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?

 

 

 

REST

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!

 

 

 

 

Surrender

surrenderNo one likes to surrender. Armies don’t like to surrender. Spouses don’t like to surrender. Kids don’t like to surrender.

Dictionary.com 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

Chorus
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

Chorus
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

Bridge
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

Chorus
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

Forgive

For the past couple of weeks, it seems that Jesus has been placing in front of me people that have a problem in the Forgiveness realm of Christianity. Either they are having an issue forgiving someone or having the issue of not believing that they truly have been forgiven by Christ.forgiven-11

I believe that forgiveness is one of the most difficult TRUTHS for people to believe. You see…we put our selfish human spin on it. We have a hard time forgiving others so “how could God forgive me?”.

God simply says this in Isaiah 55 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts”.

Do you truly believe that Christ’s death on the cross happened?

Do you truly believe that Christ died as the ultimate sacrifice for you? Do you believe that He rose from the grave and through that, you have been forgiven in God’s eyes?

If you do, Paul tells us in Romans

Romans 3:22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

Understanding that we are forgiven for ALL of our sins; past, present and future have been covered and no longer exist in the eyes of God is vital to our walk with Him.

Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

CELEBRATE THAT!

So…if that is true,  shouldn’t we forgive all the wrongs that have been done to us?  Unfortunately, we have friends, family, pastors, teachers, etc…that have hurt us one way or another and most of us hold resentment towards them. Is that how we are to be?

Colossians 3:13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others

Forgiving someone else isn’t a SHOULD, but a MUST. God is asking us to imitate Jesus by doing exactly what He did. He brought us into a place of undeserved privilege, we should also bring those that have wronged us into the same place. We have the power to forgive through Christ! FORGIVE!

All this is simple read and write, but it really is hard to do in this life! The question then is HOW. Here are a few things that we call Soul Exercise’s that you can do to help your forgiving of others.

  1. Write down your definition of forgiveness and then compare it to Christ’s definition.
  2. PRAY
  3. On a sheet of paper, maybe in your journal, make 2 columns. The first column place HURT/PAIN the second column the WHO.
  4. Pray over that list. Ask God to forgive you and to teach you to forgive those that have offended you.
  5. Rest in Him that forgives.

 

 

 

 

 

Are you ready to change?

ready-set-goI’m more convinced than ever that Jesus Christ came not only to save us, but to change us. But believing it and acting on it are two different things. For most of us, there are three main obstacles to being changed by God. Maybe you face the same ones.

  1. Many don’t understand that change is a real possibility. When asked about the purpose of the Christian life, many of us find ourselves stumped. We just aren’t able to articulate where the Christian life is supposed to lead, other than a vague notion of going to heaven when we die.
  2. Many don’t want to change. We may say we want to change. We may think that we want to change. But deep down inside we like things the way they are. After all, we are comfortable with the way things are. We know how the system works. We know that we are OK; it is everyone around us that needs changing. We’ve learned to accommodate ourselves and the people around us. Plus, changing probably requires some time on our part, and we are busy and probably stretched thin already. Who has time for one more thing?
  3. Even if we truly want to change, many of us don’t know how to change. Despite our best intentions, we have no idea how to go about it.

That is what the book and this website are for. The book is intended to be a simple guide for allowing God to change us into the kind of people He created us to be. The website is intended to be a place to add to the conversation and suggest some steps for those looking to train for their race.

To make it as convenient as possible, we have enabled you to receive these posts as via email, Facebook, or Twitter. If you find these topics helpful, please help the conversation come alive by commenting on our posts. We’d also love for you to invite other people into the conversation by spreading the word to friends and family you think might be interested.

May you run straight into the arms your King!

Monuments

The book of Genesis records that Jacob, after meeting God in changing moments of his life, chose to commemorate those instances by building stone pillars (monuments) in honor of God and as a reminder to himself.

I am sure that, much like me, when you think about monuments, you may think of the Lincoln Monument, Mount Rushmore or even the Statue of Liberty. In the days of Jacob, the people would build stone pillars asstone pillar monuments. These were literally a large stone that stood end on end or several stones that were placed one on top of one another. In either case, these stones were often used to mark a way point on a path, but in this case, Jacob used it to mark a way point in his life, the place that he met God.

