Category: Personal Growth

Seeking personal improvement

Broccoli Man

Sunday Sermon 11.28.20

As I am writing this, we just finished celebrating Thanksgiving a few days ago.

Thanksgiving is an important celebration for alot of good reasons, but I would like to suggest one – because we humans forget, we are forgetful. So to help us remember the good, positive and even bad and troublesome things, we give thanks, we intentionally choose to remember and not become a victim of forgetfulness.

We “forget” the pain of childbirth even though we swear it was so bad we will never forget.

We “forget” abuses of people and keep walking back into the same ole situation.

We “forget” the positive words and remember only the negative ones.

We “forget” the painful consequences of sin and remember the moments of pleasure.

We say we will never forget, and yet there is a generation who has never even heard.

We are a forgetful people.

The Bible uses the word forgot or one of its forms over 110 times. I’d like to share one of them with you.

” … and after looking at himself in the mirror, (he) goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like…”

James 1:23-24

In this passage, James is talking about a person who looks at himself in the mirror and afterwards goes away from the mirror and forgets what he looks like. Who does that? That’s crazy, right?

We all can remember what we look like, isn’t that why we generally don’t like even looking in the mirror in the first place? But no…

I used to explain this verse as a guy looking into the mirror, seeing he has broccoli stuck in his teeth, and walking away, doing nothing about it – sharing his broccoli smile with everyone he meets.

I sat next to a guy on an airplane once with twice this… pleasant flight…

But that’s not really accurate.

You see, in the context of what James is teaching, the mirror isn’t a glass, painted with Rustoleum Mirror Effect. He was not referring to a typical mirror, mirror on the wall.

He tells us that the mirror is actually The Word (of God), the Bible. (verses 22-25)

So here’s the picture James is creating for us – a man looks into the bible, reads it, sees an image of himself, and walks away from the mirror and forgets the image he saw.

I always thought the image the man saw of himself was “the broccoli man” – you, know, the one with sin, blemishes and tons of imperfections, including broccoli in his teeth. So of course, he’s gonna walk away and forget! He doesn’t want to remember what a sinner he really is. Duh.

Alas, again I was wrong.

Listen to what James is really trying to tell us –

“…You become like the person who looks in the mirror of the Word to discover the reflection of his face in the beginning. You perceive how God sees you in the mirror of the Word, but then you go out and forget your divine origin.

James 1:23-24 TPT

What broccoli man really sees in the mirror, the Word, is an image of his own divine origin, created in the image of God. In that reflection, broccoli man sees himself as God sees him, before the broccoli, before all sin, before the consequences of sin.

He sees the man created in the image, beauty and glory of God. No broccoli whatsoever. He sees the reflection of Jesus in him.

Now THAT’S amazing and confusing. Broccoli man looks into the Word and sees an image of himself that he doesn’t recognize. An image unfamiliar. A new creature.

In the mirror (the Word) broccoli man sees himself in God’s light:

  • God sees his heart and not his outer, physical appearance 1 Sam.16:7
  • as having a hopeful future Jer. 29:11
  • as a masterpiece for good Eph. 2:10
  • as a loved child of God 1 Jn. 3:1
  • as chosen, royal, holy 1 Pet. 2:9
  • as worthy of Jesus’ sacrifice Jn. 3:16
  • as a new creation 2 Cor. 5:17
  • as chosen, loved, compassionate, kind, humble, meek and patient Col. 3:12
  • as light the darkness Mat. 5:14
  • as a son or daughter and heir of all heavenly blessings Gal. 4:6-7
  • as being wonderfully made Ps. 139:13-16
  • as a friend of God Jn. 15:15
  • as a place where Jesus and His Spirit lives 1 Cor. 6:19-20

Holy Schmokes!!

THAT is the image broccoli man sees in the mirror. He can’t believe it. That is not who he lives with, who he struggles with, who he thinks about. That is not what plays over and over in his mind. That image is not one that sticks with him easily…

So as he walks away from the mirror (Word), it is not long before he forgets what he saw.

We are a forgetful people. We tend to easily forget the image in the mirror/Word that God is wanting to become implanted in our memory. Over and over God reminds us of how He really sees us. Time and time again, as we gaze into the Word/mirror we catch a glimpse of what He sees for us.

There are times of encouragement, confidence, and strength. Then we forget, wander away from the true image of who we are and who we are meant to be.

Not one of us will maintain the divine image of who he has meant for us to be without returning to the mirror, over and over and over and over. It is by the constant viewing of His image for us, and that image being mixed into our daily actions and thoughts, that helps us to actually remember who we really are.

You are so much more than what you see reflected in that glass mirror!

Turn to the mirror of the Word to see the truly valuable, beautiful, worthy, loved and chosen image of you, that He sees.

Don’t forget it. Work it into your thoughts, words, and lifestyle.

No more broccoli man. His image of you is way beyond that.

Lord, help us to NOT forget our divine image of who you have made us to be.

Go with God.

Are They Really That Important?

It’s true, I might have a touch of OCD, but yes, those things do matter, to me.

What things?

