Chivalry Wins

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. I Corinthians 16:13-14

Okay men, here’s the good news…chivalry still gets style points! In a world where the distinctive line blurs between male/female, women still love their men to be manly. The plain truth is that women and men need the seasoning each gender brings to the table. We are completely equal and yet totally different. Real men love to have their life flavored by a good woman. And women need their man to be THE man - it’s a required spice of life, just ask most women. 

There is a "code of conduct” that became popular as the Titanic was sinking into deadly waters. The mad scramble on its listing decks was to get as many women and children into life rafts as was possible. The code is branded into history - “Women and Children First”! This code of conduct that played out on that fateful night of April 14, 1912 is what makes the story epic. Imagine if it was “each man for himself” or “each man did what was right in his own eyes”. This would just be another tragic watery grave of shame. But the Titanic lives on because of heroism, valor and chivalry, more than almost any other reason.

This code has roots that reach back thousands of years. The code of chivalry and respect for women and children was cooked up by God himself. It’s the rightful order of things. And when we get the order out of whack, we lose a wonderful story and gain only shame. We need a revival of the code. And that revival needs to begin with you - soon you’ll have an epic tale that someone else will tell.

Here's a few key steps you can take today to reclaim Christ-like Chivalry:

  • Be a man of God. This sounds mountainous but it's the choice to set down self-will and be God's man, today. Stu Weber coined the phrase Tender Warrior and that captures the heart of true man of God. We aren't called to be soft but to be tender – as tender as our Savior. We also can't be passive. Passivity is a result of the fall but Jesus placed his Spirit in us and we can bravely stand as warriors who reject passivity and take responsibility. 
  • Be an initiator not a responder. You don't have to be a Type A guy to initiate. Some of God's greatest men are quiet but they step up and step out, not waiting for prodding or poking. But this initiation can only be done in response to prayerful surrender to Jesus and submitting to his calling. As a disciple of Christ we listen to the voice of God and move when he calls. Faithful men fail forward and no one faults a man who follows the leading of God.
  • Be a learner. Chivalrous men are learning men. We learn from other men, women, and people who we meet in those God moments of life. But the greatest men on this earth have someone bigger than themselves or others to give them direction – God alone! And men who are learners lean into God's word because they've seen the folly of flying by the seat of their pants. 

Chivalry still gets style points today. Rack the points moment by moment and day by day. Go get a win...God is cheering for you!

Hurts So Good

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy." Proverbs 27:6

What do we need most in life? I'd say tops is Jesus transforming us from the inside out. Right behind that is spiritual allies. Allies are those unusual friends who help, prod, encourage us and wound us - wait...what?! Yes, wound us. Allies are mutually honest even if it causes pain.

I both hate it and love it! My bride is my friend, lover and a wounder. Yes, Junanne loves me enough to tell me the truth and sometimes the truth hurts. There have been a few critical moments inI've benefitted from several friends who knew the need to speak the truth in love and run the risk of wounding me. You need this as well.

Wise people know those true friends don't sign off on everything. If you’re asking your friends to sign off on your decisions, wink at sin in your life, or not talk with you about an area that is “off limits”…you’re asking your allies to become your enemies!

If you allow no one to speak truth to your life where it’s needed most, you might find a few fans but you have no friends, let alone allies. 

Fans kisses leave us sick. Allies wounds make us well. It hurts so good!

Hate Helps

Hate is not commonly seen as a virtue, but it is. Proverbs 6:16-19 outlines six things God hates. Romans 12:9 tells us to abhor or "hate what is evil".

Hate actually helps us "cling to what is good" (v.9). Without the hating of evil and sin we diminish our ability to love. Love without a sharp contrast of what we need to hate just dulls the definition of love and our passion to love. To "let love be genuine" (v.9) we need to hate some things deeply.

I've been searching the scriptures and find that our love for righteousness can be stoked by hating anything that flys in the face of truth. Hate in the hands of people who don't know and trust God turns into self loathing or taking vengeance into our own hands. But hate turned over to God is a breeding ground for love.

Hate helps us deal a blow to sin in our own lives. Think about that sin that keeps creeping up on you. Instead of winking at it or dumbing it down - hate it. We don't like holding onto what we hate so give it a go. Hate helps and love conquers all!

