Archives For Walking with Jesus

I just got back from helping conduct a funeral.  The precious lady who had passed was only 57 years old.  You would think that the tone of the service would be tragic.  But it was anything but.  It was a celebration.

Leave A Legacy

Leave A Legacy

Of course the family did not want their loved one to die so young.  She had a husband, several children, and many grandkids who would have loved to have held on to her life for decades longer.  But it was still a celebration.

How was this possible?  It was because she lived her life well.  She lived in such a way as to leave a legacy.  Her children will miss her, but she taught them so well how to love and care for one another that it is obvious they will carry on her tradition of love and family.

Watching this family, in tears, show honor and gratitude for the years they had with their wife and mom was inspirational.  She had left a legacy that would continue to last well in the future.

Are you living your life in such a fashion that you will leave a positive legacy behind you?

Here are some thoughts on what any of us can do to leave a positive legacy…

  1. Make God central to all you do.  The most powerful personalities are people who have wrapped the entirety of their lives around faith in the Lord.  This is what being a follower of Jesus is all about.
  2. Love others and look to serve.  Jesus taught us to serve.  Our influence in people’s lives is founded on the value we add to their lives.  This is done when we serve their best interest.  Parents and grandparents have amazing opportunities to do this in the lives of their kids and grandkids.  But anyone can have this impact by just looking to add value to the people around them.
  3. Be an example, not an enabler.  This is an important principle for parents.  We want to teach our children, not just provide for them.  We want to give them all we can and serve them.  But even more importantly we need to teach them to do the things we do for them.  What was so amazing about this woman whose funeral I participated in today was that though she was the glue that held the family together, the family was not going to fall apart when she was gone.  She had done more than just care for her family.  She taught her husband and kids to do the same.  She expected them to do the same and they caught her vision.  We need to do more than just serve others, we need to teach and expect them to do the same.  Then when we are gone, they will carry on the legacy.
  4. Live honorably over a long period of time.  None of us are perfect.  We never will be.  But legacy is left when we are honorable over time, when we do good and live right over and over again.
  5. Treat others with dignity and respect.  This is what attracts people to us and builds influence.  You give this and people want to follow you, they want to be like you.
  6. Handle challenges with faith and courage.  This lady who we honored today had fought a five year battle with cancer.  The cancer ultimately took her body.  But it never defeated her spirit.  She chose courage, kindness, and grace through her journey of illness.  I am sure she was not perfect all the time, but she was consistent in her grace and courage.  This was powerful to her family and gave them courage.  It taught them to live well and to end well.  What an amazing legacy.

Live by these six principles and your life will have impact long after you are gone.

Question:  Do you know someone who has inspired you with the way they have lived life?  Who are they and what about them inspires you to live well?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Find God In Your Tears

August 7, 2014 — 6 Comments

I shed tears today.  The emotion hit me hard.  It had been building for awhile.  I felt sad, really sad.  But I also found myself very aware of the presence of God.

Finding God In Tears

Finding God In Tears

You might wonder what led me to tears.  Well our emotions are rarely simple.  I guess I had a variety of things that tugged on my heart.  I had ministered that day to someone whose mother suffered a terminal illness.  I was stressed about some deadlines.  I hadn’t slept much the night before.  I had a really good conversation with my oldest daughter’s boyfriend about what made my daughter special.  We had a really cool talk.

I had all of these things on my mind and then I thought of one more thing…my second child, my son.  He would be leaving for college in two weeks.  It hit me like a punch to the gut.  I froze… tried to hold back the tears, but I couldn’t.  I wept.

My son is not just my son, but also my friend.  His world is about to change as he launches from home.  But my world is also going to be altered forever.  The transition wrenches my heart.

This same feeling hit me two years ago when my daughter left for school.  I know it is normal.

And I guess that is the point.  Our tears are normal, even beautiful.

One of my favorite moments in Jesus’ ministry was when he came to the grieving family of Lazarus.  He saw Lazarus’ loved ones crying over the death of this man.  Those of you who know the story know that Jesus was going to raise this man from the dead.

Here he was, watching this family wail in grief over someone he was about to return to them.  He was going to fix the situation.  You would think that he would shout at them and say, “Hey, suck it up.  Stop your crying.  I am going to raise Lazarus.  You have nothing legitimate to cry about.”

