Saturday, November 14, 2015

Do You Want to Be a Hero?

"True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost."
Arthur Ashe

With the quote above in mind, I ask again; Do you want to be a hero?

In May of 2014 I wrote a post about Batman and Alfred called Who's the Real Hero?. I brought up the point that there would have never been a Batman in the story without Alfred. Alfred is just as much a hero as Batman yet there is nothing remarkable about Alfred. Alfred didn't have a fancy suit, weapons, or training to fight. Alfred was just a butler who had an undying commitment to serve one man no matter what. 

Lately I've been getting into tv shows about super heroes and one theme seems to be repeated across all stories: you can't be a hero alone. 

In Arrow you see Oliver Queen starts alone but slowly realizes his need for help. He gradually starts bringing people into the fold until suddenly he has an entire team working together to save the city. Who is more of a hero Oliver Queen or Felicity Smoak?

In Flash you have a super powered speedster but even he needs a team of people around him to help him succeed. He has Caitlin, Cisco, and Detective Joe West as well as many others. In one episode he even brings in the Arrow to help him face his greatest enemy. Each one of these people is a hero.

Sometimes our quest to be a hero makes us think we have to stand out or do this on our own. But true heroism is about service, it's about working as a team to make a difference and often it's about lifting someone else up. This is of course a Biblical concept as well. 

Paul talks about us as the Body of Christ. We are all a part of one body and it is only when we work together as one body that we truly make a difference in this world. It is only when we walk in unity that we can bring about his mission on this earth. This is how we become a hero. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Be Still...

Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

Sometimes we need to learn to just “Be still…” 

It is in those moments of stillness, those moments of focusing on God and who He is that we allow ourselves to be assured of His greatness, of His ability to take care of everything. It is in the moments of stillness that the peace of God, the peace that passes all understanding, can flood our hearts and minds regardless of anything that might still be going on. It is in these moments of stillness that the worries of this world are washed away and all that remains is the realization that He is God, that He is sovereign, that He is great, and that He loves you!

Take some time today to just be, some time in silence, some time in His presence. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Spirit of Fear

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7

Fear is not to be taken lightly.

On Thursday I shared a post I wrote on Halloween of 2013 titled The Perplexity of Halloween. In this post I shared how I didn't understand people's fascination with death and fear on this day. So many people seem to be fascinated with fear. They dress up in the scariest costumes, watch scary movies and even go to haunted houses hoping to be scared. But fear is not something to be trifled with.

Fear is a spirit.

Paul told Timothy that God did not give us a spirit of fear. This tells us two things, one that fear is a spirit, and two that fear is not from God. Any spirit that is not from God is a spirit of the enemy. Back in December I wrote a post about the importance Knowing Our Enemy. One main part of knowing our enemy is knowing our enemies tactics and methods. Fear is the main tactic of our enemy.

So why would we play around with fear?

I think one of the tactics the devil has put into play is trying to make light of fear. Fear holds us back from God's will more than anything else so the enemy wants us to let down our guard to this weapon. He makes us think it is fun and something to play around with. He makes us think we are cowards if we can't take the scariest movie out there. In the end we end up completely unaware of the fact that this fear is holding us back. 

So should we run and hide from Halloween?

This seems to be the response of many Christians. Shut your door, turn off your lights, and don't acknowledge anyone but in a sense this is just another way of giving in to fear. Paul doesn't stop in letting us know what fear is, he also lets us know how to fight it. He says that God gave us a different kind of spirit, He gave us a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. We need to allow ourselves to be taken over by these three things and it will allow us to fight this spirit of fear. 

By acting out in love and power we are truly combatting the enemy's strategies.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

An Everlasting Kingdom

"Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, 
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations."
Psalm 145:13

In the United States, as well as many other 'western' nations, we have been blessed to be in a nation friendly towards Christianity. We have been blessed to be in a 'Christian' nation. However that Christianity is becoming less and less prominent in the government and in the media. It is unfortunate however I wonder if it is as big of a problem as we have made it out to be. 

Many American Christians seem to be desperately trying to reverse the trend of our government to go against Christian values. They are pushing for bans on homosexual marriage, bans on abortion, greater favor towards churches and ministries, etc. Well I believe that there is nothing wrong with trying to campaign for Christian values in politics I do not actually see this in the Bible.

I would even dare to say that focusing our attention mostly on politics is unbiblical.

Think about the early church. They were in one of the most anti Christian governments in the history of the world. Yet you never see them trying to change the government. Jesus never once attempted to change the government during his ministry. The only time it records Jesus even approaching anyone in government is when he was turned over to Pilate to be crucified. In that moment he had a prime moment to convince someone in authority and he barely even spoke. 

Jesus never tried to change politics, He tried to change individuals!

Moving on to the disciples as they started the early church. There is really only one time that we have recorded in which one of the early church member spoke to a Roman, government official and that was Paul to King Agrippa in Acts 26. At this point Paul does tell his testimony of his conversion and comes close to convincing Agrippa to become a Christian, but it is clear that Paul is speaking to the individual not to the nation. Paul is not advocating policy but is simply telling the testimony of how Christ saved him. 

