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

 

 

 

 

Stepping Out From the Shadows

You may be reading this as a blog, but I am writing it as a declaration. I am putting a stake in the ground right here—right now; sealing a turning point moment with this writing. I hope it inspires you to do the same. Every dream demands a response. This is my first step.

 

Recently, I wrote a personal mission statement. It included my mission, my vision, what I am called to do, and whom I am called to serve. It was invigorating to find this kind of clarity. Knowing who I am—and who I am not—has brought a dose of energy and excitement that I have lacked for years. I used the book, “The Path” by Laurie Beth Jones as a guide. It gave me excellent exercises and examples of how to hone down my personal experiences and desires into a clear and unique vision for my life.

 

After walking through the exercises of writing a mission statement, Laurie then explains “making yourself visible”. She states that the Laws of Attraction that exist in creation rely on visibility. Male bullfrogs croak loudly. Male Peacocks show off their plume. They step out of the shadows and announce to the world, “I am here”. Obviously, not everyone is attracted to this announcement; it will actually repel some. But, your bold step out of the shadows will also call out those that were destined to journey with you.

 

So, I am clear on who I am. I am clear on why I am here. I am clear on whom I was created to serve. Today, I step out of the shadows and make myself visible! I hope you will do the same. For more on this subject visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZ_H4iIMHg8&t=1045s

 

What are You Holding Out of the Water?

Take a moment and try to recollect your history classes—do you remember who Charlemagne was? Yes, that’s right—he lead a people known as the Franks during the Middle Ages and was one of the great conquerors of Europe. He ruled much of France, Germany, and the Low Countries. Not only did he expand his kingdom but he did so in the name of the Lord and mandated that his soldiers be baptized into the church. In several incidents, whole armies were plunged into a river so that they became God’s servants before they went into battle. But, there was one practice about Charlemagne’s baptism that was different than the way others have done it. He allowed his soldiers to hold their sword out of the water so they were free to be as “un-Christian” with that hand (and sword) as they desired.

 

Fast forward to the present day. I do not know of one pastor or priest that would willingly allow a candidate for baptism to do such a thing. Unfortunately, it still happens all the time, it just happens invisibly in the heart of the believer. Baptism is one of the outward signs of an inward covenant between God and us. A covenant is when one says to God that you exchange all you are, for all He is. How abhorrent it must seem to God when He open-handedly died on the cross for us, yet we hold something out of the water, un-surrendered to Him.

 

In the midst of teaching a sermon series on Generosity, I became cognizant of how many Christians say God is first in their lives, yet hold their wallets up out of the water. I don’t want you to think I desire their money, or them to give to anything I am leading. I want them to know the freedom that comes in receiving everything God has for them from where He is leading.

 

The Bible makes this statement:

 

Matthew 6: 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. NKJV

 

Mammon is the demi-god (god like, but not God) of self-sufficiency—a worldly system meant to replace our need of God. The Bible clearly says we can’t serve this god of self-sufficiency and Jesus. It has to be one or the other. So, when we get baptized and receive EVERYTHING that God has for us, but then hold back in any area—like our wallet—we limit the relationship God wants to have with us, a relationship where He is our all in all.

 

Maybe you surrendered your wallet but held up out of the water your spouse, kids, or career? I want to say, “It just isn’t worth it”. Whatever you are holding on to (or is holding on to you) isn’t as fulfilling as what He wants to exchange you forit! For more on this subject please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slyS_0SkeNQ

 

Could One Thought Change Your Life?

While I acknowledge reading scripture slowly and meditating upon it has its benefits, I have found reading large chunks of scripture—roughly 10 to 20 chapters a day—helpful in getting an overall perspective of the Word.

 

As I come upon a story I have read dozens of times, a question will pop in my head—this is one of the ways that God speaks to me—He makes me very curious about something so I will dig, then He shows me something new and exciting.

 

Here is an example;

 

Mark 5: 25-29 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction.  NKJV

 

She said, “If only I can touch the hem of His garments I will be healed”. Where did she get that thought? She didn’t get it from the Torah. She didn’t learn that from the Prophets. No Rabbi was teaching that in the synagogues. She had a Divine God thought that forever changed her life.

 

There’s more. In the next chapter, Jesus is travelling to other villages and the people began approaching Jesus in a brand new way. Here it is:

 

Mark 6: 56 Wherever He entered into villages, cities, or in the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well. NKJV

 

In Mark chapter 5 the woman is healed because of this one thought. Others heard about it, and in Mark chapter 6 a movement is started.

 

Get alone with God. In the quiet and rest, take time to let the Lord speak to you. Let God give you a thought that will change your life and start a movement! For more on this subject visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrCtz58vY5Q.

 

 

Does God Love Us All The Same?

It took me a long time to grasp the notion that God loved and enjoyed me, and that He derived a level of pleasure in my existence. I had always thought that He was disappointed and frustrated with me. At best, I surmised, He tolerated me. But, over time, He wore me down and convinced me of His overwhelming love for me. The people that are part of my daily life have heard me say more than a few times, “I am God’s favorite, He loves me the most!” Though in my thinking, we were all tied for first. After all, God loved us all the same.

 

I was recently challenged on that opinion while on a recent ministry trip to Greece. My friend, Gail Stathis, had been discussing this subject the week before I arrived and it was fresh in everyone’s mind. So, when I came along and said that God loves all of us the same, it provoked a challenging conversation about the love of God.

 

Gail had stated that God does not love all of us equally. Equal denotes that God’s love can be measured. And, for those of us that have experienced His love, we know that His love is limitless. Her point was this, “God does not love each of us the same—He loves each of us uniquely.” I must admit, something in my spirit resonated with that thought.

 

Now while this conversation was turning over in my mind, I just happened to be reading through the gospels as part of my daily Bible reading plan. Just so you know, I do not believe in coincidences. Someone once said, “Coincidences are when God decides to remain anonymous.” I like that. I read the passage where Jesus feeds the 5,000 and I saw something I have never seen before. It says, “They all ate until they were all filled.” Each of us has a different level at which we feel full. I know I eat more than my wife Tina eats. Here was an unlimited supply of food—but each person took from that supply what he or she needed to be full.

 

I think God’s love is like that. Each of us has a different capacity to receive His love and He gives His limitless love to us according to our unique capacity to receive it.

 

This thought has changed my mind set. I now hunger for and desire to expand my ability to receive more of His love. For more on this subject, go to https://www.youtube.com/user/NCCVideosClyde

 

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