His Gaudy Goodness

One of my favorite passages is Exodus 32 & 33. I quote from it often. I mentioned this passage recently in a sermon and someone asked me to write a blog about it. If you ask me to talk about one of my favorite things, you’re probably going to get a “yes”.

In this verse, Moses asks God to show him His glory. He wants to see a visible display of God’s radiant glory. God is delighted to do this for him. Here is the request and God’s reply:

Exodus 33: 18-19 And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.” 19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” NKJV

Notice that when God said yes to Moses, He then told him how He would go about showing him His glory. He would cause His goodness to pass before him. The way God gets His glory out of our lives is by causing His goodness to come upon us and create a spectacle everyone can see. People look at us and say, “How did they ever end up doing that?” The answer: HIS GOODNESS. Whenever God takes something ordinary and douses it with His gaudy goodness, He creates a conversation starter that should end in Him getting credit for it. That is how He gets His glory.

There are some really good things about me. But, make no mistake; every good thing about me is due to His goodness. I am not a good person in and of myself. But, I am a good person…a great person, because I have experienced His gaudy goodness.

When we are insecure or struggle with rejection, we sometimes reject His goodness because we feel we don’t deserve it. Whenever we reject His goodness, we also rob Him of His glory. Or, we reject a compliment or a celebration of our gifts because of false humility. When we discount the “praise” we rob God of His glory.

The next time someone attempts to “praise” you, simply receive it and then pass that praise onto Him and give Him His glory! For more on this subject. go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGl6v3ZysK4&t=1664s

 

Giving Assignments

I love to give. I love to give when I have an abundance, when things are tight, and when I know without a doubt it is a giving assignment straight from God. I had one of those giving assignments recently.

I went to our local grocery store here in Waynesville to buy a side dish of vegetables so I didn’t have to cook any. I got into the hot meals counter line (Pick a meat and three sides) behind the only other customer. As I considered my choices (I picked the boiled cabbage with ham in it, if you were at all interested), this guy walks right up next to me. When I say next to me, I mean he walks right up beside me, not behind me, and our shoulders almost touched.

He looks over at me and says, “Are you going to buy me lunch?” I said, “Sure, I was just standing here hoping someone would allow me to buy them lunch. I am your guy.” He replied, “No way. I was just giving you a hard time. I couldn’t let you buy my lunch. I just like walking up to strangers and speaking to them and making new friends.”

I asked him his name and I gave him mine. Then I told him I had a little problem. I didn’t have any cash on me and I had more shopping to do. I REALLY wanted to buy his lunch, though. He said, “Don’t worry about it. I was just messing around but I will make a deal with you. I will let you off the hook from buying my lunch this time, but the next time I see you, you have to buy me dinner at — and he named an expensive restaurant in an adjoining town. I laughed and said, “Can you wait here for just a minute?” He said he would. I went out to my car, where I had a gift card for that very resurant I’d been driving around with for several months! I grabbed it and went back into the store and gave it to him. “Dinner is on me!” He freaked out. “No way! I can’t accept it. I was just joking.” I asked him, “How many people have a person walk up to him and ask him for dinner to a restaurant he just happens to have a gift card for in their car? God must really love you, sir.” He told me that he knew God loved him and that he was also sure that God loved me as well. He hugged me and walked away knowing we had just had a God encounter.

I’ve only felt compelled a couple times by Papa to give that specifically, that uniquely. But, each time Papa got talked about and the other person felt LOVED! I hope you have a similar encounter soon. For more on this subject, go to, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGomAl6z_VI

 

 

 

 

Giving Assignments

I love to give. I love to give when I have an abundance, when things are tight, and when I know without a doubt it is a giving assignment straight from God. I had one of those giving assignments recently.

I went to our local grocery store here in Waynesville to buy a side dish of vegetables so I didn’t have to cook any. I got into the hot meals counter line (Pick a meat and three sides) behind the only other customer. As I considered my choices (I picked the boiled cabbage with ham in it, if you were at all interested), this guy walks right up next to me. When I say next to me, I mean he walks right up beside me, not behind me, and our shoulders almost touched.

He looks over at me and says, “Are you going to buy me lunch?” I said, “Sure, I was just standing here hoping someone would allow me to buy them lunch. I am your guy.” He replied, “No way. I was just giving you a hard time. I couldn’t let you buy my lunch. I just like walking up to strangers and speaking to them and making new friends.”

