Category Archives: Just Life

Lost and Happy

There are many very happy people in the world who do not know Jesus Christ. That’s where the following verse comes in…

“I came not to send peace, but a sword,” Matthew 10:34.

Of this, Oswald Chambers writes:

“Thousands of people are happy without God in this world. If I was happy and moral before Jesus came, why did He come? Because that kind of happiness and peace is on a wrong level; Jesus Christ came to send a sword through every peace that is not based on a personal relationship to Himself.”

And here’s the challenge we face in a society where abundance can mask need — people must realize that they were made for something more than themselves. They were made for God! Life is not all about happiness and contentment (peace), but instead a purpose and high calling (a sword).

When we get that, we’re not only happy…we’re passionate!

Post Election Blues?

The election is over. Whew! It was a long stretch.

Now we can move on and get our focus back on a few other things — some things that are more important than a presidential race. I know, I know — it’s important, we have a Christian responsibility to be vote and be involved in the political process. I believe that so much that our family stood in line for nearly 4 hours just to vote yesterday. Somehow, though, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we Christians were as passionate for the Kingdom of God as we are for our politicians.

We’ve all heard a lot of overstatements by fellow believers…and may have even stated a few of our own:

  • “This is the end of things if this election goes bad.”
  • “God will have to apologize to Sodom and Gommorah if he is elected.”
  • “This will be God’s judgement on America if he is our president.”

So–in this post-election morning when we awake to our President’s re-election victory–let’s be reminded of a few very important truths:

  1. God has been deeply involved in this election. Isaiah 40:21-22 states, “Haven’t you heard? Don’t you understand? Are you deaf to the words of God— the words he gave before the world began? Are you so ignorant? God sits above the circle of the earth. The people below seem like grasshoppers to him!”
  2. God knows what He needs to accomplish and how to get it done. Romans 11:33-34 reminds us, “How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice?”
  3. Consistently and sincerely pray for our President and other leaders. God calls us “therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty,” 1 Timothy 2:1-2.
  4. Our true hope and ultimate focus must be Jesus. Remember John 16:33? “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

All is well. God is on the throne. We have work to do. Peace, brothers and sisters…

God is Watching

Santisuk English School is located in Bankok and has a 22-year history of excelling at two things: Teaching English to Thai people and loving those people in the name of Jesus.

They have had a tremendous impact on so many lives and on the community in which they live and serve.

This week, while 58 people from Santisuk were traveling in a bus on a “Bridge on the River Kwai” field trip, the driver lost control on a mountain road. Because the brakes failed to work, the full bus nearly flew over a 1000-foot drop off the side of the mountain. Instead, the driver was able to “hang on” and ram the bus into the side of the mountain. There were many injuries, but none fatal. Three of the sustained injuries are quite serious, but prognosis is quite good for full recovery for each.

In writing a letter to Santisuk for a worship service of thanksgiving tonight, I was reminded of three truths about life:

  1. That our lives are fragile and temporary on this side of Heaven. Oh—what a good reminder that each of us must always be ready by giving God our all.
  2. That God is good—all the time. Not only when things go well, but even in the midst of injuries, pain, loss, even death. The sovereign Lord knows the beginning, the end, and everything in between. Oh—to trust Him more.
  3. That God brings good things out of difficult things. This is true, of course, when we are “called according to His purposes.” He can take the horrible accident all of you have been through and work a thousand good things out of it. I’m guessing each of you can identify several of those “good things” even in your own life already. He’s amazing!

 

The wreckage from the inside...

I am so grateful for our missionaries, long-term and short-term that sacrifice greatly so the gospel can be planted in the lives of lost people. Just because we “go”, however, doesn’t mean were exempt from real life in this broken world. But God is sovereign. He knows what He’s doing and cares about every one of us. He especially has His eye on those who are living in the center of His will. As the Scriptures declare, “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those  whose heart is completely His,” 2 Chronicles 16:9a.

