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Change my Mind

Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

I remember when this passage came to life for me. I typed it up and printed it so I could pin it to my ceiling. Every morning I would look up and see the words. I’ve since committed it to memory, and I am constantly reminded to apply it to my life. I often pray a simple prayer “Lord, change the way I think.” He has been faithful to make those changes, as I much as I submit to Him. I often times get frustrated because I still think certain way, and I wonder will I ever change. It is then that Jesus subtly reminds me of how much of my mind He has changed. I used to hate people for various reasons and now I don’t let my anger or frustration lead to hate. Instead asking how can extend love, how can I allow Holy Spirit to work through me? Unbeknownst to me the Father has been teaching me how to repent. A skill I misunderstood and many others may as well. A prayer I only began a short while ago is “Lord, help me repent.” The trouble was I would pray that after I would sin. To which the Lord would say “Okay I’ll help you.” then He would just let me go on my way. I never understood His silence after that until now. Repenting is not a post sin act, but a sin preventing act. It is stopping in your temptation and reconciling your thoughts. If I go down the path of sin I am denying my identity, but if I go down the path of life I am accepting my identity. Repentance is the self reminding of how you think as a child of God. For if I am a child of God I behave as such, therefore if I behave like the world I am identifying with the world. Repentance is proactive, it tears down lies and builds up truth in you mind.

When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are decedents of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgement is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.” Luke 3:7-9

It is not enough to simple say I’m a child of God and not change your behavior. To blatantly continue in sin and proclaim I'm a christian is hypocritical. This is not about your security as a child, your inheritance has been set aside beyond the reach of decay. This is about your authority as a child. A repentant heart has power over sin. It's not simply not thinking about sin, but replacing those thoughts with truth. I am a child of God, therefore sinful behavior is unbecoming of me. And as a child of God I respond to the urge to sin by turning from it. The lie may be someone is purposely is against you. The temptation is to hate the person. The truth is that person’s behavior towards you has a myriad of reasons and they deserve your understanding. The response is to love the person without conditions. Repentance is choosing to see through the lens of truth. Viewing both yourself and others in that light. Seeing where you need to change and where others need your understanding. Jesus didn’t die on the cross just for my past sin, but also that which I have not committed. Thus a repentant heart does not simply look at its past and say “That’s bad I shouldn’t have done that.”, but looks into the future to choose which person to be. The child of God or the child of the world. Which will you choose?


Rest in the Storm

IMG_2512One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!” 

 Luke 8:22-25

How often is it when we step in the direction we feel to be God and a storm immediately follows? More often than not it seems. But are these storms unavoidable or are they self-made? In either case, the storms have a tendency to wash away our expectation of what we thought the journey would be. We start off and see the possibility of a storm in the distance, but Jesus is still in the boat so we’re not concerned. Then the waves begin to lap over the edge some as Jesus lays down to sleep. “Uh Jesus…?” we say, but He starts to doze off. At this point begin to get concerned. My bank account says this, my work has layoffs coming, or this relationship is harder than I thought. The storm begins to rock the boat more than we like. “Jesus I have bills” and all we hear are Zs. “Jesus, can’t you see my storm?” more Zs. At this point, we’ve forgotten what Jesus said at the beginning, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” He didn’t say, “Let’s go to the middle and drown.” There is a promise of seeing this through to the other shore. The new job, the promotion, or restoration of relationship. He not just sleeping in your storm, He’s resting in the promise. You’re going to make it the other side. But we are so easily get consumed by the storm. What is it that consumes you? Things of this world, sin, doubt, lack of direction. The things of this world pass away, sin has no power over you, doubt is essential for faith, and Jesus is the way. When we realize that we are being consumed and we are in real danger, our cry for help is what wakes Him. He can immediately bring peace to the storm because he came from a place of rest. Authority comes from a place of rest. Until we can find rest in the storm we won’t have authority over the storm. How do we find rest in the storm? Trust in the one who made the promise, submit to His peace. Not every storm is avoidable, but you can find rest in every storm. If the waves listen to Him surely your circumstance will too.

