Tag Archives: Father

Mirrors

Today is hard. I sit in the middle of the shop by myself writing this. Frankly, I have many days like today. As I’m sure many others do too. From the outside, and to many degrees from the inside, life is going well. But so often we can let what’s going on today get you down hard. That desire you’ve been asking God for, but He’s teaching you to wait. The expectation you had for the day up in smoke. Maybe your normal has been shaken up. Or today you just feel alone like me in the shop. Whatever it may be, today is hard. It’s days like these when temptation is strongest. “You know coming to me will make you feel better…” your shame will tell you. Most would that shame comes from sin, but it’s only shame that would suggest it. It’s what you look into that will give you an answer. Like a mirror. You go look at it to reflect back what you can’t see. On hard days you look into the mirror to see what’s going on. The mirror of shame looks back at you saying “You’ll always look this way and you’ll never change. You may as well go to whatever you’ve done in the past, it’ll feel good this time.” But the mirror of Grace says “Look at me, reflect what you see in me not what you see in yourself.” Grace knows today is hard but there’s hope for tomorrow, even for the next hour. Shame knows today is hard but wants you to think yesterday was easier. The only difference between yesterday and today is perspective. Yesterday you didn’t know today would be this way. Maybe you thought yesterday was hard. But Grace got you through it, or maybe you failed entirely. Shame will highlight that is was easier to sin yesterday, it’ll feel good today. But Grace knows sinning today will only make tomorrow harder. Resist the enemy and he will flee(Matt. 5:39). If you keep looking into the mirror of shame you’re only making room for the enemy to linger. Put it down, drop it, destroy it, leave no more room for shame in your life. Put a big ole fat mirror of Grace in your every moment.

“Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭27:19‬ ‭MSG‬‬

What is it that reflects upon your face, Grace or shame? Even in your hardest day, you have to go to Grace. If it was the darkest night of your life, Grace still only reflects who you are and not how dark your night was. Keep Him in the middle. “This is my day and this is my Grace.” That’s what we need to be saying. He alone allows me to even breath. Even in the midst of hard days, if I’m breathing Grace is with me. And He knows just how tough your day is. I warn you not to put on the pseudo joy of grinning your way through. That will only lead to bitterness, both for you and those that experience your mask. Find real Joy and place it before you. The only way through in to truly experience Grace.

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:15-21‬ ‭MSG‬‬

We go through exactly what Christ goes through? So if today is hard, Christ is right there too. The key is going through it with Him. Not just going through and seeing Him on the other side. The promise is not a good or easy time, but Christ with you through it all. What use would a good time be without Christ? Better to have one bad day with Christ, than a thousand good ones without Him. God is reigning you in until you are completely ready for the release of the glorious times. Let it be joyful anticipation that builds in you and not resentment.

“….Do you remember that time Elijah was agonizing over this same Israel and cried out in prayer? God, they murdered your prophets, They trashed your altars; I’m the only one left and now they’re after me! And do you remember God’s answer? I still have seven thousand who haven’t quit, Seven thousand who are loyal to the finish. It’s the same today. There’s a fiercely loyal minority still—not many, perhaps, but probably more than you think. They’re holding on, not because of what they think they’re going to get out of it, but because they’re convinced of God’s grace and purpose in choosing them. If they were only thinking of their own immediate self-interest, they would have left long ago.And then what happened? Well, when Israel tried to be right with God on her own, pursuing her own self-interest, she didn’t succeed. The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them, and as a result received his stamp of legitimacy. The “self-interest Israel” became thick-skinned toward God. Moses and Isaiah both commented on this: Fed up with their quarrelsome, self-centered ways, God blurred their eyes and dulled their ears, Shut them in on themselves in a hall of mirrors, and they’re there to this day. David was upset about the same thing: I hope they get sick eating self-serving meals, break a leg walking their self-serving ways. I hope they go blind staring in their mirrors, get ulcers from playing at god.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭11:2-10‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Your loyalty to God cannot be based on what He can get you out of, but the purpose He has put in you. Your awareness of His purpose in you will be the key to getting through today. If your loyalty is based on what He can get you out of, you will become loyal to getting out. Who or what you’re comfortable with, you’re loyal to. Therefore what you go to for comfort will determine your loyalty. Is escaping reality what you’re loyal to? Whether that’s a substance, porn or unhealthy relationships. We can’t say “God get me out of this day.” We have to go through it good or bad. The challenge is to dive into reality and take it head-on. That doesn’t mean we can’t ask for help through it. This is where healthy relationships come in. How often we think we’re alone? If only we would look around. Beyond our problem to its purpose. What is it teaching? Many times I lay my problem down to engage with someone, only to find that encounter held the answer I was looking for.  Another perspective on my situation. A good friend will tell you who you are and that you’ve got what it takes. Maybe not in so many words, but God will use them to bring context and truth. If we will be open and not self-consumed. When we search for the solution to our problem out of our own self-interest we get into a hall of mirrors. Looking back at each other only reflecting the problem back on us. Where all you see is the problem and not who you’ve been called to be. The mirror of Grace says “Look into me and become like me.”

“Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? If fussing can’t even do that, why fuss at all? Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don’t fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:25-28‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Are you convinced of God’s grace and purpose in choosing you? Do you see the attention He is giving you today? Pruning and cutting back the lies that you’re believing. Yes, today is hard, but not without reason. Maybe today God is teaching you through your pain. Let there be more purpose than just a hard day. He is loyal to those He calls His own. He is tender to your pain but fierce toward the lies you believe. Look into Grace and remember who you are (James 1:23). Lean on Grace today, because tomorrow is coming.

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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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I Want Out but There’s No Bench

I was on the road home from the shop talking to God about my business. The stresses of paperwork and accounting mostly. To some that may be a piece of cake, but for me it takes tremendous effort. “Father can I just give it up? Take a tent into the woods and be a hermit for the rest of my life. To permanently assume the fetal position.” To which He responded with a no and the quintessential affirmation that I am His son. It was in that moment I realized that I had been under spiritual attack. And I was allowing myself to lose. Anytime I have desired to assume the fetal position I have heard God say rise and walk. Most would say when you feel that way you should crawl into the Father’s arms and be loved by Him. Yet we are told to enter boldly into His presence. When we feel this way is when God goes into “tough love” mode. When He pours out identity on you, and you are forced to believe it or drown with what you’re holding onto. The Father’s arms are a place for comfort and rest, but He loves you too much to coddle you through life. He will not keep you from growth. These are also the times when the enemy is most prevalent in pouring out lies. Like “God is not with you through this.” I was reminded of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, and my eyes were opened to the greater application than just a children’s story.

Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire. Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy.So they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.”So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, “Long live King Darius!We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions. Daniel 6:3-7 NLT

Even though he did he everything right and had incredible character traits, his enemies found reason to hate him. And perverted the law to kill him. There will soon be, if not already, laws like the ones that these administrators and high officials made. Designed solely to find you at fault for your faith. This will not be a time where we need to be coddled in the Father arms, but a time to stand in confidence of who you are. Remember this, Daniel did not search for a way around the law of the land. He continued in the discipline of his relationship with God. Seeking His guidance, while not hiding to appease the law.

But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Daniel 6:10 NLT

Why did God not honor Daniel’s faithfulness and not allow him to go to the lions den? We often highlight the end of the story of Daniel surviving the lions den. But we forget that Daniel still was put in a lions den. We believe God will save us from the lions den, yet when we get in it we get devoured. Forgetting the faith we had to be saved from it to get through it. We try to bend God’s will to our circumstance, rather than our circumstance to God’s will. We want to be saved from the very thing that will strengthen our trust in God. A hypothetical faith that has not been tested cannot be proven. A faith that says you will be saved from every storm is no faith at all. But a faith that says that God has complete control through the storm is mighty.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT

God is not the author of bad things. The administrators and high officers authored the law that put Daniel in the lion’s den. You see Daniel’s purpose was greater than his circumstance. This is how we must face every lion’s den, with the purpose God has set for our lives. You wonder why you keep getting devoured in the den. When you let the den define who you are then the den determines the outcome. But when you let your purpose define who you are then the den has no power. God used Daniel’s den to expedite the purpose He had for him.

Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you! “I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel. For he is the living God, and he will endure forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end. He rescues and saves his people;he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Daniel 6:25-28 NLT

So often we are unwilling to walk through the den to the miracle. As I titled this, there is no bench in this life. You can either walk in such a way that you avoid the lions dens of this world and see very little miracles, or you can charge forward into the dark places and see miracles illuminate your path?

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Easter the Great Love Story

“Dad, I’m in love and I want her to be my bride.” “Tell me about her.” I remember the first conversation I had with my Father about you. It’s a moment that has never diminished in excitement for me. I look back and laugh at the fact that I am more in love with you now than I was then. “Well Dad, I must admit she’s not perfect. Actually, she’s dying and will never be able to reach me. But I can’t stop thinking about her. The very thought of our separation consumes me. How do I win her over Dad?” “I know who you speak of, they are as dear to me as they are to you. There is only one way. You have to bear the very thing that is separating the two of you. You have to give your life in place of their’s. Son, to take on all of this mean to be separated from me.” When I heard these two things I realized, the breadth of this task and that you were worth all of it. To be separated from my Father. I always knew what this meant, but the reality of the agony is beyond comparison. Even greater was this pain to being beaten. You have to understand the intimacy of my Father and me. I have be with Him from the beginning, when He started I was there, and when He finishes I will be there also. We never do anything apart from each other, and I had to be forsaken by Him. The one thing that got me through it was the thought of you. I look back on those three days with pure joy, because I knew that I would be able to invite you into what my Father is doing. That you would be able to do greater works than I ever could. “Son, the only way for this to work is for you to overcome death.” “I know. I have a plan for that too.”

Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning,just at sunrise, they went to the tomb.On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” Mark 16:1-3 NLT

The plan to win your heart has been in place for eons, and it’s never changed. To become everything that is keeping you from His Love. To take what you deserve and replace it with what you can never earn. Today you may feel the Jesus wooing your heart, but there is something in the way. Here is the truth when they went to the tomb, they also wondered who would move the obstacle in their way. Just as the stone was rolled away for them, so also is anything you may feel is in your way. You don’t have to be good enough or straighten up. This is Love, ready to fight for your heart before you have reciprocated. He is inviting you in. Not into just an empty tomb, but resurrection power. All you need to do is invite Him in. Admit that you have a sin in your life and repent. Believe that Jesus is your savior. Confess that He is Lord of your life. Don’t worry about the all rules. Love and be loved, and listen to His voice and obey it.
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Patient Bravery

“Do you trust me?” Those seem to be my waking words from God lately. I answer yes, but I still question my answer. Of course I trust God, where else can I go? But do I enough to deny the premature fulfillment of the promises of God from an enemy who can’t fulfill them? I’m not even completely sure if I’m in a place to write about trusting God. Then again where there is the greatest potential is where we are attacked the most. In my weakness He is shown strong, and my weakness brings Him glory.
Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord! Psalm 27:14 NKJV
 
Wait patiently for the Lord.
    Be brave and courageous.
    Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14 NLT
 

I read this passage first in the NLT and it hit me. Patience takes courage. My steps toward the promise are no more powerful than my waiting on the promise. I am believing for a promise right now. I have taken what I thought would be smart moves toward it, but have yet to make any significant headway. Have the steps hindered progress, I doubt it. Here’s why, my belief is not in a promise being kept, but in the keeper of the promise. He is faithful to fulfill all that He promises. If the outcome is not what I perceived it to be, it is not because I screwed it up. For if I could screw it up, I would be able to make it right. So if things are not turning out the way I believe they should be, there are two possibilities. The promise I’m believing for is a pose from the enemy, like when satan tempted Jesus with the nations. Or I am not yet prepared for the promise. Believe in a big God, not just for big promises. When we put Our faith in God and not the promise, we give the enemy less room to work with. We put our faith in the promise and the enemy comes in with options of fulfillment. “Surely you won’t die, God is keeping this from you.” But when we put our faith in God the enemy has one option. “God is not God.” If your faith is in God then there is no power in this phrase. Sadly this does work on many people. Maybe not the same words. It could be “God is not listening” or “God doesn’t care”. Which are all lies. We need to find the agreements we have made to allow us to believe those lies. God is God, and He cares, He listens, He sees, and He moves on our behalf. Trust in Him, He is faithful to fulfill all that He promises. In writing this I read the passage again in the NKJV, He said to me I strengthen the heart of those that wait. Again I say it is our weakness that brings Him glory. I must admit that in my waiting I have not been strong, and Holy Spirit gently reminds me. “I am strengthening you to hold the promise you are waiting for. My promises are unbreakable, but they can break those that aren’t ready to hold the fruit. The purpose of my promise is to build you up and for you to stand on. Stand on my promises and you will see the fruit that you are believing for.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about myweaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

