Archives For Listening

devotional2

Is your devotional time with God in a rut? I once heard a preacher say, “ A rut is just a grave with both ends kicked out.” In other words, a rut is a grave of death. Ruts can be hard to get out of, but you can escape. Change is necessary in life, and when it comes to your devotional life, change is necessary from time to time.

1. Set a time or reset a different time

Spending time with God takes time. You must set a time or reset a time you already have as part of your daily routine. For example, if your devotions are in the morning and they have become routine so that you are not feeling connected on a deep level-then change the time you do your devotions. If you have devotions in the morning, move them to the afternoon or evening.

2. Change the location

Change the place you do your devotions. Changing the time and place will make a big differences. I once moved my devotion time to a park, and it was amazing how God would speak through His word to me and at the same time show me things about people all around me. I felt connected to both God and humanity.

3. Don’t be random

Have a plan for you devotions. Pick a book of the Bible to work through. Add a devotional book to your time with God. Add a good Christian discipleship book to your devotion that will challenge your faith in a strong way. You might want to check out my book, The Descent to Compassion.

4. Record your thoughts and what He is speaking

Write down what you are thinking as you are having your devotional time with God. You can even use a smartphone to record your thoughts to a voice memo. You would be amazed how well this works to keep you engaged in what God is trying to speak into your life.

5. Pass on what you can

Share with others what God is speaking and doing through your life. After all, a relationship with God should and must be shared. Not only should you share some of the things God is speaking to you, but also you should walk out works of kindness before the world so they will know you have been with Jesus.

Miracles Happen

What an incredible moment in Luke 18! The God of the universe, the creator of everything, asked Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?”

What a miracle! What a God opportunity! Bartimaeus was a blind man that saw his opportunity (no pun intended) MIRACLES HAPPEN…sometimes they are housed in an opportunity.

Bartimaeus is a model to imitate, and no, I’m not promoting NAME IT and CLAIM IT. God is not Burger King, where you can have it your way. I’m speaking of imitating the way he acts on his God given moment of opportunity, in spite of everyone around him telling him to keep quiet. He simply keeps calling for Jesus to have mercy and that opportunity leads to the miracle  that he needed.

Bartimaeus would have remained blind, had he not seized the opportunity of His God moment. Most often, miracles are found in obeying the opportunity God has placed right in front of you.

I like to say it this way: Miracles Are Often Wearing The Clothing Of Opportunity

My wife and I moved to San Francisco many years ago to start a new church.(We were there for 13 plus years) She and I appeared before the state council for our denomination and shared our calling. After pouring out our hearts, we were expecting 100% of the men to give us the green light and their blessing. It was just the opposite. They turned us down and thanked us for our time, and we walked out the door.

As we were walking down the hallway to leave, my wife was visibly upset. I asked her, “What’s wrong?” She responded, “What are we going to do?” My reply was simply, “Start a church.”

Seeing she was not satisfied with my answer, we returned to the board room. I knocked, and then pushed the door open. I apologized for the interruption, but shared with them that I had a few more things I would like  to say. I proceeded to tell them that we meant no disrespect, but we would be starting a church for our denomination, or an independent work because we had to obey God.

After a few moments of silence, a man at the end of the table (who is a dear friend of mine) began to clap and stand up. It was one a man standing ovation. I believe that is the way God does us. He gives us a standing ovation, when we obey the opportunity He has called us to obey, even when  everyone else is telling us, we can’t.

Allow me to share a passage with you with some comments.

Luke 18:35-43

35 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.

  • Miracle Opportunities shows up often in everyday life if you have faith to see it.
  • The text say Jesus was drawing near Jericho, but in the case of Bartimaeus, Jesus was drawing near him.

36 And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. 37 They told him,  “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

  • He was listening to what was going on around him.
  • He was listening for his opportunity.
  •  Open your ears! You might just be surprised at what God is trying to set up for you.

38 And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

  • Psalm 23 tells us that goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life.
  • God has your life surrounded with goodness and mercy.

39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

  • He had a desire to move passed the one’s that were just curious about Jesus
  • “You may delay, but time will not.” –Benjamin Franklin
  • He opened every widow of his heart to the opportunity

40 And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, 41  “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.”

