Archives For Conviction

Guilt Can Be A Good Thing

January 6, 2014 — 2 Comments

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Guilt can be a good thing if it’s helps you to see you have sinned against God. However, please hear this…guilt will never forgive you or heal you. The goal of course is to break free from the sin that so easily entangles you. After all, our calling is to be conformed to the image of God. God is shaping our character to reflect Him and His kingdom virtues. We are supposed to be salt and light to a world crying out for healing. We can’t be salt and light while living in open lifestyle sin.

When you sin against God and ignore the leading of the Holy Spirit you grieve Him. Since our path is narrow according to scripture, any other path leads away from God. To surrender to temptation is to choose to walk a path not intended. The aftermath of that choice is often guilt. Guilt only becomes bad when it leads you away in self-pity and self-seeking healing. Runaway Guilt is Adam and Eve running and hiding from God. Convicting guilt is from the Holy Spirit and leads to life.

What then is the answer after the fall? The answer is conviction. Conviction is the voice of the Holy Spirit. Conviction is the voice of reconciliation. Conviction draws you toward God to receive forgiveness from any and all sin committed. I’ve often said there is a difference between a man facing the cross and asking God to forgive him, than the one who is facing away from the cross trying to hide it all.

Hiding leads to guilt in the shadows and the weight of sin remains. Guilt that faces the cross leads to life and forgiveness. A great example of facing the cross is Peter. When Peter sinned, he confessed, and God forgave him. Adam on the other hand blamed God while trapped in guilt and tried to hide it. The desire of God is for each of us to bring our guilt to him. On the cross, Jesus died for your sins. He was the innocent for the guilty, so it is only at the foot of the cross that guilt is relieved. Now drop that fig leaf and be healed.

1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Until Then

October 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

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brokenroadUnanswered pain won’t go unanswered forever…but it sure feels like it sometimes. Pain is a former thing that will one day pass away. Life has a way of bringing challenges into our lives that at times seem too much to endure. Aches, limitations and even permanent limitation haunt many this side of eternity. Depression that is inescapable and scarring that runs through the soul unhealed, call for many to give up…and they do.

For all the bad things pain brings…pain also acts as a signpost pointing to an end to pain forever. Pain has a small whisper calling for you to endure anyway. Pain speaks with a faint voice of courage and resourcefulness; calling us to take hold of the future that will one day be ours. Pain calls to you to help others who are going through similar pain until the pain is no more.

Revelation 21:4b stands true, “neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” You will have a new body in the age to come. You will be untouched by the things of this present age. Pain, disease and any limitations will be forever cast aside.

For now, there is a call to press on, a call to endure by the power of His grace, which is sufficient for all things and all circumstances. Paul asked the Lord three times to remove his thorn in the flesh. The answer he received from the Lord was simply this, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Until then…

unbelief

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Now that’s my kind of prayer! It’s my kind of prayer, and I venture to bet it’s your kind of prayer from time to time also. It’s not a faithless prayer. It’s a prayer that is mixed with trust and yet a hint of despair.

Despair is often the unwanted guest of an ongoing crisis. Despair somehow slips into our temple and pokes around causing us to doubt things will ever change.  Such is the case of the man in Mark 9.

His son is a demon-possessed, and he brings his son to the disciples of Jesus for deliverance. His steps of faith toward the men of God have ended in complete failure.  The disciples are not able to help his son.

The voice of despair grows stronger in his heart. He thinks to himself, “What now?” Suddenly, Jesus takes center stage. Jesus asks a few questions, and the man asks Jesus to do something. “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” I love the response of Jesus, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believers.”

Then we see the broken beauty of the moment. A man of flesh and blood has faith and yet unbelief mixed in his heart, but Jesus answers his prayer anyway. With tears, the father cries out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” It’s a prayer that bottles the request to remove the despair and fill up what is lacking in his trust.

He has seen the failure of the disciples, and it has only increased his  sense of despair and now what faith he has left seems to be quickly draining away. However, whereas the disciple didn’t have enough faith to accomplish the request, Jesus has unlimited power.

