Sunday, December 31, 2017

Wow! - Just Wow!

Today, December 31, would have been my dog’s 15th birthday. Abby died Thanksgiving weekend. I have missed her so much in the last month. A few minutes ago, a most beautiful and amazing thing happened to me. 

When I opened my iPhone calendar to check any notices for today, one listing said, “Abby’s Birthday.” As I felt a familiar tug in my heart, I kissed the fingers of my right hand and reached down to touch the screen. When I touched the screen, I said, “Thank you, Abby. I love you” and made the sound of a kiss. When I raised my hand off the screen, one of Abby’s very distinctive hairs floated out of thin air and rested on the screen. I was shocked at the beauty of what had just taken place. Only God can arrange such a thing.

I knew God was not just speaking to me. He is also speaking to some of you reading these words. God does these kinds of unusual affirmations of His love to let us know that He sees us and understands what we are going through. Standing there in a state of beautiful shock, the Lord reminded me of the unusual moment in Kingdom history we are entering in 2018. Unprecedented reminders of God’s love and goodness will visit your life.

Open your eyes to see and experience the signs and wonders of the God of Heaven.  He is about to reveal Himself in beautiful and unexpected ways. Out of what seems like nothing, reminders of His presence will come and rest upon your life. Prepare to be amazed!

Why We Prophesy

The most significant message delivered in a prophetic word is hope, not a prediction or the revelation of a previously unknown fact. We seem to rate the ability to declare hidden things like dates, names and what might happen in the future as more significant. While those are truly astounding, they only gain our attention so that a word of hope can be spoken. Predictions and special revelations are only vehicles, not the message.

A prophetic word empowered by the Spirit will engage a person or a culture with a message that with God, hope for change is always possible. Words of hope have the power to adjust our way of thinking to believe that something new and previously unimagined could actually become a reality.

A message of hope is easily criticized because it does not seem theatric. A message of hope is typically attacked by frustrated cynics or angry critics. When this happens, don’t lose your hope and allow your voice to become silent. Continue to speak words of hope. In the end, hope will declare the way forward and hope-speakers will become the prophets of a new day.

Prophesy hope to 2018!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Your Empty Street

This morning, just a bit after 4:00 am, I drove my daughter, Anna, to the airport to catch a flight that would take her to Mexico. Her travels will end with a ride in a converted fishing boat from Puerto Vallarta to the remote village of Yelapa, Mexico. In Yelapa, Anna and a friend will host two separate groups of people over the course of the next three weeks who will learn how to write and craft their story. Yelapa is a warm place this time of year. It has a laid-back tempo distant from the hustle and bustle of tourism. Anna says the fish tacos are outstanding.

Driving through our small town this morning on the way to the airport, we saw an unusual sight. Each year, our town decorates its historic main street with beautiful Christmas lights, a huge tree, and other festive touches to make it a very appealing place to dine and shop at this time of year. As we turned onto our main street, we noticed there was not a single car parked on the street.  It was vacant as far as the eye could see. In unison, Anna and I remarked, “There are no cars!” Usually, there would be a few cars left parked on the street from the night before by people who had wisely taken a cab home or from a janitor getting an early start on the day. This morning not a single car was parked on the street.

Driving home alone 20 minutes later, the street was still empty. The bright Christmas decorations and the empty street gave me the impression of what the New Year will mean for some of you. God has decorated your New Year and cleared its street for your arrival. This is not just wishful thinking. You have an opportunity to experience something completely new and fresh in each area of your life.

You are the only one who can choose who and what you allow to park on the roadway of your life. There are only so many parking spots of time and commitment available. Choose wisely who and what you allow to park and occupy the time, space, and energy required to maintain healthy relationships and a sensible calendar. If you can do this, 2018 will become a year of celebration and joy.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Denied Entry

The last few days of a year, just before the coming New Year, can be a depressing and stress-filled time for some people. This feeling of anxiety comes because compression is taking place. All of the unresolved, unfulfilled and unhealthy things that walked with us throughout the year are now crowding with us at the doorway of 2018. They are waiting to push themselves forward to follow us into the New Year assuming their continued place in our lives.