That brings us to today. Everywhere I look I see Christians trying to change politics, but how much are we trying to change the individual? Don't get me wrong, I realize that there are many Christians out there who are trying to reach out to the individuals, but there are also many who are so focused on changing the laws of this country that they don't seem to have time to share their testimony with their neighbor. They post political posts on Facebook but never post how Jesus changed their life. They send out petitions to ban homosexual marriage but never have even attempted to reach out to the homosexual. They attempt to pass a law against abortion but have never sought out the young woman who made a mistake, got pregnant as a teenager, and is scared out of her mind as to how she can take care of her baby. 

What does it matter how Biblical our nation's laws are if we are not willing to reach out to our neighbors in a Biblical manner?

You see, Christ never called us to build a Christian nation. Christ never called us to make sure that our nation on earth is prosperous. Christ never called us to be Americans. Christ called us to build His heavenly kingdom on this earth. His kingdom transcends the United States and any other nation on this earth. His kingdom transcends all earthly laws and politics. And His kingdom is spread through love and truth, together. It is spread through the individuals, through the church. 

What are you doing to spread His kingdom?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

For Such a Time As This...

"For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Esther 4:14

Esther is an interesting story. The king of Persia summons his wife, Vashti, and she refuses to come. He then punishes her by casting her out of her role as queen and putting on a beauty pageant to replace her. Esther is then given the "privilege" of leaving her family and her people and becoming queen to a king who requires absolute obedience and values superficial beauty.

Doesn't sound quite as glamorous as the story we heard in kid's church does it?

We then have the above verse in which Esther is confronted by Mordecai and challenged to present the case of her people before the king. "...who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

You may have found yourself in a situation that is less than comfortable. Maybe you're in a place where you are under valued, struggling financially, or in a state of loss. Sometimes God allows us into those situations in order to direct us to the right place at the right time. "...for such a time as this..."

If you are struggling with something in your life right now have you stopped to look as to how God may want to use you? God may be wanting to use your situation to touch those around you. He may want to use your struggles to save others. However you have to be able to stop complaining, and stop worrying long enough to see it.

Have you come to your place in life "for such a time as this"?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Management Defined

"Management is working with and through other people to accomplish the objectives of both the organization and it's members." - Patrick J. Montana and Bruce H. Charnov

Management is... 

Recently I have started reading Barron's Business Review Book on Management written by Patrick J. Montana and Bruce H. Charnov. Naturally in the study of management theory, practices, and structure the obvious beginning point is to define management. The book presents some older definitions of management but ultimately settles on the definition above. I agree with this definition of effective management and I feel there are several key points in this definition to point out and look into deeper.

...working with ... other people:

First of all, a manager should never find themselves alone on an island. A manager is to work with people around them, whether that is laterally or vertically in the chain of command. There are almost always other managers that are on the same level who should be always looking to work as a team. But even in those rare occasions where the manager is the "top of the pyramid" so to speak, the manager still is a part of the team consisting of his/her employees and also customers and outside partners. A manager needs to always remember that s/he is not alone and needs to recognize those people who are around with the same mission.

...working ... through other people:

In addition to working with others an effective manager learns how to work through others. This is done through the important task of delegation. In my post A Biblical Example of Delegation I share the story of Moses and his father in law, Jethro, and how Jethro had to show Moses how to delegate. Moses was burning himself out trying to personally deal with all of the issues of the entire nation of Israel and Jethro showed how he could set leaders up under him and delegate the smaller issues to them leaving his own energy for those matters that actually required his attention. By doing this Moses was learning how to work through those other leaders. He trained them and equipped them to take care of those issues and then was ultimately able to get more work done by allowing others to do the work. 

to accomplish the objectives of ... the organization:

The first two statements show how management is done, by working with and through others. Now, in this statement and the next, we have the goal of management. Management's first goal always has to be to accomplish the objectives of the organization. A lot of times people like to try and be "people focused" and put their staff's objectives first. However the thing we need to realize is, if the organization fails then the staff are the ones who are hurt. Therefore you must keep the objective's of the organization in the forefront.

to accomplish the objectives of ... the individual:

Though we must look to the objective's of the organization first, we must not ignore the objectives of the individual. When we are leading and managing our staff we should be aware of what their career goals are and do our best to put them in situations where they can prepare themselves for their goals. Often, as managers, we have to weigh the costs and benefits of certain decisions considering both the objectives of our organization and our staff. A common mistake by managers can be to hold staff back from promotion because they don't want to lose that staff from their department. This is detrimental both to the staff's development and to the organization as a whole. When you hold staff back from a deserved promotion you end up with disgruntled staff and most of the time will end up losing that staff from the organization entirely. As a manager we should be constantly looking to how we can help our staff better themselves and reach their goals.

Friday, September 11, 2015

It's Time to Dive In!

At the beginning of the year God gave me a word for 2015. I knew the word was for my family and me but I also felt it was for many more so I shared it on my blog:

Rivers are About to Spring Forth!

The Word that God gave me was based on the following passage of scripture:

Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar. He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side. And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed. He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river.

