Archive for the ‘examining yourself’ Category



February 12, 2013

“I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”  John 17:23

Pawn Stars in VegasThere is a type of TV show that gets me every time I am surfing through the myriad of available television programming.  I am a sucker for antique shows in all their variations: Antique Road Show, Pawn Stars, and American Pickers.  I like the idea of finding a treasure at the bottom of a box of junk or in the back corner of an old barn or stored for decades in a dust covered attic.

English: An Antique Car!Owners will haul their items in to get an expert’s opinion on the authenticity of their treasure.  Some people have an idea of what they possess.  Other people have no idea.  Therefore, an expert is needed to determine the value of each item.  The expert typically will determine the value of the item based on the item’s authenticity and condition.

Many items have a maker’s mark.  The expert is looking for that unique indicator to determine whether a particular item came from the shop of a master craftsman.  The maker’s mark is incredibly important.  I am amazed how a rusted-out piece of steel junk can be worth thousands of dollars simply because of a small mark that indicates its maker.  The maker makes it very special.

The makers mark is how the world knows whether something is authentic.

Christians are spread throughout the world.  Jesus said that we are in this world but we are not of the world.  We are tucked away in back-corners, barns and attics of this world.  We may be beaten-up, rusted over, neglected or abandoned by this world.  We may be in pristine condition and hanging on a gallery wall with honor and esteem.

The question of all professing Christians is whether we are authentic.  That is what this world wants to know.  Is there something that really is different about Christians?  Those in this world are always testing for that authenticity.

God has given each of us an identifying maker’s mark to test our authenticity – unity.

Unity among believers is that which identifies each of us as with our Father.

“I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John17:23)

The world should be able to look at us and see Christ in us.  That is our maker’s mark.  They should be able to look at one person and determine that the Christ-likeness that they see in that person is the same as another – there is unity.

The maker’s mark is the same. 

If a person exhibits a mark that is completely unique, the conclusion should be that they are not authentic.  If a person exhibits a mark that is of this world, the conclusion should that they are not authentic.

Those who are authentic are those who show the same Christ-like spirit as those who have been sanctified in the truth (John 17:17).  We should be able to see the same characteristics in our lives as those believers who have come before us, from across the world and across town.  Believers exhibiting the same transforming Spirit of Christ is what the world should see and be able to know that a person comes from one place.  The same place.  They will be able to see Christ in us – our maker’s mark.  That is how this world will know that the Father has sent His Son to this world.  The unity that we show each other as believers is how the world will know that God loves us.

How evident is your maker’s mark?

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for changing us so that You can be seen in us.  Thank you for transforming us in such a way that your Spirit shines in us and associates us with those who are yours.  Father, help us desire that unity as your people.  Perfect that unity in us so that we may demonstrate who you are to this lost world.  Help us to be transparent and authentic in all that we do.   Amen



January 30, 2013

“The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”  John 12:3b

Odour Amour

Odour Amour (Photo credit: blentley)

Perfume is an odor that is difficult to hide from our senses.  It is made to draw our attention.  I think some use their perfume as a chemical weapon against my olfactory receptors.  I have known a few women whose perfume is so strong that it is a procession that heralds their arrival.  Everyone is aware when a perfumed woman hits a room but they can never really pin point when she leaves.  Strong perfume can pervade every nook and corner of a room until there is no possibility of escape.

I have developed a pavlovian- like response in the form of a dull ache in the frontal lobes of my brain based on the arrival of the strongly fragranced.  I am not a big fan of the fragrance of strong perfume in whatever chemical cocktail it might take.  It is one of the main reasons I avoid the center of department stores.  There is no masking the overwhelming scent of the perfume department.

There is an equally strong odor that comes from a factory that is along my normal freeway route.  It is a factory that transforms sugar beets into granulated sugar.  One would think that a sugar factory would produce a sweet aroma.  It most certainly does not.  That type of factory produces an aroma that has very biological fragrance; biological in the sense of digestion.  The only advantage of that factory is that it can mask other biological activity.  When my daughter asks from the back of the van, “what’s that smell?” it is very convenient to offer the  logically possible alternative of, “it might be the sugar factory”.

English: Newark Sugar Factory Low winter sun a...