Genesis 3:1-7 The Fall of Man
Matthew 4:1-11 The Temptation of Jesus.
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Open Letter to Singles

Stop writing open letters to your future spouse. You marry the person so you can share things that you can’t share with the rest of the world. If you’re willing to share these thoughts intended for your future spouse with the world, what else are you willing to share? As we wait on the gift of being able to share here’s is how I would aim to be single. There are two types of single people. Single and loving it or single and hating it. If you’re single and loving it, then I write to you in hopes that you’re loving it for the right reasons. If you’re single and hating it, then I write to give you hope. You are single for a reason. Learn that reason and have a happier life. There is selfishness in our life that we tend to ignore. We don’t want to let those parts of our flesh die. What I’ve learned from being in relationships (dating, post-dating, friendship and family) is that they will draw those things out of us. In a healthy relationship, those things get called out of and you have help in the battle. Your selfishness will kill your relationships. This is especially true with marriage and children. Now my point is not to make your goal in life to be “marriage material”, but to live up to who God has called you to be. Yes, singleness is a gift, but it’s not an excuse. If your friends have seen your worst and not called you higher, then you need better friends. They are not being friends, but being tolerant. If you feel called to be single, be willing to make people jealous of your singleness. Be a great example to others of how to love well. Jesus was single, but He was also desirable. He is the greatest example of who a husband should be. Clearly He knew how to navigate thirsty people without hurting them. There are wells inside each of us that need to be filled. There is one that thirst for eternity and Jesus is the living water that satisfies its thirst. But there are other wells for relationship and purpose. The well of purpose is only filled by you doing what you’re designed to do. The well of relationship is filled with friendship and family. And a well especially to be filled by your spouse. The depth of these wells are up to you, and being single is your chance dig deep the well of your marriage’s beginning. As unmarried christians we tend view singleness as the season of finding the right person. A wise man told me that dating without intent is practice for divorce. Without intent you get together until the benefits run out then you go your separate ways. I would add that dating with too much intent is practicing for divorce as well. I was ready to marry every girl I was interested in. I thought I was being honorable in doing so. Honorable to the girl, maybe so. Honorable to God and the call He placed on my life, not so much. I was fully committed to girls that I was not supposed to be committed to. The gift of singleness is not happiness up until you find a date or marriage, but to fully engage with what God has placed before you. It is being able to go to coffee without planning the wedding. It is being able to lead and serve without expectation. It’s being able to genuinely tell the opposite sex that you love them without them thinking it’s weird or you want something. Where the motives of your actions come from love and not manipulation. You don’t need to impress someone for them to really love you. Dating should be an invitation to join with you in what God is already doing. Willingness to risk rejection to make the invite can only come from the security of sonship. Don’t wait until you’re married to stop being selfish. Who you are before marriage will be who you bring into it. The truest gift of singleness is preparation for marriage, whether on this side of eternity of the next. The gift of singleness is not a ticket out of marriage. Don’t miss your opportunity to get yourself together before you multiply or step into eternity. The gift of singleness is something you offer your spouse at the altar. What have you saved and prepared to offer them, and ultimately Jesus. Thus the gift of singleness is the sacrifice of marriage without the benefits. Do you still accept this gift? What we need to be asking ourselves daily is, how can I be a living sacrifice today? Blameless and holy, worthy to present myself at the altar. We will all present ourselves to Christ, but some will also present themselves at the altar to a spouse. I know what I offer will never measure up to what I receive, but all the more I will cherish the gift. For I aim to offer my very best. The best I have is all of me, seeking to become more like Christ.