Jesus helps his unbelief and the miracle happens. Sometimes the greatest faith move you can make is to give your unbelief to Him in faith! The cries of this man’s heart have resonated with many that fight the same battle across the sands of time. He prays for relief just as he is, a doubter that needs a touch from God. Never forget; you can do the same.

words

I want you to think of the power of your words today. I not only want you to think about them, but I want you to take an inventory of them today. I ask you to pay close attention throughout the day to the words you use toward others and even yourself.

When I was young I worked in my fathers business. He owed a heating and air condition business and also did metal fabrication. We had a supply room, and from time to time he would make me do inventory of all our products. I would spend days counting big items all the way down to small items. For 8 hours a day for several days I would count.

It was a tedious job, but it was a necessary job also. Once I had the inventory completed, I had an accurate count and assessment of everything we owned.  I could now order or add to what was lacking, and I could now even throw away anything that wasn’t needed or was broken. Inventory clears things up and makes it easier to see exactly where you are. It clears the path forward.

There are times in life you need to take an inventory of things. Today I want you to start taking an inventory of your words. Have you ever stopped to think about the power of the words you use? The words you say to yourself, others, enemies, friends, co-workers, your family, spouse and your children?

Your words affect your life. Your words affect the lives of others. Most importantly, your words reveal what is in your heart. Words show what you have in your inventory. Many miscalculate the power of their words. They say to themselves, “It’s not all that important, they are just words.” That’s not true through. Words are powerful. Words can build or tear down. They can destroy or create. Words set the tone of every conversation.

With words, you can make someone’s day or shatter someone’s day. You can inspire someone or discourage someone. You can build someone up or tear someone down. Your words can move some to do their best work, or to work against you. Words are either life affirming or destructive. For all these reasons,  we should take an inventory or our words often, and choose our words carefully.

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so allow me to give you a picture. This picture is found in the book of Luke.

Luke 6:43-45 (NKJV)

43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Emphases added)

The picture stand on its own. Words come from the heart. They are either good or bad. Inventory is tied to our hearts. We are challenged to clear up our words, thereby clearing up our hearts. When our hearts are clear of destructive words, we can then speak into the lives of others words of life and creation.

You see, frequently, though not always, what people criticize in others is what they are afraid of in their own lives.  Jesus also pointed out that a persons words would eventually tell what kind of person he or she is. Therefore, it’s imperative that we take an inventory of junk words still floating around in our hearts. It’s important to do so. It’s life changing to do so. In fact, God himself will one day take inventory of our heart.

Matthew 12:36-37 (NKJV)

36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

We as Christ followers have a great task at hand, which is taking an inventory of our words for the sake of His glory. I challenge you today to look closely at your conversations and at the carelessness we often use in our speech. You might just be surprised at the junk that is still in your heart.

My prayer: Let the words of my mouth be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

live-like-jesus

The latter part of the verse found in Luke 6:35 rocks my world and I think it will rock your world if you read it slow enough for it to read you. Jesus of course, if you will remember, is talking about loving your enemies.

Jesus is saying things like, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” He then goes on to take His grace and mercy to deeper extremes that often causes our flesh to cry out, “INSANITY!”

I can’t speak for you, but if I wrote those verses myself, it would have to read something like the following to make sense to me. I would write, “Crush your enemies, do the worst thing to them before they can do something bad to you, don’t pray for them that abuse you, they deserve what they have coming.” I think you get my point.

It’s deep in us to seek revenge on those who mistreat us, and to point the accusing finger at the unjust and evil people of the world. However, the latter part verse 35, found in Luke 6 deals the ultimate conviction to the soul.

Luke 6:35 says, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, (THEN HERE IT IS) for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”

Yes, that is correct! You read that right. God is KIND to the ungrateful and the evil. Now that is love. That is God’s love, and it should be our love. If He can love like that, then He can still love like that through us if we submit to His control and leading.

Anyone can have a ‘invite a friend to church Sunday,’ but can you have a ‘invite an enemy to church Sunday?’ Now that would change the world- don’t ya think?

I know you can love the loveable, but can you love the unlovable, the ungrateful and the evil? God does and I’m convinced that you and I can also. It’s hard but not impossible.

I challenge you with the words of N.T. Wright,“Think of the best thing you can do for the worst person, and go ahead and do it.

God has called us to be like Him and being like Him means you must love and seek to do good to the ungrateful and the evil. I bet if you do, you just might smell a little bit like Jesus.