Well, let’s take planning a meal for a large crowd hosted in your home. How ’bout those things?

Pre-prep:

  • house in order (this statement alone is fraught with important details!)
  • menu determined
  • groceries purchased
  • guests contacted and informed
  • seating sufficient
  • kitchen pots and pans, dishes, utensils available
  • lighting set, candles?
  • fragrance determined
  • appropriate decorations in place
  • music and speakers ready
  • food prepped as needed (oh my, details!)

Are these little things or big things?

Then there’s the event, itself:

  • strategic hors d’oeuvers placement (yes! it matters)
  • plate, and napkins too
  • coat, purse placement
  • drinks arranged and all that’s needed for them
  • greeting guests upon arrival
  • directing and introducing each
  • receiving the fares that they have brought
  • dealing with the placement and needs of those
  • keeping a watchful eye and nose on the kitchen, where all the foods are warming or on their final countdown towards launch
  • being hospitable
  • smiling
  • keeping a calm attitude and demeanor

I must stop, I can feel my heart racing…

Remember that old adage –

“The devil is in the details”

I sorta believe that. I believe unattended details cause problems, so I seek to address the details so the problems can be forestalled.

How ’bout you? How into the details are you?

Do they really matter yo you?

They mattered to Martha, too.

She invited Jesus and his disciples to dinner at her home where she lived with her sister, Mary and brother, Lazarus.

When Jesus and his crew arrived, Martha welcomes them and then begins her hostess “duties”. AKA the list above… she paid great attention to those details.

In fact, here’s how the bible explains her demeanor –

“”Martha became exasperated by finishing the numerous household chores for preparation for her guests…”

Luke 10:40 TPT

Oh my goodness, I can so relate to Martha. There have been times, behind my smiley, hostess demeanor, I was exasperated. Am I alone? Have you?

Martha’s exasperation was not only with the tasks needing to be completed but the fact that her sister wasn’t even helping her. Martha felt that she was doing it all herself and it was unfair.

Ouch, I have felt that too. My thought bubble would read, “It sure would be nice to have some help around here. Why am I the only one?”

Martha was so worked up about this, that she went over to Jesus, who was seated in the front room, teaching those gathered, including her sister, Mary, and said,

“Lord, don’t you think it’s unfair that my sister left me to do all the work myself? You should tell her to get up and help me.”

Luke 10:40 TPT

Talk about things really being important!!?? These dinner details were super important to Martha. They were also robbing her of her joy, peace, compassion and keeping her from being with Jesus.

Again, I can relate to Martha and have been robbed of the same.

Imagine it, though… here Jesus is in the middle of a family squabble, now made public. All eyes are on Jesus and the hostess, Martha. Mary, I am sure turns and glares at her sister for outing her in public. This does not look like a happy family dinner gathering.

Martha, bitter and exasperated; Mary, betrayed; guests wondering what to do. And Jesus.

Jesus answered Martha,

“Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important?

“Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her.”

Luke 10:41-42 TPT

Jesus, He always gets it so right. For everyone involved. Wow!

That whole list of hostess responsibilities… Martha’s exasperation… Mary’s choice… the guests… Jesus … What is really important? What is the one thing that is most important?

All the distractions, the things pulling us away, demanding our attention, requiring our focus… what is the one thing that is most important?

Geesh, does it really matter if the olives aren’t in that spot on the table or the white and dark meat are not separated? Does it really matter if the plates don’t match, or the house isn’t immaculate?

All the distractions. All the details that pull us away from what is most important. Oh my…

Mary discovered what was important.

She chose to be undistracted. She chose to refuse the pull into the unimportant details. She chose the most important thing.

What a privilege to have Jesus’ attention. Mary had it and wasn’t about to give it up for what was of lesser importance, regardless of Martha’s tattling.

My friends, during this busy season, may we not loose sight of what is most important, what really matters.

May we fight the distractions of unending, tiring and draining details and focus on what is most important- enjoying Jesus’ attention and the love of family and friends that surround us.

It is our choice. We choose what is really important to us.

Are they really that important?

Happy Undistracted Thanksgiving.

Cheers to you.

You’ve Never Heard About Goliath Like This

Yesterday, 11/15/20, I woke up burdened by the Lord with the word – Goliath. So I got up and began digging into 1 Samuel 17.

What you will find here is a teaching video of me telling what I discovered, what it means and how it applies to us today.

I feel the urgency to get the word out, so I am using all of the platforms that I have to do just that. These are days for swift and full obedience.

Please take some quiet time to watch and ask the Lord what He would have you to do.

11.15.20

Go with God.

Testing Positive

Sunday Sermon 10.31.2020

We are living in the days of testing.

My husband, the President, and Justin Turner, to name a few. Who do you know that’s been tested? Who do you know that has tested positive?

Of the three I listed above, two tested positive, one tested negative. One failed the test.

The Bible is always relevant, check out this passage about testing positive, in 2 Corinthians 13:5.

Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular check ups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it.

The Message

Paul, the writer here, urges the people of the churches in Corinth to test themselves and see if they test positive for Jesus. And if they test negative, to do something about it.