1 John 4:10
1 Corinthians 7:7
Ephesians 1:4

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I’m Still Here, Keep Going

Yesterday I failed miserably. Before that I had many great successes, but still more blundering failures. Yet I am here today to tell the tale. Still the greatest thing I have to repent from is the comparison of my faithfulness to God’s. I tell God “whether you come through or not, I’ll remain faithful”. Then I turn my back on Him like it were a normal part of my daily life. In His kindness, He says “thank you” and actually follows through with His Word. I wake from my slumber and take another breath of the air that He has granted me. Often forgetting to thank Him with the very breath He put in my lungs.

Take a deep breath.

He can’t stop loving you. Imagine this. Your sitting in the Fathers arms. You crawled there from your latest stumbling. You look up, maybe expecting a scold. But all you see is a smile. “Wait, don’t you know what I just….” you say as you look back and see nothing there. Your past is gone. You can’t experience both Grace and your past. As you sit in His presence you begin to feel Him move away. He says “Come play, make, create. You’re not made for what you’re leaving behind, but for what I have set before you. Step into it. Get up again and again and again.”

Keep Going

Here I am saying these things, being the voice I was meant to be. I have many failures, but a bigger future. I must admit I was weighed down from my failing for a some time, almost enough to keep me from writing this. But God, in my greatest desperation says come on. Write it. Say it. Do it. You are righteous, and the righteous rise again. From the greatest defeat He rose from the grave, now in your failing you’ll rise again. Don’t stop to listen to your past. Listen to my voice and I will lead you the path of righteousness. I can’t help but give you hope. Take it with you wherever you go.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:7 (NLT)

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)

For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity. Proverbs 24:16 (ESV)

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 (NLT)

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

The Lord gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly. He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel. The Lord is compassionate and merciful,slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. Psalm 103:6-13 (NLT)

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Basement of Dreams

I live in the basement of your dreams
Unseen
Untouched
For what seems a century
Decades maybe
A month or three at least
Great friends we once used to be
Chats and whispers we would scheme
The dreams of which I now live beneath
One thing plead you see
Before you’re lost in your defeats
The dream you’ve built on top of me
Does not have to be a fantasy
Understand who I am meant to be
More than a forgotten friend you see
I am the foundation of your dreams
I am the King of created things
I am your destiny
Do not forget how dream
Your childhood mysteries
Commit you plans to me
And I’ll make it your great reality
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Harvest Time

Today I harvested olives for the first time in my life. On a hillside in Marcellina, Italy. Some might romanticize the idea of picking olives in Italy. There was nothing romantic about the experience, it was hard work. Let me first say that an experience doesn’t need to be romantic to be fun. This was not a light day of picking olives, but a harvest. And I am going to do it again tomorrow, because it beats walking around looking at monuments in Rome. While I was harvesting today these thoughts came to my mind. As christians we tend to separate our lives into terms of seasons. “I’m in a planting season right now.” or “This is my season of pruning.” (which is actually during or after harvest BTW) But as we all know when we say those things, we are longing to be in our harvest season. To which we think will be our season of rest and receiving. We fail to realize that that harvest season is one of the busiest times. And a good harvest requires hard work, even sometimes specialized equipment. In my work the passage in Matthew 9 came to mind.

Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields.”
Matt 9:35-38 NLT

I thought to myself, why would someone not want to be a part of this great harvest? The reality is we don’t want to be a part of the harvest, but we do want the fruit from it. We want to sit back drink our cappuccino and post cool photos with the perfect scripture. All in hopes that someone’s life will be changed from it. Let me be clear that I am not saying to neglect your social media influence for the cause. What I am saying is, that’s not enough. Jesus said we will do greater works than He had done. If Jesus had social media, first of all He’d have so many followers that Socality would manage his account. Secondly, His ministry would not depend solely on it. Why then would yours? You can’t plant seeds, expect them to bear fruit and expect the fruit to simply appear in your hands one day. When fruit falls off the tree on its own, it has ripened beyond its peak flavor. Social media is a great seed planter, but a bad harvester. You know when a post is planting a seed or sharing bad fruit. A harvest requires workers. All the testimonies I have seen and been a part of from social media went far beyond the reach of post. The harvest of the seed can only be reached face to face. Be the worker that answers the prayer that Jesus prayed in this passage. Go into the fields announce the Good News, heal the sick, teach the confused and helpless. These are His fields and knows which fruit is ready for harvest. Will Jesus be your foreman?