This morning, I saw an image while in prayer. It looked like a news clip of Black Friday where hundreds of people were camping outside a big box store in preparation to run forward when the store finally opened. I saw our entrance into the New Year become like the main doors of one of those stores. When the store opened, the people broke free from an orderly line and began pushing and shoving each other out of the way to enter the store to get what they wanted.

Each unhealthy relationship, all of the insensitive demands placed on your life and those situations that want to rob you of your peace are all expecting to be granted entrance into the New Year. You have assumed 2018 will be more of the same. These things don’t have to follow you any longer. You have the power of choice. You can change the scenario for the New Year if you have the faith and courage to make some hard decisions.

I would like to suggest something. Turn around and look back at what has followed you throughout the last year. It is time for some things to remain in the past and not move forward with you into the New Year. Some of these things think they own a piece of you. When the clock strikes twelve, they will assume they get to follow you into yet another year. To avoid the stress and confusion of the past, it is time to deny them admission into your future.

The people and situations that are denied entry will begin to pound on the windows of your life in protest. Keep moving forward and don’t look back. The farther you get into the New Year and the more distance you put between you and their demands, the less you will hear their pounding protest. Something beautiful will begin to take place. You will be free to hear the promise of something new inviting you to experience joy and anticipation. Happy New Year is not a casual slogan. It is the promised byproduct of the courageous choices we will make in the last days of 2017.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Danger of a Cut and Dried Faith

The term, “cut and dried”, is a term first used to describe an herbalist cutting and drying herbs and then packaging them for sale. It was also used to describe the process of cutting, drying and bailing grass into hay bales as a final product. The term has come to mean the conclusion of something. A done deal. No further action is required.

Some people want a cut and dried faith. They want an end product where no further action or thinking is required. There are a few absolutes that are cut and dried issues in our faith, but not many. Some of what we consider as a cut and dried is actually up for an honoring debate.

One person cites a verse that says to never answer a fool according to his folly as an absolute one-size-fits-all way of dealing with foolish people. They forget the very next verse in Proverbs 26 instructs us to answer a fool’s folly. There are times a fool needs our silence. At other times they need a strong rebuke. It is not as cut and dried as we thought.

Those who preach a single approach to self-protection and non-violence will quote Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount where He tells us to turn the other cheek. They forget Peter carried a sword and used it to whack off Malchus’ ear. It wasn’t a time for a sword or for a violent response, so Jesus told Peter to put his sword back into its sheath. Jesus did not tell Peter to get rid of his sword.

It is also conveniently forgotten that in the same discourse where Jesus said to turn the other cheek, He also said if you look at something unhealthy gouge out your offending eyeball or if you touched something you shouldn’t touch to cut off the offending hand. I noticed some who preach a one-size-fits-all turn the other cheek response to a personal assault still have both eyes and hands and every other appendage fully intact.  Maybe Jesus wasn’t providing an absolute for these situations. It is not as cut and dried as we thought.

People who preach that submission in a marriage is the sole responsibility of a woman forget the verse just before the out-of-context command that a woman “get in line behind her man,” where Paul writes, “And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” When was the last time you heard a message on how a husband can submit to a wife in a marriage? It’s not as cut and dried as we thought.

This kind of talk will make some believers nervous who have been taught a domino theory of faith. They believe if one cherished misunderstanding falls the whole system of their faith is in jeopardy of collapse. They get defensive of the indefensible. If you step out of line with a domino mindset, you become suspect and find yourself orbiting some of your former relationships from the outside. That irrational fear is your first indicator that something is wrong with a cut and dried approach to Scripture.

