You can follow your heart

I talk to so many people who are waiting on a burning bush experience before they move forward with an idea or dream. With the best intentions, they want to make sure what they are doing is God’s “will” for their life. They keep waiting for some sign…maybe a writing in the sky…a letter from God…or certainly some definite “sign” that this is God’s plan for them.

I also know pastors who are afraid to let people “follow their heart”. Anytime I post about following a dream some well-meaning person challenges me that following the heart is dangerous.

Can you trust your heart apart from Christ? You better not. Could we misunderstand God’s will? Absolutely. Could we move in a wrong direction? Of course. But, telling people not to follow their heart?

I’m not sure that’s the right approach.

God didn’t make us a robot.

If your heart is closely following Christ…

If your desire is to please Him…

If you aren’t being convicted otherwise…

You don’t have to sit on the sidelines and let the world pass you by.

God is creative, and He’s made you creative as a part of His image.

I’d rather tell people to get their heart close enough to hear Christ…then go!

  • Check your heart
  • Continue to check your heart
  • Check your motivation
  • Continue to check your motivation

If it’s not sinful…if the Bible doesn’t specifically address your issue…if you don’t have any sense God is telling you otherwise…if what you are doing is good and honorable…if it is helpful to others, or…if it is in line with the direction and experience you’ve had in life…

Give God all the glory…

But quit sitting on the sidelines and follow your heart.

Have you been waiting for a “sign”?

Two Words of Wisdom that will Change Your Life

Be Purposeful.

In parenting.

In marriage.

In forgiveness.

In ministry.

In your relationship with God.

In your career.

In your social media activity.

In your education.

In your financial life.

In your life planning.

In relationship building.

In leadership.

The “secret” that separates many from succeeding or failing is the degree in which they were purposeful in attaining what they hope to achieve.

Not getting the success you’re looking for these day? What’s the secret?

Be purposeful.

Try it.

In what area of your life do you need to be more purposeful?

I Needed Those Scars

My friend Kenny York launched one of the fastest growing non-profit ministries I’ve ever seen. Manna Cafe is a mobile feeding ministry in my hometown. They take food to where the homeless and hungry live. It was amazing to watch them flourish in two fast moving years and I was happy to be a small part of it.

Recently Kenny and I were talking about his story. He has some “baggage” in his past. There were times of partying…a little more than most of us have partied. There was the period of homelessness. There were the days that were so dark he couldn’t even see any hope of future light.

He calls it his “wilderness experience”.

Many of us have similar stories, but they didn’t all run as deep as Kenny’s did.

Today Kenny is an ordained Gospel preacher. They call him Pastor Bubba and he is reaching people who will never enter most of our churches.

I’m so proud to call Kenny my friend.

Kenny said something in our conversation I thought was worth repeating. Perhaps it applies to you in your story. Maybe you are doubting the purpose for your struggles, or at least how God could ever use them for good. Perhaps you are in a leadership position, but you feel slightly unqualified because of your past. You fear if people knew the real you, they may not respect you…or even love you anymore.

Maybe Kenny’s story can help.

Kenny said:

Without my wilderness experience, I wouldn’t have the scars I needed to do what I’m doing right now.

Wow!

Have you ever thought of it that way?

Your scars have shaped you into who you need to be, so God could use you how you were designed to be used. The scars you are now developing, even though you can’t see it at this time, are achieving a greater glory that will someday be revealed.

You wouldn’t be who you are designed to be…without your scars.

He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:4

Are you at a point yet where you can see how God is using your scars?

Waiting for Daddy!

Kid and time, concept

When our two boys were in elementary school, and actually wanted us to, Cheryl and I tried to go to lunch with them once a week, unless we were traveling for business. They loved it because there was a special seating section for visiting parents, and usually we brought them lunch. (I think that was the real attraction. 🙂 )

Nathaniel was probably in about first or second grade. He was less the socialite of our son Jeremy so he always looked forward to me coming each week. These were some of our favorite hangout times.