How simple is that? What a clear challenge.

Using the original language, a transliteration of that verse would more accurately read, “Test, scrutinize and prove yourselves. Could your convictions relating to God and your convictions relating to Jesus Christ be approved or rejected?”

I love the fact here that the testing is done as a self assessment. We look at ourselves seeking proof, or evidence that Jesus Christ resides in us. No one else is judging us, we get the first look, the first cut as it were.

How do we know if Jesus is in us? How can you tell? What evidence or proofs are there?

We can tell if Jesus is in us by what comes out of us. The evidence is our actions, words, habits – our fruit.

There are all sorts of things that are tested and done so with the sole intent as to prove its quality and what lies within.

Athletes are tested.

Coach Bear Bryant said, “If a man is a quitter I’d rather find out in practice than in a game.” He therefore designed grueling practices for his teams all intended to show the quitters. He said, “Championships are won when the stages are empty.” He knew if an athlete could survive the practice runs and plays, they proved themselves worthy and passed the test for the big game.

Swords are tested.

Taken from the sheath long before war, swords are tested in peace, under stress, fire and disaster drills when there is no real danger. They are tried, scrutinized, and approved for battle.

Gold and silver are tested.

Gold is put in a crucible and heated to 1100 degrees Celsius allowing the dross (impurities) to rise to the surface, where it is then skimmed off. The process is repeated until there are no impurities left.

Silver goes through “fire assaying”, which is the process of separating all of its impurities. Again, the goal is to test what is inside as pure, to at least 92.5% silver. Thus silver 925.

We, people, believers are tested, too.

We are told in 1 Peter 4:12, to not be surprised or think that it is strange that we are being tested.

1 Peter 1:7 says that the test is to prove the genuineness of our faith and remove the impurities. When the heat is up, the impurities come out until all that’s left is Jesus. So that one day, when the heat comes up, all that comes out of us is Jesus, no more impurities.

Psalm 66:10 – “For you, God tested us; you refined us like silver.”

James 1:2-4 is a classic passage, reminding us that the testing of our faith produces perseverance. Very much like the practice runs and plays by Coach Bryant, the practice sessions for us in the heat of life will reveal what we’re made of and whether or not we are quitters.

Those who persevere, do not quit. With each test, they are proven solid in their faith and test positive for Jesus emanating from their life.

If in the test, they test negative for Jesus, they do something about it. They check the symptoms and do what is needed to correct the evidence.

Testing negative for Jesus is no reason to quit. The testing is meant to produce perseverance in you. Get back up, get right, and keep on walking. “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.” Proverbs 24:16

THAT is perseverance. Doing something about the negative test and getting ready for the next test. Cuz you know, it’s coming.

The tests will continue until there are no impurities left. Until only Jesus is left. Only his reactions, words, mind, attitude, feelings, emotions, ways, and thoughts.

So we will have ample opportunities for testing positive for Jesus.

And there is even a promise –

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

James 1:12

One other thought in closing.

The heat of life, the tests of life come to us to reveal to us what lies within our heart. To give us firsthand evidence or proof of what we’re made of. God already knows whether we test positive or negative for him – he wants us to know. So he has designed these practice runs to reveal what is in us. Deuteronomy 8:2; Job 23:10

Returning to and reviewing our starting text, the charge is – give yourselves regular check ups – check for firsthand evidence of Jesus in your life and seek to test positive, but if you fail, do something about it.

Because we are living in days of testing, and we need to test positive.

Go with God.

Silent Sentinels

Strong armed by four men and two women, who strapped her to a chair, her arms and legs secured with leather lashes, they then forced her mouth open while one woman straddled her holding it so against her protestations.

A rubber tube was then inserted into her nose and pushed into her stomach. Blood ran from her nose while abrasions and bruises began to appear on her body.

Raw eggs and milk were then poured into the tube which then landed directly into her stomach. She later described the pain as “a ball of lead in my stomach”.

Against her will, she was being force fed.

This happened three times a day.

On one night, the superintendent of the prison ordered many to be severely beaten. These were mid to upper class women, who were beaten by the guards, all of whom were hurt, some to unconsciousness.

This night is referred to as The Night of Terror, November 14, 1917. Lorton, Workshouse for Women, VA, 20 miles southwest of Washington D.C.

These women, arrested and charged with trivial charges like “obstructing traffic”, were given the choice to pay a fine or go to the workhouse, where they would serve six months in prison.

Not all were force fed. But Alice Paul, one who was sentenced to seven months for obstructing traffic was treated so roughly and fed only bread and water, decided to go on a hunger strike. Again, the superintendent decided he would have no one “die” on his watch, and ordered her to be torturously force fed three times a day.

Her crime? Those women’s real crime?

Silently marching outside the White House, protesting the lack of women’s voting rights. Those women were called, “Silent Sentinels”.

News leaked about the night of terror and abuses within the workhouse and two weeks later the women were released.

Three years later, August, 1920, the 19th Amendment was passed assuring women as citizens and providing them the right to vote.