English: Newark Sugar Factory Low winter sun and Newark Sugar Factory (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever thought about the fact that our actions as believers can be smelled by God?

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  Eph. 5:1-2

Christ’s actions were a fragrant offering to God.  Just like the food offerings that the Israelites offered up:

“…a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.” Lev. Chapters 1-3

We are supposed to be imitators of God. That means we are supposed to be living in a manner that has a pleasing aroma to God.

I love the imagery of the Lord wafting air to his nose, taking a deep breath over us, and with satisfaction declaring “that is nice.”   I tend to believe that the most pleasing aroma in the room when Mary anointed Jesus for the day of his burial was not the perfume.  The most fragrant aroma on that day was the actions of Mary.  Mary had taken her bank account, the perfume was of great value, and did an action that demonstrated that Jesus was more important to her than any of those worldly possessions.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 26:10 that she did a beautiful thing.

When was the last time you have done something that the Lord would find beautiful? 

When was the last time you did something that God would find pleasing to smell? 

It is an incredible thing to be a pleasing aroma to the God of the universe.  It blows my mind that it is even possible to be a pleasing aroma to God.

It makes me wonder what I normally smell like, since I know I don’t always love like I should.  I fear that there are times that I smell more like the aroma emanating from a sugar factory.  Does it really matter that some folks smell worse than I do? It is not like their decidedly more unpleasant odor makes my odor irrelevant.  It is not like their larger sugar-factory odor masks my stench. God is not the bus driver confused as to the origin of that decidedly “un-pleasing” aroma originating unseen from the back of the vehicle.

God knows our personal aroma.

We have the opportunity to live in a manner that our fragrance will fill a room.  We have the opportunity to live in a manner that the fragrances we give off will actually precede our arrival and will linger after we leave.  Now, there will be some who may be offended by our odor.  There will be some that we may make “sick” by the very same aroma that God finds so delightful, but whose opinion are you more concerned about?  It really does come down to who we are trying to please.

I want to live in a way that Jesus looks upon me and says, “that is beautiful and he smells so wonderful.”

What face do you do think God will make when he gets a whiff of you?

PRAYER: Lord, thank you that it is even possible that I can be a pleasing aroma to you.  Thank you for making it even possible that I can do something through your Spirit that you will see a beautiful.  Father, thank you for that incredible opportunity.  Lord give me the desire to be a pleasing aroma.  Father, help me to care more about your opinion than anything else.  May you be glorified by how I live my life.    Amen



January 25, 2013

“This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.  By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith…” 1 Timothy 1:18-19

Icy Roads, Take Me HomeWe have experienced a prolonged inversion that has kept the temperature from surpassing 10 degrees F.  Then a storm blew through our area.  I had hoped that the storm-front would provide a little relief from cold temperatures by acting as an atmospheric blender. Unfortunately, the storm was like a fondant that encrusted our world in ice.

That made my commute into work an adventure.

I realized that the roads were bad when my greeting to the county highway was a car trunk awkwardly peeking out from the opposite shoulder of the road.  I am still questioning the wisdom of my decision not to turn around at that moment and head back to the safety of my home.  However, I did not turn around.  Rather, I put my pickup in four-wheel drive and cautiously pressed forward into a white landscape of questionable decision-making.

The road had my full attention on this morning; very excessive depression of the accelerator told me that I was traveling on ice.  There was no day-dreaming, working on memory verses, changing radio stations, or checking texts (which I would never do anyway). The road would periodically check if I was paying attention by giving my nerves a little jolt.  The road would give a slight tug on the steering wheel, followed by a strange floating sensation, followed by another slight jerk as the tires grab what little traction was available.

I don’t like that feeling.  I don’t like what that immediate shot of adrenaline does to me.  It is an electric pulse down the spine as your muscles all try to contract in an instant. It makes you momentarily wonder whether your flight response may have gone too far.

It was amazing how quickly my foot would unconsciously lift off of the accelerator.  I didn’t even have to think about it.  I was equally amazed at the unconscious resistance to placing my foot on the brake or jerking my arms to compensate for a slight misdirection.  I have learned from experience that either of those actions will immediately put me in a place I don’t want to be – the ditch.  It took all my experience of driving on icy roads to make it into work yesterday.  I made it but I don’t think it was the smartest decision that I could have made.   When you think about the consequences, it just wasn’t worth it.

