Coveting the Wrong Mansion

I was running recently in Asheville, NC. Have you ever been there? What a beautiful city! The area where I was running is full of big houses. Mansions galore. Not Biltmore big, but bigger than my house big. Lots bigger. I was running part of the time with my mouth open. I couldn’t believe the enormity.

I kept thinking:

Wow! Who lives in those houses? What would it be like to have a house like that? How cool is that house?

Then the thought occurred to me…

It felt convicting at first, then comforting.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)

(I love having Scripture hidden in my heart!)

I was instantly reminded that I have treasure in God that no one could afford. No one in Asheville or anywhere in the world. Bill Gates, or the new richest man in the world (I hear Bill’s not the richest anymore) couldn’t afford the treasure I’ve been afforded by my God.

Next time you run (or walk or drive) past a mansion, remember where your real treasure is.

Instead of being overwhelmed by the things of this world…be overwhelmed by the glories of His world. My richness is in Christ. How rich am I?

Are you ever like me? Do your thoughts ever get side-tracked?

Perhaps you are coveting the wrong mansion.

Often we focus on the wrong treasure. The cheaper treasure. The one that won’t last.

When is the last time God redirected your thoughts towards Him?

Peace Often Comes Through Obedience

In my experience, peace often doesn’t come until obedience begins. Seldom do I have complete peace prior to beginning to obey what I sense God is calling me to do.

Many times the direction God appears to be leading me doesn’t make sense. I’m restless. I don’t sleep well.  I question myself and what I’m sensing.

I’ve previously written steps I take to discern God’s will (You can read that HERE and HERE), but after I’ve done that process, and I’m still sensing God’s leading, the next place for me hasn’t always been an overwhelming sense of peace. The next place for me is one of obedience.

I’ve learned I may have to get my feet wet (Joshua 3) before the waters begin to part and peace begins to fill my heart.

Are you in one of those times of discernment? Do you sense God’s leading? Do you believe God is calling you to a new level of faith and dependence on Him?

The next step may be to get your feet wet.

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Reflection on the Poem “Footprints”

Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. Psalm 77:19

...through the darkest days of my life…..where were you God…..I only saw one set of footprints in the sand…..where were you God….those were the times, my child, when I carried you…….

You are familiar with the “Footprints” poem that has been commercialized onto plates, pictures, ties, refrigerator magnets, bookmarks, etc, etc, etc. I once thought it was overused. In fact, I wondered where the Biblical reference for it was. I knew it was sound doctrinally, because I had experienced it so many times in my life, but I didn’t have a reference to back it up until I read this verse years ago.

Of course, the opening Bible verse refers to the famous march through the middle of the waters by that powerful leader we know as Moses. (I wrote more about that time HERE.)

Can you imagine how the Israelites must have felt? They had escaped the years of slavery and persecution to head for what they thought was a chance at real freedom and along came the Pharoah’s finest, ready to put them on the chopping block. Needless to say they were slightly disappointed. Moses summoned God, who told them to go through the center of the sea.

Yea, right! Yet, as strange as that may have sounded at the time, the people enter the “water” on dry ground! I know, it doesn’t make sense, but that is what happened. Read it for yourself if you don’t believe me.  (Exodus 14)

Did they see the footprints of God? No! Did they doubt who parted the water? Did they question who dried up the dirt? Well, let me ask you, could you have done it? Neither could they!

They knew that God was being God….again!

Has He ever been God in your life? Can you explain it? Did you see His footprints? But if you submit yourself to God and allow God to do His work in your life, make no mistake about it, you will clearly know He is God and there is no other!

Read the poem footprints again. You probably have it on a coffee mug somewhere. Then recall the many times that He has taken you through the waters. Thank Him for carrying you all the way…though His footprints may not be seen!

He is a mighty God!

Being Still Doesn’t Mean Doing Nothing

I hear people use this verse for the wrong application:

Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

I’ve heard well meaning people use it as an indicator that, because we are on the winning team, we will never face another battle. Not true.

Here’s something you need to understand about this verse, before you try to live it.

The verse doesn’t mean you don’t have an assignment. It doesn’t mean the assignment you have won’t be difficult. It doesn’t mean doing nothing.

Consider the next verse:

Exodus 15:15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”

In other words…get going! Do what you’re supposed to do! Don’t stand there in fear…MOVE ON!

The Israelites were going to cross the sea. It would be something they had never done before. Have you ever walked through a wall of water, on ground that used to be the bottom of the sea?

Seriously, have you?

The Israelites were going to have to trust God that God would part the waters and dry up the land. Keep in mind, this command was given before the sea had even started to separate. They had to believe that the water would divide. They then had to believe the wall of water wouldn’t drop and fish wouldn’t fall on their head as they drown. They had to believe that crossing the sea was a better option than surrendering to the Egyptians. It wasn’t doing nothing. It was walking by faith.