I asked him his name and I gave him mine. Then I told him I had a little problem. I didn’t have any cash on me and I had more shopping to do. I REALLY wanted to buy his lunch, though. He said, “Don’t worry about it. I was just messing around but I will make a deal with you. I will let you off the hook from buying my lunch this time, but the next time I see you, you have to buy me dinner at — and he named an expensive restaurant in an adjoining town. I laughed and said, “Can you wait here for just a minute?” He said he would. I went out to my car, where I had a gift card for that very resurant I’d been driving around with for several months! I grabbed it and went back into the store and gave it to him. “Dinner is on me!” He freaked out. “No way! I can’t accept it. I was just joking.” I asked him, “How many people have a person walk up to him and ask him for dinner to a restaurant he just happens to have a gift card for in their car? God must really love you, sir.” He told me that he knew God loved him and that he was also sure that God loved me as well. He hugged me and walked away knowing we had just had a God encounter.

I’ve only felt compelled a couple times by Papa to give that specifically, that uniquely. But, each time Papa got talked about and the other person felt LOVED! I hope you have a similar encounter soon. For more on this subject,  go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGomAl6z_VI

Mature Inheritance

What if everything we need is waiting for us to step into our destiny and claim it? What if we stopped gauging what we could accomplish by the provisions we have, but lived from passion and purpose instead?

There is a concept in the Bible that I believe supports and even encourages us to live from this perspective. It is called; a “Mature inheritance”. Basically, this means that God has already stored up what we need and when our passion and purpose are combined, provision appears.

Let me show you a couple of examples of this in scripture.

After God created, Adam, He said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper for him.” He then has Adam name all the animals. When He finishes, God puts Adam to sleep and creates Eve. Now, when God created the helper for Adam, He didn’t present Eve to him as a baby. She was created as a mature woman, equal to Adam at his stage of life. Adam began to function in his role as God’s representative (naming the animals) and God brought a mature inheritance to him.

When the Children of Israel arrived at the “promised land” to receive the inheritance that God had promised them 400 years earlier, it was already mature. God told them they would live in houses they did not build and eat from crops they did not plant. God made sure the enemies of Israel had already prepared the land for them to inhabit. In this scenario, defeating your enemy, releases your mature inheritance.

Solomon desired to make God’s name famous. He wanted to build a temple—not for human royalty, but for Jehovah—something so spectacular that nothing in this world could rival it. Where would he get the gold, silver and precious stones to build the temple? His father David had led a campaign to raise the necessary resources for the temple before he died. When Solomon was ready to release his passion and his purpose, the provision was already there.

Let’s not wait around passively (myself included) hoping for the resources to do something amazing with our lives. Instead lets live with passion and faith, and who knows, when we get to our moment, everything we ever needed may already be there waiting on us. For more on this subject, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1b7ASh0yyQ

 

 

 

 

In His Hands

Have you ever had one of those moments in your life when you look up and God is standing right beside you? You can’t deny it or overlook it. You feel His presence and know that He has the whole world, including you, in His Hands. Recently, I had one of those moments where I could not deny His work in my life.

Four years ago, I met a woman in the lobby of our church. She was strolling in the front door with two little boys in tow. I didn’t recognize her, assumed she was a first time guest, and directed her towards our Children’s facility. As she walked away, I started up another conversation with someone else. As I finished that conversation, the woman returned to the Lobby from our Children’s facility, so I said hello. She confirmed she was a first time guest. I explained to her that I was on an assignment from the Lord to pray every day in the sanctuary then asked her if there was anything I could pray for that week for her. She said, “Sure, pray for my family and please include my husband. He couldn’t be here today.” I asked her what her husband’s name was and she told me. Then she went into the sanctuary for the service and I never saw her again. As far as I know, she never visited our church again.

The next day I went into the sanctuary and prayed for her, her family and her husband. When I began praying for him, the Lord spoke to me. He said He would like me to start my prayers every day by praying for this man I had never met. When I asked God why, He said because I personally did not know this man, and he could not benefit me in any way. Before I prayed for my stuff, He wanted me to pray for this man…everyday…for one year.

I did it. I prayed his name over and over again that year. But, then the year ended. God led me to a different focus and that assignment was over. I never met the man or even heard his name uttered for the next three years. Then recently I was on Facebook and his name popped up on my feed as someone I might like to send a Facebook friend request to. So, I did, hoping he would accept the request and I could encourage him with that story. But, he never responded to my request. Last Sunday morning, during worship, God spoke to me and said to send him a Facebook message and tell him the story. I argued with God, it was obvious the guy didn’t do Facebook very often. But, God was very direct with me, I was to send him a message and do it that day.

That night I pulled up the guy’s profile and went to his photos. I looked for a picture of his wife to verify that this was the right guy. I found a picture of her but honestly I don’t remember what she looked like; it had been 4 years. Her name seemed similar to what I remembered, but not exactly. I felt confident that this was the right guy. So, I sent him a message, told him the story and simply encouraged him that God has been working behind the scenes on his behalf for a long time and that God really loves him. Assignment done!