Amazing Grace - Prayer Changes Things

God is so good to his kids! When we were living apart from God, because of our sin, we experienced Common Grace. CG is a theological term that refers to God's great love for all of mankind, that no matter where we stand with God we get a taste of his goodness. Through creation, relationships, commerce, travel, etc..., God is giving a glimpse of grace – common grace. Wow!

But when we are snatched out of the darkness and saved by God, boom, we step into amazing grace! There are many facets to God's amazing grace but one is that our prayers can change the course of our lives and those around us. Yes, it's true. Why pray? God loves to grace us with answering those prayers and change things. Read the list (thanks to Michael Bronson) below and take your prayers to God with confidence and dependence. Prayer changes things – maybe your day or even your life. 

  • 1 Chron. 5:20 - God responded to Manasseh’s prayers
  • 1 Kings 9:3 - God responded to their prayers
  • 1 Samuel 1:9-23 - God answered Hannah’s prayer and she gave birth to Samuel
  • 2 Chron. 1:11 - God gave gracious favors in answer to people’s prayers
  • 2 Chron. 32:20 - God answered Hezekiah’s prayer while in battle
  • 2 Chron. 33:19 - God was moved by Manasseh’s prayers
  • 2 Chron. 7:12 - God responded to their prayers
  • 2 Kings 20:5 - God responded to Hezekiah’s prayers
  • 2 Samuel 21:14 - God answered prayer on behalf of the land.
  • 2 Samuel 21:25 - God answered prayer on behalf of the land
  • Acts 10:31 - Cornelius’ prayers were answered
  • Acts 10:4,5 - Cornelius’ prayers were answered
  • Acts 28:8-10 - Paul healed people through his prayers
  • Deut. 9:18, 20 - Aaron’s golden calf greatly angered the Lord. As a result of Moses’ prayer, God didn’t destroy a large number of people.
  • Ezra 8:23 - God answered Ezra’s prayers
  • Genesis 25:21 - The Lord answered Isaac’s prayers
  • Isaiah 38:4,5 - God added 15 years to Hezekiah’s life in response to his prayers
  • Job 42:8, 9 - God accepted Job’s prayers for his friends
  • Joshua 10:12-14 - Joshua prayed and the sun stopped moving
  • Luke 1:13 - Elizabeth became pregnant (with John the Baptist) because of Zechariah’s prayers
  • Mark 11:24 - We will receive whatever we ask for in prayer
  • Mark 9:29 - Certain kinds of demons can only be cast out with prayer
  • Matthew 21:22 - We will receive whatever we ask for in prayer
  • Proverbs 15:8 - Prayers of the upright please God
  • Psalm 102:17 - God will respond to the prayers of the destitute
  • Psalm 6:9 - God accepted David’s prayers
  • James 5:15 - The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well
  • James 5:16 - The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective

Let us pray! 
 

Chivalry is Alive! (I'm sharing a biblical vision of manhood this Sunday)

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. I Corinthians 16:13-14

Okay, men here’s the good news…chivalry still gets style points! In a world where the distinctive line blurs between male/female, women still love their men to be manly. The plain truth is that women and men need the seasoning each gender brings to the table. We are completely equal and yet totally different. Real men love to have their life flavored by a good woman. And women need their man to be THE man - it’s a required spice of life, just ask most women. 

There is a "code of conduct” that became popular as the Titanic was sinking into deadly waters. The mad scramble on its listing decks was to get as many women and children into life rafts as was possible. The code is branded into history - “Women and Children First”! This code of conduct that played out on that fateful night of April 14, 1912, is what makes the story epic. Imagine if it was “each man for himself” or “each man did what was right in his own eyes”. This would just be another tragic watery grave of shame. But the Titanic lives on because of heroism, valor, and chivalry, more than almost any other reason.

This code has roots that reach back thousands of years. The code of chivalry and respect for women and children was cooked up by God himself. It’s the rightful order of things. And when we get the order out of whack, we lose a wonderful story and gain only shame. We need a revival of the code. And that revival needs to begin with you - soon you’ll have an epic tale that someone else will tell.

Chivalry is not Dead! Women still love men who are leading/loving servants. This Sunday I'm going to share a biblical vision for manhood and how women can help men get a win. I believe everyone will walk away encouraged.