When I see what could have happened in the Thailand mountains, when I see what God is doing in the aftermath of this trauma, when I see the pure joy and gratitude of those rescued from the bus, I get the idea that God was watching and supporting our friends from Santisuk.

Chillin

Chillin with Shane -- an amazing son.

Last night was memorable. I went chillin with my son, Shane. Earlier in the week, my 18-year old son said, “Dad, we need to find some time to chill this week.” We set a plan and just hung out together.

  • We took a slow ride in the convertible.
  • Walked the streets of downtown Orlando.
  • Were entertained by some great people-watching.
  • Ate some frozen yogurt in an outdoor courtyard.
  • We had awesome conversation.

It was so good to just be together.

On the way home, with the top down in our cheap convertible, I looked over at Shane and said, “I think we have life by the tail.” Of course, this was stated in the context of some really good God-conversations. He’s the one who has put the “tail” in our hands.

I’m reminded of 1st John 3:1, ” See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called  children of God; and such we are.” I was also reminded last night of how much joy a father gets from being with his child–just chillin. There’s nothing else quite like it. I’m convinced God wants to do that with us more often, too.

Peace Under Pressure

I’m at peace though surrounded by pressure. Only God can do that.

“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You,” Isaiah 26:3.

Our personal lives are in chaos with a recent move, trying to close on a home for nearly a third of what it was valued at 5 years ago, being unsettled in our church involvement, and surviving life without long-term friends nearby.

Our ministry world is exciting and demanding. Just in the past week, I was presenting options for missions alignment with our Converge Worldwide Leadership Team, connecting with several missionaries one-on-one, dealing with disgruntled and discouraged missionaries, speaking at a leadership retreat, moderating some future plans for new partnerships…these are some of the items of the past seven days.

This new week is filled with deadlines, expectations, a team to lead, new initiatives to consider, and a family to love (that’s the easy part).

Now–don’t get me wrong. I understand that your life is very similar–you simply have a different list. We live in a broken world, we deal with broken people, we face opposition from an evil opponent. This is not about me. This is ALL about God–that in the midst of life at its craziest, God is sufficient.

Resolve to keep your mind “steadfast” on God — trust in Him — because He is trustworthy.

I’m at peace though surrounded by pressure. Only God can do that.

Resilience

“The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.” Proverbs 24:16

Resilience is the power or ability to return to the original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched. It’s the idea of elasticity.

Resilience is also the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like. It’s the idea of buoyancy.

Elasticity and buoyancy.

The above Proverb is stating an important truth about godly people: The take a licking and keep on ticking. They may get beaten and bruised, but they never stop. God infuses His children with a supernatural resiliency — they have elasticity and buoyancy that those without God do not have.

The apostle Paul demonstrated this powerfully in Acts 14. When a Jewish-incited riot in Lystra left Paul for dead after a mob stoning, his stunned companions stood around the lifeless figure. The great apostle had breathed his last, they thought. Despair was overtaking their souls. They lingered in shock and unbelief at what had just happened. The unthinkable had become reality. The great missionary was gone.

Almost imperceptibly–a movement on the ground. A finger? A twitch? A shallow breath? An arm moves! A leg seeks traction! The circle of friends move quickly, shocked at this unexpected turn of events–again. They lift the bloodied apostle to his feet as he seems to breath in life again. What a day! This great teacher, so critical to the movement of the early church, has escaped death somehow. The crowd begins to cheer! Paul’s followers stand in awe.

Is this resilience?

Not really. Resilience is most demonstrated in what happens next. Paul turns and faces Lystra. With unmatched determination, unrelenting resolve, and divine courage, he walks back into the very city that had just tried to kill him.

That’s resilience.

This is what God gives His children. It’s a divine gift, a supernatural power, a new thread of DNA for the redeemed.

Child of God, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Yes, we are simply human, “but we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body,” 2 Corinthians 4:7-10.

