The Word

The WordThe Bible is the Word of God. It is not a self-help book. It is not a book written and re-written by a bunch of random people over many centuries. It is inspired by God Himself, and is the  primary tool He uses to change us.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. – Hebrews 4:12

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

I can’t say it in enough. I can’t stress it enough. You have to figure out a way to get into the Word. You have to!

  • Read it. Regularly.
  • Listen to it. There are 1,001 ways you can listen to it these days.
  • Study it. Buy a study Bible and learn from others.
  • Write in it. Take a pen and underline, circle, and jot notes in it.
  • Believe it. It is true. All of it. Don’t pick and choose what you want to believe.
  • Pray it. Turn it into a prayer for yourself or the people around you.
  • Memorize it. Store it inside so you have it with all the time.
  • Meditate on it. Spend time rolling it over in your mind.
  • Journal about it. Write down what hits you or confuses you or inspires you.
  • Wrestle with it. Argue with God over His Word. It’s ok, He can handle it.
  • Obey it. Obedience is the ultimate evidence that you believe it.

I know it can be difficult to do get in the Word, stay in the Word, and get something out of the Word. So here are a few suggestions that might help.

  • Pick a different translation. If you have trouble understanding what you are reading, pick a different translation that makes more sense to you.
  • Surrender. Before, during, and after you read it, make the decision that you will respond to what you read.
  • Pray. Before you start reading, pray for God to move you through His Word.

However and whenever you can, get into the Word so the Word can get into you.

Praying Scripture

Psalm 91.9-12Sometimes I just don’t know how to pray for people. Sometimes I get tired of praying the same thing for the same people over and over again. Sometimes my prayers can get dry, boring, and monotonous. Not good.

If that ever happens to you, let me give you a simple way to keep the soul exercise of prayer fresh and real and alive: Praying Scripture. It is simple really. Find a piece of Scripture that speaks to you and turn it into a prayer for people.

For example, this morning I read Psalm 91. When I was done, I took verses 9-12 and turned them into a prayer for people. It looked something like this:

Lord, help _____ to make You his refuge and shelter. Help him to run to You and not to anything or anyone else. I pray that no evil or sickness would overwhelm him or even come near him. Order your angels to protect him from _______________.

For me, this becomes even more personal and heartfelt if I close my eyes and picture the person seated on the steps in front of the throne of God. My heart becomes more engaged in the prayer if I picture myself sitting there with him, pleading with the King on his behalf.

Try it. Turn God’s Word into a prayer back to God on behalf of yourself and the people around you!



unplugWe live in a “plugged in” society. We are constantly listening to the radio, iTunes, or Spotify. We send and receive text messages all day long. We have the TV on in the background. We post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and even something called Snapchat. We watch YouTube videos. We spend time on social media scrolling through pictures of food, sports scores, political rants and bad jokes. We check email, write papers or proposals on the computer. We even read blog posts :-)!

Let’s face it: we are constantly plugged in to some sort of media, and most of it is electronic. Even when we are tired, we turn on something so that we can just “veg” for a while. And now its even when we sleep! We wear a wrist band to tell us how well or how bad we sleep. We are always plugged in. We are on sensory overload.

Here is my challenge for you and me: Unplug.

Maybe it is for an hour. Maybe it is for a day, or a week, or a month. Turn off the computer and the TV, close up your tablet, put your phone on the desk. Unplug. Why? Because as long as we are plugged into everything else, we will struggle to plug in to God. We won’t see what He is trying to show us because we will be too distracted and exhausted by all of the cool stuff the world is trying to show us.

There weren’t electronics in Jesus’ day, but He and the apostles still suffered from sensory overload. Jesus knew best. He knew the guys needed to unplug.

The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. – Mark 6:30-31

Unplug from the world so that you can plug into God.

