Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Giving You Five (top 5 posts of 2012)

I'm actually starting to like the whole "Top Posts" thing.  So Here's the Top 5 posts of 2012 from 'New Directions'.
#5  From Victory, not for victory!  I actually had the chance to preach on this at my father in-laws church, Center Line Fellowship (Colorado Springs, CO).
“As Christians, we need to know that we fight from victory, not for victory.”  Stinking WOW!  Do you get that?  As we fight the forces which come against us (the enemy, the world, our flesh), we already stand on victory.  (Read FULL POST)
You can see the other four at this link:  Top 5 Posts of 2012 
Enjoy and see you next year,

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I know Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas is only 6 days away, but I'm inclined to argue this is a more important time to reflect on what we're thankful for.  And, this is one of the most recent things Jesus is teaching me about how to follow Him and how being thankful effects the condition of my heart (doesn't everything).
It's always funny to me that I can tell my wife something "profound" which, at the time, I think is helpful to her, then the next day I end up sitting across from someone listening to the exact words I said to her.  That happens far more than I can count.  After my conversation with the someone, a line from a song by the band Waterdeep began resonating  in my heart.  It goes, "A thankful heart prepares the way, for you my God."  I've been rolling it around for a couple weeks now and though I don't actually get it, I get it.  The sad part is I've always "gotten" the concept in my head, but haven't embraced it with my heart... (Read FULL POST)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Weight of Guilt

A couple posts ago (Confessions of a Christian), I said, “One of the things that hold me back [from following Jesus] is the fear of being labeled that, “Hippy, on the fringe, organic, crazy ‘Jesus’ guy”…and the fear of…failing Jesus…” That kind of fear is a heavy burden to bear. As heavy as it is, it may not be nearly as heavy as the other reason I haven’t jumped head long into friendship with Jesus…Guilt.  (READ MORE...)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Jesus is My Friend.

I've always struggled with the idea of Jesus being my friend.  I know Jesus, Himself, says He is (James 15:15), so I don’t dispute it.  For me it always seemed so lowly an idea for Him to be my friend.  I've always known He is for me and the verses like James 15:15 (above) and “lays down His life for a friend”, but He’s God. To say He’s simply my friend always seemed to disregard just how big a deal it was for Him to be born a man.  Nowadays, more than wanting Him to be my friend, I NEED Him to be my friend.  Read more...

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I've been toying with the idea of moving my blog to an actual website for a few couple years now.  I have actually bought no less than THREE domain names, never used them and let them float off into the obscurity of the interwebs.  Then my lovely wife said she wanted to consolidate her thoughts, ideas and other creative notions (photography, DIY, etc…) into one easy to access locale and so she did… you can see it all here at All The Things.  After she did all the leg work on hers, it resparked the interest in me to launch my own thing.  I thought, “Eh, it seemed pretty easy for Sarah. No probs.” Yeah, not so much, still had to ask her for help on setting up mine.  Nonetheless, I launched and I’m pretty excited about it.  I present to you my new site…

My new site consolidates both of my blogs, #APPROACHGOD and New Directions.  #APPROACHGOD will continue with the same feel, small truths about God’s availability to us through Jesus.  However, in keeping with its namesake, New Directions will move in a, well, new direction.  Over the last few months God has been moving my heart toward a new understanding of what it means to be with and follow Jesus (you can see the beginning of that in a recent post HERE).  I’m still fleshing a lot of it out, but New Directions will be a chronicle, of sorts, for the journey I’m led on.  My intent is to just write about Jesus.  No more leadership concepts, no more discipleship ideas, no more ministry ideas, just Jesus.  I have no idea what that will look like in writing and I’m not sure how long the season will be, maybe until I get it, which given my history, might be awhile.

Anyone, and I mean ANYONE, is welcome to walk this journey with me.  Share your ideas, your thought, your misconceptions, your hopes, whatever you want; I’d love to hear it.  What do you think of Jesus?  Not Christianity, the man, Jesus.
Everything is about to change.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Confession of a Christian

Here it is:  I am an amazing Christian.

That’s it. I am. I am truly one of the best Christians I know.

I can tell you the Gospel story from birth to ascension.  I can tell you the parables and teachings Jesus spoke. I can tell you that Jesus said to love God and people and what that looks like.  I can break down Pauline teachings and how Jesus built His Church on the rock, Peter.  I can tell you what the model for building genuine gospel-centered community should look like.  I can tell you the flaws in both “institutional” and “organic” church.  I can tell you what it looks like to succeed in ministry and what it takes to fail in it.  I can tell you what you need to do to be an amazing husband, father, brother and friend.  I can counsel the crap out of you if you are struggling at work, in marriage, as a parent, in your devotional life, prayer life or even thug life (heh, just kidding, I’m gangsta, not thug).  I’ve read enough books on church planting I could probably; no…definitely, help you develop a strategic plan for launching a church.  I can even tell you what’s wrong with all the other “Christians”.  You know the ones.  The ones that hate gays, or liberals, or abortion supporters, or Muslims, or atheists. The Christians that aren't me.  I can break down scripture so you can understand it and even apply it to you life. I can teach, preach (not amazing at this yet, but getting there), lead a small group and disciple people. While all or some of that may seem pretty intense or difficult, for me it comes pretty easy.  Pretty amazing, right.