Be our guest this Sunday, share this post, and bring a friend. Chivalry lives! See you Sunday.

https://www.180chicago.church/visitus

Chivalry Part 3 - Men Go First

Marriage can’t be treated as a business transaction or a partnership. Sadly, the amount of marriages that languish or fail, rival the amount of businesses that languish or fail. Marriage isn’t a 50/50 relationship with measured parts of contribution. Any "meet you in the middle” agreements will never work. Nobody really knows where the “middle” is, and we always overestimate how far we’ve traveled.

We need a new strategy. God knew this would be a problem so he said something real simple but incredibly difficult, “Husbands, loves your wives as Christ loved the church”. In plain terms, “Men go first”. 

The reason headship is so controversial is because it’s either abused or passively neglected. The degree to which it carries any authority, it carries far more responsibility. But servant leadership is beautiful, and gorgeous it can be. When men initiate like Jesus, women have a better environment to respond well.

Now, I’m going to recommend a question that is tough for us men to ask. It’s easy to point, deny, explain…et.al. But this is the God sized question: Is there an area of my wife’s life that if I began serving her in, it would radically display my love for her, and thereby deepen our intimacy? I’m not saying that every gap in a wife is tied to her husband, but I am saying that godly men ask a simple question: Am I leading and loving my wife like Christ loves the church? It’s a gut check, but asking ourselves how we’re doing as an initiating man is a great and biblical discipline. 

Chivalry still gets style points. Women still love manly men. Christ initiated in his sacrificial love for the church. So real men go first.

Ephesians 5:25

Hope for the Disillusioned

The Church has an opportunity like never before in our nation. We have millions of people who are grasping for answers to life. People are longing for more and they have yet to hear and see that Jesus is the more they're looking for. 

Change can happen. The world has yet to feel the full force of God's power. But with a shift in our thinking and a fresh commitment to loving, we can touch the lives of people who long to feel the transcendent love of God – even if they can't put words to it.

A Church that is organically committed to loving people as they are and courageous enough to share God's vision for where he wants them to be, will be a church who reaches the lost and expands the kingdom of God.

Jeff Vanderstelt has some great thoughts on why people are disillusioned with the church. Enjoy this short video.

Personal Note: I'm following God's calling on my life. On February 5th I'll begin leading a core group of a new church in downtown Chicago. It's called 180 Chicago. I invite you to prayerfully consider joining us if you see your need for God and want to part of a church that organically reaches out to people with the love of our Father and courageously offers God's greater vision for every area of life. Our next orientation is February 4th. Click here to get signed up. See you then.

What Do You See? A Healthy Team

One of the greatest evidences of a healthy team is good ole' fashioned teasing – Yes teasing! We don't generally tease, with good hearted fun, those folks we tolerate or we're ticked at. We may talk about them and ignore them but the last thing we want to do is spur on a response of endearment or fun, lest they start to like us or want to spend more time with us.

So when I look at my work cubicle, that I've never been consulted on with regard to decor, I have to smile and conclude...all this zany, goofy, crazy, stuff they place in my humble workspace is a GOOD thing.

Over time things just appear and others disappear. The triple boom!, dogs playing pool, personalized Carmen photo (that he never sent), a plastic baby figurine that is hideous, Thor (for which I am actually grateful), and several other things that seem to mean absolutely nothing. My favorite was Cooter Jones (sic). I speak of him from time to time but I have no idea who Cooter is. He's was nearly life-size, before I dismantled him, and came complete with a paper Moody shirt, topped off with bright red hair. His overbite reminded me of me before braces. Was that a dig at my teen years?

It's all good. This is God's grace. Grace comes in a ton of different packages and teasing is one. So 3 cheers for the team God gave me to work with every weekday. Weekends help us all tolerate each other a little more easily. And here's to a happy, healthy, Jesus following, dynamic 2017. I love you, team!

 

 

Don't Sweat The God Stuff

True faith is thrilled by God's mercy and leaves the vengeance to God.

When the passion for justice wells up in our heart we need to release it to God so we don't lose our joy. God alone can handle the slights and injustice we face in the world. When we take justice it into our own hands we play the role of God – it never ends well.

But when we stay in a place of gratitude for God's mercy in our own life we are situated well – distracted by grace. The more we are thrilled by mercy the more we can explore the gifts of God's grace. We begin to see through the injustice of our world and into the wide open spaces of vision, purpose, and God-sized dreams.