Thoughts on Influence

The capacity to have an effect on, to shape change.

Take an inventory of the impact you may have made in the past year. Who has entered your life in the past nine months, three weeks, or 72 hours? How have you touched their life? Even if only for a moment, it may be all the time you have with them. In Acts 19 Paul so happened to find several believers. Not by chance, but by appointment that needed to be introduced to the Holy Spirit. Paul didn’t necessarily know they were believers when they met. How should I bring up what God might want to speak to that person, you might ask. I’m pretty sure Paul’s opening line wasn’t “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you first believed?” It more likely was “Hello, I’m Paul. Know good coffee shop?” He started a simple conversation that led to their discussion. Also, he didn’t wait to establish a history with them. Start simple conversations, they could lead to divine encounters. If you’re not investing into those in front of you, you’re not influencing anyone. No matter how persuasive you might be. Your friend from high school might simply reject your messages on Facebook. That’s okay, we’re not the ones to make them listen. Your influence might not reach all people. I wouldn’t get an aneurysm over those that aren’t influenced by you. There are two dangerous thoughts you might assume here. If they won’t listen to me, they won’t listen to anyone. The other is that God cannot use another person to influence them. Both thoughts are birthed from pride. Paul came against that pride in this passage, by simply moving his focus. Better to influence those you can, rather than be influenced by those you cannot. Your messages should not be based on who can I get to listen, but what truth am I supposed to be sharing? In today’s world, one might think that influence in measured by your following. Paul’s influence was not measured by a number of people that accepted him. True influence comes from the Lord. Influence is something that is given and cannot be earned. Your measure of influence is determined by the measure you share it. If your influence is measured by likes, then what you give is based on what people want rather than what they need. Influence comes when you have what people need. Someone needs what you have to offer. Don’t limit your influence by your amount of followers. The world measures influence by who you know and how many you know. But it’s not as simple as that. It turns out in this instance, in Acts 19, that their adversary knew who they knew. Walking in knowledge is very different than walking in authority. Believing in your knowledge does not hold the same power of believing in your authority. Jesus was tempted with influence and submitted to authority. Therefore influence should not be measured by volume, but by quality. You may have a million followers, yet are they being positively influenced. You will always be reflected by those that look up to you. What can you change in your life that will positively impact those influenced by you? First and foremost it should be the Holy Spirit that has the greatest influence in your life. In the Tree of Life Version, it says Paul resolved in the Spirit. This means that he had several options set before him, and he was able in partnership with the Holy Spirit to determine which one was from the Lord. Allowing that thought to take precedence and determine the next steps. When we become familiar with His voice we can learn how to direct our thought patterns. It also says that Paul gave direction to his assistants. They submitted to a Spirit-led leader in their life. We also need spirit filled leaders in our lives to help give us direction. Not so our life can be dictated by them, but to learn how we to can submit ourselves to the Spirit. Those we allow to influence us is who we become like. Now not all of our influences will be a leader directly over us. But they should still have a thriving relationship with the Spirit. There are a few instances of influence being used at the end of Acts 19. That of Artemis in a negative way, that which convinced Paul to keep his distance, and that of the mayor to the people. Each case affected the well-being of others. Influence is important because it can guide people in the right direction. Unfortunately, it can easily be used negatively and cause harm to those under it. Therefore we should always be aware of who is listening. When you speak you’re releasing either life or death. No matter how much you think you influence what you have to say matters. Invest in how you think, because how you think affects what you say, and what you say impacts what’s around you. You’re an influencer whether you believe it or not. I urge you to use it well no matter how many you influence.

