★ Thought for the Day – Be the MAN to Carry the Light ★

Happy Father’s Day!  Today’s post is not just for men, but for everyone who has a man in their life, whether it be their father, husband, son, uncle, nephew or friend.  The third Sunday of June has a different impact on you depending on what your relationship is  with the man you call Father, Dad or Daddy.  I shared about my Father  in the post called ★ Thought for the Day – Never Fatherless ★, about my parents divorcing when I was 5 years old and how my relationship with my father was nonexistent from the age 12 until we reconnected at the 36.  There was hole in my heart for many years that drove me to need approval from others.  The muse for this Thought came shortly after the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro had finished and I saw this interview that Michael Phelps did for ESPN called “The Evolution of Michael Phelps” that blew me away!

Okay if you did not play the video, STOP READING AND WATCH THE INTERVIEW, it’s worth it and it is the backbone for this post.  I have always been a fan of Michael Phelps even after the infamous “bong photo” hit the front page of the newspaper six months after the Beijing Olympics in 2014.  Retirement it seems, gave the Olympian way too much time on his hands.  As I watched the video, I was reminded of what Proverbs 16:27a (TLB) warns:

“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”

Boredom opened the door for the enemy to attack and much like we have been talking about in our Temptation Series, Michael yielded to many self-destructive behaviors.  When the photo of Phelps using marijuana was released, it was incredible how the world turned on him.  Parodies and jokes were everywhere and of course shock that he blew it.  It’s interesting that the world we live in is always looking to find someone to idolize but it seems that they love it even better when someone crash and burns!  The media news outlets love the “fall from grace” stories – “If it bleeds, it leads” unfortunately.

In addition to addressing the photo, the interview gave insight into the swimmer’s life about his complicated relationship with his father, Fred, his second DUI arrest in 2014 and the time that he spent in a Behavioral Rehab Facility in which he contemplated suicide after the second DUI arrest in 10 years!  As I watched the brokenness of Michael Phelps over the void that his father’s absence created, I could not help but compare how not having my father in my life not only influenced, but shaped my life to continually strive for the approval of others.

Though to the rest of the world saw Michael Phelps as an unstoppable machine in the water and a picture of perfection and excellence, Michael was silently dying inside and had reached the point of no return in September of 2014.  It is hard to believe that the man who “is the greatest Olympian of all time,” winning (23) medals, (19) – being gold winning at the point in 2014 would make this statement:

“I was a train wreck; I was like a time bomb, waiting to go off. I had no self-esteem, no self-worth.  There were times where I didn’t want to be here.  It was not good, I felt lost.” 

BUT that is how the enemy works!  You can have the adulation of the world, be on the top of your profession or head of the class and still end up feeling worthless and alone.  That was my story too, though I was far from an Olympian, I had success in my life and still felt empty inside as well.  If the most decorated Olympian in history could feel this way at the age of 31, how many other people are struggling with the same insecurities, the same father wounds and the same addictions that threaten to take them out?  My prayer is that God would use me to take back territory that the enemy has stolen and to be a friend like Ray Lewis was to Michael Phelps to help lead people out of the darkness.  The video revealed how Michael’s friend and former linebacker of the Baltimore Ravens, came alongside of him.  Ray gave him the book called “The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?” by Rick Warren which helped Phelps to come out of the darkness his was in.  I love what Rick Warren said in the book:

“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”

Boy if we could grasp this, how different would this world be?  Like me, Michael Phelps parents divorced when he was young (age 9) and he too had his own “father wound” that scarred and imprisoned the Olympian to also strive to be better than everyone else to achieve the acceptance from his father that alluded him.  BUT that does not have to be how the story ends!  You may be reading this today with a similar story of not having the greatest earthly father, but I want you to know there is a Heavenly Father who can be all that you never had and more.  God is in the business of changing lives and rewriting even the most tragic story.  We all love a comeback story and that is what can happen to you if you just trust that God is a good, good Father!  It doesn’t matter what you did, how badly you sinned, it only matters what you do next!  Will you continue in the downward spiral or will you turn things around and repent.  That is what God did for me and for Michael Phelps.  As a result of Michael embracing “a higher power” as he referred to God in the interview, and working through his broken relationship with his father, Phelps came back and won another (4) gold medals and (1) silver in Brazil just 2 years after his life hit rock bottom!

Shortly after the 2016 Rio Olympic, I posted this ★ Thought for the Day – Let Your Light Shine ★ in which I shared about a wonderful moment that I had with my mom when went to Washington DC in 1996 and she to was able to touch the Olympic Torch as the relay went through the Nation’s Capitol on the way to the Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Historic Relay with the Torch has been a huge part of opening ceremonies and for the past 10 months I have been mulling over this Thought for the Day about what exactly does it mean to “Be the MAN to Carry the Light?” I saw this image

and the powerful symbolism that the Torch is for the Olympic games and realized that it also has a spiritual connection to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)…

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

We are to Be The Light!  To let it shine as we carry it wherever we go, sharing it with everyone we come into contact with.  As a husband and father I realize the immense responsibility that I have as to constantly be checking where I am at in my personal walk with God in order to be an effective leader in my home.  As a man, this is a God-given role that we must take very serious.  I read this from Charles Stanley that I thought was really good…

“Sometimes we mistakenly think that Grace excuses us from the hard work of growing spiritually.  It doesn’t.  The Bible says that “because of practice” we have our “senses trained to discern good and evil” (see Hebrews 5:14).  That means we grow by allowing the Holy Spirit to direct us, by obeying God, and by making godly decisions.”

Grace is at the heart of the Christian faith.  God is always one prayer away, ready to forgive and restore us just as He did for Michael Phelps, BUT we still have to put in Olympian-like effort to stay the course and live out our lives to make impact on the world.  We all what to make a difference in this life to be remembered by those in our life, I know I do.  My heart’s desire is to be a world changer, first to my wife and daughters and then to anyone God would send my way in order to break through the darkness and the hold that the enemy had on this world!  John 1:5 (ESV) says::

 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

My constant prayer is that God would help me to overcome the attacks of the enemy in both my life and in the lives of others!  That I would be of value for the building of His kingdom here on earth!  John 8:12 (NLT) says:

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world.  If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.’”

Jesus gave us the model to emulate.  I want to be more like Jesus in every way!  Something that I often pray is for Him to direct me, to mold me and use me for HIS glory!  To be the man to carry the light for the building of His kingdom!  I will close with this thought from John Eldredge that he wrote in the pocket booklet called “You Have What It Takes: What Every Father Needs to Know”:

“You, Dad, are the most powerful man in the world…At least in their world…Never forget that no one is as powerful as you are in the lives of your sons and daughters.

Mother is love and tenderness and mercy.  She is a picture of the heart of God.

But identity – especially gender identity – is bestowed by the father.  A boy learns if he is a man, if he has what it takes, from his dad.  A girl learns if she is worth pursuing, if she is lovely, from her dad.  That’s just the way God set this whole thing up.  This power He has given to you.”

On this Father’s Day, I want to leave you with this challenge to impart to your son that he has what it takes, and/or if you have a daughter make sure she know that she is lovely and worthy to be pursued!  Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (ESV) instructs:

 “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

That is what a man who is worthy to carry the light does!

 

If you want to learn more about healing Father Wounds, check out John Eldredge book called “Wild At Heart – Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul.”

Or you can watch the weekend retreat event call “Wild At Heart Boot Camp” on RightNow Media.

 

If you want to learn more about making a difference, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – What Does It Mean To Be A Man? ★

★ Thought for the Day – Share IT! ★

★ Thought for the Day – What Difference Does a Daddy Make? ★

 

If you are interested here are posts focused on what I learned from James MacDonald’s book called “Act Like Men, 40 Days to Biblical Manhood.”

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★ Thought for the Day – The Mission of Christmas ★

The other day I heard this incredible song “Noel” written by Chris Tomlin and featuring Lauren Daigle with these beautiful lyrics…

Noel, Noel
Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Noel

Son of God and Son of man
There before the world began
Born to suffer, born to save
Born to raise us from the grave
Christ the everlasting Lord 
He shall
reign forevermore

It says it all!  Jesus was “Born to suffer, born to save” and is the “Christ the everlasting Lord” who will “reign forevermore.”  I have been listening to this song over and over, just enjoying the truth behind these lyrics!  But it did get me thinking…What does Noel even mean?  Have you ever thought of that?  Each year we sing the lyric in The Christmas Song and The First Noël, but until this year I never looked what the meaning was.  It’s interesting when I did a google search; I found several different definitions and variations which surprised me.  In an article, Chris Tomlin explained it this way:

“The word ‘Noel’ is derived from the French phrase ‘Les bonnes nouvelles’ meaning ‘the good news.’”

When I looked it up in my grandfather’s 1966 Edition of Webster’s Dictionary and found this definition:

113-daily-dependnece-noel-definition

So between the two, one could say that Noel is an expression of joy as a result of the “Good News” that the savior of the world was born!  In the post, ★ Day 15 – Reason for the Season – A Shepherd’s View of Christmas ★ we discussed Luke 2:10-11 when the Angels made the proclamation to the Shepherds about the birth of Jesus:

“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’”

You can read the full account in Luke 2:8-15.  The birth of Jesus is “Good News” and for those who believe in God’s Son, there should be great expressions of joy on our part!    The other night the temperature dropped below freezing, which for113-daily-dependence-elf-movie-poster Texas is quote unusual. We had a beautiful fire roaring and so we cuddled 113-daily-dependence-fireplaceup on the couch to watch the modern day Christmas classic…”Elf” starring Will Ferrell.  I am not a big fan of his movies but I never get tired of this slapstick comedy!  As the 5th highest grossing Christmas movie of all-time (according to Box Office Mojo,) the 2003 blockbuster hit that follows the lovable, exuberant elf named Buddy (played by Will Ferrell,) who left the North Pole to meet his real father in NYC after finding out he’s really not an elf.  The movie is full of great lines but one of my favorites is the after Buddy inadvertently insults a  writer and gets beat up for his naivety.

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Okay that had no relevance to my point, I just loved that scene.  But the point that I did want to make is that the joyful outlook that Buddy had towards Santa and Christmas is how I believe should be towards Jesus!  Wouldn’t have been awesome to have heard this in the movie!113-daily-dependnece-jesus-i-know-him

Could you imagine if that much joy could be channeled in service of Jesus?  How different would this world be?  Elf also inspired to share this in the Shepherd’s View of Christmas post which Buddy also said:

113-daily-dependence-bring-christmas-cheer-by-singingNow I am not saying that singing loudly will change the world’s problems, but rather when we embrace the “Good News” of Jesus will spur us on.  As we discussed in the last post, “feelings are not faith.”  If we wait to help people when we “feel” like it, it may not happen; but when we have the love of Jesus in our hearts we will be motivated to action by something far greater than feelings…MISSION!  What is the mission?  Isaiah 61:1-2 (NLT) says:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.”

This may sound familiar to you that you heard that somewhere else stated in the Bible, well that is from Jesus in Luke 4:18-19 in which he read those verse from Isaiah. In Luke 4:20-21 (NLT) it says,

“He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down.  All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently.  Then he began to speak to them.  ‘The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!’”

Isaiah prophesied over 700 years before Jesus came to earth about what the mission was going to be.  To bring good news to the poor, to comfort the brokenhearted, and to bring hope!  This is the mission not just at Christmas but the other 364 days as well!  We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus building the kingdom of God here on Earth by following Jesus’ mission!  John Piper said in the ‘Good News of Great Joy’ reading plan (http://bible.com/r/C7) on day 18,

“Christmas is a model for missions.  Missions is a mirror of Christmas.  [The] mission means danger. And that the greatest danger is distrusting God’s mercy.  Succumb to this and all is lost.  Conquer here and nothing can harm you for a million ages.”  ”  

In the devotion he made the point that Jesus came into the world and faced great peril both as a child and adult (especially in the last three years of His life) until His death on the cross faced.  Regardless of the dangers He experienced, Jesus said in John 17:18 (ESV) speaking to His Father:

“As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”

Christmas is the model for us to live on mission to reach the overwhelmed, under resourced and far away.  I pray that as you read this you are not facing true danger like Jesus did but this year you may have strife in your home, conflict at work, or suffering the loss of a love one; but regardless of how you “feel,” I want to encourage you to stay on mission.  I read this in the “The Magic Of Christmas” reading plan the other morning from Durwood Snead who said:

“I am part of a kingdom—the greatest kingdom on earth led by an all-powerful King who has very specific things for me to do…The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me.  The magic of Christmas is that my King has chosen me to be an active part of proclaiming good news to the poor by my actions.”  

As a blood bought child of the living God, I am so thankful that “that my King has chosen me to be an active part of proclaiming good news” to anyone that He brings into my life.  One of my favorite quotes that describe me to a T is from Zig Ziglar…

"True joy comes when you inspire, encourage and guide someone else on a path that benefits him or her." 
“True joy comes when you inspire, encourage and guide someone else on a path that benefits him or her.”

This truly is my heart’s desire…to inspire, encourage and guide someone along the path to grow closer to Jesus!  And when you realize how incredible it is that God sent His Son to be the bridge so that we can have a relationship with Him, your whole perspective changes!  “Christmas is a model for missions,” this Christmas open your heart to what God’s purpose is for you.  Jesus is looking to us to be the guide or the light to bring the lost to Him.  Will you accept the mission?

113-daily-dependence-merry-christmas-scabbleIf you are interested to read more on this, check out:

★ Day 11 – Reason for the Season – Following Jesus Will Cost You ★

★ Thought for the Day – Let Your Light Shine ★

 

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★ Thought for the Day – The Nostalgia of Christmas ★

I shared last year in our #Reason for the Season – 25 Days of Thanksgiving series how my mom cultivated a real love for Christmas as she worked tireless to make everything so special.  I have so many wonderful memories of the traditions she carried on year after year. Well…this is my first Christmas without her. As I look at the Nativity Set that I inherited from her passing and think about Christmases of long ago, the loss is sorely felt.  I have112-daily-dependence-moms-nativity-set not been “feeling it” this year. It could also be that in the last two months It has been really crazy for me both at work and in our family schedule that I just haven’t had the time to even think about the Advent Season like I did last year. Whatever is the root cause, it has been a little bit tougher to get into the spirit.

One thing that I have been trying to do is saturate myself with music to stir up some Christmas Spirit.  What is your favorite Christmas song?  Grandma Got Run Over by a ReindeerAll I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey?  Or perhaps Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee which was one of my Mom’s favorites?  If you said yes to the last two then you’re not alone.   According to the Billboard’s Top 10 Most Popular Holiday Songs (which was posted last week on 12/7/2016), here are the #1 and #2 songs in that chart’s history:

  1. “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” Mariah Carey
  2. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” Brenda Lee

But my absolute favorite song is what the Billboard chart says is #3 – “The Christmas Song” (Also known as “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire”) sung by the late great Nat King Cole.  From the 112-daily-dependence-christmas-song-recordfirst familiar sounds of the piano and the bow smoothly gliding across the strings of the violin to these openings lyrics…

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yule-tide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos

I am instantly catapulted into a nostalgic moment that I cannot explain. For me, the song evokes a feeling of warmth and love that embodies what my Mom had created in our home growing up.  A nostalgic feeling of days gone by well up within me that pushes out all the stress and hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping from me because after all, Christmas is not about what is under the tree with our names on it.  Christmas is spending time with those we love but even more than that, it’s about the little baby lying the manger over 2,000 years ago.

24 - Daily Dependence - Luke 2-11 - It's A Boy

But things have changed dramatically in how this world celebrates or rather, doesn’t celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world!  Our culture has become so focused on how everyone “feels” that truth is watered down. It’s no longer a Christmas party, but a holiday party. Instead of saying “Merry Christmas,” we say “Seasons Greetings.”  And it’s inconceivable to see a nativity scene in the town square that shows the birth of Jesus because people who don’t believe in Him might be offended.  Just because you “feel” a certain way does not mean that should trump the truth.  The meaning and purpose of Christmas is to remember the lengths that God went to in order for you and I to have a relationship with Him.

112-daily-dependence-john-3-16-the-reason-for-the-seasonFeelings are not truth, regardless of how much society tries to normalize the removal of Jesus from Christmas. The point of Christmas is not  about Christmas parties or family traditions or opening up presents on December 25 (though all are great)…Christmas was the fulfillment of God’s rescue plan to save us from the consequences of our Sin and it pleased Him to do so. How do I know?  Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT) says:

“Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ.  This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.”

We are so valuable to God that He sent Jesus to be born in a Palestinian stable to a poor couple, and to live in humble absurdity for 30 years in a backwater town until called into ministry. For 3 years Jesus taught the world another way to live that glorifies God and to say no to our fleshly desires which ultimately led to His death on a Roman cross to be the atonement for the sins of the world.  Romans 3:21-24 (NLT) says:

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.  We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.  And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.  For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous.  He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.”

Jesus “freed us from the penalty for our sins.”. Sin, yet another aspect of life that culture attempts to desensitize Itself from. Sin is a problem we all have and it must be dealt with one way or another.  Many people ignore it, medicate it or outright engage in it but that’s not why Jesus came to earth. It’s interesting that because of belief in Jesus and His teaching about what Sin is, Christians are viewed as being intolerant.  But antagonists of the Christian faith are not asking for believers in Jesus to be tolerant or to “get along” with non-believers, but to “go along” with whatever is trending on Twitter.  Because a portion of society feels a certain way, the beliefs and values that have been acknowledged for thousands of years as truth, now should be watered down!  Feelings are not truth.  Here is the truth if you want to live in Heaven, Jesus said:112-daily-dependence-romans%e2%80%ac-%e2%80%ad10-9

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6 (ESV) 

Jesus left His throne in Heaven to the bridge for you and I to heaven by this simple act…

“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Romans 10:9 (NKJV)

The greatest present you could receive this Christmas is the free gift of salvation!  All you need to do is believe!  This Christmas I want to challenge you to:

112-daily-dependence-care-more-about-who-you-may-inspire
“Care less about who you might offend and more about who you might inspire.”

Don’t allow the pressure from society from you worshiping Jesus!  And as you hear Billboards #1 hit from Mariah Carey for the 1,000th time, think about this message from Jesus in Matthew 11:28 that “All He wants for Christmas is you!”

112-_daily-dependence-all-i-want-for-christmas-is-you-matthew-11-28

 

If you are interested, I posted this in memory of my Mom called:

★ Thought for the Day – Tribute to My Mom

If you missed the #Reason For The Season series you can catch up.

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Annihilating Anxiety ★

111-daily-dependence-annihilating-anxiety

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary Anxiety is the

fear or nervousness about what might happen.” 

Have you ever suffered from anxiety?  Ever wondered how you were going to handle a situation at school that might result in a fight?  Or how to handle a co-worker / client that has been causing problems that will jeopardize meeting the project deadline?  Or perhaps where the money was going to come to pay for the mortgage at the end of the month?  Well statistically if you are reading this, you have experienced anxiety in one form or another.

“Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population.”  (Source: National Institute of Mental Health)

I certainly can be counted within that 40 million!   Today I want to pose this idea that we don’t need to live life this way.  Based on the Word of God we can ANNIHILATE ANXIETY!

But first let’s look at the definition again.  Anxiety is the “fear or nervousness about what MIGHT happen.”  MIGHT being the key word!  Now by no means am I lessening the significance of anxiety, quite the contrary, it is a very serious issue, one which will wreak havoc if left unabated.  I know myself, I will run scenario after scenario of how something will go or what my response will be “if    (fill in the blank)   happens.”  This is not necessarily a bad thing in some cases, in fact as an Architect it’s necessary to vet out different courses of action; but when it comes down to the difficult, life altering decisions, don’t you wish that you could hear from God for the right direction to go in?  Well I would submit that you can today, though it may not be audibly like in the past.

This peaked my interest and I started to look into the first (5) books of the Bible.  God spoke to:

In Deuteronomy 34:10 (NLT) it says that:

“There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”

Oh to be Moses right?  To have face to face contact with God!  I stopped here in my list though there are many other Old Testament characters who have heard audibly from God because it is Joshua, Moses’ successor who I think can be an encouragement to us today as the issues we face seem insurmountable!  But before we unpack how Joshua can help, there’s something else I would like to talk about first.  I shared with you in our last post, ★ Thought for the Day – Turn the Other Cheek ★, that I was having some stress because of someone who lied about me and that I had to take the high road and turn the other cheek instead of demanding vindication.  Today I am going to be vulnerable to you and reveal that it is much more than “some stress,” and that there have been more incidents that have caused extreme anxiety and poison in my Spirit.  And unfortunately I have allowed the venom to spill over into other areas of my life and steal my joy when I am away from work.  In fact I just had a heart to heart with my daughter to apologize for my words that have hurt her.  It is amazing how when anxiety is unchecked how it can run your life.  I have had trouble reading the bible and my quiet time with God has been lackluster at best and it is also why there has only been 1 post in the last two months but God is so merciful!  On Thursday morning (12/1/16), God spoke so clearly to me when I saw this notification from the Verse of the Day from the YouVersion Bible App:

Talk about a wake-up call!  Why am I discouraged?  Why is my heart so sad?  Great questions!  It’s because I had lost my way.  I had lost hope and my focus was distracted by the cares and worries of my life!