Serving Jesus can’t be detached from serving others; otherwise you are not serving Him at all. Also, serving Jesus without serving your enemy is not serving Him at all also.

Peace

loneliestroad

Empty is the perfect starting place for God to do His work in your life. Let it begin. You are not forgotten, but you might have forgotten Him. You just might have something to recapture.

According to Wikipedia, In July 1986, Life magazine published an article that gave US 50 in Nevada the name “The Loneliest Road in America”. The article portrayed the highway, and rural Nevada, as a place devoid of civilization.

I can attest to the fact it is long, hot and lonely for sure. Years ago a friend and I took the route on our Harley’s as we were making our way from San Francisco to Florida. It wasn’t long until we needed some gas, but finding gas wasn’t easy at all. We started getting low on fuel and started looking well enough in advance for gas, but a gas station was nowhere to be found.

It wasn’t long until we were running on fumes. In order to conserve fuel, we slowed our speed  to only 25 miles per hours. Mile after mile went by and still no gas station in sight. It was looking bad, and all we could do was begin to imagine what it was going to be like stranded in the middle of nowhere-The Loneliest Road In America.

Finally, just when all hope was about gone, we saw a gas station a few miles ahead. I’ve never been so thankful for a gas station in my life! Normally, gas stations are on every corner, and you don’t even give them a passing thought. However, when you are on a remote road in the middle of nowhere, it recaptures proper value.

I often think there are times God allows us to run close to empty in order to RECAPTURE His proper value in our lives. We can get so use to Him that we don’t give Him the value He continually deserves.

We made it to the station. We filled our gas tanks. We smiled at each other and didn’t have to say a word. We both knew how valuable this gas station was to us.

Is your spiritual life running on empty? It might just be that God wants you to recaptures His proper value in your life. Take time today to allow Him to refuel your life and my prayer for you is that God Recaptures that very distinct place in your heart again.

jesusstormcalmsstorm

The object of obedience is God’s glory. When He calls you to obey Him, it is not about you. In fact, even the offer to forgive our sins is done for His glory alone.

Isaiah 43:25 (NKJV)
25 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.

Psalm 25:11 (NKJV)
11 For Your name’s sake, O Lord, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

When we do all things for the glory of God, it shows honor and places honor where it rightfully belongs. Honor belongs to the one who created us. Obedience is the clear means through which we are able to point glory to God.

Submission is the first step to obedience. You must have a heart that longs to submit your will to the will of God. The struggle of compliance will always be there, speaking to you to find or ask for another way, but you must untimely surrender to the pure sound of His voice.

Each time I find myself over debating submission to what God is asking me to do, I think of Jesus in the garden before His trial and crucifixion, and I’m humbled and convicted.  He was (and is) 100% God, and He was (and is) 100% human. His humanness calls out in Luke 22:42, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

That moment of obedience brought matchless glory to God the Father, and it was and is a breathtaking example of perfect obedience. Perfect obedience doesn’t mean that all  struggles are absent. Perfect obedience is untimely your heart crying,  “Nevertheless!”

We need more Christ followers to be “Nevertheless” servants. We owe it to God, and we owe it to a world that watches our commitment to the one that we profess to follow. The opportunity to bring glory to God through obedience should be one of the foremost compelling motives for living.

I’ve often said, “Demons obey God; Nature obeys God, but humans struggle with obedience.

Obey Him unconditionally and as you do, you can be assured that you bring Him the greatest glory in doing so. Don’t let demons or nature upstage you.

Feelings1

I’m empty today. There is nothing inside of me that is happy. I’m my own worse nightmare. I break promises to God all the time, and I feel there is no way He can love me knowing the thoughts of my heart.

Bitterness haunts me and broken dreams seem to be the only thing in front of me. I keep going and yet deep inside I long for another direction for my life. I question if God knows what He is doing in my life. I fail so often I’ve almost started to expect nothing less.

I wonder constantly how to be a better Father, and yet I seem to never follow through on things and time is slipping away. I desperately want to be a better husband and yet I fall short time and time again. I want to be a better pastor, but I’m confused to what all that means and I wonder if I’m just setting myself up for more disappointment.

I write these things today to show you the voices I encounter on a daily basis, but I also write to tell you more.