In all of your Scriptural exploration, make sure your faith is grounded in the person of Jesus Christ. Knowing Jesus will always reveal the Father. Once you see the Father a lot of what people fight and divide over will no longer matter as much because you will have discovered the heart of God. Knowing the heart of God is your single most powerful interpretive tool when trying to understand something as diverse and multi-faceted as Scripture.  Somewhere in your study, you will come to realize an authentic life of faith is not as cut and dried as you first thought.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Listening for the Sound of God's Timer

In the last few days, we have set a lot of timers in our home. Timers were set to bake pies. I set one to check the Christmas prime rib smoking on our Traeger barbeque. A timer was set for the rising dough for Jan’s crazy-good holiday cinnamon rolls. Our house was a beeping holiday chorus of goodness.

This morning, the Lord impressed upon me that He has set timers for some of your lives. These are not timers to bake pies or smoke a prime rib. They are timers signaling the miraculous intervention of God in your life. You had no idea these timers were in place and set to go off at this moment in time.

In 2018 some of you will hear timers signaling the end of a toxic season in your marriage. Those afflicted with a health challenge will hear the sound of God's timer indicating the healing of a dangerous disease. Timers have been set to announce the restoration of broken friendships. Timers will go off letting parents know that a prodigal child has come to their senses and begun their journey home. Dream timers will sound announcing the time of fulfillment has come. 

Some of the timers about to go off were set in ages past before you left your mother’s womb. They are timers that will signal life-transforming and culture-shifting events you never thought possible. Exchange your list of New Year's resolutions for a sense of expectancy. Expectancy in God’s goodness prepares you to hear the sound of an approaching promise. Expect good and great things from God in the coming year. The timers in your life are beginning to sound!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Evidence of Fullness

A full life is not one where each moment is always occupied with something to do or experience. Fullness is the result of a rest produced by a willingness to choose peace over strife, hope over despair. Rest is the evidence of a life of fullness.

Your Revealing

When I traveled to Russia, I came home with gifts for my family. On Arbat Street in Moscow, I purchased a matryoshka doll, also known as a nesting or stacking doll. These dolls are cylindrical wooden containers with the picture of a person painted on their surface. They are constructed so that when you remove the outside doll, another one is revealed just under the surface. They are like an onion with many layers. This goes on for as many dolls as the artist desires to create, each one getting smaller and smaller until the final doll is revealed.

Your life has become like one of the matryoshka dolls I purchased in Russia. It seems like layer after layer of your life is being stripped away. You feel like you are getting smaller. This would seem obvious if someone is only viewing your life with natural sight. What is happening in the Spirit is very different and far more significant.

In the process of this Spirit-led simplification, you are being made ready for a more focused Kingdom effectiveness. God is peeling away unnecessary layers you had accumulated over time to bring you to a place like David found himself when he faced Goliath – stripped, agile and competent. You have not been called to wear the armor of another person or the particular style of any ministry.

You have been encumbered by what you thought you needed to engage your calling. That was not a request from God. It was an assumption on your part. God wants your life lean and unencumbered, able to move in any direction at a moment’s notice in response to His voice. He is revealing a simpler and more powerful version of you. Let Him have His way, and when this process is done, you will be amazed at the transformation that has taken place.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Awaking of Joy

When I was a little boy, I would awaken each Christmas morning and for just a moment, not realize it was Christmas. In that pause, I thought it was just another day until my young mind kicked into gear. When the realization - THIS IS CHRISTMAS MORNING! - finally hit me, I threw off my covers and ran down the hall into our living room where the tree was lit with all kinds of beautiful presents awaiting the arrival of my brother and me. On a few of those Christmas mornings, the red paint of a new Schwinn bicycle reflected the glittering lights of the tree. It was a magic moment where I could literally not breathe because joy had sucked my breath away.

That old memory came to mind this morning as I sat in my writing chair looking across our living room at a smaller version of the Christmas tree from my childhood. Our kids are now adults. No one wakes up and realizes it's Christmas and runs in their pajamas into our living room. We are a calmer version of our childhood selves. Life has seasons and I am learning to embrace the good in each one.

