Money is NOT the root of all evil…

“Money is the root of all evil”

Have you ever heard that phrase?

I hear it often. The problem is that it’s not in the Bible. It’s from a commonly misquoted verse from the Bible.

The actual verse says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10 (emphasis mine)

And, you’d have to admit that verse is true. You’ve seen people fall in love with their money and it causes all kinds of grief.

But, money isn’t bad in itself. I happen to like money. It provides for the necessities of life and some of life’s pleasures. It pays the church bills too. We can use our money to bless others.

God uses our system of commerce (money) to further His Kingdom. Sure, He could do without our money…He could do anything He wants with no money at all…but God does choose to use money. You’ve most likely seen Him do so.

Where we get in trouble isn’t with money. It’s with the love of money. Jesus said we can’t love both God and money. He was referring to that sold out, fully committed, do whatever it takes to get kind of love. That love isn’t to be towards our money, but towards our Savior.

Be honest, which do you love more: Your money or Your Jesus?

The best way to tell is to have to give one of them up for the other. Hope you never have to choose that way, but it would at least determine the truth of your heart.

How can you tell when someone is loving their money in an unhealthy way?

Notes: Catalyst Atlanta… #Cat11 – Francis Chan

Francis is passionate about God and His glory. Anyone having ever reading his books or listened to his messages would confirm that fact.

Francis started with a confession. He struggles with being present. (The theme of this week’s conference.)

Has that ever been you? (I’m guilty of that.)

Francis says, “There’s nothing worse than having a conversation with someone who is not present.”

The title Catalyst gave Francis for his talk: His presence matters...

Francis wondered, as He reflected on what he called “the understatement of the year”

Does anything else matter?

Then Francis Chan shared some nuggets of thoughts on the presence of God in our life:

  • Right now, if God decided to make His presence known, isn’t that all that would matter?
  • When God’s presence is here, amazing things happens.
  • “The Spirit gives life…the flesh is no help at all.” John 6:63
  • David, after an enemy took his wife and children captive, the people were tempted to stone him because of what happened…how did David respond? He strengthened himself in the Lord…1 Samuel 30:1-6 (How would I respond?)
  • One thing I have asked, and one thing that I seek… to dwell in the House of the Lord. Psalm 27
  • Satan knows everything depends on my relationship with God, so if he can distract me…
  • Are you present enough in your prayer life that He actually hears you?

Wow, I’ve been challenged in my walk with Christ! Thanks Francis!

7 Ways to Tell it May Be a God Thing

And without faith it is impossible to please God… Hebrews 11:6

We live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you. 2 Chronicles 20:12

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 1 Corinthians 1:27

God calls people to seemingly impossible tasks. It gives Him glory when I can’t do something, but He can. I can do “all things through Christ who strengthen me”, but often what He calls me to do can seem foolish to attempt (at least to others…and sometimes me) at the time. Imagine what the friends of Abraham, Moses, and Noah must have thought when God called them to what appeared to be impossible assignments. God calls people to walk by faith into the unknown.

If you know God has called you to something, don’t be dismayed if others can’t quickly identify with your calling. In my experience, God is often raising up others with the same heartbeat, but you can’t always see them at the time, so there may be periods when you have to stand alone on God’s calling. That may be for a season, but at times it could be for years. (Consider the case of Noah.)

With that in mind…

Here are 7 ways to tell it may be a God thing:

  • Everyone says it can’t be done…
  • You feel you aren’t qualified…
  • There aren’t enough resources available…
  • It makes no rational sense…
  • People call it (or you) stupid…
  • It would give God all the glory…
  • It honors God and is true to His Word…

I’m not saying this post confirms what you are attempting is from God. What I am saying is that you should not dismiss the call you believe God has placed on your life because it doesn’t make sense to others around you…or to yourself at times.

Are you in the midst of a God-calling?

Has God called you to things which made no sense at the time?

What would you add to my list?