This experience of creeping along dangerously slick roadways made me contemplate the equally dangerous and slick paths of our spiritual lives.  Most of the time, there is a decision before venturing down a particular path.  We will stand at a cross-roads and make a conscious decision to proceed with an activity or a relationship that has inherent dangers to our souls.

dentro al fosso - into the ditch

dentro al fosso – into the ditch (Photo credit: Uberto)

Is it wise to proceed down those roads?

Do you have the experience to navigate those slick pathways without putting your faith in the ditch?

Those are good questions to ask before you proceed.  I remember my first couple of years out of high school.  I was working full-time in a cabinet shop and going to a community college in the evenings.  It was my intention to take all my under division classes at the community college before transferring to the university so I needed to take some humanities classes.  At the time, my cousin was taking a philosophy class.  I could see that those classes represented a slippery road for me.  I decided that I was not ready for that experience and took some humanities classes where I felt I had better footing.

Subsequently, I did take several philosophy classes as part of my education and I am glad that I waited.  From my experience, the philosophy departments of the universities that I attended were dominated by professors who were more evangelists for their secular humanist beliefs than professors, but that is not limited to philosophy departments.  I have sat through classes in philosophy, biology, geology, and even economics where the professors were proselytizing their beliefs in a direct assault on my faith with a blatantly one-sided presentation – people of faith are ignorant.

Those were some slippery roads for me.  However, it was an experience that made my faith stronger.  I am very glad I took those classes but the timing needed to be right.  I needed my faith to be sufficiently mature so that my faith grew on those slick roads rather than put me in the ditch.  I did not have that maturity when I first got out of high school.  I praise God that He showed that to me at the time.

Car Crash - 1I have watched many a person put their faith in the ditch on similar slippery roads.  I have had theological discussions with folks who are tied into intellectual knots.  I wonder what slippery road caused their faith to land in a ditch without them even knowing it.  I have known brothers and sisters in Christ who have had a slippery road result in great detours in their sanctification.

I think that it happens more than we realize but it is not inevitable.

My experience is that pride and foolishness are the main reasons for the times that I have found my vehicle and my faith in a ditch.  Timothy was told to hold onto his faith.  There are many folks who are not holding onto their faith and I have been one of them.  I have over-estimated my maturity and I have under-valued my faith.  For too many, the implications to their faith is not even a consideration in their decision-making:

What is taking this job going to do for my faith?

What is going to this school going to do for my faith?

What is this relationship going to do for my faith?

What is this hobby going to do for my faith?

When we send our kids off, what are we allowing their young faith to be subjected to? 

The reality is that many don’t want their decisions to weigh the implications on their faith or their kids’  faith because their “good conscience” is already pushing them against it.  How many times have you pushed forward with something that you knew wasn’t good for you or your kids?  I have made decisions against my own “good conscience” where I was not valuing my faith, and it resulted in having to be dug out of a ditch.  It never works out well.

A part of navigating the treacherous roads of this life is assessing the ones you even need to be on.  All of the roads don’t have to be traveled.  Like a good general who picks his battles, the wise followers of Christ will carefully pick the roads they choose to travel.  There will be some roads we travel where we don’t have a choice but even then there are decisions we can make that will make those roads safer to our souls.  We need to humbly evaluate the conditions when we come to those forks in our spiritual paths.  We need to accurately assess our own experience and maturity before we blindly push forward onto roads that we are likely to lose hold of our most valuable treasure – the sanctification of our faith.  It is OK to say, “I am not ready for that.” It is wise to build a support team around yourself to keep you on the narrow road or to pull you back if you start sliding away.

Those decisions require you to acknowledge that you have not arrived, which is humility.  We all could use more humility.  Humility would have kept me from unnecessarily traveling dangerous roads to make it into work.  Humility would have kept me from taking paths that have rocked my faith.  Humility acknowledges who we are and the importance of our faith.  We must maintain the mindset of holding onto our faith, which makes our faith a player in all of our decision-making.

