Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Imagine that you were Satan and you could see the potential in people's lives.  What would you do to stop them from becoming all God meant for them to be?  Would you...

A.  Prey on their weaknesses
B.  Lie to them
C.  Inflate their ego until they depended on their own strength
D.  Throw obstacles in their way
E.  Debilitate them
F.  Intimidate them until they were fearful
G.  Bring disunity among them
H.  All of the above

And when would you try to stop their understanding of the power of God in them?
A.  At birth
B.  During the innocence of childhood
C.  When God came to live in them
D.  During the troubled teenage years
E.  Throughout their lives
F.  When they became more powerful
G.  When they developed strong, godly relationships
H.  All of the above

Satan certainly knows God's power--better than we do, actually!  And he understands what is available to us when we make Jesus the Lord of our lives.  He doesn't want us affecting the world around us.  If we were Superman, Satan would place kryptonite everywhere we went to make us powerless...and Superman's power is nothing compared to God's power in us.  I want to share my recent situation to help you understand how I discerned Satan's strategy.

I was very discouraged.  I'd become introspective, as I am prone to do, and was asking questions like, "Is my ministry effective?  Are people being significantly changed because of my ministry?  Does what I do really matter?"  I was even asking the wrong questions.  I was so tired and vulnerable, my guard wasn't up to keep the enemy from taking me to the pit of despair.  I was convinced there was no fruit in what I was doing.

At the same time, a good friend was walking through something so BIG and so traumatic that I stepped in to encourage her--even in my sorry state. In that moment, it was so easy to see what Satan was doing to her.  You see--she's a very powerful woman and she was asked not to attend a meeting--a meeting which she should have attended and had every right to attend.  I told her, "It's actually a compliment from the Enemy.  You're too powerful!!  You change the atmosphere when you walk in a room and you command the situation.  Now take that info and use it wisely--change the atmosphere with the authority of the kingdom of God!"  And she did.  Later, she told me that she'd been intimidated until she saw the truth--and the truth set her free.  She walked into that meeting with peace, confidence, and the power of God.  And God did amazing things in her situation!!

What I told my friend became a two-edged sword God used to pierce my heart about my own situation.  And I saw this truth:  SATAN FEARS OUR POTENTIAL.  He fears us understanding and unleashing the power of God which is in us.  So he's constantly on the offense trying to destroy us, our faith, and the promise of God in us.  I GOT IT!   Satan was using a different strategy on me (discouragement) than he'd used on my friend (intimidation).  He was trying to stop what I was doing for the very same reason--I WAS changing the atmosphere.  I was unleashing the power of God in me by doing the very things He'd created me to do--by fulfilling the purpose He'd given me.  It wasn't through big things--it was through every-day-things.  I'd been waking up every morning and asking, "What's right in front of me that I can do today to bring the kingdom of God to earth--to love, encourage, bring life, and share Jesus?"  THAT'S what Satan wants to stop--he wants to stop us from bringing the kingdom of God to earth.  ("Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven...")

Examine your life.  What is Satan doing to stop you from changing the atmosphere around you?  Maybe what you're walking through is nothing but the enemy's "kryptonite" to stop you from bringing the kingdom of God to earth.  Say NO to the enemy!  And press in to TRUTH!!  DO kingdom work--love, encourage, bring life, and share Jesus-in the way God created YOU to do it!

Unleash the power of God in you--
change the atmosphere around you!  
God wants to 
with what He does!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Be Kind

You've surely heard some of these sayings:

  • "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you."  
  • "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."  
  • "Be ye kind one to another."  
  • "Being kind is more important than being right."

Why kindness?  I believe our culture is moving in a troubling direction.  With the accelerated use of social media, people are feeling freer and freer to voice their tactless opinions as they hide behind their phones or laptops.  It's so much easier to be blunt and say what you think when you know you won't have a face-to-face encounter.  And if someone disagrees with you--or even verbally assaults you--you can remove them from your account with no remorse because, more-than-likely, you'll never see them again.  You feel safe...and right.

When Zach was about 6-years-old (which means I was in my early 30's), I asked him if he wanted to go to Walmart with me.  He asked why I was going (surely wondering if there was a prize involved).  I told him I had to take some things back to the store.  He quickly said, "NO!  I don't want to go with you!"  His reply was so quick, so curt, and so emphatic, that I asked him why he didn't want to go.  I'll never forget his reply.  He said, "Because you're mean when you take things back to the store."  Wow!!  What an explosion of truth from the mouth of a child--my child!  I had to stop and examine my life.  Was I mean?  Probably.  I think I actually approached people with defensiveness.  I wanted to be in control of a situation to avoid rejection or disapproval--which I constantly expected.  I wanted needed to be right.  It became a defining moment in my life.  I purposed I would never intentionally be mean again and I began pursuing kindness.