We can only see what we can see…

I say this often…

We can only see what we can see…

I don’t know why…

I just find times that it seems to fit…

Sometimes the simplest statements have the largest meaning…

The fact is…

We can only see what we can see…

The rest requires faith…

In my experience, sometimes God lets you see miles down the road…

He told me once, for example, to plant a church…

17 months later we launched…

(That was after the 10 years I ignored what He was saying…but that’s another story…)

Sometimes God lets you see only a few steps…

It was that way when God called me into ministry…

I had no idea where I was headed next…

I could only see what I could see…

The rest required faith…

When you can’t see beyond the steps…and even when you can…

Remember “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7)

Because…

We can only see what we can see…

What about you?

Are you seeing the miles…or are you seeing the steps?

How to Know God’s Will

The world and all its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:17 NIV

Some of my best growth times with the Lord have been during teaching times with my children. I remember when my son asked an important question, “Daddy, what is the ‘will of God’?”

Now, he wasn’t asking, “What does God want me to do?” It was more general than that. He simply wanted to know what the phrase “will of God” meant. He had heard others say the term many times, but he never understood it. My hope is that you and I can also grow through this experience.

I explained to him in a way that has always helped me understand the will of God in my life. Understand this is a paradigm for understanding God’s will, not a script according to Scripture. I believe there are Bible verses that can further define each one of these (I’ve put a couple in parenthesis after each one for example), but my intent here is simply to help people process God’s will for their life.

First there is God’s individual will.

That is for the individual decisions you and I make each day. You know that God cares intimately for you, even down to the number of hairs on your head. God does allow, however, for you to make some decisions for yourself in life. You may choose what to eat for breakfast or you may choose a red car instead of a blue. It isn’t that God doesn’t care which you get, but He most likely will allow you to make that decision. (Proverbs 16:9, Jeremiah 29:4-6, Genesis 13:11)

Second, there is God’s moral will.

God’s desire for you is that you develop your character into the image of Christ. He will present you with every opportunity for you to do just that, but you will play a part in how far you grow spiritually. You may choose to love your neighbor as yourself or you may choose to be a very selfish person. God, however, is very concerned about your character, and for His moral will for your life. In fact, God cares more that His moral will for your life be done than His individual will, because God is in the character-changing business. (Philippians 2:5, Galatians 5:22-23, Romans 12:1-2)

Third, there is God’s sovereign will.

God has a will that is set in stone! It won’t change. It can’t change. It always stays the same! For example, God cannot help but love you because that is His sovereign will. God cannot break His promises, because that is His sovereign will. Some things God has set into motion, and they will never be different. (Job 42:2, Deuteronomy 4:39, Isaiah 45:18)

I don’t know what God’s individual will is for your life. (I hope today it includes your favorite cereal and a shiny red convertible…if that’s your color.) But I can tell you this. His moral will is that you be like His Son Jesus.
That begins with your sincere faith in Jesus as your Savior! And better yet, His sovereign will says that because of your faith in Him, He has reserved you a place in Heaven!

Do you struggle to know God’s will for your life sometimes?

Scripture Memorization, Week 33 (And a video)

This week, I want to encourage you to do something special with the memory verse. Write it on an index card or something similar. Place it where you will see it every morning…perhaps like a mirror where you get ready. Read it a few times everyday. Then pray it as a prayer.

Here is this week’s memory verse:

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. Psalm 57:5

See how it shapes your attitude each day this week.

As an added bonus, watch this video and sing it in the form of a song:

My Top 5 Corporate Worship Experiences

This is a hard post to write, because I typically don’t do “favorites”, but I’ve thought a lot recently about worship. That always floods my mind with memories of corporate worship highlights in my life…or favorite worship moments. I have had many. To me, worship is when God fills me with Himself. It’s when God has all of me and all I want is all of Him. That doesn’t have to happen in a church service…and often doesn’t for me…which is why I titled this “top 5 corporate worship moments“. I do believe, however, that there is something special about worshiping with other like-minded believers. (In fact, I would contend we are commanded to do so regularly.)