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Daddy Is Strong Enough

I was on the plane from Naples, Italy to Athens, Greece. I had the pleasure to sit next to a couple and their daughter who was about two years old. In the few minutes around take off she was a bit fussy. Her parents tried many things to calm her down. Soft words, toys, and whatever else they could think of. Finally, her dad said the, “I’m going wrestle you down (for the sake of her safety) and I don’t mind doing it because I am significantly stronger than you.” Thank you, Holy Spirit. This is what Daddy says to you, “I don’t mind loving you even if it is wrestling you because I am significantly stronger than you.” Papa doesn’t steer away from Love even at its hardest. Keeping you from what you want, to protect you from what is best for you. You may want to wander about the cabin, but when turbulence comes He knows you need to be in His lap.
I led Israel along with my ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I myself stooped to feed him. Hosea 11:4 NLT
You might look back on your year with frustration. Have you gotten all that you desired out of the year? Maybe you got more turbulence than you expected. Though when you look back, you can’t help but see His faithfulness. What He has kept you from or brought you through, has it not been for your good? You have been lead by the ropes of His kindness and love. Even when it felt like you were being held back for no reason. We too often mistake His kindness for suffering. When we are being wrestled into the place where He wants us, rather than where we want to be. You can’t have it because He loves you too much. Either you’re not ready for it or it is not ready for you. This is why God requires faithfulness in little things before there is trust in greater things. Little things are made great through faithfulness. When something is placed in your hand it always feels small, because it fits in your hand. We mistakenly drop what is in our hands to go after the greater things, but miss the greatness already in our hands. Complaining about what is placed before you will keep you from seeing God’s faithfulness through it. He works everything out for the good of those called according to His purpose. (paraphrase Romans 8:28) We must not forget if we are walking according to His purpose for our lives. What is happening to us is good. His plans are for good. Whether it is to teach you something new or to help you align your desires with His. What happens to you is good, no matter how bad the world says it is. Yes, it sucks to go through, but the results are what matters. What He is doing in you is to draw you closer to Him. Closeness to God is the greatest good there is. Paul was made blind that he may see, the persecutor became that which he persecuted. Your perceived hindrance just may be your deliverance.
In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:10 NLT
What you are going through or have gone through, is not painful for the sake of knowing pain alone. It is so God might be glorified in your restoration. To help you find where your support comes from. Ultimately it is from the Lord, but practically it is from the community. Those that stick with you through pain, will be the most cherished in the celebration. It is to strengthen you. Faithfulness in the small things is a principle for what you desire and the trail. Remember the next trail may be more difficult, but our God never changes. Neither does His faithfulness. Lean on Him now in this trail, and do the same in the next. When you lean on the faithfulness of God, He places you on a firm foundation. One that cannot be shaken. Suffer for this little while, and share in His eternal glory. Being with Jesus is what makes suffering worth while, it is not suffering that makes being with Jesus worth while. Suffering sucks, let it be what it is. But go through it with the hope of being with Jesus as your anchor. Suffering is not to glorify one’s self. It is to bring greater dependence on the sovereignty of Christ. Knowing that the majesty of being present with Christ will far outweigh your present suffering. You will stay in your suffering so long as you see it as greater than the sovereignty of God. When the glory of God becomes greater than your pain, you will have been faithful in much. Turbulence alway seems more dangerous to those that haven’t experienced it. Daddy is strong enough to get through any storm. Don’t wait for Him to wrestle you into His lap, rest there for the entire journey.
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I hate landing. Not because I feel in danger. Flying for me is a peaceful endeavor. I don’t have to worry about a thing when I fly. Whether or not I’m late it’s not in my hands. Plus they bring me ginger ale, unless of course you’re on an economy airline. Either way I know the flight will take off even if it is delayed, stay in the air and land. It is exactly the same every time. Some landings are more rough than others, but that is not why I dislike landing. Landing means coming to the end of this period of certainty. I have to step off the plane and into immediate responsibility. Going through customs, finding my bag, then further transportation. Suddenly I am responsible again. I wrote this poem on one of my flights.