“The right of citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the U.S. or any State on account of sex.”

The 19th Amendment

The right to vote has been passionately fought for. Not only for women, but for many disenfranchised citizens. Our nation has a rich history of many such battles, protests, and yes, finally victories.

The right to vote, the freedom to vote, as with all freedoms, is not free. It has not come without a high cost and sacrifices. Many there be with stories like the Silent Sentinels, who stood their ground amid persecution and abuses and thereby won the freedoms we enjoy.

In 2019, two billion people in fifty countries voted.

Next week, in America, citizens will again vote. (or like me, perhaps have already voted by mail.)

My prayer is that you will be one who takes your freedom and responsibility seriously and with your ballot and voice be that sentinel keeping watch over America and her values.

Cheers to you and to America.

It’s No Joke, it is Real

Sunday Sermon 10.24.20

Recently, while walking through a neighborhood close to my home, I encountered a home that was decorated in the most ghoulish manner imaginable. I have never seen a homegrown display of such blood, death, dismemberment, pain, destruction, and evil. Proudly displayed in the center of the lawn was a sign that read, “House of evil”.

Here on display for all to see was the blatant declaration of evil.

And there on that street, I decried the evil unleashed there, in that home, on that family and in that neighborhood.

Evil is no joke, it is not some cute theme for decorating, it is real. It’s powers are real, it’s players are real and in the end it all will be pulverized!

With that as our springboard, let’s talk about evil spirits.

Evil is not only present in our world but reigning in and over it because of Lucifer’s pride, rebellion and enmity with God as displayed in heaven in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 and then on earth in the garden in Genesis 3.

Because of his iniquity, pride and rebellion, Lucifer was cast from heaven to earth and if we take Revelation into account (12;4), with him he brought a third of the angels. (now also rebellious and following Lucifer in the heavenly rebellion and earthly assault.)

From Genesis until now, he has been, as Ephesians says, “The prince of the power of the air. The spirit at work in the disobedient.” Ephesians 2:2

“It wasn’t that long ago that you lived in the religion, customs and values of this world, obeying the dark ruler of the earthly realm who fills the atmosphere with his authority, and works diligently in the hearts of those who are disobedient to the truth of God.”

The Passion Translation Ephesians 2:2

Lucifer, once a beautiful, covering angel of heaven, now has spiritual dominion over earth and those who refuse to obey the truth. His angels/ demons work diligently in those hearts for one purpose, they are bent on destroying plans, works and people of God.

He has a host of demons/spirits following him. In addition, of course, are holy angels – those who still follow God’s orders. Scripture speaks of these:

Cheribum, seraphim, and rank and file holy angels who each have their own function and realm of service.

Then there are what appears to be a hierarchy of demonic powers as found in these verses:

Ephesians 6:12; Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians 1:21; 3:10; Colossians 1:16; 2:15

They are:

Principalities, powers, worlds rulers, spiritual wickedness in high places and thrones or authorities.

The Old Testament speaks of evil spirits that trouble people, stir up dissention, murder, divide nations, and deceive nations. Judges 9; 1 Samuel 16; 19; 1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 33

It also speaks of a territorial spirit called a Prince that resisted the release of God’s revelation for twenty one days. Daniel 10:12 Here, prayer had gone up from earth, God heard and answered, but “the Prince of Persia” – a demonic ruler had delayed God’s response from being delivered for twenty one days. So Michael, the Archangel was dispatched to assist in the release of the answer and defeat of the hindrance.

There are spiritual rulers over nations, over world rulers, over cities. Evil spirits are real and made obvious by and through people.

The New Testament mentions the word demon 75 times. They are real!

Jesus clearly not only believed in evil or unclean spirits, but he dealt specifically with many. He commissioned his disciples to “cast out demons”. Matthew 10:1,8; Luke 10:17; Mark 3:14

Jesus dealt with demons in the following ways:

He expelled them (cast them out) from people who were tormented by their influence. Mark 1:39 He spoke to them. Mark 1:24 They fell down before him. Mark 3:11 He sent them into pigs. Luke 8:31 He commanded those who were delivered from demons to testify of their freedom, and they gladly did. Luke 8:1-3

Jesus never sent anyone out to preach the gospel without commissioning them to cast out demons. John 14:12 Very interesting.

Demons, Satan and evil spirits are real. Evil is real, and we need to take this seriously, because we are its target.

Ignorance is not bliss. Indecision is a decision. Idling is going nowhere.

Even Anton La Vey, the author of the Satanic Bible and founder of the church of Satan said, “We smile at the amateur explorers of their own inner darkness – for we know they enjoy their brief dip into the pool of the shadow world.”

In another place, he says, “I’m glad that Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year and touch darkness, which is a daily mode of existence for Satanists”.

Evil is real. It is not a joke.

1 Peter 5:8 says, “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” He is on the look out for people on earth who are open to his influences and and twists of truth. Open to his temptations, deceptions, and accusations. He is, after all the father of lies and there is no truth in him. John 8:44

We live under an atmosphere of his prevailing winds. Winds that blow lies, dishonesty, perversion, pride, arrogance, selfishness, greed, destruction, murder, hatred… geesh.