  • Isn’t that really the miracle we all need, to recover our sight?
  • To see what God see’s; to see how God see’s things?
  • If we did, and acted on it more often, we would change our lives and those around us.

42 And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

  • The miricle for Bartimaeus was found in the opportunity of Jesus passing by. Once he was rescued, he followed and glorified God and everyone saw. I just love that. His life became a witness. You life can also.

Today, many will open their eyes to the miracle opportunities that surround them. Why not you?

 biblereading

 

As a Christ follower, I’m sure you read your bible. However, allow me to ask you a question. Do you permit your bible to read you? There is a difference between reading the bible, and permitting the bible to read you.

 

The scripture teaches us in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Did you get all that Hebrew 4:12 speaks?

1. God’s word is LIVING and ACTIVE

2. It’s SHARP and PENETRATES the SOUL, SPIRIT, JOINTS and MARROW

3. It JUDGES THOUGHTS and ATTITUDES of HEART

When we just read the bible out of habit, it becomes a mere devotional journey. However, when you allow the bible to read you, it corrects and changes your direction. When you allow the bible to read you, it will shape your belief, which is vital, because what you believe matters, because what you believe determines how you will live.

So, how do you permit the bible to read you?

1. Pray before you open the Bible and pray that your Bible opens you.

2. Don’t read the Bible trying to make your belief fit it. The Bible forms belief in you.

3. Picture yourself in the stories of scripture. How would you have answered Jesus?

4. Embrace the truth that God is speaking directly to you

5. Allow the Bible to love and convict the ugly side of you. We all have an ugly side.

6. Let the Bible inflame your heart and not just inform it.

Prayer

There are times in my life that prayer gets so commonplace that it becomes more of a daily checklist than actually meeting with God in new and creative ways that are fresh.

 

If you’re like me, you could use a facelift on your prayer life. After all, God is fresh in the way He approaches us, and we need to keep it fresh in the way we approach Him.

Here are a few ways I give my prayer life a facelift

 1. A past reminder

Often, I like to go before God in prayer, and take a great memory from the past, and remember it with God again.  It helps me to remember God’s goodness, and faithfulness. I especially like to do this when I feel like I’m not hearing from God. It always refocuses me on the fact that God does hear me, and will answer me in His own beautiful timing.

2. Write a prayer

You would be amazed at what will flow out of you when you write a prayer. You can do it on paper, or a word processor. No matter which you choose, you will be blown away at how God uses this exercise to draw things out of you. There is something special about having to seriously think about what you are going to write or type. You think about the words more deeply.

3. Pray a Psalm

This one is one of my favorites. I love to go to the book of Psalms and choose a Psalm to pray through. You will be amazed at how when you are praying through a Psalm, God is working the Psalm through you. You begin to experience God at a deep level. When you pray the Word of God back to Him, you are praying God’s word, and God’s words are the most powerful words of all words.

I hope these tips help you. What are some other ways you have found that help? Leave a comment and share with others.

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condemnation
I hate when I set goals and then fail to meet them. It’s certainly not a life and death issue, but the voice inside of me usually makes me feel extremely bad. All of us have that voice inside that berates us when we have failed in one way or another. The voice speaks when we have done things like, putting off something for later (which never get done) and then we never get back to it.

That’s when the voice starts! Saying things like, “You always put things off. Can’t you do any better?” Well, you get the idea-it’s not a voice of grace and encouragement. It is a voice of self-condemnation.

It’s not like you can cut the voice off altogether, but you don’t have to let it get the better of you. Also, that voice could have some truth in it (some God in it) and you would do well to listen to it and change some things in your life. The key is to not let is condemn you, but instruct you. It shouldn’t make you feel an unhealthy guilt. It should cause you to examine what part is true, and then make an honest effort to do better the next time.

Don’t allow the voice to harm you; let the voice help you. Find the God part of the voice and weed out the negative part of the voice that tries to mix with God’s loving voice.

Here are a few tips to help you stop beating yourself up

1. Don’t step on your own heart

Stop being so hard on yourself. You are loved and approved by God. You don’t need to prove anything in order to gain love. You have love. God loves you no matter what. Part of stepping on your own heart comes form not believing you are good enough. Self-punishment never works. Self-punishment will never take the fear away. The bible tells us that perfect love cast out fear. Hold on to that promise.

