A Crash Course in Joy

Boy on Bike (2)Some of the most successful people I know have discovered that failure is an inevitable part of success. The only way you’re ever going to get from where you are to where you want to be is to leave where you’ve always been. And leaving the “familiar” is scary. Our fear of failure keeps us stuck. The sooner we get over our embarrassment of failure, the sooner we’ll be able to get on with life transformation.

You may remember the first time you got on a bicycle – without training wheels, of course – how scary it was. Everything felt so awkward. You got on, you rode a ways, and you fell. You got back on, you rode a ways, and you fell. But you didn’t quit. You stayed with it. Soon you were able to ride like the wind.

Failure didn’t stop us when we were kids. Why do we allow failure to stop us now?

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” ~ James 1.2-4

I don’t know of anyone who lives this out in their day to day lives better than my friends Jerry and Gina. They’ve been through one of the most devastating things a couple can go through. They watched their business that had once been vibrant and profitable dwindle down to a trickle. For seven years they tried everything they knew to keep it afloat. They buried themselves in debt trying to keep their employees on the payroll. Nothing worked. They eventually filed bankruptcy.

Today Jerry & Gina are two of the most positive people I know. They’re at peace with their lives – and they’re at peace with God. Today they’ll tell you their lives have never been better. Things didn’t go at all the way they had hoped. But they’ve accepted the way things are. And they trust God in the trials.

And Jerry and Gina have learned one of the most powerful lessons on earth: God loves us and cares for us in ways we can never truly grasp as long as things are comfortable in our lives.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds” – knowing that God’s got it. Get up. Keep going. We can embrace the trials – and failures – in life when we know that ultimately God is the One who’s going to take us from where we are to where he wants us to be.

Are You a Naked Warrior?

Barefoot (2)Are we bold enough to pray with Paul that God will give us the words we need to fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel whenever we open our mouth? It’s a bold prayer. [Ephesians 6.19]

Here’s what strikes me about this prayer: Paul knew he was incapable of sharing the the mystery of the Gospel – apart from God’s power at work within him. And he was the Apostle Paul! Yet he was just like us – incapable of the work of the Spirit apart from the empowerment of the Spirit. More

Guard Your Heart

Guard your heart_June 2015Have you ever noticed that a lot of “relationship” issues are not really relationship issues at all, but are actually issues of the heart?

If we’ve decided to live God’s way… “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth” [Ps.86.11], we will continually face this choice: Will we respond according to what we’re feeling at the moment, or will we make an intentional choice to respond in a way that’s pleasing to God? It’s about our heart submission to God.

The best way to fix a relationship issue is to allow God – INVITE God – to fix our heart. IF we will humble ourselves and pray, and seek God’s face and turn from our self-serving way, THEN we will begin to experience more heart-to heart intimacy in our relationships. God-honoring relationships flow from a God-honoring heart.

“Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” ~Proverbs 4.23

Living Woelessly

SilloetteWe have the ability to change the way we think about the challenges in our life. Many people seem to be surprised to learn this. We tend to excuse ourselves from taking responsibility for choosing a more God-honoring approach to life because, after all, “This is just the way I am.” We whine about the way things are as if we’re victims of our circumstances. We get stuck in the “woe is me” default mode of our humanistic thinking.

We need to get this foundational life principle:

Living the way God designed us to live greatly diminishes the importance of outward circumstance.

Why? Because we’re “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” [Hebrews 12.2]

Circumstances will always change – sometimes from one moment to the next. But Jesus will never change. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” [Hebrews 18.8]

Jesus is the Rock we cling to…the shelter in the storm…our sure redemption.

For this reason, we can “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” [James 1.2-4]

We can change the way we think about the challenges in our life, knowing there’s a purpose beyond our momentary afflictions. And knowing we serve an unchangeable Lord and Savior who loves us with an unwavering love…and that he has a plan for us, and the plan is for GOOD!

All That & A Box of Chicken ~ the PRIDE TEST



[Inspired by the Message My Own Worst Enemy at Sagebrush Community Church by Todd Cook, January 11, 2015]


Second to One

Feet on Chimney RockOn our 10th wedding anniversary, I find myself reminiscing about the way it all began. For us, it happened with the click of a mouse on a dating site called “Love & Seek.” I lived in Michigan at the time. Rose lived in New Mexico.