  • Take a walk in your neighborhood…without earbuds in. Look for the people that God puts in your path. You might even want to stop and talk to them :-).
  • Have dinner at home without any media playing anywhere. Pray before you eat and genuinely ask God for your family to plug into Him.
  • Sit on your front porch and enjoy a beautiful evening.
  • Pray with your family or a group of friends.
  • Go sit by a pond or lake and quietly ask God to join you.
  • Take your (paper) Bible with you on a walk at a park. Read. Walk. Stop. Pray. Repeat.
  • Write a letter to God. Tell Him what’s on your mind and heart.

A LOT of people tell me that they feel distant from God. They are half right. God isn’t distant. He just feels distant because we are too distracted to notice Him.

Unplug from the world and plug into God.

You’ll be glad you did.

God is with me. Really?


“I could never do that.”

  • Run a mile.
  • Lose 20 pounds.
  • Forgive that person.
  • Be honest with my friends about who I am.
  • Love that person that trashed my reputation.
  • Understand the Bible.

These are all things I literally thought I could never do. And I was right. I could never do them…alone. But I’ve done them. Other people helped me. Most importantly, Christ Himself helped me. I still put in a lot of effort, but I wasn’t alone. God was with me.

Some mistake Christianity as a religion that involves no effort. Actually, Christianity is a relationship that requires a lot of effort. But our effort is grounded in His power, not our own. God is with us. Literally. In fact, He is in us. Literally.

Here are just a few places we are called get to work, along with His promise to be working in us:

Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:18-20

Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. – Philippians 2:12-13

Since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. – Hebrews 12:1-2

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

Don’t be deceived into thinking that Christianity requires nothing of you. Just as importantly, don’t be deceived that Christianity requires you to do anything on your own. Do you really believe that it is possible to be yoked with Christ? Do you really believe that He is with you? Really? Then go out and do the thing He is asking you to do even thought it seems impossible. If He is asking you to do it, you can be sure He isn’t asking you to do it alone! Remember: “God is with me.”

God is Powerful. Really?

supermanWhen I was a kid, I was never a big Superman fan. He wasn’t that interesting to me because he was too powerful. I mean really, he had super strength, super hearing, and super vision. He could fly and he was invulnerable. I know the whole Kryptonite thing was hard for him, but in general he just seemed too powerful. It didn’t seem realistic that anything or anyone could stop him. I couldn’t really believe that there could be a being that powerful. I couldn’t buy it.

Plus, he always seemed so serious. Smile Superman!

Today, I think we often have the same attitude about God that I had about Superman. On one hand, we say things like:

  • God is the Creator of all things!
  • God is all-powerful!
  • Nothing is impossible with God!

But I think we struggle to believe that He really is that powerful. We can’t relate to Him in that way at all. And since we can’t really understand it, I think we struggle to really believe it. We may say we believe that God is powerful. We may think we believe God is powerful. But we often don’t really believe that He is powerful. Our lack of belief is revealed when we say things like:

  • I could never forgive my spouse for that!
  • Our family will never be whole again!
  • There is no way that person will ever find God!

But Scripture is bursting with descriptions of an all-powerful God. A God without limits. A God that can do anything He wishes to do!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. – Philippians 2:13

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen. – Jude 1:24-25

So here is a challenge for you today.

  1. Think about that situation that seems hopeless. Consider that person that seems unreachable. Think about that problem that seems beyond repair.
  2. Wrestle with the reality that with YOU these things are impossible, but with GOD they are possible. YOU do not have the power, but HE does.
  3. Pray for wholehearted, genuine belief in His power and trust in His goodness to do what is best.
  4. Pray for that situation, person, problem. Hand it over to the One for Whom all things are possible, and then trust Him.

Superman is a comic book character. God is real-world Creator. He really is that powerful. He’s got this. Really.

God is Good. Really?

GoodGod is good!

I hear it all the time. I hear it when the house sells, we get the promotion, someone gives us free tickets, we ace the test, the test results are negative, she says “yes”…the list goes on and on. God is good. And I agree…He is!

I hear it all the time, but I’m not sure we really believe it. I think what we often mean is something more like “God did what I asked Him to do!”

