If only we knew the REST of the STORY

My favorite radio program of all time was Paul Harvey, and his ‘Rest of the Story’ segments. It started during WWII as a news broadcast that also told an interesting story. He would withhold a key piece of information, such as the person’s identity, until the end and then conclude the broadcast with the famous tagline, ”….and now you know the rest of the story.”

We deal with difficult people everyday. But, most of the time we are only dealing with the part of their story they let us see. Wouldn’t it be nice to know the rest of the story? Wouldn’t it be nice to know what made them mad earlier in the day, before they got to us?

There is a story in the Bible, found in Numbers 20: 2-12, when the people complained to Moses about not having any water. God tells Moses to speak to the rock and God would cause water to come out of the rock and thus He would take care of the people. Moses responds to their complaint with anger and strikes the rock, disobeying what God had told him to do. God was faithful to bring the water but He told Moses that He would not enter the promise land because of what he did.

Every time I have ever heard this passage preached, the speaker says that God punished Moses for his disobedience. But, recently I heard a minister by the name of Dwayne Weehunt, from Keller, Texas, approach this story a little differently.

He said that God and Moses were friends. God spoke to His friend face to face, unlike anyone God ever related to. God said Moses was the most humble man alive. Dwayne then went on to say, “Have you ever noticed that this story picks up in verse two of the chapter, not verse one?” Could verse one have any impact on this story? Well, let’s look at verse one:

Numbers 20: 1 Then the children of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the Wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh; and Miriam died there and was buried there.

Moses sister just died. He doesn’t have time to grieve her and the people are complaining about water. Is it possible that Moses was not disobedient out of anger but out of grief? And, isn’t it possible that God was not punishing Moses because of disobedience, but was pulling him out of leadership (ministry) because he didn’t like the toll it was taking on His friend Moses. Could it be that God hated what was happening to His friend and couldn’t stand the destruction of his heart? And, now you might know… the rest of the story.

You can’t help but look at the story differently after you’ve read verse one. Everybody has a verse one. If we kept that in mind, maybe we would all show a little more grace with people’s bad behavior and a lot more interest in knowing the rest of their story. For more on this subject go to  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjpzQS7Y0i0

 

Gateway to God

Recently I was reading “The Nature of God” by Graham Cooke. He made a very interesting statement that I wish all believers were aware of. He said, “But there is one aspect of His character that He will want to be yours in particular. This is your doorway into His presence. I love the compassion, mercy, integrity and grace of God – but my access point to Him is always His kindness.”

When I read that I thought of several attributes of God that woo me or draw me into His presence. After much reflection, I have decided it is His mercy that is my gateway to God.

I have heard mercy and grace defined this way. Grace is getting what you did not deserve (undeserved favor) and mercy is NOT getting what you deserve. Mercy is when you are guilty but He chooses to throw your case out of court.

I have known Him to show unbelievable mercy to myself and others expecting to be crushed under the judgment of an angry God. So many people run away from God when they have sinned or done something wrong. They know and understand the high expectations of God’s holiness. When they fail to measure up to that, they tend to hide, flinch or run away.

The other day I was talking to an intercessor that spends hours a day alone with the Lord. I asked her, “Do you ever pray for God’s judgment upon your life”? She said, “Sure, there is nothing to fear in His judgment.” Spoken like someone who really knows God and His heart.

When a judge rules on a case, it can go one of four ways.

She or he may find someone innocent.
They may discover a technicality that allows them to dismiss the case.
They can also find you guilty but lessen the sentence.
Or, they can throw the book at you.

Three out of the four outcomes are good—if you’re the guilty party.

I have found God chooses to be merciful in almost all cases and loves to show His love off by surprising us with His mercy. Whenever I experience that or see it displayed in the life of others, it immediately draws me into the presence of God. For more on this subject visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfkrRN07vHI&t=1897s

 

 

 

What Energizes You?