But he didn’t say that.  Instead, do you know what he did?  He wept. (John 11:35)

He cried with them.  Knowing full well that he was going to raise this man, he first joined with them in their tears.

Wow!  Jesus sees fellowship in tears.  He sees the importance of feeling our feelings.  He even mingles his tears with ours.

So when I weep over a change in my life or family…God is with me in the tears.  I am not alone.  When I weep for joy…he is with me.  When I weep in pain…he is there.

God is with me in my emotions, in my feelings.

Maybe some of you are thinking right now…this blog is getting a little sappy.  Maybe so, but I think I am making a point that is salient to us all.

We all feel our emotions.  They play a huge part in our lives.  The point I am making is that God is with us in them, even when our emotions are about a pain that he knows he is going to someday deliver us from.  That is irrelevant.  What is relevant is that God is with us not only in the deliverance or the solution.  God is even with us in the sadness, the bewilderment, the frustration and anger before the solution is ever worked out.

God is there.

So today, when you feel your feelings (whatever they may be) know that God is with you in the midst of them.

Question:  How have you experienced God in the midst of tears?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Over the years I have seen many relationships ruptured because of careless communications in email, texting, and social media.  It is sad, because it is so avoidable.

Communicate Wisely

Communicate Wisely

It says in James 1:19-20, “My dear brothers, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

In other words, it is important to think before you communicate difficult things.

The technology that allows us to connect with more people in less time is amazing.  We have greater potential to meaningfully connect with others than ever before.  This is a good thing.  But if this powerful technology is used without wisdom it can be disastrous.

I have seen people scar relationships, wound reputations, spread confusion and misinformation, through unwise communications.  I have seen people lose their jobs because of things they chose to air out in a text or on social media.

So here are some words of wisdom that can help you avoid a texting, social media, or email communications disaster…

  1. Assume that anything you communicate electronically can go public.  Why?  Because it can go public, especially if you have communicated something hurtful.  Furthermore, it could go public by accident.  Someone can click the wrong button and now it has been sent to their entire address book.  You don’t want that if your communication is sensitive.  It is best that whatever you put in print is something that you would not be embarrassed to say in public.
  2. Don’t express anger or sarcasm in written electronic media.  This can be very confusing and very hurtful.  If you have a need to work through stress in a relationship, it is best if you will work it out in person.  Too many people think texting their mess will be easier, but often it only makes the problem more complex and harder to fix.
  3. Be cautious about using ALL CAPS in your communication.  This is not good.  All caps have the impact of screaming.  That may be how you feel in the moment, but do you really want it on a message file on someone’s phone?
  4. Don’t say hurtful or negative things about people through electronic media.  You are the one that ends up looking bad.  Furthermore, you hurt people’s reputations in unfair ways.  I have often seen someone unfairly trash someone on Facebook.  Then all that person’s friends jump on the bandwagon.  But most of those people know nothing of the situation.  What an awful mess.  Perceptions in people’s minds might never be corrected by the truth.
  5. Be cautious about sharing your most disturbed thoughts electronically.  Everybody has dark thoughts or emotions at times.  But to flesh that all out on Facebook is unwise.  Share these kinds of things with a trusted friend over the phone or in person.  But don’t text these things or place them for the world to see on Facebook.  Not everyone will understand your heart.
  6. Don’t slam your boss, co-workers, or subordinates in electronic media.  This will only show you to be immature and unfit for the job you have.  If you have a grievance with someone, go to them privately.  Never take it publically or push it out in electric media where it can go viral.  I have seen people lose their jobs over this one.
  7. Don’t send confidential information electronically unless you know it is secure.  I’ll let you determine what you think is secure.  But this should just be common sense.
  8. Always proof read your communications before you push “Send.”  Typos or Autocorrect functions can sometimes really get you in trouble.  I have developed the habit of reading every email, text, or post at least once before hitting “send.”  I don’t always catch every mistake, but I have avoided a lot of embarrassment over the years by doing this.  It takes more time, but it is worth it.
  9. When you need to communicate difficult things to someone that would violate some of the above principles, instead call and communicate over the phone or in person.  Sure this might be more difficult, but it is worth it.  Relationships matter.  They are the stuff of life.  It is worth working through issues in a healthy matter.
  10. When you are drafting an email, text, or post on social media, imagine that it will be posted on a billboard on a major thoroughfare in your town.  I know it probably won’t, but it is a good exercise to go through.  It can help you think twice about what you will say on electronic media.