When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes. Ezekiel 47:1-9

As I mentioned in my original post one of the things that I felt God was saying through this passage is that the increased blessing and anointing would come gradually throughout the year. Just like Ezekiel went first to his ankles, then knees, then waist, and finally to where it was too deep to cross so would we be brought in to gradually increasing levels of this new place with Him. I know that my family and I have experienced some of this already over the course of the year and I hope you have as well. But now, as the year comes closer to it's end, it's about time for us to dive in!

Diving in can be scary!

Think about the analogy in Ezekiel. When you are going through a river there is a certain amount of safety in having your feet on the ground. This is especially true if the river is moving rapidly. The more you have sure footing the safer you are, but once you dive in you're at the mercy of the rapids. 

Diving in means allowing the river to take control!

So the decision now is up to us. When it comes to the blessing and anointing of God there are a lot of people who are happy with waist deep. Waist deep is still safe. Maybe they occasionally will bend down and get their heads wet but they never give up their footing. They never give up their plans. 

God is calling you to give up your footing!

You will never fully experience His presence and anointing until you let go of control. You will never experience all that He has for you until you are willing to let go of your own plans. God is ready to bless you abundantly but is asking you to trust Him completely.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path."
Proverbs 3:5-6

Thursday, September 10, 2015

God is Seeking Intercessors

This is a follow up post from my post on September 5th:

Since I writing that post I had two things encourage me as to how true it is. The post was based on Ezekiel 22:30:

"So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one."

After writing this post I had the opportunity to have a date night with my wife and we went to see the movie "War Room".  War Room was the #1 movie in the box office for Labor Day weekend and it is all about the power of prayer. In the movie Miss Clara is an elderly lady who is teaching her real estate agent how to fight for her marriage the right way. The movie is based on 2 Chronicles 7:14:

"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

Then just yesterday morning I met with a friend who I hadn't had a chance to meet with for a while. In talking he mentioned how he had been repenting for his city and for his nation in prayer. This is the kind of intercessor we need. We need people to step up and take on the issues in our nation in prayer! We need people who are willing to fight in the spirit realm to make way for the physical realm. 

Here are some previous posts I have written in regards to this topic:

God is seeking intercessors! Will you answer the call?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Are You the One God is Searching For?

"So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one."
Ezekiel 22:30

Will you stand in the gap?

It is interesting that this statement says nothing about bringing people to repentance. We know from the rest of the Bible that God desires all men and women to repent (2 Peter 2:9) but here He doesn't mention that he was searching for someone who would bring people to repentance. He also doesn't say that He was looking for a political activist who would change the laws of the country in order to keep that country from being destroyed. He was simply looking for someone to "stand in the gap". What does that mean?

"Stand in the gap" is the literal definition of the word intercession.

God was looking for an intercessor. Basically He is saying that there was a gap created by the sins of the nation between Him and His people and gaps between us and God always lead us on a path of destruction. This is why God was looking for an intercessor, someone who would bridge that gap through prayer by interceding for the nation, for the land but sadly He was not able to find one. Because of this the nation continued on a path to destruction. Later in the story we see that an intercessor rose up in Ezra and Nehemiah and the nation was eventually restored but it was forced to go through destruction because at the time God could find "no one".

Are you standing in the gap for your nation?

Bringing this idea to today in our setting, it is easy to see the United States on a path towards destruction. Facebook is blown up by political posts about various laws that are being past which are against the moral code of Christianity and how we need to petition agains these laws. We do not have a shortage of political activists, petitioners, and complainers in the Church today, and yet we are still losing ground. Why?

We have a shortage of intercessors!

In the time of the early church the government was extremely immoral. At times it was so against Christianity that they would kill Christians any time they got a chance, yet the church thrived and grew and became the largest influence in that society. There are probably several reasons for that but I believe the most important reason is that they had intercessors. We constantly see examples in the book of Acts of the church having serious, intense times of intercession. There intercession was so genuine that it got results even when they didn't have much faith in their own prayers (Acts 12:13-16). We need to return to this type of intercession.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Mental Health and Christianity

As I have shared in some of my previous posts God has been leading me to a realization that my calling to ministry is to be partnered with a calling to mental health. This partnership between Christian ministry and an understanding of mental health is something that is highly needed and often missing in the church. On the other hand, the understanding of the spiritual realm is almost completely missing from the mental health field. I am not yet an expert in psychology and my formal education is limited to a high school Intro to Psychology course that I took 13 years ago, but I do have almost seven years of experience working with clients who have an SPMI diagnosis. I also partner that with an extensive knowledge of the Bible and many years of experience in Christian ministry. So that being said I thought I would address some issues I feel are keeping the church and the mental health field separate:

Science vs. Religion:

The underlying issue of it all is the constant conflict between science and religion. Psychology is considered a social science and psychologists consider themselves to be scientists. Scientists tend to think that science and religion are opposites and can not work together. Because of this many Christians are wary of anything with the title science. This is seen throughout all scientific fields including psychology.

The Issue of Demon Possession:

Many Christians often assume that mental illness is an automatic sign of demonic possession, this is not always the case. However psychologists seem to generally deny the spiritual aspect all together. Just like with bodily illness, mental illness is sometimes directly connected to demonic possession or oppression and sometimes it is simply a sickness, which is just a less direct attack from the enemy. Either way God's power can come in and free the person of that. But, as with sickness, sometimes God works through proven methods of treatment in order to bring healing. Just like he might work through a doctor to bring healing to the person with cancer, he might choose to work through psychiatrists and therapists to bring healing to the person with schizophrenia or severe depression.

