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Is Jesus Enough?

We look for affirmation of our worth in many different places. If we are not careful we allow what we do to define who we are. The reality is that only Jesus can tell you who you are. He should define your sense of security and wholeness. He gives us our identity and the meaning of life. He is the one who shows us our purpose for being in the equation. Your identity, security, and significance must come from Him and Him alone. As we develop intimacy with Him we become less dependent upon the need for other people to tell us who we are.

When we allow other people to tell us who we are then we are very susceptible to the ups and downs of popular opinion. We will be easily crushed when there is criticism. We will also be tempted to be corrupted by the applause when the praise of people comes our way. We allow others to determine our worth or our inadequacies. Then the crowd we run with is in control of whether we feel we are ok or not. Is Jesus enough to find our worth in Him and who He tells we are as His children?

Is Jesus enough when people let me down? Is Jesus enough when people seem to not notice me? Is Jesus enough when someone else gets promoted over me? Is Jesus enough when you feel unappreciated? Following Jesus does not guarantee that you will be wealthy, healthy, or successful! Following Jesus doesn’t mean when I follow Him that everything always goes right. Following Him means that no matter what happen…He is enough in the good times and in the bad times as well. It is not what He can give us but that He is enough all by Himself.

The apostles were faithfully proclaiming the gospel in Acts 4 and do you know what the fruit of their efforts was? They were imprisoned, beaten, and told to quit preaching the gospel or else. Yet, they left the place rejoicing because Jesus was enough. You pursue healing but you are not healed; is Jesus still enough? You pursue that job but you are not hired; is Jesus still enough? You pursue that relationship but it does not happen; is Jesus still enough? Is He enough to complete you even in the most difficult trials and tribulations?

First, is Jesus enough when you are suffering? Suffering is not easy and none of us adapt to it naturally. When we are called to sacrifice it hurts and the hurt is real. The key here is having a deeper desire than simply avoiding the pain and trials. The deeper motivation is that we want to do the will of God and glorify Him with our lives. We can face any tribulation trusting Him to go through the fire with us and that “all things work together for good to them that love God.” We can trust Him that He will never leave us nor forsake us and that His grace is sufficient.

Second, is Jesus enough when you feel abandoned and all alone? Unfortunately, people will let us down and disappoint us. Sometimes those closest to us can hurt us the deepest when they mistreat us. Recently I read, “Those who make love their goal in life are going to hurt deeply when they are rejected, unappreciated, exploited, or opposed by the very people they seek to love.” How true that is and, yes, it does hurt and it hurts deeply. Jesus understands what it means to be betrayed and for followers to turn away.

Third, is Jesus enough when we feel like a failure? Following Jesus does not guarantee that you will be “successful.” I also read, “Sometimes our crises can become opportunities for a fresh experience of the glory of God’s affirmation. Human experience can become an opportunity to experience the depth of divine acceptance. Then the thrill of being ministered to by God more than compensates for the pain that people inflict on us.” Don’t forget what Psalm 27:10 says, “For my father and mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.”

Fourth, is Jesus enough when your ministry is struggling? It is easy to begin keeping score and comparing ourselves to other ministries. We know the main requirement of our Lord is faithfulness but we begin to be envious of other ministries. The inner turmoil causes us to begin having fears and doubts and if we are not careful even envy and bitterness. Insecurity comes from listening to what others are saying and doing. Insecurity makes it very hard to handle criticism and obstacles when they come our way but when our security is in Christ we snap back quickly.

Fifth, is Jesus enough for us to continue and not quit? Our intimacy with Christ is what will keep us in the game when we want to run away. We all like to escape from difficult challenges, trials, and confrontations. The temptation will always be present to run from the heat of the battle and go somewhere where the grass is greener and the people easier to get along with. When Jesus is enough we will refuse to run from our call when we are overwhelmed. Instead, we will run to Him for our strength and comfort.

Is Jesus enough for every situation in our lives? Psalm 73 gives us the solution when we are overwhelmed by trials and difficulties. Instead of running to a different location we are to get into His presence. Verses 16-17 say, “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.” Dr. Adrian Rodgers once said, “A change in locations never guarantees a change of character.” Jesus is enough for your salvation, your forgiveness, and for your daily victory!