Question:  What are some other things you can do to avoid the pitfalls of electronic communication?  Help the rest of us by sharing your ideas.  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

This past week I helped my mother move out of our homestead into a new house across town.  She had lived in that home for 36 years.  It was the house I most remember growing up in.  As we packed, waves of memories crashed against the shoreline of my mind.  There was a mix of sadness and excitement.

The Adventure Of Change

The Adventure Of Change

Saying goodbye to that house was a bit scary.  That was home for nearly four decades, not just for my mother, but for me as well.  Even though I did not live there anymore, it was a place of memories and created a sense of stability for me.  Seeing my mom make this change meant we had to say goodbye to some very familiar things.  That can be difficult.

But there was an excitement.  For her, this marked a new chapter of her life.  Breaking out of the long standing routines meant that her life has more adventure in it.  That is exciting, maybe unsettling at times, but definitely life expanding.

She will make new relationships, discover new places, experience new patterns and that is good.  Change does that for us.  In fact, it is only through change that these things can happen.  The truth is, if you are going to walk with God it will require change.

If your life is going to conform to the will of God, you must change and accept change as a necessary part of living out your faith.  Simply entering into a relationship with Christ and living a kingdom lifestyle necessitates that we allow God to do a radical work of transformation in our souls.  Jesus said, “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3)

You can’t become like Jesus without change.  Paul writes, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)  That means a lot of change:  change of loyalty, change of direction, change of values, and an overall change of worldview.

Change takes us out of our zones of comfort and catapults us into territories of uncertainty.  For some change is exciting, for others terrifying, and for most of us it is both.

Now life is about motion and growth.  Nothing can ever stay completely the same.  Relationships change, families change, children change, schools change, neighborhoods change, churches change, and businesses change.

There are two kinds of change…                      

  1. Unexpected change.  This might include an unexpected death of a loved one, the surprise loss of your job, or an unexpected transfer.
  2. Expected change.  But there are all kinds of changes that we should expect (though sometimes we stay in denial and that prevents us from properly preparing for such change).  This might include things like…
    1. When your five year old gets on the big bus for Kindergarten.
    2. When Dad gives his daughter away to be married.
    3. When you graduate from High School and prepare for college.
    4. When you move away to a new job that you applied for.
    5. When your department with the company is restructured because of growth or decline.

These changes are going to come.  You cannot stop them from happening.  You can choose to look at them as things to resist (but that might be futile).  Or you can choose to embrace them.

If we are going to fulfill God’s will in our living, we must do as the old song says and “turn and face the change.

Today, I encourage you to not be afraid of change, but to embrace it.  Granted not all change is good, and perhaps there are times to resist it.  But we must accept that change is inevitable and that it can be in our favor.

I find that if I accept change as normal, new opportunities present themselves to me.  I am the Pastor of my church.  With every change our congregation has experienced, I have found new people I get to reach out to and I find that I get to stretch my abilities and learn new skills.

I am also a Professor at Liberty University.  The school has doubled in size in less than half a decade.  With that kind of growth, organizational changes are constant.  I have to learn new skills all the time.  There are lots of reorganizations.  That can produce anxiety, but I have found that if I embrace the change and not complain, the changes give me greater opportunities to prepare more students for their futures.

Question:  What about your life?  Are there some changes you are facing?  How do you feel about them?  Are there opportunities in the change that can expand your horizons, sharpen your skills, and most of all stretch your faith?  Tell us about how change is expanding your world.  You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Sometimes I feel like I have a dark cloud over my head.  I don’t feel like this all of the time, but some days, or even weeks, I can feel that way.  I’m not sure if you call it depression or not, but I suppose it can be a mild form of a depressed state.

Feeling A Cloud Over Your Head

Feeling A Cloud Over Your Head

It is not something that keeps me from working or taking care of my family.  But it is something that I sometimes feel as I am living out my day.

I can go weeks and weeks without feeling this way, but then sometimes I will for a period of time.  Often it can be explained as being the result of stressful circumstances, fatigue, or disappointments.  But sometimes I can feel it even when an honest evaluation of my situation proves that I am a blessed man with little to complain about.

I know I am not alone in this.  Everybody, even the most exuberant among us, have days when we feel down.  It is normal.

So what do you do when you feel down for a period of time?  Some people hide in a room and turn out the lights.  They call in sick, get negative on social media, and retreat into an emotional hole.  This is rarely a good idea.

