Friday, September 30, 2011


"Let the wise listen and add to their learning."  Proverbs 1:5

Here are 3 reasons why growth should matter to you:

  • Gifting without growth produces ineffectiveness.  Albert Schweitzer said, "The secret of success is to go through life as a person who never gets used up."  But how do you do that?  The answer lies in how you approach talent.  If you draw on your talent but never sharpen it, you are headed for trouble because nobody's that talented.  But if you take the time to sharpen your axe, God can call on you at a moment's notice.
  • Growth prevents stagnation.  Do you feel stuck spiritually, relationally, career wise, or at home?  You will not get unstuck by making external changes, looking for a different job, leaving your family or changing churches.  The truth is, nobody's keeping down but yourself.  The lid on your life - is you!  In order to do more, you have got to grow more.  So, if you are serious about getting unstuck, stop looking for quick fixes, take a long hard look at your self, accept responsibility for what you see, pray, then commit yourself to doing something about it.
  • Continuous improvement guarantees success!  The Tartar tribes of central Asia used to pronounce a certain curse over their enemies.  They did not hurl words calling for their enemy's swords to rust or their people to die of disease.  No, they said, "May you stay in one place forever."  If you do not work on improving yourself everyday that could be your fate.  You will be stuck in the same place, doing the same things, hoping the same hopes, but never gaining new ground or developing spiritually.  So, commit yourself to growth!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


"I fear that...I myself might be disqualified." 1 Corinthians 9:27

Let us take another look at Samson!
  • He broke the rules!  The relationships he formed destroyed him.  The Bible warns: "Be ye not unequally yoked  together with unbelievers" (2 Cor 6:14).  An ox and a donkey cannot work in the same harness.  Why?  Because their natures are different!  When God says "no" to certain things He is not being difficult, He is being protective.  Heed Him!
  • He lived by his impulses!  He thought he was in love when he was only in heat.  When confronted about his relationship choices he replied, "She pleaseth me well" (Judges 14:3).  Before it was over he became a laughing-stock.  Peter writes: "Abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul" (1 Peter 2:11).  In war the strongest side wins, so keep your impulses in check.
  • He misused his gift!  Samson exploited his God-given strength for personal gain.  Listen to these words spoken to his Philistine buddies, concerning a bet he had made with them: "Then shall ye give me" (Judges 14:13).  God gives us gifts to fulfill His purposes, not ours.  When we misuse them we end up in trouble.
  • He was blind to his weaknesses!  You may not like to believe that your private imperfections will have public consequences, but you cannot escape what you are.  If Satan attacked Jesus 3 times in the wilderness, he is not going to give you a free pass!  Protect yourself!  Satan always attacks those who are in line for God's blessing.  Why does God make such a big deal of this?  Because sin hurts us, and anything that hurts one of His children makes Him angry.

Monday, September 19, 2011


"A man reaps what he sows." Galatians 6:7

Managing your mind should be one of your top priorities. Your mind is like a computer, it only spits out the data you feed it. Winners work hard at investing the right material inside themselves. Dr. Hans Selye researched and popularized a tiny membrane in the back of your head known as the RAS: Reticular Activating System. Your RAS has a primary function: it moves you in the direction of your dominant thought at that moment. We naturally act on what fills our minds. When we become preoccupied with a thought, eventually we want to act on it. This explains a lot of things like why so many rapes happen after guys have watched pornography night after night. It also explains the huge amount of violence among young people between the ages of 12 and 24. By then the average young person has seen more than 4,000 murders on TV, not to mention video games.

Indiana School of Medicine studied how the images we see impact our brains. For instance, adolescents who had a higher level of exposure to violence, had reduced levels of cognitive function. The more violence they saw the less thinking, learning, reasoning and emotional stamina they had. The garbage they fed their minds affected what came out. Their computer stored wrong information, now they could only retrieve the wrong stuff. The Apostle Paul did not know about computers but he knew about agriculture: "The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" (Gal 6:8). So, manage your mind!

Friday, September 16, 2011


"Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted." John 6:12

Did you know that what starts as a curse can end as a blessing? When the Mexican boll weevil devastated the southeast Alabama cotton crop, farmers reverted to planting peanuts and ended up producing more than any country in the nation. Consequently the town of Rucker erected a monument bearing this inscription, "In profound appreciation of the boll weevil and what it has done as the herald of prosperity."

When Jesus discovered Lazarus was sick he did not respond till after he had been dead for four days. But because Jesus was waiting did not mean He was not working. He chose to demonstrate His resurrecting power - to prove that nothing is too hard for God. Joseph was falsely imprisoned for 13 years. But God was with him and he went on to save multitudes, including his family who had mistreated him. Joseph's struggles made him better, not bitter. But it could have ended differently if he had not maintained the right attitude. God used Esther to save her people, but first he put her in the position of living where she did not want to live and doing what she did not want to do. Even though a widow, Ruth ended up gleaning in a field where she met and married a wealthy man named Boaz. In addition to bearing him children, she became part of Jesus' ancestral blood line. So if you are struggling to see God's purpose in your suffering today, rest assured He has one. After feeding a multitude Jesus told His disciples, "Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted." In God's kingdom nothing is ever lost. When you trust Him He makes "all things work together for good" (Romans 8:28).

