Tuesday, November 15, 2011

There's somethin stinky in the heir

“Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel--he was indeed the firstborn, but because he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel, so that the genealogy is not listed according to the birthright.” 1 Chron. 5:1

What a tragic story about Reuben.  He missed out on his incredible birthright because of his pride and immorality.  Reuben slept with his dad’s woman, which was also the mother of two of his brothers.  Gross.  The firstborn was supposed to be the spiritual leader of his siblings but Reuben totally blew it and this resulted in a life that never really amounted to much.  No prophet, no judge, and no king ever came out of the tribe of Reuben.  Because Reuben’s character and integrity was flimsy, the authority and leadership that would have been his had to be spread among the rest of the brothers.  Tragic indeed.

Was it worth it?  Was it worth sabotaging his entire lineage for a little temporary pleasure?  No way.  Reuben could have been great and many amazing leaders could have come through his descendants but that honor went to others who had strong character and solid integrity.

One of my upcoming projects is to record a series of videos of my mother telling her life story.  This will be the first video storyline in my family and I’m excited to start it.  It gets me thinking.. what is MY story looking like so far?  How’s my character and integrity?

This story shakes me up.  I don’t want to look back on my life and realize that I missed out on God’s best for me and my family because of a little temporary selfish pleasure.  I don’t want my great great great grandkids to look at my video story and see that Gramps didn’t amount to much because of wasting time or fooling around with stupid stuff.

The Lord wants to do amazing things through you and your family.  Mine, too.  Is there anything blocking that from happening?  Are we shooting ourselves in the foot?  Is pride stinking up the place?  What hidden junk needs to be thrown out?

Let’s learn from Reuben’s mistake.  Our decisions are not only affecting our present situation, not only affecting our future, but actually affecting people who haven’t even been born yet.  Let’s sober up and get goin.  There’s work to be done, first in us, and then around us.  We have a birthright (Rom. 8:17) so let’s claim it and walk in it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

All fired up

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.  But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up." – Dan. 3:16-18

These godly fellas were bold and had faith that God could and would save them from burning up in the furnace.  That’s terrific.  However, I see something else that’s really intriguing in this passage.  Not only did they have faith that God would save them but they resolved to obey Him even if he chose NOT to save them from dying.

It’s wonderful for us to have faith in God.  He can save us from whatever challenging situation, imminent tragedy, or looming doom that we face.  We trust Him and we should.  However, I suggest that our attitude should go further than just trusting God to save us from difficulty.  We must decide ahead of time that we will love Him, trust Him, and worship Him even when He allows us to go through the ringer. 

What if he doesn’t heal that cancer and my loved one dies?  What if I lose my job and He doesn’t provide a new job for a long time?  What if He doesn’t come through financially and I go bankrupt?  What if that relationship blows up and fizzles out?  What if that prayer isn’t answered?  What if my plans fall apart?  What if I fail? 

Real faith kicks in and says,
I will not bow down to those tempting idols and take the easy worldly way out.
I will not give in to that temptation to fix things in my own strength that’s contrary to God’s commandment to me.
I will choose to honor and glorify God regardless of what He allows to happen to me.

It’s with this attitude that the world looks on and says, “wow, everything just fell apart in that guy’s life and He still loves God and seems to have a joy that doesn’t make sense.. that’s bizarre.. maybe this Jesus thing has something to it..”

Whatever we’re facing at the moment, let’s be like Daniel’s boys.  Not only do we have faith that God CAN save us but let’s have the resolve to worship Him even if He chooses not to save us from a particular problem.  Perhaps He has plans to use a tragedy in your life to show the people in your world what it’s like to have faith in a God regardless of your circumstances.  In the end, He gets the glory and that’s what it’s all about.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Christmas in July

“Christmas in July?!”  That's what I exclaimed a couple of days ago when my good friend gave me a Christmas present from last year.  As I ripped open the wrapping paper with blue and white snowflakes, that wonderful Christmas spirit was awakened in me in the middle of the hot Atlanta summer.  Receiving a gift unexpectedly makes me feel so thankful for friendship and reminds me of the ultimate gift that we celebrate during the Christmas season. 

Thankfulness is such an appropriate response when we receive love, gifts, and unexpected acts of kindness.  Do you know how often the Bible says that we get to show our thanks to God for that Christmas gift of His Son Jesus?  Do you know His favorite way of hearing that you’re thankful?  Check this out:

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” –Heb 13:15

The frequency of our thanks is continually and the method of our thanks is praise.  If you don’t feel like it, do it anyways.  Sometimes it does feel like a sacrifice.  Sometimes I worship through gritted teeth and a cold heart.  Yet, God remains worthy of praise.  He always deserves the “fruit of my lips” as I continually thank Him for changing everything in my world. 