After seeing the Psalms I then stumbled onto this edit from Philippians 4:6-7 on twitter:

111-daily-dependence-philippians-4-6-7Then as I was driving to meet a buddy for breakfast I heard this song “Shoulders” from the band FOR KING & COUNTRY.  The lyrics are so powerful

When I’m caught deep in the valley
With chaos for my company
I’ll find my comfort here
‘Cause I know that You are near 

My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue

What a great reminder. We need to be careful as we are “in the valley” that we don’t allow ourselves to be distracted by all the worries of the world and lose sight of the truth that we are never alone!  We have a father in heaven who loves us dearly and has provided His Son to be an example of how we should live.  And when Jesus walked this earth He would get alone and pray for help from His Father, (see Mark 1:35, Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12, Luke 22:41-44.)  And so that is what we need to do too!  In addition to following His example, because I have trusted in Jesus, God has given me the Holy Spirit to live within me to be my comforter, (See John 14:16-18, 16:13).  The lyrics also brought me back to 1999 when I baptized on Easter and when I read Psalm 23 as part of my public declaration.  I wanted to share what verse 4 says:

111-daily-dependence-psalm-23-4-walk-through-valley“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4 (ESV)

So God spoke to me through the Verse of the Day, Twitter, a song on the radio which brought up when I was baptized 17-1/2 years ago to speak into my Spirit that I am not alone and that even though I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death, I should not allow fear and anxiety to rule my life!  I told you that I was meeting a friend well he ended up oversleeping so while I waited for him, God gave me the idea to write this Thought and lead me to the final verse that He spoke to me in 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)…

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.”

You see that God does still speak but we need to have our hearts in tune with Him.  In Hebrews 1:1-2 (ESV) it says that:

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”

Do you know what the antidote to anxiety and fear?  In Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) we are the answer…FAITH!

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” 

My wife who suffered terribly from anxiety as a result of contracting Lyme’s Disease said this to me this morning:

“Anxiety is a mind game that forces you to choose fear or faith!”

It took her 3 long years to battle through the effects of this silent disease that so few people know about that affects your nervous system and causing extreme anxiety and panic attacks.  Today I am so thankful that she is able to work out again and has overcome the anxiety that once plagued her mind.  I saw this edit which is so fitting since she loved to workout…111-daily-dependence-faith-shows-you-how-to-handle-life

“Faith doesn’t take the weight off your life.  It shows you how to handle it.”

We started off this post talking about the Old Testament characters that God spoke to and I left you hanging about Joshua, a man who had an extraordinary amount of faith!  Joshua lost his mentor, Moses and was given the mantle to lead an entire nation into the “Promised Land” with the understanding that he would have to go into battle against an overwhelming force with a plan that was completely dependent on God doing what He said He would.  In Joshua 6:2-5 (ESV) it says:

“And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.  You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once.  Thus shall you do for six days.  Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark.  On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.  And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.’”

You can read that whole account here in Joshua 5:13-6:50.  I am reminded that I am not the only one who is facing insurmountable challenges.  Talk about some extreme faith!  Think about going to tell your army, “Okay everyone, I heard from the Lord and the plan is, we will walk around Jericho for 7 days and then at the end of the march, the priests will blow the trumpets and everyone will shout really loud and the walls will come down!”  That alone I think took a lot of faith but to actually go and do as God instructed is a completely different thing altogether!  What Joshua knew and what we need to know is that:

111-daily-dependence-all-progress-takes-place-outside-the-comfort-zoneIs there something that you feel God wants you to do?  Could it be to be a friend to that person who sits alone every day at lunch?  Or to be a friend to someone you know going through a divorce or a terminal disease?  Or perhaps to invite that person to church that God has placed on your heart who you know is far from Him right now?

As the Advent season ramps up and the list of things to do grows, pause and ask God what could you do for someone else during this Christmas season.  I will close with the same encouragement that Joshua gave to the people of Israel:

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Don’t let fear and anxiety rule your life and take away the joy of this season.  Have this mindset that:

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If you are interested to read more on this topic check out these posts called:

★ Thought for the Day – You Are Chosen! ★

★ Thought for the Day – Overwhelmed or Overcoming? ★

We also did a series on James MacDonald’s book called “Act Like Men” Book that is based on 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 that will encourage you!

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★ Thought for the Day – Turn the Other Cheek ★

110-daily-dependence-turn-the-other-cheekHave you ever heard of this expression?  For some, it may be for the first time or maybe you have heard of it but not really are not sure of its meaning.  In the simplest of terms, it’s to

“Refrain from retaliating when one has been attacked or insulted.”

If you have grown-up in church, you probably remember that it is from Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount” as recorded in Matthew 5:38-39 (ESV)…

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil.  But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

When first spoken, those words were unbelievable and they are still seemingly impossible today.  My prayer is that God would speak through me and to me as I attempt to share what’s on my heart today.  The muse for this Thought is from a conversation that started three weeks ago in a group text message with three teenagers in which one of them sent this out of the blue:

“The high road sucks sometimes feels easier to hit someone and get ur point across but I told myself I was gonna become a better person so I’m gonna give it my best shot and see where I end up How do u turn the other cheek so easily

(That is a direct quote for those wondering about the spelling and lack of punctuation hahaha!)  We traded texts that day and then picked up the discussion in our weekly Bible Study the following Friday, in which we discussed the truth of what Jesus was saying…That we should not look to take revenge even though it may be justified.  Jesus came to the Earth to show us another way to live and if we want to become more like Him and make a difference in people’s life, we must learn to change the way we react, or sometimes, the way we DO NOT REACT to an offense.  That is without a doubt a difficult command for me.  Everything in my being wants to defend myself and to retaliate when I have been insulted or hurt.  It’s human nature that when someone hurts us that our first thought would be, “how do I get even with them?”  In the past, if I did not get revenge on the person for the offense, I would at the very least cut that person out of my life.  But again if we want to be a difference maker in this world then we need to follow what Jesus said just 4 verses later in Matthew 5:43-45…We need LOVE OUR ENEMIES!

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“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

 Jesus’ teachings always turned what is natural or the common way of thinking upside down.  Think about what we tell our children…“Be kind to everyone” and “treat others the same way you want them to treat you,” aka as the “Golden Rule,” (which if you didn’t know, that was from Jesus, see Luke 6:31.)  The world certainly totes the ideal of “tolerance,” (albeit when it’s in the majority’s best interest,) and “inclusivity” (though it may step on other’s beliefs); but what Jesus was saying is much more than platitudes of tolerance or inclusivity, it was revolutionary!  It was a complete paradigm shift of thinking and contrary to the “law of the land” which was barbaric and severe to say the least.  Someone hurts you; the same would be done in return.  In the second half of verse 45, Jesus exposed a reality that many of us do not realize today:

“For He [your Father in heaven] makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Many question why?  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Why do good things happen to bad people?  Have you ever questioned God’s justice system?  Stupid question right?  Well you’re not alone, the prophet Jeremiah did just that in Jeremiah 12:1b:

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You can read the conversation between Jeremiah and God here in Jeremiah 12:1-13.  They are great questions, ones that I have wrestled with as well…which makes “turning the cheek” all that much more difficult right?  After all, no one wants evil people to get ahead right?  So why turn the other check?  Well the answer comes if you continue to read what Jesus had to say.  Too often we read the Bible like we get our news in “30 second soundbites,” or in small chunks, a verse or two here or there.  If you stopped at verse 39 and never read verse 45 you will never get the truth that “GOOD” things (the sunrise,) happen to BOTH, “GOOD” and “BAD” people; and “BAD” things happen to BOTH, “GOOD” and “BAD” people.  We live in a fallen, broken world in which Sin exists and people have free will to choose what they will do to their fellow-man.

We discussed this during the Bible Study that Friday afternoon because as a 14 year freshmen, the originator of the text was struggling with people disrespecting him and conversely trying to follow what God wants for his life.  I am sure everyone reading this can commiserate with him.  I know I do as I too have been wrestling with this command of Jesus’.  This past week has been especially hard for me as someone lied about me on the project I am working on and even though I had proof that I did nothing wrong, no one stood up to clear my name.  What my 14 year old friend did not realize, is that even a 42 year husband, and father of two daughters, it is still hard to “turn the other cheek” when people disrespect you.  What I tried to convey though is that if we do, we will become more like Jesus!

As I have been processing what happened I have to admit that I was not as successful in turning the other cheek…although I did not confront my slanderer, I did not handle myself as professionally as I should have to those who could have vindicated my name.  I was reminded of Proverbs 29:11 (NIV1984) which says:

“Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.”

I definitely way a fool and had to apologize for my venting which felt good at the time but ultimately tarnished my witness.  SO, I thought the best thing I could do was share how I fell short in checking my anger over the situation to encourage you to turn the other cheek.

If you think about all that Jesus went through for us it should motivate us to follow His example!  Mark 14:60-65 recalls how Jesus reacted when He was falsely accused of blasphemy and on trial.  Verse 65 breaks my heart:

“Then some of them began to spit at Him, and they blindfolded Him and beat Him with their fists.  ‘Prophesy to us,’ they jeered.  And the guards slapped Him as they took him away.”

People spat on Jesus, beat Him and then mocked Him.  And Jesus just took it so that He could die in our place so that we could have eternal life with Him and God.  Gut-wrenching!!  After that, Jesus was mocked by the soldiers in Mark 15:16-20 before he was led to be crucified.  Complete and utter disrespect for King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and if that were not enough, Mark 15:29-32 (ESV) recounts:

“And those who passed by derided Him, wagging their heads and saying,

‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!’  

So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying,

‘He saved others; he cannot save Himself.  Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.’  

Those who were crucified with Him also reviled Him.”

If Jesus could endure such ridicule and torment, how can I not take someone lying about me and my name not being cleared?  I mentioned earlier about not just reading small bits and pieces of the Bible, well when you read all of scripture and allow it to penetrate your heart, God can then help you in times of trouble.  I will close with this final thought from Romans 12:17-21 (ESV) which God reminded me of to help me to process my anger:

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written,

‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’

To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Vengeance is the Lord’s is what I felt God impress upon me so clearly.  It’s easy to take matters in your own hands but what a missed opportunity for God to move in the situation both in you and the offender!  Let that last verse permeate your spirit, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Charles Stanley had this life lesson on verse 21…

“When someone wrongs us and we retaliate, we position ourselves on the same level with the person who acted against us. We do not have a right to avenge ourselves – that is God’s duty (Romans 12:19). Instead, our goal is to be like Christ, who as they were crucifying Him sad, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). In that way, the Lord is glorified and those who see our example may turn to Him and be saved (see Luke 23:40, 47; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; 1 Peter 2:12, 3:15-16).”

If today you consider yourself a Christ-follower, I urge you to heed these words from Romans and choose not to retaliate so that you can shine the light of Christ into this dark world!

If you’re interested, here are two related posts called:

★ Thought for the Day – Let Your Light Shine ★

★ Thought for the Day – Who’s Chasing You? ★

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★ Thought for the Day – Let Your Light Shine ★

In our last post, ★ Thought for the Day – The Family Juggernaut ★, we dug into how our family of origin can influence the trajectory of our lives and that we need to follow in how Jesus did not allow the doubts of his juggernaut derail His mission on this earth.  Today I want to build upon that foundation to help us move to the next level.  With my Mom’s passing being so recent, I can’t help but think about the past and the fact that I am the last in my family line.  My mother, my father, my grandparents are all gone which lands the responsibility solely on my shoulders.  I was going through old photos and stumbled upon this one from 1996 when my Mom and I went on a vacation to Washington D.C.  109-daily-dependence-olympic-torch-relayMy Mom (in the pink) got a rare opportunity to touch the Olympic Torch that was part of the historic relay that marked the hundredth anniversary of the Modern Games which started in Olympia Greece and ended in Atlanta, Georgia.  109-daily-dependence-1996-atlanta-olympic-torchIt’s interesting that the Torch is a symbol of the Olympic Games commemorating the theft of fire from the Greek god Zeus by Prometheus, but now it is a wonderful memory of a time that my Mom and I shared today.  At the end of the relay, the fire is used to lite the cauldron which is kept burning throughout the celebration of the Olympics for all to see.  I did a little research and found out that Muhammad Ali was the one who lit the 1996 Olympic cauldron in Atlanta at the opening ceremony.  Now 20 years later both Ali and my mother are gone but their memory lives on.

Light has so much significance from providing heat to driving out the darkness and that is what has been on my heart of late.  As I was writing this Thought, I just saw an All Laundry Detergent advertisement for their All PowerCore Pacs Oxi product using the classic gospel song called “This Little Light of Mine.”  Now my past did not include singing it myself but its meaning is far more valuable to be used to sell laundry detergent!  Today’s Thought will unpack its significance.

There is such darkness in the world…You don’t have to look to far to see the pervasive atmosphere of hopelessness, pessimism and skepticism abounds and I believe that is a result of a lack of people who genuinely care for anyone other than themselves.  And that lack of empathy is the perfect breeding ground for hate to well up.  Martin Luther King, Jr. made this powerful statement that:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

In a time of such great turmoil in our country, I think it’s high time we start heeding Dr. King’s words and be the light that drives out the darkness!  As believers in Jesus, it falls upon each of us to be that light that drives out the darkness.  Jesus was the ultimate example.  In John 8:12 (NLT) it records that:

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world.  If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.’”

Dr. King was a great man of God who believed in that mission and followed in Jesus’ example.  Jesus offers another way to live.  His mission on earth was to lead all people to His Father so that we could have eternal life in Heaven.  In Matthew 5:14, 16 (NKJV), Jesus said,

“You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
“You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The song that All Detergent is currently using to sell their product is based on Jesus’ command to “Let it shine!”  But what does it mean to “let your light shine?”  Is it for cleaner clothes?  I think not!  Charles Stanley has this great life lesson on this verse…

“Does anyone know that you are a light burning with the fire of heaven?  What “good works” do they see you doing that reflect well on your heavenly Father?  How does your faith cause you to behave differently from anyone else?”   

Great questions right?  In the post ★ Thought for the Day – Honest Self-Evaluation ★ we looked at the need to always make sure we are maturing in our walks with God and understanding what God’s heart is!  Charles Stanley’s questions are critical for us to answer.  So let me ask you, when was the last time you said an encouraging word to a person hurting or helped someone in need or went out of your way to do for anyone beside yourself?  John 1:5 (ESV) made this declaration about Jesus that:

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

We need to overcome the darkness but shining our light.  I love this quote from Marvin J. Ashton that I believe this captures beautifully of what it means to let it shine!

“Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.”

The light burning in our heart as a result of chasing after Jesus should result in our behaviors and actions being different from others.  Our concern for others should spur us on to make an impact and leave people better than you found them!  I will close with a reminder of the mission from Luke 19:10 (ESV):

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Jesus came to save the lost and we called to do the same!  Here is a prayer from Louie Giglio to help us do that very thing…

“God today, open one door for me to be salt and light for someone in my city to either lift somebody up, to share my faith, to invite along or just meet one need.  In Jesus name!” 

This prayer is from the message called “Jesus is the Lead Story” from Louie Giglio, Passion City Church.

Let your light shine today!

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Here’s the latest design from Share IT! Christian Clothing as a great reminder of the mission!

 

If you want to learn more about making a difference, check out:

 ★ Thought for the Day – Share IT! ★

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Understanding is a Three-Edged Sword ★

Here’s one of the first posts that I ever wrote that is from two years ago. Still as relevant today as it was then. I pray God would speak to your heart if you are going through something that requires understanding. James 1:5 (ESV) says:

“If any of you lacks wisdom [or understanding], let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

God bless!
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Daily Dependence

200298344-001Do you remember playing the game “Telephone” when you were a kid?  As I think back on my elementary school days, I recall so vividly the excitement in the room as we played with a bunch of people; and as the message was passed on in a whisper by each person, how the anticipation grew about what the final version was going to be.  It never ceased to amaze me, how when the message was revealed, it was often radically different from the original word or phrase.  I think that understanding people is a lot like that.

As an architect, I need to coordinate with many different people in order to bring together a building project.  At times it is quite challenging trying to bring together the stakeholders to achieve a consensus on what direction to go in.  On one of my projects, the contractor sent me this hysterical pictorial…

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★ Thought for the Day – The Family Juggernaut ★

God has been speaking into my heart about the importance of family and being the husband and father that He’s called me to be.  We’ve talked about living a lasting legacy earlier this year but today I wanted to look back and see how our family of origin can affect whom we become.  In his famous book, “The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are,” Christian Psychologist and Author Kevin Leman made this powerful statement:

“How parents interact with each child as he or she enters the family circle determines in great part that child’s final destiny.”

As a parent of two daughters, I think about that all the time.  Leman outlined some common characteristics of how depending on whether you were born first, in the middle or the last child, aka “the baby,” that placement in the family tree had a huge impact on the trajectory and development of your personality DNA.  The first-born commonly is known to be driven and very responsible in all they do…The middle child often feels overlooked and desires peace so they play the role of the negotiator in the family…And the “Baby” gets away with murder, and tends to be the comedian of the family…Now of course there are exceptions to the rule, these are just generalities, other factors can plat a part. (If you would like a great summary of the book I saw this article called 10 Ways That Birth Order Affects Your Children.)

108-daily-dependence-x-men-juggernaut-comic-bookSuffice to say, the Family Juggernaut plays a significant role in our development.  Now depending on your sex, and/or if you were a comic book reader as a child, right now images from X-Men stories of “The Unstoppable Juggernaut” are coming up in the rolodex of memories.  Supervillain, Cain Marko who was the stepbrother of Charles Xavier, also known as Professor X, was abused by his father as Charles became the favored “son.”  Resentment and animosity festered in Cain’s heart.  One day he received superhuman strength that literally made him unstoppable and gave him the power to destroy the one who replaced Cain in his father’s heart.

The biblical comparison of Cain and Abel is hard to miss, (see Genesis Chapter 4).  108-daily-dependence-juggernaut-professor-x-standoffNow though this may be a bit of a rabbit trail, I think it’s apropos to show how family dynamics can shape you.  Cain’s hatred and jealousy both in the comic book and the Biblical account led to a murderous rage.  It is also where I first learned the word juggernaut which means:

“A huge, powerful, and overwhelming force or institution.”

And that is what the family is!  An overwhelming force in our life that has a huge and powerful influence on us.  Jane Isay, the author of “Secrets and Lies, Mom Still Likes You Best, and Walking on Eggshells” had this to say about Families that was quite interesting:

“Families are the survival mechanism of the human race.  They all are complicated, even though many people think that theirs is the most difficult one.  Behind the closed door of every home is a group of people who love each other, who disappoint each other, who come into conflict, and who are deeply connected.”

Amen?  Now I don’t know much about her, nor have I read the book, but I am sure familiar with competing with my brother and sister for the love of my mom and consequently walking on eggshells as to not break the delicate peace and harmony in the home.  I love how she described the family unit, as the “survival mechanism of the human race” and that families are all “complicated.”  Truer words have never been spoken!  Statistics show that many people would probably answer the question, “What’s your family like?” with the curt response of…

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I know I would have to say that of my family of origin.  My family was wrecked by neglect, alcoholism, drug use, verbal attacks, physical abuse, and adultery all by the time I reached 5 years old!  Not surprisingly, that was the year that my parents divorced.  I shared in the ★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 1 ★ post how my childhood felt more like a chess match where I was a pawn pinned between the King and Queen who were battling one another, using me to hurt the other.  I know that the conflict I witnessed and was a part of shaped my desire for peace in my home today.  I also know that at times when I lose my temper that is also a result of seeing how both my parents handled (or didn’t) conflict resolution.  But here’s the beauty of walking with God, my legacy can be changed through the power from above.  But it is a choice.  Romans 12:2 (ESV) says:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Great advice right, but how do you renew your mind?  And how do you know the will of God?  Glad you asked, through a quiet time with God.  Praying, reading the bible, journaling are all ways that you can be transformed.  Recently during my quiet time, I have been reading the gospel of Mark which was the muse for this Thought for the Day…Have you ever thought about Jesus’ Family Situation?  What it was like growing up as the Messiah, the Savior of the World?  How was it to have half brothers and sisters who grew up and knew Jesus for 30 years before His ministry started?  Unfortunately the Bible does not give much background other than that Jesus followed in the path of Joseph, (the man who raised him as his own Son) and became a carpenter.  Mark 1:14-15 (ESV) recounts the start of His Ministry:

“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’”  

The Gospel of Mark moves at a rather brisk pace recounting the ministry of Jesus over the next two chapters with people being healed who were lepers, disfigured, paralyzed and set free demonic possession.  It’s interesting to note that after some time had passed, Mark 3:20-21 (ESV) we see what happens when Jesus goes to visit His family.  I wonder how many people will relate to this experience.

“Then He [Jesus] went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat.  And when His family heard it, they went out to seize Him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of his mind.’”

Did you catch that?  Jesus’ ministry is exploding and lives are being changed as a result of incredible miracles but “His family heard it, they went out to seize Him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of his mind.’”  How sad that Jesus’ own family did not believe He was the Christ!  A friend of mine and me were talking about this point and he made an interesting point…

“Makes me wonder what was it like for Jesus’ family while he was growing up?  If his own family couldn’t see Him for who He is, maybe it shouldn’t surprise us when folks don’t get it.”

Seems INCREDIBLY HARD TO BELIEVE, but just 10 verses later, you can see Jesus definitely had doubters in the family…Mark 3:31-35 (ESV) records:

And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.”

And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said,

“Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.””

