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Marvel

January 13, 2017 — Leave a comment

Marvel.

What did you picture when you read that word? It is a powerful word. One that we do not tend to use lightly.

As a verb, its definition is “to be filled with wonder or astonishment”.

What have you been “marveled” by in your life? I, personally, can only think of a handful of things and/or times in my life when I have stood truly marveled.

There is a place in the Bible that uses this term where seems almost out of place and we find it in the book of Luke.

Shortly after Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph bring him to the Temple and we read in the second chapter of Luke that Simeon, who was told he would see Christ before his death spoke over the baby.  Then in verse 33:

And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which we spoken of Him.

Think about that for a second. Don’t rush past the depth of that statement. We are talking about Mary and Joseph whom each had their own unique angelic encounter about the birth of Jesus. Each saw and heard the amazing things that happened the night of His birth like the shepherds in the field who were joined by a host of heavenly angels singing.

They knew exactly who Jesus was to become. They had encounters leading up to His birth that would rock most people to their core. Truly, I don’t think if I were in their shoes, anything would shock me after that, much less bring me to “marvel”.

But yet, there was a new level of greatness of the Savior being revealed to them each and every day. Such greatness that it caused them to marvel.

That verse causes me to repent.

To repent of simply taking Him for granted. To repent of getting too comfortable with my Savior that when I look to Him, I fail to marvel at His greatness. That when I speak of Jesus, I fail to fathom the power that rests in His name.

When we get too comfortable with something, that is exactly what we do – we take it for granted. We can easily forget what life was like before we had it. We treat it as if it is something that will simply be there, no matter what. We diminish its value.

We can never fathom the fullness and greatness that is Jesus.

There is something new that He desires to reveal to you every day – but we have to abide in Him. We have to press in, we have to ask questions and we have to make ourselves vulnerable.

Open yourself up to the idea that you just might not know everything. That maybe the Jesus you knew yesterday, isn’t all there is. He is better. He is more. He is worth marvel!

I recently heard the song, Praise the Lord by Crowder and he sums this thought up really well by saying:

I know less as I’ve come to know you more.  You’re not who I thought you were before. Praise the Lord!

Don’t put God in a box. There is no box that could fit. Open yourself up to the idea that maybe, just maybe, each day should start with marvel of Him.

Question: How do you maintain your marvel in Him?

Squirrel!

December 27, 2016 — Leave a comment

Once! Only one time have I posted in this blog this year.  Shame on me.  Something I set out to be diligent about and here we are concluding 2016 and I have simply 1 post. I am looking back and this year and am truly confused on how it went so fast!

The end of any year is always a great time to take stock of things and begin to plan out the path for the upcoming year; and for me, this year is no different.  It is hard for me to sum up 2016 in a word much less a sentence.  Heck, I don’t think I could write a book explaining this year.  From difficult closures of one season to the new beginnings of another 2016 has been scattered with so many different experiences.  When you sum them all up together, this has been one crazy year.

One thing that has become more and more obvious to me, even as I logged on to my blog to post and noticed I have only 1 entire post this year, is how easily distracted we can become.

My life sometimes looks just like the silly dog in the movie “Up”.  I can be so easily distracted by a squirrel.  Ok, for all of you who have no idea what I am talking about:

But in all seriousness, there is a great quote from C.S. Lewis that really brings it home:

“We are always falling in love or quarreling, looking for jobs or fearing to lose them, getting ill and recovering, following public affairs. If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.”

If you were to be completely honest with yourself, I am certain you can think of a time or two in your life when you have used those infamous words “the time is just not right yet for me to do _________ (fill in the blank)”

Yet, just as the wise Mr. Lewis points out, favorable conditions never come. You simply have to decide and execute.

Take going to the gym for example. I don’t care who you are, there is never a “favorable time” to go there. If I have an open hour to spare in my day, I would much rather do something I would enjoy, like drink a nice cup of coffee and perhaps eat a donut – but that will never achieve the same results.  In fact that would achieve the complete opposite result.

It has become an almost cliché saying but you have to be intentional in all areas of your life.

It starts with your focus. Be intentional about where you focus. Jesus sums it up pretty simply in Matthew 6:31-34

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own troubles.”