I should probably explain.

Over the last 6 months or so, God has been really challenging my heart on some stuff.  It’s been pretty heavy, paradigm shifting stuff and I couldn't exactly put all of it into context.  The stuff I did "get", I didn't exactly like what He was trying to get me to reconsider.  Then, last week, I began reading "Speaking ofJesus" by Carl Medearis. I'm only six chapters in, but God is already confirming a lot of stuff He's been saying.  Well, it's less like confirming and more like He's yelling, "Hey, stop ignoring Me and get on board with what I'm telling you!"

Here's the main thrust of what He's saying, "Being a Christian and following Jesus are not always the same thing. They're not always synonymous and most times, they're not even close."

Here's what that means, at least to my heart.

Medearis uses a quote given by author Donald Miller during an interview on a “secular” radio show.  The quote was Miller’s response to the question of why he wouldn't defend Christianity.  It was a great quote and long, but the gist of it was about the hurt people, throughout history, have caused in the name of Christianity (from the crusades to the inquisitions, the sexual abuse by Catholic priest to people simply being yelled at by a “Christian”).  He went on to say if you ask 10 random people what they think Christianity is, each would have a different answer.  Then he asked, “How do I defend a religion against 10 different ideas of what that religion is?” (I paraphrased)  Instead Miler opted to talk about Jesus, apart from Christianity.  When you present Jesus, without attachment to any institution, all you have is Him.  And when all you have is Jesus, you don’t have to defend anything, you just get to speak of your Lord and God, who loves you.

What God has been saying to me is Christianity (by itself) ≠ Follower of Jesus.

I’m positive it’s a right idea, but here’s my problem with it.  I’m good at being a Christian.  And if I’m honest, my real confession is…

I suck at following Jesus.

I’m not good at it.  I flat out fail Him on a continuous basis.  Sometimes I scream at my kids.  I deal harshly with my wife.  I often bring strife to my marriage instead of peace.  I hate my job and don’t appreciate it as a blessing.  I gossip.  Speak mean of others.  I’m sarcastic and often condescending towards coworkers.  I’m selfish.  I’m ungracious with others faults.  I hold grudges.  Occasionally a curse word slips out.  Sometimes, I read my bible out of duty, rather than to spend time with God.  I can be unforgiving.  I let fear and anger reside in my heart.  I point out other’s splinters, while looking pass the redwood in my eye.  Sometimes, I compare my small sin against other’s egregious sin, and then pridefully declare my righteousness.
It’s so much easier to DO Christianity, than to BE a follower of Jesus.

I want to change that.  I want to follow Jesus.  I want to follow Him unabated and unattached.  Just Him.

One of the things that holds me back is the fear of being labeled that, “Hippy, on the fringe, organic, crazy ‘Jesus’ guy”.  Maybe it’s an invalid fear, maybe it isn’t.  I’m comfortable in the “mainstream”, but I long for the not so mainstream.  It’s just, I believe in a lot of the aspects of mainstream (or what some call “institutional”) church.  I believe that churches like Mars Hill, New Spring, Community Christian, The Village, and my home church Element, are being used by God to reach the lost and the hurting and making disciples.  I also believe in a lot of aspects of not so mainstream (or what some call organic) church.  Frank Viola, Alan Hirsch and ministries like Verge Network are leading the way in community and movement and disciple making.  I’ve been a part of a ministry in which God allowed an amazing balance of organic structure.  But even that was a lot of DO and so little BE at times.

The other thing that’s been holding me back is the fear of not being good at it.  Failing Jesus, if you will.  I’m good at doing all the Christian things.  Most people would probably never peg me as a “mess”.  If I let all that go and just BE a follower of Jesus, I might (most likely WILL) mess it up.  The sad truth is I’m already a mess, so it's already not working out.  The better truth of it is, it doesn't matter that I'll fail, Jesus won't.  

To be clear, I’m not saying I don’t know or have Jesus.  I’m not even saying my heart is not being changed by Jesus.  It is.  But the process is slow going.  I have to believe the progress would be more substantial if I let go of all the peripheral “Christian” stuff and focused more on just Him.  Then I don’t have to defend anything.  I can just speak of Jesus and He’ll do all the rest.