These verses always confounded me because why would Jesus not want to go see His mother and brothers?  Could it be that they did not support His ministry?  It seems that would be the case as He makes the declaration that “my family” are those who do the will of God.  The passage does not mention Joseph so the assumption is that he’s not alive at the time of Jesus’ ministry, especially when you consider John 19:26-27 when Jesus is dying on the cross and arranges for His disciple John to take care of His Mother when He’s gone.  I can understand Jesus’ brothers doubting, but Mary?  Did she miss the point?  Did she forget all the miracles that happened in order for Jesus to even be born?  We did a 25 day series of posts called #Reason For The Season last December#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1where we looked at the extraordinary events leading up to, and including Jesus’ birth and why we should be thankful during the Advent Season.  (If you have not read the posts I highly recommend you click the link and spend some time experiencing the familiar Nativity Story from a fresh perspective.)  Personally, God opened my eyes and heart in a new way to His indescribable love for me.  As I meditated on the events that happened over 2,000 years ago, I was astounded by how He moved heaven and earth for the possibility of having a relationship with me through sacrifice of His Son Jesus!  I just heard John Gray preach at Elevation Church’s Code Orange Revival and he made this profound statement:

“Do you understand how valuable you are?  That an eternal God gave up His most prized possession just in case you wanted to have relationship with Him.  He didn’t even let His Son die for an ‘absolute.’  He let Him die for a ‘just in case.'”

God gave up His most prized possession just in case we wanted the relationship with Him!!!  Wow!

Okay back to Mary and Joseph… I have to wonder though did they not share with Jesus’ siblings growing up with something like, “Oh by the way kids, your older brother Jesus, well He is the savior of the world.”  I mean I know it would be awkward at first but it was truth.  We can see that it was not only His family who doubted but also those in the His community as well.  Mark 6:1-6 (ESV) tells what happened when Jesus returned to His home again:

“He went away from there and came to His hometown, and His disciples followed Him.  And on the Sabbath He began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard Him were astonished, saying,

“Where did this man get these things?  What is the wisdom given to Him?  How are such mighty works done by His hands?  Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?  And are not His sisters here with us?”  And they took offense at Him.

And Jesus said to them,

“A prophet is not without honor, except in His hometown and among His relatives and in His own household.”

And He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.  And He marveled because of their unbelief.  And He went about among the villages teaching.”

They took offense at Him!”  30 years of living among these people and they take offense at the wisdom God gave Jesus!  It is clear that Jesus’ family of origin and community had an effect on Him to the point that it thwarted His ability to do a “mighty work there.”  One could argue that healing anyone is a mighty work, but how much more would Jesus have done if there was not so much opposition and unbelief.  If Jesus was not understood by His Family and hometown it should not surprise you when you are.

108-daily-dependence-keep-rejoicing

The key is what will you do when not if you face opposition?  Will you let fear, doubt and criticism stop you?  Without a doubt, our birth order and associations will influence and impact us but will we make the choice to rise above the past and move forward to become the man or woman who God created us to be?  Jeremiah 29:11 says:

108-daily-dependence-jeremiah-29-11Remember you are so valuable that God gave up His Son just in case you want to have a relationship with Him!  And it is through that relationship that His plan and purpose for your life will be revealed!

And for the believer let’s continue in what the author of Hebrews commanded in chapter 3, verse 13:

“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”  Hebrews 3:13 (NASB)

Walk today with new purpose today because you are part of a NEW Family Juggernaut as a child of God!

If you want to learn more about developing a quiet time, check out:

★ Back to the Basics – Silencing the Noise ★

 

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – The Lord is Near ★

107-daily-dependence-psalm-34-18-the-lord-is-near-to-the-brokenheartedPsalm 34:18 (ESV) says

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Yesterday was the five month anniversary of My Mom’s passing away.  I shared this
Thought for the Day – Tribute to My Mom about what a profound affect my Mom had on me in spite of the hard life she lived.  Over the weekend my daughter had a school project to write about something that shaped her and she handed me he iPad to show me what she wrote about.  With tears in my eyes this is what I read:

I’ve seen unmatched beauties,
the breathtaking marvels of
glorious skies painted daily with radiant colors,
towering mountains adorned with flowering garments,
and magnificent trees dancing to the song of the wind,
yet out of all these wonders
the greatest one I’ve known to be
is the diverse pieces that molded me,
the puzzle of who I am.

Soaking up sunshine with Grandma on the beach
is the earliest memory piece my mind can reach.
Wrestling to stay afloat with each powerful wave
taught me to stand tall and be brave. 
Finding the tiny treasures the tides left behind
gave me an awestruck frame of mind.
Relishing each moment in the oceanic paradise
lured me into thinking that life is so nice.

Years later, Grandma, who is overflowing with a love that’s as sure as the rising of the sun, invited me over to look through old photos
extracting a story from each picture
celebrating and delighting in the victories of the past
remembering the struggles that shaped our family
entrusting me with her memories and wisdom
showing me life’s charm and kindness

Soon my cheerful mindset challenged
One phone call shattering the illusion I lived in
A hospital calling to inform of my precious grandma’s stroke
She was at the brink of death
under close examination from doctors
in an uncomfortably quiet hospital room
without consciousness or her usual warm spirit
in an ordinary hospitable bed
where people she used to visit would have laid.

When Grandma’s stroke stole her away from us
I had to choose
to move past my damaged perspective of life
to push forward by overthrowing sorrow’s reign
to celebrate by dwelling on the good memories I had with her
to endure with the same strength I had as I little girl in the ocean waves

These are the qualities she has passed on to me.

Each memory,
each moment,
each puzzle piece,
from giggles on the beach
and the lavishing of stories
to uncontrollable sobs after a final breath,
has been united into a beautiful and irreplaceable masterpiece.
My life may not have been a smooth road
but I wouldn’t trade the heartbreaks that have
molded me from a
naive young girl with fleeting happiness
to a strong fighter
who can excavate joy from any circumstance.

It’s not lost on me how God is working through my daughter to bring back the truth of Psalm 34:18 that she finished this poem on the five month anniversary of her Grandma’s passing!  If you are hurting today over the loss of someone, look around for God, He is always there to comfort you!  He’s close to the brokenhearted!

If you want to read more on the love of God, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – What Does God’s Love Mean? ★

★ Thought for the Day – Grief is a Passage, Not a Place ★

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★ Thought for the Day – How Many Licks to Forgiveness ★

106 - Daily Dependence - Candy SocksMonday was the first day of school for my daughters – My eldest is now a sophomore in High School and my baby is in her last year of middle school.  It is hard to believe how fast time has gone by!  It seems like just yesterday my wife and I were bringing them home from the hospital.  First day of school is always tough…Well that afternoon my mother-in-law gave them this little gift of vintage candy themed socks.  This pair was especially interesting to me…

106 - Daily Dependence - Mr. Owl Socks

Do you remember Mr. Owl?  I may be dating myself but I grew up with this question:

“How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?”

It seemed like this commercial stayed on the air forever.

I discovered that it is actually the longest running commercial in American television history.  It first appeared in 1970 and depicted a boy on a quest to find the answer to that famous question.  Believing that Mr. Owl was the smartest of all, he handed over his Tootsie Pop expecting to get the definitive answer on how many licks it takes to get to the center; but instead the temptation was too great and after just three licks Mr. Owl bites to get to that gooey goodness.  I thought this quote was the perfect way to open this “Thought for the Day.”

106 - Daily Dependence - Forgiveness Is Not A Tootsie Pop
“Forgiveness is not a Tootsie Pop so stop counting.”

This reminds me of a conversation that is recorded between Jesus and His disciple Peter in Matthew 18:21-22:

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked,  

‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?’  

 Jesus answered,

 ‘I tell you not seven times but seventy times seven.’”

Jesus’s response was probably not what Peter was expecting…”seventy times seven” is a whole lot of forgiving!  But that was not what He really meant; Jesus’ point really was signaling that there should be no limit to how many times we offer our forgiveness.  And just like it’s hard to keep track of the number of licks, it would be very difficult for us to keep up with that many offenses against us.  Instead of tallying each offense, we must follow what Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV) says,

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in  Christ God forgave you.”

I would like to unpack these truths of “What Forgiveness Is and Is Not…”

But first, I would like to share something that God showed me the other morning in my quiet time about his character.  Genesis Chapter 3 records the fall of man, when the Serpent (AKA Satan) deceived the Woman to eat the forbidden fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,” and how she then gave it to her husband Adam who ate it too.  A familiar tale that has been captured in numerous artistic depictions and shared during Sunday Schools everywhere as a cautionary tale of not allowing the enemy to twist God’s Words which will lead to sinning.  In Genesis 3:13-20 God rendered the consequences to Adam and Eve’s rebellion, (because there are always consequences to sin – See Galatians 6:7).  He first cursed the Serpent, then the Woman and finally Adam.  But what amazed me this week was what the next verse says…

“And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”  Genesis 3:21 (ESV)

Now I can’t tell you how many times I have read this story and flew right past this verse but tell me something, have you ever been betrayed and instantly responded by taking care of their needs?  But that is exactly what God did, which leads us into our first reality…

I read this quote from Ken Sande that I thought was great!

“Overlook an Offense—Many disputes are so insignificant that they should be resolved by quietly overlooking an offense.  Overlooking an offense is a form of forgiveness, and involves a deliberate decision not to talk about it, dwell on it, or let it grow into pent-up bitterness or anger.”  From “The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict,”

And Proverbs 19:11 (NIV1984) says:

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense”

If you wait until you “feel like” forgiving, then it will probably never happen.  In His historic Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us a new model for living in Matthew 5:44-45 (NASB)…

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

The sun rising on both the evil and the good, and God sends His rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  That is an important truth to put on the sticky side of your brain.  And we need to be ready to not only forgive but to love and pray for those who hurt us.  No doubt this is a hard command to swallow, which segways us to point #2…

Essential?  Does that seem extreme?  Not so much when you look at what Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT):

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Forgive or else you will not be forgiven.  Pretty cut and dry…It does not get any simpler than that.  2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT) gives this promise:

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,  I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

Truth # 3…

Forgiving someone is not intended about allow yourself to be a doormat to be walked all over but rather it is intended to set you free from bitterness. Unforgiveness can birth bitterness but we don’t have to swallow it.  Robert Morris had this to say about

“We’re all going to taste bitterness in our life, but you have the choice whether you’re going to drink it.”

See Hebrews 12:14-15 also.  All of us will experience pain in this life, and if we don’t master bitterness, depression can result.  I once heard this great quote that

“Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

And even though I know this is true, I fall victim to this over and over.  Growing up, the way I handled being hurt by people was to completely write them off.  If you betrayed me, you were dead to me.  Holding a grudge was my modus operandi and I am sad to say that I did not just drink bitterness but gulped it in huge amounts.  Since 1998 when I gave my heart to Jesus, He has been redeeming my broken and unforgiving heart.  I have experience Truth #4 is in my life…

Many people believe just the opposite.  They think that forgiveness is for those who inflict pain but it really is for the one who has been crushed.  Max Lucado said it best when he penned these poignant words!

“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner!”
“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner!”

 What an image and truth!  When we refuse to forgive, we are effectively slamming the cell door shut, and locking ourselves in a prison of our own making.  Jesus again said in Luke 6:35-36 (ESV):106 - Daily Dependence - Luke 6-36

“But love your enemies, and do good, andlend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

“Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” which leads us into our fifth and final truth…  

Dictionary.com has this definition of Act: “a deed; performance,” whereas an Attitude is a…

“manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially of the mind.”

Forgiveness is not “a one and done.”  It is a continual, purposeful mindset that is a choice which is essential and a gift for the offended.  I love what Martin Luther King Jr. said that makes this point perfectly!

Jesus modeled this in his final moments as recorded in Luke 23:34  (ESV),

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments.”

After being disrespected, spat upon, slapped, beaten, flogged and nailed to a Roman Cross, Jesus looks up to heaven to intercede on our behalf!  What an attitude of forgiveness!  William Blake said:106 - Daily Dependence - The Glory of Christianity is to Conquer By Forgiveness (3)

“The Glory of Christianity is to Conquer By Forgiveness,”

So the question is will you “Conquer By Forgiveness”…will you forgive others as God has forgiven and loved you?  Think about it, Adam rebelled against God, sin entered the world and we were separated from Him forever.  To resolve this, God sent His Son Jesus as the payment for my sin so that all we need to do is accept the sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sin that came into the world.  Romans 5:18-19 (NLT) says,

“Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.  Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners.  But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.”

One man ushered sin into the world but what is more important is that one man, Jesus Christ has destroyed the power of sin over our lives if we make the right choice.  One of my favorite quotes from John Wooden is:

“There is a choice that you have to make, in everything you do.  So keep in the mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.”

Remember, forgiveness is not a Tootsie Pop.  Don’t even try to count the number of times you have forgiven someone.  In God’s reality, there is no number of licks you will take that you will ever be justified to stop forgiving.  So now the choice is yours.  What will you do with this information?  You know what God would do, He will always forgive a repent person.  And in return, He expects us to show others the same mercy you have received.  Will you do the same?  Because in the end, the choice you make, makes you!

If you are interested to read more about Forgiveness, check out this two part series of posts called:

★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness ★

★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness In Action ★

 

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★ Thought for the Day – The Pitfalls of Money ★

105 - Daily Dependence - Pitfalls of Money Banner

In t105 - Daily Dependence - Family Game Nighthe post, ★ Thought for the Day – Candy Land Christianity ★, we spent a lot of time talking about games and the importance of “Family Game Nights.”  Today’s Thought for the Day will build upon that and contrast the “Pitfalls of Money” with one of our family’s favorite games to play…Monopoly!  105 - Daily Dependence - Monopoly LogoMy prayer is that as we look at this classic board game and some of the mistakes we can make in our finances, God will move in your heart as you see what His Word has to say on the topic.  In the last post we did on finances called ★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course…Part 2 ★ I shared that my passion for handling finances God’s has been fueled by Robert Morris, senior pastor of Gateway Church and from Dave Ramsey and his Financial Peace University (FPU) Class.  Between them, I have grown in leaps and bounds in my understanding of what the Bible has to say about money and possessions, and if we are not careful, the monopoly it can have on our hearts…pun intended.  Dictionary.com had this definition for:

Mo·nop·o·ly
[muh-nop-uh-lee]
Noun

  1. The exclusive possession or control of something.
  2. A board game in which a player attempts to gain a monopoly of real estate by advancing around the board and purchasing property, acquiring capital by collecting rent from other players whose pieces land on that property.

It’s interesting that the board game that our family loves to play made it in the very definition of the word.  As I went through our game cabinet I was shocked to see how many versions we have:

105 - Daily Dependence - Monopoly Editions

And most recently we purchased the Electronic Edition of Monopoly.  105 - Daily Dependence - Monopoly - Electronic BankingWe have made the most of the summer playing one version or another almost daily.  I think that it is one of the best board games because of the “real world” exposure that children get to learn that will equip them for life, if they’re paying attention that is.

105 - Daily Dependence - Cliff Notes on MonopolyFor those who have not played the game or haven’t played it in a while, I will give you a quick refresher.  Here are the cliff notes on the game.  Everyone starts off on “Go” with the same amount of money and no properties.  Players get to be the Banker, learning how to “make change” and give payments to others, (I am constantly amazed at how fast my youngest daughter can do the math on what is owed.)  They understand the value of “passing Go” a.k.a. getting paid a salary and how you need to wait to “earn” additional money by going around the board.  The biggest aspect of course is buying property and trying to get a monopoly (owning all real estate associated with that color); once accomplished Houses and Hotels can be purchased which is key to get more rent when an opponent lands on the space.  The realities of Paying Rent, Income Tax, landing on “Chance” and going to Jail are also experienced throughout the game which are great lessons as well.  And if you are unsuccessful, you could end up in Bankruptcy, thus forcing you out of the game which is an important experience to have that in life you will endure failure and losses.  The last player left in the game wins.

According to the official rules:

105 - Daily Dependence - The Games of Life“The object of the game is to become the wealthiest player,” which introduces our first pitfall to learn from…

105 - Daily Dependence - 1 Timothy 6-10 - The Love of MoneyGREED – The quest to be rich has brought many people pain.  1 Timothy 6:10 (NIV) warns

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

Now that does not say money is evil, but “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”  Many have misunderstood that verse and had a skewed view of what the Bible says.  That last part is quite alarming to me that because of the misplaced love, people “have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”  The Love of Money is a huge pitfall in life which left unchecked can result in leaving the path that God desires for us to pursue earthly riches.  

Our second pitfall is the cousin to Greed and that is…

105 - Daily Dependence - Pitfalls of Money - Discontentment

DISCONTENTMENT.  If there is one thing that the game of Monopoly breeds is discontentment but Hebrews 13:5 (NLT) offers an alternative with a promise:

“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have.  For God has said,

‘I will never fail you.
I will never abandon you.’

It all boils down to contentment and whether you can be satisfied with what God has provided.  This is an area that I struggle in myself.  Not so much because I need the latest and greatest gadget but more because I would like to see more traction or faster results in debt payment and the “emergency fund” growth.  How about you?  Are you content in what God has provided?  Many struggle in this area, striving tirelessly to acquire more and more which leads to excessive hours spent in the office and time away from home.  And just like we all compete to have the most monopolies and end the game with the most money, we need to be watchful in this area that discontentment does not grow in our hearts.  Proverbs 23:4-5 (NLT) gives this counsel…

“Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich.
    Be wise enough to know when to quit.

In the blink of an eye wealth disappears,
    for it will sprout wings
    and fly away like an eagle.”

Two-thirds of the parables that Jesus taught about were on money and possessions, because GREED and DISCONTENTMENT can pitfalls for you and me if we are not careful.  Jesus taught about the stewardship or management of our finances not for personal gain but to be a blessing to others and that is through our …

105 - Daily Dependence - Giving

105 - Daily Dependence - 2 Corinthians 9-7 - Cheerful GiverGIVING!  2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV) says:

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Charles Stanley had this great life lesson on this verse:

“In giving, as in all areas of Christian living, God wants our hearts to respond to Him in obedience.  He wants willing, joyful, eager participation in His work, not grumbling or halfhearted compliance.”

It’s all about the heart.  Are you cheerful when the plate or basket comes around during the offering or do you begrudgingly put the money or check in?  In Luke 21:1-4 (ESV) it records how God views our giving…

“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.  And He said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them.  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.””

It’s not about giving everything but the heart of the giver.  Do you give because you love God and want to see His Kingdom advanced here on Earth or out of compulsion?  There’s a big difference.  God does not need our money (see Psalms 24:1,) but He does want our heart to love what He loves and that is people!  The antidote to greed and discontentment is…

105 - Daily Dependence - GenerosityGENEROSITY!  Proverbs 11:24-25 (NLT) says…

“Give freely and become more wealthy;
    be stingy and lose everything.

The generous will prosper;
    those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

This is not the normal thinking though is it?  “Give freely and become more wealthy?”  That makes no sense in the natural, but in God’s economy, “the generous will prosper!”  I have seen time and time again how God have blessed me when I was not tight-fisted with my money but rather when I stayed the course in my tithing and offerings I saw how God threw open the floodgates of heaven and provided for all my needs, (Malachi 3:10-12 and 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 for more.)  God promises to refresh those who refresh others.  The question presented before you today is…Will you allow money to be a pitfall or to be a blessing to others?

I will close with this final thought from Charles Stanley:

“God is not after our time, talents, or bank accounts.  He already owns the world and everything in it (Exodus 19:5).  His greatest desire is to have a personal and intimate relationship with you for all eternity.”

Today I pray you will be challenged to see you finances in a new light that will unlock a new level of faith and trust in God because “His greatest desire is to have a personal and intimate relationship with you for all eternity!”

If you are interested in reading more about how about the Biblical Worldview of Money (How our Finances and Possessions should be handled from God’s Perspective), check out other posts in our collection of posts called:

$ Building Your Money Muscle $

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★ Thought for the Day – Share IT! ★

What do you think of this title for the Thought for the Day?  Hopefully it has peaked your interest to find out.  Today I pray that God would open up your mind to the possibilities of being able to share your faith in an easy and ingenious way.  But before I reveal that to you, let me ask you a question…How are you at sharing your faith?  Many people have emotions ranging from uncomfortable to pure terror when it comes to expressing why they believe in Jesus Christ to others.  Reasons can be because of a lack of knowledge of the bible or timidity to talk about it or the spiritual warfare from the Devil.  But the Apostle Paul offers this truth from 2 Timothy 1:7-8 (NLT)…

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for Him.  With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.”

I remember once, hearing Robert Morris of Gateway Church talk about how easy it is to share your faith.  It seemed so elementary but so many people miss it…“Just share your story.”  You don’t have to be a theologian to “share the Good News of Jesus Christ,” all you need is to just tell people what God has done in your life.  Our job is to point people to Jesus, just like Jesus came to point people to God.  As Jesus was comforting His disciples in John 14:1-6 about having to go away to prepare a place in “His Father’s House,” Thomas asked a very direct question asking where He was going and in verse 6 Jesus gave this reply:

104 - Daily Dependence - John 14-6 - One Way“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:6 (NKJV)

Jesus is the Way to the Father and to eternal life in Heaven.  Hebrews 10:19-20 (NLT) gives is this confidence…

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.”

104 - Daily Dependence - TetelestaiWhen Jesus died on the cross He said “Tetelestai” which means “It Is Finished!” which is recorded in John 19:30…

104 - Daily Dependence - John 19-30 - IIF - It Is Finished!
Jesus said, “it is finished.” Then He bowed His head and released His Spirit.”

