so welcoming and loving. He wants you to be safe. Once you come home, look back and see what took you away and be aware so it doesn’t happen again. The stronger you grow as a believer, the harder it will be to wander away. Then you’ll be the one people come to for help.

Daily Bible reading

Why It’s Important To Read The Bible

It’s surprising how many Christians don’t read their Bible. It’s shocking, really. “I don’t understand it.” “I try to read, but I don’t have the time. “I read it off and on.” There are so many reasons for not reading the Word and none of them are valid. The truth is, it’s vitally important to read the Bible.

You’d be amazed at how many people think that some familiar quotes are from the Bible that are actually from Shakespeare. That’s because they don’t know the Bible at all. Which means that it’s very easy to believe things that aren’t true. If something sounds ligit, then it must be and that’s exactly how the enemy sneaks in to influence us to believe error. The only way to truly know truth is to read truth, the Word of God.

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) He speaks to us in many ways, but the most obvious way is His Word. If we’re not hearing His voice, can we call ourselves His sheep? How can we follow if we do not hear? How can we know what is true, what is promised, what is danger if we are not daily reading the Bible?

We are human with insecurities, blind spots about ourselves, often molded by bad teaching, or no teaching. Our salvation in Jesus is a journey of being changed into His image. We are a transformation in progress and the Bible is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Living and active. The Word of God changes us, but it must be read with the intent to be changed. Reading for knowledge may be interesting, but it will not pierce the soul. The Word must go into us as a living thing, allowing its wisdom to strengthen our spirit as only God can do.

Daily reading will help you grow in grace like nothing else. It’s part of our devotion that we give to God as we pray, as we praise, as we bless His name and work to bless others. Make time for it – morning, night, or noon, it doesn’t matter, just do it. Don’t jump around reading bits here and there. Allow yourself to get into the message. Read the Old Testament for the lessons, Psalms for comfort and inspiration, the New Testament for growth and development. Ask the Holy Spirit for His guidance. If you don’t understand something, ask Him for help. You’d be surprised how He can answer and clarify His own Word for you. Learn to delight in His Word and you’ll find yourself loving God with greater devotion. His love letter is waiting for you.

When The Enemy Lies

Your know those times when the world is falling apart and everything you do is wrong? You feel like the stupidest person on earth and nothing anyone says helps you in the least. Guess whose game plan that is! Hint, it’s not God’s. Satan’s plan is to kill, steal, and destroy. That means that he will use every device to pull you down, if not physically, then emotionally. The enemy lies.

Granted, we have to admit that we are not perfect, but doesn’t mean that every evil thought that runs though our head, especially when we are stressed, it true. Whether is comes, from your own thoughts, the news, or someone you know, lies will try to take you down; lies that are completely false and destructive.

So what do you do? First, you have to recognize them. Jesus said,  “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) He also said, ” My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) That means that you need to learn to hear His voice and you do that through reading the Word and prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Ask Him to help you hear His voice. He wants more than anything to be in communion with you, like any loving parent would. Spend as much time as you can learning to hear Him. He will be surprisingly responsive to encourage you to come closer. Do it! It’s awesome.

After you know that you are hearing God, knowing what is true becomes easier. All you have to do is ask. Even so, when we are under pressure, or have to deal with serious difficulties, it’s not always easy to realize that the enemy is at work. That’s why having a habit of spending time with Jesus is important, especially in the hard times. He will help clear your mind and keep you centered so you can see what is true and what is a lie.

And when you recognize a lie, all you have to do is rebuke it. Rebuke the lies of the enemy and claim the truth of God for your life. Thank God for His goodness and faithfulness and ask Him to lead you in all righteousness. He gave us authority over all the works of the enemy. We don’t have to put up with lies that tear us down. Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matt 10:16) Don’t fall for the lies. You are amazing.

Join ISIS, Become Great

ISIS has a Join ISIS Become Greatlot to offer a young man looking to find his way in life — a chance to be part of something big, something powerful and growing, something with tremendous impact. It offers brotherhood and camaraderie. It offers a way to become great.

But ISIS is not the only way to find those things. You don’t have to kill people to become great. You don’t have to kill people to be part of something powerful. You don’t have to kill people to belong to something big.

Most people joining ISIS don’t even understand the religious aspect of what ISIS stands for. God seems to be behind the ones with the guns and bombs and the ruthlessness to use them. My guess is that most people don’t want to kill, they want to matter. For those who want to make a difference without violence, there’s another way.

Looking for greatness in God is not entirely incorrect, just misguided in who to believe. Before joining ISIS, look to Jesus. See what He says. See what He has to offer. When we become believers of His grace, we become sons and daughters of the King of Kings, royal heirs. The God of the universe becomes our amazing Father. The life that Jesus lived on earth is a model for us to live today. Everything He did, we have the ability to do. Can ISIS raise the dead? Can ISIS heal cancer? Can ISIS restore broken lives and relationships? Does ISIS provide love, joy, peace, and kindness?

Carrying a gun does not make you great. Living the life you were meant to live with all your gifts and talents leads you into the greatness of God. Anything else will always bring pain and loneliness. Jesus can make your life matter in ways you can’t even imagine. I’m not promising that life will be easy. There is still evil in the world to contend with, but Jesus will always make a way. He will always be there when you need Him. He will be everything that you need Him to be.

All you have to do is ask Him into your life. It’s that simple. He hears you and He knows you. When you pray, you will hear His voice in your heart. Learn to trust Him, He knows how to take care of you. If you have questions, let me know. People care about you. You’re not alone.

What Is Faith?

Faith is believing, not knowing.Everyone feels little confident that they know what faith is. Intellectually, we understand that faith is trust. I’m going to talk about what it is to trust in God. For most of my life, I agreed with what just about everyone else believes, that faith is trust. I believed in God and counted that as faith. I prayed. I believed that God would, and should, answer my prayers because I trusted that He would. Did He? Not as often as I wanted.  Why? Because I didn’t actually have faith.