I’m trying to figure out how to put all the junk away so I can just be with Him.  As always, comments or suggestions are welcome.  Maybe we should start a Christians Anonymous.

Hello, my name is Bruce and I’m a Christian.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Praise Him in the Storm? How?

~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18~
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

~Philippians 4:6~
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Can I be honest with you?  For me, those above verses are some of the HARDEST in the bible.  They're the hardest because of those words I highlighted and bolded.  Those verses tell me I'm supposed to ALWAYS rejoice (or praise God) and ALWAYS give thanks, no matter what is going on in my life.  What? How?

It Seems Impossible
How do I praise Him in those times when I feel alone, or angry or sad?  How do I praise Him and give thanks to Him in the midst of a storm, when all I know to do during a storm is run for cover?  I WANT to praise Him.  I know it's good and needed and refreshing.  I WANT to delight in Him.  But how, when your in a place of despair, do you rejoice?  How are you supposed to be thankful when all you want to do is break down, cry your heart out and run for it?

I suppose if you're a "good" Christian, you "just give it to Jesus".  I've been directed that way many times by Christians that either don't want to give their time or don't know what else to say.  You know how I know it's one of those two things?  Because, when I ask them how to do that, the answer is always, "You just do. Pray about it."  "Just give it to Jesus" is the Christianeze cure all.  It gets you out of being involved in what a Christian brother or sister is going through.  Ftr, I'm fully aware giving our problems and sorrows to Jesus is biblical, but it isn't meant to be used to brush the hurting away.  It's meant to provide hope.

But I digress, how do we praise and give thanks in everything, especially when we don't "feel" it or everything in our heart cries out hurt.  I know first hand the difficulty in praising and being thankful in the midst of despair.  So what do we do? Or rather, what do I do?

Run For It!!!
When the storm comes it's natural and necessary to run for refuge and cover.  So in our daily life, when the storm is laying waste to us, with full force, don't try to be Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump.  We're not meant to "weather the storm".  Ultimately we're fragile and dependent on Him, so run to Him for refuge.  Psalm 91:9 & 10 say, 

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent. 

That's not saying storms will never come.  On the contrary, if there were no storms, we wouldn't need refuge.  And I know that's just as abstract an idea as "just give it to Jesus".  Here's what I've found taking refuge in Him looks like to me (I'm certain I'm not the only one either).  We take refuge in Him by taking refuge in the truth of His Word.  Since Jesus is The Word, when you take refuge in the truth of His Word, you're taking refuge in Him.  For me, that means verbalizing scriptural truths about who He is.  Things that remind me He IS love, He IS good, He is FOR me, He will NEVER leave or forsake me.  Even when I am not able or don't feel it would be genuine for me to lift up a "joyful" heart, I can get in His word and recite some very specific truths about Him.  I think that pleases Him.  When our heart feels alone and desperate for relief, simply calling out those truths can bring comfort and prepares the way for God to make His presence known and comfort you.  I love the way the AMP translation addresses Job 22:21. It says, 21 Acquaint now yourself with Him [agree with God and show yourself to be conformed to His will] and be at peace; by that [you shall prosper and great] good shall come to you. We acquaint ourselves with Him by knowing what His Word declares

Here's a couple verses I typically declare:
That's just the ones I use, maybe you have your own.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

This is what Christians do...

Just a reminder while we stand and scream at each other over this Chick-Fil-A controversy.

Here's a 5 post  series I wrote in 2010.  This is just a reminder (and maybe some perspective) on what happens when people are hurt or offended and what our responsibility as Christians is, with regards to hurting and offended people.  Read on...

Hurt People. (Part 1)

Hurt People, Hurt people. (Part 2)

Loved People. (Part 3)

Loved People, Love People. (Part 4)

Hurt People, Hurt people. Loved People, Love People. (Part 5)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Itching Ears

"A loving God would never send anyone to hell."  "God hates homosexuals."  "If you give enough of your income, God will make you rich."  "If you pray hard enough and claim it, you'll have everything you ever wanted and never have hardship." "We're all climbing the same mountain that leads to God, we're just on different sides of it." "God understands that you struggle with pornography and He loves you just the way you are, it's not a big deal because He has grace."

Sadly, the above list aren't things I've heard people outside the church say.  These are things I've heard inside the church, from Christians.  Even more sad, some of them are from pastors claiming to preach the word of God.  It wouldn't necessarily be such a big deal if these "christians" didn't twist scripture to make it sound as if this stuff was biblical, but they do.  AND, many of them have whole followings of people that lift of the same cry, simply because they're either too gullible or too lazy to pick up the Bible, read it and realize it doesn't say ANY of that.