“IT IS FINISHED” – These were the last words He spoke before dying on the cross. Jesus said this because He knew His mission was done…Everything necessary for His people to have a relationship with God WAS ACCOMPLISHED!  Not only are our sins paid for, but also salvation, forgiveness, and grace is offered to all.  Because it is finished, all who trust and believe in Jesus can have a relationship with their heavenly Father.  If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, check out this post called ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ that will lead you in making that decision.

For those who know this truth today, then I urge you to follow the advice from the Apostle Peter…

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”  1 Peter 3:15-16 (ESV)

The time is now!  Don’t wait to share your faith with your children and other young people who are in your sphere of influence.  According to a study that the Barna Research Group conducted, they found

“…that nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43%), and that two out of three born again Christians (64%) made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday.” 

What this tells me is that we have a very short window to reach people for the Kingdom of God, and once a person passes the age of 21, the percentage drops considerably.  Such a sad reality!  But at the same time, what an opportunity to share our faith easily with these shirts!  Jesus said in Matthew 9:37 (NLT)

“The harvest is great, but the workers are few."
“The harvest is great, but the workers are few.”

And finally in Philemon 1:6 (ESV), the Apostle Paul gives this encouragement…

“and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.”

So the question is…Will you Share It?  I pray that you will activate your faith starting today with everyone you come into contact!

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Candy Land Christianity ★

Today’s Thought for the Day will tie together (2) Fortune 500 Companies that have helped influenced the culture we live in and how people view Christianity.  At the time of post, according to the Fortune 500 List, the first company Hasbro just missed the top by ranking at 550 but their impact on our families is significant.

103 - Daily Dependence - Fortune 500 - Hasbro

103 - Daily Dependence - Family Game Night InfographicI am not sure if they coined the phrase “Family Game Night,” but clearly Hasbro has done very well capitalizing on their products.  I found this Infographic on The Board Game Family website that is from a study conducted in 2013 by Wakefield Research Group for the Hasbro Gaming Company.  They found that:

“91% of those polled said playing games gives their family’s mood a positive boost.  And 96% of families who play games together say that they feel close!”

103 - Daily Dependence - Family Game Night Statistics

In a world in love with their smart phones, iPads and Tablets, I bet in the past 3 years that statistic above is probably much higher than 61% of families having a hard time disconnecting from their devices.  There is so much competing for our attention these days.  Now I know it is self-serving that Hasbro sponsored this survey and that they found that families playing games = happiness, but as a participant in our own Family Game Nights, I can testify that is definitely true!  There are so many great memories just from these few games that I pulled out of our game cabinet…

103 - Daily Dependence - Game Night

And there definitely are members who have dominated…For instance, my youngest is the master of monopoly, my oldest daughter rules in Rummikub, my wife baffles us with the number of words she finds in Boggle, and I have a lot of success in Scrabble.  Hours upon hours of great family bonding have been spent competing with each other.  It’s interesting though as I dug through the cabinet, I was surprised to find that we no longer had Candy Land.  103 - Daily Dependence - Candyland Game BoardI remember racing to arrive at “Candy Castle” first with both of my girls but I guess we gave it away at some point.  I googled Candy Land and found this on Wikipedia that jogged my memory of why we no longer have the game:

“Candy Land…requires no reading and minimal counting skills, making it suitable for young children. Due to the design of the game, there is no strategy involved: players are never required to make choices, just follow directions.  The winner is predetermined by the shuffle of the cards.”

Besides the fact that the game is rated for ages 3 and up, (and I now have two teenagers), the underlined sentence above is why we don’t have the game any longer.  Now in our family everyone is extremely competitive so a game that has no challenge, no strategy or choices really has no place in the game cabinet…hahaha!  But I think that people view Christianity in the same way sometimes; if you were to become a Christian your choices are limited and you have to follow a bunch of rules…But that is a lie from the enemy!  It reminds me a powerful scene from 2014 God’s Not Dead movie in which Mina’s mother who is suffering from Demetria has a moment of lucidity and compares a life outside of God as a Comfortable Prison Cell, (click here to watch). 103 - Daily Dependence - God's Not Dead - Comfy Jail Cell Quote

The devil wants you to believe that life is more fun without God and that if you become a Christian you will be controlled and have no options just like if you were playing Candy Land.  Jesus said in John 10:10 (ESV) that:

103 - Daily Dependence - John 10-10
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

The thief, aka the Devil or Satan wants to ruin your life, whereas God sent Jesus to rescue us.  His offer is far greater than any counterfeit that the Devil tempt us with, but unfortunately many fall into the trap that life outside God’s involvement is better, and instead of landing on “Candy Castle,” you will end up in “Molasses Swamp”…okay no more Candy Land references… Jesus is extending a life line to every one of us if we will grab hold of it.  He is our lifesaver!  Acts 13:38-39 (NIV) instructs us…

“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.  Through Him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.”

And in John 8:36 (NIV) Jesus said,

“So if the Son [Jesus] sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Here are some additional Bible Verses about the Freedom we have over sin and darkness when we follow Jesus that would be good to memorize if you struggle to remember the truth.  How are you with memorizing scripture?  If you are like me, it’s a struggle to remember where key verses are located but I believe it is okay if you can’t recall the exact “chapter and verse” in the Bible so long as you get the truth in your heart…THAT IS WHAT MATTERS!  A trick I have that may help you is to google the part of the verse I remember and 9 out of 10 times I find what I am looking for.

But there is someone, or some fish who does not have that luxury…Dory.

103 - Daily Dependence - Finding Dory

Were you wondering when I was going to get to the second Fortune 500 Company?  Well just to be consistent, here is the ranking and stats of Disney in the prestigious list…

103 - Daily Dependence - Fortune 500 - Disney

103 - Daily Dependence - Walt Disney

Walt Disney was a master at creating a fantasy world that everyone wanted to be a part of.  This castle for instance at Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Florida is an icon of his legacy.  Every child knows the Magic Kingdom as being “The Most Magical Place On Earth” (and the parents agree, all their money “magically” disappears!)  In the much-anticipated sequel to the 2003 blockbuster hit Finding Nemo, 103 - Daily Dependence - Finding NemoDisney has landed gold with the reprisal of the forgetful Blue Tang Fish. In Finding Dory, which has quickly become the #1 U.S. hit of 2016, grossing $437.8 million (according to Box Office Mojo.), we learn all about Dory’s past and how she was separated from her parents, as well as the background on her unusual introductory statement…

“Hi I’m Dory and I suffer from short-term memory loss.”

I was amazed at how good the sequel was, and the issues that were tackled like raising special needs children, being orphaned, friendship and the importance of family!  The movie is also unique in that it is the most “family friendly” offering from Disney in years, which as avid movie buff and a discerning parent of what I expose my children to, I appreciate the good lessons without the questionable content to worry about.  103 - Daily Dependence - Family VacationI was thinking about the movie last week when our family went on vacation to North Carolina for a family reunion, (which was so special since it has been 3 months ago that we lost my mom.)  To get there, we decided to do a cross-country drive from Texas which was a first for us.  We also added a stop at Destin and Pensacola to hit the beach which was amazing!  All in all we logged 2,740 miles and had an amazing family time as we sang, played games and talked.  But for those who have driven hundreds of miles you know how wearisome it can get…As we were driving my wife made pun off of Dory’s other catch phase…“Just Keep Swimming…”

103 - Daily Dependence - Just Keep Swimming Alt 1

As the miles rolled on, she said, “Just keep diving…driving…driving…” Hahaha!  But I think there is a great life principle to gain from Dory’s optimistic outlook.  She had to overcome a disability, being separated from her parents and being alone, and yet she had an incredible perspective: “Just Keep Swimming!”  Or another way to say it is you keep going when you face adversities in life.  I think too often people have an unrealistic view of the Christian Faith.  They think just because you are a Christian that they should never have any problems.  But that simply is not the case because when you become a Christian you become an enemy to the little god of this world, the Devil.  I shared about how opposition will always come when we serve God in a post called ★ Thought for the Day – Opposition Will Come ★, (which would be good for you to read also.)  Ultimately opposition is a good thing.  Strange statement?  Not really when you are looking through the correct lens.  I love how Jack Graham said it:

“Perhaps today you’d admit that you’re a little discouraged by how difficult the Christian life can be.  If so, I want to offer you a word of encouragement: The opposition you face is actually a sure sign that you’re doing something right!  Because if the devil leaves you alone, that means you must not be worth trying to discourage!”

Easier said than done right?  But I think with the right perspective, we can persevere and flourish.  How do I know this?  John Chapter 17 reveals the heart of Jesus with an incredible prayer for you and me.  We don’t have time to unpack the whole prayer but in verses 13-14 he prayed to God…

“Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy.  I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.”

Now you may say this does not cover me but in just four verses later Jesus prayed…

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.   I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.”  (John 17:20-21)

I know I talk often about spiritual warfare, that we have a very real enemy who wants to steal and kill and destroy” you and I as we covered already.  And now we see Jesus praying for our protection.  You see people have a skewed perspective of Christianity because Satan is always on the prowl (see 1 Peter 1:8).  But I encourage you to persevere and just keep chasing after God like Dory example has shown us.  I will close with this final though from Susie Larson:
103 - Daily Dependence - Susie Larson - Your Beautiful Purpose - Potential

Embrace that truth today!

If you are interested in reading more, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Anxious to Do the Will of God? ★ 

★ Day 11 – Reason for the Season – Following Jesus Will Cost You ★

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Honest Self-Evaluation ★

My pastor shared this quote fro102 - Daily Dependence - Billy Graham - A Good Fatherm Billy Graham last Sunday for his Father’s Day message…

“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”

It was a great introductory quote to engage all the Fathers in the room for sure, (I know I was…)  He went on to say that we need to be intentional in our own spiritual growth, intentional in our instruction/discipline, and intentional in our affection towards our children.  He also said that we need to be “Marked by God’s Word!”  Now if you’ve been following our blog, you know we’ve been talking a lot about reading the Bible and pursuing God so it should not be a surprise to any of you that this resonated with me; but it also got me thinking about that statement…“Am I really marked?'”  I think that it’s a good thing to step back and do an honest self-evaluation when you are given a challenge like that.  I love what our 26th president Theodore Roosevelt said in regards to honest self-evaluation…

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month.”
“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”

Amen?  I love that so much!!  Not only for the sarcasm but also the truth!! How would things be different if we would stop and take a moment to “think” before we “put our f102 - Daily Dependence - Self-Evaluationoot in our mouths” and make a mess of things?

In two months I will be required by my company to do a task that I absolutely hate…the dreaded self-evaluation.  I know that the purpose is to give my supervisor an understanding of what I believe I have accomplished in the past year but it feels so much like “tooting my own horn.”  Now don’t get me wrong, I do avail myself of the opportunity but I attempt to be honest in the evaluation which leads me to the muse for this Thought for the Day”…

Romans 12:3 (NLT) says…

“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are.  Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.”

102 - Daily Dependence - X_ (1)It’s time to get honest…so what do you think of that?  Be careful how quickly you answer…Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT) sheds some light on how good we are at evaluating ourselves…

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.  Who really knows how bad it is?”

When I think over my life and of all the mistakes I’ve made, the careless words and foolish choices that could have gotten me in much more than some hot water, it’s hard to believe that I am the same person.  There is so much I regret, but that makes me also so grateful for the life that I have as a born again believer in Jesus.  I truly am a changed man as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says:

102 - Daily Dependence - New Creation - 2 Corinthians 5-17 - New Creation - Copy

But even after walking with the Lord for the past 18 years, I still find myself saying and doing things I wish I wouldn’t.  It reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:15 (ESV)

“For I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

That unfortunately is the human condition…we are all sinners and fall short of what God desires for our life, (see Romans 3:23).  The key is not to give up chasing after God, even after we fail to the right thing.  My wife an expression she always says that we need to 102 - Daily Dependence - Strive for Progress Not Perfection“strive for progress, not perfection.”  The reality is we can never achieve perfection this side of heaven but if we are always striving for progress, our life will be in an upward curve.  Even if we stumble, as long as we pick ourselves up and get back on track pursuing God’s desire for us, we will always be improving.  And we need to be very careful not to allow the enemy to get a foothold in our minds that we will never change.  Romans 3:24 (ESV) piggybacks on the fact that though we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” with this beautiful truth that we…

102 - Daily Dependence - License to Sin“are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”

Of course this is not a license to sin!  Too often people try to play the “Grace card” as a way to justify continuing to sin.  That is not what Grace is about!  Grace is a gift to overcome sin not to justify it!

102 - Daily Dependence - Grace is Not A License to Sin

Going back to my Pastor’s statement about being “Marked by God’s Word,” I was reading Romans 12:9-21 the other morning from the English Stand Version (ESV) Translation and it had this heading…“Marks of the True Christian.”  Check it out, it is a powerful list!  To paraphrase, a “True Christian” should be genuine in their love for others…Should hate evil and be on fire to serve the Lord even though they may go through trouble.  A “Marked Christian’s” mission should be to live in harmony with everyone regardless of what they may do to us!  Verse 21 wraps up “The Mark of a True Christian” with this…

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Not what the typical human response is though huh?  I know it’s certainly was not mine until I started walking with God in 1998.  Before that, I can testify that was not my attitude at all…I was self-centered, egotistical and lived my life with one objective…it was all about me!  If you hurt me that was it, I would cut you out of my life, regardless of your attempts to seek forgiveness…you were dead to me.  I never thought about helping others, I just wanted my needs met.  But everything has changed since accepting Jesus as my savior.  Now I look for opportunities to help others, to be an encouragement and look out for those God brings into my life.

There was a man in the early church that I endeavor to be like which Acts 4:36 (NLT) introduces us to…

“For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”).  He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus.”

What a name!  “A Son of Encouragement!”  He is described in greater detail in Acts 11:24 (NLT)…

“Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith.  And many people were brought to the Lord.”

That is my prayer, to be “A Son of Encouragement and to be a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith,” that many people will come to the Lord as a result!”  You see after all the “evaluation” is done and I realize I can never meet God’s standard of Holiness, I step back and realize despite all my shortcomings and failings, God loves me nonetheless!!!!

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

In Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible, he had this life lesson on this verse …

“Despite the Corinthian’s problems, Paul could see their genuine spiritual gifts, their repentance, and their love for God, and he wanted these things to encourage them to further growth. Likewise, we must always make sure we are maturing in our walks with Him by examining whether or not we are expressing His likeness and character in increasing measure (see also 2 Peter 1:3-8).

“We must always make sure we are maturing in our walks with Him!”  It’s a command!  But something I have  realize and I hope you gleam this as well, I can never meet God’s standard of Holiness, I just need to step back and acknowledge that despite all my shortcomings and failings, God loves me nonetheless!!!!  I will close with Acts 15:11 (NLT)…

“We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” 

You see there is nothing we can do to make God love us anymore or any less!  Matt Redman has this beautiful song called “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” that is a beautiful reminder of how important and loved we are regardless of what we do, nothing is beyond God’s ability to forgive, no matter “how unforgivable” we may feel that it is…It is by the undeserved grace of God that we are saved!

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Leaving It All On The Field ★

We just wrapped up a series on 3 pursuits of God that will change your life…Through PrayerReading the Bible…and Living a Life of Worship.  I thought it only fitting to build upon that foundation and talk about being a person who can have the maximum impact for the Kingdom of God!  In his book “Becoming a Person of Influence,” John Maxwell gave this practical advice, which also serves as the perfect introduction for this post….he said:

“Not everyone you influence will think the same way you do.  You have to help them not only believe that they can succeed, but also show them that you want them to succeed.  How do you do that?

Expect it: People can sense your underlying attitude no matter what you say or do.  If you have an expectation for your people to be successful, they will know it.

Verbalize itPeople need to hear you tell themthat you believe in them and want them to succeed.  Become a positive prophet of their success.

Reinforce it: You can never do too much when it comes to believing in people.

Once people recognize and understand that you genuinely want to see them succeed and are committed to helping them, they will begin to believe they can accomplish what you give them to do.”

Now this was written from a business world perspective but I think that we can easily see how the same advice could be applied to helping us make an impact on those around us.  You may ask why is it important th101 - Daily Dependence - Proverbs 27-17 - Iron Sharpens Ironat we leverage our influence for the kingdom of God?  The answer can found in Proverbs 27:17 (ESV)…

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

Whether male or female, God will use you to help others grow in their walk with Him.  After all we all need encouragement, whether we are willing to admit it or not, everyone needs a mentor…People who are living their life for God and pursuing Him in the areas that we just concluded in our Back to the Basics series.  And just like John Maxwell said…

“Not everyone you influence will think the same way you do.  You have to help them not only believe that they can succeed, but also show them that you want them to succeed.

This101 - Daily Dependence - Romans 15-13 is the whole reason why “I Do What I Do!”  My hope and prayer is that in some way I can have some positive influence and to help you succeed in your walk in God.  Here is a great verse to motivate you…

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

The key though is to trust in God…boy that sure is hard sometimes when you are in the middle of a storm!  But look at the rewards if we do…”joy and peace and hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!”  That is some good stuff!  My brother in-law posted this the other day which I loved…

“Faith…Is see101 - Daily Dependence - Faithing LIGHT with your HEART…When all your EYES see is DARKNESS.”  Unknown 

I believe it was Vince Lombardi who made this famous statement to “leave it all on the field.”  The idea that when the game is over, there should be nothing left…All our strength and energy should be completely depleted.  Well just like in football, I believe that God is asking each one of us to do the same.  The goal of our life, each and every day should be completed absolutely spent…physically, emotionally and spiritually for the enlargement of God’s Kingdom!  “Leave it all on the field” so that you will never think back to a day and say “I wish I would have told them this,” or “if only I had done _____ (fill in the blank)…to encourage them, then it might have been different.  John Greenleaf Whittier once said:

“For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been.’”

I think that the apostle Paul was the truest example of “leaving it all on the field.”  In 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 (ESV) we get a little insight into what Pail went through to expand the kingdom of God.

“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.  Three times I was beaten with rods.  Once I was stoned.  Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.  And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”

Impressive list huh?  I think if any one of us experienced even one of these persecutions it would probably crush us, but I think verse 28 is the most intriguing part. Look at it again…

“And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”

Apart from the other things, Paul finishes with this unbelievable statement that he feels a “daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”  Talk about living a life of sacrifice!  In wrapping up his list, I find it remarkable that his anxiety for all the churches is what he would finish on. You would think the 39 lashes or being beaten with rods or the stoning would be the closing statement but it’s not…it’s all about reaching the lost!!  Talk about leaving it all on the field!!!  Paul authored most of the New Testament and had a huge influence in the early church.  He was also a mentor to many.  One such person was Timothy who he referred to as “my child in the faith” (see 1 Timothy 1:2) and “my beloved child” (see 2 Timothy 1:2).  In 2 Timothy 4:6-8, Paul wrote to Timothy a final word of encouragement…

“As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God.  The time of my death is near.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.  And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return.  And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.”  

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Let this be your rallying cry to give everything you have!  The choice is yours, what will you do?  I pray you will choose to leave it all out on the field for the Lord!

 

If you would like to read more on perseverance check out these 2 posts:

★ Thought for the Day – Overwhelmed or Overcoming ★

★ Thought for the Day – The Storms of Life ★

 

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★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #3 – Adoration That Matters ★

Today is the final segment in our series of the 3 Worthy Pursuits…Prayer – Word – Worship.  We first introduced these pursuits in the post ★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★ in which we saw through the life of Jonah that God will go to great lengths to re-direct us from our disobedience.  The first Pursuit of our series was called ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #1 – Opening the Pipeline ★ in which we saw how critical prayer is through the Prayer of Jabez from 1 Chronicles 4:10.  In the second post ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★, we covered the importance of reading God’s Word, the Holy Bible.  In today’s post we will unpack the final Pursuit…Worship.

100 - Daily Dependence - Worship EmojiWhat is worship?  It is a noun?  Is it a verb?  Yes…It’s actually both. 

Let’s start off with what Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary had this simple definition of worship as:

  • the act of showing respect and love for a god especially by praying with other people who believe in the same god
  • the act of worshipping God or a god
  • excessive admiration for someone

Before we get too deep, too fast, I wanted to look at that last meaning…excessive admiration for someone.”  Another word for admiration is adoration which means 100 - Daily Dependence - Five Below Storedeep love.  My youngest daughter without a doubt has a deep love for Five Below. Any time she gets some money she wants to go shopping.  I have to say I am a fan of the store myself because you can some pretty cool stuff for $5 or less.  One visit, as we went through the aisles, I saw this mug which blew me away!

100 - Daily Dependence - I love Me Mug

What a sign of the times!  We live in such a self-indulgent culture that screams look at me, listen to what I have to say, it’s all about me.  You don’t have to go too far down on your Twitter or Instagram feed before you see an example of person making that proclamation of “I love me” through their excessive selfies!  I saw these alarming statistics on infogr.am site:

100 - Daily Dependence - Selfie Statistics

“1 million ‘Selfies’ taken globally each day!!!”  Not that is a “whole lotta lovin” of oneself!!  The Apostle Paul talked in 2 Timothy about the coming “Godlessness in the Last Days.”  In verses 1-2 he said:

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,”

And the list goes on, you can read the rest in 2 Timothy 3:1-5.  Doesn’t that sound very familiar to today’s culture?  Now am I saying that taking a selfie = Godlessness?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  I have taken my fair share with the people in my life to capture a moment.  But what I am saying is that we need to be very careful that being a “lover of self” is a slippery slope!  We need to renew our mind each day and not follow whatever is trending on Twitter!  See Romans 12:2.

