An Opportune Time

“And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.”  Luke 4:13

As we strive to obediently follow Christ we are in a battle with our enemy (Ephesians 6:12).   Our enemy is out to still, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).  He prowls like a lion seeking to devour our lives (1 Peter 5:8).

He knows that you’ve been gifted to make a positive difference in the world.  He knows that once you catch God’s vision for your life, he has one more person battling against him as you point others to the life, hope, healing, purpose, and freedom that is available through Jesus Christ.

He also knows your weakness.  He knows where to attack you.  He waits strategically for the opportune time to bring you down.  Satan is a very effective leader.  Take a look at the world around you.  He knows exactly what he’s doing.  He’s not a great leader.  Great leaders give glory to God.  But he is a very effective leader.

I’m not encouraging you to live life looking for Satan around every corner and in every situation.  I am encouraging you to be aware of your weaknesses.  Because the enemy is looking for an opportune time.  And all it takes is one opportune time for all the influence and trust you have built with your church, co-workers, spouse, kids, and friends to be tarnished.  What takes years to build, can fall apart in seconds.  Yes, grace and mercy are necessary and biblical when one falls.  But grace and mercy do not erase the consequences and fall out of sin.

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” James 1:12-15


Toleration, compromise, and grace

Of the dozens – probably more like hundreds – of people I’ve met who’ve broken up with God (they don’t take His calls, they neither love Him nor accept His love, etc.), a vast majority have done so because of experiences in church. They became so appalled by the actions of Christians that they felt they could no longer call themselves one, which meant no longer following Christ.

A lot of those Christians’ actions – the ones that drove former believers to disbelief – are rooted in the best of intentions. Few followers of Christ would ever intentionally do anything to run anyone away from the church. I really believe that. But just as few are the Christians who can effectively navigate the narrow channel between judgment and grace. Our problem is that we don’t know how to deal with people who don’t see things our way.

This predicament isn’t exclusive to the church. It’s the same reason Democrats and Republicans would let the U.S. default on its debt before conceding to the other party’s approach to debt management. The same reason otherwise-rational adults get into fistfights over affiliation with a football team. The same reason employees within a department, departments within an organization, and organizations within an affiliation undermine one another and compete – rather than collaborate – for resources.  The same reason, fundamentally, people all over the world, since the beginning of civilization, have participated in wars, revolutions, riots, crusades, protests, and other conflicts. Continue reading


Mission Trip Take-Away

Last week I lead a team from Oasis Church to Wichita, Kansas to work with Audacity Church.  We canvased neighborhoods with promotional flyers, cleaned parks, hosted park parties, gave out free bottled water, and extended other acts of kindness with no strings attached.  Our team worked hard, with great attitudes, and selflessness every day.  We were all excited about the work we had accomplished.  Not only was great work accomplished, but relationships were deepened.   That’s always a bonus for mission trips.  A  mission team should come back from a mission trip united instead of divided (Just a side note).

At the end of the week I felt like I needed to share a very important mission trip take-away with our team.

God places opportunities around you every day to serve and love others for his purposes. 

Mission trips have a way of getting us fired up for the Lord.  And they should.  However, I have watched a lot of Christians (including myself) come back from mission trips bitter that their mission field isn’t doing exactly what the mission field they just helped with is doing.

I’ve learned that I have two options when I return from a mission trip:

1. I can become bitter towards my mission field and wish I was back where I just came from.

2. I can carry the fire back with me to make a difference on the mission field where God has placed me.

The second option is the better of the two.  God has placed you where you are for a reason.  Make a difference right where you are.  Don’t let the enemy distract you from the opportunities God has put right in front of you.

If you can’t get on board and serve passionately where you are….maybe it’s time for you to make a bold move and get where you can.

But wherever you are keep your eyes open.  God is placing the opportunities right in front of you.

P.J.

 


Take Your Time

We live in a fast paced world.  We want things instantly.  We can’t stand to wait in long lines.  It drives us crazy to wait very long for a meal.  We microwave instead of cook.  We text message instead of call.  We believe the faster things can happen for us the better they are.

God has been teaching me a lesson over the course of the past few months.  Actually over the course of the past few years.

Anything that’s going to be worth something, carry value, or have depth, is going to take a lot of time.  

Meaningful friendships do not happen over one meal.  They deepen over the course of many conversations.

A ministry that makes a deep impact doesn’t just sprout up over night.  It’s impact follows much prayer, thought, surrender, faith, some failure, and more faith.

A marriage isn’t everything God dreams for it to be in one year.  He deepens the love in a marriage over the course of many years.

Noah built the ark.  But the rain didn’t come until over 100 years later.

Joshua was a great leader.  But he was mentored by and assisted Moses for 40 years before the Lord made him the lead man.

Jesus walked the earth for many years before he actually began his public ministry.

The great things the Lord wants to do in your life will not happen over night, in a day, or in one time of bible study and prayer.  They happen over many days, months, and years of consistent obedience, is his word, in prayer, and in close community with other believers.

God has a purpose, plan, and vision for your life.  You may know that, but may be completely frustrated with the way things seem to be going.  Stand firm.  Lean on him.  Dig into his word.  Take your time.  It will be worth it.

“It happens in a moment, but the story unfolds over time.” Steven Furtick

P.J.


Answer / Ignore

When my wife calls, I answer. There are plenty of reasons – not the least of which is that I almost always feel better after talking to her than I did before.