Don’t think so? Well, what if no one buys the house, we get fired, we lose the tickets, we flunk the test, we need surgery, or she says “no”. Is God still good? Does His goodness depend on how situations turn out? Does His goodness depend on our human understanding of happy endings? Is God good because He seems good to us, or is He just good? 

The next time you notice life going well, shout out “God is good!”

And the next time life leaves you hanging, shout out “God is good!” Try it. See if you believe it!

Keep Looking Up!

Keep Looking Up!Keep looking up! It is often the last thing I say to people (including myself). Let me tell you why…

You may be confused, scared, angry, or incredibly sad. You may feel forgotten, abused, misused, or mistrusted. You may be full of pride or swallowed-up with self-pity. You may be full of lust or devoid of feelings altogether. You may be letting the world suck you in and tear you up, or you may be sheltering yourself from everything and everyone. In a word, you may be having a problem with “focus”.

You and I can only focus on one thing at a time, and most of the time it is on the things of this world. We allow ourselves to focus on the things of this earth and not the things of God. The good, the bad, and the ugly captivate and overwhelm us.

It was no different 2,000 years ago, which prompted the Apostle Paul to write this reminder that we still need today:

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. – Colossians 3:1-2

So the next time you find yourself focused on the realities of earth, let Paul’s reminder be a reminder to you. Stop looking at things from the world’s perspective, and start looking at them from Christ’s perspective. Shift your eyes from the things of earth to the things of heaven.

So keep looking up! Christ is seated securely on His throne! His Kingdom is secure! His rule is absolute! If you have chosen to follow Christ, you are free! You are God’s adopted son or daughter! You have been washed clean! You have within you the fullness of Christ Himself! You can honor Him in everything you do…you can!

You might consider writing these two verses on a note card and taping it to your dashboard, your mirror in the bathroom, or your desk. Memorize them. Meditate on them. Figure out a way to remind yourself of them as often as possible, and consider actually looking up when you remember these truths.

And the next time you see me (Tom), remind me to keep looking up! I probably need the reminder too:-)

Climbing in Tree’s (Choice)

Genesis 2:9,15-17 The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and good-choice-bad-choicewatch over it. But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

Adam and Eve were given a choice of how to live. The GOD Way or the ME Way. Although they are both a way to live, the THE WAY is the only way to life.

Adam and Eve essentially said “I want to be my own god. Make all decisions for myself, do everything that I want and listen to only MY ways”. I want to climb in the tree that gives me more now. They decided to be god.

We have those same choice today. In every decision we make, we choose OUR way or Gods way. I refer to this as the “2 TREE DECISION”. We either choose to climb in the Tree of Life (God’s Way) by letting Him decided what is Good and Evil or we climb in the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in which we make the choice of what is good or evil (MY WAY or our great adversaries way).

Again, literally, every decision is made up from one of those  ways. Think about it! A friend and I were talking recently about a scenario.

If we were in a grocery line and were given cash back and we didn’t notice until we were home that the clerk gave us too much back, we have a choice. Either take it back and explain the situation or keep the money (Tree of Life) and pocket it (Tree of Knowledge).

Heres a couple more scenarios:

Doing your taxes at the end of the year. Your able to claim deductions for business mileage, but you didn’t keep very good records. You have 2 choices. The first being, own up to the fact that you didn’t keep records and your not able to claim this year (Tree of Life) or make up an “approximate” number and file your deduction (Tree of Knowledge).

Lastly, God has called  you to be faithful to Him through leading your family. You work all day and are tired, but you have a choice. You can come home, rest for a few minutes, get up and be with your family. Leading them in prayer before dinner, leading them in a bible study, talking to your  wife about her day, etc… (Tree of Life) or come home, sit in your chair and watch TV until it’s time to got to bed (Tree of Knowledge).

Although these scenarios seem simple, they are real and faced daily. At some point, we will stand in front of our King to give account of which tree we climb in. Which tree would you like to climb in?