Of course, any time of worship is an incredible time. The fact that a holy God would choose to allow me into His presence should bring me to my knees constantly in worship. Honestly, however, there are times I’m just going through the motions of “worship”.

Here are my top 5 corporate worship experiences:

Los Angeles – It had been a long week at a business conference, and truthfully a very non-spiritual week. I was so busy that all week I read one chapter…Psalm 150. As is our custom, we went looking for a church on Sunday morning. I thought I had found a California mega-church online, but, after getting lost several times and nearly missing the service, we arrived to find out it was a very small church. There were less than 100 people and we were very obvious visitors. We decided to visit in spite of my introversion and on the marquis, permanently inscribed was a single verse: Let everything that have breath praise the Lord. Psalm 150:6. It turned out to be one of the most meaningful times of worship in my life.

Brooklyn Tabernacle Church – Cheryl and I were there for a Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir experience. I had heard people talk about this, and usually if I’m anticipating something it isn’t as likely to happen for me, but it did. I felt God’s presence like never before. I can still capture the memories of that moment today.

Brazil – I was about to speak via a translator for the very first time. Prior to stepping on stage, we were led in almost an hour-long time of worship, although it seemed like only a few minutes. Hearing Portuguese and English together proclaiming the goodness of the same God humbled me to tears.

Promise Keepers – I went to many Promise Keepers events, and they were all good, but on this particular occasion my boys went with me. They were probably both pre-teens at the time and at this conference, not only did I worship, but I got to witness, for the first time, my two boys worship. It was indescribable!

Passion Conference – I had gone with our college team, but for this session I slipped away by myself. I was alone in a crowded room…if you’ve ever been there. I knew no one around me and for 30 minutes, I gave God everything in my heart. I’ll never forget the jubilation. (I don’t get to use that word very much…but it seems appropriate here!)

Some may wonder, why didn’t you name your own church? Well, that’s a great question. I’m a very strategic-minded person, so on Sundays, to be candid, it’s more work that it is worship. Still, I’ve had some amazing times of worship at our church…especially backstage, which is why it didn’t make the list here.

I’d love to hear from you.

Tell me one (or 5) of your top worship moments.

7 Ways to Distinguish God’s Voice from the Circumstances of Life

How do you actually know God is talking to you?

Every believer wants to hear from God. Why would you follow God closely if you didn’t want to know His voice or hear what He has to say? We want to know…Is this God?…Is this what He is telling me to do?…or…Am I being swayed by the circumstances of my life?

One thing I’ve observed is that we often listen for the grandiose voice of God. Sometimes God speaks that way, but many times God is more subtle than that. Often God speaks through those quiet moments, through other people, and through life’s circumstances. In a crowded world of noise and life distractions sometimes it’s hard to understand what God is saying. How do we take the circumstance of life, as mixed up and confusing as they can be, and figure out what God could be saying to us?

Here are some guidelines to hearing God speak through the circumstances of life:

Mirror your circumstances with the truth of God’s Word – God will never contradict Himself. He will never speak to us through our circumstances in a way that will contradict His written word. I hear people at times claim God is telling them to do something that is in violation with what God has already said. That’s never God.

God uses people to confirm His voice – God often sends people into our path to confirm His will for our life. People who attempt to follow God with their life can help us to hear from God. Every time God has called me to something, there have been others to confirm they are hearing the same calling. I’ve often had to cycle through the naysayers to hear them, but they are there.

Recognize that God operates from a plan – Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Rick Warren has sold millions of books telling us that we should live our life with a purpose…God’s purpose. Looking back over my life, I could never have scripted it, but I see how God has used me according to an overall plan. He’s used my life experiences to shape me for where I am today.

Examine your circumstances in light of God’s overall plan – When trying to hear from God through the circumstances of life, we should not try to make a decision on one event or set of circumstances. Circumstances may or may not be God speaking to us. We should look at our life over a span of months or years. Jeremiah 29:11 indicates that God has a definite plan to proper us and give us hope, but it would take the people 70 years to get there. :) When we look at our life over time we will be able to see what God has been doing. When the circumstances of life consistently line up over time with God’s overall plan it is possible that God is trying to speak through those circumstances. Before God called me into ministry the voices speaking into my life were many. I was available, there were tons of confirmations and signs, and I had to view my life in the context of God’s master plan.