Let go of political bitterness, bad calls at your kids ballgame, cutting words, workplace competition, and any other distraction of injustice. It's better to release vengeance to God so we can get back to being thrilled by God's mercy. Don't sweat the God stuff.

Micah 7:18, Romans 9:19

Finding Love - Part 3 of 3

Making a list for what you're looking for in a spouse is a good effort. Sometimes we focus on things like personality, looks, education, hobbies, and similar passions. These are all valid and important. Others rest on feelings to drive decisions and as I shared in the last blog, feelings can be fickle. I believe there IS a list that is not onerous or legalistic. There are a few fundamental standards that set the bar at a solid level and if you're looking for love, never settle for less.

My premise is that true love is sustained from two people who live from the inside out. What flows from the spiritual core of two people is the stuff that makes us most able to plow through trials, overcome differences in personalities, and enables us to grow together for a lifetime. More than personality, style, hobbies or even our love language, core spiritual virtue is the glue that makes a couple strong.

I believe there are core spiritual standards that must be seen in another person before we commit to a lifetime. This is more than checking off a list, it's seeing these over a period of time. Never look for perfection but consistency is critical. They take time to watch what comes out of a person because like the fruit from a tree, fruit is always consistent with the root. Please consider these three core spiritual standards:

  1. Spiritual Transformation
    Jesus said it clearly, "you must be born again" (John 3:7). Going to church and even cracking the word is great but a person must come to a change-point – we must be transformed from the inside out. When a person recognizes their need for God, claim nothing but God's grace, and have a story of new life found in Christ alone – you have great start! People who speak of God's mercy and are humbled that God saved them from themselves have the right spiritual DNA. 
     
  2. Spiritual Submission
    Paul writes that we must be careful how we walk (Ephesians 5:15). He also goes on to talk about submission to God's Spirit and that this submission will be best seen in how we relate to those around us (vs. 18-21). Caring for the life and spiritual vitality of others is evidence that our spiritual core is healthy. One of the things I like to ask women to look for in a man is their ability to receive input, insight, and feedback from men and women. One of the greatest ways to see spiritual submission is a persons ability to be teachable.
     
  3. Spiritual Direction
    We are Jesus followers and that's much more than church attenders. The essence of faith is best seen in the direction of our life. The writer of Hebrews describes core spiritual life in athletic terms. "...run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1). Not everyone moves the same speed but one thing is sure, if our leader is Jesus we move in a way that aims to honor him in every way. You can tell by passion, conversation, and compassion if a person aims and makes moves to follow God. Note: Look for substance, not style. How people follow Jesus is as unique as each persons unique design. 

One last word. First and foremost be this person. Search your own heart and get aligned with God. God wants you to radiate and someone really dynamite is looking for these same things in you, even if they can't put it into words. You got this! Praying for you as you find love – it's all by God's grace and goodness.

Finding Love - Part 2 of 3

Laws are good and rules can keep us alive.  But grace is great and standards help us thrive!

Having rules in relationships speak to where you WON'T go. Having standards in relationships guides you to where you WILL go. Rules ultimately reveal that we need a savior and that's a necessary thing. Standards lift us above and away from the danger zone of failure and that's a great thing. Rules tend to be driven by fear. But setting high standards is powered by grace and leads us onto a higher road – the road less traveled. Standards are set by people who know their need for God's power and want to walk away from the edge of sin.

I have a story. A friend confided in me about his daughter that was recently married. He found out that his new son-in-law had gone to a gentlemen's club (total lie - gentlemen never darken the doors of these clubs) at his bachelor party. He asked his daughter if that bothered her as much as it grieved him. She said, "I told him that it better not ever happen when we're married". This is getting off on the wrong foot, to say the least, and the marriage is getting built on the sands of compromise – it's sinking already.

Now, we might say she should have told him, "never go to strip joints", and "never cheat on me in marriage". But those are no-brainer rules. And having to even say them means we've settled for the low road. On the other hand, setting high standards would sound like this, "let's commit to honoring each other so well in our relationship that we're rising above temptation, avoiding compromising situations, and let's consciously look for ways to build trust". Now we're talking about a new way of living. Standards say, "let's shoot for the stars and take the high road". Keeping rules is like avoiding turds in a septic tank – it ain't gonna happen.