In my opinion, time is more valuable than money and energy is more valuable than time. You can have all the money in the world but when you run out of time, it is over. You can have all the time in the world but if you don’t have any energy, your time is meaningless.

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Energy and persistence conquer all things”. According to the dictionary, energy is ‘power that when exerted creates activity’. Energy is a latent reservoir of power that when released allows for vigorous activity to take place. Energy funds activity. That is why I believe energy is more important than time, because you need it to make your time worthwhile.

I am fascinated by personal energy. I pay attention to the people that seem to have an unlimited supply and I also pay attention to those that seem to barely get by on the supply they have. Have you noticed some people can energize the whole place, while others seem to conserve what energy they have as if they might run out at anytime? Then there are those that through personal drama, need or awkward moments suck the energy right out of a room.

I ask myself questions about energy all the time and these are a few things I have learned:

Personal energy comes from internal and external sources.
We all have the same amount of energy available to us
It is possible to get more energy.

The classic definition of what makes a person an introvert or extrovert is how they recharge their battery. Introverts tend to want to be alone for extended periods of time to let their reservoir increase. Extroverts need interaction with people to recharge.

This definition is a little too cut and dry for me. As an extrovert, I do recharge by being with people. But, it has to be the right people. Some people drain me. I take quick note as to whether someone “lifes” me or “sucks the life” out of me.

I firmly believe we are responsible for maintaining our own energy levels. And, there are many factors to consider while doing that. Sleep, diet, exercise, stress, responsibilities and relationship all have an impact on our personal energy levels. I challenge you to raise your awareness of this area, increase your energy level and see if the quality of your life doesn’t increase as well. For more on this subject, please visit   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHk3sQ1Foew

 

 

 

Does God Talk to Himself?

Does God talk to Himself? And, if he does, what does He talk about? Believe it or not, the Bible clearly shows us that, yes, God does talk to Himself. God talks to Himself about…us…His…KIDS!

There may be more, but I found three examples, where God the Father, Jesus, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are talking and interacting with each other.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26 NKJV

“Let US make man in OUR image”. The Godhead, Three-in-One, consulted each other and came into unity concerning their children.

When their children decided to build a tower to the heavens and cause themselves some serious problems, the Godhead once again consulted each other and came into agreement about how to protect their children from themselves.

“Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” Genesis 11: 7 NKJV

Finally, Jesus (God the Son) is praying to God the Father, when God, (the Holy Spirit), descends upon Jesus.

 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3: 21-22 NKJV

God, the Father spoke to Jesus saying He is His son and He is well pleased with Him. This is the moment Jesus begins His ministry to redeem the children they all love.

God uses words to communicate His heart and to come into agreement with Himself before doing anything. Wouldn’t we be wise to listen to His voice and come into agreement with Him before we make any decisions?

God speaks to Himself. I bet those are some amazing conversations! For more on this subject visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViSRPrb9Kbg&t=1611s

The Life and Death of it All

Recently, I was with an international pastor friend of mine. He told me an interesting story that had a powerful life principle buried under the details. He’d been asked if he would officiate the wedding ceremony for a new couple in his area, so he wanted to meet with the couple first.

 

The couple arrived and told him how they met and how they planned on living their life out together. Then my friend asked if either of them had ever been married before and the man said, “Yes”. My friend asked him how long he had been divorced. He responded, “two weeks”. To which my friend replied, “No. I won’t marry you. This marriage is doomed to fail. It has no chance of being successful so I don’t think this would be a good use of my time”.

 

The couple was scandalized — literally in shock. They asked him, “How can you say our marriage will not make it when you don’t even know us”? My friend replied, “It is nothing personal. It is just that anything that has died, if not healed and grieved, will live again. He hasn’t had a chance to heal and learn from his last marriage so that dead marriage is going to live again through this one”.

 

There is a ministry called Divorce Care that helps people process through the pain of a divorce. They recommend a divorced person take one year to heal for every four years they were married. They believe they need this time to process who they are IN THIS SEASON of their life.