That moment, when as a boy, I would lay still in bed in my first waking moment not realizing it was Christmas morning is where some of you are living now as an adult. You think your future will be more of the same, but something is going to shift for you in the coming New Year. God is going to return a joyful and childlike expectation to you of His goodness. He only wants you to believe it is possible. 

A moment of sheer joy is coming to you. It will be like it was for a young boy lying in bed who in a split second realizes its Christmas morning and throws off his bed covers to race toward the gifts of joy left under the tree by his loving parents. You are about to wake up to a new reality after a long season of personal struggle and weightiness to a new season of freedom and inexpressible joy knowing your Father in Heaven has prepared an unwrapping of things you never thought possible.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Sleigh Bell Christmas

When Jan and I pastored our first church in Kalispell, Montana, we experienced a lot of firsts. We had our first Sunday as pastors of a new church with only one visitor attending. Our first real Rocky Mountain winter was a new experience, and so was the view from our living room window looking out across the Flathead Valley toward Glacier Park.

One of our most memorable Christmas firsts was a sleigh ride in the snow with our church family. A man in the valley owned teams of Belgian draft horses. He used these massive horses for logging in the forest. The Belgians reminded me of the Budweiser Clydesdales you see in the beer commercials. He also owned two large flat top sleighs that could hold lots of people. 

At Christmas time we gathered after sunset in a large meadow at the edge of the forest to begin loading onto the sleighs. Once everyone found a seat, we would ride through the forest to an awaiting bonfire where hot chocolate, hot cider, and fresh-baked brownies were prepared for our arrival. Kids began to giggle in excitement and couples pulled each other extra close in the cold night as the rays from a full moon reflected off the brilliant white snow making the illuminated night seem magical.

When the sleigh drivers shook their reins signaling to the team of Belgians to begin their pull everything changed. It was at that moment we first heard the bells. Attached to the harness of each horse were bells that jingled whenever a horse hoof hit the snow. The sound of ching, ching, ching punctuated the silent night as plumes of exhaled breath shot out into the cold night air from the nostrils of the horses.

After a long ride through the trees, we began to see in the distance the glow of the bonfire where our outdoor sanctuary was prepared. The remainder of the night was filled with cups of hot chocolate and cider and the sound of a solo guitar leading our church in worship as the bonfire cracked a popped sending embers skyward as its own expression of joy. We sang Christmas carols under the stars and in the moonlight as our voices filled Creation with awe at God’s goodness.

Most of you are not in a forest setting like the one I just described. Neither is my family this Christmas, but the same joy at the core of that first Rocky Mountain winter sleigh ride is still present no matter where we find our lives at this time of the year.  In the middle of whatever you are experiencing choose to discover that joy. It awaits your recognition in every situation of life. It can be wrapped in the noise and clamor of the inner city, experienced during a break on a lonesome shift at work on Christmas Eve, while on a deadly patrol in Afganistan or if you find yourself alone this Christmas because someone you loved is no longer present. That joy is a Person. He is always present in whatever condition this Christmas finds you. Discover Him. Celebrate Him. He is your Joy.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Let It Rip!

The oil crisis of the early 1970’s and the resulting gas shortage was not a fun time in the United States. Long lines at gas stations appeared, and rationing had become part of our daily life.  The speed limit on the freeways was reduced to 55 mph to conserve fuel.

A cop buddy of mine had just purchased a brand new Porsche 911. We had a continuing education class to attend in Sacramento, so he offered to drive. I hopped in the right seat and off we went. After a week of classes, we headed home. About halfway back to San Jose, my friend asked if I wanted to drive the Porsche. I said yes so he pulled over and I got in the driver’s seat.