In our last post called ★ Thought for the Day – Are You a Parasite? ★ we talked about how reading God’s Word, and “doing” what it says will move us from being babies in the faith to mature in our walk with God.  The same is true for our worship.  We need to not be so self-centered that everything has to be all about us and follow what 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT) says:

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”

When we were babies it was true that the world did revolve around us but that was due to our helpless state but just like as the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians, we need to put away childish behaviors and start adoring the One who truly matters!  1 Chronicles 29:11 (NLT) gives us another way to live…

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty.  Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom.  We adore you as the one who is over all things.”

Going back to Merriam-Webster’s definition…Worship is “the act of worshiping God or a god.”  The strikethrough is based on what the Jesus said in Luke 4:8:

And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’”

Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy 6:13 from the Old Testament.  So how do you Worship God?  In how you treat others (see Luke 6:31-35, Mark 12:29-33), how we take care of people in need (see Matthew 25:31-46, James 1:27), and even how generous we are (see Matthew 6:19-21, 1 Timothy 5:8).  Another way to Worship God is through music.  David, who was called a man after God’s own heart, played the harp and loved to worship God through music.  He wrote in Psalms 150:1-6 (NASB)

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!

I love that declaration…”Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”  What a call to action!  This should be freeing to all of us because David said “Let everything,” not the talented or gifted, so if you are shy or feel like you do not have a good enough voice, memorize Psalms 150:6 and Worship the Lord whether in your home, car or church!  We live in such an incredible time period where there are some many different genres and styles of worship, from classic hymns to modern praise and worship.  How doesn’t matter as long as you do!

100 - Daily Dependence - Worshippers

I love what worship leader John David Hessler said…

“Songs become like a diving board to get us back in to the deep water of the Lord’s heart.  I love how a song can somehow contain an eternal moment inside of it.”

I cannot agree more with that!  I love music of all kinds but especially worship music.  I always have music playing whether it be in the house, car or wherever I go with my iPhone.  But I think that my favorite times of listening to worship music is when I am in church because as I am experiencing “an eternal moment” along with others which users in Holy Spirit’s presence because God inhabits the praises of his people, see Psalms 22:3-4.  Referred to as “Worship Service” or “Corporate Worship,” the gathering together of other believers in Christ to sing praises to God leads us into the final definition that I would like to delve into…Worship is…“the act of showing respect and love for  a  God especially by praying with other people who believe in the same God.” The strikethrough and capitalization of “God” is based on 1 Corinthians 8:6 (ESV) says:

“yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”

God is worthy of our worship and is just waiting for us to turn from our wicked ways, see 2 Chronicles 7:14…The question is will you worship Him?  Will you give up on focusing just on what you want and what make you happy?  Will you look for opportunities to help others, to look out for the overwhelmed, under resourced and people far away?

Though we examined each PURSUIT separately, they are intrinsically linked…at some point you need to realize your brokenness and need of a change in your life, resulting in a PRAYER to God to accept Jesus as your Savior.  In response to that prayer, you start developing a relationship with God through reading His WORD.  And the outcome of gaining knowledge of God and His Son, your love and adoration deepens which leads to WORSHIP.  This is a picture of what happens during a church service, whether you attend on Saturday or Sunday.  Regardless of what denomination or congregation you belong to, if it is a Bible preaching church, each PURSUIT is represented during the corporate time of honoring God.

I will close with this last thought that I think encapsulates the truest sense of Worship…

“Worship is so much more than the songs we sing on Sunday morning.  It is the life that we live the rest of the week.”  Unknown

And how could I talk about worship and not give you a song too?  Here is an incredible song called “Simplicity” by Rend Collective.  Let this just fill your spirit!

Here are a couple of lyrics…

I come with my broken soul
To you the perfect one
To worship you in spirit and truth
Only you 

Give me a childlike heart
Lead me to where you are
Cause I’m coming back to my first love
Only you

You’re the reason I sing
The reason I sing

I pray that today you would focus on Adoration That Matters and live your life worshiping the One true God and give your heart to His Son Jesus Christ!

If you would like to read more on this, check out the post ★ Thought for the Day – Sweetly Broken ★

 

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Are You a Parasite? ★

In our last post called ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★, we discussed the importance of reading the bible if we want to grow in our walk with God.  And that what you feed your mind is what you will become.  My daughter reminded me of the movie we saw a year ago called “Tomorrowland” (which was really awesome and is on Redbox now.)  In the movie they had a quote about an Old Cherokee Proverb that within everyone is two wolves fighting a battle…I looked up the background and thought it was a great illustration of what we all face…

A99 - Daily Dependence - Tomorrowland - 2 Wolves Quoten old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. 

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.  

One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”  

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. 

The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

WHICH WOLF ARE YOU FEEDING?  

I love that answer to the question “Which wolf will win?”…“The one you feed.”  There is such truth in that statement that if we could grasp it today, our lives could be forever changed!  In the Bible, Romans 8:5-6 (NLT) supports this truth:

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature [or ‘flesh’ as other Bible translations call it,] think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  So letting your sinful nature [flesh] control your mind leads to death.  But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”

We always have a choice about what we will feed, our flesh or our spirit…Today I would like springboard off of our last post and speak to those who have been walking with God and reading the Bible to pose the question, are you a parasite?  Strange question huh?  When you hear the word parasite a few nasty examples come to my mind like tapeworms, fleas, and barnacles.  I read somewhere that Tapeworms attach themselves to the insides of the intestines of animals such as cows, pigs, and humans.  They get food by eating the host’s partly digested food, depriving the host of nutrients.  Gross huh?  Vocabulary.com had this definition for what a PARASITE is:

“A creature that lives off another organism is a parasite. The parasite might not hurt the host, but it doesn’t do anything to help it, either.”

Can you think of an example of a creature that feeds off of another but doesn’t hurt the host?  I will give you a hint…you may have some living in your home…babies of course!  But we hardly would consider them a parasite right…right?  Hahaha!  There is nothing more beautiful than a nursing baby.  After all it was God’s design that a woman’s body would transform to be able to provide nourishment for her child BUT as the baby gets older, it is time to transition to solid food.

The question…Are You a Parasite? Was intended to get your attention but maybe a less graphic way to start the dialogue would be to say, are you doing anything with what you are reading in the Bible or are you in a perpetual feeding mode?  I heard a quote from a country preacher named Vance Havner who said:

99 - Daily Dependence - Vance Havner - How Far You've Come
“How long you’ve been a Christian only tells how long you’ve been on the road.  It doesn’t tell how far you’ve come.” Vance Havner

When I first heard of this quote I thought of it in comparison to 1 Timothy 4:12 about not letting anyone “think less of you because you are young.”  But recently I have thought it more along the lines of not believing you’re mature just because of how long you’ve been calling yourself a Christian.  Do you consider yourself mature?  Or should I say are you continuing to mature in your faith?  I an article from Albert Mohler he quoted researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli who said:

“Americans revere the Bible–but, by and large, they don’t read it.  And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.”  How bad is it?  Researchers tell us that it’s worse than most could imagine.

According to data from the Barna Research Group, 60 percent of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments.  “No wonder people break the Ten Commandments all the time.  They don’t know what they are,” said George Barna, president of the firm.  The bottom line?  “Increasingly, America is biblically illiterate.”

And from another article I saw these statistics…

99 - Daily Dependence - The State of the Bible - 6 Trends for 2014 - Barna Reserach
“The State of the Bible: 6 Trends for 2014” – Barna Research

What a sad reality!  Would you consider yourself illiterate when it comes to your knowledge of the Bible?  Just like you cannot become mature just by the number of years you are a Christian, just owning a Bible is not enough, we need to read and know it!  This lack of maturity is not a new phenomenon.  In approximately 55 AD, the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 to encourage the Corinthian Church to grow in their faith.  They were not ready for the deeper truths that he wanted to share with them…In verse 2, Paul said:

“I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger.  And you still aren’t ready,”

For the purpose of this Thought for the Day, I am going to assume that we are all “within the 37% who read the Bible more than once a week” that the Barna Research Group found.  And with that baseline, I want to challenge you to look within and ask yourself…Does that 1 Corinthians 3:2 statement describe you?  Have you been on the path for decades, reading God’s Word, going to church, attending Bible Studies and yet you still are not ready to move on to solid food?  Hebrews 5:12 (NLT) gives this stark wake up call!

99 - Daily Dependence - Hebrews 5-12 - Milk to Meat
“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.”

Convicting huh?  It was definitely true of me!  I accepted Jesus as my savior in August of 1998 and though I would describe myself as “being on fire for God,” my development was far from that.  I attended church yes but did not read the Bible.  It was not until 12 years later that one conversation with Todd McIntyre, the Men’s Pastor at Gateway Church changed everything!  In the post called ★ Back to the Basics – Silencing the Noise ★, I shared how he helped me see the need to reconcile my relationship with my estranged father and also opened my eyes to the need to develop the spiritual discipline of reading the bible daily which has paid dividends!  I have grown more in the last six years then I did in the preceding 12!  It is interesting to think how one conversation changed the whole trajectory of my life!  But that would not have happened unless I actually listened to Pastor Todd’s counsel and put it into practice!  James 1:22-25 (NLT) says:

99 - Daily Dependence - James 1-22 - Be Doers of the Word“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

In our Wednesday night Lifegroup, we have been going through a Bible Study by Francis Chan on RightNowMedia from the Book of James.  In the third lesson (which was based on James 1:19-27,) Francis Chan nailed it as he pounds on the truth of this passage…He said,

“Satan is thrilled when believers pack out churches to hear the Word of God and then they walk away and do nothing and yet feel like they’ve accomplished something.  Their deceiving [themselves], they’re doing Satan’s job for Him!”

Amen?  We need to be DOERS of the Word not just HEARERS.  Too often that people say “I am not being fed,” so they move on to another church, never realizing that maybe it has nothing to with the Pastor or the church but with them.  You cannot grow without putting in the work yourself.  Being a parasite can also be by living your life only on the basis of someone else’s faith.  Maybe it’s someone who brought you to Christ in the first place, like a parent who dragged you to church every Sunday, or a friend who made you feel obligated to accept Christ.  You never really developed a personal relationship with Christ but rather you are going with the flow of someone else’s faith.  

99 - Daily Dependence - Milk to Meat - MaturingSo then how do we go from MILK to MEAT, and mature as a believer?  I am glad you asked…Stop being a parasite.  Stop leeching onto others for your growth.  Stop depending on others or the Pastor/Church for your spiritual development.  You have to take responsibility for your own development.  Just like you cannot survive on one meal a week, you cannot depend on 1 hour on a Sunday morning to be the only source of nourishment that you give your Spirit!  It must happen daily.  If you don’t apply the knowledge that you hear than you will never grow and you will remain stagnant.  I say this all the time but it’s so true…Nothing changes if nothing changes!  Today decide to…Feed Yourself!

99 - Daily Dependence - Feed Yourself

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Tribute to My Mom ★

Let me start off by wishing all the Moms a Happy Mother’s Day!!  

As part of the “25 Days of Thankfulness” series I shared with you about my Mom’s stroke in 2010 called ★ Day 03 – Reason for the Season – Let Hope Arise ★, and what a walking miracle she was.  100 - Daily Dependence - Mom's High SchoolOn April 18, 2016 my Mom was found on the floor by the nursing staff at the assisted living facility she was at and rushed to the hospital.  Within an hour of being admitted of the hospital, the CT scan determined that she had an even larger stroke the second time around. This time though it was on the other side of the brain which left no possibility of recovery, and 24 hours after being admitted to the emergency room my Mom lost her battle and passed away at 8 am on Tuesday morning. On Thursday night after the wake, my wife and I went back to my sister’s house.  As I sat down at my mom’s desk in my sister’s house, (a desk that has been around longer than I have been alive,) I thought to myself, what is the one thing that I would want to share with you about this incredible woman?  Would it be her work ethic?  Her money management skills?  Or her amazing ability to make anyone feel at home?  All of which were true, but I think what I learned most from my mom is about living out a lasting legacy (click here to read more.)  She taught us the value of family and about being a person of integrity; two values that I strive to embody myself and pass-on to my daughters.  I would not be the man I am without her tireless efforts to model the right way to live.

I also gleamed the importance of perseverance.  The stroke that happened in 2010 was a catastrophic event that had forever changed ALL our lives.  But long before that fateful December 23rd, my mom endured many other hardships.  She did not have an easy life to say the least.  From the time I was 5 years old, she was a divorcee, raising 3 children at a time when that was such a stigma.  It was like wearing a scarlet letter.  In spite of it, she taught us that regardless of circumstances to always be generous, loving and self-sacrificial.  One of the most tangible ways she expressed this was at Christmastime, which was always magical, and done on a single parent’s income!  Thinking back on it now, as a father myself, it is amazing how she was able to rub 2 nickels together to create a quarter.  Though we struggled financially, somehow she was able to give us the perfect Christmas year after year.  We had great traditions from the Advent calendar to the prime rib dinner to the eggnog toast…and always with Christmas music playing in the background, from Bing Crosby to Johnny Mathis to Brenda Lee.  Just thinking of it I am catapulted back in time…Music has a funny way of doing that.

As my sister and I went through our Mom’s room at the assisted living facility, many emotions were stirred up.  Here is a picture that my daughter made for her Grandma years ago to encourage her along the path of recovery from the first stroke from Psalm 23:1-6:

100 - Daily Dependence - Psalm 23

This verse is very dear to me.  I read this the day I was baptized (April 11, 1999) which I was reminded of when I sat in the very church in which I had made my profession of faith 17 years early watching others commit their lives to Jesus.  Finding this picture with that verse was a tangible expression of God’s presence amidst the pain and sorrow of the moment which made our task of gathering pictures and an outfit for the wake bearable.  I also saw a ton of music there including that John Mathis Christmas CD that we would listen to every year.  I realized that my love of music also stems from Mom.  For those who know me well, I always have music playing whether it be in the house, car or wherever I go with my iPhone.  And I have a song for any occasion…Including the last weekend I spent with my Mom starting when I flew in on Friday April 15, 2016.  Many people know that date because it is the filing deadline for U.S. federal income tax returns for individuals but it was also the 9 year anniversary of my family and I moving to Texas, a coincidence that was not lost on me when I realized it on the plane.  I went back to NJ to try and help out because over these past few weeks Mom’s health had diminished considerably.  Friday was a great day because it was a long 2 months of going from the hospital to the rehab facility my Mom was overjoyed to be moving back to familiar surroundings at the assisted living facility.

Over the next two days my sister, brother and I spent precious moments sitting in the courtyard as God blessed us with two glorious days of sunshine and the opportunity to express our love to her.  As we sat there, I of course had worship music playing for her.  One song that she really liked was called “Abba,” which in Aramaic is a word derived from baby-language and is translated to mean “Daddy.”  I often shared things with Mom from what I was reading in the Bible or what I learned from the sermon on the previous Sunday when we had our weekly phone calls.  As we sat in that courtyard and the sun warmed our faces, there was a gentle breeze as this lyric of the song played,

          “Abba, I belong to you.” 

I told Mom that God is her Daddy and He cares for her so deeply that He sent Jesus to die for her so that she could spend all eternity with Him.  And just as the song said, she belonged to Him.  Little did I know just a few days later she would be with her Daddy in heaven!  Romans 8:18-21 (NLT) speaks about “The Future Glory” we have to look forward to:

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.  For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.  Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.

What a beautiful promise!  Something to know about our family is that if one of us is hurt we all rally together at the hospital.  It was not any different on Monday night (4/18/16), after a long day of waiting for the inevitable; my Mom had 12 people in her room at 10 pm sharing stories about the impact she had on them.  It was brought up how I was visiting for Christmas in 2010 when she had the first stroke and how fortunate that was.  And now 5-1/2 years later I am here for the second stroke…the room was silent for a half a second then all of sudden someone said that maybe we shouldn’t invite me here anymore…hahaha!  But my being in NJ both times has nothing to do with coincidence, but rather a loving father in heaven!  Our Daddy cares so deeply for each and every one of us.  I love what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 8:28:  100 - Daily Dependence - Romans 8-28God orchestrated that in the two darkest moments in our family’s life, I was not 1,500 miles away in Texas, but just minutes away in NJ.  Words cannot express how thankful I am, that if this had to happen, I was here to be a support to the family.  Romans 8:38-39 (NLT),

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love!”  I mentioned that I learned all about perseverance from Mom and that was because she was a fighter!  Not only for her family to stay close or for her kids to grow up to be people of integrity, but also how she fought after having a massive stroke.  She defied the doctors back in 2010 who said she may not live, or that she may not speak again, or that she many never use the right side of her body.  Adversity after adversity she overcame and persevered!  My Mom was a living testimony of the faithfulness of God, a walking miracle!  I am so proud of her and was thankful that though her life was changed after the stroke, I had my Mom for another 5-1/2 years in which our relationship deepened far greater than it ever would have because we talked about matters of faith and the importance of standing on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ.  97 - Daily Dependence - Footprints PoemDuring this time period I saw how God was her hope and anchor amidst the storms and how He carried her through the many hardships.  My Mom had this plague hanging on the wall called “Footprints,” which we had on the memorial card given out at the wake.  I shared this quote with Mom a while ago from a good friend of mine which I will close with:

“We don’t know very much about eternity, but we do know that for the Christian, whatever our emotional and physical struggles are now, they will cease then.  Heaven’s delights will far outweigh earth’s distresses.”  Leo Primero    

As Romans 8:38 said, “Nothing can ever separate us from the love” of our Daddy in heaven.  And I will add to that with Revelation 21:4 (ESV) which says,

“He [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

I take great comfort that my Mom is enjoying Heaven’s delights and is now free from the pain and suffering that she endured in this life.  Our loss is Heaven’s gain!  100 - Daily Dependence - Our Loss is Heaven's GainIn my Mom’s final moments, she had here 3 children at her bedside and we sang along with a favorite song of her’s from John Denver called “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”  As the conclusion of the song, my Mom took her final breath and Jesus took her home to heaven. She is finally at rest with her Heavenly Father after having that fateful second and fatal stroke.  Mom, thank for showing me how to live a lasting legacy and for making me the man who I am.  I owe everything to you and you will be dearly missed.  Know that your efforts were not in vain and generations to come will benefit from your love, dedication and faith in Jesus.  Rest in peace Mom.  I love you!

Happy Mother’s Day!!

 

If you would like to hear that “Take Me Home Country Roads.”

 

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★ “Back to the Basics” – Follow-Up to Can 1 Conversation Change a Life? ★

96 - Daily Dependence - Follow Up to Can 1 Conversation Change a Life 3About a year ago we posted ★ “Back to the Basics” – Can 1 Conversation Change a Life? ★, in which we looked at how one conversation between Jesus and the Pharisee Nicodemus changed his life and how if we will be open to listening to the call of God, we could be used to change the life of others.  I shared in ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #1 – Opening the Pipeline ★ about how I had a fantastic conversation with a man in the next seat on the flight home from Indiana which has continued with us texting back and forth about God and matters of faith.  I have also been trading emails with a member of my project team about life.  We went from discussing the Presidential Election to Trump’s Wall to handle immigration to what he thought about God which opened the door to the subject of today’s post.  I would like to use his 6 questions to delve into the hot-button topic of “How God could send someone to Hell that never heard the gospel?”  At the end of this post I will give you two messages from Pastors that I greatly respect and have sat under the teaching of for years (one in person and one through Podcast.)  But I digress…I will paste my answer to each question in order of how he asked them…

1.  Why is there not a Gospel of Jesus?  So much was written by flawed men. 

Though man is certainly flawed, the Bible was written by the direction of God.  Part of my faith is that the Bible is the inherent Word of God.  The first thing to understand is that though Jesus’ name is not on the top of any book, every word in the bible is inspired by God through the Holy Spirit.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

“All Scripture is breathed out by God” and was intended to be a road map or instruction manual for how to live.

2.  How can Christianity which is all about Christ claim that all people who don’t accept Jesus go to hell and suffer for all eternity?

Regardless of the racial, social or economic background, every single person has been told of the existence of God…By God Himself.  God has placed a God-shaped hole in everyone one of us.  Every person has questioned where they came from, how they came about and ultimately what will happen after we breathe our last breath.  The question is, do you look up or do you rebel against the truth?  Also any sentient being cannot look at the magnificence of a sunrise, or the gentle breeze across halcyon wheat fields or the giggle of a child’s laughter and not wonder if there is not something greater than themselves.  Again the question is, do you open your mind up to the possibility or repress the stirring?  Pastor Robert Morris made statement:

“The Bible says that since the beginning of time, God has revealed Himself to every person both internally and externally.  Every person is born with a conscience, given to them by God, that gives them guidance about right and wrong.  Scripture says that creation itself is proof of His existence, and promises that every person who makes an effort to seek God will find Him.  Therefore, no one has an excuse.  We can see God if we’ll only look.”

Ultimately you have to understand that

“There is no one holy like the LORD, Indeed, there is no one besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God.

Because God is just and holy many people see these 2 attributes as negatives, but there has to be consequences for Sin.  But what many people struggle is that:

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

3.  Could you believe that a person like the Dali Lama who is kind and completely about peace in the world would go to Hell?

This question is a difficult one to answer.  I cannot truly answer that question because God is the who judges and will decide who is destined to go to Hell or not.  Jesus did say in John 14:6 (NLT),

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father [God] except through me.

The question though is from the presupposition that there are actually kind and good people.  Romans 3:10-12 (NLT) says,

“As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless.  No one does good, not a single one.”” 