In July 2014, I was in Orlando, Florida for ministry training. Even though I was there to train and had already been accepted by the ministry to work for them, I was still wondering, “how am I worthy enough” to work for God. The answer would come soon!

After our second day of training, we went out to eat at a Cuban restaurant and I was seated next to a man that I had not met before. He wasn’t in my class and I was pretty sure he didn’t work for the ministry. I come to find out his name was Rick Fletcher. Rick is a financial partner of the headquarters office at Man in the Mirror and was there to just hang out with the guys.

After introductions, Rick asked me about my “story”. I began to tell him the 30,000 foot version when he asked me to give more detail. After telling Rick about practically everything that I had been through up to that day, including some things I didn’t remember until that moment, Rick said “now…can you see all of the monuments that God has given you to get where you are today?”. MONUMENTS! That was the moment of clarity that answered the nagging question I had been asking myself and God.

I’m sure you may not realize this, but you also have monuments in your life. While they may not be physical, you do have spiritual monuments. There are moments in your past that God has used to bring change in you. I like to think of these times as the instances that God nudged us to put us onto His path or the little nudges that He gives us to get us back on the path.

God’s word instructs in several places to remember where we were before Him and where we are now with Him. If you haven’t noticed those little monuments that God has given you, think back. Think back at the time that you met Him the first time. Think back at the many moments that He has nudged you to get your attention. Think about how faithful He has been to you!

MONUMENTS!

 

Have you been captured?

CapturedMore than likely you and I have something in common with the people who ran the Nazi concentration camps, the ISIS terrorists, and the doctors that perform abortions today.

Got your attention? Good. Keep reading.

I’ve avoided watching the recent videos that highlight Planned Parenthood’s attitudes and actions in the abortion industry. Honestly, I hear enough negative things in a typical day, I didn’t think I needed one more. And I didn’t think I’d learn anything new or change my opinion in any way…so why bother? Well, I watched one today, and it literally made me sick to my stomach. Every part of it was disgusting in every way I could imagine. It did heighten my awareness of just how truly evil the practice is, but it also brought remarkable clarity to one other really, really important thing.

I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that most of the people associated with the abortion industry did not plan to be. Few doctors would grow up thinking that killing and dissecting little babies would be a good way to make a living. I can’t imagine a little girl dreaming of growing up and having an abortion someday. So why do they do it? I’ll tell you why. The women that have abortions, the doctors that perform them, the companies that profit from them all have one thing in common. They have been deceived. They have been led into a trap. They have been captured.

How did I come to that conclusion? Simple: God primed my thoughts with one little verse from Colossians earlier that morning, and it was swirling through my mind as I watched that video:

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.  – Colossians 2:8

Here’s the deal. While it is unlikely that the people in the abortion industry set out to be in that industry, it is very likely that they spent years soaking in the “empty philosophies” and “high-sounding nonsense” they were all around them. Slowly but surely, a little baby became known as a “fetus”. Slowly but surely, little humans made in the image of their Creator became part of a medical procedure. And slowly but surely, the society at large went from being outraged that abortions were happening to being outraged that anyone would dare to stop them from happening.

But just in case you find yourself casting stones on all of “those people” or find yourself lamenting how much our country has “turned its back on God”, consider that you and I are not immune. The reason we shake our heads in disgust or sigh in disbelief is that we fail to recognize that we too allow ourselves to be every bit as deceived. We fall into very similar traps. We allow ourselves to be captured. You don’t think so? Try these on for size:

  • Human thinking and the spiritual powers of this world say it is better/easier/expected to hold a grudge as long as we can. Christ says we are to forgive others quickly and completely.
  • Human thinking and the spiritual powers of this world say that it is perfectly natural to lie in order to make our life easier. Christ says that telling the truth is a much easier way to live.
  • Human thinking and the spiritual powers of this world say that houses, cars, clothes and gadgets are worth all the money we pay for them. Christ says that they will all rust and break.
  • Human thinking and the spiritual powers of this world say that soaking in movies and music laced with sex, nudity and foul language won’t harm us a bit. Christ says it will rot our souls.
  • Human thinking and the spiritual powers of this world say that we must stay as busy and productive as possible. Christ says that the only thing that is necessary is to sit at His feet and listen to Him.