I slipped the 911 into first gear and begin to accelerate to enter the traffic flow. The power and acceleration were unbelievable. I wasn’t really pushing the car, but I got on it a bit and just hit second when I looked down at the speedometer reading 55 mph. I immediately pulled the Porsche over to the side of the road after less than a mile. My friend asked, “What’s wrong?”  I said, “It’s not right to drive this kind of car this slowly.” We changed seats while laughing and continued the ride back home. The thought of limiting an automotive work of art to 55 mph was just not right.

As I reflect on this story, I thought of some of us who drive our faith at the equivalent of 55 mph. We have been given a faith that moves faster than the speed of light yet we settle for the speed of human logic and reasoning.  As 2018 approaches, open up the throttle of your faith and let it rip. You will never outpace God or the provision needed to make your dream a reality.

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Life of Contrast

God is about to bring understanding to the contrasting, and sometimes confusing seasons of your life. One season does not fully define you. The total must be seen in order for each of the parts to be understood.  

On my first visit to Madrid, Spain, I was invited to eat at Botin, one of the most famous and iconic of European restaurants. Some historians credit Botin as being the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the world. The food and atmosphere were exceptional. Ernest Hemingway mentioned Botin in his book, The Sun Also Rises.

The great Spanish artist Francisco de Goya, while still a young man developing his craft, worked at Botin as a waiter.  In those early days, he had no idea of the final destination of his art or the reverence it would create. On that first trip to Madrid, I was able to eat at Botin where Goya worked and then visit the Prado Museum to see his art hanging on the museum walls. I was struck by the contrast.

Some of you are living in a moment that does not resemble the final destiny God has planned for your life. Your day is coming. Stay faithful and watch the hand of God move on your behalf when you take each step of faithful obedience. Your life is being guided to an unseen destination. You may be in your waiter season of life, not seeing or even believing that a museum season could ever be possible. Amidst the clamor of a noisy kitchen and complaints from demanding customers, keep your ear tuned to the gentle voice of God as you wait the tables of your life. God is the Master Artist and He is painting a masterpiece with your life.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Power of Kindness

If you receive a kind response from someone, it does not mean they agree with you. Kindness does not require agreement. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit that guides the interaction between people who may have very different opinions on a particular subject. Kindness is supernatural.

Dressed For Death

It has been almost 40 years since I wore a police uniform. The 9 years I worked as a cop brought me in contact with the most heart-wrenching of situations.

One night, I got a call to conduct a welfare check. A landlord became concerned at the non-stop crying of a 2-year old girl in one of his apartments. He went to investigate and received no response at the door from the mother who was renting the apartment. When I arrived, the landlord opened the door, and I entered the apartment. As I stepped into the living room, I began to follow the sound of the little girl crying. My search led me to the bedroom where I saw the mother who was deceased in bed. Her daughter had been circling the bed for over an hour trying to rouse her mother to no avail. 

The woman looked to be in her mid-20’s. There was not a single wrinkle on the bed cover. Her hair was perfectly coiffed. She wore a pretty flannel nightgown. The bed covers came up just under her arms. It looked like a mortician had prepared her body to be placed in a coffin for public viewing. Everything was perfect except one thing. I saw a small derringer in her right hand.

The coroner arrived and did a quick examination of the woman. When he moved her body, we saw a small spot of blood on her nightgown. It appeared the young mother had cleaned her home and done her hair in preparation for her suicide. Not wanting to create a mess for others to discover, she cocked the hammer of the derringer, lifted her left breast, and shot herself in the heart. She died quickly. The young mother had come to a sad place where she thought her only option was death, so she dressed for death, not for life, and made her fatal choice.

While most people will never actually take their life, some of the people I know and love have prepared to live the rest of their life dressed in the expectation that no good awaits them in this life. They only make preparations to look good in death.  At some point in their confusion, they pulled the trigger on a lie that shot a hole in their emotional heart. They are dead, but look so good in death that the undiscerning would think they are just taking a nap. All suicides are not with real guns and pills. Some of them happen when hope in a marriage is lost or when a dream dies or when someone betrays a trust. At that point, a choice is made to try to cover the pain and move on with life.