On the other hand, there is clear evidence in the scriptures of actual demonic possession and I believe that does happen today and can manifest in a similar manner as mental illness. This is why a Christian working in the mental health field needs to have their spirit attuned to the Holy Spirit and should ask for the gift of discerning of spirits. If you do not have the gift of discerning of spirits, or you are not sure that it is demonic possession it is best to treat it as mental illness. I have met people who were literally scarred for life by churches, who probably meant well,  attempting to cast out a demon when there wasn't one there to be cast out.

Mental Health Awareness:

Overall my point for writing this post, as disorganized as it may be, is just to help spread awareness. Statistically mental illness is a lot more prevalent than most of us realize. Many people are only exposed to the idea of mental illness when the media discusses the latest mass murderer but the majority of mental health clients are just people living their life like you and me. They just have an extra hindrance to fully enjoying that life which they are learning to cope with and to overcome.  We as the church should be looking out for these people because we have a hope through Jesus Christ that the mental health psychologists and psychiatrists don't necessarily have. through Christ we can help bring joy to the severely depressed, peace those with mood disorders, and deliverance to those with schizophrenia or other mental illness.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Life That is Waiting For You

"We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
Joseph Campbell

This quote was the final statement in the concluding episode of season 9 of Criminal Minds. When I heard it, it struck me as exactly where God has been leading me lately. Joseph Campbell was an "American mythologist, writer, and lecturer" according to Wikipedia. Apparently he saw God as a metaphor for a mystery that goes beyond human thought. As much as I disagree with him on that fact, I feel that in the above quote he stumbled across a Biblical truth. 

"A man's heart plans his own way, but the Lord directs his steps."
Proverbs 16:9

I wrote on this verse in two different posts here and here. Joseph Campbell stumbled across a truth but he only knew a part of it. This life that is not waiting for us by chance, it was placed there by the Lord. It is easy for us to make our own plans and have our life mapped out. Then when it doesn't go our way we get upset and we put all of our energy into getting ourselves "back on track". However, often it didn't go the way we planned because the Lord had a better way then we had planned. 

Until we can let go of the life we've planned, we will never see how the life that God put before us is actually a better one.

You might be wondering why you're not where you're "supposed" to be. Why you haven't gotten through school or landed your dream job. It may be that you need to keep fighting for it, or it may be that God is trying to lead you in a different direction and until now you have been too stubborn to see it. The only way you will get the answer to that question is by letting go of your own plans and taking some time in His presence. 

Stop asking God to get you where you want to be and start asking Him to show you where He wants you to be.

Let Him lead you into the life that has been waiting for you all this time. You will realize that it is the life you never knew you always wanted.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

An Opportunity to Impact the World

Looking for a way to impact the world? 

I believe that God has called each one of us to "go into all the world and preach the Gospel" (Mark 16:15) but for some of us that entails going into the world we are currently placed in. There are many people that are called to work a "normal" job and to use that money to support the spreading of God's Kingdom in the world. Paul puts it this way:

"For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?..."
Romans 10:13-15

In other words, in order for a preacher to go out someone needs to send them and in all practicality many people need to send them. 

Today I am calling out my readers to be senders!

My cousin has a huge vision. She just finished a DTS in Australia in which she went to Calcutta, India for her outreach. In this time God gave her a vision to the women and children caught in the sex trafficking ring in Calcutta. She has a vision for a ministry called Not Forgotten in which she wants to show that these seemingly forgotten people of society are not actually forgotten. She wants to show them that not only has she remembered them but God has remembered them and wants to rescue them from their horrible circumstances.

Thankfully the horrors of sex trafficking are getting more attention these days but it is easy to hear about a problem like this and think there is nothing we can do. Here is something you can do!

By partnering with Rebecca you will be directly affecting the lives of hundreds of women and children forgotten by society!

How can we partner with Rebecca? There are three ways you can do that:

The first and easiest way to partner with Rebecca is through prayer. Check out her ministry facebook page Not Forgotten to keep up with her heart and vision. Pray for God to continue to direct and develop her vision and pray for the provision of that vision to manifest for her. Pray also that God will continue to develop her as a leader and as a minister of the Gospel.

Secondly, she needs financial provision to make this vision become a reality. Pray about providing her either with a one-time support or monthly support. You can use her Go Fund Me account to make giving easy. It's easy in these situations to sit back and say "well, I'm going to partner through prayer, someone else can take care of the finances." But I strongly encourage to seek God about whether He wants you to support Rebecca financially. You may not be able to do much but every little bit helps and it gives you a tangible way to be connected to the vision. 

Thirdly, you can spread the word. Maybe you prayed about it and God gave you a number to give or maybe you didn't feel like you were supposed to give financially, that's fine too. Either way you can spread the word. Chances are you know people who are looking for a good cause to partner with. Maybe you even know of people who really have a heart to make a difference against sex trafficking. Let them know. Share the Facebook group Not Forgotten with them. Also feel free to share this post on your Facebook, Google+ or Twitter account.