The list could go on and on, but look back through the few I included. How much of the “empty philosophies” and “high-sounding nonsense” do you believe based on how you live your life? I know I believe many of them. I may not think I do, but my actions would say otherwise. But one-by-one, Christ is setting me free from the stupidity of the world. He is replacing the false narratives of the world with the true narratives that come only from Him.

He wants to set you free as well. And He has the power to do it. But first you must recognize that you have been captured. And then you have to ask Him to set you free. He is all too happy to walk alongside you and re-train you to live an abundant life in Him.

Have you been captured? Cry out to the One to died and rose again to set you free!

We Can Do This Alone…Maybe Not!!!

This past summer was anything but a blur. As a family, we immersed ourselves into the life of travel softball. We knew the time JoiningNotAlonecommitment was great and would take us away from our family, the Church, but had convinced ourselves that we could overcome the absence of our church family by doing bible studies at the hotels, by my convincing myself that I could do this alone. I honestly believed that we could show the light of Christ without being connected to others that do the same.

Frankly, we failed! We failed to share Christ. We failed to show Christ and I failed as a friend, father and husband by taking my wife and daughter away from that all important community of followers that Christ gives us. We failed because we weren’t in fellowship!

I want to make it clear that softball or the people we met werent’t bad, as a matter of fact, it was fun and the people were great, we made lifelong friends. It was simply the fact that we were God people in a broken world without any regular guidance or support from fellow believers.

Without the power of the Holy Spirit in community, we were like a flame without air, our flame was slowly extinguishing. My attitude was poor, my competitive side got the best of me and my insecurities of needing to be accepted was pulling me down. I can honestly say that I can relate to why people don’t feel the need to attend church or see the importance. The world is attractive, the world is sticky, it is shiny and unrestrictive. It seems to give freedom…Is it really freedom? Or a façade that the evil one has created?

This past Sunday, I was reminded of the power that satan holds over this earth. The lies that spew from his mouth can be tempting. They sound like truth. They even make a whole lot of sense when we reason with only our reasoning.

As the Apostle Paul said, This fight we fight is not a fight against flesh and blood. It is a fight against a spiritual realm that is unseen and most do not realize that it even exists.

Ephesians 6:10-12

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Even as a believer, it is easy to forget that we are fighting against a spiritual force that will defeat us without the power of Christ. The power of community!

The Apostle Peter warns,

1 Peter 5:8

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

Ever watch a video of a lion or cheetah attack its prey? Did you ever notice that it doesn’t attack in the middle of the pack, but the one that is alone and away from the herd. It’s the same way with us. Satan waits until we are alone and vulnerable.

How do we keep from being devoured? By staying with the Herd!

Peter goes onto say in 1 Peter 5:9

“Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. ”

The great news is, Christ is still there! He is always there and will always be there. He forgives and allows us to learn through our trials and hardships. Christ is the captain of “redo’s”.

The strength that followers gain from each other while in community is powerful! It is more powerful than any earthly weapon and can defeat even the strongest spiritual attack thrown in front of you. BUT, you can not go at it alone.

We were not called to walk this walk alone. We are not an army of one, but part of an army of THE ONE. God has always intended us to be with each other, to train with each other and to fight along side each other and by gearing up by putting on the armor of God.

Ephesians 6:13-17

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And finally meet with and train with other followers of Christ:

Hebrews 10:23-25

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.

Roots

When you see a healthy tree, you can be sure it has a healthy root system. When you see a 1,000 year old castle, you can be sure it was built on a firm foundation. The opposite is also true. An unhealthy tree is missing something. It’s root system isn’t providing the nutrients it needs. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is would have just been the Tower of Pisa if it had been built on a good foundation. Instead, it is held together with metal bands and kept (mostly) upright with long cables.

Christians are no different. When you see a spiritually healthy Christian, one full of unexplained peace, love and joy, you can be sure of two things. His/her spiritual roots have grown deep down into Christ and their mind, character, and life has been built on the firm foundation of Christ. Such people may be devastated by an unexpected storm, but they will not lose their way for long…their roots are too deep and their foundation is too sure.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. – Colossians 2:6-7

That is why Run in Such a Way was written: to equip people to grown their roots down into Him and build their lives on Him.