Right now, do a hope check in your life. Where is your hope? If it is placed on anyone other than Jesus Christ, it is a false hope. No person or situation no matter how promising has the ability to bring you the kind of hope that will keep you alive in times of great disappointment and sorrow.

The young woman who killed herself had lost all hope. I believe her death surprised a lot of people because she could manage her sorrow and hopelessness in such a way that even in death she tried to look alive and at peace. You have been called to life, not death, in any form. Choose today to never mask your pain. Let it out in all its messiness and confusion. There are people in your life waiting to help you sort it out. It’s OK to not have it all together. None of us do.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Burden of a Goodbye

What makes the approach of a New Year so challenging for many of us is not the newness or unfamiliarity that awaits us in the coming year, it is the goodbyes we had to say in the previous year that became painful weights to our soul. These goodbyes are like emotional hitchhikers climbing upon our backs wanting to ride forward with us into the future unresolved.

As December winds down and some of these goodbyes begin to speak with increased intensity, find something good in the goodbye. It is there. Find it. Declare it. Write it down. Don’t allow a painful goodbye to continue with you on your journey as an unresolved weight of silent assumption. Address these goodbyes and tell them to how to find a healthy place in your life.

If you can do this, each of your goodbyes will be transformed. In their transformation, they will begin to whisper in your ear an introduction to something new and not imagined when the weight of loss was so heavy. Your resolved goodbyes have been destined to become the weightless freight of God's goodness upon your life. He gives you permission to carry the memory of these goodbyes as a reminder that all things can and do work together for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

Don't Let The Devil Eat Your Tongue

There is a gruesome parasite called Cymothoa Exigua. It is a louse parasite that enters a fish through its gills. Once inside, it severs the blood vessels to the tongue of the host fish, causing its tongue to die and eventually fall off. After consuming the dead tongue, the parasite will then attach itself to the stub of the original tongue and become the replacement tongue of the fish.  

This sci-fi image of a parasite consuming and then replacing the tongue of a fish is what can happen to us if we allow the parasitic anger and wrath-based vocabulary of an unredeemed culture to enter our lives unchecked and unchallenged. This replacement swims into our lives and deposits its false wisdom and graceless sound in our mouth for us to parrot to waiting ears.  
To accomplish this replacement, the deceptive parasite must first sever our conversation from the life-flow of Christ’s redemptive blood allowing the parasite to take over and attach itself as a replacement. Unchallenged, this replacement will actually become our tongue making us sound just like the world around us.  

As you consider how to place a filter over your spiritual gills, meditate on the following verses. If you want to sound wise, here is a description of the wisdom that should motivate our speech, “But the wisdom from above is first pure then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).  
Once you understand the content of true wisdom, here is the quality of the sound that will flow over a tongue still attached to the gracious life-flow of Christ’s blood, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6).  
Protect the content and quality of your voice. Don't allow the parasite of deception to have access to your tongue. You have been called to announce God's Kingdom on Earth. That is a high and honor-filled calling.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Hovering Over The "Like" Button

A few weeks ago someone on Facebook posted something that was insightful, yet troubling because it was painfully true. I impulsively went to hit the "like" button but remembered this person rubbed me the wrong way. I didn’t like the content of his life or the way he represented himself as a follower of Jesus. As I hovered over the button, I thought people might think I agree with all the other parts of this person’s life if they saw I was one of the likers. I felt increasingly shallow the longer I hovered. Finally, I hit the button and moved on.

That episode revealed to me the fear many of us have about aligning ourselves with people with whom we don't always agree. We think if we hit a “like” button, accept an invitation to a gathering or endorse some part of a ministry,  people could think we have sold out and went over to the other side, whatever the other side might be. This fear of alignment has a crippling effect on the Church. Under the spiritual-sounding label of discernment, we perpetuate distance between people. The Pharisees had this down to a science.