Standards are what we find all over scripture. Jesus actually raised the bar of expectation in a famous Sermon on a Mountainside. Jesus raised the bar because grace calls us to live out of this world, not just keep a few rules. An early Jesus follower spoke clearly of our need for God's power and grace to live extraordinarily.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10

Rule followers live by grit and fail often. Standard setters live by grace and cling to God for strength.

I realize that the truth here applies to us all but my aim today is you awesome single people who God wants to get going on the right footing. Set high standards in finances, relationships, work ethic, sexual conduct, and every other area of life. Here's what I've found to be true: When two people make a bed with high standards, they never get tired of sleeping in it.

The Answer For Fear Is ... Fear

I sat on the step unable to move. Perched on the edge of light, from the living room behind me, I peered into the darkness of the basement. I couldn’t go back because I was told to do a chore downstairs. But to risk the perils of descending into the dark…no way! What if I couldn’t find a light switch? What if someone grabbed me and I couldn’t even yell for help? Those images in my mind convinced me I might not come out alive. 

Fear is a powerful emotion. It caused Jesus’ inner circle to blow up – in the face of fear not a single disciple was found. He had performed unthinkable miracles, loved them perfectly, and promised them the moon. But fear caused those closest to our savior to flee.

Fear either drives us or paralyzes us. Fear creates workaholics, food addicts, ladder climbers, gossipers, homelessness, fatherlessness, shame, blame, and the pursuit of fame. Fear is the enemy of faith, unless our fear is... 

There has to come a time when we fear God more than man. Fear is the enemy of faith unless our fear is of God. But not just any fear of God will drive common fear from our lives. “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19). Demons possess fear of God but they have never tasted the life-saving fear of a good, good Father.

The Hebrew verb yare can mean, “to fear, to respect, to reverence” and the Hebrew noun yirah “usually refers to the fear of God and is viewed as a positive quality. This fear acknowledges God’s good intentions (Ex. 20:20). … This fear is produced by God’s Word (Ps. 119:38; Prov. 2:5) and makes a person receptive to wisdom and knowledge (Prov. 1:7; 9:10)” (Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament, 2003, pp. 470-471).

The Greek noun phobos is a “reverential fear” of God, “not a mere ‘fear’ of His power and righteous retribution, but a wholesome dread of displeasing Him” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, “Fear, Fearful, Fearfulness”).

I had a good father. Not a perfect father, but a dad who I didn’t want to disappoint because I knew he had my best in mind. And I knew that he loved me enough to discipline me when I was out of bounds – yes, out of bounds of what he believed was best for me.

My dad called out, “everything okay, Karl”? I must have muttered something incoherent. Dad met me on the step that night. He didn’t mock me. Dad took me by the hand and showed me that my fears were unfounded – my mind was swept clean of certain calamity. I grew a foot taller that night and I’ve walked into darkness now for 52 years.

You might have had a poor father figure or no father at all. That’s okay, God sees you on the step. He knows what’s driving you or paralyzing you. He longs for you to say, “Father, could you take me by the hand”? He’s a good, good father…that’s who he is. Call out to him and walk into the dark. It will be as light to you. 

God's Kids

“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6

I work with fatherless boys and it's one of the greatest tragedies of our time. The downstream impact of a boy who doesn't have a dad at the headwaters of his life is plain to see. Truancy, addiction, and criminal activity rise steeply when boys are fatherless. Education, employment, and compensation drop precipitously when a young man has no dad. 

But there is a way to turn this around. A little investment by a father figure has proven to break boys free from destructive patterns. I don't care where a young man is coming from, when he connects with the love of a father or father figure, the tide is turned. 

But an earthly father is not enough. If it were, the good news Jesus would have shared would be "everyone needs a loving dad". But Jesus died so we could know a Father who is out of this world (literally) and live with freedom that is limited only by the sky - limitless!

The sky IS the limit for God's kids. But too many Christians today claim to have a Heavenly Father and they barely know him. We talk about him in general terms. We know a few facts about him but we can't speak of him from the heart. It's as if he had role in bringing us to life but he's locked away - we neither see him or hear from him. 