Above the clouds there’s new terrain
Above the gloom and pouring rain
Here above it can I stay
No more sorrow and no pain
These powdered pellets begin to fade
As mountains rise into their place
Above the clouds I cannot stay
Into the grey I must engage
With the light I’ve come to know
Darkened skies will illuminate
As brokenness fades away

I hesitate to call it selfishness to get away from it all. After all we are commanded to sabbath, and God desires we seek refuge in Him. Where the selfishness might come in is our heart behind the matter. Are we getting away to hide from our problems or for rest to take on the daily once again. Personally it is hard for me to step away from my problems, I want to fix them so I can stop thinking about them. But I have had to learn to step back, relinquish control and rest. Take the time to allow God to recalibrate me and give me new ideas. The deadline will always be there, whether you rest or not it doesn’t move. It doesn’t make sense in the natural, but I always accomplish more in six days than I could in seven. The trouble comes in using the need to rest as an excuse to ignore responsibility. You have to go back to work. I remember when it shifted for me. I was working week after week longing for the weekend. Then it hit me, I can’t commit my work to the weekend. The weekend ends just like the week. I’ll never be satisfied with the weekend. Instead of working all week in hope of the weekend, what if we spent our weekend in such a way the we look forward to Monday? It never fails to come around, why not go into it joyfully?

I began my summer incredibly hopeful. I was coming in for a landing from a time of rest, yet I was naive enough to think it would go smoothly. Then I began to go through customs, what is your purpose in entering this territory?parenthetical I thought I’d get the girl, business would boom and life would be dandy. Nope, not at all. He stamped my passport, but the territory still needed to be fought for. More so in my heart than in any area of influence. You see, we are the customs agent in our heart. And it is still sometimes a long process for a citizen to enter their own country. But we keep giving visas to lies from the enemy. I began to ask why I was having such a hard time entering my own territory. I was reminded of this.

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the tongue’s answer is from Adonai. All a man’s ways are pure in his own eyes, but Adonai weighs the motives. Commit whatever you do to Adonai, and your plans will succeed. Adonai works everything out for his own purpose even the wicked for a day of disaster. Adonai abhors all the proud in heart. Be assured, they will not go unpunished. By mercy and truth is iniquity atoned, and by the fear of Adonai one avoids evil. When one’s ways are pleasing to Adonai, he makes even his enemies be at peace with him. Better a little with righteousness than much income without justice. The heart of man plans his course, but Adonai directs his steps. Proverbs 16:1-9 TLV

The New Living Translation says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” To often we commit our plans to the Lord, and expect Him to work in our life. I had to repent, I wanted my plans established right then. I had pride in my heart. My plan was flawed, but I couldn’t see that. In the end the Lord determined how my summer has gone, and where it will go. He kept me from some hardships and walked with me through others. I came to the beginning of a project and I prayed this, “Lord I submit my plan to yours and I commit all the work I am about to put into this project to you. This is how I will glorify you and worship you.” There were some frustrations with the project, as with any project. But in the end I spent less hours than I planned, finished on time, and I was able to do additional pieces. In reality His plans are better than mine, so I plan to make His plans for me my own. Purpose is found in giving into what He has for you. As you commit your work to Him, His plans will come into view. Your job is dull not because it’s boring, but because you haven’t invited Him into it. You will begin to see Him working through what you put your hand to. Your purpose is in His plan, and that cannot be established until your work is committed to Him. Faith without works is dead, so is works without faith. God is moving in way unknown to man. If this generation will lay down their idea of purpose and pick up His, we will see mighty moves of God. This requires a commitment to Him. Not just “I’m a christian and I’m in the workforce.”,  but “my life and work are committed to Adonai.”