Maybe you’re busy today.  Perhaps you’re grumpy.  It could be that your heart is wandering from the Lord at the moment.  Maybe you’ve got a lot on your mind - decisions to make, directions to choose, situations to figure out.  He invites you to have Christmas in July!  Rip the wrapping paper off like a little kid.  Respond with gratitude and praise.  Enjoy the best gift in the universe that’s yours today to enjoy.  Mark my words – everything in your day will change, your perspective will be enlightened, your mood will improve, your priorities will shift, and your heart will be filled with joy.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Heavy Heart?

Here are some verses for you if you have a heavy heart today and some comments on them:

"I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" -Ps. 27:13

..You WILL see the goodness of the Lord HERE in YOUR life and in YOUR situation. Believe it, it's coming. Hope for it for His Word is true.

"Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart.." Ps. 27:14

..Cheer up, Charlie. It's tough to wait but gather your courage and the strength you need will come from the Lord as you wait. Someone once told me, "Be brave. If you're not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference." CHOOSE to be brave and the Lord will meet you in the place.

"Cast your burden on the Lord and He shall sustain you. He shall never permit the righteous to be moved." Ps. 55:22

..your job is simply to put that burden that's on your heart in the Lord's hands. That's your ONLY job. It's then HE who sustains you and keeps you from falling apart.

..and now the grand finale.....

"Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." -Luke 12:32

..get rid of your fear, Gang. Your heavenly Father desires to give you the kingdom. What a mind blowing truth!! It pleases Him to do so. Yearn for it, cry out for it, focus upon it, and He'll be happy to DO it. The Kingdom of God is so much bigger and better than whatever is making your heart heavy today. Shift your gaze upon the Lord and position yourself in a posture of praise (whether you feel like it or not). Join with the precious saints of old and those who are living among the nations to pray, "Thy kindgom come!" You'll find that your burdens melt away and your heart is renewed.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


There we were. Colorful lights darting around the dark room. The musicians grooving all over the stage and bobbing like buoys in the sea. Surrounded by my middle school friends, I’m in my perfect comfort zone. It’s one of the few places on earth I can truly be myself.

Head and shoulders above the rest, my fist pumping the air, I couldn’t seem to push out of my mind some stuff that’s troubled me lately. Try as I might, my own carnality sought to condemn me. You know that feeling. It’s this gritty pest that eats away at your joy. It’s this persistent whisper that reminds you of your evil past or present sin.

The first few songs during the worship sets at our youth group are always exciting and energetic. My kiddos goof off and get silly. They tug my ears, pull the cords on my hoodie until I look like Kenny, and laugh hysterically as I trump their middle school wackiness with even greater and wilder craziness.

We were in just such a typical place this morning. Having a blast and stoked to be together at church.

Then something changed.

It often does towards the last song. A new song starts that’s a little slower and a bit more focused. I feel my heart strings pulled and that stirring in my spirit to worship Jesus directly, intimately, and personally. The kids around me calm down and catch the drift as we press into a place of worship.

As we stood this morning and hands around the room started lifting in worship, one of my guys just in front of me leaned back on me, his weight supported by my own and the back of his head resting on my chest. Just moments earlier, he was Mr. Silly - funny noises, stupid faces, the works.

The Lord spoke powerfully to me in that moment. With the burdens of the world on my shoulders and the stress of recent difficulties keeping the back of my neck in knots, my Savior invited me to just lean on His chest and rest. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” He says to you and me. As that fella rested his weight against me during the last worship song of the morning, I’m sure he felt completely safe and hadn’t a care in the world. The Lord reminded me that I can do the same with Him anytime I like. For just a little while, I closed my eyes and sorta rested my heart against the Lord. I finally let the drama and problems and stress and disappointments and guilt and anger fade from my mind. My shoulders relaxed. Then a deep breath. Shelter. Relief. Peace. The safety of His presence and the warmth of His embrace was enough.


Enough for what? Enough to silence the evil whispers. Enough to dispel the lies of the enemy. Enough to dust off my child-like faith from the shelf. Enough to remember how much I’m loved right where I’m at. Yes, enough.

If you’re haunted by something today, hear the invitation to lean upon the Lord with all of your weight. Not just your weight but the WEIGHTS that have been dragging you down. “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Stop thinking so much and allow His love to wash over you. Be a little kid in His presence. Let Him whisper in your ear. Notice as the baggage you’ve been dragging around vanishes. He’s your Daddy. He’s gotcha. He’s big enough. He’s strong enough. He’s close enough. He’s gotcha.