And Romans 3:23 (NLT) says:

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

Sin is very real and though people may strive to be kind and peaceful; there is no one who is perfect.  See Romans 3:24-26 and Romans 5:12-17.  To make matters worse, 2 Corinthians 4:4 which talks about how “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe.”  It is interesting to note that people were never intended to go to Hell.  God created Man to have a relationship with Him and set Him in the Garden of Eden which was paradise on earth.  Robert Morris made this point:

“Hell was created for Satan and his angels, (see Matthew 25:41) when they inexcusably and rebelliously rejected God without cause.  God sent His Son so that no one else would ever have to go there.  God gave every person a free will.  We can choose to love Him or to reject Him.  The people in heaven are those who have chosen Him.  Many others reject Him, in spite of His unlimited goodness.  Our eternal destiny is not His choice, but ours.  Hell wasn’t created for people, but according to Isaiah 5:14, it was enlarged because people inexcusably reject God.  So, the question is, ‘How could anyone reject a loving God?’”

Isn’t that a fascinating thought?  Instead of viewing it from the perspective that God is sending people to Hell, the truth is that People are choosing to go to Hell because of their blatant rejection of the free gift of salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross!  You can read more on this in the post ★ Thought for the Day – But God… ★.

4.  How do I have faith when Christianity and all other religions say we go to hell if we don’t believe?  Christianity is all about Jesus and Christianity says we go to hell when for many life is stacked against them even to the point they may not have even heard of him?

In addition to what I stated above, in a message that I just heard, Steven Furtick made this profound faith…

“The Opposite of Faith is not doubt.  The Opposite of Faith is certainty.

Faith is meant to be more than a formality.

Faith was meant to be more than a feeling.

Faith was meant to be more than a formula.

In fact if you can reduce it to a formula and make sense out of it, it ain’t faith.”

It’s normal to have doubts and to question but in the end, there will be some things we just will never know this side of heaven.  Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) says,

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”

God is the only one who knows whose heart belongs to Him and whose has rebelled.

5.  Is the simple answer that parts of the bible while true there maybe parts that are not because they were not written by Christ?

As I mentioned above, The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that the entire Bible is true.  Charles Stanley made this statement.

“The truth of God’s Word applies to all men and women in every culture, in every age, in every walk of life…Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit; the Bible enlightens each individual to recognize personal sin, the need for salvation, and the best possible life course.”

For me the Bible is my anchor of my life.  I believe if people truly want to grow in their faith and live a victorious in life than dusting off the Bible on the nightstand and opening it up is a necessity!  In an older post called ★ Thought for the Day – All About the Big Ten ★, I wrote about the importance of knowing the whole Bible because of its relevance to our life.  Check it out; it looks through the lens of the Ten Commandments.

6.  What do you think is the greatest sin with respect to sins against others? 

There are definitely sins that I believe are worse than others, rape, murder, child abuse to name a few but the Bible has something very different to say.  In asking this question I asked if he were referring to the Ten Commandments or perhaps “The seven deadly sins” – Pride, Envy, Wrath, Gluttony, Lust, Sloth and Greed but regardless of what he was asking, there is a really easy answer that comes from Jesus’ little brother James where he said;

“For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.

So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.”  James 2:10-13 (NLT)

We as humans are broken, sinful people in need of Savior to rescue us from ourselves, see Psalms 14:1-3, Romans 3:23-26 and Romans 5:8-9.

I will tell you what I told him, that I am truly honored that you have opened your heart for us to dialogue about God and to share with you what I have learned through the study of His Word.  I will close with this final truth of Who is God and what do we mean to Him…James 1:16-18 (NLT)

“So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.”

We are His prized possession and all God wants from us is a relationship with Him!  Here is a blog I wrote that expands much deeper called…★ “Back to the Basics” – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian…Part 2 ★, would love to hear your thoughts!

Here are so follow-up resources…

★  “Tough question…How can a loving God send people to Hell” – Robert Morris

http://gatewaypeople.com/ministries/life/events/the-end-what-happens-next/session/2011/08/13/a-tough-question#.TkvLcu7ZdUB.gmail

★  “Functional Faith” – Steven Furtick

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=935vFzx722c&sns=em

Check back soon as we will be posting ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★  that will continue our series of the 3 Pursuits that will lead to a successful life!

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★ Re|Engage – Diligence ★

ReEngage - Lesson 16

Here is the 16th and final lesson on Diligence.  The main idea was:

“This is a way to live, not a program that you go through. You don’t graduate from this. Success in marriage is not just avoiding divorce, but always moving toward oneness. You will have to fight for everything you have gained.”

Though this is the last post, you should not look at this as the end of journey but rather the beginning of one.  As we talked about in the last post ★ Re|Engage – Completion ★, it is important you and your spouse keep on going over these posts to keep it fresh.  If you want to attend re|engage, you can find a class in your area by going here http://marriagehelp.org/churches and entering in your zip code.  Don’t finish reading these 16 posts and never thing about how to improve your marriage again.  The lesson started off with this great advice…

“Be sure to celebrate what God has done in your marriage, but also start to take the next steps in pursuing oneness “more and more” with your spouse.”

Success is not linear…it is a series of peaks and valleys.

In the reading they had six ideas that could be next steps for you:

1.  Continue investing.ReEngage - Lesson 16 - Footprints

One class, one time, will not make your marriage great.  Love is not a noun but a verb.  You need to continually be pouring into each other.

“Be sure you are doing things to spend time together, have fun and keep investing in your marriage. Don’t fall back into patterns of neglecting your marriage.”

If you thought you were “done” working on your marriage, this is not the finish line; it’s the beginning of the rest of your journey together implementing what you learned in these posts.  Galatians 6:9 (NLT) encourages us…

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.  At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

And let 2 Timothy 4:7 (ESV) spur you on!

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

2.  Work on you.

If you recall I read this quote the first night that we were together as a preview that I will repeat once again…

“Remember that you are the only person you can change in your marriage. Developing your personal relationship with Christ through prayer, study of Scripture and asking him to continue to change you is the best single thing you can do for your marriage.”

We all want better marriages, so to achieve that result, its paramount work on whatever struggles and issues that we’re going through personally. I love what James 4:7-8 (NLT) says,

“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” 

Everything always comes back to humility, and when we draw close to God, we will become more like Him which ultimately will improve our marriage!

Remember the triangle imagery that I shared in the ★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness ★ that was from Ecclesiastes 4:12 that your marriage is a team of three – there You, Your Spouse and God.

ReEngage - Lesson 05 - Ecc 4-12

3.  Become Known.    

In the reading they said,

“Couples that isolate often struggle in the marriage. If you’re not a member of the church, join a place that will faithfully teach scripture and call you to live out your faith. And don’t just simply show up. Join a life group where you can be honest, known, challenged and encouraged in your faith.”

Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) says,

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

I once heard a sermon that James MacDonald put it this way…Satan has 3 strategies:

“Disguise, Divide and Destroy.  He comes to us as an angel of light.  He gets us isolated by ourselves, and then he takes us down.”

Isolating yourself from other people it’s a very dangerous thing!  And that is why being part of a church and life group is so important.

4.  Share your story.

“You can never force someone toward oneness with their spouse, but you can definitely nudge them.  Humbly sharing what you learned – as well as your failures – is a great help to others and often your marriage.”

10 - Daily Dependence - Qualify the CalledHere is one of my favorite quotes if you’re feeling like you don’t know the material well enough or insecure about sharing with other people…

“God doesn’t call the QUALIFIED, He qualifies the CALLED!” 

All you really need to do is share your story, what has God done for you and your spouse.  Okay let’s look at the final 2 Next Steps…

5.  Address your home life.

“Money and parenting are two of the biggest argument-starters for couples. If financial issues or disagreements aren’t addressed, this area will act as a wedge between you and your spouse. Don’t ignore debt, differences about spending or lack of giving. In the same way, not being on the same page about your children is incredibly frustrating, but being unified in the way you raise, discipline and disciple your kids can be a big win for your marriage.”

6.  Serve Others.

“Serving is a great way to get the focus off of yourself, and serving with your spouse is a great way to promote oneness in your marriage.” 

“Your marriage and the way you love your spouse is about so much more than your happiness. The way you love your spouse should be a way that people will know you are a Christian and a way that helps them understand God’s love better.”

Jesus gave to his disciples, in John 13:34–35…

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I like what they said in the book…

“We live in a culture where many come into marriage to get something and leave as soon as they don’t get it.  Christians have an opportunity to be known for the profoundly different way they love each other.  Imagine what could happen if you begin began to love your spouse the way Christ loves you.  Imagine what could happen if everyone in your church and churches around the world did the same!”

Don’t stop trying to improve yourself and your marriage, the pursuit is worth it!

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here…

https://dailydependence.wordpress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

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★ Re|Engage – Completion ★

ReEngage - Lesson 15Well we are in the final stretch!  The last two lessons are on Completion and Diligence.  Throughout the series of posts we have been talking about the importance of applying everything we are learning.  My daughter has this quote on the lock screen of her iPad and I thought about what a profound statement it is…

“God’s Word is like a can of paint…it’s value is in its application.”  Steven Furtick

It reminds me of James 1:22-25:

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

If you don’t apply the knowledge that you hear than you will never grow and your marriage will become stagnant.  Nothing changes if nothing changes!

The reading focused on this Principle:  Embrace Oneness.

The main idea of Lesson 15 was:

“Part of God’s design in marriage is to use your spouse to conform you into His image. You need to allow your spouse to partner with you in spiritual growth.”

Have you ever thought of marriage from that perspective?  That your spouse is there to help you become more like God?  I love how lesson 15 started off with this quote,

“Reformer Martin Luther once said that he learned more about what it means to be a follower of Christ in a marriage then he did in a monastery. In a monastery, one can isolate. But in marriage, there is no place to hide.”

Amen??  “There is no place to hide.”  Sooner or later the ugly sides of us are going to come out.  But as they said in the reading…

“Your spouse is to complete you in a way that no one else can and encourage your spiritual growth through their unique role in your life.”

“Previous lessons have pointed out that the goal of marriage is oneness, discussing both physical and emotional intimacy. Oneness is also to include spiritual intimacy, and one of the primary ways to promote spiritual oneness is to partner with your spouse in their spiritual growth.”

They asked this question in the reading, How do you help your spouse become more like Christ?  When I first read that question, it took me by surprise because I don’t know if I ever really thought about helping my spouse become more like Christ consciously. But I like what, 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (ESV) says…

“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”

“This passage is talking about how to help four different groups of people, but both you and your spouse often will need the same four things.”

Admonish the Idle.

“There are times when the most loving thing you can do is to help your spouse see their own sin.

Another way to say it is to help them see the blind spots that they have…Those areas that they are not realizing they have a problem…could be working too much, drinking too much or not making your marriage a priority.  This me seem like “Circle infringement,” but keep in mind the council that they offered in the book,

“Admonishing always needs to be done in love and humility.”

I know that we have really emphasized the need for you to “draw the circle around yourself and work on everyone inside,” but this is the point in your journey that you and your spouse start to have overlapping circles…And if you allow the overlap, then God can really use them to help mold you into the person that He intended you to be.

Encourage the Fainthearted.

There will be times when they are fully aware of their shortcomings and are trying to work on issues. Praise your spouse for their efforts, regardless of how small they may seem to you.  Praise them for successes!  Try to overlook the small offenses.

“Pointing out small ways they are changing and growing is motivating and is a great way to help your spouse become who God intended them to be.”

Help the Weak.

“Sometimes your spouse will need more than truth and encouragement; they will also need your tangible expression of support.”

Be Patient with Them All.

“Change in people generally occurs over time. If you are being honest with your spouse, encouraging and helping them along the way, then continue to do so as you pray and wait to let God bring about the change.”

Did you catch that last part?  “Then continue to do so as you pray and wait to let God bring about the change.”  We MUST pray for our spouse and be patient as God moves in their hearts.  Patience one of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) that can be really challenging sometimes but I think it is one that if we master it, we will reap the rewards in our marriages!

“Helping someone grow will always be difficult, but there is no greater joy than having a front-row seat to life-change.”

This is so true!!  It may be difficult but oh so rewarding!  One of my favorite quotes was,

“Authors Gary and Betsy Ricucci said, ‘One of the best wedding gifts God gave you was a full-length mirror called your spouse. Had there been a card attached, it would have said, here’s to helping you discover what you’re really like!”

I never thought of my spouse that way before this class, but that description is dead on!

“The 24/7 spotlight that marriage puts on your life will fully expose who you really are.  You can pretend at work and with your friends, but your quirks, sin patterns and selfishness will become fully exposed to your spouse overtime.”

We heard this quote in Lesson 8 but it is worth repeating… Author Gary Thomas asked this interesting question that I will pose to you…“What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”What do you think of that?

“The challenge is to see marriage primarily as a way to become more like Christ by helping you to become a serving, forgiving and more patient person.”

You could look at it this way, Marriage is the vehicle to humbleness.

If you would like to read the next installment to the re|engage class, click here…★ Re|Engage – Diligence ★

Or if you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here . . .

https://dailydependence.wordpress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

 

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★ Thought for the Day – But God… ★

Last year I posted this ★ Thought for the Day – What is the X-Factor of Leadership? ★, which examined how the X-Factor of Leadership is humble service to others through the example that Jesus gave to His 12 disciples.  On the eve of Jesus’ brutal death on the cross, He celebrated one last Passover meal together with His disciples, the people closest to Him.  Referred oftentimes as “The Last Super,” Jesus gave us a powerful demonstration and pattern to follow of what servant leadership is all about when He, the Son of God took on the role of a slave/servant and took hold of a jar of water and basin and washed His disciples’ feet.  One by one, foot by foot, Jesus humbled Himself and cleaned the day’s grime from their sandal-wearing feet…POWERFUL!  If you missed it, I encourage you to check it out because it will give you some needed background to this post.

Yesterday was “Good Friday,” which for Jesus was anything but that.  For us though, it changed everything!  By dying on the cross, Jesus stole the power of death and provided a pathway for you and me to overcome the Devil and have eternal life!!  But before we celebrate Easter and Jesus’ Resurrection, I thought we could look at the events leading up to Sunday.  Last week, my Pastor gave a great overview of Holy Week which I was very familiar with having grown up Catholic.  His sermon encouraged me to spend some time just reading and meditating on the events of this week through the Gospel of Luke.  If you are interested in reading what happened, they are recorded in Luke 19:28 – 24:12.  For those not familiar, Holy Week is the time period from Palm Sunday when Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem to Resurrection Sunday (aka Easter).  As I studied the story of Easter in Luke, I discovered some interesting things.  On Palm Sunday Jesus was heralded as a King riding in on the back of a Donkey and though we all know what happens just 5 days later on Friday, I was amazed about how Jesus made the most of every opportunity.  In Luke 21:37-38 it says that:

“Every day Jesus went to the Temple to teach, and each evening He returned to spend the night on the Mount of Olives.  The crowds gathered at the Temple early each morning to hear Him.” 

Even though He knew what awaited Him, Jesus spent each day teaching the very people who later would call for His crucifixion!  Michelle Myers made this astute observation:

“The crowd shouted “Hosanna” on Sunday…and shouted “Crucify Him!” on Friday.

Good Friday was a horrible day but I think that Saturday was probably the saddest day because all the hopes and expectations that Jesus’ followers had were crushed, and crucified on that cross along with Him.  Today’s “Thought,” is all about the transition period between the death of expectations and the resurrection of the dead.  And how, if you find yourself in that circumstance today, whether you are a believer in Jesus or not, there is hope in these two powerful words…BUT GOD!

95 - Daily Dependence - But God

Before that though, I would like to give a little context.  Luke 22:1-6 offers the background…As the Festival of Unleavened Bread (also called the Passover) was approaching, the leading priests were looking for a way to kill Jesus.  In verses 3-5 it says:

“Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples, and he went to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them.  They were delighted, and they promised to give him money.”

One man from among the inner circle accepted a bribe to betray His master.  As Judas waited for his opportunity, Jesus continued to show love to him even to the point of washing his feet!!  And the amazing thing, Jesus knew as he was washing Judas’ feet, see Luke 22:21-22 and John 13:18-30 which recalls when Jesus made the announcement that one of them would betray Him!  In the late 15th-century, Leonardo da Vinci captured that moment in his famous painting called “The Last Supper” 95 - Daily Dependence - Leonardo da Vinci - The Last Supperas each disciple, including Judas asked Jesus if it was them.  Shortly after, Judas left to put his plan in action.  Unaffected by his departure, Jesus warned Peter and the other disciples that Satan was going to “sift each of them like wheat” and that the spiritual warfare was going to be intense.  He also prepared them for what their life was going to be like after He was gone, see Luke 22:31-38What love!  Just hours before He would be viciously tortured and nailed to a Roman Cross, 95 - Daily Dependence - Crown and NailsJesus cared so much for these men that He would wash their feet, celebrate with them and offer counsel for the future!  After the Passover meal, Jesus did what He had been doing all week, and went with His disciples to the Mount of Olives to pray for strength for what Friday was going to bring.  In Luke 22:47-48 it recalls how Jesus was betrayed and arrested.  As He pleaded for His disciples to pray that they will not fall into temptation, the passage says:

But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss.  But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 

When I read these words, God spoke so clearly into my spirit that “WE ARE ALL JUDAS!” 

WE ALL HAVE betrayed Jesus in our disobedience and choices that we have made.

WE ALL HAVE sinned and fallen short of what God desires for our life and…

WE ALL HAVE NO POWER to overcome sin without Jesus.

BUT GOD can change us if we will open our hearts!  Look at this amazing truth from Ephesians 2:1-9!

95 - Daily Dependence - But God - Ephesians 2 - 1-9

BUT GOD!  Two little words but when they are combined the impossible is possible!  When we say yes to Jesus, “we are made alive with Christ,” it’s like hitting the “reset button.”  95 - Daily Dependence - Nintendo Game System - ResetThe “reset button” is probably one of the greatest inventions on video game systems.  Do you remember what game system this is from?  Long before Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, or Sony PlayStation there was the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).  For those who remember this, you are old like me.  Hahaha!  This classic 80’s game system 95 - Daily Dependence - Nintendo Game System 2was a major pastime of my childhood.  Hours upon hours were spent playing games like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, Donkey Kong Jr. and The Legend of Zelda to name a few.  The reset button was a constant go to when I was “knocked out” by Tyson or killed by a barrel or failed to rescue Princess Zelda, I would immediately jump up and hit the button which was like a do-over or clean slate.  95 - Daily Dependence - Martin Parker Street Art - Reset Your LifeI saw this sign creation from street artist Martin Parker that so perfectly illustrates what the purpose of the Cross and the reality of Easter!  We all get the opportunity to “reset our life” when we recognize that we are in need of a savior and surrender our will to God.  When we come to the end of ourselves and see that we cannot be “good enough” or “do enough” to earn our way to heaven.  When we see the cross for what it truly is, the ransom payment for our past, present and future mistakes!  God wants a relationship with you and me and so He provided a way though the death and resurrection of His Son.  In the post ★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★, we looked at the life of Jonah and saw an example of how God will move heaven and earth in order to pursue you and me!  God did the same thing when He sent Jesus to Earth.  1 John 4:9 (NLT) says:

“God showed how much he loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him.”  

As I have been studying the book of Jonah recently, it is amazing the jewels that are contained in this well-known story.  Jonah and the Fish is not just a children’s story made up to teach a life lesson about the price of disobedience but was a true story.  Jesus validated Jonah’s miraculous experience in Matthew 12:40 (NLT), Jesus said:

“For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.”

Yesterday was the remembrance of how Jesus was crucified over 2,000+ years ago and the payment for the sins of the world.  He died on Friday BUT GOD raised Him from the dead 3 days later!  Today as we wait for Resurrection Sunday, I want to put these two powerful words on the sticky side of your brain…“BUT GOD!”  You may feel like things will never change…that your circumstance is hopeless…that things are hopeless.  But that is simply not true!  I am living proof that nothing is impossible for God.  All you need to do is open your heart!  Hebrews 2:14-15 (NLT) is an amazing verse to show that when you accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, you can be alive and free!!

“Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood.

For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.

Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.”

Jesus came to set you and I free, will you accept Him?  Revelation 1:18 (NKJV) says,

“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.  And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”

Jesus left the majesty of heaven and became flesh and blood to deliver a message of hope to a world desperately in need of a Savior.  He is ready to extend grace and mercy to you today.  So what should our response be?  Will you surrender your life to Him?  If you are ready to make a decision that will change your life, here is a simple prayer you can pray:

God take this broken, sinful person and forgive my sins.  I want a relationship with you I am in need of a Savior.  I believe that Jesus came to die on the cross for my sins and that He is the bridge that brings me to eternal life with you forever.  Please forgive all my sins.  I accept the free gift of eternal life and know that I can never do enough good deeds to earn that salvation.  In Jesus Name I pray!  Amen!

If you prayed that in earnest, welcome to the Kingdom of God!  I encourage you to find a bible teaching church and pursue your new relationship with Jesus!  If you want to read more about developing your faith, check out our segment on the blog called “Back to the Basics”

Now for the believer who may be struggling today or perhaps your walk with God has been in a lull…I want to challenge you to make a change today!  Worship Pastor Wade Joye made this statement that resonated in me!

“Easter is not an event we celebrate; it’s a reality we live in.”   