James 2:20

Wild City

This is my wilderness
Skylines and trolly cars
Police lights and city bars
Food trucks and public parks
This is my wilderness
Business people to church goers
Prep flip to hipster hair parts
High living to homeless hearts
This is my wilderness
Sirens and car horns
Bird songs and dog barks
Car wrecks and construction sites
This is my wilderness
Bus lanes and taxi cabs
Sunglasses and tourist hats
Restaurants and beer drafts
This is my wilderness
No mountain or pasture scenes
No fresh air or trickling streams
No coyote howls or owl screams
This is my wilderness
The city may be lost for wild things
Though never short of wild dreams
In every coffee shop and in the streets
This is my wilderness
Mountains can be nice and rivers sweet
Nothing beats people being seen
Don’t forget to listen and to dream
This is your wilderness

Deflating My Opinion

Dictionary definition of Opinion: A view or judgement that is not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

I try not to develop opinions about people. When I do they’re usually wrong. I either elevate the person to something they’re not or develop a negative view of them. That view makes me want to punch them in the throat. This is where I have to humble myself, resist the urge to praise or punch them and have an honest conversation with the person. Setting my views of them aside and allowing them to reveal themselves.

For the people I elevate, I find they are way more awesome than I originally thought. They typically don’t want to be viewed in that way. Truly awesome human beings walk in humility, and have no need to puff themselves up with the opinions of others. Or I’ll find the person I’ve elevated doesn’t have the integrity to hold up the character they’ve chosen to show the rest of us. In these cases, those people do need to be lovingly punched in the throat. Most of the time it’s Jesus that needs to do the throat punching, not myself.

Now for the people I develop a negative opinion of. These are my favorite situations, because I’m the one that gets punched in the throat. This happens to me in two ways. The person I don’t know that I am pleasantly proven wrong about. Usually this a someone I’ve heard negative things about that I haven’t encountered myself. When I do have a conversation with that person my view is quickly changed. I then go lovingly punch the person who told me their negative opinion in the throat. Then there are people in high levels of leadership, that the enemy wants me to believe lies about. The enemy would love for us to think we have it more figured out than those ahead of us. But if we submit ourselves we’ll see the lies proven wrong. A great leader is willing to admit they need Grace just as much as the next guy. Negative opinions about leaders are almost always developed from gossip. That gossip is usually stems from jealousy of the platform that person has. We believe the gossip because of our own jealousy. If we want the platform another person has then we have to have the integrity and humility they have.

How do we fight our opinions? Let yourself be surprised. Allow people to be who they are. When we develop opinions about people we confine them. When we confine people we lose the joy of being able to see them walk out there calling. Possibly even preventing them from walking in their calling completely. In creating an opinion of someone we are creating a box they have to fit in. When they don’t fit in that box we get frustrated with them. Usually that frustration is expressed to them whether we know it or not. We have to understand the power our opinion can have over someone’s life. They can take your frustration and try to appease it. They are then becoming your opinion of them, rather than who God sees them as. Now this doesn’t mean don’t speak to another human ever again. See past your opinion to who that person is. Give people the freedom to be themselves. Stick to that facts, especially if you’re lovingly throat punching. Speak the truth in love, their negative behavior is because of a lie, opinion, they believe about themselves.

In some instances we get a glimpse of how awesome a person can be, then they don’t view themselves that way. They put themselves in the box of their own opinion. Take this as an opportunity to tell them what you see in them, loving throat punch. Speak the identity God has for them over their life. Some people simply don’t know how awesome they are. If we get people to realized the incredible identity God has for them, we will have people walking in power.

How about when someone has a negative opinion of you? This is where it get really fun! Situations like these are our greatest opportunity to come before God and ask what He thinks of us. Because of the Grace we have received, we don’t have to receive unloving throat punches. Understand why they have that view of you. It is rooted in some pain in their life that they haven’t dealt with. I have hammers in the shop that have all kinds of dings and marks on them, but they still do what they’re designed to do with just as much power. When we know who we are, we can allow the dings and marks to be there without conforming to their opinion. Our power doesn’t come from the opinions of others but the one who designed and formed us. We are designed to walk in power. We can only walk in that power if we are getting our identity from the designer.

What about when people have positive opinions about you? Humbly say thank you.