There is nothing in this world that we need to fear but that doesn’t mean we should act foolishly.  Safe travels my friends.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for protecting me from my own bad decision.  Thank you for placing my feet back on a sure foundation after I have so casually treated my faith.   Father, you are my all in all.  Give me wisdom and discernment to assess the roads ahead.  May the holding onto my faith be always at the forefront of my mind.  Father, keep me from making a shipwreck of my faith; keep me from putting my faith in the ditch.  Amen



December 28, 2012

“Practice these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:15-16

I have a very special purpose in my family.  I eat things.  In particular, I eat old things and not the things that get better with age.  I eat the things that get worse with age; much worse.

TimothyI am the alternative to a dog or the garbage disposal.  I don’t know how many times that I have been told, “You need to eat that before it goes bad.”  We all know that the demarcation of “going bad” is a very subjective one.  However, pushing that line is a risk my wife is willing to take because, heaven forbid, we ever throw anything out.

Therefore, we all play our roles.  My wife tells me to eat something in the back of the refrigerator; I dutifully pull it out and ask her to smell it. She has a better sense than I do for the decaying state of organic matter.  If she gives it the sniff of approval, then down the hatch it goes. My role is fulfilled and my immune system bolstered.

I have come to accept my role without much thought or consideration.  I have even raised my son in my footsteps.  I now actually have to fight for the scraps.  There is no crumb in the bottom of the bag that doesn’t get sucked out.  There is no quarter of a sandwich that doesn’t get consumed.  There is no drop of questionable milk that ever goes down the drain. No ancient casserole ever need fear the landfill in our home.  I have become so accustomed to eating things that it has become second nature.

That is not necessarily a good thing.

The other day I was vacuuming in our basement. My son had been down there, eating and playing video games, and had left a mess. Normally, the cleaning would be his responsibility you make the mess, you clean the mess.  However, company was on the way so time was critical and teenagers tend to move like they’re in molasses while cleaning.

Anyway, I was vacuuming and came upon a chip. Without thinking, I picked up the chip, examined it, popped it in my mouth and continued my vacuuming, chewing away, without a second thought.  As I chewed my little snack, I realized that the wonderfully processed and artificial flavor in my mouth was actually one of my favorite chips. I love those chips, except I couldn’t remember the last time we had those; It had to have been quite a while – at least a month.

Original flavor Sun Chips in the bag

Original flavor Sun Chips in the bag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had a month old chip, that had been hiding away in the crevasse of the couch, in my mouth!  What to do?  It was then that I became aware of the staleness of my little morsel; not very pleasant after all.  What to do?  I did the only reasonable thing – I swallowed; I was committed at that point; I had more vacuuming to do; there was no place to spit it out; let’s face it – I have eaten worse. So, I swallowed. My second nature of eating things has not been good for me.  I had popped something in my mouth that I would normally have refused to eat.  Yet, I ate it – I even swallowed it. I have concluded that eating old things is not a good habit.

We need to be very careful of what we allow to become second nature throughout our lives.  Our habits and normal practices can become so routine that we will do them without thinking.  They become second nature.  That is fine if the practices are good for our soul.  It is very bad if the practices are of this world.

This is why we are to make a practice of training ourselves in godliness, setting our hope on the living God; devoting ourselves to scripture reading, exhortation, and teachings.  The habits that we create in life come from what we repeatedly do.  What we repeatedly do is what we become.  We can either create good habits or bad ones; both will be equally hard to break.

Consider how much of the things of the Spirit that you consume in relation to the things of the world.  What habits are you allowing to form?

 “Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.” (Samuel Smiles)

Let’s keep a close watch on ourselves so that we form habits that will keep us from inadvertently consuming the stale chips of this world.

PRAYER: Father, you know all of my bad habits.  Thank you for your forgiveness, mercy, and patience.  Thank you for breaking many of my bad habits through the power of you Spirit.  Lord, continue that work in me.  Show me those areas in my life where my second nature does not lead me to your righteousness. Show me those areas where I am still clinging to the flesh.  Father, I desire to walk in your Spirit in all areas of my life so that the fruit of your Spirit may be abundant throughout my life for your glory.   Amen


BREAKING NEWS: “Spiritually Obese Man Can’t Fit Through Narrow Gate” – Nov. 27th

November 27, 2012

“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Luke 13:24

I know that many people struggle with their weight. There can be many factors that lead to obesity but the equation remains maddeningly simple. When we consume more calories than we burn, we get fat. The problem for me is that I often don’t even realize how many calories I consume. Usually, the only consequence is tighter pants.