Pastors are Hurting

In 2 Cor. 11:28-30, Paul said, “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.” Tom Rainer, President of Lifeway, recently shared a survey given to pastors about two primary sources of personal struggle in the ministry. It proves that the challenges of the pastorate today are real and need to be admitted so that they might be addressed and resolved.  “Not all the news about pastors is discouraging. Pastors feel privileged to be called to their places of ministry. They have a deep love for those they shepherd. Most of them could not conceive of doing anything else. But please hear me: Many pastors are hurting.

The Discouragement Factor: One of the key symptoms of the pain experienced by pastors is discouragement. Over one-half (55%) of pastors are presently discouraged. I suspect that if we surveyed pastors over just a few months, we would find that almost all of them experience deep discouragement.  Some interesting facts we discovered in our study:

  • There was no pattern of discouragement related to the geographical location of the church.
  • There was no pattern of discouragement related to the size of the church.
  • There was no pattern of discouragement related to the educational level of the pastor.
  • There was a significant pattern of discouragement related to the age of the pastor. The younger the pastor, the more likely he was to be discouraged.

The Loneliness Factor: Most pastors experience intense loneliness at times. When we conducted our survey, over one-half again (coincidentally the same number, 55%, as noted above) said they were lonely. Again remember that this survey was for a specific point in time. Which pastors experience the greatest amount of loneliness? Our study noted some discernible patterns:

  • There was no pattern of loneliness related to the geographical location of the church.
  • Younger pastors were more likely to be lonely than older pastors.
  • The larger the church, the greater the likelihood that the pastor was experiencing loneliness.
  • The greater the education level of the pastor, the more likely he is to be lonely.

Why the Pervasive Discouragement and Loneliness?” Rainer in an earlier blog offered the following as reasons pastors are struggling today and some are experiencing depression: spiritual warfare, unrealistic expectations, greater platforms for critics, failure to take time away from the church or place of ministry, workaholism, marriage and family problems, neglecting his family as he cares for the larger church family, financial strains, the problem of comparison.  Rainer went on to say, “This one thing I do know. Pastors need our prayers more than ever. They need our support and encouragement. I am committed to pray for my pastor every day, even if it’s only for a minute or so. Will you do the same? Our pastors pour out their lives for us daily. What can you do to help our pastors?”

Allow me to recommend to you, Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro.



My daughter Meredith has always had a very tender heart.  When she was little, she could cry the largest tears I have ever seen.  When she was 5 years old, she asked me if she could go outside and play in our back yard.  I gave her specific orders not to play in a certain area because we had discovered some fire ants.  When I glanced out the back window, guess where she was?  Immediately, I told her to come inside and asked her why she had disobeyed. The one gallon size tears began to flow. 

As we discussed her disobedience to my direct orders, I asked her what she thought I should do and if she thought she deserved a spanking.  She caught me off guard when she said, “Yes, but I choose mercy!”  Wow, that was the title of my last message, and I have to tell you that I hate it when people use my messages against me, especially my 5 year old daughter.  It was out of that encounter I was reminded of Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

There are three words I think we need to always remember:

#1.  Judgment – This is getting what we deserve.  I have heard people say, “Just give me what I deserve,” but I do not want what I deserve. The scriptures are clear that the payment for our sin is death, eternal separation from God.  Romans 5:18 says, “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”  Meredith deserved to be disciplined because she had disobeyed!

#2.  Mercy – This is where you do not get what you deserve.  2 Corinthians 4:1 says, “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;”  Paul was saying that the teaching of the gospel was what sustained him and kept him from fainting.  God shows mercy on us by withholding judgment on the unrepentant to give them the opportunity to receive Christ and he withholds it permanently from the redeemed.  Oh, I didn’t spank Meredith that day because I choose mercy too!

#3.  Grace – This is where you receive far more than you could ever deserve, earn, or gain.  Grace is the unmerited favor of God!  Romans 5:17 says, “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”  Grace is God doing something for you that you could never do yourself.  Oh, by the way, not only did I not spank Meredith, we went and got an ice cream!

Recently, I ran across a new word, “Gracenomics,” and I was intrigued to find more out about it.  I have heard about autonomics, bionomics, economics, ergonomics, psychonomics, and one of my favorites, reaganomics, but I was unfamiliar with this one.  Upon looking further into this word, I found out that there was even a book entitled Gracenomics by Mike Foster with the theme of, “Unleashing the Power of the Second Chance.”  The idea is to give grace to everyone around us as God has given us grace.