Abram believed an opinion he thought Pharaoh might have of him. So he told Sarai to pretend to be his sister. This brought plagues on Egypt and destroyed the possibility of a relationship between the two men. Joseph’s brothers acted on an opinion they had of him. They sold him into slavery and brought shame on themselves. Joseph never lost the power of the identity God gave him, even in slavery. Gideon defeated the Midianites with the identity God gave him. Jesus was able to go the cross because of the identity he has. He didn’t conform to the opinion the enemy had of Him. The cross was won when Jesus said no to satan’s temptation, when He was offered the world if He would bow the enemy’s high opinion of himself.

Genesis 12:10-20 and 37:18-36; Judges 6 and 7; Matthew 4:8-11

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Almost two years ago to the day I was in California doing fabrication for a design studio. I was living with the guy who was directly over me. It just so happened that this was the time of the year that the men in his family go on an adventure trip. He was kind enough to ask me to join them, and I was naive enough to say yes.

This years adventure was to climb Mt. Langley. We drove up to 10,000 ft. and hiked in 6 miles to make camp, with a 90 lb. pack. The next day we took the summit with a day pack. It was a 4 mile trek to the summit which was 14,042 ft. Once we made the peak, we signed the book at the top and immediately turned around and went back to camp for the night. I did play Imagine Dragons: On Top of the World before I made the decent. It was 8 miles, up 4,042 ft. and down 4,042 ft. in one day. As daunting as it was at the time, I wasn’t going to turn down the chance to go. It was worth the experience and the lessons learned.

  • Sometimes God will keep you valley because you are not ready for the mountain. Just because you look fit for the task ahead of you does not mean you’re ready for the task ahead. Knowing you’ll look good on the mountain top doesn’t mean you’re ready for the journey. Having the charisma of mountaintopper means nothing if you don’t have the integrity of a journeyer. I was not ready for the trip up. I would have to stop every 2O paces or so to catch my breath. This slowed the whole group down. Eventually they all went ahead, I slowly made the summit…45 minutes behind the group. Thank God for their patience and the graciousness of the guy I was living with to come back down to guide me up.
  • There is something new around every corner. No matter what corner I turned I never found what I expected. Even though it was rocks at every turn it was always a different rock. We may face things that are the same at face value, but they are an entirely new set of circumstances. Instead of going up the mountain saying “Great! More rocks”, we can say “Great! New rocks”. We have to understand that no matter how we look at it our perspective has changed. We are further along than we were yesterday. If we don’t allow our perspective to change according to where God is taking us then we are living in the past.
  • Keep eye on the trail in front of you. Sometimes you have to put your head down and just watch the trail. Sometimes you have to look up to the goal to remind yourself why you are going the direction you’re going. We can get so focused on the summit that it seems impossible to get to, no matter how long we walk it is still so far up there. Likewise we can get so focused on the trail that it seems wherever we’re going we’re never getting there, no matter how long we walk the trail never ends. We have to keep the balance of keeping our eye on the goal and on the trail. That we are on this trail for a reason not just to be walking. Remember why you’re on the trail, while keeping in mind that you have not arrived.

These are the few that I wrote down. If we just keep in mind that the journey is just as important and the destination, I think we’ll make it there without killing ourselves. I learned so much that day. There was a point where I faced the decision to continue or to turn around, I decided not to quit and will never regret it.. Even though its was one of the most physically difficult things I’ve done, it is something I long to do again. Though next time I will prepare myself.

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Where I Walk

“Wherever you set your foot, you will be on the land I have given you…”
Joshua 1:3

We have the notion that we need to know where we are going before we move. It’s kind of funny, where I wrote “move” my dyslexic brain almost put “write”. I’ve found lately that if I only begin to write God will begin to show me the thought He has me writing. If we allow ourselves to get stuck trying to figure it out we’ll never move. The enemy is fine with us trying to figure it out, it’s when we move that he trembles. An obedient heart willing to take a risk is more precious to God than a well thought out plan. The reason we don’t know the land we’re meant to conquer is because we haven’t stepped in it yet.