Here are twelve things you can do to get through a time when you feel a shadowy cloud over your life…

  1. Pray:  Often when we feel down, prayer and time with God in the scriptures is the first thing to go.  But consider God’s Word that say, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)  Maybe you don’t feel like praying, but you need to do so.  You need to press into the Lord.
  2. Dare to believe:  Remember, you don’t feel great.  That blasted cloud.  But dare to believe that, regardless of how you feel, God really does care for you.  Cast “all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)  The more I learn about dealing with my dark cloud the more I have faith in the Lord.  I say, “Lord I feel that cloud today.  Nothing feels as good as it should.  But one thing I know.  You care for me whether I feel like you do or not.  My feelings don’t change the fact of your love for me.”  I cannot tell you how important this kind of faith is to your spiritual and emotional health.
  3. Rest:  I said before that it is not a great idea to hide in some dark room when you are down.  But it is true that sometimes a little rest in a dark room could be good.  Many times our emotional state is the result of fatigue.  Sometimes the cloud is an indicator that your systems are depleted and it is time to slow down for a spell.  You don’t want to languish there, but it is sometimes a very good thing to get some extra rest to rejuvenate.
  4. Go for a walk outside:  Get out of the house or the office and walk outside.  Sometimes the fresh air, the more expansive perspective is a great help to seeing the world in a fuller and more positive light.  Furthermore, it gets your body moving, blood flowing, and this results in more oxygen to your brain and often a much more resourceful state of mind.  Sometimes listening to upbeat music as you walk can lift the spirit.
  5. Look up:  When you are down, you tend to look down.  Force yourself to look up.  Go outside and look into the sky.  Maybe even climb a hill, or go to an upper floor of a building and look from a higher elevation.  Just the perspective change can let you know that the world is bigger than your circumstances or challenges.  Looking down depresses.  Looking up lifts you to fresh dimensions of hope.
  6. Force a resourceful posture:  God made our bodies and minds to work together.  When you feel down, your shoulders tend to slump.  You often curve your back and drop your chin.  Choose instead to sit up straight, throw your shoulders back, lift your chin and choose a smile.  Some people say this is when you “fake it until you make it.”  I don’t think it is faking it.  I simply think you are choosing a better path.  Try this out.  You will be surprised with how much power you can have over your own mood, just with posture.
  7. Don’t isolate:  I can’t stress this enough.  People who are depressed usually flee from interaction with others.  Yet that isolation only fuels the depression.  Be a part of a group.  This is why our regular, weekly, involvement in church is so important.  We were never meant to do life alone.  You might not always feel like being with people, and it is ok to be alone sometimes, but it is vital that we have regular and positive relationship with others.
  8. Serve Someone Else:  Get out of yourself and get your focus off yourself.  Orbiting around your cloud only stirs up the cloud and makes it look bigger.  It is an excessive focus on yourself.  Look at someone else’s need and try to meet it in some way.  This can make such a difference.
  9. Eat well:  When you are down you can crave sugars, or mood altering drugs/alcohol.  Don’t do that.  Eat plenty of vegetables, healthy proteins, fruit, and whole grains.  In a physical sense, you really are what you eat.  And a healthy body can be a resourceful home for a vibrant soul.
  10. Exercise rigorously and regularly:  It really is a good idea to have a routine exercise plan you live out.  You must find what works for you and do it.
  11. Embrace the cloud:  This is important.  Accept that sometimes you are going to feel like you are under the cloud.  Sometimes you will do these twelve things and still feel the cloud for a while.  Don’t let yourself be discouraged by that.  Learn to live with a mood on occasions.  Sometimes I feel that cloud and I say to God, “Lord I feel the cloud today.  I am going to get up anyway, pray, believe, relate to others.  Help me move forward despite the cloud and not be defined by the cloud’s shadow.”
  12. Ask yourself what you can learn about yourself during this time:  Sometimes the down times, when you are desperate for God’s strength and wisdom, can be the times of greatest learning.  These are the times when you learn your limits and God’s limitlessness.  Ask the Lord to teach you during these times.

Let me say, that there are some people for whom the cloud is much more serious.  There are levels of depression that can be much more severe than what I have described here.  For such people, seeking godly professional help can be very important.  No one should ever be ashamed to get the kind of medical and spiritual counsel they need to get through a severe season of depression.  If I am describing you, I encourage you to seek help.  There are people that can assist you in your recovery from crippling depression.