During this Easter season, and every day of the year, may grace abound in our lives toward others.  My prayer is that we will live by the principles of grace as taught by the greatest grace giver of all times, Jesus Christ.  I know some do not like it when I have shared new ways of saying old truths.  Personally, I feel that it stimulates a greater awareness of whether or not we are practicing what we have said we believe.  Maybe a new way of expressing God’s truth could catch the ear or eye, hopefully the heart, of those seeking the truth.

The greatest way to teach grace is to practice it regularly.  We must never forget that we only have eternal life because of the mercy and grace of God in sending His son to earth in order to one day pay the price for our redemption.  Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

I agree with my daughter, “I choose Mercy!!!”


Follow the Leader

I Thess. 1:6

“And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord,”

Every church’s mission is to carry out the great commission.  Our biblical values cause us to want to be obedient and join Him in His mission.  A great sounding vision statement paints a picture of what we hope our part of the mission will look like.  It is easy to talk about what we should be doing but many are struggling with getting it done.  Without an easily reproducible process of discipleship we will struggle with how to carry out that mission.

Does your church have an easily reproducible and repeatable process of discipleship?  Does it come to your mind right now without going to look or asking someone?  We are not talking about programs and activities but rather a well designed map that shows a believer where they are, where they need to go, and how to get there.  It is a clear concise strategy to move from being a new convert to becoming Christ-like?  If our vision is to make disciples that transform their communities for Christ we must work diligently to develop an uncomplicated strategy of reproduction.

Reproduction has always been a part of God’s plan.  From the very beginning man was told to be fruitful and multiply.  Godly families were to raise godly children who would then raise their own godly children.  When we receive Christ as our Lord we start out as spiritual babes and immediately begin the process of maturing into Christian adults.  Every church has the responsibility to provide their family with a developmental process that shows them where they are and where they need to be.  Making disciples really is all about reproduction.

First, Followers are to be Imitators!

Followers in 1 Thess. 1:6 means imitators.  Followers are to be imitators of other believers and more importantly Jesus Christ.  We are not to be impersonators, trying to be someone else, but rather imitators by focusing on learning the characteristics of the one we are striving to imitate.  Imitation is a fundamental part of discipleship because it is learning from others and using them as guides.  Reproduction occurs when the imitator becomes a model for someone else to imitate but the million dollar question is how does that happen and what does that process look like? 

Second, Can it be Easily Duplicated?

Will Mancini in Church Unique said, “It’s not about what you can do, but what you can duplicate.”  He tells us that 98% of all North American churches are functioning without an easily reproducible process of discipleship and that 50% of the people in our churches have never taken a step beyond the worship service itself.  How many people in your church are moving from the worship service to serving others?  Is there a map in place that a follower of Christ can chart their progress and that shows them how to move to the next step?

Third, Keep it Simple!

The steps and expectations of where a “follower” needs to be must be clarified and simplified.  In Simple Church (in my opinion a must read) Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger give us this definition; “A simple church is designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth.  The leadership and the church are clear about the process (clarity) and are committed to executing it.  The process flows logically (movement) and is implemented in each area of the church (alignment).  The church abandons everything that is not in the process (focus).”

The challenge is to know what kind of disciple you want to produce and how that will occur in your church.  Keep it simple but remember it will not be easy.  Your work is cut out for you as you begin designing a map, a blueprint, that will guide believers to maturity in Christ.  It must be clear, uncomplicated and easily reproducible but it will not come without a lot of effort.  Pray, read, learn from others, find a church with a simple discipleship process, or give me a call; but most of all refuse to settle for anything less than reproducing disciples who reproduce disciples!



     One of my life values (it is actually #5 of 7) is: Mentoring and pouring into catalytic leaders on a consistent and intentional schedule. The quote that best fits this value for me, is from NFL quarterback Josh McCown, “That’s the most fulfillment that you find in life, whether it’s football or anything else, imparting the knowledge to somebody else to make their journey better. That’s the key to life in general: What can you do for somebody else?” That says it all and is a great challenge!

     The reality is that you must protect any value to ensure that you practice and live it out daily. Holy Spirit directed boundaries are necessary to protect you from other important ministry opportunities that could potentially place limitations on the fulfillment of your life values. For this to become a part of the regular rhythm of your life’s practice you must find margin so you can regularly schedule mentoring groups with planters, pastors, catalytic leaders, church staff, family members, etc; to pour into them!