That set of verses is probably one of the most encouraging and also the most discouraging verses in all of the Bible.  In one sentence, Jesus is saying “hey guys, I got this covered – just focus on me” and then he ends it up with “today is going to have enough troubles of its own…”

Another way of saying it might be something like this: Today will have troubles. Tomorrow will have troubles. In fact, next week is filled with various troubles. BUT don’t focus on those, in fact don’t even focus on trying to solve them, just focus on God and He will take care of it all for you.

That to me is the hard part. Honestly, I feel like I am trying to not “bug” God with the little stuff. I know He is busy, so I figure I will take care of the little things and maybe He will appreciate that I freed up some time for Him.

Ridiculous, right? But so many of us our guilty of that. And the problem amplifies as we continue to focus on all the little things that turn into one big distraction which takes our eyes off of Him.

This world is full of distractions. Add on my 3-year-old and 1-year-old and the idea of quiet time seems about as likely as winning the lottery while never buying a ticket.

Yet, I strive to be intentional.  Do I win that battle daily…no way!  But, I wake up and try again.

It is easy to focus on Him at Christmas. It is easy to pause and realize that He is the reason for the season but in a matter of days, life picks right back up to its normal pace and it is in that moment that you need to stop and decide to be intentional about your focus, keeping it all on Him.

Here is my prayer for 2017: Lord, may I never cease to be intentional about priority number one – you. May my focus be first on the Kingdom of God and Your Righteousness. Lord, help me to discern quickly what a distraction is and know when to push it aside and recalibrate my focus.

That is my prayer for you as well; for anyone reading this, that God will be your center, your guiding light and your focus.

Together, let us make 2017 the year of Intentional Focus!

Question: What is your secret to being intentional with your time?

Don’t Blink

June 11, 2016 — Leave a comment

Businessman pulling a clock hand backwards

Don’t blink. You will miss it.

Honestly, that is how I feel right now. Time has a sneaky way of moving so fast that it is not until you pause to look back that you realize just how much of it has passed. Looking back could be filled with regret over lost time, or filled with excitement over what has been accomplished.

Today it is hitting me differently.  Today we celebrate my first born’s 3rd Birthday, but four years ago…he was simply a prayer (and quite frankly, a prayer that we felt was never going to be answered).  Four years ago, we were finalizing our final round of torture (otherwise known as fertility treatments) and we had began our shift to adoption.

Just a few months later…but God…

Then, I blinked and here we are celebrating this little man’s 3rd Birthday with a little 7 month old brother at his side. This is not how I envisioned it all to pan out many many years ago – but yet – God’s timing is so much more perfect that my timing. His plan is so much more perfect than my plan.

That, however, is not the point of this post. The thing that seems most striking to me is that we can get so caught up in “our season” that we lose sight of the purpose. To make matters worse, when we finally escape one season and jump into the next – we turn around to realize we didn’t accomplish what we set out to do during that season.

I have talked with so many people, fellow wanderers, who have let precious years slip by only to say “I blinked…where am I”?

Each day is an opportunity for a new beginning.

I love Isaiah 43:9

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Do you see what God is saying there? Don’t miss it. He says he is doing a new thing…not that He plans to, or only if you do something for Him first…He has already done it! The question He asks is, “don’t you see it”? It is accomplished. It is a finished work. You just have to look up!

Look up every once and awhile while you walk the road you are on. Look around, lift your eyes to Jesus and gaze upon the wonder of what He is doing. The Kingdom of God is here now; Are you paying attention enough to actually see it?

My encouragement to you (as well as myself) – don’t look down; look up. Don’t let a “season” distract you from the new thing that God is doing in your life.

Question: How do you stay focused on the new thing?

The Weapon You Have

September 14, 2015 — 1 Comment

SwordDollarphotoclub_89806052

It is absurd to think that someone would consider stepping into a war zone as a solider without being fully equipped to fight. The old saying of never bring a knife to a gun fight holds some great merit. Know the tools you have at your disposal and use them wisely.

Yet, each and every day, Christians march off into battle and fail to use the one tool that stands superior – their sword, the Word of God. We compromise the battle before we step foot onto the battleground simply due to a lack of understanding. Our enemy, the devil, would have it no other way. He doesn’t fear the one who doesn’t know the word – he fears the one who knows it and applies it.