I’m actually not empty because He said He would always be with me. That is a promise I can count on regardless of feelings. I don’t have to always be happy because He has promised me joy by the power of His Holy Spirit. I don’t have to worry about being my own worse nightmare because He is for me. I may break promises, but He is the God of mercy and even though He sees the thoughts of my heart, He knows I’m but clay and loves me anyway.

The Bitterness that comes from broken dreams only proves He has a better plan and a better way. The longing for another direction is only a thought of momentary escape, and God knows I’m committed until the end. He is not afraid of my questioning Him because in doing so, I’m drawn closer to His heart. I might fail more often than succeed, but He is there to pick me up when everyone else has run away.

He whispers to me that being a Father is not about being perfect but about loving them and pointing them toward Him, the perfect Father of all. He encourages me to love my wife as Christ loved the church and yet knows I will fail from time to time. Again He shows me His mercy and Grace. He calls to me to remain steadfast in being a pastor and promises me that when the chief Shepherd appears, I will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Oh the beauty of following Christ! Maybe you have similar feelings about your life today? If you do have similar feelings, then welcome to the human story. If you do have similar feelings, then He knows all about them. If you do have similar feelings, then you need to know they will one day pass away forever. Until then, keep walking, keep believing for He is with you.

Falling Forward

February 25, 2013 — 2 Comments

trust 3

My son showed me a video the other day on YouTube, and we had a good laugh watching it a few times. A father was filming his daughters learning the trust fall. If you’ve never heard of the trust fall, it’s a trust-building game often conducted as a group exercise in which a person deliberately allows himself or herself to fall, relying on the other members of the group to catch the person.

Anyway, in this video there were only two girls and the father. After, explaining to the girl who had never done it before how to do it, she took her place and prepared for her first trust fall. Her sister got behind her. The father was filming and talking her through it. Finally, she began to trust and let herself fall. She was suppose to fall backward into her sisters arms but instead, she fell forward and right onto her face. She didn’t’ get hurt, but man it was funny to watch.

The trust fall got me think about falling forward. The game of trust fall is designed to fall backwards. However, in the walk of the Christ follower we are called to trust forward. In other words,  we are called to fall forward as we trust Christ to lead us.

Many times God calls us forward and our faith is weak and so we fall away in disobedience. We think to ourselves, “There is no way God can pull off in my life what He is asking me to do?”

We see in our heart the story of Peter getting out of the boat at the command of Christ and then sinking. We say to ourselves, “No way is that going to happen to me, I’ll just say in the boat and drift the storm out.” However, deep down we know we can’t stay in the boat when He is calling. We know our faith won’t grow in the boat, and He won’t get the glory by us staying in the boat.

The only decision that is God honoring is to get out of the boat and not be afraid to fall forward. What is God calling you to do? Where is He calling you to fall forward? I challenge you! Go ahead and fall. He will be there to see you through.

The Ugly Grudge Bucket

February 21, 2013 — 4 Comments

bucket

There is just something ugly about a Christ follower carrying grudges. Carrying around that proverbial bucket filled with ugly is a laborious task to keep doing. In fact, not only is it laborious,but also it grieves the heart of God. We are supposed to be people of forgiveness.

Grudges lead to nowhere good! Grudges damage everything. Grudges will hurt you from the inside out and will produce a wedge between you and your fellowship with God. Letting go of grudges and moving beyond them is the only godly option.

Letting go of grudges can prove to be difficult. Let’s face it, when you have been hurt, it is hard to let go. Fear often plays a role in us not letting go because we don’t want to ever be hurt again. Therefore, we hold on to the grudge and keep our guard up. As right as that may feel, you and I know deep down inside it’s just downright wrong.

You can only be free when you forgive. Otherwise, you are in a prison of your own creation. You are letting the grudge be your Lord instead of Jesus. Anger and frustration control you more than you know. However, you would do well to remember Ephesians 4:26-27 – And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

Grudges are nothing to play with. Grudges can take you down a path you never thought you would go. You might do something you will regret forever. Turn before it’s to late and you jeopardize your reputation and the position you carry as a Christ follower.

Holding on to a grudge is not done in a vacuum. The longer you hold a grudge the more you will entice others into thinking about the person you are angry at in the same way you do, then you become the blind leading the blind.  Read with your heart the following verses and enjoy the rest of your day.

Hebrews 12:14-15 – Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.  Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.