     Dynamic Church Planting International (DCPI) values mentoring also and has one of the best definitions of mentoring: The Barnabas Principle: “Every church planter (everyone) needs a mentor. A mentor is someone who has been where you want to go and willing to help you get there!” It literally means to pour courage into someone! Do you have a process to identify and invest into others around you? Are you pouring into their lives so that they can accomplish far more than you have and reach their full potential?

     In baseball’s farm system potential big league ball players are given the opportunity to practice their skills over and over again. Every day players are fielding thousands of ground balls and catching fly balls, stepping into the batting cage for hundreds of pitches, and daily being coached on how to become a better baseball player. The scouts saw their potential and now they are receiving the instruction and the experience needed to reach their full potential and be as successful as possible.

Here is what you need to do in order to find those you need to mentor:

  • IDENTIFY potential leaders. Leaders in the church must always be “scouting” for potential leaders and know what they are looking for. We seem to be looking regularly outside our churches for leaders but we need to refocus on those God gives us out of our harvest. We should always be looking for young Timothys that God brings our way to mentor.
  • INVEST in potential leaders. There must be a process in place where they can receive what they need to properly equip them for leadership. They must be trained in the message (how to handle the gospel and to have a strong theological foundation), the mission (applying the gospel to their context), and the ministry (putting into practice what they have learned).
  • INITIATE potential leaders. There must be entry level places of service and ministry and God has given us the perfect track for coaching them in the skills needed for leadership; “Go and make disciples!” They need to be taught to make disciples and should not be given leadership responsibilities unless they are making disciples. There must be “on the job” training opportunities where interns and apprentices can be putting into practice the skills they will use whether beginning small groups, missional communities, or planting churches.

     We must intentionally plan and devotedly implement a process to multiply disciples, multiply leaders, and to multiply churches. This process will enable us to produce more qualified leaders. There will always be leaders at every level as they develop the character (spiritual walk), competency (Biblical understanding), and the confidence (skills) to serve. You can always recruit but we also need to be raising up leaders from within by mentoring them! Who needs you to pour into them today?

     As Josh said, “That’s the key to life in general: What can you do for somebody else?” Pro 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”



Have you ever written down your values, the principles that determine how you will live your life and into what you will invest your time and energy?  Values determine practices and your practices determine your results which are the goals you are working toward.  Your values shape and mold your priorities.  When they are clearly written down they serve as a filter to help you determine into what you will and will not devote your efforts.  Another way of viewing values is to see them as the “rules of the road” for you on your journey.

In The Multiplication Workshop Dave Devries says, “Values reflect a person’s unique beliefs, core convictions, and guiding principles.  These values will guide ongoing attitudes and behaviors.  Often times, values are unwritten assumptions that guide actions. In any situation…Values are confirmed by actions, not just by words.  Values are more about deeds than words.  Core values should be able to be expressed in terms of acceptable and unacceptable behavior.”

In The Leadership Challenge James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner say this, “Values help us determine what to do and what not to do. They’re deep-seated, pervasive standards that influence every aspect of our lives: our moral judgments, our responses to others, our commitments to personal and organizational goals. Values set the parameters for the hundreds of decisions we make every day.”

Values help you make day-to-day decisions.  Remember, your values are not what you say they are but what you are actually doing.  That is what you really value!  You will need to set aside a time to have a prayer retreat in order to be directed by His Word and the Holy Spirit.  Recently, I went through this process to determine the values that would drive and direct the rest of my life.  My prayer is that this simple course of action will be a blessing to you:

  • Write down 5-7 (no more than 10) non-negotiable values!
  • Write out 2-3 descriptions of each value that determine your behavior.
  • Find a quote that explains and supports each value.
  • Ask God to direct to you to the passage in His Word that is the foundational truth for that value.
  • Write out a principle (original or not) that clearly restates your value.

Here is what it looked like for me as God has taught me the value of prayer and my desire to make sure that my values determine my practices.  Prayer is my value to regularly listen to you, Lord.  I will pursue you in prayer through Praise, Repent, Ask, and Yield. 