Anyone who’s played the online dating game knows it’s actually a game of hide and seek: players tend to hide the truth about who they really are – posting photos of themselves from days long gone – while at the same time seeking the perfect mate – hoping against hope they’re the “real deal.” A major component of the game is scrolling aimlessly through the hundreds of smiling faces vying for attention. Every now and then, one might pause to take a closer look, and then scroll on…and on…and on.

Following a late night of sitting at the campfire in my backyard, contemplating the glowing embers and other wonderful mysteries, I meandered back into the house. It was late, and I was ready for bed. On my way toward the bedroom, I passed by my laptop, and gave in to the urge to take one last look. Just in case.

And there she was. Beautiful brown eyes were looking back at me…the most gorgeous eyes I’d ever seen. She was wearing a black cowgirl hat, and her smile literally made my heart trip over itself. She was stunning.

So I clicked to take a closer look. She was obviously an outdoor kind of gal. She mentioned something in her profile about “racing to the top of the mountain,” which quite honestly quickened my pulse just thinking about the possibility. Then I mustered all the courage I could to take the next step; that is, actually communicate with her. I typed the words, “So what’s happening in New Mexico?” And I hit the send button. [I know, not all that creative, but I was a little enamored at the moment.]

And she clicked back! She thought I was “safe” since I lived so far away. She was on the dating site because a friend of hers had convinced her that she needed a pen pal. She invited me to the Balloon Fiesta–and nearly fainted when I accepted. We hiked in the mountains, and she raced me to the top – and won. [I blame it on being a lowlander.] A few weeks later she met me in Detroit when I returned from a trip to Kenya. A month after that, we got married – the 3rd time we were together.

That was 10 years – and a multitude of amazing adventures – ago. I never imagined I would be married to a woman as wonderful as Rose. And there’s a secret to the wonder of who she is. It’s a secret she shared with me in the spirit of “full-disclosure” shortly before we got married. I guess it was a confession of sorts. Rose told me I would never be number one in her life. That place had already been taken. Her Papa God was her number One. I was welcome to the number two place in her life.

I’m not sure when it actually hit me – the significance of being second to God. But that’s what I am – number two to God [at least in Rose’s life]. I’m married to a woman who seeks the heart of God with all her heart, and I’m the beneficiary of the love that pours from my heavenly Father through her. I’m married to a woman who honors me as her husband – not just with her words, but with everything she is. She believes in me, and she forgives me when I become impatient or distracted. She shares her heart with me, and she listen when I share mine.

I’m number two to the One who blessed me with my beautiful Rose.

Happy anniversary, Rosa Maria…I love you eternally!

IF you Abide…

Hand Holding Finger (2)God’s greatest conditional promise: “IF you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” ~ John 15:7-8,NKJV

This verse starts with a two letter word – “if.” If is a conjunction that ties one thing to another. In this verse, “if” is in conjunction with the verb “abide.” To abide is a choice “to remain, to continue, to stay constantly connected, to dwell on with expectation and patience.”

As we abide – as we remain connected to our Creator – something supernatural happens: the desires of our hearts change. It is in His dwelling place that our deepest thoughts and desires are revealed. As we grow in our relationship with Him, our worldly worldview perspective begins to dissipate. It is replaced with the mindset of our Heavenly Father.

Things that were hidden become illuminated by His Light. We receive clarity in the things He desires for us. We not only receive wisdom from above, but discernment – an understanding of what is right in His eyes. We hear His voice in the stillness of abiding. He speaks and we answer. He calls and we follow. He reveals and we trust. We abide and He gives us the desires of our hearts.

Our desires are no longer contaminated with impurities. They have been replaced with the longing to be more like HIM…to live a life in step with our Master.

It is when we connect the “if” with the “abide” that it all begins to make perfect sense. It is then that we find our sweet, secret dwelling place with our Papa God. It is then – and only then – that we can rest and trust. No matter the force of the storms that rage on the outside, they cannot penetrate the sanctuary of our soul…our resting place with Him. It is there that I rest in perfect peace. Being still…..

“Papa God, give us eyes to see! Give us courage to remain connected to Your heavenly guiding hand! Give us patience to stay the course no matter how strong the storms may rage. Quicken Your Spirit within us and let your sanctuary be a fortress so strong that nothing this world throws at us can penetrate or shake us loose from your mighty grip.  Protect us from the unnecessary and disrupt us when we slumber.  Your will be done, in and through us…In JESUS’ name”.



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