Just like Christmas, Easter should not be a “one and done” event.  It should be part of our DNA.  Don’t be a “Chreaster”… (a person who calls themselves a Christian but only attends church on Christmas and Easter.)  If you want to have a vibrant faith, then you need to put in the work.  We are doing a series right now about three worthy pursuits of God that will change the trajectory of our life with God.  Through Prayer, Reading God’s Word (the Bible) and Worship (both in song and church attendance) we can live a victorious life!  Paul instructs us in Romans 8:11 (NIV)

“And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.”

As a believer in Jesus Christ, the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead is in you!  If you are in need of refreshment of your Spirit today, ask and you will receive that!  Jesus is the Resurrected King who is ready to resurrect you and me.  If you want to grow you need to make steps to do things differently.  Nothing changes if nothing changes!

In anticipation of Easter tomorrow, I will close with this…“He is Risen!”

I pray that this year, you will experience Christ in a new way!  Happy Easter!

 

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★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #1 – Opening the Pipeline ★

In our last post ★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★ we dug into the life of Jonah and saw through his life how God will go to great lengths to re-direct us from our disobedience.  We also introduced that we would be doing a 3 part series of how if we would respond to God’s “Never-Ending Pursuit” of us that would result in a victorious life for us.  As a refresher the trilogy of posts will delve into these 3 Pursuits…Prayer – Word – Worship.

94 - Daily Dependence - Prayer Word Worship BannerSimple enough right?  But I know myself; in the busyness of life establishing (and maintaining) a consistent “quiet time” can be a challenge.  Not familiar with that term?  You can check out this post called ★ Back to the Basics – Silencing the Noise ★ that goes in-depth about it but in a nut shell, it is simply being intentional about having a conversation with God through prayer, reading the Bible (Word) and for me I enjoy having worship music on.  This could be at night or in the early morning, or any time in between that does not really matter, what matters is spending time with God.  The pursuit of our Father in Heaven is all He desires!  God wants a relationship with us.

94 - Daily Dependence - Prayer EmojiSo in our inaugural post of this series let’s talk about “opening the pipeline” aka – Prayer.  In 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT) we get a very clear picture of what God is desiring:

94 - Daily Dependence - 2 Chronicles 7-14 - If My People Would Pray“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

“If my people” would “humble themselves and pray and seek” Him and turn away from sinning, God will hear us and forgive us!  Wow!  This is not an obligatory prayer before your meal, or a lukewarm petition.  God’s desire is for us to truly want to pray, to be passionate in our time with Him.  And it is not intended to be a monologue…that you tell Him all that you need and then say Amen…It should be a dialogue where you listen for a response which could be an impression you feel or something that you comes to mind.  And this is something that is developed over time.

Before I accepted Jesus as my savior and pursued a relationship with God I know I prayed many milquetoast and meaningless prayers where I bargained with Him like God let me pass this test and I’ll go to church this week, or God get me through this hangover and I will never drink again.  The problem with these prayers is that they were not sincere and were just attempts to bribe God to get me out of trouble.  Too often we pray when things are terrible for God to help us out but once that is done God gets nothing…no thanks, no gratitude even if He did everything we prayed.

There is a song by the late great country singer Johnny Cash called a “Boy named Sue.”  He tells the story about how his father named him Sue and that he spent his life fighting everyone as a result of it.  The song most certainly is fictitious but in the Bible there is a man who was the equivalent to Sue.  His name was Jabez.  In 1 Chronicles 4:9 it says that:

“His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’”

The name his mother gave Jabez literally means…“he causes or will cause great pain.”  Now that may not seem like a big deal, but in Old Testament times, a person’s name was an indication of his future.  And a name like Jabez was like a curse that would predestine a person to a life of ridicule and grief just like the “boy named Sue.”  However, Jabez rose above the curse with a very simple prayer.

In 1 Chronicles 4:10 Jabez cried out to God saying:

“Oh, that You would bless me indeed,
And enlarge my territory,
That your hand would be with me,
And that you would keep me from evil,
That I may not cause pain!
So, God granted what he requested.”

Jabez was a man who knew the power of prayer and is a great example of how to open the pipeline to God.  First and foremost we can learn that just like Jabez, we need to believe with all our heart that God will honor our prayer.  Now Jabez’s prayer may seem to be common sense but how many of you have ever prayed so boldly?  Most people feel that they should be grateful for whatever they have and it’s better not to press your luck by asking for more since there is so much suffering in the world.  That is completely opposite from the truth.  If you look at the first part of his prayer:

94 - Daily Dependence - 1 - Oh, that you would bless me indeed

Jabez is asking God to provide him with resources.  Now don’t misunderstand me, that does not mean that you can ask God for a Rolls Royce or a mansion in Beverly Hills.  As we discussed in the post ★ Thought for the Day – Where Does Money Come From? ★, “God is not a vending machine!  Too many pastors and churches have sown into the “prosperity gospel” where you “give to get,” or in this case that you are praying for God to give you with lots of stuff!   That is not what blessing means.  The kind of blessing Jabez is talking about in a biblical sense is to ask God for “supernatural favor.”  It is asking God to bless us not with more of what we can do for ourselves, but for Him to do the miraculous through us to glorify the kingdom of God.  What a different perspective then the conventional though of our culture.  God has so many blessings for us and is just waiting for us to ask for them.  In Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV1984) it says:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Jabez asked and he received.  The prayer of Jabez is a special prayer asking for God’s blessings.  But something you have to realize is that God’s blessings are not always the blessings that we think that they ought to be.  The blessings that He will bestow upon us are so much more abundant than we could even imagine.  When Jabez asked God to “bless him indeed” he didn’t say “God I could use a new car, or a million dollars”; rather he left it up to God to decide how, when and where to bless him.  He prayed that God would give him nothing more and nothing less than what God had planned for his life.  The blessing can come in many different forms and for reasons that you would never expect.  In the second part of Jabez’s Prayer he asked for God to:

94 - Daily Dependence - 2 - Enlarge my territory

Now when I first read that I immediately thought of real estate.  That Jabez wanted more land but what he was really asking for was more influence, more responsibility and more opportunity to make a difference for God in his life.  Asking your territory to be enlarged is a very dangerous request though.  You are saying to God give me a greater sphere of influence and more opportunities to impact people for Christ.  It is being totally open for God to use you as a tool for His purpose.  That means stepping out of your comfortable schedules and routines and being ready at any moment to fulfill God’s master plan.  It means seeing “interruptions” as “opportunities!”  This was true for me on Thursday on my flight home from a business trip in Indiana.  My plan was to plug-in my ear buds to relax with some music and write this post!  But as a man sat down next to me and proceeded to talk with me, God opened an incredible door to speak life into his situation.  Though I was exhausted from 2 days of meetings, and had other plans for the 2 hour flight, I was thrilled to be able to partner with God to share the truth from His Word to help encourage him.  It truly was the highlight of my day!

When you ask for your territory to be enlarged, it is an awesome responsibility but the rewards are immeasurable.  More than any other part of the prayer of Jabez, this concept of “enlarging my territory” has to be the most bizarre and unexpected request.  How many people do you know go up to their boss and say “would you give me more work and responsibility?”  Most people feel that whatever they are currently doing is enough and that they do not have the skills to handle anything more.

Through the Holy Spirit, He will speak the words of encouragement or healing or compassion that the person needs to hear.  That is what happened to me on Thursday!  The man in seat 16A asked me if I was a pastor but I am not, I’m an architect, and he kept saying “how is it that you know all of this?”  The answer unequivocally is God!  That is the point of this part of Jabez’s prayer, by asking for “the expansion” you are taking a huge leap of faith and trusting that when you are reaching out to people who God will give the words to speak when you are open to be used, He will break all the boundaries and restraints holding you back.  The third part of Jabez’s prayer:

94 - Daily Dependence - 3 - That your hand would be with meIs the equivalent of the Star Wars catch-phrase…“May the Force Be With You.”  Jabez realized that once God started to bless him with resources and expanded his territory that he was going to need help.  It is all too common for people to ask for more responsibility and once it has been given they feel overwhelmed and begin to doubt themselves.  It is at this point that we need the hand of God to carry us and work the impossible through us.  In his book “The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life,” Bruce Wilkinson said that:

“The Hand of God is a biblical term for God’s power and presence in the lives of His people…As God’s chosen, we are expected to attempt something large enough that failure is guaranteed…unless God Steps in.”

I shared some of this in the ★ Why I Do What I do ★ section of the blog, starting this blog was a huge step of faith because of the commitment level.  It takes much more effort than just throwing up a status update.  But God certainly expanded my territory through this blog and without a doubt has had his hand on my preventing epic failure.  He has equipped me with a boldness to share things from my heart and do things that I never imagined possible.  It has been an amazing experience!  The fourth part of the Prayer of Jabez states:

94 - Daily Dependence - 4 - And that you would keep me from evilThis is critical to pray.  As God blesses us, and our territory is expanded and the supernatural power is surging through us, we are most vulnerable to stumble and fail.  When you are enjoying spiritual victories and seeing God’s unbelievable plan unfolding it is easy to feel invincible and impervious to the attacks of the devil.  But, Jabez knew that once you start treading on the devil’s territory, a giant target would be placed on you.  You become public enemy #1 in his eyes.  I can attest to that fact.  With the devil’s attention focused on you like this, it’s best if you don’t try to play with temptation.  Don’t fall into the devil’s trap by testing your strength to resist from sinning because that is the quickest way to fail.  Bruce Wilkinson made this point in the book that:

“It is better to stay out of the arena than to challenge the lion.”

What is the best offense?  A good defense!  And that of course as you can already guess, is prayer!  In the book of Matthew, Jesus told the apostles how to pray, “The Model Prayer” found in Matthew 6:9-13 is often referred to as the “Lord’s Prayer,” or as I knew it growing up, “The Our Father.”  The final verse shows how important to pray to God for deliverance:

“And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.”  Matthew 6:13

In regard to temptation it is best not to press your luck.  If there is no temptation we will not sin; so stay clear of situations that will lead you to sin or cause harm to you or someone else.

There is such a tremendous power in prayer.  When Jesus was on the earth He was always praying to the Father.  In fact the only thing that the apostles ever asked Jesus to teach them was how to pray.  Jesus’ ministry was not just about healing and preaching but about praying.  He lived a life of Prayer.  It was through His prayers that God worked all the miracles and wonders.  In the life of Jabez, here was a man who started off badly but ended victorious from a simple prayer.  And let’s not miss the final part of that prayer…

94 - Daily Dependence - 5 - That I may not cause painI love the self-realization of Jabez, to know that he is fallible and in need of God to protect him from hurting other people.

And God’s response…“So, God granted what he requested.”  I heard a missionary say once:

“That when we work, we work.  But when we pray, God works.

God will work in your life through your prayers.  When you pray, you are opening up a pipeline to the creator of heaven and earth and the possibilities are endless!!  Your pray doesn’t have to be a formal, rehearsed prayer but rather God desires it to be one from the heart.  You don’t have to have your eyes closed or be in church.  Sometimes the most powerful prayers can be in the car as you’re driving to work or school.  Regardless of what you are doing, or who you are with, God will honor your prayers and welcome the fellowship time between you and Him.  Talk to God like a friend and open your heart to Him.  The miraculous can be done with a prayer!

If you are interested, you can check out the second installment called

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are a You Feeding On? ★

that covers the Pursuit of Feeding on God’s Word!

or

If you the introductory post, you can go here:

★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★

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★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★

93 - Daily Dependence - Super TuesdayIt is hard to believe that it has already been four nights since Super Tuesday…and once again I was astonished at the results.  I will not name names, but one candidate “trumped” the others, and one was “feeling the burn” of defeat from their rival.  Before you get too nervous, this is not going to be all about politics because I think we all have had our fill over the past nine months as each presidential hopeful has made their case why they are the answer to America’s problems.  I don’t consider myself extremely political, but I do value my freedom to vote and have done my part to cast my vote this past Tuesday…And highly encourage you to be a part of the process (if you are not already) in November because if you live in the United States, you are blessed to be able to have you voice heard!  I am amazed at how hard these men and women 93 - Daily Dependence - Super Tuesday Canidateshave worked to achieve the honor to live in that big white house on Pennsylvania Avenue…enduring the time away from family, endless speeches and handshakes at town hall meetings, the character attacks and the incessant criticism from anyone and everyone with a microphone or computer.  I don’t think that I could handle that kind of life, but the never-ending pursuit for power and prestige is somehow worth the pain and public scrutiny that they will endure not only after November 8, 2016 passes and the job has been won; but for the next 4 to 8 years as every action they do, or don’t do is dissected under a microscope.

Today we will dig into this idea of the “Never-Ending Pursuit,” but unlike Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton, we will unpack what really matters in this life and what should consume our time through the life of a well-known Old Testament prophet named Jonah.  You may think to yourself, Jonah?  Isn’t that a children’s story?  Yes…while it is without a doubt a common Sunday school story, the life of Jonah has many life lessons to learn from.  My wife and I have been reading the story in our quiet time and were astonished by the lengths that God went to in order to not only redirect His prophet, but also a to save a morally bankrupt people but wait, I am getting ahead of the story.  Let’s pump the brakes and start from the beginning…

93 - Daily Dependence - Cliff Notes on JonahAs a messenger of God, Jonah delivered the Word of the LORD to the Israelites during the reign of King Jeroboam II “who did evil in the sight of the LORD” and lead the northern Kingdom to commit great acts of evil.  (See 2 Kings 14:23-25 for more on him…)  Jonah was God’s man, a light to His chosen people.  In Jonah 1:1-3 it says:

Jonah Runs from the Lord

“The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh.  Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”

But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish.  He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.”

Nineveh was an Assyrian city that was renowned for their brutality, but instead of heeding God’s direction, Jonah got onto a ship bound for the city of Tarshish, which you can see by the map was in the complete opposite direction from Nineveh.  93 - Daily Dependence - Map of Tarshish NinevehBut what Jonah did not expect, and what we can learn is that God will never give up on us.  As the story unfolds, God sent a mighty storm in verse 4 which threatened the ship and the lives of sailors.  The sailors went down below and woke up Jonah and casted lots to see who was the cause for this sudden tempest on the sea that was about to destroy them.  After discovering that Jonah was the reason because he was running away from God, they asked him what they should do…His response in verse 12 has always surprised me…

“Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again.  I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.”   

I don’t know if I would have the courage to say that but it shows what a connection Jonah had with God to know that He would calm the waters if Jonah would surrender.  Surprisingly, the sailors tried to fight against the waves but to no avail.  In the end, Verses 15-16 tells us…

“Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once!  The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered Him a sacrifice and vowed to serve Him.”

Could you imagine what that scene must have been like?  To see a raging squall become still in an instant.  I love the next verse, “The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered Him a sacrifice and vowed to serve Him.”  Isn’t God amazing?  The storm that was intended to re-direct Jonah back to the mission he was given, in the end touched the lives of these sailors who in return vowed to serve God!  Verse 17 however is what we all remember, and is probably one of the greatest cliffhangers in the bible to end a chapter!

 “Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.”

Three days and three nights in the belly of a fish!  What must have that been like?   Complete darkness, extreme cold and probably rancid odors.  But worse than being swallowed whole by some monstrous fish, I believe is surviving the trauma knowing that you are there because of your own disobedience!  Chapter 2 recounts the amazing prayer that Jonah pours out his heart to God.  Within those 9 verses, he recognizes his mistake and repents of his disobedience.  And…in another phenomenal ending to a chapter, verse 10 gives us God’s response from Jonah’s prayer:

“Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.”

The New American Standard Bible translation gives a little more description…

 “Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto dry land.”

Jonah repented and God instantly released him to return to the mission he was called to do initially.  We will not go through the rest of the story but I encourage you to go read the whole story of Jonah by clicking here…(it’s only 47 verses so no excuses…hahaha!)  There are two things that we need to put on the sticky side of our brains…First and foremost93 - Daily Dependence - God is the God of Second ChancesGod is the God of Second Chances!  Nineveh was a wicked city, worthy of destruction…but God sent Jonah to preach to them about their coming destruction instead of just wiping them from the earth.  As a result of Jonah’s preaching, the Ninevites fasted and repented and God spared the city.  He forgave Jonah in the belly of the great fish…He extended mercy to the Ninevites…And He is ready to extend grace to you and I regardless of whatever we have done in the past…There is nothing that God cannot, or will not forgive!  All God wants is a relationship with you and I.  In Titus 3:3-5 (NLT), the Apostle Paul gives us this powerful truth!!

“Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient.  We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures.  Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.  But — When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.  He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”

The second truth to gleam from the life of Jonah is that God will move heaven and earth in order to pursue you and me!  You see the “Never-Ending Pursuit” has nothing to do with us but rather how God is always coming after us.  There is a song we have been singing on Sunday mornings in Church by John Mark McMillan called “Heart Won’t Stop,” which so beautifully captures God’s pursuit of us…

There is not a man or a beast, nothing on the land or underneath, Oh nothing that could ever come between, the love you have for me

I could lay my head in Sheol, I could make my bed at the bottom of the darkness deep, Oh but there is not a place I could escape you

Your heart won’t stop coming after me, Your heart won’t stop coming after me, Your heart won’t stop coming after me

Nothing will stop God from pursuing us…so what should our response be?  1 Corinthians 9:24 (ESV) says:

93 - Daily Dependence - 1 Corinthians 9-24“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.”

Charles Stanley had this commentary on this verse…

“We must not stop pursuing and obeying God.  We will not accomplish much if we do not embrace the Lord’s purpose for our lives and carry this purpose out with consistency, dedication, and discipline.”

Our purpose in life should be to live a life of dedication and discipline in response to God’s “Never-ending pursuit!”  We should pursue and obey God and attempt to reach as many people as we possibly can for His kingdom!  To run the race or live the life impacting those God has placed in our lives!

Before we did the 25 Days of Thankfulness in December, our longest stretch was a four part series called “Marriage & Money” which if you are interested you can check out the first installment by clicking Here.  In the final post called ★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Bonus ★, we shared about the secret to success, which are three simple actions that have tremendous power…Prayer – Word – Worship.

93 - Daily Dependence - Prayer Word WorshipIn the coming weeks we will have an emphasis on each one of these worthy pursuits that we help us understand that we need to keep Praying, keep reading the Bible and keep Worshiping that will help us to run the race!  I will close with this beautiful promise from Lamentations 3:22-25 (NLT) that God is faithful if we will pursue Him…93 - Daily Dependence - Lamentations 3-23

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in Him!”
The Lord is good to those who depend on Him,
to those who search for Him.

 

 

If you are interested, you can check out the first installment called

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #1 – Opening the Pipeline ★ 

that covers the Pursuit of Prayer!

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – What’s Rubbing Off On You? ★

Yesterday was the 4 year anniversary of my father’s death.  We never had a good relationship until a year and half before his death when we reconnected and I was privileged to partner with God to lead him to accept Jesus as his savior before he passed.  There was a father wound that lasted fo92 - Daily Dependence -Family at the Crossr good chunk of my life as a result which I believe is what motivated me to be the best father that I could be to my two daughters.  If you are just tuning into our blog in the new year, we have delving into the idea of Leaving a Lasting Legacy…how to become the man or woman that will not only have a positive influence on those around us but have an impact on future generations that will be directed towards God as a result of what you are investing in today.  Today I want to piggyback on a “Thought” that we posted last year called ★ Thought for the Day – Who Are You Imitating? ★ which is based on Ephesians 5:1-2 that we should “be imitators of God,” and that we need to be leaders, not followers…to be the one influencing others, not allowing ourselves to be negatively influenced by today’s culture.  1 Corinthians 15:33 says:

            “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad Company corrupts good morals.’”

92 - 1 Corinthians 15-33 - Bad Company Corrupts

This is something that my wife and I have tirelessly tried to pass on to our daughters.  As one is now a freshman in high school and the other in middle school, we see how very, very important this really is; and how critical it is to be praying for our children’s protection.  Every day we pray that they will be a light in this dark world…to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Just like 1 Corinthians 15:33 warns, we need to be very careful about who we associate with.  In a message called They Had Been with Jesus Marty Collier preached on Acts 4:13 (ESV) which says,

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

In the sermon, he made these four observations…

“When we’ve been WITH Jesus…

  1. Others will NOTICE
  2. Our confidence will be in Christ, not CREDENTIALS
  3. We will have BOLDNESS like never before
  4. We will be unable to stop SPEAKING about the power of Jesus”

Peter and John, two men who walked alongside Jesus, who spent day and night with Him, who were uneducated fishermen, spoke with such authority and boldness that “astonished” everyone.  What is amazing is that if you read the previous 12 verses, you will see that the events of verse 13 were preceded with Peter and John being imprisoned for preaching the truth of Jesus Christ and after a night in jail, they were brought in front of all the rulers, elders and scribes with so much boldness that people took notice.  Peter and John are great examples for us that when we stand with Jesus we will have confidence to stand up for what is right.  They did not allow the circumstance of being imprisoned to deter them from their mission.  I love that last part, “they recognized that they [Peter and John] had been with Jesus.”  Charles Spurgeon made this great statement which as follower of Jesus we should consider our rally cry… 

92 - Daily Dependence - Charles Spurgeon - Recognize That You Have Been With Jesus“Live in such a way that men may recognize that you have been with Jesus.”  

This got me thinking…What characteristics do we need to embody in order that people would “recognize that you had been with Jesus?”  The answer can be found in Colossians 3:12-13 (NKJV) which outlines the “Character of the New Man”…and I believe you could extend that to cover women as well…

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

We started off with this question…what’s rubbing off on you?  Well here are some Characteristics of Jesus that I believe we need to have rubbed off on us if we want to be men and women who will be world changers for the Kingdom of God!