Question:  What are things that help you get through a down time?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.


What makes a Bible verse someone’s favorite?  It is typically because there has been a moment or moments in their life where that passage of God’s Word met a need at a very deep level.  It may have been a time of deep pain, or a moment of life transition, or perhaps it was shared with them by a very special person.

Favorite Bible Verses

Favorite Bible Verses

John 3:16 is special to me because it reminds me of what Christ did to save my soul and bring me to God…

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Romans 8:28 is powerful to me for it has helped me hold onto hope knowing that even when life doesn’t make sense (and sometimes, for me , it doesn’t seem to), God can make sense out of my life…

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I love John 4:24 because my Grandfather on my Dad’s side once shared that verse with me.  I don’t remember everything about that conversation, but I remember his heartfelt passion when he spoke.  Every time I read or hear this passage, I see his face.  He has been dead for 16 years, but he still is on my mind each time I think of this statement of Jesus…

“God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

I have scores and scores of favorite verses, passages of scripture that have become mile markers in my spiritual journey.  I suspect that before my life is over I will have many more such special verses.  As the Word of God encounters me in the ups and downs of life I will cherish different parts of Scripture that speak to me, shape my views, and challenge me to higher heights.

I look forward to what God will say to me next.

One thing I have learned is this…For you to have favorite Bible verses you have to be a student of the Bible.  You need to do the following…

  1. Read the Bible.  Do it consistently.  Do it expectantly.
  2. Believe the Bible.  Trust that God knows what he is doing and follow what he says in his Word.
  3. Apply the Bible.  As the tread of our lives grips hold of the road of Scripture, let us follow the path it lays before us.  Let’s obey its commands, believe its promises, adopt its views, and heed its warnings.  When we do we see that his word is alive in us and that God is truly guiding.

Question:  What about you?  Do you have some favorite verses?  If so would you share them with us?  You never know, your verse just might become our favorite too.  You can leave a comment by clicking here.


There are great benefits to a long kept commitment.

Commitments Rewards

Commitments Rewards

Today just happens to be my 24th Wedding Anniversary.  My wife, Stefanie, and I have been committed to each other for a long time and have promised to be so for the rest of our lives.

The other day we went on a mini-vacation to celebrate.  Prior to going on our trip I gave my wife and I some homework.  I made each of us a little book where each page represented a year of our marriage.  I made her book with the even years (ie:  1990, 1992, 1994, etc…) and my book with the odd years (1991, 1993, you get the picture).  We were each to write all the memories we could remember about that particular year of our lives together.  I thought it would be hard to do, but the pages were small and I was amazed that on most years I could fill the page.

When we went on our trip, every few hours we would get out our books and share a few of our memories.  The memories were about our starting out together, having kids, watching them grow, enduring hard times, surgeries, losses, victories, challenges.  We have been together now over half of our lives.  We learned that we have shared a lot together.

It hasn’t all been great.  We have not always been easy on each other.  To add to the mix I am in the ministry and often the demands on me and my family are relentless.  That has tested our metal.  Not to mention having four kids.  Lots of drama there.

Sometimes we have lost sight of each other.  But through it all there has been one constant.  We have kept our commitment to stay together, to keep on supporting each other and our family.  We have done it when it was easy (which isn’t very often).  We have done it when it was grueling and the rewards for sticking it out seemed non-existent.

I can remember one time in our early years of marriage where it had become hard.  We had been under stress for a long time and had begun to lose touch with each other.  The relationship was no longer fun.  If fact it was painful.  We were struggling to have hope.

During that dark time I remember each of us coming to the other and saying, “I don’t like this.  I don’t even think it will get any better.  But I made a commitment to you and to God and I will not back down from it.  Even if we are miserable for the rest of our lives I am sticking it out in this marriage.

I know, that isn’t very romantic.  Or isn’t it?

You see if we had not exhibited that commitment through the toughest times some two decades ago, we would not have been able to celebrate 24 years of family life just a few days ago.  The fact is that it has not been all misery.  If fact it has been the opposite.  We have supported each other, raised four amazing children, and built a meaningful ministry to a lot of people.  We love each other.

But we would have not known those good years if we hadn’t stuck it out even when we didn’t feel the hope.

You see, hope was there, we just couldn’t see it.  But that was ok, because we had commitment.  Commitment can carry you through the valleys of hopelessness and take you to new mountains of hope in the future.