 

Whether through marriage, our blood family, or dear friends, people have a tremendous influence on how we see ourselves. When they are torn from our lives through death or distance, it has a profound impact on us.

 

I used this little lesson to look at my life and see if I have fully processed the loss of important people in my life. I hope you will do the same. For more on this subject visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQ3-gD58h8I

Who are You Willing to Die For?

One morning as I was preparing to preach a message on love, a thought went through my mind. You won’t die for someone that you wouldn’t be willing to live with. Wow. That was a simple litmus test for me. How many people would I be willing to move into my house and share the most intimate details of my life with? I have to admit, at this time in my journey, not many.

 

How many people on this planet would you be willing to live with? That is a huge question. Some of the most selfless people I know open their home to children who have no home or family through fostering or adoption. But, they are the exception, not the rule.

 

But, look at Jesus. He lived with the twelve and I would even propose that Jesus, who kept no permanent home, lived among ALL the people He would willingly die for. By sharing His life with them and in turn partaking of their daily life, the love between them grew to such a level that Jesus was willing to give up all he had for them. And in turn, all the disciples (even Judas) ended up dying in one manner or another on behalf of the Savior.

 

I want to be a person doesn’t watch life from the sidelines or taste a version of the original. I want to drain every drop from the fruit of this life…and that includes the joy of sacrificing on behalf of those I have grown to love. Love isn’t really love, unless it is shared with someone else. So, I am on a journey to find those who I can do life with, then live life with, and then lose my life with.

A Romantic notion? Maybe. Utopian? Maybe. But, something at my core tells me that this is what God meant when he said:

 

John 15: 12-13 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. NKJV

 

I challenge all of us to start with being authentic, identifying those that we love and purposefully choosing to live in daily communion with them as much as we are able. I don’t think it will just be rewarding, I think it is godly. For more on this subject please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgmE7lhOC04&t=1284s

 

 

 

 

What’s More Christian Than Paying Another’s Debt?

After hearing Mark Rutland speak at a pastor’s conference at Free Chapel in Gainesville, Georgia, I signed my staff up for his yearlong training.

 

Mark is a missionary, evangelist, ordained minister, founder and President of Global Servants, and was the third President of Oral Roberts University. He has pastored churches in Florida and Georgia, and is currently part of Jentzen Franklin’s ministry team, and offers seminars for Pastoral training.

 

Mark covers many subjects in his course; from sermon delivery, worship, and leadership modeling; but it was during his financial training that he made a comment that would forever change my life.

 

Mark was called to a church in Florida as their Senior Minister. The church had built expansive facilities, was growing exponentially and everything was high and to the right—when a moral issue rocked the church. Leadership was removed, attendance fell off, and finances plummeted. During this period is when God called Mark to serve this church.

 

One day, lamenting the financial burden he had just inherited—I think the mortgage payment was $120,000 A WEEK—he asked the Lord, “I have always been faithful with finances. I have led with little debt and usually with a surplus in savings. Why would you ask me to take over a church drowning in debt?” The soft gentle voice of God answered, “What is more Christian than paying another man’s debt?”

 

Isn’t that what Jesus did for us? We couldn’t pay the debt we owed, so he—Jesus— entered our story and paid the price for our sins. Then, as an act of worship, He allows us to enter in and serve other people with theirs’.

 

Our church is on a journey to pay off people’s debts. We think it is a godly reflection of what our Savior has done for us. For more on this subject visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgmE7lhOC04&t=1284s

 

 

Seasons of Life

I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, surrounded by the mountains of Western North Carolina. I love our mountains, streams, lakes, trees, and sunrises. But, one of the things I love most about where I live is that we enjoy four seasons. We have a brisk spring, mild summers, an unbelievably bright fall, and snowy winters. I love the rhythm of the seasons that we experience here.

 

This winter was different than other years. It came late and left early, literally lasting 6 weeks or so and then gave way to spring. Trees have budded, flowers are blooming, and landscape crews are out in force. All indications winter is gone. This is noteworthy. The calendar says winter but the weather says spring.