Get the word out that there is someone with a vision to make a difference, she just needs some partners!

Monday, August 24, 2015

It's Easy to Forget...

"And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.
Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you."
Luke 22:19-20

On Sunday, at church, we took communion. Our church does this every month and there was nothing special about this time. They passed out the little wafers and cups of juice and then the person on stage read this scripture and talked about why we take communion. However, I believe whenever we take communion it is important to do an inner search at where we stand spiritually and take a moment to listen if God wants to speak to you in that time. 

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, puts it this way:
"But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body."
1 Corinthians 11:24-25

So as I examined myself on Sunday the thing that hit me was simply... It's so easy to forget. 

It's so easy to forget what Jesus did for us. It's so easy to forget the cross, to forget the sacrifice, even to forget Him. Jesus talked about this in the parable of the sower:

Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
Matthew 13:22

It's easy to allow the cares of this world to choke out the Word that has been planted in our hearts. We get caught up in making sure our bills our paid, our families are fed, the stress of our job, etc. and we don't even remember the reason for our life. We get caught up in the cares of life and forget the one who gives us life.  

Remember Jesus' promise in the sermon on the mount:

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

"all these things" is referring to the cares of life. It's referring to clothing, food, housing, etc. Jesus promises that if we seek His Kingdom first all of those things will automatically be taken care of. It's time to trust Him. It's time to regain our focus. It's time to remember! 

For more thoughts on how we can seek His Kingdom first check out this post:

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Challenge of Success

“If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, Then how can you 
contend with horses?…”
Jeremiah 12:5

Do you ever feel tired in your walk with God? It's normal to feel tired but at the same time we need to get to the place where we can handle things without getting tired. 

Every level with God comes with a greater challenge but also with greater blessing!

In order for God to allow us to the next level in Him, the next level of our destiny, we need to first learn how to deal with the challenges at the level we are currently at. It is so easy to think, if we can just get past this challenge things will be easy. But the truth is things get harder as you get closer to the goal. It's just like in racing. The further you go the harder it gets. You need to learn how to handle a mile before you can try to run two miles. 

I ran across a quote on LinkedIn that goes along with this:

"Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don't wish it were easier, wish you were better."
Jim Rohn

So often our prayers are asking God to make our life easier. We ask for him to take away our challenges at work, to cause the disruptive neighbors to move, to increase our income, or to help us win the lottery. However we should be praying that God would make us better. 

Pray that God would improve your ability to be successful at work.

Pray that God would help you relate better and be a light to the difficult people around you.

Pray that God would help you in creating a budget that works and to be disciplined to stick to it.

If we change our prayers then we will find that we will move further in God and in His plan for our life much more quickly. We need to match our prayers with His will and His will is for us to improve ourselves. He's not into quick fixes no matter how much we would like them, He's into long term improvement. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Not Forgotten

A Tribute to the Women and Children in the Red Light District of Calcutta, India.

Born into slavery...
But Not Forgotten

Nameless and voiceless...
But Not Forgotten

Hopeless and abused...
But Not Forgotten

Tired and broken…
But Not Forgotten

Thrown out and dismissed…
But Not Forgotten

All seems dark but there is a light,
A lighthouse to lighten the way,
Showing that there is One who cares.
There is One who sees
There is One who cries into the dark
There is One who loves the unloved
One who brings hope to the hopeless and a voice to the voiceless
There is One

You are Not Forgotten
You are Not Forsaken
You are Cared for
You are Loved

There is One who is calling out to you
Lift up your eyes and see the light
He will never forget you

Who is this One?

He is Alpha and Omega, Beginning and the End
He is Savior and Lord, Father and Friend
He is Healer and Provider, He is Love and Peace
He is the only One who can make the pain cease.
He's Author and Finisher, He'll write your book's end
He'll gather the broken pieces and bring your heart to the mend.

Who is this One?
His name is Jesus

You are Not Forgotten!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Make Plans, Allow the Lord to Direct! (Pt. 2)

In April I posted the above picture in my post Make Plans, Allow the Lord to Direct! I encourage you to go and read that post especially if you are in a place where your plans don't seem to be working out the way you thought they would. Lately I've been thinking a bit more about this scripture and I wanted to share with you some of those thoughts.

In my previous post I shared how God wants to direct us in each decision whether big or small but how I feel that this verse specifically refers to our overall life plans. Often we have a plan for our life that we are pushing for and striving for starting when we are teenagers (or sometimes even as children). Our society pushes us to make at least somewhat of a decision of what we want to do with our lives before we leave high school. This is when we are supposed to decide what college we want to go to, what major we want to pursue, or what job we are going to go after. Of course this is a very early time to make those decisions and many end up changing them throughout their life.

A lot of these decisions are made based simply on our interests or even what subjects we happen to be good at in school. However there are some people who were seeking God at a young age and feel like they actually had a Word from God directing them on what path to take. This is where I have been.

When I was 12 God told me I was to be a preacher, teacher, and a writer.