Don’t allow circumstances to keep you from hearing or obeying God – Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16:8-9 (NIV) “But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.” The common sense thing to do when everyone opposes you would be to leave, but Paul knew the circumstances were not indicative of God’s will for his life. Sometimes our circumstances may look gloomy, but we haven’t heard the truth of our circumstances until we have heard from God. God has typically spoken to me clearest during my darkest days. (Read THIS POST)

Ask God to show you His perspective on the circumstances – You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV) As followers of God we will spend our whole life trying to discern the will of God for our life; listening for His voice. If we desire to hear from God through our circumstances we must intently listen for the voice of God. Hearing from God is not always easy. When life is coming at us we cannot seem to understand what is going on, we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for clarification. We should feel free to ask, “God what did you mean by that?” Many times I think I know what God is saying, but it’s in the seasons of questioning that I am more intentional to go back to Him for clarification. I’ve even taken days away to intentionally listen during the confusing times.

Remember: God’s primary desire in speaking is for eternal purposes – We limit God to this finite world when we fail to remember He is an infinite God. When we are trying to discern God’s voice through the circumstances of life we should consider how what is happening around us fits into God’s eternal plan to save a lost world from destruction and to mold His children into the image of His Son. God’s primary activity will be in these areas of our life. I’ve always been able to see how God’s specific plan for me lined up with His desire to invite a world to know Him.

Hearing from God is critical for the children of God to know God’s will for our life.

Our mission is to learn how to hear His voice. We must listen intently and carefully for His voice through the crowd of noises in the world in which we live. Thankfully God has not given up on us, but is still speaking to His people today.

Are you in a season of trying to hear from God?

Share your story to help (This is a revised post from previous posts.

Hearing the Voice of God

Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:20-21

These verses aren’t my life verses…maybe they should be…

You see…

Most of my life I’ve been desperate for a word from God…

I’ve wanted to know His thoughts…

I want His input into my life…

I want to know His will…

Just being honest, I’ve probably spent more time wondering His will than I have obeying His will.

(I hope that doesn’t disappoint you…)

Sure, I know lots of His will I can obey everyday…right from the pages of His Word…

But, to know the will of the things not clearly outlined in Scripture…well…sometimes I’m left wondering…

I have learned this, however…

Many times God has to get my attention to get me to listen…

And then there’s…

Bread

Bread is pretty essential for survival. I’ve traveled lots of places…people love their bread. In San Francisco, they claim to have the best sour dough bread anywhere. Germany seemed to love their bread too. In Malta there was this bread of which I couldn’t get enough. Everywhere I’ve been, bread seems to be a staple. It’s a basic commodity.

Yet, God gives us the bread of adversity.

And then there’s…

Water

Everyone knows we can’t live long without water. There are whole ministries trying to provide water to people around the world, because people are dying without it. They say our city’s water has algae in it…or something like that…because of the heat. It’s supposedly safe to drink, but people are complaining. During my long training periods for running, when I start aching all over, I know I haven’t had enough water. Water is a critical commodity.

Yet, God gives us the water of affliction.

I don’t understand.

But, then the verse says, “your teachers will be hidden no more” …

“whether you turn to the right or to the left” …

“you ears will hear a voice behind you” …

“this is the way”…

That’s what I’m looking for, right?

Perhaps I’ve been looking at trials all the wrong way…

Perhaps trials bring me closer to the heart of God…

Perhaps a trial makes me desperate for my Creator…

Perhaps nothing like a trial produces in me a longing for God…

Perhaps God uses trials to show me His love…His provision…to teach and mold me…and to point me in the way I am to go…

Which is what I wanted in the first place…

I don’t know…just thinking…

What do you think?

I’ve written other thoughts on hearing the voice of God HERE.