The Bible doesn’t mess around on this topic:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NKJV)

I was reading a story recently in the book of Samuel about the attack from the Philistines on King Saul and the Israelite.  The Philistines began going village to village – not to attack but rather to capture the blacksmiths and stop the production of swords and weapons of war.  The Bible tells us that it got to a point where it was only Jonathan and King Saul who had a sword in the entire nation.  As I read this story, I felt the Holy Spirit remind me that this is the same tactic being deployed by the devil today.  This story was almost prophetic of our ongoing battle with him. The devil is constantly trying to dismantle our sword – the Word of God.

Make no mistake about it, the devil has been up to his sneaky ways for some time now. He is always focusing on trying to get God’s people to ignore the Word of God. It started in week one of man’s existence as he slyly asked Eve if “God really said that?”

Today – he is whispering in your ear the same thing, “Did God really say that? Would God really send someone to hell? Does God really say we can be healed? Does God really care about your happiness?”

Take your pick. The tactic is as clear as day itself; he wants to ask you enough questions and get you to doubt the truth. Doubt becomes a stronghold – and we all know what happens to strongholds.

So what do we do? Stand firm, know the Word.  TRUST the Word.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8 NKJV)

If you hear that horrible little voice whispering words of doubt – about your life, your future, God’s opinion on you – silence it by going to the Word. God’s word will never lead you astray.

Question: How do you stay focused on His word?

 

Honor’s Reward

September 8, 2015 — 1 Comment

I had the privilege recently of speaking a message regarding honor – specifically with respect to honoring our Pastors at my home church, Without Walls Church. Lucky for me, I have the greatest Pastors on the planet! They make the task of honoring them to be a very simple one. They are a true demonstration of Christ as a Servant Leaders. I can’t say enough wonderful things about them.

Yet, there is an important message to be heard regarding honor and what can manifest through honor. Our society is plagued by a culture of disrespect towards those in authority. God’s word is very clear, there is a reward that comes through honor. This does not mean just honoring those in Spiritual Authority, we are also called to honor those in the Government, our workplace and elsewhere.

Watch the video below and chime in on the comments to start the discussion!

Question: How do you show honor to those in authority?

Past Present And Future Signpost Showing Evolution Destiny Or Aging

Let me start with the moral of the story: Your past does not dictate your potential.

In life, we are trained to believe that your accomplishments and your past define your worth. You almost always have to prove yourself before you are taken serious.

I take comfort in the fact that we are in good company.

Even Jesus had to overcome His past and in a viable sense, “prove” Himself.

And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Phillip said to him, “Come and see.” (John 1:46 NKJV)

This statement was made by one who would become a disciple. Instantly, Nathanael judged the book by its cover. Ironic that the book he was judging was the King.

Have you had that happen to you? I know I have experienced this. First impressions are key. It is said that people form their opinions within the first 30 seconds of meeting someone. Yet, they base if off of so many superficial factors: age, hair, clothes, weight…

Can anything good come from that young person?

Can anything good come from that tattooed person?

Can anything good come from that ______________ person?

Fill in the blank, take your pick. The world is asking the questions.

Of course, the devil would like you to believe the answer is no. The devil desires that you would succumb to a life of “I’m not good enough” or “Everyone has their mission, mine just isn’t that important.”

He would love for you to just resign to a life of mediocrity and passivity. A life where you don’t do anything extraordinary – much less believe that you are capable of extraordinary.

That is simply contrary to the Word:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 NKJV)

Do you believe those words today? Then it is time to rise up and live what God has placed in your heart. We are called to greatness – the only reason it can ever elude you is if you fail to take the first step to walk it out.

Everything prior to today doesn’t matter. Today is the starting point. I stand in agreement with you that when the question is asked of you, “Can anything good come from________? (insert your name) – the answer is emphatically and resoundingly, yes!

Let us show the world what Jesus intended…

Question: How do you stay encouraged to walk out your greatness?

Who Am I?