Our generation, as a people, have not taken serious the warnings littering the pages of the New Testament pertaining to false teachers within the church.  These warnings are directed right at us and we still fall into the traps they warn against.  Warnings like, Jude 3 & 4 which say:

Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Ungodly people have indeed wormed their way into The Church.  They stand on a platform in which things that couldn't be farther from the Gospel message are delivered as the Good News Jesus "meant" to teach.  But, if you look for it in the pages of God's divine revelation to man, the Bible, you'll not find what they preach.  Oh, you may find a scripture verse, taken out of context, that if twisted just the right way seems to lend credence to what they say, but it's a hard sell.  The truth is, some of the stuff, being preached as Jesus' message, couldn't be farther from the Gospel message and has effectively made them (as a church) not Christian.  It is SO important to know where, what the preacher is teaching comes from.  1 John 4:1 says:

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.

If what is being taught does not agree with the whole of scripture, run!  The only way you will know if it does is if you read the Bible yourself.  At out church our Lead Pastor encourages the congregation to "not just believe what he says", but to go home and read it for ourselves and allow God to speak it to our hearts.

Here's a couple clues to help determine whether the church you're attending is not teaching Jesus.  These aren't all inclusive and at the very least you should do some biblical checking if you see any of these in your church.

1.  They don't say the name Jesus.  If the pastor never (or even rarely) says Jesus, his message may not be about Jesus.  We should be unashamed of the Good News about Christ (Romans 1:16).  Part of that is not denying His name and who He is, because if we do, He will deny us (Matthew 10:33).

2.  If they suggest "there are many roads to God".  There aren't.  There is one way to God and it's through Jesus, He said so Himself (John 14:6).

3.  If every Sunday sermon is somehow linked back to "God needing your money for His work to be done".  He doesn't need your money, He's God.  He does, however, need and desire your obedience and trust, and part of that is tithing.

4.  If they use the word "HATE", other than to refer to God hating actual sin.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard "christians" say "God hates fags."  It turns my stomach EVERY time.  If that's the case, "God hates sleaze ball adulterers", "God hates sluts (this includes anyone that is promiscuous - that is anyone that has had sex with more than the person they are married to)", and "God hates anyone that doesn't follow all ten commandments to the tee". This is crap and not even close to truth.  God IS love.  He hates sin, because He's holy and it separates us from Him.  With that said, He did everything necessary to reconcile us to Him because He doesn't hate us, but loves us (ALL of us) without measure.

5.  If excuses are made for sin because "it's a part of who you are".  As Christians we are not to copy the ways of the world, but we're to be transformed into a new person (Romans 12:2).  And if we are children of God then we are called not to continue sinning (1 John 3:9).

6.  If what they teach and believe is NOT biblical in basis and does NOT line up with scripture.  If they teach out of any other text as a "supplement" to or further revelation of the Bible, they are not teaching Jesus, thus not Christian.

There are other indications, some may not necessarily mean they're not Christian, but they may have their priorities set wrong.  If they are more concerned with your feelings, rather than your holiness, they may be catering to your itching ears rather than feeding your soul.  If they are not actively engaged in seeking the lost and serving the needy, they may be Christian, but they are not carrying forward the mission of Jesus. 

All the above stuff is simply cultures way of presenting a "gospel" that is pleasing to hear and requires little from us.  We don't take seriously Paul's words to Timothy when he warned,

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

Many are chasing myths, because it's easier than the alternative - a life of servanthood in which we take the hard steps to love others with the love of Jesus, forgiving trespasses against us and pouring ourselves out for the sake of others.  But easier isn't better.  In this case, it's destructive.  Don't just believe what you're told by a passionate speaker with a pulpit.  Seek truth, in the pages of the Bible.

Seeking Truth,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Be a Man of God... It's Easy, Right?

With the approaching of my two older son’s birthdays I wanted to do something impactful.  James is 15 and Andrew is 13. My younger son’s birthday is coming up in June, but being a toddler impactful looks like sprinklers or bouncy castles.  Since this was Andrew’s birthday in which he enter teen-hood,I wanted to do something that prepared him for his fast approaching manhood.  I wish I had done this for James at 13, but better late than never.  Because I don’t just want to prepare them for manhood, but godly manhood and because I wanted the most beneficial impact, I enlisted the help of some guys which have had huge impact on my life.  All these guys have been mentors, friends or both.  I truly believe one of the best ways to teach your children to follow God, after being the example yourself, is to surround them with other godly men and women. 

Here’s the rundown of the who’s who of godly men in my life (that have also been influential in my son’s lives, too.  That was the criteria.  It does no good for someone that affected me, to speak into my kids’ lives.).  They are:  Jeff Maness,  Andy Hazelet, CurtisMarshall, Thomas Hogan, Morgan Clark & Devon Arredondo.