  • Description #1: I am committed to “persisting” in prayer knowing that you hear and answer me!
  • Description #2: I absolutely refuse to give up on talking to you and listening to you knowing that the “urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.”
  • Quote: “Prayer is not preparation for the battlefield, it is the battlefield!” –E. M. Bounds
  • Verse: John 14:12-14, “I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”
  • THE POWER PRINCIPLE from Dynamic Church Planting International: Prayer is the indispensable source of God’s power and wisdom in each phase of church planting.  (And in every are of our life.)

As a filter, values enable you to build divinely determined boundaries.  Here is what Henry Cloud says about developing boundaries in our lives, “When we create boundaries, we aren’t saying to the world, “I can’t help you.”  Instead, we’re saying, “I must focus intentionally on the specific things God has placed right now in my direct influence.”  By saying no to people and to things that are not contained within God’s distinct vision for our lives, we’re actually saying “yes” to His sovereignty.  He knows the best way for His will to be accomplished. For us to assume we can handle more is rebellious and counterproductive!”

We cannot just talk about biblical values, we must live them out daily!



     There was a song a few years ago that said; “Looking for love in all the wrong places!”  The reality is that we are often looking for leaders in all the wrong places or at least in the wrong ways.  Quite often I am asked what characteristics should we look for when seeking new leaders?  One important thing to remember is to take it slow in the beginning.  Never elevate to a position without first observing how they handle small projects.  Begin with entry level responsibilities and see how they handle them.  A necessary core value in leadership development must be, no one leads who does not first serve!

     Carey Nieuwhof recently wrote a blog on “5 Signs You Are an Insecure Leader.”  The first sign he gave is that you are constantly comparing yourself to others. The second is when your sense of self-worth is driven by your latest results.  Thirdly, you can’t celebrate someone else’s success.  The fourth sign of an insecure leader is that you need to be the final word on everything.  Lastly, an insecure leader is unwilling to make room for people who are more gifted or competent than them.  We must refuse to hold on to everything for the sake of control and safety.

     Carey says this about number five, “This is where your personal traits inflicts direct harm to your organization (not that the other traits don’t, but this one has a direct and lethal impact).  The sign of a great leader is not that they are the most gifted or competent person in the organization.  The sign of a great leader is someone who can attract and keep people more gifted and competent than themselves.  The future will belong to people who can forge great alliances, make great partnerships and attract great people.”

     This is why discovering and developing the right leaders is so important.  We all need others to help and assist in the work of ministry.  The challenge of II Tim 2:2, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also,” is not only biblical but also effective.  Here are a few other things to look for as you select individuals to invest your time in to develop as leaders.

     When looking for leaders, Look for Self-Starters!  Watch for those who are already doing it and not just talking about it.  You would rather have someone you have to say “whoa” to then someone you always have to motivate to do something.  They are reading their bible, studying, trying to share their faith, and actively pursuing God.  They are making “rookie” mistakes but someone who never makes a mistake usually is not trying very hard.  They do not need a title or a position because they already have a mind and heart to work!

     When looking for leaders, Look for those who have a teachable spirit.  Carey says this in his blog, “insecure people end up being controlling people.  You don’t need experts because you want to be the expert.  Know-it-alls weren’t much fun in kindergarten; they are less fun in the adult world.”  Look for those who desire the advice and counsel of others.  Before elevating someone into a leadership role you need to ask these questions; “Do they value the counsel and input of others?  Are they open to constructive criticism?”

     When looking for leaders, Look for someone who is passionately pursuing God!  They are abiding and walking in Christ daily.  They are not perfect but their hunger and thirst for “righteousness sake” is apparent.  They daily spend time with the Lord, they are the spiritual leader in their home, and they have a desire to help others live Godly lives.  Because Jesus is lord of their life they do not have a problem with submitting to those God has placed in their life to oversee them.  You can see the zeal in their walk and whenever you are around them they want to talk about what Christ is doing in their life. 

     When looking for leaders, Look for someone who loves to worship at your church.  They have a burden to see the Lord’s name lifted up and praised in a worthy manner.  They are not observers of worship but they actively participate.  James MacDonald in Vertical Church puts it this way, “Our main job is to usher in the almighty – God forgive us when we settle for less.”  This potential leader may not see it as his “job” but he desires God’s presence in every service.  They are not “hung-up” on certain styles or methods but desperately want to praise Jesus!

     Healthy churches are looking for leaders to develop in all the right places and in all the right ways!