The next morning…the very next morning…I go to Lowes to buy a gift card. I select the card quickly and I get in line. The woman in front of me feels my presence and looks over her shoulder. You’ll never guess who it was. Yep, it was this man’s wife! I called her by name which shocked her and I asked if she or her husband had read my message from the night before. She tells me that he never reads those messages (that is why God put us in line next to each other). I then had the privilege of telling her the story and encouraging her to ask her husband to read it. We were both overwhelmed at this divine interruption.

This story isn’t primarily about this man and whatever God wants to do in his life. It definitely isn’t about me. It is a story about our God, who loves us deeply and is working just out of sight to watch over us, care for us and guide us in our journey. My faith level is through the roof by the divine coincidence of this story. I pray it inspires you as well. For more on this subject, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1b7ASh0yyQ

 

Leaving it in His Hands

As I journey on in my role as a Chief Repenter, and understand better how God’s justice and mercy work hand in hand, I have found a couple truths worth more to me than gold. One of them is what I call, “Leaving it in His hands”.

When a legal matter between you and another party needs to be resolved you have two options. You can try to negotiate a solution privately that is advantageous for you (and hopefully for the other party), or you can take it to court. If you go to court, it is no longer in your hands. It is in the hand of a judge, a jury, or the judicial law of our land. In the court system, we not only lose control of the situation, but we can end up with an unsatisfactory outcome.

The opposite is true when we deal with God. When we have something between us and God, the best thing we can do is leave it in His hands. There is always hope of mercy, and it is the safest place you could be.

When the woman caught in the act of adultery was brought to Jesus, the Pharisees honestly believed Jesus would judge her guilty and then sentence her to death by capital punishment. Why did they believe this? Because she was guilty and it is what they would have done. They had the stones in their hands to prove it!

When we sin, like the Israelites, offer Him whatever sacrifices He asks for. This allows God to deal with the sin.

Some might say, “Why not just tell people to quit sinning, instead of teaching them to offer sacrifices?” Telling people to stop sinning doesn’t usually work. People struggle with sin. When we leave our disappointments in His hands he changes our hearts. He is a merciful judge and a good Father.

Like the woman caught in adultery who was brought to Jesus, bring your sin to Him. Leave it in His hands. He will judge you, but often by giving you mercy as He extends to you the grace to change. For more on this subject, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkKOJGo3WGw&t=345s

 

 

Two Boats

Have you ever wondered like I do, “Why does God chose to move and work through me?” There are so many more qualified people for Him to partner with. Someone more pure, righteous, devoted and available than me. I look at my struggles and past and want to disqualify myself. At times like this, I think of the Apostle Peter. Forgive me. I know comparison is wrong. But, somehow observing the relationship between Peter and Jesus and seeing all the mistakes that Peter made, helps me feel better.

Here is how they met:

 Luke 5: 1-3 One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. 2 He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 3 Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. NLT

Jesus is preaching one day near the shore. As He shares the timeless truths about the love of God, people are drawn in and begin to swarm around him. Looking for some space so He could continue preaching, He gets in a boat. He doesn’t get into anyone’s boat. He gets into Peter’s boat. The rest is history. Jesus finishes preaching, then tells Peter to launch out into the deep and let down his nets. Peter obeys and he catches so many fish the nets begin to tear. Peter realizes Jesus is the Son of God, forsakes his fishing career, and becomes a “fisher of men”.

It is a great story. However, did you notice there were two boats? You see God has options. He always has options. He didn’t have to get in Peter’s boat. He could have gotten into the other boat. But, he chose Peter’s boat. He knew how imperfect Peter was but He loves working with flawed people.

The next time the devil whispers in you ear that your not good enough, just say to him, “Well, God must think so; He came looking for me!” God has other options but He chose you and He continues to choose imperfect people everyday. Put to rest all the negative things you use to disqualify yourself and trust in this simple fact: HE came looking for you! For more information, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekYgDb1fQ2E&t=5s

 

 

 

 

Do a 360 and Fully Live

Will you remember what you do today one year from now? I know it is impossible to live everyday in such a manner. I only ask the question to make a point. The point is that life is precious; it is a gift. How many of us are un-wrapping that beautiful privilege—every—single—day?

There is a great quote Dr. Edward J. Stieglitz used in an advertisement in 1947 that sums up my thinking. It says:

“It’s not the years in your life that count but the life in your years!”

I have the joy of living in the Smokey Mountains of Western, North Carolina, surrounded by spellbinding beauty. People travel from all over the world to vacation here—to take in the sights and sounds of our ancient views. Yet, as a local, I can honestly say there are days we get in our cars and hustle from one destination to the other and never drink in the gift we have just outside our front door. I promise today that I will not only get out and do a 360 turn to take in the views, but I will also deeply breathe in our pristine air.