And yet – THERE IS ONE GREATER. There is a conqueror, victor, champion, helper, savior, JESUS.

When Jesus came to earth from heaven he came to crush the head of the devil as foretold in Genesis 3. He came and won the total and complete victory over Satan by his death on the cross and resurrection from that grave. He ascended into heaven the Victor, where he now sits in full authority and power over every other power in the universe.

1 Peter 3:22 – He has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand – with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

John 16:33 – I have overcome the world

Ephesians 4:4 – he descended into the lowest parts of the earth and took captivity captive

Colossians 1:5 – he disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Therefore, if Jesus lives in us, the prince of the power of the air has no authority over us. Although he will lie and try to tell us differently.

That is why John said, “Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

Therefore, my friends, it is imperative that we live as “wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16 By that I mean, we must wise up and recognize the evil influences and demonic attacks and not give in or yield to them.

Paul tells the believers “do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:27

The Greek words here are powerful and are clear – they are saying do not, even once, not ever give a gift to or supply the slanderer, accuser an opportunity, a place, room or city in your life!

You see, as believers we have a choice to allow the devil or his evil spirits to gain a beachhead in our life. Those are places he can land and spread out his lies. We give him that gift or supply him that opportunity when we:

  • harden our hearts
  • give way to impurity
  • are greedy
  • lie and speak falsehood
  • give way to angry outbursts
  • steal (time, attention, items, honor)
  • have filthy speech
  • are unforgiving
  • slander
  • walk in apathy
  • don’t know the Word
  • fail to fellowship
  • do our own thing
  • don’t submit to the Holy Spirit
  • check out Ephesians 4:17-5:20 for a full list of opportunities

When these tendencies and choices show up outside our lives, scripture tells us to resist them. James 4:4; 1 Peter 5:8-9

If we find a beachhead begun inside of our lives we expel those evil influences. Kick them out. We ask forgiveness and do what is needed to close off that opportunity and take away every link in the supply chain.

Evil is real. We have a choice. Resist, expel, be free of evil spirits.

For generations of mankind, evil has been real and pervasive. Ours is no different. Evil spirits influencing TV and movies are not casual entertainment. They are demonic and evil and they are no joke.

“The Prince of the Power of the Air” – hummm… that sounds like airwaves.

Dear readers, although we live in the world we are not of this world. If we believe in Jesus, we are not under the authority of the devil or his demonic spirits. We are covered by the blood of Jesus and empowered as children of the King to live in His authority.

But we too, must make it our regular, personal, practice to resist the devil and not give him any territory or room in our life. No more opportunities of unforgiveness, selfishness, etc.

This is where being covered in God’s wrap around, spiritual armor comes in. Time does not permit for explanation, but Ephesians 6:10-18 should be our daily “suit up” list.

Evil is real, it is no joke.

God is good, He sent Jesus to overcome evil and empower us to do the same through the power of the Word of God and the grace and mercy of the Holy Spirit.

Go with God, dear ones.

Level Up

Sunday Sermon 10.10.20

These thoughts today are a follow-up to my recent video teaching, “Lessons from Elite Athletes”. If you haven’t seen it and would like to, here it is:

9:00 minutes

So, when was the last time you trained for something?

I sat down and made a list starting as far back as I could remember (back to elementary school) of things that I had “trained” for or in and came up with a list of 18 items.

Then I looked at the list and realized it could be broken into two different categories: athletic/body training and skills training in specific areas.

Try it, make a list of the things that you have trained for. Study it. What one stands out to you? Was it that great half marathon you ran? Was it those 30 pounds you lost? Was it surviving Basic Training? Was it competing in the SUP 10K, or scaling the mountain face?

Whatever it was, it showed you your ability to level up and advance.

So, what did it take to level up? What does a training mindset require?

  • a decision that it is needed – the mental commitment and conditioning to make it happen is the first and perhaps biggest battle
  • making the time to train – planning, preparation, reprioritizing
  • being consistent – without diligent consistency no new habits will be formed
  • pushing beyond comfort levels – “no pain, no gain”

I bet you would agree, you would never have leveled up and made it through your training without those four points firmly established and practiced.

We all have a choice as players in this game of life. Will we be bad players, good players or great players?

” Bad players don’t take much seriously. Good players take practice and games seriously. Great players take warm ups, nutrition, skill work, weight room, conditioning, stretching, film, practice and games seriously.”

Jon Beck – coach

Now, what about that same focus, fervor, determination and sacrifice in your spiritual training? Is it there?

Because way more important than training for an event is the race that we are in spiritually. And again, we are all in the game, the question is at what level. What is our commitment to leveling up spiritually?

The Christian life is a marathon, and we ought not be on the sidelines, but running diligently in the race as contenders for the win!

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 tells us we should go into strict training and train to win.