July 13, 2015 — 1 Comment

Today’s post is a guest post courtesy of my amazingly talented wife, Alisha Anderson.  You can follow Alisha on twitter at: @AlishaAnderson7

MirrorWhoAmIWoman

There seem to be a sweeping attitude in our American culture today that upholds, admires, and respects individuals for their extreme commitment to science, industry or work accomplishments.  However, when put in context of ones religious or spiritual beliefs, that is held lightly.   You see this all throughout popular culture; in our films, newspapers, magazines, etc.  Characters and individuals are praised for what they do – but not what they believe (ironic, considering what they believe is likely at the core of why they do it).

We have become focused only on the earthly and temporal and have not given credit to God.

This attitude says, “I’m a Christian, but if that offends you, I won’t act like one around you.”  Or, “I’m a Christian, but that’s just my Sunday thing, so that won’t impact everything else, I’ll keep it PC.”

It seems holding firm to your religious faith just isn’t “the thing” anymore.  It’s outdated thinking and deems you to be intolerant or not open to other ideas.

I am a wife, mother, real estate agent, soccer player, and much more. These are roles I play and things I do, but central to who I am is a Christian. I believe I am who the God of the Bible says that I am and I cannot separate that from the rest of me.  Furthermore, it is the belief as a Christian that is the most central to me and defines everything else about me.

Does this make me not open or intolerant?  I don’t think so.  I respect others for their commitments to their beliefs in the face of a society that increasingly says “anything goes”.  I believe it makes me more loving to all people types, wanting to share the good news of God’s grace with them, just as He has shown me His grace.

My standards are not something I have conjured up on my own, it is not me deeming what is moral and what is not. Rather I’ve decided to adopt God’s standards. By doing so, it removes me as being the judge – everything rests on what God’s word says.

God is pretty clear – His way is better than ours!

For as the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9 NKJV)

Question: Do you have examples that you have seen of this type of attitude in our culture?

Jesus Christ“The only constant is change.”

“If you are not growing, you are not changing.”

“The only guarantee in life is death and taxes.”

We have heard all the various phrases and jokes regarding the consistency of change. It’s never ending and always guaranteed. There is no shortage of motivational snippets in the world today written to help us push through change, good or bad.

Yet, we all like our “status quo.”

There is something so enticing and intoxicating about comfort zones. We all have our places, foods and even clothes that just make us feel safe and comfortable. When life starts to get a bit overwhelming, we tend to retreat to those safe spots.

As Christians, however, we are called to constantly change. We are called to grow in every meaning of the word.

I was having a conversation with my ever-wise 93 year old grandfather the other day.  He was born before the Great Depression, served in World War 2, experienced the Civil Rights Movement, saw the marches of Martin Luther King Jr, and has seen countless Presidents come and go from office.

Personally, I cannot even grasp the full amount of change he has seen and endured. Yet, through it all, he has held fast to his faith. Through it all, when change came, he would retreat not to a place or thing – but to Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV)

This might sound overly simplistic, but we as Christians must always stay focused on the only constant in our lives – Jesus.

Jesus will never stray, change or move away. He is always our stable guiding star, the light in the darkness and  the ever present Truth. No matter what is happening in your world, no matter what society says – we should only listen to what He says.

Stay focused. Stay ready.

Listen to the words of Truth and follow them. There is no better path to take.

Question: How do you stay focused on Him through all the change?

 

Who Defines Morality?

June 28, 2015 — 1 Comment

equal justice under law

This week, after the Supreme Court decision, Christian bloggers from across the globe took to the internet to express their opinion. Social media lit up with a flood of cheers as well as an onslaught of groans. I would venture to say the hashtag of #lovewins is likely one of the most trending topics on the internet.

I don’t know that I have anything new or unique to add to this topic, yet I feel compelled to chime in. As I read many of the blogs over the past few days, my heart just broke. It broke for 2 very distinct reasons:

1. My heart broke for those who call themselves Christian and spew such hatred and venom in their rhetoric. No matter your opinion on the subject, we are to always walk in love (now, that doesn’t mean we don’t express our opinion – we just need to have a better method of doing so…read more below).

2. My heart broke for Christians who have a distorted view of what Godly love is and of what Jesus demonstrated as love.  My heart breaks for the Christians that have compromised God’s Word and refuse to make a statement. My heart breaks for those Christians who don’t love their neighbors enough to tell them the truth found in the Word of God. My Heart breaks at an open acceptance by Christians of a sin.