  • Holy (see 2 Corinthians 5:21)
    • The New Living Translation says “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
  • Humble (see Matthew 11:29 and Matthew 20:26-28)
    • The New Living Translation of Matthew 11:29 says “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
    • The New Living Translation of Matthew 20:26-28 says “But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
  • Meek (See Matthew 5:5)
    • The New International Version says “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Why do you think this is?
    • “In biblical usage, meekness is that attitude of mind that is opposed to harshness and contentiousness, and that shows itself in gentleness and tenderness in dealing with others.” Rick Reinckens
    • I love how Grady Scott described Meekness:
      • “Many associate meekness with an attitude of allowing everyone to run over you because you are afraid of them. This is not meekness. In fact, some of the strongest men who have ever lived have been meek.  A good working definition of biblical meekness is Strength under control.  Jesus could stand up to the winds and the waves. He also chased the moneychangers out of the temple twice with a whip made out of chords.”
  • Compassionate (see Mark 6:34)
    • Throughout the gospels it says that Jesus “had compassion on them,” or “was moved with compassion for them” regardless of whether he was tired or not, Jesus made time for those in need.
    • “Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”
    • But if we back up just 3 verses, it says “Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”  He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.” (Mark 31:34)
    • To put this in context in Verse 41 of Mark chapter 6, Jesus feeds Five Thousand Men.
  • Loving (see John 15:13)
    • The New Living Translation says “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
  • Forgiving (See Luke 23:34)
    • The New Living Translation says Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.”
    • Regarding the “Character of the New Man”, the New King James Version (NKJV) says “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

Now that you have sped through this familiar list of characteristics, go back and look at them again, but first pray for God to show you in what ways you are excelling and what areas you need to work on more.  I will close with this great encouragement from Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible:

“God has chosen the specific era, location, and giftedness with which you would exist for the purpose of serving Him.  You are not a mistake – your strengths, weaknesses, and situation in life are part of His plan to be glorified through you.  Your ministry does not start sometime in the future when your circumstances change. It begins the moment you believe in Christ.  Serve Him obediently with this in view.”

What’s rubbing off on you?  What area do you need to work on?  God can use you wherever you are at, you are not a mistake.  He loves you so much that he gave His Son for you and I to be reconnected with Him…The choice is yours!

92 - Daily Dependence - John Wooden - Choices

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★ Re|Engage – Sexual Intimacy ★

ReEngage - Lesson 14

As a result of the recent “25 Days of Thankfulness” series we took a break from the sharing about the Re|Engage class that we attended.  We will remedy this now and finish the remaining 3 classes within the next month.  If you would like to catch up on the previous posts.  Continuing with the Principle to Grow in Intimacy, Lesson 14 builds on delves into the topic of Sexual Intimacy.

The main idea is:

“Sex is God’s gift in marriage to experience a unique physical expression of oneness and intimacy.

The book started off with this clarification of what to expect…

“The goal of this lesson is to help move you toward a biblical understanding of sex.”

ReEngage - Lesson 14. - Sex is Powerful Part of MarriageAs we have talked in past posts, Satan is always looking for an opportunity to drive a wedge between us so we really need to have the uncomfortable conversations so that we can eliminate the foothold he can have in our marriages.

“In marriage, people generally make one or two mistakes in regards to sexual intimacy: either they make too little of it, or they make too much of it.  Rather than seeing it as a good gift from God to be enjoyed, they can minimize it or obsess about it.”

In the book they asked whether you minimize or maximize the importance of sex?  They made these two points in regards to these two different mistakes:

“Sometimes you can minimize sex in marriage because of guilt and shame from the past, your upbringing, pain during intercourse or past abuse.  Often someone with this can selfishly use sex as a bargaining chip to manipulate their spouse and exert control in the relationship.”

“If you overemphasize sex, you often become manipulative to get what you want and angry when you don’t get what you want. Sex is a very important aspect of marriage, but God did not intend for it to be the important.”

In the book they listed the Proper Views of Sex:

  • Sex is good.
    • “The act of sex itself is good.” In Genesis 1:28, God instructs men and woman to have sex…”Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…”
    • “In a fallen world, we forget that when God created sex, He created it to be a good thing. Some of us think of it as dirty because of things we’ve done or things that have happened to us.”
  • Your body is good.
    • “You must believe that the physical body you bring into sex is good. Genesis 1:37 and 30 teach that men and women were created in God’s image and God sees their body as good.”
    • “Our bodies are not something we’ve been cursed with or have to manage, but are a gift from God.”
  • Sex is a gift to be enjoyed. It is a gift.
    • “Sex was not given as for procreation alone. It was also given as a gift to be thoroughly enjoyed by both husband and wife (Song of Songs 5:1b).”
  • Sex is an opportunity to glorify God.
    • “1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” You might not have thought about it before, but “whatever you do” even includes the way a husband and wife have sex.”

Here is the great dichotomy:

“It’s difficult to not minimize or overemphasize the role of sex in marriage. To make matters even more complex, if you tend to minimize sex, you probably are married to someone who overemphasizes sex, and vice versa. Seeing sex as a good gift from God to be enjoyed and a chance to glorify God is the starting place for growth in intimacy that God designed married couples to experience.”

Lesson 14 discussed “What is Permissible” with Sex:

  • Cannot involve others (See Matthew 5:28)
  • Cannot be selfish (See 1 Corinthians 13:5 and Philippians 2:3-4)
  • Cannot violate your spouse’s conscience (See Romans 14:15)

“Remember the goal of sex is physical and emotional openness.  It is definitely fun to be creative and try new things in the bedroom, as long as you remember the goal of sex in marriage is oneness.”

ReEngage - Lesson 14 - All Marriage is Foreplay

Here is some additional information from Watermark Church that was:

A Special Note to Women: 

1.  Make sure you have a biblical view of sex. (Song of Songs 5:1)

  • Sex is not dirty but is a good gift to be enjoyed.
  • Sex is both a celebration of a great marriage and a means to oneness in your marriage.
  • The world focuses on sex but we can tend to downplay it. It is just as important as communication, emotional intimacy, having fun together, etc.

2.  Pursue a correct image of your body. (Psalm 139:14)

  • Believe and trust that God made us and we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Meditate on Psalm 139:14 to change the way you view intimacy.

3.  Pursue your husband.

  • Initiate and be creative with your spouse to honor him. Not waiting until you’re exhausted late at night, but making an effort and initiating.
  • Know that his frustration sexually feels the same as your frustration about emotional and communication issues.

4.  You are his protection.

  • Men are visually stimulated and so there is a struggle with lust; our role is to help them and be available.
  • He is still responsible, but you are his protection as his only sexual outlet. Sex is not a bargaining chip.

5.  Ask your husband about his desires and preferences.

  • Be willing and open to try different things that don’t violate your conscience. Meditate on the verses that say sex is good.


A Special Note to Men:

1.  Become a great and godly husband. (Ephesians 5:25)

  • God wired her to respond to you. If she is not, there is a good shot it is you not loving, accepting, or serving her.
  • If you love her well, that’s the best way to pique her interest in sex.

2.  Pursue purity. (Job 31:1)

  • Do not look at porn or compare her to others. Your wife is your new standard of beauty; let her know you have eyes for her only.
  • Masturbation is the lazy way out and does not breed self-control. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 – avoid sexual immorality and control our bodies.)
  • Watch out for Facebook affairs (men and women). Don’t friend or accept friend request from previous romantic interests. Instead pour your emotional energy into your own marriage.

3.  Pursue her emotionally and physically. (1 Peter 3:7)

  • Share encouragement. Sex doesn’t just start in the kitchen or in the morning; it started yesterday and the week before.
    • Ie, “I saw the way you handled xyz earlier and thought you handled it so well.”
  • Non-sexual touch. Physical touch does not always need to lead to sex.

4.  Practice romance and creativity. (Songs of Songs 7)

  • Suggest you take the dishes, homework, bath time and bedtime while she goes to dinner, reads a book, goes to Starbucks.
  • Don’t focus just on the climax.

5.  Ask your wife about her desires and preferences. (James 1:19)

  • Serve her by asking about the state of your sex life and marriage.
  • Stop pushing her to take part or live out your ideas that come from porn (adultery we committed).
  • If you can’t have this conversation, get help.

I will close with this challenge to discuss with your spouse about the following experiences because they can have a big impact in your sex life.

  1. Confess any issues you are having with pornography or any other form of infidelity.
  2. Discuss with your spouse if you have ever been sexually abused in the past.

If you would like to read the next installment in the re|engage class, click here…★ Re|Engage – Completion ★

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here…

https://dailydependence.wordpress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

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★ Thought for the Day – What’s On The Inside? ★

Have you ever participated in a white elephant gift exchange?  I know Christmas is over but as I was thinking about this Thought for the Day I could not help but think about the popular gift-giving experience where people contend with one another to walk away with the best present. Though there are many different options on how to conduct the exchange, everyone brings a gift to contribute to a common pile, in which participants draw names or numbers to determine what order they will go in.  As each person makes their choice and discovers what they have gotten, each subsequent person has the opportunity to steal it away.  It never fails, even though I try to size up what is on the inside of the mystery gift, I always chose the wrong present and no one ever steals what I end up with.  Hahaha!

At the top of the year I posted this ★ Thought for the Day – Living A Lasting Legacy ★, which was about making the most out the “brief time on earth,” to make an impact on the future generation, not just for my children, but for my children’s children!  Today’s Thought will build upon this idea of a Living A Lasting Legacy to give some practical application.  If you have a pulse, you should be thinking about what kind of impact you are making on the relationships in your life whether it is with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, or even strangers.  God has put these people into our lives for a reason, and it is our responsibility not to waste the opportunity.  I love what Marvin J. Ashton said,

“Be the one who nurtures and builds.  Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people.  Leave people better than you found them.” 

“Leave people better than you found them.”  I am a firm believer of that way of living.  Just a couple days ago I was listening to a podcast from Louie Giglio called “The Piñata and the Iceberg,” in which he contrasted the decorative cardboard and paper mache animal containing candy, and the significance of the large floating mass of ice.  In the message, he made this powerful point:

“The Piñata is a picture of the culture we live in.  We live in hollow days.  Richard J. Foster said it this way,

91 - Daily Dependence - Richard J Foster - Superficiality is the Curse of Our Age
‘Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.’

It is a difference to being a piñata in the world or being an iceberg in the world…An iceberg is what it is because of the substance that you cannot immediately see.  It’s what is below the surface that makes an iceberg something of substance.”

That is what I want to be, a man of substance.  A man who has depth and always on mission as Paul stated in Acts 20:24 (NLT)… 

91 - Daily Dependence - Acts 20-24 - Tell Others About Grace of God“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

After sharing this with the guys in my life group, there was some great conversation on what it means to be a Man of Substance.  One of threads from the group text was this great listing that I just have to share in its entirety because it’s just that good…

“There is more to being a Man of Substance than just holding everyone accountable to just the spiritual side.  I believe it’s a balance with a lot of different aspects.  This is what we as men need to work on if we are going to do this.  

Areas of Concern:  

  1. 91 - Daily Dependence - James 1-22 - Just Do ItAlone time with Christ.
  2. Alone time with wife.
  3. Alone time with kids.
  4. Alone time with yourself. 
  5. Alone time with guys only.

Non-Negotiables as Men:

  1. Provider of family – Full Time Job.
  2. Financial steward of money – Tithe
  3. Physical activity – Exercise. 
  4. Protector of family – Boundaries. 
  5. Spiritual leader of home – Modeling. 

I believe Jesus’s brother James nailed it when he said, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  James 1:22. 

We not need to “Just Do It!”  Otherwise we are just fooling ourselves!  What a great list of how to be a Man or Substance…and I dare say you could extrapolate that list to be a guide for how to be a Woman of Substance as well.  I truly believe that these items are exactly what God wants for us, and are practical stepping stones to move us away from the “piñata culture” of superficiality and hollowness to a life as an iceberg that has great depth.

91 - Daily Dependence - Matthew 6-33Jesus’ gave this command in Matthew 6:33 (ESV)…

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

If God is not a priority, and if we are not chasing after Him with all our heart, then the chances of getting the rest correct on that list is slim to none in my opinion. I love that list, and I completely agree with everything on it…Balancing all the aspects of life is essential…but God MUST BE FIRST and once that is case, all the other aspects will begin to fall into place.

Here are some suggestions that will help you to center your life on God and seek after His Kingdom and His righteousness. These are strategies that I learned and implemented from Todd McIntyre, the Men’s Pastor at Gateway Church which has helped me greatly develop in my spiritual maturity:

  1. Daily quiet time (usually before my family gets up,) filled with prayer, journaling and reading scripture (sometimes a reading plan and other times a section of a book of the Bible.) You can read more about this in the post ★ Back to the Basics – Silencing the Noise ★, which is all about developing your Spiritual Maturity.
  1. Fast and pray from sundown to sundown once a week for sanctification and revival in my life, (usually on Monday.)
  1. Meditate on, and write a “Thought for the Day” once a week that God has been speaking into my spirit and heart. This was not from Pastor Todd by was a natural outflow from my quiet time, and ultimately that is how this Blog was born!

I don’t share this to brag but rather to give a model of what has worked for me to develop my spiritual fitness and deepen my walk with God.  I certainly don’t always get this right, or do it all perfectly but I try…and these habits have resulted in “Becoming a Glacier” as Louie Giglio described in the sequel to the “The Piñata and the Iceberg.”  To become a glacier is a slow, purposeful process over a prolonged period which is synonymous with steadfastness or sanctification that will lead to becoming more and more like Jesus.  The key is patience…

“Impatience is the nemesis to habit.”  Louie Giglio   

So the choice is yours, what will you decide?  Continue down the path of superficiality or will you heed Jesus’ command in Matthew 6:33 and dig deeper?  I will close with this quote that I read somewhere…

“Faith can move mountains, but don’t be surprised if GOD hands you a shovel.”

It is going to take work and time but it’s worth it, I promise you!  If you are interested here are posts focused on what I learned from James MacDonald’s book called “Act Like Men, 40 Days to Biblical Manhood that could be a supplement to your walk.

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Living A Lasting Legacy ★

90 - Daily Dependence - Star Wars The Force AwakensThree weeks ago, as part of the “25 Days of Thankfulness” series I shared about my experience seeing Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens in the ★ Day 18 – Reason for the Season – Jesus Is _____ ★ post. and promised no spoilers at that time.  Well…The Force Awakens’s current box office totals worldwide have reached $1.73 billion (at the time of this post,) placing it third on the all-time list so I feel like it is safe to share a major SPOILER, especially since #HanSoloDies was a trending topic the weekend the Hollywood blockbuster opened up.  Yes it’s true, a major anchor to the Star Wars Universe has been killed off in one of the worst ways imaginable…by his own son,  Patricide is not a new phenomenon by any stretch, throughout history and in the Bible records of this heinous act, but I think there is a powerful lesson played out from Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and it’s sequel that is now breaking box office history.

90 - Daily Dependence - Star Wars - Generational Curse

In the climax of the 1983 trilogy film (Return of the Jedi,) Luke Skywalker helps his father take off his mask so that he can look on his son with his own eyes.  In a beautiful moment of redemption, Anakin Skywalker ceases to be the Evil Darth Vader and finds peace in the sacrificial act of saving Luke from being killed by the Emperor.  Fast forward 32 years…The Force Awakens shows a powerful scene of Kylo Ren speaking to the charred remains of Darth Vaders infamous mask while donning one of his own.  Unlike his Uncle Luke, there is not a battle raging within pulling him to the Dark Side, but rather to the Light Side.  In the moment that Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo), kills his father Han Solo, the last emotional tie is severed ushering him to fully join the Dark Side.  To me this was great depiction of the warning between God and Moses when the second set of the Ten Commandments was completed.  Exodus 34:6-7 (ESV) records,

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Luke may have escaped of his father’s iniquity or sin but the generational curse continued to his grandson Kylo Ren who embraced the Dark Side and followed in his grandfather’s footsteps.

Last year we kicked off the year with this ★ Thought for the Day – Unstoppable Determination for God’s Holiness ★, which was all about stripping away the unnecessary junk in our lives and pursuing God in every area including reading His Word, the Bible.  This year, God has been speaking this into my Spirit about “living out a lasting  legacy.”  I read this a long time ago and it has always remained with me…

“You didn’t bring anything into this world and you won’t bring anything out.  What will you leave?”

Legacy is not a new concept to me…it has always been part of my DNA markup, but this year I felt the nudge from the Holy Spirit to devote myself even more to it.  If you have been following this blog, you may recall that 2 part series that we posted called ★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course ★ about learning from King Solomon’s failure to overcome temptations and 90 - Daily Dependence - 2015 Washed Away★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course…Part 2 ★ about handling money God’s way.  If you are starting this year out like most people, making resolutions, whether it is going back to the gym to lose weight or committing to living on a budget, both these “Thoughts” can be an encouragement to motivate you to that end.  Today’s “Thought for the Day” however is going in a different direction.  I want to delve into the opposite of generational curses…to focus on how we can have a positive impact on others…If you will indulge me for one more Star Wars parallel…how to avoid Kylo Ren’s downward spiral to the Dark Site and embrace the Light Side as Luke Skywalker did.

As a husband and father of two daughters, I can tell you that “providing” for my family is a top priority in my life.  We have been blessed that my wife has been able to be a stay-at-home mom, (…which I might add is a much tougher job then mine…) but that obviously has resulted in sacrifices that we have made being a single income family.  There is also another force that comes against us, (Star Wars pun intended,) which is the continual comparison or pressure to “Keep up with the Joneses.”  I would be lying if I said that it did not bite us every now and then.  The spirit of “Mammon” or devotion to wealth building pervades our culture and no matter how content we are with what God has provided it does not make us immune to the effect the Spirit of Mammon can have on us all.  People spend so much time working hard to climb the corporate ladder, to live in the right neighborhood, to drive a nice car, to be a success…but should that be our focus?  Robert Morris spoke about this in the sermon called “Breaking the Spirit of Mammon“…

“Jesus said, ‘You can’t serve God and mammon!’  What is mammon?  It’s the prideful, arrogant spirit that rests on money that hasn’t been submitted to God; but money that is submitted to and serves God is blessed by God!”

If you want to delve deeper into how to handle your finances God’s way, check out the posts we have group together called “Building Your Money Muscle.”

Regardless of your age or gender, we all have the same amount of time in a day to set our priorities and decide how it will be spent…Will it be spent on self-centered activities whether it be on social media, gaming or working 60-70 hours a week to get that promotion…OR will it be spent on things that really matter?  The people in our life should be or focus.  I read this quote the other morning and thought it was not only great insight on what legacy is but also a great visual!

"Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones.  A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you."   Shannon L. Alder 
“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones.  A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”   Shannon L. Alder 

Having proper time management is key!  It reminds of this great 1998 country song from Billy Ray Cyrus called “Busy Man,” which had this powerful hook in the song…

“Have you ever seen a headstone with these words
If only I had spent more time at work”

This is something that I wrestle with all the time!  Balancing the demands of work and making sure that my family does not pay the price.  I shared this quote in the ★ Thought for the Day – What Does Your Schedule Look? ★ from Bill Hybels that really brings it home for me…

“My schedule is far less about what I need to get done and more about what I want to become.” 

I could not agree with that more!  We all have to decide for ourselves, what will our schedule look like, because in the end what you choose to allow to dominate your schedule will affect everything and everyone in your life whether you are teenager, married or an empty nester.  The time you take, your example and character can forever change a life and your family’s legacy forever!

“Your legacy is the influence you leave behind.  Will you be missed?  Don’t waste your life, invest it!”  Jack Graham

That is so powerful…“Your legacy is the influence you leave behind.”  I also love what Andy Stanley had to say on the subject…

“Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.” 

My constant prayer is to be an Ephesians 5:25 husband, a Deuteronomy 11:18-19 father and a Colossians 3:12 servant to all!  I want to love my wife better…love my children better…and love others better.  Until I am on the other side of heaven there will never be a point that I am not working on becoming a better man.  I fully believe what Mark Batterson said in his Draw the Circle devotional…

“The greatest legacy a person can leave is a complete surrender of their life to the lordship of Jesus Christ. If we don’t hold out on God, God won’t hold out on us. Take God at His promises as expressed by the psalmist: “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” [Psalm 84:11]  And these good things will pass from generation to generation and become great things.”

As we kick off this new year, just 13 days in, I want to encourage you to put God first and foremost!  Then your family next and after that all the people in your life…friends, co-workers, acquaintances…”Be present” and involved in their lives and I promise you will leave the lasting legacy that really matters!  No this is not “popular,” or “normal” in our culture or in the workplace, but press on nonetheless and you will never be disappointed!  Psalms 39:4-7 (NLT) has some great insight of setting the right priorities!!

“LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.  Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is.  You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.  My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.  We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.  We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it.  And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?  My only hope is in you.”

My hope and prayer is that I am making the most out of my “brief time on earth,” that I will make an impact on the future generation, not just for my children but my children’s children!  I want to be a “real man” in God’s eyes rather than the world’s eyes!  I will close with this thought from John Maxwell…

“We can choose today what we want people to say about us tomorrow at our funeral…If you want to really visualize your legacy tomorrow, value it today…Do the things today that you want them to say about you tomorrow because today determines that. What’s wonderful about your legacy is that… You can start working on it this very moment.”

What Will Your Legacy Be?  What has God been speaking into your spirit?

Here is my prayer for you…

“[I] pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:9b-10 (ESV)

 

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