When I think about rest, I think about kicking back in my favorite chair, laying down in the hammock in my backyard or crashing on top of the bed that my wife just made and closing my eyes for a while and just chilling out.Rest

The bible talks a lot about rest. God’s word tells us we all need rest. While at times it does talk about taking a physical rest, it often sets its emphasis on a different kind of rest.

In a broken world, with broken people and broken friends, we have all had negative situations gain control of our space. When this happens, our minds run rampant with anxiety, impatience and chaos. In a world full of worry, hurt, pain, hurriedness, selfishness, self-righteousness, and the list could go on…our puny minds can do nothing but worry, stress and fret through our own power.

Jesus says “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light”.

If you are like me, I have heard this passage a bazillion times, but it is hard to learn the action behind the words that Christ is using.

Christ is saying “trust ME! I will take care of all your worries, all your hurt, all your pain. I will free you from being hurried. Make your life about ME and what has already been done instead of looking to what hasn’t come yet.”

Here are a few passages that you can use when your in the middle of this world and forgetting to REST.

Rest your Trust in the Lord:

Proverbs 3:5,6  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight”

Rest your FEAR in the Lord:

Philippians 4:6,7  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Rest your PEACE in the Lord:

John 14:27  ““I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

In the times that you need something more that what you can muster up, look to Jesus. He is there, ALWAYS. He is waiting for you to COME to Him and REST in His strength!






surrenderNo one likes to surrender. Armies don’t like to surrender. Spouses don’t like to surrender. Kids don’t like to surrender. has three concise definitions of the word surrender:

  • to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win or succeed
  • to give the control or use of (something) to someone else
  • to allow something (such as a habit or desire) to influence or control you

No one likes to surrender. But being a follower of Jesus BEGINS with surrender. It begins with agreeing to stop fighting, hiding and resisting because you realize you can’t win without Him. It begins with giving Him full use of you. It begins with allowing Him to influence and control you.

Being a follower of Jesus begins with surrendering your whole self to the One who made your whole self.

Then [Jesus] said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” – Luke 9:23-25

Surrendering everything to Jesus sounds like a steep price to pay, but actually it is a HUGE bargain. We give up what we could never keep in exchange for what we could never find on our own. Eternal life. We trade in a plastic, temporary, agonizing, shallow, lonely life for a real, lasting, peace-filled, abundant, with-God life. What could be better than that?!

But back to the first sentence: No one likes to surrender. Even if we want to surrender, we have a hard time doing it. So here is a soul exercise that might help. Soul exercises are simply ways for us to come alongside the Holy Spirit so that He can work in us to change us.

  1. Pray a simple prayer asking God to reveal the parts of your life that you have been unwilling to surrender.
  2. Spend a minute or two just being silent.
  3. Play the song below, “At Your Feet (Surrender)” by Dan Bremnes.
  4. As the song plays, read the lyrics that accompany it. Allow them to be your prayer on your own behalf.
  5. When the song is finished, consider how the Spirit may have pointed out areas of your life where you remain un-surrendered.
  6. If you truly want to do, ask Him for the courage to surrender those areas to Him.
  7. If you are bold enough, tell someone you trust about your decision, and celebrate with them!

Verse 1

My eyes on the cross where You gave it all,

I worship You, I worship You

I see the one who saves light of heaven’s grace

I run to You, I run to You

and I, I surrender I lay my life down at your feet

God of mercy you are worthy I give you every part of me

Verse 2
The things that I had done, the things that I will do

I give to You, I give to You

Holy God above how can I resist your love

I run to You, I run to You

and I, I surrender I lay my life down at your feet

God of mercy you are worthy I give you every part of me

With every breath
With all I am
Oh Jesus I surrender
My heart is yours
I trust you Lord
oh Jesus I surrender

With every breath
With all I am
Oh Jesus I surrender
My heart is yours
I trust you Lord
oh Jesus I …to you Jesus I

Oh I surrender I lay my life down at your feet

God of mercy you are worthy I give you every part of me

and I, I surrender I lay my life down at your feet

God of mercy you are worthy I give you every part of me