Good Things Today

Let me list a few really good things about today so far…

  • I woke up. His mercies are new every morning!
  • My Greek yogurt was fabulous.
  • God was downloading some really important information to me that could make a huge Kingdom impact in the years ahead. Pretty cool.
  • Coffee at Starbucks was delish — and in the Norman Rockwellish city of Celebration, FL no less. It’s too nice to be real…
  • I’m hiding out and hearing from God. I’m grateful.
  • I’ve heard good/fun/encouraging things from almost person on my 10-member team TODAY. I’m blessed to work with each one.
  • I’m feeling really good for getting only four hours of sleep.
  • I ate Susan’s leftover homemade Chianti Stew for lunch. Heavenly…
  • God’s grace is overwhelming me…again.

“And  God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed,” 2 Corinthians 9:8.

 

Victims and Victors

Victims are meant by God to be victors! The Bible actually calls these kinds of people “overcomers.” I John 5:4 states, “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”

We are reminded in Scripture of four primary truths about being a victor rather than a victim:

  1. An overcomer is rooted in God’s purposes — when His purposes are central in our life and we are driven by this, we overcome whatever assaults us.
  2. An overcomer is granted this by God — He’s waiting to give you this victory over the circumstances of life.
  3. An overcomer is empowered for this ONLY by the Holy Spirit, who does not make us timid, fearful, or cowardly, but gives us power, love, and self-control in all things.
  4. An overcomer is secure in this through Christ’s love who makes us “MORE than conquerors through Christ who loves us!” After paying for us with His life, He will not turn His back on us in our struggles.

Life is brutal. We live in a broken world that can eat us up, chew us up, and spit us out broken and beaten. But God has a much better plan for those who claim Christ.

  • He wants us to live above the circumstances rather than under the circumstances.
  • He calls us to see His hand in all things of life so that every trial has a greater purpose than mere survival.
  • He requires us to live holy lives so that our struggles are not of our own doing.
  • He empowers us to persevere, not primarily for our benefit, but for His glory (which ALWAYS benefits us most anyway).

Be a VICTOR today!  For more on this, check out Victim on Vimeo…

The Love of Reading

I have a gift that many people in the world do not have. I can read. In fact, I love to read! My goal is to read a book a week. As an example, this past week I read three books!

The last book I finished, just this afternoon on the airplane, is largely responsible for my love of reading. When I was 10-years old, I hated to read until I picked up a novel by Ethel C. Brill. The book? When Lighthouses are Dark. This became the first chapter book I had ever started and finished. It opened up a world of adventure, enjoyment, learning, and growing.

For 20 years, I tried to find this book again. I searched libraries, online resources, even the National Library of Congress. About a month ago, I searched again and found that the University of Michigan reprinted the old obsolete book. I immediately bought it and in the last few days, read it.

It was awesome! Again…

I was reminded of the simple ways that God can shape us in life…even through an old fashioned story of adventure, hardship, and mystery about lost kids on Lake Superior.

FYI — When Lighthouses are Dark, by Ethel C Brill (Ethel Claire), 1921, Henry Holt and Company, New York. [Reprinted by the University of Michigan]

The Likability Factor

A church’s attitude generates its likability factor. When the Acts 2 church was birthed, they loved being together — “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people,” Acts 2:46-47a. Don’t you get the feeling that they were having a great time being Christian?

Consider a few of these pieces:

  • Learning and worshiping together was a regular way of doing life — “day by day”. Isolation was not part of the equation.
  • Enjoying and sharing with one another breathed life into their bones. The gladness they exuded, along with a spirit of generosity, created an attractive hub of activity for the new believers.
  • There were no fakes. A phrase that describes them is that they had “sincerity of heart”. This literally means “no stony ground of heart” — no pride, masks, bitterness, or self-made agendas.
  • They were positive authentic worshipers who were contagious to others – “praising God and having favor with all the people.”

The Result? “And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

I dream of seeing the church return to its true spiritual heritage of being so likable that the world can’t ignore us any longer. Maybe that can even happen in your little corner of the world…

A church’s attitude does generate its likability factor.