That is what our commitment has done for us and I am so very thankful to God that it has.

The benefits of commitment are rich and wonderful, though they are hard won.

This post is dedicated to my beautiful bride of the last 24 years.  Thank you for your commitment.  May we continue to celebrate many more years of milestones for many decades to come.  I love you!

Question:  In this post I have spoken of the benefits of commitment in marriage.  Can you think of other relationships where commitment pays off?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

In recent days I have come to believe that the church is in need of revival.  Not only do I believe the church in general is in such need, but I believe my own local congregation is in such need.  Why?  It is because of the disease of spiritual dullness.

Revival is the Cure

Revival is the Cure

What is spiritual dullness?  Let me explain.  In Mark Shaw’s book, 10 Great Ideas from Church History, the author points to the Puritan Minister, Jonathan Edwards, for an understanding of when revival is the great need.

Edwards taught that spiritual dullness grips a Christian and even a church “when the realities of God and his gospel grow so dim, and unbelief and worldly affections so strong, that the heart of the church wanders to the lusts and rivalries of a secularized mind.”[1]

Dullness can be seen when Christians are in open sin for which they have no intention of repenting.  When believers cherish various vices or engage in unbiblical sexual relationships, pursue dishonest gain, participate in gossip, or transgress into thievery it is evidence that dullness has taken root.

This condition can also be seen when believers are engaged in the ritual and routines of religion without engaging their heart and their passions toward God.  How many of our churches are filled with people who mouth the words of hymns and prayers, but only out of habit with no heart or earnestness.  This too is an indication that dullness has invaded like a virus.

This isn’t complex.  When we drift from a surrendered, loving, and dependent relationship with God we are in need of revival.

Revival is the cure for spiritual dullness.

So what is revival and how do we experience it?


Revival is returning to God.  It is repenting of the sin that caused you to drift from a totally surrendered relationship with him.  It is re-establishing an all encompassing relationship with the Lord through Jesus Christ.  It is getting back to the basics of scripture, prayer, and obedience to God.

Have you drifted?  Have you lost your first love for the God who loves you enough to send Christ to die for your sins? (Revelation 2:4)  Is it not time to confess your sin and re-surrender your entire life to God?

If so, why not right now come to Father God?

  1. Acknowledge that he has authority over your life and that he wants to pour his life into yours.
  2. Admit that you have sinned pushing God to the margin of your life.
  3. Turn from that sin and trust in the forgiveness of God made possible because of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross.
  4. Surrender to God’s lordship and commit to being obedient to his commands.
  5. Give to him all that you are and everything you have.

Spiritual dullness is a grave spiritual disease, but revival (a returning to God and his ways) is the cure.

Challenge:  Come to God thoroughly repenting of sins that have caused you to drift and surrender afresh to the ways and commands of Christ.

Question:  What are indications you have seen which give evidence of spiritual dullness?  How do you suggest one pursues revival in their personal life and the life of their local congregation?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

[1] Mark Shaw, 10 Great Ideas from Church History: A Decision-Maker’s Guide to Shaping Your Church, IVP Books, Downers Grove, Illinois, p. 116.

Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)  To follow Jesus, to live his prevailing life, we must deny ourselves.  How does the practice of self denial lead to a life that prevails?

I belong to God!

I belong to God!

We have gotten away from the talk of “self denial” in contemporary Christianity.  For many the term drudges up killjoy images of punishing the body or legalistic admonitions to live a life of morose austerity.  But the kind of self denial Jesus speaks about is something more fundamental.

When Jesus speaks of self denial he is speaking about the issue of ownership.  When you declare a life of self denial, you are professing that you do not have authority over your life, but another does.

For the follower of Christ it means that…

  1. We do not own ourselves, our lives, or our directions.
  2. We belong to God and are yielded to his will and plan.

I am currently teaching a seminary class on leadership.  We are studying many of history’s most notable church leaders.  In that study I came across a quote from the Protestant Reformer, John Calvin.  He said,..

We are not our own:  let not our reason and will, therefore, sway our plans and deeds.  We are not our own: let us not see it as our goal to seek what is expedient for us according to the flesh.  We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us therefore forget ourselves and all that is ours.[1]

By itself this idea might seem bleak, as if we are relinquishing life.  But there is more to the story that makes this idea rich and marvelous.  We are not only denying ownership of our lives, we are declaring that…

We belong to God!