I recently attended the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference and heard a similar thought echoed by best-selling author Yvonne Lehman (57 novels to her credit). A paraphrase of her thoughts went something like this:

“You write from who you are. Who you are is the sum of your experiences. If you come to this conference and meet a mentor, learn a tool that will serve you the rest of your life, or get inspiration for your next book, then you just lived a chapter SCENE in the book of your life. If you came here simply to get information, you didn’t live a scene; you had an INCIDENT. Most people don’t write because they don’t live scenes!”

In the act of experiencing the fullness of each moment—the need to express that with others greatly increases.

Today, you took the time to read this blog. Would you mind telling me in a comment below one thing you are purposefully going to do today that you might remember a year from now? I would like to celebrate it with you. For more on this subject,  go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLrQ3BBs278&t=2449s

 

Suffering Well

I met a worship pastor one time that couldn’t sing. No joke. His name is Bob Sorge and he was serving as a worship pastor when he had to go have a medical procedure done. The surgeon accidently clipped his vocal cords and now he can’t sing; he can only whisper for one hour a day. After this tragedy, Bob asked God what He wanted him to do with the rest of his life. God said, “Be a worship pastor!” Bob replied, “Uh, I can’t sing anymore. We have to do something different, Lord.” To which God said, “I didn’t make a mistake when I made you a worship pastor. I also knew the difficulties you would walk through. Go be a worship pastor.” Bob went on to write many books on worship, raise up worship leaders and he “whispers” (speaks) at worship conferences. I have had the privilege of meeting him and hosting him at our church. He is a hero in the faith.

Recently, a couple of my staff and I had an opportunity to go to a conference. We enjoyed worshipping together, which was led by Bethel Church’s worship team. We were inspired by the main speakers, which included Lisa Bevere, Jimmy Evans & Choco De Jesus. But, one of the highlights for me was a breakout session one morning that was being taught by a guy I had never heard of. His name was Joel Sorge.

Joel was teaching a class on developing an environment that cultivates creativity. While that title intrigued me, I was more interested in his last name…Sorge. I kept wondering if this guy was related somehow to my hero, Bob. Joel taught for about 45 minutes of his hour-long class and then he got personal, real personal. He started talking about all the failure and disappoint that he and his wife had went through. He had everyone’s attention. And then he said something I will never forget. He said, “I have been through all this hurt and pain, but thank God, my father Bob taught us kids how to SUFFER WELL. He taught us to always complain vertically, not horizontally. You see when you complain about God to other people, it is sin. When you complain about God to God, it is worship. Read the Psalms.” Wow. When we complain about God to God, it is worship. What a statement. What a treasure. I don’t like to fail and I don’t like to suffer. But, if I have to go through it, I want to SUFFER WELL. Thank you Bob for teaching your kids this lesson. Thank you Joel for learning it! My life is enriched because of the pain you both have endured. For more on this subject go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekYgDb1fQ2E

The Art of Awareness

Ever deeply admire a trait in people that most others overlook? I deeply appreciate and admire awareness. I respect it when people are conscious of others around them and what they are doing. Likewise, I am absolutely astounded at the lack of awareness that some people demonstrate.

Recently, Tina and I were travelling out of state and were at a local grocery store. When we pulled in the parking lot, we noticed a young lad that worked for the store, collecting about 5 grocery carts. As he was wheeling them in through the front doors of the store, he suddenly stopped right in the middle of the doorway. The couple in front of us pulled up abruptly and so did we. I looked around the logjam to see what was holding him up. There was nothing and no one in the grocery cart holding area. He was apparently daydreaming. I said, “Excuse me”, to which he responded, “Oh, sorry” as he promptly moved to the side (but left the 5 carts in the doorway) and added, “let me get out of everyone’s way”. I laughingly told Tina that I was sure somewhere in the training manual it said to never physically block customers from getting into the store.

Now, this incident wasn’t a big deal and it literally inconvenienced us for a grand total of 3 seconds. But, it was the genesis for this blog because it was a glaring example of someone so self-absorbed that he lost all awareness of the others around him, not to mention his job.

One of the things I regularly say to our staff is, “You can’t fix the problem you can’t see”. If there is a perpetual problem happening in their specific ministry, the first thing I ask is; can they see it? I surmise if it happens repetitively, they cannot. And, if they can’t see the problem, they can’t fix it.

When preparing a team to go on an international ministry trip I stress the importance of cultural awareness. One of the easiest ways to honor the culture of the places we visit is it to pay attention to the way they do things, and then do it like they do. If they sit on the floor when they eat their food, then we sit on the floor while we eat our food. If they eat the bones, we eat the bones. If they kick their shoes off before entering the house, then we do the same.

Being aware of other people allows us the opportunity to anticipate their needs and to serve them. Recognizing their unique way of doing things allows us the opportunity to honor them by trying it ourselves. For more on this subject, go to https://www.newcovenantchurch.com/sermons/2018/4/23/the-names-god-calls-me