Just. Rest.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Spewing Chunks

The Gwinnett Fair last night was a blast. Not only are there thrilling rides and chilling Carnies but where else can you buy deep fried butter?!

Once upon a time, I was able to tackle every ride with a massive goofy smile on my face. Regardless of how rickety or how repetitious a ride was, it was no problem for me. With powdered sugar residue around my mouth, I’d hop to the closest seat and twitch with excitement until the ride hurled me into the air and tossed me around mercilessly.

My body apparently has changed a bit over the past several years. The first ride was great last night but then something started bubbling deep within me on the second ride. You know what I’m talking about.. there was the urge to regurge, toss the cookies, spew chunks, burp to the ninth power…

Man, what a bummer! I bought the unlimited ride stamp and only made it on four or five rides all night. Watching the crowds scream with pure adrenaline while benched on the side lines with a percolating stomach and green-tinted face wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. It brings a familiar passage to mind..

“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” –Rev 3:16

Heavy words from my savior!! In speaking to a group of lukewarm believers, Jesus expresses his utter distaste for their “on the fence” lifestyle. The Greek word for vomit in this verse is “emeo.” It means, “to vomit, vomit forth, throw up, to reject with extreme disgust.” Someone who is hot can be used by the Lord, someone who is cold can be convicted and transformed by the Lord, but someone who is lukewarm thinks he’s fine and thus remains unusable and unchangeable.

Where do you find yourself today? More importantly, how does Jesus find you today? Are you lukewarm? Do you find your security, purpose, identity, or joy from any other source than Christ? If so, verse 19 pointedly gives practical instruction on how to get out of such a lukewarm state: “Be zealous and repent.” In other words, enthusiastically, eagerly, passionately, and fervently turn from that behavior and mindset. Be honest and direct with the Lord and ask him to help straighten out your outlook and motives. And ya know what?.. He’ll meet you in that place of surrender and begin to work some radical changes in your life. Let’s all be diligent to examine our life and, in the words of Joshua, choose this day whom you will serve.

As for me? Well, I’m choosing to pursue my savior with everything I’ve got – and what a thrill it is! No barfing in my world today.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What the French, Toast?

The first thoughts on my mind this morning are all thankfulness and gratitude for the incredible life God has given me this year and specifically for a wonderful weekend.

I reconnected with a best friend from 13 years ago and enjoyed seeing how his life journey has taken him through so many dynamic experiences. I knew he’d end up being a brilliant technically-savvy entrepreneur. He and I were two of the only three people who were geeks enough to take Algebra II as an elective when we were only freshman. Good times. He’s now back on my radar and I’m praying that God will revolutionize his life and bring him back to Jesus.

Sunday mornings always thrill me. My middle school guys were out of control yesterday but I still love them. My ADHD ball of craziness shouted to one of his peers who was talking out of turn, “Shut your cannibal eater!” to which I promptly replied, “What the French, Toast?!” During our ever-so-brief moments of relative sanity, we actually had some interesting dialogue about the concept that whatever you allow into your life via your eyes and ears will come out of your life one way or another. We decided to be intentional about building each other up rather than ripping each other apart with our words. Later that afternoon, one of the boys skated up to me at The Cooler and said, “hey Billy, nice skates.” I replied, “Uhhh, they're rentals but thanks..” He then had that smile on his face like I was missing something entirely and then I remembered that we were trying to look for ways to be uplifting and edifying. Wow, so cool. These knuckleheads are really getting it.

Sunday morning church was just what I needed to hear. John Woodall summarized the whole idea of walking in the Spirit: “Don’t say ‘don’t’, say ‘help!’” The idea is that our efforts to control our fleshly desires with self-imposed rules and regulations actually feed our flesh and have the opposite result than what we’re looking for. Rather, the only way to control the flesh is to look to the Lord and ask for help. Fantastic. I’ll study this concept a bit more later today. Paul said that we must reckon the old man dead since we are alive in Christ. Today, I’ll keep my eyes on the Lord and remind myself that my freedom from sin is found as I abide in Christ.

Yesterday evening at the Aquarium was intense. I got to pet sting rays and baby sharks. Just the beauty of the place had my attention focused on the brilliance of our Creator. Each and every one of the species in that massive aquarium were created by God with love. The same God who made those peculiar creatures also designed me for fellowship with Him. While the animals were created IN love, we were created TO love – and that’s exactly what I’m aiming for this week.

May I encourage you, my friends, to press into the life God has for you in Christ this week. Every sin is basically our own effort to satisfy a need of some sort that God has already promised to fulfill in Christ. Hand the reigns of your life back to your Savior today and let Him live a life of victory through you.