When God calls, I answer, too, but for different reasons. I answer God because I’ve chosen to serve him. He’s my master, and answering your master’s call is what servanthood is all about.

That definition implies something else, too: whether you like/admit it or not, you serve whatever or whoever you drop everything to follow. Moreover, doing so at the expense of your relationship with God, your pursuit of His will, or the responsibilities He’s laid on you (socially, financially, spiritually, or otherwise), may be a sign of addiction and serious pain in your future. Continue reading


But God

“My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

There will always be “but” people in your life.  You know the kind I’m talking about.?.?.?  Anytime you dream, pursue goals, or live on purpose they say things like…

But you don’t have ________________

But your’e not ready to ______________

But your’e not experienced enough to _________________

But they may not like you if _____________________

I think the greatest response to but people is But God…

On paper it may not appear as though I have enough money to give generously…But God has called me to give generously.

It may not make sense to go over seas on a mission trip into dangerous territory…But God sent his son into dangerous territory and he is the protector of his people.

Your life may be a mess right now…But God can and will put it back together if you turn to him.

Our nation may be calloused…But God can soften calloused hearts.

Your resources may be limited…But God is the creator of all and is over all.

You may not have the strength…But through Christ you can do all things through him who strengthens you.

In this life there will always be but people.  But God has called us to trust, follow, and obey him. And in the end he will be the only one handing out the rewards.

P.J.


Walk It Out

“I…urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” Ephesians 4:1

Growing up playing football there was a common saying when a teammate would fall to the ground with an injury…Get up and Walk It Out.

In practice and in games our bodies were challenged physically and mentally to get better and better at the position we played.  And obviously football is a high contact sport.  So occasionally whether it be in practice or in a game, some one was going to fall with an injury.  But before any one was allowed to walk off the practice field or leave the game, they were strongly encouraged to get up and walk it out.

As believers we have been called to a high calling by our Lord Jesus Christ.  We have been called to live differently from the rest of the world.  Raise our children to walk according to his ways.  Manage our money in a manner that honors him.  Love our wives the way Jesus loves his church.  Which by the way, was a radical love that went all the way to the cross.  Wives are called to honor their husbands, in a world where the normal thing is to tear down ones husband.  We are called to live as light in a dark world.  We are called to humility in a world of pride.  We are called to love where love isn’t exactly deserved.  I could list things all day long to which you and I have been called as believers.

The path we have been called to walk down as believers isn’t exactly easy (Matthew 7:14).  We are going to fail at times.  We are going to struggle with sin.  We are going to fall down injured.  We are going to feel like walking off the field and giving up.  It’s in these moments that you and I must dig deep for the power of the Holy Spirit, get back up, and Walk It Out!

Don’t allow the enemy to hold you down when you fall.  Reach for the healer and his mercy (Matthew 9:12-13).   He can and will give you the courage to get back up and walk it out (Phil. 4:13). As disciples of Jesus Christ and leaders in his kingdom, we have been urged and called to walk (live) in a manner worthy of  the calling we have received.  Let’s walk it out!

“What makes on ordinary man, extraordinary is that he didn’t quit!” Ed Young


Vision: How to Find Yours

Do you know where you want your career to be before you turn 30? 40?  70? Do you know what you want to accomplish with your money before your next birthday? Or before your kids are born? Are there relationships you want to establish, strengthen, or heal in the next year?

If you don’t know how to answer these and similar questions, it’s probably because you lack vision.

Vision can be a tricky thing. There are always forces working to cloud it, many of which are within ourselves. We often confuse vision with daydreams and hopes, which can lead to frustration, wasted energy, and burnout. And there are people all around who will tell you your vision’s too big or small, silly, weird, cliche, and doomed to fail.

Without a clear vision, though, you’re selling yourself short. You’re saying, essentially, that you’re okay with whatever fate the world wants to impose on you.

Which is a shame, really, because finding your vision doesn’t have to be hard. Not if you’re willing to work for it. Plus, the creator of the universe is on your side, so you’ve got that going for you. Here are a three simple steps to clarify your vision: Continue reading


God Size Perspective (Part 3)

“And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Philippians 1:14 esv

Our perspective in life determines so much.  Obviously it determines how we see our circumstances.  It determines how we respond to our obstacles.  It determines the influence or lack there of we will have in the lives of those around us.  It determines how we respond to God.  Which our response to God determines everything for our lives.

As I mentioned in the previous posts of this series, Paul possessed a God Size Perspective.  He looked past his unfavorable circumstances and looked up to God to gain a healthy perspective.  He realized his problems were being leveraged for God’s purposes.  But the part I love the most is that Paul realized that his obstacles were giving others much needed confidence in their own lives.

I’m not real sure what your perspective tends to be in life.  I’m not sure if you see the glass half empty of half full.  I don’t know if you are a pessimist or an optimist.

What I do know is that God can work through your greatest burdens to give others boldness. 

Paul’s time in prison gave other believers confidence in the Lord and enabled them to speak the word boldly and fearlessly.

How can your burdens equal confidence and boldness for the Lord? Continue reading


God Size Perspective (Part 2)

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,…my imprisonment is for Christ.”Philippians 1:12-13 ESV

What a perspective! Paul had a God Size Perspective.

God Size Perspective – The ability to see your greatest obstacles as God ordained opportunities

How do you view the obstacles in your life?

How do you view your greatest challenges?

How do you view the one thing you desire for your life so much, but God won’t seem to allow it to happen?

Let’s be honest with ourselves. Most of us Continue reading


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