Let me state the obvious: I believe in the Biblical definition of marriage – one man and one woman. Period. End of story. Let me be absolutely clear as a follow up to that statement – this does not mean I think anything less of the LGBT community or their desire to “marry”.  Do I think it is a sin? Yes. Do I believe the Bible calls it a sin? Yes. Do I love these people? Without a doubt!

I also think stealing, cheating, adultery and fornication are sins – but yet I love those people as well. There is no difference in my eyes – one person is not worse than another due to their sin.  The Bible is clear in Romans 3:23

For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!

You, me, everyone. We have all fallen short.

As Christians, it is our job to be the light in a dark world and the example of God’s love – not His judgement.

The Supreme Court of the United States does not and cannot define morality – nor can they re-write God’s law. Yes, I believe all people should be treated equally with equal rights, but I do not believe that a “law” should be made that encourages someone to walk further out of God’s will for their lives.

If a law made by our legals system stands contrary to God’s law, we must express our concern. We as Christians must stand up and be the voice of morality according to the Bible.

I am fully aware that others will not agree with my opinion just as I don’t necessarily agree with theirs. That is what I love about our great country. We all share an equal right to believe what we believe and to freely express those beliefs without fear of persecution.

So where do we go from here? As a Christian, how do we proceed?

To me, it is simple. We show the world what #LoveWins really means. We show them that 2,000 years ago love won because a man died on a cross for you and for me. He died to free us of our sins. We show the world – just as Jesus did – that we can love and that sometimes love means we tell you what our God defines as a sin – that we open our Bibles and share with you the Truth.

Our desire should be the same as God’s desire – that none shall perish, but that all shall have everlasting life. The only way to do that is by boldly declaring His words through love.

I am reminded of Isaiah 40:8

The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of our God stands forever.

There is nothing that can come out of Washington DC that will change the Word of God. To those in the LGBT and Christian community – let us find a better way to have the discourse. Hear me clearly, on behalf of Christians – we are sorry for any hatred spewed toward you – that is not the intent. We desire to introduce you to a savior that is all sufficient, all encompassing and all loving. It might sound foreign based on what you have seen – but Jesus desires nothing else but to love you and show you a better way.

Question: How do you show God’s love?

Self Control in the Storm

March 15, 2015 — 1 Comment

Fold Hands Self ControlThere is nothing I love more than being a father. The journey has been amazing. What continues to baffle me, however, is the amount of lessons my little toddler has taught me during his not even two years on this Earth. He can barely speak a sentence, yet some things he has shown me have forever impacted my way of living. Quite often he teaches me these “lessons” when I am trying to instill something in him – it seems to always work both ways.

For example, my wife read about this particular concept in a book. Essentially, when my son gets overwhelmed, frustrated or if it seems that a tantrum might ensue we simply tell him to “fold your hands and get some self control.” Much to my surprise – this method works like magic! Each and every time he quickly stops what he is doing, folds his hand and calms down. Swiftly he returns to his happy place.

I understand why this works; it gives him something to focus on other than what it is that has frustrated him.

How does this relate to our walk with God?

So many times we can become overwhelmed by the world around us – the situations, the failures, the defeats and we enter into a time of anxiety, stress or doubt. Just as I say it to my son, I believe God says it to us “Fold your hands, and get some self control.”

Prayer solves everything.

Everything.

If things are in dismay and we try to solve it ourselves, I promise, we will only create more dismay and chaos. On the contrary, if we pause, fold our hands and give it all to Him – how quickly things will change.

I love the reaction that Jesus gave to the storm in Mark 4:35-41.  We read that the disciples and Jesus were all in a boat as a furious storm invaded. As the disciples go into panic mode, they find Jesus asleep in the boat. They wake him with an accusation saying “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus then turns to the wind and waves rebuking it and everything went calm.  He then responds to his disciples in verse 40: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith.”

Jesus demonstrated how we should behave during the storms. Controlled and at peace. We should know that God is always in control – no matter what is happening outside the boat.

Today, let me encourage you with the same words I share with my son: fold your hands and get some self control. Focus on the one who IS peace and I promise that peace will ensue in your life.

Question: How do you get self control through a storm?