Consider these winning motivating challenges from the “rule book” for the race- the Bible. Practice saying these out loud to yourself:

  • John 3:30 – he must become greater
  • Galatians 2:20-21 – I am crucified with Christ, it is no longer I that lives, but Christ in me
  • 1 Corinthians 15:31 – I die daily
  • Galatians 5:24-25 – I have nailed the passions and desires to the cross
  • Colossians 3:10 – I put on the new man
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 – I am a new creature, the old is gone
  • 1 Peter 2:24 – that I might die to sin and live for righteousness
  • Romans 13:14 – do not think how to gratify the desires of the flesh
  • Luke 14:27 – whoever does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple
  • Luke 9:23 – whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and follow me

These statements put our body on notice that it is time for training, your body’s shout for satisfaction is no longer your priority.

Those statements also stir the Spirit within you to wake up and take charge. Remember, those two are always at war within us. So the decision of which to listen to and side with is paramount in our training.

To level up spiritually begins with the mindset and decision that it is needed. We can’t stay where we are and level up at the same time. We must decide to go for it and press in, work at it consistently and leave the comfort of serving self.

That decision being made, then we can prioritize and make time for what we need to do. Do we need to build up our prayer time? Study the word more? Praise more? Fellowship with other believers?

Those things are the basics.

Acts 2 tells us of the new church and their habits that allowed the church to level up and grow.

  • they continued in the apostles teaching – bible study
  • fellowship – with other believers
  • breaking of bread – communion
  • prayer – worship

These are what I call basic training for Christians. These four areas are the first level of Christian life – the basics. From here, believers are challenged to grow up, mature and level up.

This is where we go into strict training in an effort to grow and mature and be the ones who finish the race strong and win the prize. We are the ones who actually bear fruit and not just express words. We are striving to become like Jesus. He is our standard.

To level up, we not only increase time and quality in the four basic training areas, but we also move into other areas of spiritual maturity.

Here are some areas for us to mature in. These represent meat for those who are hungry for more than baby’s milk.

Serving others, fasting, personal evangelism, missions, giving, baptisms, spiritual giftings, solitude, healing, signs and wonders, casting out demons, preaching the gospel, making disciples.

These are the things that Jesus called his disciples to. These are areas the Holy Spirit is calling us to move into. Jesus said, “greater works than these shall you do”. That is a WOW statement right there, cuz He did amazing miracles!

When? Why not now? Why not you? Are you trained and ready?

THIS is the race that we are in. These are the areas that we are being called to level up to. This is why basic training is not enough. It is only the starting blocks of the race.

For some, perhaps basic training is enough.

But there is an army of believers rising up who are “forcefully advancing the kingdom”. They are not content with the basics. They see the Kingdom of God coming in power and authority and have chosen to be under that realm, sphere and influence. They have trained their senses to discern between good and bad, righteousness and evil, flesh and spirit.

They have learned to fast and pray and hear God’s voice, direction and plan. They have learned to follow the Spirit’s leading. They are expectant when speaking with people about the ways of the Lord. They carry His presence wherever they go and they are contending for miracles, signs and wonders – today, in our nation.

To be in that group, and be a great spiritual player, everything matters. Everything is training. “All things work together for good” in my life and help me to build spiritual muscle mass. I must stay consistent in my training. Even when I fail or trip, I will get back up and get myself back into training and the race.

I am determined and filled with diligence and discipline. I am committed to move out of my comfort zone with consistency, purpose, strength and accuracy.

I’m leveling up. I am advancing. I am beefing up my spiritual regiment. I am driving forward spiritually. I am thriving spiritually not barely existing.

We stand on the verge of worldwide revival. Our nation is ripe for His presence and power. It is coming. He is coming. Allow Him to put His super on your natural and rock your world, flow through you and change lives.

Evaluate your spiritual fitness. What do you need to do to be a part of what God is doing today?

It is time to level up.

God with God.

PS – Leave me a comment. I would love to heave from you.

But What Are You Praying?

Sunday Sermon 10.3.20

The premise is you are praying.

” Is prayer your steering wheel or is it your spare tire?”

Corrie ten Boom

In these days I suppose that there is a good amount of prayer leaving people’s lips and I include you in that group. Our focus today, is to consider Corrie ten Boom’s question, is prayer your steering wheel or is it your spare tire?

Does your prayer steer where you go, the direction you turn, the course you’re on?

Or, do you turn to prayer when you have had a deflating experience, been punctured or are slowly leaking your life’s joy?

As we consider these thoughts, let’s go to a biblical example of steering wheel prayer – Job. The man who had it all, lost it all but wound up with double in the end.

His story is in the 42 chapters of the Bible book that bears his name.

In quick summary, this man lived in the near East, was extremely wealthy, had a large and happy family, was respected in the community and was considered blameless, upright and God-fearing. (he wasn’t an Israelite either.) Job 1

In a heavenly council meeting, God and Satan were discussing Job’s spiritual character, and Satan was given permission by God to mess with Job, ie: take away his flocks, herds, family, home, possessions and health. Job 1-2

What follows is 35 chapters of Job and his “friends” in dialogue back and forth; they accusing him of sinning against God, and he defending his innocence.

