You’re Not Your Shortcomings

At some point or another, we all feel unworthy. Of our job. Our friends or family. Someone else’s affection. Of God’s love.

I experience this whenever I let my shortcomings define me. I focus on my weaknesses–ignoring my God-given skills, talents, and blessings–and start to think “that’s all there is to me: flaws.”

The Bible calls those shortcomings something else: flesh (as in “the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit”; Galatians 5:17). Which seems to confirm that we’re all just big wads of failure. After all, we’re made of flesh, right? So if flesh is weak and sinful, and flesh is what I’m made of, then I’m made of weaknesses, faults, shortcomings, and sin.

Except that’s not true: we’re not just flesh. We’re souls, made by Almighty God the Creator, who inhabit flesh while on this earth. Continue reading


24: A Day With God (The evening hours)

How do you spend your evenings?

How would you like your “ideal” evening to be spent? Does your “ideal” evening move you closer to the things God desires for your life? I believe that God has given us this time to focus on a few very important things.

3 ways to spend your evening hours that will give you the greatest return….

1. Invest In Relationships
A friend is always loyal,
and a brother is born to help in time of need. (Proverbs 17:17 NLT)

But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers. (1 Timothy 5:8 NLT)

God has placed very important people in your life for you to connect with during this part of the day. One of the greatest problems in families today is they spend so much time on the go that they never have time to CONNECT. Slow down and enjoy time with your family. Get together with close friends. Don’t have any? Take time to make some. You NEED solid, godly friends in your life. Building on these relationships will reap lasting benefits throughout your lifetime.

2. Spend Time Enjoying Entertainment
Those who live at the ends of the earth
stand in awe of your wonders.
From where the sun rises to where it sets,
you inspire shouts of joy. (Psalm 65:8 NLT)

God is ok with you enjoying some entertainment. Have you looked at his creation lately? The stars will leave you in awe. The sun set will put things into perspective. Some of the animals God created are outright hilarious. Have you ever watched two giraffes get into a fight? Pretty entertaining!

3. Invest In Some Rest & Relaxation
It is useless for you to work so hard
from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
for God gives rest to his loved ones. (Psalm 127:2 NLT)

Rest doesn’t make you lazy. Rest makes you able to serve God with more energy and a better attitude.


He Sees The Bigger Picture

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:2 ESV)

What a view! God hovered OVER the face of the waters. God is able to see things that we don’t see. He understands things that leave us scratching our heads. He sees the bigger picture. He sees our lives from above.

His perspective is vast.

Your perspective is limited.

God limits your perspective so that you will lean on him for wisdom, understanding, and peace.

I’m not sure what your circumstances are today. Maybe you have a lot on your plate at work. Maybe you have a friend or family member struggling with cancer. Maybe the odds feel stacked against your life. Maybe you feel like you can barely keep your head above the water.

Remember that God is above the water. He hovers above your life with a purpose and a plan. Not only does he hover above with the ability to see a bigger picture. He WALKS WITH YOU through the uncertainty. And he will certainly guide you all the way through. (Psalm 23:4)

P.J.


24: A Day With God (Once You Leave The House)

I imagine we have all heard the statement “What happens in vegas, stays in Vegas.”  I think a lot of Christians have the same motto regarding their faith.  They may not realize it.  But their life style reflects it.  Many church goers are spiritual people on Sunday.  But away from church and  home you would never know it.

Not only is it essential to our faith that we connect with God during the morning hour of our day.  But it’s even more important what we do with what we learn once we leave the house.   Once you leave the house you may be at work, at school, or a stay home parent.  But at some point the 8 -5 part of your day kicks in.  That’s the “once you leave the house” part of the day.

If we are going to live in a way that honors God during the 8 -5, I think we have to answer one very important question.

When do you SET YOUR FAITH DOWN?

I’m not perfect and you’re not perfect.  We fail, we fall, and we sin.  But we must get back up and strive to live the life God has called us to live.  That requires that you recognize the areas of your life where you tend to set your faith down.  Once you recognize this area, you can strive for victory in this area of your life.