Recently, there were dire consequences for a woman in Hungary. According to the NY Post, an obese woman, on vacation in Hungary, was not able to physically fit into an airplane and return to the US for kidney treatment. Tragically, she died in Hungary.  I wonder if she had known that her weight would prevent her from being able to enter that airplane if she would have gotten that weight off.  We will never know. She waited too long to get prepared for the trip.

There are consequences to being over-weight.  However, most folks never anticipate dire consequences due to their weight. That is why current polling shows that people are happily fat. We get content with being over-weight because it is harder to be fit.

I lost 35 lbs this last year.  It wasn’t because I started exercising. I had completed P90X and Insanity but had gained 3 lbs. It wasn’t until I started tracking my diet that I began losing weight. It is simply amazing how a handful of nuts here, a little sliver of dessert there, and a bit of extra serving on top can add up. I started to log everything that I consumed. That resulted in me being aware and limiting what I was shoving into my mouth. It was then that all of my exercising began to have the effect that I had been hoping for. The weight just came off.

This got me to wonder how many folks are spiritually over-weight. All you have to do is take a quick look through today’s churches to see a lot of spiritually out-of-shape Christians. I wonder how many of them are not even aware of the volume of worldly desires that they are daily consuming. We can follow very rigorous spiritual disciplines but we also have to limit the corrupting delicacies of this world that we consume.  There is a balance between spiritual exercise (doing) and diet (delighting) that every believer must find in order for them to experience spiritual fitness.

To be in shape, you have to strive for it. You have to be earnest for it. That is what Jesus is telling us here in Luke. We need to strive, to be earnest, about salvation. How much earnestness do you see out there? How much earnestness do you see in yourself?  I see a lot of luke-warmness (Rev. 3:15-17) and that scares me.

Many people believe that they have a ticket that allows them passage to heaven. We are warned that many of these people are going to show up at the narrow gate and find that they don’t fit. Just like the majority of Americans who are happily fat, there a many Christians who are happily fat spiritually. They don’t think that there are any consequences. They said a magic incantation and gone on consuming the sweet desires of this world. That is why we are told to examine ourselves. It is when we truly respond to the gospel that we are changed. The result of that new life will be a change in our palette.  We will desire the things of God. We will gain assurance in our own salvation by seeing the Spirit work in our lives; by seeing the fruit of the Spirit growing in us and making us something that we weren’t.  What scares me is that many will wait too long to get prepared (Matt. 25:1-12). The world is full of people who are on the wide and easy escalator that leads to destruction (Matt 7:13-14).  Many of those people think that they are holding a ticket to heaven.

It is time to get in spiritual shape.  Examine yourself (2 Cor. 13:5)– maybe it would be good to start by tracking just how much of this world that you are routinely consuming. What do you desire the most?  Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:21).

PRAYER: Lord, You are the highest treaures there is. Forgive me for desiring lesser things of this world.  Lord, give me eyes to see clearly. Help me to examine myself to discover what in this world I am desiring more than you. Lord – fill me with your Spirit; make me fit in the fruit of your Spirit so that I am  prepared for your return.  Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen



November 25, 2012

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9

According to Steve Cochrane in an article for Tech Republic, you should avoid Russian tractors if you’re in the tractor market. At least you should strike soviet-era tractors from your list. That is unless you enjoy doing mechanic work on tractors, then this might be the tractor for you.

The soviet tractor was the product of a mindset that did not value continual improvement and quality. There was no competition, only quotas, so design rarely changed and flaws persisted. They just kept doing what they did to meet the expectation of the state. The result was a product that did not fail to disappoint. Russian farmers had to continually invest their limited income into repairs of an inferior product.

The contrast is a vehicle manufactured by Toyota. Toyota is a company with stringent quality control. They are continually seeking to improve their product and maintain a high level of quality. Toyota has even developed their own production method called “lean production” and the result is a vehicle that rarely disappoints. It is why a Toyota is… well, a Toyota.

I was wondering how you would describe your faith; would you describe it like a Russian tractor or a Toyota?