I asked each one of these guys to record a short video and share one thing that God has shown them for what it means to be a man of God.  Then I sat and watched the videos with them.  Shared my own thoughts with them and gave them a special gift to commemorate the day.  I also intend to write each message into a small journal I bought them and give it to them on their next birthday.

What these guys had to share with my boys was without a doubt, amazing.  Since some of them don’t listen to instructions so well, there were actually more than 6 things, but here’s what they (collectively) told my boys about being a man of God.

Be teachable.
Be pure.
Be a man of prayer.
Be obedient.
Be in His word (because obedience is found there).
Be serious about the task of being a man.
Be a pursuer of righteousness and godliness.
Be a man of faith.
Be loving.
Be diligent.
Be gentle.
Be aware of who you run with (Be in Christian community).

Way more than I could have asked for or expected.  I love these guys.  And I love that they care for my boys and I enough that at the drop of a hat they’d do this for them.  Not only that, but that's a list I want to be living.

Trying to live that list, 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Driven By... (Goal Driven Strategy v. Vision Driven Strategy))

Before I start, just know this will be a departure from my normal writing style.  It seems more "textbook" as my lovely wife described it.  Just know, this isn't something God is working in my heart, just something I observed and wanted to share.

What drives you?  What is that specific thing that motivates you to achieve?  This is such a wide avenue to "drive", so let me focus it a little.  Last week I had the opportunity to talk with a friend who leads an amazing ministry.  He's a great leader and loves his flock.  I can see the glorious weight of that love for them every time we meet.  One of the topics we talked about is what drives the strategies we use to minister to the group we're called to.  What we came up with is two possibilities.  Either our strategy to reach people is motivated by specific goals, we'll call this Goal Driven Strategy (GDS) or we're motivated by a God given vision, we'll call this Vision Driven Strategy (VDS).

Obviously, goals are not a bad thing.  We all have goals.  Goals give us a point of focus to work toward and the ability to measure mission accomplishment.  Goals are important to accomplishing any mission.  But, when we start directing the strategy of our ministry (keeping in mind "ministry" is the way we serve and love others with the intent of introducing them to Jesus) in hopes of simply achieving specific goals, it becomes easy to lose sight of why we do what we do.  If our focus is goal accomplishment we can easily become content with the success of achieving those goals.  Our ambition and strategy to serve others will simply be task oriented and have little or no lasting impact.  Ultimately we can become so geared toward seeing goals accomplished, we trade it for seeing mission accomplished.

On the other hand, VDS stays focused on the vision that God gave in the beginning to see your mission accomplished.  That vision becomes the driving force behind the strategies we choose to use to serve others.  Of course, VDS includes goals, but isn't focused on them as the end.  In this, goals are simply stepping stones to seeing the vision fulfilled.  If  focused  on vision achievement, strategy has to look wholly different.  It allows for more flexibility in your strategy.  If you begin to work toward a goal you set and realize it is not helping to achieve the over all vision, it becomes easier to stop and refocus on what the ultimate vision is and redirect efforts to something that achieves that vision.  And, since seeing God's vision achieved is what everyone is focused on and desires, there are no hurt feelings when the idea is scrapped.  My mentor, Pastor Jeff Maness says, "Just because it's a good idea, doesn't make it a God idea."  Too right.  When teams realize what does and doesn't contribute to mission accomplishment and vision achievement, letting things go becomes easier. 

Our ultimate desire should be obedience to God.  We should desire to see the mission and vision of God accomplished.  When goals become our ultimate focus they become the strategy and mission and vision can suffer.  But when we're focused on vision and mission achievement, goals are simply part of our strategy.

Driven by vision,

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Love = Obedience = Sacrifice

A couple months ago I had a conversation with a friend about what was more important, obedience or sacrifice. The point I was making was obedience to God’s voice leads to the surrender (sacrifice) and giving away of one’s self. It’s our sacrifice which reveals our obedience. He said obedience to God’s voice is far more important than our sacrifice, to which I 100% agree. Without obedience, there is no sacrifice that glorifies God. When I look back at the story of Jesus in the garden and recount His prayer before His crucifixion. Although He struggled and agonized in prayer over God’s plan for salvation, He ultimately submitted Himself and said “not My will, but Yours be done”. Then He obediently followed God's plan and willingly sacrificed all of Himself. His obedience HAD to result in sacrifice. I think we were essentially arguing different sides of the same coin. Regardless, that conversation has been stuck in my head (and the text history in my phone) for a couple months now.