The verse, then, means that if you are moving at the direction of God…if you are following His plan for your life…if you are being obedient…you don’t have to fear the outcome. You don’t have to worry about the provision of God for your journey. You don’t have to wonder if God will do as God said He will do. He’s got your back! He’s got the ultimate victory. You can rest in Him. You can be still!

Being still doesn’t mean doing nothing!

Have you been “standing still” when you need to be moving?

Quit making excuses and act on what you know God has called you to do! 

Take a Risk on People

Pastor, take a risk on people.

Jesus did.

In fact, on the day He did, a few of His disciples, who were professional fishermen, had an unsuccessful day fishing. He recruited them on a day when they were being unproductive.

Didn’t scare Jesus.

He just managed for them to have the biggest catch they’d ever had.

As a pastor, one of your chief jobs is to follow the example of Jesus…in everything you do.

That includes taking a risk on people.

People will take advantage of you. They did Jesus.

People will even betray you. They did Jesus.

But, when you take a risk on people, and you release them to Jesus, He can do through them what they, nor you, ever dreamed possible.

Most likely, someone took a risk on you at some point.

By the way, your best leaders may be the ones you recruit…who others have previously turned down, or who are experiencing an unproductive season of life, but you’re willing to take a risk…and give them another chance.

Take a risk on people. You may get burned a few times. Maybe many times. Grace is often messy, but it’s always like Jesus.

When is the last time you took a risk on someone?

Saturday Night Prayer Chain, Part 4

It’s been a few months since I did a Saturday night prayer chain. I posted the following statement on Twitter and Facebook and instantly heard from some who need prayer.

God is at work in ways you cannot imagine. God is doing things you can’t conceive. #TrustHim

God is at work. Are the circumstances of your life saying otherwise today. Perhaps you need to share your burdens with others. Let us pray for one another.

Do you need prayer?

Here’s how this works:

You comment and leave a prayer request.

My readers and I pray.

It’s that simple.

Do you need prayer?

4 Reminders in Times of Betrayal

I was talking with a pastor recently who has been betrayed by someone in his church. He told him a secret in confidence and soon learned the friend had shared it with another…who shared it with another…who shared it with another…and you know the rest of this story.

I was empathetic, but thought to myself, “Welcome to the world of Christian leadership”.

If you’ve been in leadership very long, you know what it feels like to be betrayed. It can come at the hand of one you barely know or someone you trusted.

I love that God provides us real life examples from the Bible of men and women who faced the same struggles we face today. Consider these thoughts from the life of David.

Consider Psalm 41:7, “All who hate me whisper together about me; they imagine the worst for me.”

David, the man after God’s own heart, had men who talked behind his back. They spread rumors about him. They maligned his reputation and character. He was the subject of gossip. People said things about him that weren’t true; probably some that were partially true, but stretched out of proportion to reality.

Have you ever been there?

Then consider what David says in verse 9, “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”

David had been betrayed by someone he trusted completely.

Most likely you have also. Chances are good, if we are honest, we have been the the betrayer and the betrayed. It might have been a misunderstanding or an intentional act of betrayal, but either way, it still hurt. You were tempted to get even, perhaps you held a grudge; maybe you quit speaking to the person.

How should you respond in betrayal?

Here are 4 reminders for times of betrayal:

Be confident in who you are, who you are not – You are not a super human. You are a man or woman. You have real feelings. You have emotions. You can be hurt. Don’t be surprised by your emotional response to betrayal. You will have to trust again, but you may be hurt again. That’s part of living among sinners like you.

Be confident who others are and who others are not – Don’t hold others to a standard they can’t live up to, but don’t allow them to control your reactions either. Others will let you down. If you open yourself to betrayal by trusting others, which you will often have to do in leadership, life and love, you will be hurt at times. Just at you are not perfect, others are not either. Part of relationships is the vulnerability, which allows betrayal. They only way to avoid it completely is to avoid relationships.

Be confident in who God is and who He isn’t - God is able to protect you. He doesn’t always protect you from betrayal. Sometimes He even allows those closest to you to be the betrayer. He will, however, always use it for an ultimate good. We shouldn’t expect God to do as He hasn’t promised to do. We can expect God to never leave us nor forsake us and to be our strength when we are weak and to lift us up in due time when we humble ourselves before Him.

Be confident in what God has called you to do and what He hasn’t – God has not called you to please everyone. He has called you to be obedient to your call; regardless of the sacrifice. Even in the midst of betrayal, we are called to love mercy, act justly, and walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8) He has also called you to forgive. He has not called you to enable bad behavior.

You can’t control the world from betraying you, but you can control your reaction to betrayal. That begins by living out of the confidence God has given you through your relationship with Him.

Have you ever been betrayed? How did you handle it?