The sky is the limit for God's kids, but not until the kid knows him so well he can talk from the heart about him - bragging on him and wanting others to know him like we do. The reason many promises of God are left untapped and dreams are too puny is simply because we don't really know our heavenly Dad. 

If you've been washed clean by the sacrifice of Jesus, you've crossed death gap of sin, and have received the life of Christ - you are God's kid and it's time to live like it!

Talk to him like the friend he is. Tell him your darkest secrets, pour out your heartaches, share with him your wildest dreams, and listen with the words of God open before you. 

Start, or restart, the conversation right now. When a kid has a dad like God, it's an unstoppable force of beauty and power - a life without limits. 

Party, Politics, and Jesus

"One of these things is not like the others...one of these things just doesn't belong..."

After the dust of 2016 settles, we will certainly discover we're in the same place we've been since Cain killed Abel...selfish, angry, divided, fearful, and in need of help.

Party and politics are very much alike. They feed our common weaknesses and highlight our common flaws. More than dividing people politically, it often divides us emotionally – severing our ability to discuss what matters most. It has a blinding effect on our life – causing us to see nothing but the bad in others and the good in ourselves. But worse, the void (even for Christ followers) gets a whole lot larger because no system or person can satisfy the soul.

Let me confess: I've been twisted around the axel of party and politics in my past. I've won battles but lost people who could have been friends. I've declared "the sky is falling" only to discover the sun did come out again. I've seen "my guy" get in, only to watch him get carted off to prison. I've had suspicions confirmed and I've had convictions surprised. This is why I've decided to tackle all things political through the spiritual. I've finally learned that seats are changed by votes and hearts are changed by God – and changed hearts is what will change the world.

We ultimately must exercise our right to vote. Too much blood was spilled for this great freedom. Even run for office if God calls you to that battle. And when it comes to candidate selection, pull that lever with passion. But remember, you just voted for imperfection.

Don't take the bait. The more we hold high or try to tear down a party or a politician, the smaller we become. Even the best party platforms and elected candidates are deeply flawed. And don't allow your passion for/against party or politician exceed how much you champion our great savior.

When all the dust settles in our nation, we'll still be a ripe harvest field with truck loads of people who are hurting and hungry to hear a message of hope that can transform their lives from the inside out. Only God has a history of making promises and delivering on every one!

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:17) Boom!

Aren't you glad Jesus is "not like the others"?

Prescription For Healing

"Take Two Scoops Of Love - And Thank God In The Morning"

I just returned from a symposium called "Love & Transformation". I wasn't fully certain what this was all about but after two days of round table discussions with 70 national leaders I was utterly grateful to be invited.

Dr. Larry Crabb was one of only three speakers and he kicked off his talk with a bold statement. "What we think of as diagnosable psychological problems, if they are not rooted in a medical condition, are better understood to be relational problems, and are better dealt with by relational love than by professional technique." Wow! Could it be? And if that's true what does it mean for you and me?

I'm a Big God guy! I've seen him do incredible things so why should I underestimate the power of love. His love turned my life right-side-up so why can't God's love, flowing through us, radically alter the lives of others?

Yes it can! Relational love is the first course of treatment for a wounded heart. Love listens, cares, lingers, believes, hopes, believes some more, and endures until light begins to shine in the darkest places. Relational love warms up challenged souls to the possibility that God is good and life is worth living.

There is a prescription for healing and it's two scoops of love. Maybe you need some love today. Instead of seeking it out - give it out. Muster every ounce of strength to give away what you so desire and God will certainly shine his love into your soul in a fresh way.

Keep pouring out the love. If the world was invaded by Jesus followers who intended to love people each and every day, pill boxes and counselors offices would grow dusty. We all need love and somebody has to go first - so it may as well be you and me. Take two scoops of love, pour it into a hurting soul, and thank God in the morning.

You're Invited

The only way to be unworthy of God's love is to reject God's love.

"Then he said to his servants, 'the wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.'" Matt. 22:8

Matthew reveals something profound. Only those who reject their need for God are turning down his invitation - and are therefore "unworthy". The only question is, how will you respond to God's invitation?

Not one person has to feel unworthy of God's love! God offers life today and for eternity to those who acknowledge their need for God.

Feelings of unworthiness are not evidence of being rejected by God. Lacking a sense of deep worth positions us to truly experience the love and power of God.