2. Stop believing you are a failure

You need to kick the word failure in the face with your God foot. Constantly entertaining the word ‘failure’ in your life can emotionally debilitate you. God often speaks into our life to instruct us, or to convict us, but it’s never so that we feel like a failure. God has called you His own and builds through your weaknesses with grace and mercy. Always remember, when you are weak He is strong.

3. Let God love the weak and ugly side of you

Once again, we are back to love. We always give God our good side. Try giving Him your weak and ugly side. You would be amazed at what He can do with the messy stuff in your life. Place your ugly stuff in His hands and leave it there. Remember the guy in the bible (Luke 18) that was bragging about all his good work and God said he wasn’t justified? Then another guy comes in a very humble way, and gives God his ugly side and God says that guys left and was justified.

What are your thoughts? Share by leaving a comment.

GUYS-Bon-Qui-Qui--Don-t-Interrupt,-Rude--teeProverbs 18:13 teaches us, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”

Do you have a habit of interrupting people when they’re talking? Do you jump into their conversation, and splash their face with selfishness more often than you want to admit? I must admit I use to be downright crummy at these many years ago. I wasn’t terrible, but I interrupted frequently. How about you? Could you use a little more work in this area?

I’m continuously astonished at how nonchalant some people can be about interrupting others. It seems some have lost the grace of listening to the other person and waiting their turn. Don’t get me wrong, not interrupting is difficult, especially when you have a point you want to make, and you’re afraid you’re going to forget it. I would venture to say, that may be one of the main reasons people interrupt others. They simple have a point they want to make before they forget. However, that’s still no excuse for being rude and interrupting the other person.

Interrupting is often just downright disrespectful and needs to be removed from our lives as much as possible. When you interrupt someone, you are sending them a message that your words are more valuable than their words. You can tell when you have interrupted because you usually will do it mid-sentence. Interrupting is more than an etiquette no-no, it can also hinder your testimony for Christ.

1 Corinthians 13:5 says of love that, “It is not rude, it is not self-seeking…” It is easy to forget, that love is tied to our testimony, and when we interrupt another person, we can be in danger of diminishing the love of Christ.

Let me give you a few tips on how not to interrupt others.

1. Become aware

You need to be aware that you might just be an interrupter. We all know what it feels like when others interrupt us, but many of us are never aware that we also might be the one interrupting.

2. Make a note in your mind

If you have something you need to say, make a note in your mind, and say it when it’s your turn. If you have a hard time remembering things, then write down a one word reminder on a piece of paper. (Don’t have a pen and paper? Carry them with you. You won’t regret it.)

3. Give permission for someone to interrupt you
Ask your spouse, or a close friend to interrupt you, when you interrupt them, by calling you out on it. Tell them you are trying to improve your conversation skills, and your witness for Christ.

Closing thoughts: Yes there are times you may need to interrupt others; however, it’s rare and I’ll save my thoughts on that for another post.

P.S. Sorry to interrupt your busy day with this post. 🙂

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grassgreener
Is Sex Greener On The Other Side Of The Fence?

The fastest way to destroy your marriage is to allow yourself to fall into an emotional attachment to someone other than your spouse. Nothing can steal intimacy faster than this first step away from the covenant God has placed you in when you took your vows before God and the world. Now, let me say at this point; if you want to comment adultery, it’s your choice…but know this-it’s going to cost you. It will destroy your home and the lives of many around you. There is simply no way around the fact that it will cause pain forever.

Adultery promises fulfillment and excitement that you feel you are not getting at home. The problem is, it always fails to live up to that promise sooner or later. You must remember, love is not a feeling; love is an action that you continually do and feelings are secondary. The green grass on the other side of the fence has the same sun shining on it as the grass you are thinking about leaving.

Please remember, that the decision to cross the fence comes with consequences that are enormous and last for a lifetime. It has been said before, and I agree, “No sex outside of marriage is that good.” That new adventure also has it’s own disappoints of life waiting to show itself soon enough. Those feelings of loneliness, emptiness and boredom that is diving you to pursue someone else…they will soon surface in the next relationship also. The reason why is that those feelings are inside you. In other words, everywhere you go, there you are.