There are folks who just continually struggle in their faith; it seems like their spiritual lives consistently fall apart on them. They seem to spend all of their time working on themselves and can never be used. They practice their faith in a manner to simply please the expectations of others. They seem like a Russian tractor.

That may be due to a fundamental flaw in their mindset.  Many folks “get saved”, mark it off their bucket list and just keep doing what they have always done. “Getting saved” is only the start of the Christian life. It is the start of a life of continual improvement and an obsession on quality control that in Christian talk we call sanctification. However, sanctification, like quality, doesn’t just happen. Toyota has invested billions into their production process to get the results that they now enjoy. The soviets never did and now they are gone.

We need to be willing to invest in our own sanctification. That means we need to be willing to put the time in. Sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit but that does not free us of responsibility. We can’t just keep doing what we do. We need to knock, seek, and ask.  All of those words are verbs; action words. When we do all of those actions with our Father in heaven and He will never fail us. We will never be let down by our Father when we invest in our own sanctification.

There may be some folks that go – how? I have been there and have been discouraged by trite answers. I have wondered how this all works because I am tired of being…me.  Maybe, the tools of Toyota’s lean production process can lend us truths in the pursuit of quality in our faith.

  1. Sort through items keeping only what’s needed: Let’s face it; our lives are full of things that we don’t need. There are some things that simply have got to go. They are keeping you bound to this world. They are sources of unholy desires that simply have to be removed because they will continually bring you down.  All things are free to you but all things are not beneficial. You know what those things are. It is time to deal with them.
  2. Straighten – a place for everything and everything in it’s place: Organize your life. As an example, if you find it difficult to have a consistent time in prayer and Bible reading, then organize it. Set aside the same time every day. Don’t try and fit it in; you will never find the time. Get all your Bible stuff in the same place. We can find all sorts of excuses to get up and waste the precious little time that we have. Do this sort of organizing throughout your life and you will be amazed at the consistency that will come from it.
  3. Shine – cleanliness:  Be passionate about purity. It can be so discouraging to fall into that same old sin. Be quick to go to our Father and confess that sin, once again, and be reminded that your sins are forgiven (cleansed), and turn to him (setting your mind on the Spirit) ; become a spiritual neat freak. We can become comfortable with filth in our lives. We need to check our desires and continually clean. We live in a corrupting world that can cling to us like dirt. We need to continually be cleaning the desires of our heart and setting our minds on the things of the Spirit.
  4. Standardize – develop systems and procedures to maintain and monitor the first three: We need to create an examination process in our lives that helps us evaluation how we are doing. This takes humility. We need to remember that we have never “made it”. We are all works in progress. I think that it is healthy to daily evaluate: do I need to sort through things, standardize, clean. A heart that desires Christ more than anything else should always be humbly seeking the Father to make sure we are still moving; constantly desiring more and wanting to go deeper.
  5. Sustain the new level of performance:  Many Christians have this idea that the Christian life is a rollercoaster.  That is a defeatist trap. Sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit; it is a gift of our Father that he gives us when we seek him. Why would that go up and down? That doesn’t mean that we will not experience disappointment and suffer. However, circumstance should not affect our maturity. It should enhance it. We need to have an expectation that this new level of fellowship with our Father is the norm. If it even begins to wane, we need to fight to sustain the new normal for our lives. Dig in and fight for it; don’t be content with the way it has always been.

When we get serious about our own faith, we will find that we can have a faith like a Toyota. A faith that will never fail us. All we need to do is start by asking, seeking, and knocking and our Father will give it to us.  Our Father is the best Father ever. He knows how to give good gifts. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)  Do you believe that?  Claim it! Do it! Prove it!  Take God at his word and you will never be disappointed in his faithfulness.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for begin such a good Father to me; thank you for giving me every good thing that I need.  Lord – I desire more of you. I desire to know you more. I desire to know you deeper. Lord – I ask that you will fill me with your Holy Spirit; overflow in me. Lord – show me those areas of my life that I need to sort through; show me where the filth in  my life is hidden; give me strength to organize my life with you as the priority. I can’t do this without out you. Thank you for not expecting me to; Lord make me into what you desire – I am willing.   Amen



November 23, 2012

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Heb. 11:1

I am very content to be missing all of the excitement of Black Friday – endurance shopping and large crowds. That seems more like an enhanced interrogation technique that needs to be banned. However, I am interested in the results of Black Friday. I am anxiously awaiting the final tallies like they are the scoreboard of my favorite team. I am very concerned about the condition of the US economy and Black Friday is a good indicator of what is going on out there. The amount of cash that will be shelled out on this day is a good indicator of how consumers are doing.