    Our goal is to have healthy churches!  There are many descriptions, concepts, books, and trainings talking about what a healthy church looks like.  There is “Simple,” “Purpose-Driven,” “Sticky,” Vertical,” “Emotionally Healthy,” and many more.  All of these have great content and biblical directives but here is something else we need to ask ourselves, “Are we a generous church?”  Isa. 9:6 says, “For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor,  Mighty God, Eternal Father,  Prince of Peace.” Christmas is about giving!

     What would happen if your church was known to be a giving church?  What would it look like if you were known first and foremost for your generosity?  If you really want to know the heart of a church take a look at how they spend their money.  This is not about what individuals give to the church, but rather, what does a church do with what they have been given.  Quite often most of the funds given to a church are spent on church members.  When times are tough, and the budget becomes tight, the last expenditures to normally be reduced are those that keep the members the most comfortable.  At the same time, all too often, the first ministries to be cut are those that are outwardly focused.

     How much of what God has entrusted to your church is being spent to fund the Great Commission and the Great Commandment?  In Autopsy of a Deceased Church, Thom Rainer offers twelve prayer commitments for churches to make who want to be alive and thriving.  Prayer commitment #5 says, “Lord, help me to grasp that all the money I think I have is really Yours.  Help me to grasp that all the money our church has is not the church’s, but Yours.  Give us healthy giving hearts to use these funds according to your purposes.”  What percentage of your church budget is being used to bless and reach your local community for Christ?

     Rainer goes on with prayer commitment #6, “Lord remind me that I am to be a Great Commission Christian in a Great Commission Church.  Remind me that, in your strength, I am to do whatever it takes to reach out into my community with the transforming power of the gospel.”  Some churches are focused on how much is being saved and accumulated instead of asking how they can make a difference for the kingdom with the resources God has provided!  We should rejoice when we are able to spend our resources for something beyond ourselves while expecting nothing in return.  What does a generous church give?

     First, they give the gift of love!  This kind of church looks for the lost, the last, and the least!  They take Matt. 5:43-45 literally, “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be  sons of your Father in heaven.”  A generous church is looking and seeking out those who desperately need to be shown the love of God in practical ways!  They are always asking; Who can we help? Who can we feed?  Who can we love?  A generous church realizes that some will question who they love and how they love but their goal is to love everyone and realize that some, even in church, will not like that!

     Second, they give the gift of friendship!  A generous church moves beyond their comfortable circles of fellowship and reaches out to those who desperately need a friend.  They are not looking for who can be their friend but to whom they can become a friend!  They long to be like Jesus who was openly accused of being a friend to sinners!  Grace Hills church in NW Arkansas says it this way in their core values; “We are crazy about broken people. We hunger to see people healthy and growing and we’ll get our hands messy to make it happen.”  A generous church is always asking; Who needs a friend?  Who can I be friendly to that no one else even notices?  How do I beriend those that are ignored?

     Third, they give the gift of forgiveness!  A generous church wants to associate with the marginal, the poor, the destitute, the forgotten, the broken, and those overlooked by society. They have been forgiven, they practice forgiveness toward others, and they  desire for everyone to experience God’s forgiveness.  Luke 5:31-32 says, “Jesus replied to them, ‘The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’”  James MacDonald in Vertical Church says it this way, “The core of humanity’s sin problem is not a horizontal behavior to be corrected but a vertical relationship to be restored.”  A generous church is living on mission to deliver the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all.  That message is a message of forgiveness, reconciliation, and restored relationships!

     A healthy church is a generous church!


God's Presence



    My good friend, Rob Hager, planted Jacob’s Well in Plano, IL several years ago based on a core value, “because there is a better way.” Their vision statement found on their website, states: “To constantly learn of, live out and lead others to God’s ‘better way’ as we live together in biblical community of His truth, with His love and through His grace for His glory.”  In 2015 may all of us pursue a “better way.”

     Rob goes on to explain their vision statement: “God’s ‘better way’ is a life lived on His truth, with His love through His grace for His glory in a biblical community.  We are convinced that absolute truth exists and it is God and His reality as revealed in His inspired Word.  Only as we truly know and embrace His truth in each area of our lives can we be set free to live the best possible life.  We believe this truth must be presented to others as we ‘show and tell’ them in the context of love.”

