Category Archives: Jesus

I Love You like a Headache!

Headaches are the worst – all the throbbing pulsating agony within your head.  There are times nothing you do can make it better.  You take a few Tylenol, rub your temples, or drink some water, but nothing helps.  You can’t concentrate enough to think straight and everything in your life comes grinding to a halt as your head just aches.

It’s amazing how easily we can be taken out of the action.  We may be able to push through other types of pain and stay somewhat productive and functional, but there is always something which pushes the “off” button in our lives.  When that happens, we can’t do what needs to be done.

Here’s a case in point: your ability to love others.  There are some people you love no matter what, but there are other people you won’t love until some condition is met.  Who are these people you have selectively chosen not to love?  They are the ones who have hurt you, let you down, and couldn’t be counted on when you thought you could.  It’s the people who have stabbed you in the back when you thought they were covering it.  The very people who said they would love you, be devoted to you, and be by your side and they weren’t.  There’s something about some people which gets in the way of loving them, and you are turned “off” by them.  You don’t love them, and can’t; or maybe you just won’t!

Do you struggle with this?  If so, your problem is thinking the fruit of the Spirit type love is a natural love, and it isn’t.  Natural love is selective, and available when someone meets your conditions.  The type of love spoken of in Galatians 5:22 is the same love which puts others before yourself, loves your neighbor, and especially……your enemy.  That type of love is not natural. If you want to love as the Bible commands, you will have to strive for a love above and beyond what you are capable of.  The love of Galatians 5:22 is not attainable through your own personal power to love.

When Stephen is stoned in Acts 7:59-60, he prays for God to forgive those who are hurling rocks at him with the intent to kill him.  What kind of extraordinary man prays for those who are putting him to death instead of praying for himself or for the judgment of God on his attackers?  Jesus did the same thing, and since He is our model, it would be wise to follow the model.

I know, I know.  You want to tell me how I don’t understand what people have done to you, and how you just can’t love them.  Here’s your problem, Christian – your model endured far worse than you will ever know and loved enough to die for the sins of those who unjustly accused Him, called for His death, and even those who loved Him but left Him at His darkest hour……….think about it!

The type of love the fruit of the Spirit speaks about can love anyone, no matter what.  If you have people in your life you need to forgive, then do it.  When you can forgive someone, you are freed to love them instead of harboring bitterness, regret, and the pain of the past.  If you want freedom, then ask your LORD to help you forgive them and love them like He does.  You may be amazed at what THAT type of love can do in others and in your own life.

 

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Why Doesn’t Walmart Carry Watermelons in the Winter?

So, you’re reading this right now because you must feel the same pain I do.  I love watermelon; it’s my favorite fruit.  Put a little salt on it (YES – that’s what I said, so wipe that look of disgust off your face and just try it!) and you’re transported to a heavenly place.  So, why doesn’t Walmart carry watermelons in the winter?  I mean, don’t they get it?!?  Watermelon is amazing and should be on-demand at all times, every day, no matter what!  But it isn’t for one simple reason – it’s not in season.

It seems like everything has its season, and we may be fully convinced of this.  There are some things we’d like to enjoy year-round, but it isn’t possible because the season dictates what is available and what isn’t.  We don’t just apply this to fruit, but we view many areas of our lives like this.

I mean, who doesn’t love, love?  Everyone wants to be in love, but we have to admit we reduce love to a particular season because sometimes we love and then other times we don’t feel like it.  We all want joy, but there are certain seasons of life where joy seems absent or even unobtainable.  Peace: who doesn’t want more peace?  Yet peace seems fleeting and in a moment it can be taken due to an unexpected tragedy or simply a shift in your schedule.

So, when the Bible talks about the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – we think it is a great idea, but it’s seasonal.  LET ME TELL YOU THIS……IT’S NOT SEASONAL!  The fruit of the Spirit doesn’t abide by the same natural laws as that tasty, wonderful, water-filled summer treat.

As a follower of Christ, the fruit of the Spirit is not something you experience in a season, but it should be evident in your life no matter what season you find yourself.  Love should be abiding and not fleeting or dependent on how you’re treated.  Joy can be possessed even in the most difficult times.  Self-control can stand strong when temptation comes knocking.