Fast forward to my quiet time this morning and I read: But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22

That’s all it took to spur a recounting of the above conversation and solidify how obedience and sacrifice fit together. Obedience is no doubt the measure of our maturity in Christ. You want to measure your "spiritual maturity"? Here's one question you can ask (this is not THE only measure): Do I obey God when He directs me? Obedience is no doubt how we measure our success in Christ. My church (Element Church in Cheyenne, WY) recently re-worded our core values. Our first core values reads: Obedience IS our success! - Our success will not be determined by outcome but by obedience to God. Obedience is the measure. Obedience is what matters to God.

Sacrifice should be a result of our obedience. That is not to say that people sacrifice things and think they are doing it to the glory of God. Sometimes we have our own preconceived notions as to what glorifies Him and we go to great lengths to do those things, regardless of whether they are disobedient to God (i.e. the case of Saul above). Those things are often our way of bolstering our ego making them the result of pride and intended to bring us recognition. This is far from obedience.

Jesus said, "If you love Me obey my commands." (John 14:15). Obedience is the result and evidence of our love. We obey because we love. Sometimes God will ask us to sacrifice something. Every time God will ask us to surrender ourselves and submit to Him. Our only response is obedience. In that regard, our sacrifice, our surrender, our submission should only be a result of our being obedient to God. Anything surrendered outside of obedience is chaff and doesn't matter because it doesn't glorify God.

Here's how it goes: Love = Obedience = Sacrifice.

Any other order doesn't add up the same.

Striving for obedience,

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Jesus' Greatest Miracle

While He walked the earth, Jesus did some amazing miracles.  He healed the blind (John 9:1-6 & Mark 10:46-52).  He healed the deaf (Mark 7:31-37)  He healed the lame (John 5:1-18).  He healed the leper (Mark 1:40-45).  He forgave sin (Luke 7:36-50).  He freed the captive (Mark 9:14-29).  He even raised a dead man to life (John 11:1-44).  While He was on earth, as a man, He healed many of those He came in contact with.  Sadly however, some went unhealed.  Some remained captive.  Some, though they still walked on earth, remained dead in their hearts.  Many showed up too late and missed Jesus by mere seconds.  John the Baptist (Jesus' cousin) would be beheaded in prison, hoping for Jesus to save him, without Jesus coming to his aid.  Jesus' humanity limited Him to the same time and space as the humans He came to save.  But His ultimate purpose wasn't to be seen in His walking the earth.  His ultimate purpose was not to heal only those He would come in contact with during His brief walk on earth as a man.  His ultimate purpose is seen in the miracle of this weekend we celebrate.

It was this weekend, some 2000 years ago, He accomplished His greatest miracle.  It was on this weekend He healed ALL the blind, He healed ALL the deaf, He healed ALL the lame, He healed ALL the unclean, He forgave ALL the sin, He released ALL the captives and He raised ALL the dead to life.  When Jesus was crucified on Friday, all the beatings and ridicule healed us from our afflictions (Isaiah 53:4-5).  His death on the cross paid for our sins (Isaiah 53:6).  But it was what happened on Sunday in which we find our hope.  On Sunday, oh that glorious day, He resurrected (raised) from the dead.  It was in His resurrection He gave ALL life (John 11:25).  In those three days, Jesus accomplished every miracle ever needed.

I know there are people who have been praying for physical healing and haven't received it.  To them I say this, keep praying.  Whether He heals you physically on this side of eternity is up to Him alone, but know this, you have life everlasting on the other side of eternity.  THIS healing is our wholeness in Christ.  We are reconciled to our loving and gloriously Holy God.  THAT is our healing.  THAT is our life.

The miracle of this weekend is this: Jesus healed ALL of us, once and for all, and gave ALL of us life everlasting.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Driven By Difficulty - Guest Post @ Crash Leadership

I was recently given the opportunity to guest post on one of my best friend, Curtis Marshall's, blog.  I've had the pleasure of serving in ministry with and living life with Curt and his family and in both areas, Curt has been a huge blessing and contiues to be.  Curt is putting out some amazing stuff over at Crash Leadership, so to be able to guest blog on his site was so cool.  If you've not read his stuff, head over there now and read on.  You can find Curt on Twitter and Facebook.

Here's the link to my guest post...

Driven By Difficulty

Monday, March 26, 2012

From victory, not for victory!

Admittedly this is not a saying I came up with.  It is actually a saying a friend of my wife's said to her.  BUT, it’s too good to not blog about it and I asked my wife first, so… there.

Here’s what she told my wife (and it’s something I wish more Christians understood)…

As Christians, we need to know that we fight from victory, not for victory.

Stinking WOW!  Do you get that?  As we fight the forces which come against us (the enemy, the world, our flesh), we already stand on victory.  We fight from a place already secured by victory.  We’re not fighting to achieve victory, because it’s already been won!