We belong to the God who loves us enough to send his Son Jesus, to die on the cross atoning for our sin.  We belong to the God who created us for his glory and for loving fellowship in his eternal presence.  We belong to the God who gives us life that prevails.  Calvin further states…

We are God’s: let us therefore live for him and die for him.  We are God’s: let all the parts of our life accordingly strive toward him as our only lawful goal.  O, how much has that man profited who, having been taught that he is not his own, has taken away dominion and rule from his own reason that he may yield it to God.[2]

When we deny ourselves and surrender to the ownership of God, our lives become open to all that God has for us.  Yielded to him, we become his instruments, doing his bidding, living a divine adventure that we could never know if we doggedly insisted on being the captain of our own pitiful plans.

So as the Apostle Paul urged, “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1)

Do you want to live the prevailing life?  Then lose your life to God’s ownership.  Be willing to surrender your present and your future to whatever God will call you to do.

Don’t be afraid!  He will stretch you, challenge you, and push you for sure.  He will call you into things you never thought you could handle.  He will lead you to trust him with your tomorrow in ways you thought you could never trust anyone.

But you will experience him and his power.  You will know him in his love.  You will find that in him your life prevails no matter what the circumstances.

Yes, self denial (the kind Jesus speaks of) opens the door to God’s prevailing life!

Question:  What are ways you experience God more fully when you surrender to his ownership over your life and circumstances?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.


[1] Mark Shaw, 10 Great Ideas from Church History, IVP Books, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1997, pp. 50-51.

[2] Ibid, p. 51.

This week I led my staff in a protracted time of praying for personal revival.  We gathered on a Monday morning in our Sanctuary and just began pouring our hearts out to God, seeking his fresh wind and fresh fire.  This is where revival begins…on our knees reaching for a fresh touch from the Lord.

Pray for Your Revival

Pray for Your Revival

The truth is believers often need to be re-awakened to a fresh experience of the Lord.  Often we can allow the challenges and distractions of this world to crowd and stifle our passion for Christ.  This is deadly to our spiritual vitality and Christian effectiveness.

When we allow this drift, it is time we seek revival.

The good news is this…

God is ready and willing to answer our prayers for revival.  2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

When it comes to seeking a personal revival…If we will approach God rightly, he will respond to us generously.  Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

To Seek Personal Revival You Must Approach God Rightly…

  1. We must humble ourselves.  If you have accepted Christ as Savior and Lord, then you are his, called by his name.  You represent the Lord and he lays claim to your life.  When you acknowledge this and “humble” yourself, you are acknowledging his lordship over your soul.  We get off track with God when we are prideful and determined to control our own destiny rather than yield to the expressed will of the Lord.  When we humble ourselves again before God our own revival begins.  No longer are we running from God or edging him out.  Now we are submitting to his authority.
  2. We must pray.  Here is where we expressly turn to God.  Revival is turning to God and this is done in prayer.  Call upon him.  Pour out your heart to him.  Express your need of him.
  3. We must seek God’s face.  What does this mean?  To seek his face is to seek to know and experience his character.  When you fall in love with someone you are prone to gaze into their face.  You want to know their thoughts and expressions.  You want to know what pleases them and what bothers them.  You learn this by observing their face.   Seeking God’s face means you give your all to getting closer to God.  Simple surface level experience of God is no longer enough for you.  You want more.  Don’t settle for inch deep faith, dive deep into the knowledge and love of God.
  4. We must turn from sin.  You cannot have a revival with God if there is the willful continuance of sin in your life.  You must turn from your sin.  Sinning against God drives you from him.  That is the problem.  To experience his refreshing you must turn from that which is driving you away from right fellowship with the Lord.  Turn away from the lies, from the greed, from the pride, from the bitterness, from the lustfulness, from the deception.  Turn away from spiritual apathy and a contentment with a weak commitment to God.  Turn away from these things and turn to him.

When You Rightly Seek Revival, God Responds…

How?  The Bible says he will hear your plea, forgive your sins, and heal your life.  You see God is ready and waiting to respond.  In fact he is doing more than that.  He is prompting you, even now, to pursue him afresh.

It is time to stop living a compromised or diminished spiritual life.  Get on your knees today and turn your life over to him afresh and a new.

Question:  What are signs in your life that God is calling you back to himself?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.