Naturally when I received this Word I interpreted it to mean full-time Christian ministry. I've sought God on how this ministry would play out. I felt led to go to World Harvest Bible College (now Valor Christian College) in Columbus, OH and spent my college years focused on volunteering rather than working. I then spent a year working for an Adult Foster Care Home but thinking my main focus in that time was my volunteering as an assistant youth pastor, my two mission trips, and my preparation to go to Youth With A Mission. Then I spent four years full time on the mission field and everything seemed to be on track for my dream to be in full-time ministry.

After I spent four years on the mission field my wife and I felt it was time to move back to the U.S. and I felt like I was supposed to pursue a job as a youth pastor with a local church. I found a part-time youth pastor position with Connection Church, got a job in mental health (based off of my previous position in the AFH) and continued with the plan to work my way to full-time ministry. Five years later and I find myself still working in mental health and still not in full-time ministry. For the last five years I constantly have talked about wanting to find an opportunity to work in my "passion" and in my "true calling". It took me five years to recognize that maybe God opened up this door in mental health not simply as a way to pay my bills until I found my "true calling" but because maybe metal health is my "true calling".

Does this mean I got it wrong when I was 12? 

Not at all. That Word that I received is, to this day, one of the most clear words I have ever heard from God. I am to be a preacher, a teacher, and a writer. It may meant that I misinterpreted what it meant but the Word was and is true to my calling.

Does this mean that I need to give up my aspirations towards full-time ministry?

Not necessarily. We never know what God has in store in the future. It could be that God will still open up a door for me and my family to step into pastoring or full time mission work again. All of this is possible. Or it may be that God is planning on partnering my passion for ministry with my new found passion for mental health. Or it may be that He has called me to balance the two, to be a bi-vocational minister, for the long term. 

What this means is that I need to recognize that God has placed me where I am because He wants me where I am. It may be a stepping stone to something in the future but it is more than that. If God is directing my steps then He directed me to this point and He has directed me to work in mental health for the last five years, and He wants to use me in my current position.

This is what God has been speaking to me about, hopefully it speaks to you too!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Some Thoughts on the Supreme Court Ruling and Same-Sex Marriage

Lately everyone has been up in arms about the Supreme Court ruling regarding homosexual marriage. People are arguing against the morality of same-sex marriage, whether the Supreme court had a right to make such a decision, and what this means for our society. I have also heard many claim that this is evidence as to why Christians need to more involved politically. As I waded through the numerous articles that my friends have shared on Facebook I can't help but wonder:

Is the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage really such a big deal?

Before you get too up in arms about it let me be clear. I believe that there is no question regarding the Bible's stance on homosexuality and the definition of marriage. To me there is no question that homosexuality is a sin and that same-sex marriage is a perversion against the God given institution of marriage. With that being said I still have a hard time seeing why this one ruling matters so much to Christians and why this one ruling is such a detriment to our society.

But Homosexuality is a sin!

Yes it is. Just like sex outside of marriage, divorce (except in case of infidelity), pornography, gluttony, gossiping, lying, dishonoring our parents...(need I go on). Homosexuality is a sin, but like any of these other sins it needs to be dealt with on an individual level through the grace of God. In most cases homosexuality is a surface issue and the underlying issue is the individual's need for Christ. 

If Christians would spend as much time preaching Christ, the cross, and the resurrection as they do complaining about the Supreme Court ruling, we might be seeing more homosexuals getting delivered through the grace of God rather than turning against the church as a whole.

If the same-sex marriage needs to be banned due to it's status as sin then why are we not calling for banning divorce, or making infidelity against the law? Why don't we cry out against the fact that living together without being married is legalized? It is not the government's job to ban sinful behavior nor would that be effective. Homosexuals were living together and acting as if they were married long before the Supreme Court ruling. Homosexuality is a sin, but it is a sin regardless of the legality of it. It is a sin that needs to be dealt with by the grace of God not the ruling of our government!

But Same-sex Marriage Distorts the Sanctity of Marriage!

Again I agree, but again it is hardly the only thing in our society that does. In fact I would argue that same-sex marriage is not even the largest culprit in distorting the sanctity of marriage. I believe that place goes to divorce. Again you don't see the church resorting to political campaigns to fight against divorce but rather they are fighting it through pre-marital and marriage counseling, writing books, discussing the issue with our youth, etc. Why can't we address homosexuality in the same way?

Political campaigns are not going to solve the issue of same-sex marriage. Even if we succeeded in getting it banned we still would not have solved the issue because the issue is in the hearts of the individuals. The issue can only be solved through the Spirit of God and the Word of God and we as the church need to get back to that number one goal. We need to stop speaking out agains homosexuals and start speaking to them, getting to know them, and sharing the love of Christ with them.

But the Slippery Slope!

Lastly, there is the argument that this ruling is going to lead to more serious rulings. There are two directions that I've heard this argument go. First, there are those that say that allowing same-sex marriage will lead to allowing polygamy, marriage to animals, etc. Secondly I have heard the more prevalent argument that this will lead to churches being penalized for not being willing to marry homosexuals. 