Our problem is this: we try to experience the fruit of the Spirit through natural means in a fallen natural world, and it’s impossible.  If you want to live with each fruit in all seasons of your life, you’re going to have to get closer to Jesus and walk with Him daily.

If you’re wondering how to develop greater consistency in possessing the Fruit of the Spirit and living with it in all seasons of your life, stay tuned for more on my blog!  God’s going to do great things in you this year as you apply His Word to your life!

Give Me the Chips!

salt chipsI like potato chips.  I am in complete agreement with Lays, it is impossible to eat just one.  My personal favorite is the salt and vinegar chips; whoever invented these should have a national holiday named after them.  For now, until we find out who that very special person is, we could just name it, “Salt and Vinegar Chip Guy Day.”  So, the bigger the bag – the BETTER!  I don’t want one of those small personalized chip bags which come with your sandwich in a meal deal……that won’t do!  I’m going to need to have a lot of those chips, or I won’t be satisfied.

I also love Jesus, and if I love Him then the assumption which can be made is I want to know Him, walk with Him, and be like Him as much as possible.  This is no small bag commitment!  Yet, I find, many believers declare their love for Him, but they only want a little Jesus.  When this happens, there is minimal change in their life.  They don’t put off their ‘old self’ (Ephesians 4:22-24), but they try to find a happy balance between their old life and the new life.  Those lives are not compatible with one another, and one will always win out over the other.  Why do we struggle with letting go of our old sinful practices?  Well, its a matter of chips.

When your former ways are the bigger bag of chips in your life and Jesus is smaller, you know what you have?  An imbalance.  You have a desire problem.  You have a devotion issue.  Jesus can’t be your little bag of chips and be enough because anyone who is satisfied with a small bag of chips is not hungry.  If the small bag fills you, guess what?  You don’t care much for those chips.  If you’re content with just a little bit of Jesus then you don’t really believe He is necessary.  If a small bag of Jesus is enough for you then you’re not pursuing Him.  Whatever is greatest in your life is what you are pursuing; its the big bag.  You’d better make sure its Jesus!

Make Jesus your big bag of chips; a bag you can’t get enough of.  I don’t want to be content with less than all of Him, and Jesus doesn’t want me to be satisfied with less, but more.  Do you want more of Jesus or are you content with less of Him?  If you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you, so give Him a greater place in your life – actually, let Him have all of your life!

 

Are You Lying to Yourself?

liesHave you ever told a lie?  I know; what a ridiculous question because you have.  Have you noticed what happens the more you tell it?  You begin to believe it too.  Many times our own lies begin to convince us and our perception of reality is changed because what we say happened, actually never did.  Yet, its how we’ve begun to remember it and somehow the lie we tell becomes the truth we believe in.  Unfortunately, there’s no truth to be found at all.

Luke 13:24-30 is one of those passages which disturbs me the most because it reveals how the truth we believe can actually be based on a self-manufactured lie.  If you have this concern too after reading this passage, let me give you one clear directive which will guarantee you won’t live in a false reality where your relationship with the LORD is concerned.

One phrase Jesus says which stands out to me in vs. 24 is to “Make every effort….”…. What a game-changer.  I think many of us would have to admit there have been too many times where we did not make every effort and we expected an impossible outcome.  It was impossible because we gave an effort which can be stated as “good enough.”  The “good enough” mentality somehow lulls me into expecting more while giving less effort.  For instance, we may settle for a marriage which is not ideal because it is “good enough” and so we never work to make it stronger.  Our lack of effort is realized when it crumbles under the weight of the pressure of life because in reality, it wasn’t “good enough.”

We will sacrifice eternity if we think we can live some sort of “good enough” in relation to the LORD.  First, the problem with this thinking is no one is “good enough,” so how could you even think such a ridiculous thought.  Actually, it is easy when the lie becomes the truth.  See, I look at myself and think what is good about me outweighs what is wrong with me, so I’m now “good enough.”

When you dedicate yourself to “make every effort” there is little room to miss the mark.  Jesus knew the most important goal for any of our lives was to find salvation in Him through our repentance of sins within His forgiveness for those sins.  Nothing less will move us to the other side of the threshold except for His grace.