I have not talked with anyone who is very “bullish” on the US economy. It is possible that I am in the middle of a bunch of eeyores. I tend to live on the cynical side of the fence, which is fine if the world really is falling apart. However, if it is not falling apart, I would like to inoculate myself (maybe it will work). The Black Friday turnout will be a good indicator as to whether we “eeyores” are in the minority.

I hope to be in the minority because our attitudes matter more than most of us are willing to admit. We all can accomplish great things and endure hardship if we have confidence in the future. This fact is why consumer confidence is tracked. The fundamentals of an economy can all be sound but if consumers are not confident in the future then it is bound to languish.

Confidence directly influences attitude and attitude matters. Atttiude matters because of its influence in every aspect of our lives, including our spiritual lives. The optimism that we feel in our spiritual lives is linked to our confidence in the future. Eternity confidence is called hope. Hope is such a big deal that it is mentioned over 120 times in the Bible. Every believer should aptly be called hopeful.  We are to be people of faith. Hope is in the definition of faith. Therefore, we are to be people of hope. Our confidence in eternity should overflow into every aspect of our daily lives.

Have you been languishing in your faith? Maybe you should try tracking your hope. The bars on this graph show the confidence of consumers in the US over last several years.

Your hope shouldn’t look like that. Our hope is not tied to our economy or anything else from this world.  If your eternal confidence is all over the place than your faith is probably languishing. Our hope should look like the line on this graph. It should be ever increasing as the assurance of our salvation grows through sanctification.

It is always good to periodically get back to the fundamentals.

  • What are you hoping in?
  • What are you day-dreaming about? Is God in it at all?
  • Do you have conviction in God?
  • Do you have conviction in the things of the Spirit that can’t be seen?
  • Do feel your faith crumbling due to a lack of conviction?

Every follower of Christ needs to be reminded that our hope is not in this world. There is nothing in this world worth hoping for since it will all be gone one day. We aren’t taking it with us. What have you really achieved if you gain all that you’ve hoped for in this world and lose your soul?

Let’s get our confidence on what really matters and lasts, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the hope that will never disappoint. Set your mind and your hope on the Spirit and the things of the Spirit and you will be amazed at the growth in your confidence (your faith) and your eternal optimism.

PRAYER: Lord, Thank you for giving me a future that I have confidence in. Lord, you know that I have such a tendency to hope in all of the wrong things. You are surpassingly more valuable than anything this world has to offer me. Father, I set my hope in you this day; I place all of my confidence in you.  I know that I am a child of God and there is nothing that this world can to do me except disappoint if that is where my hope is.  My hope is in you and I know that you will never disappoint me. Praise be to your name.    Amen



November 15, 2012

“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather me scatters.” Luke 11:23    

I am going to purchase a used car and I am already dreading it. My car buying experiences have never been what I would describe as fun. There are an assortment of questions, a lack of answers, and never enough time. I hate the hard sell. What I want is a deal that includes a perpetual test drive. I want a risk-free deal. I want to drive a car until it finally falls apart. Then I will know its real worth  and can pay for what I have received. Shockingly, no one is offering that deal. God doesn’t even offer that deal.  However, there are a lot of folks who approach Him in exactly this manner. They are on a perpetual test drive with God. They are continually negotiating with God. They are hesitant to commit because their deal may necessitate them changing. Many don’t even realize that they have settled into this compromise position. They may have said a prayer but they have not gone all in. They are “associated” with God but not fully with God. The Church is full of folks on perpetual test drives. They are cruising along thinking all is well; they think they have done just enough to get their ticket to heaven punched without having to risk too much. Jesus tells us in Matt. 7:22-23, that there will be many “christians” shocked to find out that their test drive didn’t cut it.  “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” 2 Cor. 13:5

PRAYER: Lord, examine my heart; show me all of the areas of my life that I am holding back. Lord, I want to be all in; I am with you. Help me with those areas where I am not.  Amen

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