That wasn’t Jesus’ problem. He willingly aligned with all kinds of broken people. He did not come to Earth to preserve a prideful image or maintain a reputation. Read again the story about the woman caught in adultery or Jesus going to dinner at the house of a hated taxman named Matthew. What about the Samaritan woman or the lepers or loud mouth pre-Pentecost Peter?

Jesus never condoned anyone’s sin or wanted them to think it was OK to continue in that lifestyle. He walked through life hitting everyone’s “like” button when that act helped the marginalized know that someone loved and noticed them. God aligned Himself with all humankind when He sent Jesus to redeem us, “for God so loved the world”. The coming of Jesus was the ultimate “like" button.

A day after I hit the “like” button, the person I had a mild distaste for also hit the “like” button on something I shared. A strange little connection was made in those two acts. It may sound trivial to some of you, but it's not. The next time I meet this person face-to-face, I would bet the separation between us will have vanished. I know it did in my heart.  Fear gets tossed out the window because we are no longer afraid of where the aligning power of love will take us or what button of affirmation God would have us press.

Saturday, December 16, 2017


When I was a street cop, I wore a bulletproof vest, also known as body armor. My vest was made by a company called Second Chance. It had two panels. One panel covered my chest and the other panel covered my back. I never hit the streets in uniform without wearing my vest. I would have felt naked without its presence pressing against my body. I did not wear the vest to only protect my physical life. I wore it to protect the future of my family making sure I went home alive at the end of my shift. I also wore it to give me a better chance to stay in the fight to help my fellow officers when we came under fire.

That bulletproof vest reminds me of our life in the Spirit. A lot of believers get taken out because they have not protected themselves from the attacks of hell.  We have been given a spiritual vest that can repel any attack as long as we wear it faithfully each day. The two panels on our spiritual bulletproof vest are grace and trust. If our hearts are protected by a gracious attitude and our backs are covered with an unwavering trust in God, when the attacks come and we take a potentially fatal spiritual shot by either an unrighteous judgment or a backstabbing betrayal, we will survive the encounter.  
Grace and trust have the ability to capture those assaults and render them ineffective giving us a second chance to live another day as an emotionally whole and spiritually healthy follower of Christ. 

Each day as you suit up for life, put on your vest of grace and trust. No weapon fired against these protective layers will have the ability to penetrate your life and take you out of the fight of faith.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Don't Sell Your Worth

Albania was one of the most isolated and inaccessible nations in Eastern Europe during the years of Communist oppression. When the borders finally opened an outside world stepped across its border to discover a culture trapped in time.

On my first visit to Albania, a friend shared with me what took place when the borders finally opened. Albanians would stand at the border selling handfuls of ancient Roman coins to the incoming tourists. Some of these coins were worth thousands of dollars. They were sold for pocket change. The Albanians who lived in isolation had no idea of the value of what they possessed.

Isolation is always a dangerous thing. When people or an institution hurt us, we can choose to isolate ourselves from the possibility of future pain. Fear motivates this decision. The leader of Albania's Communist Party, Enver Hoxha, did this to the citizens of his nation during the Cold War. He kept the populace uninformed to the realities of the outside world using fear as his primary tactic of control.

In isolation, we lose contact with a larger reality. Being separated from outside input we are more easily convinced to believe lies about our identity and the possibility of a hope-filled future.  The Albanians lived in that oppression and so can we if we choose to remain isolated. We each hold in our hands a precious and invaluable identity and calling the devil wants us to sell for pennies at the border of our breakthrough. That is a lie easily believed when we are isolated and saturated with fear.

Some of you reading this need to wait before you sell your life to the highest bidder. You need to ask someone to help you understand the value of what God has given to you before you make a sad transaction with a lie. Once you understand the great value of what you possess you will not find yourself selling your identity and calling to the spiritual tourists who so readily want to prey on your ignorance. You are worth so much more than you can imagine. Don't sell your worth. It is invaluable.