“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.” 2 Corinthians 13:5 NLT

Examine and test yourself.  The results will let you know where you need to form new habits.

P.J.


24: A Day With God (The Morning Hour)

Are you a morning person?

I struggle getting motivated in the morning.  I have a hard time getting out of the bed.  Once I’m finally out of the bed, I really don’t want to talk to anyone for a while.  But I have  learned that it’s essential for me to connect with God during the morning hour of my day.   If I can spend about 30 minutes with God in the morning, it’s make staying in tune with the Holy Spirit for the rest of the day much easier.

4 Ways To Kick Start Your Day With God:

1. Words Of Worship – “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 NLT

Kick off your day expressing your thanks and praise to God.  He didn’t have to wake you up to live another day.  Each and every day he has new and exciting things he wants you to experience.  He has new truth he wants to reveal to you through his word.  He has a purpose and a plan.  Kick off your day with words of worship.

2. Worth From God –  “Praise the Lord, for he has shown me the wonders of his unfailing love.  He kept me safe when my city was under attack.” Psalm 31:21 NLT

You are worth a lot to God.  You are his investment. You are his child.  Kick off your day remembering who you are in him. Live according to the identity that has been given to you through Jesus Christ.  You’re valuable.

3. Words of God – “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11 NLT

If we are going to run successfully the race that God has set before you and I, it is essential that we know what his word says.  His word serves as our compass for living.  His word reassures us when we doubt.  His word gives direction when we aren’t sure which way to go.  His word corrects us when we are wrong.  Do you really want to be in tune with the Holy Spirit?  Kick off your 24 with the word of God.

4.  Words of Prayer – “Bend down, O Lord, and hear my prayer; answer me, for I need your help.” Psalm 86:1 NLT

Want to really extend your reach?  In other words do you really want to make a positive difference?  Spend time talking to God in the morning.  But don’t spend all of your time talking.  Spend most of it listening.  Be still and know that he is God.  It’s in these times of prayer that you will receive confidence and vision for your life.

Make the most of your morning hour by trying out these simple ways of connecting with God.  I promise it will make a major difference in your day.

 

P.J.


The Insider’s Defense

I call it The Insider’s Defense. It’s what we do when others criticize the decisions we make regarding the people we date, the careers we choose, or the purchases we make. We tell them: it may not make sense from out there, but from here on the inside everything looks just fine. (And we usually follow this up with a good ‘ol “none of your business, anyway!”)

As if our circumstances are so complex we’re the only ones smart enough to figure them out.

As if we’re the only one’s who’ve ever experienced anything like this before. Continue reading


Love and Carrots

I recently ran across a NY Times article from 2009 that I first read in grad school. It’s titled When a Parent’s ‘I Love You’ Means ‘Do as I Say’ (it’s still available online if you want to read the whole thing). I’ve got two kiddos on the way, so I’m as keen as ever to learn vicariously and soak up parenting advice now before I’m too tired and overwhelmed to understand it. A quick re-read gave me not only food for thought regarding the value and risks of using attention, encouragement, and isolation as child-rearing tactics, but also a reminder of why God’s love is so much better than an earthly parent’s.

Here’s an excerpt:

… The talk show host Phil McGraw tells us in his book “Family First” (Free Press, 2004) that what children need or enjoy should be offered contingently, turned into rewards to be doled out or withheld so they “behave according to your wishes.” And “one of the most powerful currencies for a child,” he adds, “is the parents’ acceptance and approval.”

Likewise, Jo Frost of “Supernanny,” in her book of the same name (Hyperion, 2005), says, “The best rewards are attention, praise and love,” and these should be held back “when the child behaves badly until she says she is sorry,” at which point the love is turned back on.

As a parent-to-be, and (as much as I hate comparing kids to animals) a pet-owner, I can relate to this kind of thinking. It’s pretty simple, and seems to make sense. Reward good behavior so the child will repeat it. Punish or ignore bad behavior so it won’t be repeated. Except it doesn’t actually work that way at all. Continue reading


Identify Your Wins

Are you the slightest bit competitive?  I think everyone has a bit of a competitive streak deep down inside.  I would say I’m extremely competitive.  I like to win.  I like to succeed.  I like to reach goals.