At their first sight of Job, they could hardly recognize him, for the disease that had raveged his body. The four of them sat in silence together, no one knowing what to say, or daring to say anything. This went on for 7 days! Talk about awkward silence??!!

Then the speeches begin. Each takes turn throwing out accusations, assertions, theories, defenses, and logic.

Then, in chapter 38 God shows up and “speaks out of the storm.”

For the next 5 chapters (38-42) God speaks to Job, and asks him questions like:

  • where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? 38:4
  • have you given orders to the morning or shown the dawn its place? 38:12
  • where does darkness reside? 38:19
  • do you know the laws of heaven? 38:33
  • do you send lightening bolts on their way? 38:35
  • do you know when the mountain goats give birth? 39:1
  • does the hawk take flight by your wisdom? 39:26
  • will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? 40:2
  • do you have an arm like God’s? 40:9
  • can you pull leviathan with a fishook? 41:1

Job’s humble answer was, ” I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can the thwarted. My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you, therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:2-6

THEN, the Lord spoke again to Job and told him he was angry with his 3 friends because they had not spoken the truth like he, Job had. 42:7

The friends were then told to make an offering and go to Job and have him pray for them. 42:8

We are told that the Lord accepted Job’s prayer and after that prayer, the Lord restored Job’s fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. Double the sheep, camels, pairs of oxen, and donkeys. He had another 10 children and this time his daughters received an inheritance among their brothers.

That was sorta a brief summary.

Was Job’s prayer his steering wheel or his spare tire?

He didn’t pray until the Lord gave him direction to pray for his friends. The Lord actually was steering Job’s prayer.

Although he had plenty of deflating, puncturing and slow leaks happen in his life, his prayer was never something he relied on as a fix it for those flattening experiences.

His prayer was definitely a steering wheel, inspired by God to bring restoration and double portion blessing.

Job’s prayer steered the direction of his life and that of his family and friends. Job’s prayer brought liberty and forgiveness to his friends and abundant blessing to his family.

Job’s prayer, steered by God, brought everything that Job needed.

Among the lessons to learn from Job, here are my big 5:

  1. God controls everything
  2. Bad things happen to good people
  3. Friends get it both right and wrong
  4. When God speaks He exposes our smallness
  5. Praying God led prayers brings restoration and double portion

In closing, lets return to the premise. I believe that you are praying.

But what are you praying? Are you praying God led prayers? Are your prayers steered by God? Inspired by God? Motivated by God? Are your prayers steering your life, walk, direction?

For those praying God led prayers comes restoration, double portion blessing, health, and provision.

Will you let Jesus take the wheel? Will you allow him to direct your prayers? Will you let him steer?

If so, you will enter into a new realm of freedom, empowerment, discernment, joy and satisfaction.

What are you praying for?

Go with God.

The Power of Love

There’s just something iconic about that 1985 song, “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis & the News. For those of you not familiar with is, here it is:

Used in the movie Back to the Future

Are we rooted and grounded in love and its power?

In 1965, a song hit the charts, written by that famous team of Hal David and Burt Bacharach, called ” What the World Needs Now”. It was a call that resonates in our hearts today. Here it is:

Dionne Warwick later made this famous after having declined to record it

My heart has been hearing the call for LOVE and the full extent of its power in our lives and society.

A phrase I have been mulling over lately is “being rooted and grounded in love”. What does that mean? What does that look like? What is the power of love that the world needs?

Let’s dive into that phrase –

“Being rooted” of course is an agricultural reference. Roots grow below the surface and in most cases are unseen. Their function is to anchor the plant in place in order to resist the forces of wind and water that come at them.

In addition, those roots take in oxygen, water, nutrients and move them through the plant to stems, leaves and blooms.

Easytogrow.com tells me, “to evaluate the health and long term performance of a plant it is all about the roots.” “Signs of poor, damaged roots will lead to an unhealthy plant with short life and limited blooms.”

So, we see that the roots are the indicator of the plants quality of life.

I’m told that you can tell if a plant is stressed out if you look at the leaves. If they are limp or yellow then those are signs of stress caused either by extreme temperatures, drought, predation or disease.

Lord knows, there are enough stress factors on us plants, right? Are we showing signs of stress, limp or yellowing? Then let’s check our roots, what are we rooted in?

Just think now, if our roots, the roots of our life, were embedded and fixed in LOVE. Only love, all love, exclusively love.

Think what the effects would be if only LOVE was the nutrient coursing through us, feeding us, watering us and growing in us.

May we choose to plant out roots deeper and deeper into love and receive all the nutrients we need so that love grows and blossoms from us.

Oh, the power of love.

The second part of that phrase, is “grounded in love”.

This is a building term, referring to laying the foundation and making a building stable, having it grounded and ready to be built upon.

Yet, I am going to look at the electrical perspective of “being grounded”.

In electrical appliances a grounding wire gives the appliance a safe way to discharge excess electricity. The electrical circuit receives both positive and negative charges in order to operate. If something goes wrong, there will be a build up of energy within the wiring that will be stored there.

a grounding wire

Picture that, a build up of positive and negative charges, building up and being stored, unseen within the wiring. What we have here is an explosion ready to happen. An unseen power surge, ready to cause damage. This build up will not be noticed until contact is made and then the excess energy will be released.