But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

It doesn't say " He’s GOING to give us victory", it says "He GIVES us victory over sin"!  It drives me to the edge of insanity when I hear Christians say stuff like, “It’s our nature, we’re always going to sin.” Or “I’ll never have victory over this.  I’ll always struggle with it.”  That’s CRAP!  While it is true it’s in our nature to sin and there will be areas of our life more difficult to overcome than others, we already have victory over sin.  Which means, many time (and I would say most) we are able to chose whether we sin or not.  Now, there are sins considered “sins of ignorance” or “unknown sin” (See Psalm 19:12, Leviticus 4:2 & Leviticus 5:17).  In those cases we seek God for forgiveness the way David did in Psalm 19:12.  There are even those moments of uncontrolled frustration where your sin nature grabs a hold of us and we slip (maybe you curse or say something you don’t mean), and I’m not even talking about those sins.  Although, as Jesus transforms you the fruit of The Spirit should be more prevalent and those uncontrolled outbursts should be less and less (it’s called sanctification).

I’m talking about those blatant and willful sins, we typically label with the belittling and obscure excuse “I fell”.  That’s ridiculous.  I’m talking about the sins requiring a conscious act of disobedience and a willful decision to participate in.  Things like sexual immorality, drunkenness, gossip and the like (this is not an all inclusive list, mind you).  These are sins we don’t “accidently” fall into.  These are sins which at some point in our approaching them, we decide, “I’m going to do this.”

Let me say this, I’m not calling anyone out without realizing the plank in my eye.  I know, without a doubt, there are things Christ is still perfecting in me.  Things He aims to destroy for the sake of my holiness.  And I’m fully aware there is a process Christ takes us through to weed out and get rid of the things which draw us away and keep us from Him.  The process is difficult, no doubt, and often a struggle, and I don’t mean to take away from the work we put into it or the work Christ does in us to overcome those struggles.  But we need to realize the truth that we’re not fighting FOR victory, it’s already been won!  We are not slaves to sin anymore (Romans 6:18) and it’s time we realize that and start acting as slaves to righteousness (right living).  That’s what we’re bound to… the righteousness of Christ.  There are so many times WE get to chose if we sin or not.  In the instances when it becomes difficult to resist, we rely on Christ being strong in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Coincidentally, that is part of why He calls us into fellowship with other believers... accountability.  The truth is, when we act like victory hasn’t been achieved, we disregard the work of Christ on the cross.  He won it for us, so we don’t need to.

Rest in His victory. Fight from His victory.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Our God is Able! (Pt. 3)

This is part 3 of 3 in the "Our God is Able" series.  This series covers a sermon that I preached a couple weeks ago at Center Line Christian Fellowship in Colorado Springs, CO. Each post covers one of the three points I covered on what happens when we move from asking God why to questioning His ability. Part 1 (HERE) pointed out that the first thing that moves us toward questioning God's ability is when we listen to the rabble.  Part 2 (HERE) showed us that it is easy for us to wrongly assume it is our responsibility to ensure that God's promises are fulfilled and when we're not able, we assume God isn't able.  In Part 2 we left off with God telling Moses how He intended to answer the peoples complaint for meat.  It's then that we see Moses move from asking God why to questioning God’s ability.  Let's dig in...

Starting in Numbers 11:21-23 Moses responds by saying,

21 But Moses said, “Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!’ 22 Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?”

In that short and simple question, Moses went from asking God why he had to carry the burden of the Israelites, to questioning if God was able to feed all of them.

God’s answer was simple.

23 The LORD answered Moses, “Is the LORD’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”
When God said “too short” He meant "lacking in power".   God was asking Moses if he believed that He wasn't able to fulfill His word.  I think partly the question God’s was asking Moses was if he’d forgotten all the other miracles He’d already done.
See, when we listen to the rabble and wrongly assume responsibility…

3. We question God’s reliability.

Moses had forgotten how reliable God had been up to this point.  But, here’s the truth. Our questioning of His reliability does not change what He’s already done and it doesn’t change what He’s able to or going to do.
Ephesians 3:20 says, Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

Our doubt, our lack of faith doesn’t change the fact that He is able to do far more than we’re ever able to imagine. It also doesn’t change His faithfulness to fulfill His word.

1 Corinthians 1:9 says, God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

God is faithful. There are so many verses in the bible that speak of His faithfulness (I stopped counting at 60).  It’s in questioning God’s ability in these little things that we see the Israelites doubt God’s promises and His ability to do what He says. Eventually we see this played out on a bigger scale when God is preparing to give them the Promised Land.  They had complained so much that when the time came for God to give them their inheritance, they doubted God’s ability to fulfill that promise.  By the time they arrive at the Promised Land and send scouts in they had already doubted God and explored the land with that mindset.
God didn’t say, "Send scouts in to see if the land is suitable for me to give to you.” Numbers 13:2 says that He told them, Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites."

