Monday, July 28, 2014


I remember many times hiking a trail in the mountains in the summer time, and constantly climbing and working my way up the trail, perspiring and gradually getting fatigued.  And then to happen upon a small cascade of clear cold water where I’d take my shoes and socks off and put my feet in the water.  You’ve probably done the same thing.  And maybe even splashed some water on your face or put your head under the cascade and let that cold water run over your head.  And then you sit down on a rock and drink from your water bottle and just relax for a while.  And then after a time, you get up and press on, having been refreshed by the cool mountain stream.

As you make your way through life, you find yourself getting fatigued, stressed, and worn.  You find yourself going uphill and the going gets tough.  And then something painful happens. 

You’re trying to follow Christ and obey what He teaches, and life seems to get harder.  Bad things happen.  People treat you different now that you talk about Jesus and do what He says is the right thing to do.  Not only is life unfair, but if you’re a believer in Jesus, you have an enemy now that you didn’t have before, and his name is Satan.  And he will do what he can to tempt you and discourage you and depress you and keep you from being all in for Christ. 

And you start to wonder, “Is there any relief in sight?”  The “good news” is “yes.  Relief and refreshment and renewal are very real and available.  So how do we get relief and refreshment?  He answer is found in Acts 3:19:  Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.  God will refresh you so that you can move forward in life with your life purpose.

To be refreshed means to be cooled.  It’s like a cool breeze on a hot day.  It’s a freedom from the heat.  It lifts your spirits.  The Bible talks about the importance of being refreshed:  Reliable friends who do what they say are like cool drinks in sweltering heat—refreshing (Proverbs 25:13 Mes).  Peter reminds us of the fires we walk through in life.  I beg you not to be unduly alarmed at the fiery ordeals which come to test your faith, as though this were some abnormal experience (1 Peter 4:12 Ph).

The Lord sends seasons of refreshing to cool our spirits.  Maybe you’re in the heat of spiritual battle, or in the heat of being mistreated and rejected, or in the fire of being ostracized and made fun of because you’re a Christ-follower, or you’re in the fire of loss and grief and pain.  And the Lord sends a cool breeze into your life.  He takes you away from the heat for a little while.  He   refreshes you.  And then you’re strengthened again to press forward with living.

When does God refresh us?  It’s when we make a turn toward God.  The Bible calls it “repentance.”  It means turning from our self-absorbed ways in order to follow Jesus in every area of our lives.  It’s turning from depending on myself to figure out life and turning to depend on God to direct my life in order to live out the life purpose He has given me, which is what will truly fulfill me.

We may search in many ways and places for refreshing, but the only lasting soul-satisfying refreshing is found in the reality of God’s presence.

Monday, July 21, 2014


God made each of us for a reason.  He gives each of our lives meaning.  He gives us each a purpose for living.  He gives you a calling.  A “Calling” is not something that is reserved for special people like a Mother Teresa or a Billy Graham. You have a Calling.  You have a “life purpose.”

Here are three ways God calls us:

We are called to become somebody.  God’s calling doesn’t start with a task to accomplish; it starts with a person that God wants you and me to be—a “Jesus kind of person”.  He wants us to become what we’re called to be.

Jesus’ whole mission began when He called people to belong to a little circle … a little redemptive community.  He said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.” Mark 2:17 (NLT)

Jesus is still calling people today.  To belong to Him and to belong to His community . . . that’s the Call.  We don’t do anything to earn it, merit it, or deserve it.  It’s just a Call.

We are called to use whatever gifts, talents, brains, resources, time, energies — what we have received from Him in the first place — to partner with Him in a grand and glorious adventure that is far bigger than our own lives and our own jobs and our own lifestyles and our own portfolios.  We are called to be a partner with Him in the adventure of bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to others and making more devoted followers of Him.

Throughout the Bible we see people who choose to be unselfish, who chose to be generous, and who choose to sacrifice as needed to follow God.  Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me”. Luke 9:23 (NLT)

The word "faith" or its variations is used 246 times in the Bible. The word "hope" is used 185 times.  The word "love" is used 733 times.  The word "give" or "giving" is used 2,285 times in the Bible.  The Bible talks more about giving than any of those other values.  Why?  Because giving is the expression of faith, hope, and love.

God calls you and He calls me.  We have a purpose to live for.  I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1

Monday, July 14, 2014


10% of what we can see is the exterior behavior, and it all looks good.   90% is underneath.   It’s what we can’t see.  The things deep beneath the surface, those things that we can’t see and that come out when we’re under great stress are what God wants to transform most.

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna… to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD (Deut. 8:2-3).

An awareness of yourself and your relationship with God are very closely related.  If you don’t KNOW yourself, how can you GIVE yourself to God?  A limited awareness of myself limits my relationship with God.

Emotional health and spiritual health have a significant connection.  Spiritual maturity and emotional maturity are always connected.  You cannot be mature spiritually and be immature emotionally.  You can’t be healthy spiritually and unhealthy emotionally at the same time.  Jesus calls us to have a spirituality that is connected not disconnected.

What God wants to have happen in your life and in mine is that we come to realize what’s going on inside of us and acknowledge it.  Come out of illusion.  Accept our brokenness.   Accept our limits.  Acknowledge the wounds yet to be healed.  God will do His work of healing and transforming within us when we confront ourselves and we’re honest with ourselves and look straight into the center of our hearts to reveal what’s there.  Then with these realizations we can say with Paul, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me” (2 Cor. 12:9 NLT).

Here are three actions to grow healthier spiritually and emotionally:

1. Ask yourself questions: 
“Why am I doing what I’m doing?  What are the feelings I have about what’s going on?  What are my thoughts on the inside?”  Pray and wrestle with those questions.

2. Slow down, stop, and be with God.
It’s a daily decision we have to make.  You’ve got to develop the interior space of your being.  And let the love of God get beyond your head, into your heart, and into your life.

3. Need God.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).  You cannot have God without poverty of spirit. You can have yourself, you can have religion, but you cannot have Heaven without “poverty of spirit”.  We must come to depend on God.

Monday, July 7, 2014


Whether in person or online, you eventually run into a troll.  With our technology today most of us run into trolls online.  What’s a troll?  It’s someone who’s looking for a fight.  They criticize and pick fights.  But we don’t have to respond to them.  You don’t have to show up for every argument you’re invited to, and in the world of social media you can see plenty of them.  For the most part it’s best to avoid them.  That should certainly be the case when you discover a troll.  It’s a waste of your time and energy.  Like the old saying goes:  “Never wrestle with a pig.  You both get dirty, but the pig likes it”.  Don’t befriend angry people (Prov. 22:24 NLT).