On one particularly busy week, it was Friday and I still hadn’t gone to lunch with him. It was an exceptionally busy morning also and I got distracted from the time. When I realized how late it was, it was questionable if I could get there in time for lunch. I knew Nathaniel would be disappointed if I didn’t show up, so I left quickly for the school as fast as I could.

When I got to the school, I went straight to the cafeteria, as it was midway into his lunch period. To my surprise, Nathaniel wasn’t with the rest of his class. I went to his room and found his teacher. She told me Nathaniel was in the office. He was waiting for me.

Nathaniel had refused to go to lunch with his class. (He could be quite stubborn at times.) Nathaniel insisted to his teacher, “I know my daddy is coming today. He hasn’t been yet this week.”

He had that much confidence in his father.

I have thought about that story many times through the years. It’s been a consistent reminder to be the best father I can be and to never lose the respect or confidence of my sons.

It also had a spiritual implication for me.

If only I always had that much confidence in my Heavenly Father.

He is the perfect father. Always. He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me. He’s promised to work all things for my eventual good. He’s committed to counting the hairs on my head. I can surely trust Him. My Heavenly Daddy will come.

Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Isaiah 35:4

Are you waiting for God?

Keep waiting.

Your father will arrive. You can trust Him!

The Pressure of Easter Preaching

Pastor do you feel a pressure on Easter unlike other Sundays?

It seems there is an internal pressure to:

  • Find an obscure verse.
  • Address the story from a new angle
  • Reveal new insight in applying the story
  • Develop a character like no one else has
  • Tell the story in a fresh way

I feel the pressure. Am I alone?

What if we simply preach that Christ was crucified, buried and rose again?

What if we let the Gospel be the Gospel? What if we let truth prevail and the Holy Spirit be the teacher?

What if we drop the pressure and share the truth that God still loves sinners, that the Cross is still enough and that He is calling people to repentance and restoration?

What if we share the glory of the resurrection, not in a way that brings attention to our creativity in preparing a message, but in His humility and grace on the cross?

What if we decrease so the light of the world might increase?

That’s my aim this Easter. Who’s with me?

True Confession: I’m An Expert. So Are You!

It’s been an interesting week in the world of football. America watched as Peyton Manning chose to go to Denver, rather than Tennessee…or any other team. It was honestly disappointing, because I’m a Peyton fan, having watched him as a University of Tennessee player.

I felt sorry though, thinking of what it meant for current Tennessee Titans quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck. Reading THIS article in The Tennessean was difficult, because I felt his pain. Yes, he handled it with class (I understand he’s a committed believer), but he knows he was second choice in quarterbacks. As strong as he is as a Christian and man, I’m certain it still hurt. It may have hurt even worse for his family.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“This is Peyton Manning,” Hasselbeck said Thursday.

“There were no guarantees I was going to be back,” he said. “If Peyton Manning had come to Tennessee, you know, I wouldn’t be playing for the Titans next year and that would’ve been unfortunate in my mind. My family and I have fallen in love with Nashville.

“But at the end of the day, I get it with the Peyton thing.”

I get it with the Peyton thing, also, Matt.

I get it, but it still hurts.

Have you ever been second choice?

The reality is Hasselbeck is still a good quarterback. In fact, of all the people in the world, Hasselbeck is a great quarterback. One of the best if you compare it in sheer numbers. Compare him to me (or you) and how good is he? Pretty good, huh?

But Hasselbeck is not Peyton.

And, guess what?

I understand.

I’m no Andy Stanley when it comes to preaching either.

I’m not Matt Chandler when it comes to dissecting a Bible passage.

I’m not John Maxwell when it comes to leadership.

Let’s be honest, if I ever write a really good post people think I stole it from Seth Godin.

The point I’m making is that in our system of comparison we may not measure up to someone else. There will always be someone who can do something better than we can do it.

We can even argue about who is “best”.

But, I’m not sure that’s the best method of comparison.

The good news for me is that God doesn’t measure like the world measures. (1 Samuel 16:7)

In the eyes of the world, I’m probably not an expert at anything.

In the eyes of God, I’m an expert at being me.

Be honest…

Have you been trying to be someone you’re not?

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?