 

Seasons can suddenly change in our own lives as well. It is imperative that we know the season we are living in. Different seasons carry with them different rules, values and graces. For instance, you’d be foolish to plant in winter. Winter is for rest, gathering supplies and repairing equipment. You’d be foolish to try and harvest in the spring. Spring is for planting. It is the season of possibility and hope.

 

This year marks a big birthday for me. The calendar tells me I am entering the “fall” season of my life. But, I don’t feel like it at all. I feel like I am entering “spring”. I know what my chronological age says. But, I also know what “time” it is in my spirit. I tell you it is springtime! I am not preparing for winter. I am alive with possibility and hope and intend to sow more seed in this season than I have ever sown before! I would like to challenge you as I am myself and others; do not let your age dictate your season. Let God determine what season you are in and enjoy it thoroughly. For more on this subject visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsOfXZOQGtE&t=10s

 

Alligators Will Eat Your Lunch

I was with someone recently, discussing a problem that they are working through. I encouraged them to take it seriously and deal with the issue with urgency. As part of that conversation, I told him about a church service that I will never forget.

 

I was visiting another church to observe its culture and to interview their worship pastor. It just so happened to be Super Bowl Sunday and they were having a Sunday night service. If you’re going to have a service that competes against the Super Bowl, you are going to have to do something unusual and extraordinary. That is exactly what they did.

 

During the sermon, two men walked out on the platform carrying a two to three foot alligator. They set the alligator down; un-taped his mouth, and let him go. He hissed and lunged back and forth. The pastor continued to speak even though no one was listening. Everyone was watching the small alligator to see what it would do.

 

After several minutes, the men returned, grabbed the alligator and re-taped his mouth and carried it off the stage. The pastor regained the attention of the crowd while never explaining why he had loosed an alligator on stage. Then, suddenly, six guys walked out on stage with a six to eight foot alligator and set it down. They un-taped the alligator’s mouth and let it go. It immediately lunged towards the congregation. The two front rows quickly cleared as the people ran towards the back of the room. As before, the pastor continued speaking although no one was listening. About five minutes later, the six men came back and recaptured the alligator, re-taped its mouth and carried it off the stage.

 

Once the pastor regained everyone’s attention, he made this point. Little alligators can wound you, but they can’t kill you. Big alligators can. Deal with your sin and your problems when they are little. They may seem harmless when small, but don’t play with things that can grow and eventually destroy your life. I will never forget that service or that lesson. I hope you won’t either. For more on this subject visit, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsOfXZOQGtE

The Silent Killer

I have been going to the gym for over a year now. I really needed to start exercising and had received a free monthly pass in the mail and decided to try it. I joined a class that I really like and it has made this journey more enjoyable. I will admit that while I am very committed most weeks, there are some weeks I barely make it at all. Thank God I have an accountability partner or it would be even worse (Shout out to Dave).

 

I have found that if I miss a few days and then go back for a grueling workout, virtually every muscle in my body hurts. I am always amazed when this happens. How can I miss 4 days and my muscles act like I have never worked them at all? If you have ever worked out regularly, you know what I mean.

 

This is a principle that applies to our relationships as well. Sometimes we ignore others—unconsciously or consciously—and then find out its glitchy, irritable or even painful reconnecting.

 

The number one cause of death to a relationship isn’t the BIG disappointment or betrayal—though those do kill plenty of relationships—but when we simply stop intentionally investing in those we love. Think about all the “friends” you have had over the years that are no longer in your life. How many did you formally notify that they wouldn’t make the cut for the next season in your life? Now, how many of those just faded out of sight because they weren’t maintained?

 

A friend once said to me, “I am low maintenance, but, I am not NO MAINTENANCE”. Let’s not let the relationships we love and cherish die because we did not make them a priority investment. For more on this subject visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HS26NTJ9XGs