A grounding wire in that same appliance will take that build up and send it outside of your home, back into the ground or external housing – hence, a “grounding” wire.

So, when the malfunction happens, rather than having the energy build up in the circuit, it flows back to the ground and turns off the circuit and pending explosion.

Imagine now, you are that appliance, you have been receiving all kinds of negative and positive signals. Something goes wrong in your life and now these charges are building up inside of you. Unseen to others perhaps, but they are there, caught in your circuitry.

When contact is made, with another “conductor”, sparks fly and an explosion and potential fire erupts.

But what if, your grounding wire were firmly attached to an external housing of LOVE thereby allowing love to shut down any circuits from blowing?

Imagine love being your grounding wire. The source of not only your power to shine, but also you ability to sort through positive and negative charges and malfunctions in your life. Love, as the grounding rod or copper water pipe of your life .

Oh, the power of love.

May we be healthy plants with strong roots, firmly established in love. May we also be those lights who are able to withstand overloaded circuitry malfunctions because our ground wire is in love.

What the world needs now is love, the power of love. Love flowing in us, through us, from us.

Cheers to you.

The Sounding Alarm

Sunday Sermon 9.26.20

I had gone into the kitchen from the patio, where I had just lit the grill, and after a moment of preparing the meat, my ears were being pierced by the sounding of our smoke alarm. The first to sound was the one in the hall, then harmony was added when the bedroom alarm joined in. As I turned in response, all I could see was smoke.

What ensued next was a series of activities meant to reduce the smoke and have the alarm stop. We succeeded and without the fire department’s assistance, I’m happy to say.

Our alarm works. We now know because it forced us to take action.

Alarms sound for different reasons. It could be the smoke alarm signifying you are about to be overcome by carbon monoxide; the beep, beep, beep, notifying you that the batteries in your device are low; or the high sounding whoop, whoop telling you it is time to evacuate.

Oh, and lets not forget those alarm lights too, you know, like the ones on the dashboard of our car. (The one’s I often ignore)

The purpose of alarms are to alert people to potential danger. So it is important to know two things when they sound or light up.

  1. What does it mean?
  2. What should I do?

I spend a good amount of time at our harbor and often hear the fog horn. If I am in the slip and hear it, I look around to see where the fog is and decide what my next steps are. Am I gonna stay or is it time to head home.

If I am on the water, in the harbor, on the SUP, dinghy, or Lady Debra and hear the alarm, I do the same. But now I have to maneuver both me, those with me and the vessel safely back to the slip.

If I’m out on the ocean and I hear the alarm, I am probably not surprised because I have already seen and been in the fog. However, I am very “concerned” now because my visibility is impaired and we have to get back into port – safely. Truthfully, I am very stressed.

Realizing what it means and what to do are vital when the alarm sounds.

In the world today, there is a spiritual alarm sounding, who’s purpose is to alert people to potential danger. It is sounding on every continent and in every country.

It is calling all to return to the Lord. Turn away from sin and turn back to Jehovah and His ways.

  • Joel 2:1 – Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm. Let all the inhabitants tremble.
  • Isaiah 58:1 – Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression.
  • Hosea 5:8 – Blow the horn , sound the alarm…
  • Jeremiah 6:17 – I set watchmen over you, saying, “Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!”

From voices all over America (and other nations) we are hearing the sound of the trumpet, the alarm. We are hearing the call to assemble, to pray, to march, to lift up a standard, to raise our voices, to praise – for the returning of our nation to God.

Today, even as I write, there is a gathering in Washington DC, on the Mall – the call, RETURN to the Lord. Right about now too, Franklin Graham and thousands of others are gathering to march through the streets of DC, sounding the alarm to return.

The alarms are sounding folks. Look up, see the smoke.

What does it mean for you? What is the alarm notifying YOU of? What import does it have to you right now. Ask yourself. What do these alarms mean to me?

What follows then, is what do I need to do? What action do I need to take before I am dead, having succumbed to the coming danger?

What does it mean to return to the Lord?

God created me and you for relationship. When we turn to him we enjoy the over – the – top abundance that life in him provides. John 10:10 In his presence we experience fullness of joy and at his right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

He leads us, teaches us and stores up goodness for us. Isaiah 48:17; Psalm 31:19

Because to those who receive him, he gives the right to be called the children of God, we operate in His authority and peace. John 1:12

He provides everything we need. Psalm 23; And he will do even beyond what we can imagine, if we trust in Him. Ephesians 3:20

He preserves our life and keeps our feet from slipping. Psalm 66:8-12

In the presence of our enemies, he provides what we need. Psalm 23:5

These few ideas barely scratch the surface of what life in Him is like. Living a dedicated life to Jesus and yielding to His ways brings life. Choosing to follow Him is life. Danger averted. Life in progress.

Will you return?

Do you hear the sounding alarm?

What does it mean to you? How will you respond?

Go with God.