It’s a fact that most people don’t set out to commit adultery. They let down their guard, and they generally drift out to sea until land seems to far to return to. It’s like the frog place in warm water: you turn up the temperature little by little until the frog is cooked. The frog just thinks it’s having a warm bath but the truth is he is being killed.

Allow me to give you three things that will help you to remain faithful and keep you from wreaking you life and others.

1. Keep the marriage bed on fire and purse each other

Take the time to talk with your spouse about your needs, wants and desires. Share with each other what you are looking for in the bedroom. Come to an agreement for the sake of the marriage, your kids and God. Submit to each other the bible teaches us. Cultivate romance in your relationship again. I would encourage you to pursue your spouse the way you did when you first started dating. If you are not still dating your spouse, you need to restart that as fast as you can. Get a baby sitter and leave the kids at home. Go to a movie and a meal. Hold hands and look into each other’s eyes. Talk about the beauty of the past and dream with each other about the beauty of the future.

2. Close the door on your heart to any other except your spouse

Make yourself accountable to a friend that will ask you about your flirting with others. Be open and honest with them and ask them to pray and ask you regularly about it. The bible teaches us that faithful are the wounds of a friend. Trust me, you need someone in your life that will speak truth without watering it down. You eyes are the gateway to the heart. Give your eyes back to your spouse and that feeling of him or her no longer having your heart will return like a flood.

3. Don’t deny you are being tempted

You and your spouse need to make a decision that you can freely and opening talk about your temptations. Temptation is not wrong. Temptation is not a sin. However, once you act on temptation sin is birthed. If you were at the office and someone was flirting with you or you were flirting with them…when you get home sit down and talk about it. You and your spouse need to decide in advance that these kinds of talk can and should take place without judgment. Confession can be risky, but the truth is, they can also save your marriage before it is too late.

Finally, if you are on the other side of adultery and have divorced and maybe even married again, and then grace and mercy from God is there when you repent of your sin. My advice would be this…go to the top of the post and read it again. Don’t commit the same SIN again.

decision-making-processes1
Decisions sometimes are easy but lets fact it, that’s a rarity. Decisions, most of the times are difficult. The process of deciding what to do can become overwhelming if you don’t have a way to walk through the decision-making responsibility. Trying to figure out what the will of God is on a decision can be life altering for you and your family. So, what are you to do? Below are some things that have helped me over the years. I hope they will help you also.

1. Identify All The Options

I know this sounds elementary but try and think through all the different choices you can make and write them down. Write down what the likely outcome of each of them might be. If they pop into your head and heart, then they just might be worth writing them down. This list will help you with the next step.

2. Talk With A Friend

Run your thoughts by someone who is your friend and that you respect. They might have a few more thoughts that you can write down and might shed some new light on the problem. After, making your list and talking with a friend, take it to God in prayer.

3. Prayer Is Your Connection To God

Take your list, your heart, and your thoughts to the Lord. I know He might have a different plan when it’s all said and done, but God loves to hear your ideas. He loves you and gave you a brain to think with. Pray has a way of removing fear from the decision making process. Prayer gives birth to faith, joy and the power of God’s love connecting with you on a very personal level. Pray you list and thoughts out loud to the Lord…they can become clearer that way.

4. Communication With God Filters Out Moral Issues

As you pray, God will reveal to you, and show you, the moral or non-moral areas of your thoughts. Be prepared to get rid of anything He reveals to you that doesn’t line up with His heart or His Word. If any of your thoughts go against a biblical command, then the decision is an easy one…OBEY His Word.

5. Embrace God’s Decision As You Decision

God will show you and speak to you the right thing to do when it’s the right time. It is essential that your will is submitted to God’s. In order to be submitted, you must be humble enough to accept His decision as your own. Sometimes it will be a combination of your thoughts and His, but more often, it will be different and even better. He is the author and the finisher of your faith. Trust that fact.

Finding Jesus In Sadness

October 1, 2012 — 2 Comments

Sadness
When you find someone that is sad, you might just be finding Jesus.

There are times I’ve encountered people who seem really unfriendly and indifferent. My first reaction (just being honest here) is to get as far away as possible. After all, I wouldn’t want to come down with a case of unfriendly and indifference myself. However, Jesus was a friend of the brokenhearted and so must I be also; and so must you. Every person has some kind of sorrow that he or she tries to hidden deep inside; and many times, a person that I label a cold person, is only someone that is really sad.