This argument is probably the most valid when talking about the political implications of such a ruling, however I do feel that Jesus' words apply here:

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about it's own things. Sufficient for the day is it's own trouble."
Matthew 6:34

I realize that Jesus was talking about food, clothing, and shelter here specifically but I feel that the same principle applies here. Today's trouble is that same-sex marriage has been legalized so how do we address that? Do we address it by complaining about the ruling? Or do we address it by preaching the Gospel, making disciples, and sharing Christ's love and grace with the world? 

If our way of addressing it is by complaining about the ruling and campaigning to have it overturned then we have already lost. The slope will continue to be slippery and our society will slide into further depravity with the church in the background complaining. However if we stand up and do what Christ has told us to do and preach the Gospel I believe that we can change the state of our society one individual at a time. Then before we know it same-sex marriage may still be legal but no one will actually be doing it because the church had finally become the vessels of deliverance to society she was always meant to be.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Note to Fathers

"A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, and unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets of society." - Billy Graham

Yesterday was Father's Day. Somehow it seems that we tend to make a bigger deal about Mother's Day than Father's Day. In general father's tend to get a bad rap in society. We are constantly hearing about the effects of absent fathers and about how fathers don't take responsibility for their children, are emotionally absent, or are too overbearing and hard on their children. These stories are in movies, tv, music, and on the news. Mothers are constantly praised for the hard work and sacrifice that they put into raising their children while fathers are constantly put down for not being there.

Even fathers who are around tend to be put down. There are constant jokes about what happens when fathers are left to watch the children without mom around. While some of these are funny mostly they seem to have a bad view of the father's capability of watching their own children. It promotes a view that father's should work to pay the bills, be a disciplinarian, but everything else should be left to the mother.

As a father writing to fellow fathers I want to recognize these stereotypes in society and speak against them. I know so many fathers, young and old alike, that are great with their children and I applaud you all. With all of the previous stereotypes there is a tendency to feel that the mother's job is more important than the father's but let me tell you that your job is just as important.

You are the first representative of God that your children will see.

Your daughters will look for a man that treats them like you treat them and their mother.

Your sons will ultimately emulate the way you act in your marriage and as a father.

Father's are the main source of inspiration, encouragement, and challenge for their children.

This is not to downplay the role of the mother. God designed us to have a need for both a father and a mother. One challenges and the other comforts, one inspires and the other nurtures, both provide love and support throughout life. 

When you look at the above list it may seem like that is too big a job to take on but don't be discouraged. It is too big of a job to take on but as God told Paul he also tells us fathers:

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthian 12:9

Remember no one, not even your children, asks you to be perfect. You just are asked to be there, to try, to love. And so many of you are! According to the United States Census Bureau 24% of children are raised in a household with only one parent. Well this is sad that means that there are still 76% of children being raised with two parents!

So there are more of you fathers out there than society would like us to believe. Some of you are biological fathers and some of you are stepfathers but either way you are there and in prime position to pour love into the lives of your children. 

Fathers I applaud you!

“What makes Will the best father in the world to me is that he’s there, not just there in a way that’s traditional. The emotional support he offers his children is immeasurable.”
Jada Pinkett Smith
“I found out that I’m a pretty bad father. I make a lot of mistakes and I don’t know what I’m doing. But my kids love me. Go figure.”
Louis C.K.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Where is Your Trust?

Where do you place your trust?

It is easy to say that we trust in God but sometimes our actions tell a different story. James said:

Show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works.
James 2:18b

Our "works", our actions, are evidence as to where our faith is. How we act will show where our trust truly lies. So do your actions show that you have placed your trust in the Lord?

What is your first response when you start to feel sick?

What do you do when you run into financial difficulty?

What happens if your plans don't work out the way you thought they would?

It's easy, and normal, to get discouraged in these situations, however we need to remind ourselves that God is trustworthy. Rather than running immediately to the doctor, the financial planner, or seeking out overtime we should be starting in prayer. It is very possible that through prayer God will lead us to those things but we trust them only because we trust God in them. That is an important distinction to make. There is nothing wrong with doctors, financial planners, or overtime but if we say that our trust is in the Lord we should show it by seeking him first in these situations. 

In this verse David states specifically that "we will remember the name of the Lord our God." The Bible shows us many names of the Lord. By understanding His names we can understand his nature and increase our ability to truly trust in Him. I discussed the names of the Lord in detail in my post Call On the Name of the Lord! 

By knowing God as Jehovah Jireh we can trust him to provide in our time of need.

By knowing God as Jehovah Rapha we can trust when we start to see symptoms of sickness attack our body.

By knowing God as Jehovah Nissi we can trust him in our times of greatest battle.

By knowing God as Jehovah Mekoddishkem we can trust Him to make us holy even in the midst of our sin.

By knowing God as Jehovah Shalom we can trust Him to bring peace in our times of turmoil.

It is through His name that we get to know His character and His power in our lives. That is why the Bible says that His name is a strong tower (Proverbs 18:10) and that if we call on His name we shall be saved (Romans 10:13).

So where have you placed your trust? Will you "remember the name of the Lord our God?"

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Blog Highlight: Living Fearless

"I had a hard time trying to pick a name for my blog, but I chose "Living Fearless" because that's what God told me to do in high school and ever since then my life has never been the same."
Rebecca Roake - Green means "Go"

I am proud of my cousin Rebecca. She has stepped out of her comfort zone in tremendous ways twice since graduating from high school just a few years ago. First she made the step to leave her home state and follow her pastor to Boise, Idaho to plant a church. It is then that she first started her blog, Living Fearless. She sadly only wrote on it for few months but each post is filled with honesty and conviction. 