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Self-Service

Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. John 13:3-5 NLT 
 
Self worth is the beginning of seeing value in others. You can’t truly understand the worth of someone else until you see the worth in yourself. Have you ever tried to win a battle for the sake someone else? No matter how hard you try you keep losing. And we try to make their value higher than our own, but the enemy comes in and says you don’t deserve them anyway just give in. Until you find yourself worthy of victory, you will never win. We try to devalue ourselves for the sake of others. We need to first see our own value to understand the value of others. When we see our value and know that all were created equal, we will begin to see the value of others. We can begin to put higher value on others. Knowing your worth and putting and on the shelf for the sake of others is far greater than feeling worthless and putting that on the shelf. If you think low of yourself and you are giving of yourself, you’re not giving very much. You’re saying I’m already down here I might as well serve, you’re then serving to feel better about yourself. Which is self serving. When you have high self worth, you have high value service. When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples He wasn’t lowering His value to do so. True servanthood comes from authority, not striving. Service should never come from a place of need, but to a place of need. We’ve all been in the place where our identity is tied up in how much we serve. Instead we need to serve out of who we are, rather than determine who we are out of service. If you stopped serving who would you be? You must first have something, before you can offer something.

When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” John 13:6-8 NLT

Here is a phrase that will go against the grain of cultural Christianity. One of the greatest ways you can honor your leader is to allow yourself to be served by them. The only way you will gain a sense of belonging is to be served. Until you belong you’re not serving, but striving. If you want those you are leading to be servants, then you need to serve them. Service upward is easily turned to brown nosing. While service to the least of these will never turn to that. Until you can receive without obligation, you will not be able to give without it. As a leader my greatest desire is not that those under me serve me, but they serve those under them. If we are only in leadership to receive from those under us, then we are not leading. Serve to create a place of belonging, belonging creates ownership, and ownership breeds a servants heart. We all know that servants make the greatest leaders. Great leaders have nothing to gain, but to benefit those they are leading. Serve your leaders in this way, by serving those below you.

Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” John 13:9-11 NLT
 
True service is never more than it needs to be. To serve beyond someone’s need runs the risk of entitlement. Now let me clarify what I mean by honoring your leader by being served by them. When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples He purposely did not wash more than their feet. He knew exactly how He needed to serve them. He did not take away what was their responsibility. By being served by your leader, I mean that you are submitted to them. When you come under their authority you are allowing them to wash your feet. You are not asking them to take on what is your responsibility. As you walk your feet are going to get dirty. If you’re not making a few mistakes or even failing big time, you’re not moving very much. Not every mistake is a sin. Maybe it’s a process that you’ve never done before and you miss a step. A leader serves you by stepping and showing you where you fell short and how to do better moving forward. A great leader will show your where they fell short and how they moved forward, so you don’t have to. They come down to say how deep that puddle was when they stepped in it, or what potholes to avoid when you turn down certain paths. To come under leadership you need to have prepared yourself to be under that leadership, where they are only needing to wash your feet along your walk with them.

Learn to bathe yourself. Make assessments on your own. This is what I have to offer and this is where I need to clean up. A leader that sets unnecessary criteria for you to belong, an oatmeal bath maybe, is not a leader you want to be under. As a leader you may need to show people how to bathe, but you’re not the one bathing them. You are a feet washer, showing those under you where and how to walk. Empowering them to get their feet dirty, or the better term get their feet wet. Feet get wet from washing. If your feet are dirty, but still dry you may want to ask why. As a leader your greatest pleasure should be washing your followers feet. If feet need washing, then people are going somewhere. Ministry is moving forward.
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