Monday, September 12, 2011


Want to become a good leader? Become a good listener! Here are two stories of what happens when we do not take time to listen. The first is from a young woman hurt by a manager who constantly cut her off: "We expected he would wait and give us answers to serious questions about work. Many times he walked off when we were in mid-sentence, having heard nothing." The next is from a church youth director who was fired: "After serving the Lord there for two years, I was called into an elders' meeting. They took out a list of all the things I had done wrong in the past two years. Most of what they said was true, for I was brand new in this work. Then they called for my resignation. What did I learn? (a) Not once did anyone care enough to coach or shepherd me. (b) I had no idea or warning that I was doing anything wrong. (c) The church leaders never built a relationship with their staff."

Why is it hard for leaders to listen? Because leaders love to talk, and as they gain more authority they think they have less reason to listen. Leaders by their very nature tend to be removed from the front lines of battle. To win, they must constantly listen to those who are in the trenches and rely on that information to wise decisions. Before Ezekiel was qualified to prophesy or lead God's people, he wrote: "I sat among them for seven days - overwhelmed. At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me" (Ezekiel 3:15 - 16).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


"Avoid sexual immorality."  1 Thessalonians 4:3 - 4

Be grateful that God made you a sexual being.  Sex was not a mistake He made when He ran out of ideas.  When Adam first saw Eve he did not say "I will bet she has got a wonderful personality!"  No, he said, "This is...flesh of my flesh" (Gen 2:23).  But when we do not understand God's original intent for sex, bad stuff happens.  God does not want to destroy our ability to experience our sexuality.  No, He wants to teach us how to enjoy it.

Saying "I am reserving sex for marriage" tends to raise eyebrows and get you excluded from the guest list of a lot of parties.  So be it!  When there is physical intimacy without true commitment, count on it; somebody is going to get hurt.  You need to resolve in your heart to read God's Word and follow His directives on the subject.  And you need to do it now, before you get into situations where you are tempted to compromise your character, because then you have waited too late.

We all struggle at times with our sexuality, particularly in today's culture.  Sex is such a deep part of us.  And guilt about sex has a way of making us feel separated from God like nothing else.  So in order to determine your values and set some ground rules, you need to vow before God, "I am not going to allow my impulses to dictate to me, or sin to separate me from You.  I choose to keep Your standards, to rely on Your Spirit to give me strength day by day.  And if I do sin to seek Your forgiveness, get back up and move closer to You."  Count on it - that is a prayer God will answer!

Monday, September 5, 2011


"Trust in the Lord." Proverbs 3:5

Ever notice how much energy it takes to keep a tight grip on something? Come on, you know what you are holding on to, don't you?  You are in turmoil because you cannot control the people or circumstances in your life.  Hey, release your grip.  Go ahead: surrender it to God.  You will be amazed at how much more energy you will have, and how much easier life will be.  Once you make the choice to surrender it to God, your hardest days become your easiest.  A. W. Tozer wrote: "Father, my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys.  I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from you my terror of the parting.  I come trembling, but I do come.  Please root from my heart those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a   very part of my living self, so that you may enter and dwell there without a rival."  You say, "Surrender what?"
  1. Your Position! Place it all before your God.  Find your security, your identity and your contentment in Him.
  2. Your Plans! Plan wisely, but be ready for God to rearrange things and take you along paths that may be uncomfortable for you.
  3. Your Relationships!  Nothing this side of Heaven is permanent, including relationships.  Enjoy the time you have with your loved ones, but avoid the temptation to cling.
  4. Your Anxieties!  If your emotions are wrapped around some issue involving a possession, a job, a particular expectation or a relationship, you are not fully relying on God.  No, you are still clinging to lesser things.  Stop.  Let it go! You are delaying the surprise God has waiting for you.

Friday, September 2, 2011


"If you love someone...You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him." 1 Corinthians 13:7

To let go does not mean to stop caring, it just means I cannot do it for someone else.  To let go is not to cut myself off, it is the realization that I do not control them.  To let go is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences.  To let go is to admit my powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.  To  let go is not to try and change or blame another, I can only change myself.  To let go is not to care for, but to care about; not to fix, but to be supportive; not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.  To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to effect their own outcomes.  To let go is not to be protective, it is to permit another to face reality.

To let go is not to deny, but to accept.  To let go is not to nag, scold or argue, but to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.  To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes and cherish each moment.  To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone, but to try to become what I dream I can be.  To let go is not regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.  To let go is to fear less and love more.  To let go - is to let God!