Then, last year, she took another huge step of faith and left her home country to do a discipleship training school with YWAM in Byron Bay, Australia. You can read a bit about her experience in her post Curtains Will Rise. She had an amazing experience in her lecture phase and then spent her outreach in Calcutta, India.

Rebecca doesn't post very much at all but when she does post it is powerful and hits you straight in the heart. I encourage you to go Living Fearless and look through her archive. Then don't give up on checking back because when you do catch a new post it will be real, it will be honest, and it will be powerful! Her most recent post, Unbelief, is a great testament to that fact.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Most Important Trait Related to Personal Growth

"Give instruction to a wise man, and he will still be wiser; 
Teach a just man and he will increase in learning."
Proverbs 9:9

In my time in the blogging world I have found that the most popular blogs have something to do with self development. People are constantly looking for ways to better themselves and improve their situation. They want to be able to get that new job, that promotion, or simply "succeed in life". There are a lot of good blogs that give good tips for those people. I wrote about one of them here. Another very popular blog along these lines is

There is a wealth of great information and tips on how to improve yourself and build personal growth and I highly recommend them. However, I believe there is one quality that is the most important thing towards personal growth:

You must be teachable.

In order to have any true growth we must learn to be teachable. That is why Solomon says that the wise become wiser because they are willing to learn from those around them and increase their wisdom. In another proverb he makes his point a little bit stronger:

"Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid."
Proverbs 12:1

If you are now willing and able to take correction then Solomon says plainly that you are stupid. It is a stupid thing to not take correction because we are then never able to learn and grow. Also I can tell you from experience as a supervisor, I will put up with a lot of stuff from my employees as long as when I correct you, you listen and learn as evidenced by your changing your actions the next time. I would rather have someone who is inexperienced and uneducated yet teachable then to have someone who has ten years of experience and a masters degree but think they have everything figured out already. 

So if you are serious about self improvement and personal growth take this one step:

Learn to accept correction and listen to instruction.

What do you think is the most important trait towards personal growth?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Do Not Be Afraid; Only Believe!

"It doesn't matter where you are right now; God has moments of 
favor for you too. You may not be able to figure it out, but that's okay. 
That's not your job. Your job is to believe. God's already figured it out."
Joel Osteen - It's Your Time

This particular quote struck a chord with me. We so often have a tendency to attempt to figure everything out on our own. We think that we can plan our lives and work our way into the calling that God has on our life and then when things don't plan out easily we get discouraged. It reminded me of the scripture in Proverbs:

"A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps."
Proverbs 16:9

Sometimes we get so busy planning our own way we forget that it is ultimately God's job to direct our steps, to figure it all out. In fact He has it all figured out already we just need to learn to trust Him. 

It's so easy to get discouraged and impatient. It's so easy to think that we should be further than we are or to start questioning whether we missed our opportunity. But even if we did miss an opportunity God is a God of redemption. He wants to redeem the time that you missed! We just need to learn to take to heart the instructions that Jesus gave Jairus:

"Do not be afraid; only believe..."
Luke 8:50

Jairus was already stretched in his faith in believing that Jesus would be able to heal his daughter but before Jesus could even get there he received the report that his daughter had died. At that moment everything seemed hopeless and Jairus could no longer see a way out of his situation and Jesus responds simply "Do not be afraid; only believe..." I find it interesting that Jesus doesn't go into a long message into how he has authority over death. He doesn't start preaching about the power of the Holy Spirit or the gifts of the Spirit. He says simply "...only believe...

In other words Jesus is telling Jairus, there is no need for you to understand how it's going to happen just believe that I can take care of this situation. He might be saying the same thing to you. Stop trying to figure out how Jesus is going to turn your situation around and just trust that He will do it! Whatever it is that you are going through Jesus is saying simply:

Do not be afraid; only believe!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Ministry Highlight: Loom International

"To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains,
but to live in such a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
Nelson Mandela

Loom International is an offshoot ministry from YWAM based right here in my hometown of Portland, OR. I have had the opportunity to visit there open house in 2013 and there fundraising banquet in 2014. 

Loom has a heart to help women and children at risk around the world. 

They provide education both domestically and internationally to bring change to communities and to build resources for women and children around the world. Their mission, in their own words, is as follows:

"Loom International brings people, resources, training and information together for the benefit of women and children at risk. We are committed to bring change by working with others in hope and interdependence."

I have had the privilege of meeting and getting to know several of the staff in Loom International and am excited to see their hearts for God and for ministry. 

One of the things that Loom does is put on the Celebrating Children Workshop around the world. This workshop takes place to train people to better reach and educate children in order to give them better skills for the future. This workshop is taking place in Portland, OR for the first time this July!

Take a moment and check out their website, find out what they do, and pray whether there is a way that you should partner with Loom international. You could support them in prayer or with finances, you could register for the Celebrating Children Workshop in Portland, or you could even contact them to join them in missions.