The reality is this….if your life were to end now and you were on the wrong side of that threshold, you would be desperate to get through this door called salvation, but it will be too late.  The decision has to be made in this life.  Rather than be desperate later, make every effort now to ensure you are saved.

Don’t shut out God’s voice to your life, and His direction.  Find joy in His Word of life rather than in things or even people which only last or stay for a time.  Trust in Him, so you will not allow the worries of life or the temptation to gain great riches draw you from His presence.  In other words, keep your priorities straight by making sure He is your first priority…your first love….the One you serve first…….your All in All!

There’s no sense in gaining the world and losing your soul.  If you will make every effort, you will undoubtedly enjoy a fullness in your life which only comes from Him and cannot be duplicated by anything or anyone else.

Why I Worship Him

worshipI’ve enjoyed singing all of my life.  When I was only three my Dad was a car salesman at a dealership in Paramus, NJ, and his demo car didn’t come equipped with a radio.  Undeterred, I would sit in the back seat and sing all the songs we would have heard on the radio if we had one.  Throughout my life, I’ve always enjoyed music even though my music choice and tastes changed over the years mainly because of my love for the LORD.

I don’t listen to secular music anymore.  To be honest, it doesn’t fit the focus of my life, and it does not serve a purpose.  Maybe that statement seems foreign to some people, but I believe everything, including the music I listen to, should serve the purpose of my life.

I grew up in a Catholic church until I was 8 years old, and we eventually attended an Assemblies of God church where I made a genuine commitment to Jesus, and was filled with the Holy Spirit when I was twelve.  I failed to understand, at that age, how my decision for Him affected my purpose.  Before that decision, all of my present and future plans revolved around what I desired to be or become, and what I would do to make that happen.  That all changed when I made a commitment to Him.  It was no longer I who lived, but Christ living in me (Galatians 2:20).

For the believer, our lives revolve around His existence much like the earth circles the sun.  Apart from many reasons for the existence of life on our planet, nothing could exist without the warmth and light of the sun.  What the earth needs most for life to exist is what it revolves around; the sun is at the center of its existence.  In the same way I view the existence of the believer, and my own life.  I know the Creator who breathed life into me, and the Savior who died and rose for me, and the Holy Spirit who fills me with the ability to serve God, so He is the center of my existence.  Whatever does not serve the purpose of deepening my dependence on Him, extending my reverence for Him, or portraying my devoted love for Him is waste (Philippians 3:7-12).

Now…..back to music.

What do I listen to most?  Worship music.  Why? Because my life is dependent on Him.  See, I have a testimony for why I am the person I am today, and it revolves around the faithfulness of God.  Worship is my opportunity to praise Him for who He is, thank Him for what He’s done, and draw closer to Him.  It is a time for me to get in God’s presence and be reminded how necessary He is and how incredibly generous He has been to me.  Worship is an opportunity for me to simply pour out my love and gratitude to God.  In worship, my focus is completely on Him.  I’m not focused on what others are doing, or if someone is singing in key or not, or how someone else is responding to Him.  It just becomes Him and me, and I’m relating my love to Him in worship.  I understand worship is a matter of obedience to God in how I live daily, but it is very much the act of singing and praising Him, as well.

In the midst of my seemingly impossible issues, I can worship and enter His presence and remember He is greater and more able to direct my life than anything which stands opposed to me.  Worship isn’t about asking Him for anything, but it reminds me what I already know….God loves me and He who is in me is greater.

This past Sunday night, our church had a night of worship where we just came together and lifted up His Name.  It was an incredible experience for me, and I believe for many who came that night.  It is definitely the first of many worship nights to come!  I also believe, God not only desires to develop a culture of worship in our church, but His people desire it too.  When our desires align with His desires, we can be sure we have finally figured out He is the center of our existence.

For your listening pleasure, here are some of my recent fav’s for worship…..

Only Wanna Sing – Hillsong Young and Free

Holy Spirit – Kari Jobe

Yahweh – Elevation Worship  (Song starts at 3:00 mark)

Spirit Break Out – Kim Walker