He said “The land I AM GIVING YOU.” He already knew it was suitable. He already knew it was what they needed and desired.  He sent them in so they would come back and confirm to the people that the promise was just as amazing as God said. But that didn’t happen. Their doubt caused them to come back with a bad report and cost them the opportunity to receive the promise.  Not only did they NOT receive the promise, the wandered in the wilderness for 40 YEARS.  A whole generation died before they were able to enter.  But that doesn't change the fact that God knew what was good for them and wanted to give it to them. 
He does the same for us. Jesus knows what we need. He knows what’s good for us and He aims to give it to us. 

Philipians 4:19 says, 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Our responsibility in that is to trust and believe Him. It’s a faith issue and we are to seek Him to develop our faith. Jesus’ disciples knew where to go. In Luke 17:5 the disciples said to Jesus, “Increase our faith!”. He is the one that increases our faith.  As He does, we are able to trust and believe Him and what He promises us.  Our doubt doesn't effect His ability, but our faith leaves us open to receive His promises.
Ask God why, it's okay. Seek Him for wisdom and guidance. BUT, don't listen to the rabble, know that it’s His responsibility and trust in His ability.

Remembering He's Reliable,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Weekend To Not Be Forgotten!

This past weekend my wife (Sarah – blog love HERE) and I took some time out and attended a marriage getaway. There are tons out there, but we opted for a Weekend to Remember, hosted by Family Life.

Let me just say… WOW!  (I would recommend any couple go.  No matter where you're at in marriage - healthy or unhealthy or how long you've been married - 6 days or 60 years, go.)
Sarah and I had never been to one, so we had zero idea of what to expect. With some apprehension we walked into the banquet room on that first night and everything was perfect. Ah, I’m just kidding. Walking out of that first session, it was obvious that Satan was on the prowl and wanted nothing more than the weekend to be a complete bust. But, regardless of the apprehension we walked in with, we also walked in hopeful. And that, that one thing is far more important than any doubt or apprehension that may creep in… hope. Hope in God and hope in each other. The weekend was far better than either of us could have anticipated. Over the last few days it has been and will continue to be the catalyst for great change in our marriage and family. During the last session the speaker asked people to share their “one big take away” for the weekend; that one thing that God challenged them on; the one thing that Jesus needs to change in them. That’s what this blog is, my take away.

Let me preface this with this point. Although Sarah and I love each other, marriage is hard. I would say that marriage is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but it’s also one of the most amazing things you’ll ever do. The fact that both of us have a previous marriage and that we are a blended family bring challenges all their own. So this weekend was about reconnecting and refocusing. And man, what a weekend it was. After the first session I could tell something wasn’t sitting well with my bride. So I asked her, “What’s wrong?” Side note: when you ask that question you need to be willing to do two things: 1) actually LISTEN & 2) not be offended. So I asked and I listened. And for the first time in some months, we got to sit and actually hear each other. I heard my wife’s heart. It was an amazing, but difficult conversation. Here’s what I heard my bride say, “I need you to disciple me like you do other people. Only, I need you to disciple me first.” WOW, shot in the gut for sure.

If you know ANYTHING about me, you know I am about men’s discipleship. I am passionate about men being MEN and I’m the first to tell a guy what it takes to lead and reflect biblical manhood. But there I sat, in a hotel room in Colorado Springs, listening to my wife say that she felt 2nd to others in my life. And the worse part about it, it was true. Unknowingly, I had allowed my ministry of discipling others get in the way of my most important ministry and push out the one person that I am made to give to. The next morning, during my quiet time, I wandered through my journal and landed at the first entry I had written in it. It was the day that Sarah and I started dating and I wrote these two commitments: 1) Always protect Sarah’s heart & 2) Always give her more than I get from her. In my head and heart I know the importance of those commitments, but in practice, I’ve not done those well. That changed on Saturday, March 10, 2012. This weekend put a lot into perspective and provided a number of tools to start keeping those commitments she didn’t even know I made.

Here’s my take away: I need to take intentional steps to first disciple my wife and then disciple my children. Then, I can give to others.

It is so important for married men to realize that the first ministry they are called to serve in is their marriage. The bible tells us to love our wife as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25). That means give to her, sacrifice for her, protect her, nourish her, cherish her and build her up. When you look at all of that, it’s discipleship. And bonus, you get to add something to discipling your wife that you can’t (and shouldn’t want to) have in any other discipleship relationship: intimacy, passion and romance. When you give to her the way you’re made to, then discipleship of the rest of your family flows out of that. From this point on she’ll never again question here rank of importance in my life. As human relationships go, she is and will be first. I’m excited to be able to disciple the most important Jesus follower I know.

Making her first,