When people know they are “winning” at something, they feel good about being a part of the cause.  When people know they are losing, the stands tend to clear out.

What’s a win for you as an individual?

What’s a win for your family?

Pastor, what’s a win for your church?  Identify the wins for your people.  Because if you don’t, they will.  And what they call a win, may actually be a loss.  Keep the flock heading in ONE direction. (Just a side note)

I recently had some time to speak to the students (5th – 12th graders) at our church.  I shared with them what the wins are for our student ministry.  I have noticed them clearly setting their sights on the things that help us win.

It’s important that we identify the wins in our lives.  If we know we are winning, then we know we are heading in the right direction.  When our identified wins are not being accomplished, then we know it’s time to sit down and go back to the drawing board.

7  Wins that Lauren and I have identified for our family…

  1. Individually spend time in God’s word daily
  2. Open communication and prayer with one another
  3. Serve one another
  4. Out do one another in showing honor
  5. Attend church together regularly
  6. Give faithfully to our local church
  7. Attend a small group (provided by our local church) regularly
Do we succeed at each of these every day?  Nope.  We’re far from perfect people.  But we STRIVE to win.  Take time to identify the wins in different areas of your life.  It’s a lot easier to stay motivated when you know you’re winning.
P.J.

What Do You Think About This?

“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22

Last week Lauren and I went to purchase some new furniture for our living room.  We decided to bring some friends along with us to provide their opinion.  We were planning on purchasing a recliner and accent chair to go along with our sofa.   After selecting two chairs we asked our friends “What do you think about this?”  Our friends pointed out to us that the furniture looked great.  But with that selection we would have three pieces of furniture that were three different colors in our living room.  I’m glad they pointed that out to us.  Lauren and I liked the chairs.  But we weren’t thinking about the way they would affect the look of our living room after they were in there.  Our friends helped us see something that we were not seeing at the moment. 

This is an important lesson to be learned in every area of our lives.  It’s vital that we have the trusted advice and perspective of other people in our lives.  

As the leader of a business, church, or ministry you need to the perspective and input of trusted leaders around you.

As a man you need other godly husbands to give you insight.

As a woman you need godly women around you to help you be the woman God made you to be.

As a parent you need the input of other godly parents and godly people in your life as you raise your children.

As you try to steward your finances God’s way, seek the counsel of godly people that are striving for the same.

As a student you need the vision of godly people that have been where you are so that you can get where you need to be.

As individuals it’s easy to get tunnel vision.  With the perspective and direction of a trusted few you can make decisions that will reap lasting benefits.  

Don’t be afraid to ask godly people you trust and respect “What do you think about this?”

P.J.


Falling Off The Bike

This post was inspired by a recent conversation with my good friend Derek Wingfield.  Thanks for sharing your struggles with me and being some one I can share my struggles with. 

Did you ever fall off of your bike as a kid?  

I know I  did.  I still have scars from some pretty bad bicycle accidents growing up.  I may have had more accidents on my bike than most kids because I was constantly trying to find the next best hill to ride my bike down or the largest drop off I could ride my bike off of.  I was a bicycle risk taker.

I remember after many crashes not wanting to get back on my bike.  But usually after an hour of licking my wounds, I realized I needed to get back on my bike and get back to doing my thing.  I needed to get back to being a boy seeking adventure.

I think a lot of times we fall off  of the bike in our lives.  I personally have fallen off the bike a few times lately.

We may go for weeks, months, or years with consistent disciplines in our lives.  But then out of no where something happens that throws us completely off track.

A few examples of falling off the bike in our lives….

Healthy eating habits turn into big bowls of ice cream.

Consistent and meaningful bible studies become inconsistent and pushed off until later.

Routine exercise gets traded in for extra time on the couch.

Wise stewardship of money gives way to instant gratification.

Make sense?

We all have areas in our lives where we fall off the bike.  These are critical moments.  Because when we are off of the bike chances are we are not moving in the direction God is trying to move us.  Get back on the bike and keep peddling into the direction God desires for your life. 

P.J.


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