When you feel right, you come off as judgmental, accusatory, condemning, self-righteous, egotistical, and snobbish.  And when you approach people with that attitude, they're going to be defensive and you'll never achieve your objective.  I didn't realize it, but my mean attitude was getting me what I feared most--rejection.  What a cycle!  I learned that I could be right...or I could have a relationship.   Not both.

Kindness changes everything.  EVERYTHING!  You become more approachable--you even look kind.  People are more willing to listen to you.  You're more apt to get kindness in return.  And people want to be around you--kindness promotes relationships!

Looking back, I realize God had to break through some pretty stubborn resistance in my life and He knew His most powerful and effective tool would be one of my kids.  It was like running head-long into a mirror and seeing my heart the way God saw it.  But in His incredible grace, He offered me the chance to change and grow and I determinedly drew a line in the sand.  The only way I could have any lasting change in my life was through the power of the Holy Spirit.  I had to let Him have control and allow Him to transform me.  Becoming kind was a process.  But fruit-growing always is.

Be kind.  Teach your children kindness by instructing them but especially with your example.  They're watching...I have concrete evidence!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Finding Fame

It seems everyone is looking for their 15 minutes of fame.  YouTube...Facebook...Selfies...Instagram...Twitter are all helping to promote our fame.  We're all looking for that one catch phrase or creating that one video which will have millions of people "liking" our post or possibly even landing us on Ellen's show.  Christians aren't immune.  It's almost as old as Methusela to want to become famous!  Actually, it dates back to Noah...at least.

 After the flood, God told Noah and his family to spread out across the earth, repopulate the earth, and subdue it.  Ol' Noah's clan got to the land of Shinar (about a 30 day journey) and thought it was a good place to stop and build a tower to the sky to "make a name for themselves!"  And God actually said, "Will you look at that! The people are all together on this. With one language they are able to start this kind of project. This is only the beginning of what they will do. Soon they will think they can accomplish anything and everything on their own.  Let’s go down and break this up! If We confuse their language, they won’t be able to understand each other’s words.  This is how the Eternal scattered people from Shinar all across the surface of the earth."  (Genesis 11:6-8, The Voice)

1. They were disobeying God.  He'd said "spread out" and they stopped. He had a plan in their being scattered--He wanted the whole earth filled with His representatives.
2. They were doing what they did for themselves.  They wanted to make a name for themselves.  Even Jesus said, "If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me."
3. They were in unity.  Just because there's unity, doesn't make it a great idea!  They'd found something they could "accomplish on their own."  God wants us submitted to Him--not doing our own thing.
4. There was already greatness in their names--they didn't have to make a name for themselves!  And they understood what their name meant because of the descriptiveness of their language.  But they were searching for their identity and their purpose in the wrong place and in the wrong way.

When we understand who we are, our identity, and the purpose for which God has created us, it gives us a focus for how God wants to use us in the kingdom of God.  And it also answers the "why!"  Why do we do the things we do?  The "why" is to glorify God and to lift up the name of Jesus through the very things He's put inside of us.  Jesus' name is above every name and we should delight to exalt his name.  When we spend time exalting Jesus' name, it's not so important to become famous.

But...on the flip-side, God has created us in His image.  He's made us into a complex being which reflects His nature and character.  We become a representative of Him.  It's kind of like when a baby is born and we say, "Oh!  He's the spitting image of his daddy!"  We're the spitting image of our Father...at least an aspect of Him.  Just like no two children from the same daddy are exactly like him--but each have characteristics of him.  When we understand who we are and what we were created to do, we can then break open the essence of who we are in praise to the One who created us.  Just like when Mary broke open the alabaster bottle of perfume to anoint Jesus and it expanded--when we break open the essence of who God created us to be as an expression of worship to Him, it expands.  Who we are expands.  Our purpose expands.  And the fragrance of our worship fills the room.

Don't spend time creating skyscrapers to reach the sky to make a name for yourself (or any other number of things you can do on your own)...find out who you are.  Worship God with who you are.  Submit to Him and watch God expand the essence of YOU.  It's a work of transformation accomplished by the Spirit of God.  That expansion and transformation beats fame anytime!

II Corinthians 3:18
Now all of us, with our faces unveiled, reflect the glory of the Lord as if we are mirrors; and so we are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Happy Birthday, Andy!

Today is Andy's birthday!!  (And the birthday of his twin brother, Phil...and his uncle...and his cousin...)  September 8th is a big deal around here!  
As I was going through my photos recently, I started laughing.  In almost every photo of Andy, he's with a crowd of people---a different crowd of people (as you can see below).  It took me awhile to figure it out, but it was early in our marriage when I realized Andy was happiest in a crowd of people.  He was created for ministry!  Andy loves LIFE and he loves PEOPLE!  And it's been a whole lot of fun doing life with this guy. (And sometimes exhausting!  And sometimes crowded...)  
Happy Birthday, Babe!!