My knowledge of God was not the same thing as trusting Him. My knowledge of a political party does not make me an active participant in that party. I have to believe their core values and act on them. It was a shocking burst of reality when I discovered that all my years of “believing” only amounted to years of “knowing.” When my faith called me to believe, I had a meltdown.

Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Heb 11:1) That’s the tricky part — we don’t like having to trust in something we can’t see. Yet, that’s exactly what God wants from us. That’s what faith is all about. It means that you will trust and not worry. Will the money come in? Trust and not worry. Will your son be ok in the military? Trust and not worry.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Heb 11:6)  It starts with believing that God exists. When we know that, we have to understand His nature. If we seek Him, because we want to find Him, He rewards us with what we need and blesses us even above that. Once we understand who He is, trusting Him gets easy. Read His Word and see just how generous and kind He is.

Here’s my challenge to you: check your heart and judge if you think you have faith, or you know you have faith. The way to determine that is checking your worry meter. If you worry at all, then faith is absent. If you turn to God and believe that He will do what He’s promised to do, then faith is active. Try it. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been worrying. Repent. Ask God to forgive you and ask Him for more faith to trust Him. Then try it out. See how far it takes you. We grow from faith to faith, always trusting Him more. If worry sneaks in because it’s been a habit, repent, ask for forgiveness, and move on.

Faith will save your life if you allow it. It is definitely God’s plan for you.

How Is It Possible To Be Friends With God?

 

I am friends with GodIf you have ever had the privilege of standing on a hillside away from city lights at night and looked at the expanse of stars in the sky, you know the wonder of our God. The massiveness of His creation and the beauty of it all should open your heart to want to know Him more. What is astonishing is that He wants to know us even more. But how can that be? How can the God of creation not know me?

That is the wonder of our relationship with Him. From the very beginning, before the first star was released to the vast expanse of space, God wanted to know me. He knew my name, He knew my heart’s desires, and He knew my weaknesses before a single atom was made. He knew who I would be, but He wanted to know my heart as I revealed it to Him. He wanted to be my Friend.

This is a concept almost too deep to bear. How can I be friends with God? How can I approach Him without fear and trembling? Well, He is God and He knew our fear so He revealed His great love for us through His prophets and through His Son. When we understand and establish in our hearts that God loves us more than we can comprehend, we can respond back with our human love. It is smaller and more fickle than His love for us, but it is where we start.

In that love that we feel from Him and for Him, we become friends. There is a comfort and boldness to go to Him without trembling. We can know Him as Papa and run to Him in joy. When we sit in the quiet place to listen to Him, He also listens to us. He wants us to pour our hearts out to Him. He wants us to tell Him about all the loss and pain that happens in life. If we don’t tell Him, then we hold it in and it hurts us. When we talk to Papa, we release it to Him and there is room for healing and joy.

And after we let go of our hurts, Papa crooks His finger at us to follow Him. There is more that He wants us to have. There are treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places to find. He lays out a treasure hunt in the heavenlies and invites us in to scamper and find His delights. Yes, it sounds fanciful, and yes it is real. After every delight, He crooks His finger again and draws us deeper. There is no limit to the wonder of knowing Him. The only limits are those we allow. We stop when others stop. We stop when we think others will judge us or not understand. God is waiting for those who will press in to know Him more.

He wants to know us. He wants us to know Him, and there are no boundaries in that knowing, only further possibilities. The more we reveal our heart to God and not hold back because we are embarrassed of our selfishness or greed, the more He can replace those harmful attitudes with His goodness, and His goodness reveals more of Him to discover. Our friendship with God is the reason for all creation. He is my Friend and I am His.

How To Receive Blessing

Being blessed by GodThe blessings of God belong to us.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Eph 1:3) These are real promises. Every spiritual blessing  is ours.  What does that look like? Look at the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Gal 5:22-23) Does any of that look like anything you’d like to have in your life? What about physical blessing? Jesus said: Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. (Mat 6:25) That means that God will provide all that you need in life!

Does it start to look like God wants to bless you in just about every way possible? So, if He’s so willing to give it, why don’t you have it?

One reason is because you may not think you deserve it. We’ve been trained to earn what we get. We think that if we behave ourselves, we’ll be rewarded. When we screw up, we feel guilty and don’t feel like we deserve any reward, and that blocks what God wants to do. And, as it turns out, we’re human, so we screw up all the time — so we never feel like we ever deserve blessing.

But here’s the thing, God knows we’re human. He’s known that all along, and He’s not bothered by it. In fact, Jesus died for us knowing just how human we were, and loved us the whole time. We can’t earn His blessing. He gives it freely, knowing who we are. There’s no way to be perfect, so get over it. When you mess up, repent. Give it to Jesus and let it go. Guilt, condemnation, and fear will block all the goodness that God wants to put into your life. Confessing your sins and continuing to feel guilty is not His plan. You have to know that you are forgiven when you repent.

Now ask God to bless you. That’s perfectly ok to do. He wants to do it. Say, “Father, I receive all the blessings that you are giving me.” Now watch what happens in your life. When you see blessing begin to come to you, thank Him. Be grateful, then ask for more. That’s ok, too. There’s no limit to how much blessing you can have. It’s all yours. More than you could possibly hold onto. In fact, you may have to ask Him to hold back at some point so you can take it all in.

Blessing is a by-product of living in a loving relationship with God. Once you get over feeling like you have to earn it, you can live with the grace of God on you that your spirit hungers for. Love, peace, and joy are yours. Provision to meet your needs are yours. God wants to take complete care of you. All you have to do is let Him.