If today you feel worthless in some area of your life, respond to God's invitation. He's inviting you to live as never before.

Hope Matters!

Hope is incredibly powerful. It can heal a broken heart. It can fill our lungs with breath and lift the crushing load from our shoulders. And hope can radically alter our perspective on things that, at first blush, appear completely hopeless.

Here's the awesome truth that evil doesn't want you to know: Hope is both a destination and the vehicle that gets you there. (Romans 5:1-5)

So here's some easy takeaways: Get every hope killer out of your life that you possibly can. Stop negative self-talk right now. Open God's word and pour truth into your mind until it's overflowing onto others around you. Don't ignore the facts of life but never draw conclusions until the "eyes of your heart" have seen "the hope to which he has called you". Let's roll! (Ephesians 1:18)

Man To Man (Remix)

Every man needs a shot of courage, pep talk or just someone who believes in him when he doesn’t believe in himself. The biggest threat to chivalry isn’t the culture we live in, it’s the resistance we experience between our ears. Self doubt and timidity can seem to creep in through the slightest cracks. This is why we all need an honest talk from time to time–man to man.

There was a young follower of Jesus who had a mentor named Paul. Paul wrote Timothy a couple letters and every word drips with passion and relevance. One epic verse hits Timothy and all men today, right between the eyes of our soul. "God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (II Tim. 1:7). Let’s break it down, there’s some great stuff to digest here.

  • FEAR and cowardice is not something God places within a man. It’s not to be tolerated and fear is never to become a part of our operating system. Simply put, if God has not given us this spirit of fear it can only have evil origins and evil intent.
  • POWER is the deposit of God that enables us to take the spiritual high ground. God’s power makes us king of the mountain with fear only trying to take us down. This power is a “controlling influence” that enables the man of God to stay faithful.
  • LOVE is the pinnacle and essence of God’s power. When a man pushes back fear with God’s power it doesn’t enable him to be reckless or selfish, it empowers him to love–chivalry is the man under the power of God.
  • SELF-CONTROL is more than the ability to not be fearful or cowardly. Self-control here implies the gaining of wisdom and depth. 

Here’s an alternate translation model by Daniel C. Arichea.

For God did not cause us to be cowards. Instead he caused us to have hearts full of strength, to love other people, and to keep control over ourselves.

What an amazing challenge for any man. Paul told Timothy that when you feel kicked down and on the ground, get back on the proverbial horse and ride. Nothing more tests what a man is controlled by than when we are called to be biblically chivalrous. But never surrender to fear. And when you feel like you’ve succumbed to timidity, remember the words of Paul to Timothy. We all need to hear it man to man. 

Soak The World

When we live in the steady stream of God's grace - we can't help but soak the world around us with unmerited favor.

Conditional love is not love, it's an exchange of merited approval. But there's something beautiful about humble constant awareness of our need for God's daily grace. The streams of God's Spirit can turn a soul-desert into an oasis of love. It can cleanse us of grudges, chips on shoulders, prejudice, and selective affection.

Pride dries out the soul, but moment by moment recognition of our need for God can fill us to overflowing with love. And it's bound to splash onto those around us.

Hurdles From God

I didn't get it. Coach Bowie put a hurdle just a few feet from the launching point at our long jump practice. Then he explained a powerful truth about long jumping. "If you wanna go farther, you gotta to go higher!" Coach Bowie was right and it's for the same reason that God will slip a hurdle right in front of us – if we want to go after the greater things God has for us, we have to go higher and rise above the petty stuff of life.

"Maturity", "completeness", and "wholeness", are the result of "facing trials" and overcoming challenges...period. So God, in his wisdom and mercy, will either place challenges in front of us or allow a hurdle to stay. That's exactly what we find in a few verses of James 1:2-4. 

When facing trials (hurdles) we have to remember several things:

  • We won’t always understand why at the front end.
  • Our trajectory has to change or we’re gonna get hurt.
  • If we won’t face the trial we’ll never grow.
  • Sidestepped trials always seem to show up again and again.
  • Every trial can be jumped no matter how huge it seems.
  • Joy comes from knowing what's coming, not what we're experiencing.

One More: Consider yourself loved. God loves you enough to throw down a hurdle and say "let's go a little higher, kid"! Keep jumpin'...