Sadness is everywhere in this world. Sadness is everywhere you will venture today. Look for it in burst of anger from people. Anger is an extension of sadness that is deep inside of a person. They are afraid to share their hurt with anyone, so it’s much easier to be angry at the world and everyone around them. They would prefer to just slip away and be by themselves but they must work. Angry keeps people at a distance.

You see, when a person is sad, they desperately and sometimes just naturally withdraw form others. They rather avoid people altogether. That’s where you come in and allow God to use you for His glory and their benefit. Once you recognize someone is really sad, that just might be God’s invitation to you to help, instead of running away. With all the sadness that is in the world and at our very own doorsteps, it has been said; “we are under obligation to contribute as much joy as lies within our powers.”

The bible tells us in Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Therefore, if the Lord lives in us through the power of the Holy Spirit, then He is certainly seeking to be near those who are sad by working through your life and mine. The Lord is always leading His followers to the wounded if they will just simply follow and obey and not run away from where He is trying to work.

I want to remind you that Jesus was a ‘man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.’ He knew what sadness felt like. He experienced sadness all the way to the cross. He endured the cross for you and me…and the world of sadness.

We are told in Hebrews 12:2, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I want you to remember today, that when you take time to bring a little joy to someone who is sad, you are allow them to look at Jesus through the reflection of your eyes fixed on Him. Scripture makes it clear that when we minster to the hurting of the world, we are in fact ministering to Jesus. You are finding Jesus in sadness. God bless you today and you do your part to stamp out sadness and replace it with the joy of Jesus.

moretime

You have more time than you think.  If you are like me, you have a list of things to do and time seems to be in slim supply. Fear not! There are ways to find a little more time in your day if know where to look and what to do.

Below are seven ways to find more time

1. Take an inventory

You must know where your time is going before you can adjust it. Trust me, you have more time than you think you do. Grab a notepad and keep up with your time for a day or two. Write down what you do in time intervals. Once you take an inventory, you will be able to see where your time is really going. You will be amazed at how all the things you do can be consolidated. For instances, look for and discover on your list a few things that can be done together instead of spread out through you day.

Example-Want to read that book but don’t have the time? Then try reading when you are in the bathroom. I know that sounds funny but hey, everyone goes to the bathroom. 🙂

2. Little adds up

Some goals in your life are big and take a lot of time. They are so big, many times you might find yourself giving up altogether. Guess what? You don’t have to. Why? The reason why is because little adds up.

Example-Do you want to write a book that is 50,000 words? Then write 500 words a day. In 100 days you will have that book.

3. Don’t disregard small increments of time as having no value

You would be amazed at what just 5 minutes given to a project or goal in your life will do. Sometimes people don’t work on a goal or project because to fully complete it that day would take an hour. Guess what? You can divide that project or goal up into 5-minute increments and it will get done eventually. It might be slower than you wanted, but never forget…the snail made it on the ark -even if he was the last one on. 🙂

4. Capture a weekend

There will be times that 5-minutes will not be the best choice for you. That’s okay. Just look at your calendar and find a weekend that must be yours and plan to use that weekend to get the task done. You would be amazed at what can happen with a whole day with no one to bother you. Let’s face it…we waste a lot of time on weekends recovering from the week. Take one weekend and own it for your goals. Don’t let anything social get in the way and steal that marked off time.

5. Cut the radio off

When you are driving, cut the radio off. You will be blown away by how it clears you mind and allows you to think. I almost always drive without music. I love to write and of course I write sermons for each Sunday. Many times in my truck I think of great thoughts. I simply grab my iPhone and record my thoughts to listen to later and work with. (Note: This one can be dangerous. Keep your eyes on the road and do this one at your own risk)

6. Get up earlier

This one is simple. Get up 15 or 20 minutes earlier and use that time. Do it!!!!!!

7. Pray longer than normal

I know this one sound crazy but you would be amazed at how spending extra time with God will give you more time. I’ve learned, that many of the blocks in my writing will go away when I’ve prayed more. It seems that God blesses me with fewer roadblocks, and what would have taken an hour to do, often ends up taking just 30-minutes.