     “Without love, our presentation of His truth is nothing more than disturbing noise that distracts or repels them from His good news.  We believe the pursuit of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment is, like salvation itself, impossible apart from the empowerment of His grace through His Spirit.  Likewise, we believe that truth, even in love, without an element of grace is incomplete.”

     “God did not just declare the truth of the world’s evil, and in spite of that, choose to love the world, He did something to redeem it.  And so we believe that as we submit, surrender and sync our lives…deny ourselves, abide in Him, walk in Him, crucify ourselves He will empower us to follow Him, bear much fruit in Him and Jesus Himself will in a sense live through us.”  Jacob’s Well was founded, organized, and exists today because God does have a “better way.”

     The book of Ecclesiastes speaks of a “better way” and Hebrews speaks of a “better covenant.”  This better covenant is made possible because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  As we read Hebrews 8-9 we see it compares the old covenant with the new.  You could sum up the old covenant in three words and they would be, “you do it.”  The new covenant can also be summed up in three words, “Jesus did it.”  His “better way” has made the old covenant obsolete. 

     The believers were not convinced that the new covenant was better/superior so the writer of Hebrews was assuring them not to feel bad about losing the practices and rituals of the old covenant but to realize that Jesus is better.  We are told that He is better than the angels, Moses, the temple, inferior animal sacrifices, and the priestly order.  The old covenant focused on a building while the new covenant focuses on the heart.  It is a better covenant because now every follower can have a close personal relationship with the Lord.  Presence is greater than performance!

     One of my goals for 2015 is to focus on His presence in my life more than on my performance.  This new covenant is about an intimate relationship with Christ where we walk with Him, abide with Him, and fellowship with Him.  The Holy Spirit now works inside of every believer.  Psalms 27:4, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His temple.”

     Because the new covenant is a better way, our challenge is to focus more on His presence in our lives than on planning or performing.  The question then must be asked:  How do we do that?

·        Have a daily quiet time with the Lord.

·        Remember, it is about relationship NOT just checking off your daily Bible reading.

·        Be persistent in your prayer life, knowing that God does hear and answer us.

·        Realize every day will be a challenge to think God’s way (Romans 12:2).

·        Ask God to change you!!!

·        Live by faith because it’s not by trying harder but by trusting Him.

·        The only faith that appropriates is the faith that causes you to ask God for what you need.

     We must make sure that we pursue His presence in our lives, in our families, and in our churches.  His presence is manifested through our invitation for Him to be in control of our lives. My prayer in 2015 is that we will stop trying harder and start trusting Him more.  Planning is good, programs can meet needs, and working hard is admirable but unless the Lord builds the house we labor in vain.

     Healthy churches and maturing Christians realize that presence is greater than performance!



In my quiet time with the Lord I love using the S.O.A.P. journaling discipleship engine.  It is a simple, easily reproducible, method where you write down the Scripture God directs you to in your reading, you then write down your Observations about the text, then you write out your Application which is what you plan to do about it, and lastly you write down your Prayer asking God to help you.  Having a S.O.A.P. journal has helped me to approach everyday asking two questions: 1. What is God saying to me? 2. What does He want me to do about it? 

As I went through 2014 God constantly reminded me that my quiet time with Him is more about being in His presence then being able to check my Bible reading off of my to do list!  In My Utmost For His Highest Oswald Chambers says, “The measure of the worth of our public activity for God is the private profound communion we have with Him.  Rush is wrong every time; there is always plenty of time to worship God.”  Throughout last year God stamped some truths upon my heart that will guide me and give me a solid foundation throughout 2015.

Here are 7 Things the Lord has Taught Me in 2014 that by the end of the year I would write all seven of them every day at the bottom of my prayer journal.  Here are a few verses to go with these truths a few thoughts He gave me on each one.

  1. Blessed Be the Name of the lord
  • PSA 113:2-3, “Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised.” ESV
  • “Don’t allow what has been done to you, to become bigger than what God has done for you!!!” –Tony Evans
  • Job 1:21, “And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” ESV
  • I have a choice to make: Will I look outward in fear or will I look upward in faith?
  1. Always Rejoice (I Thess 5:16)
  • Neh 8:10, “Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your stronghold.” HCSB
  • You have to learn to laugh at yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously!
  • Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” KJV
  • I have a choice to make: Will I focus on God’s blessings or pout about what is not going well?
  1. Be Persistent in Prayer
  • Rom 12:12, “Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.” HCSB
  • COL 4:2-3, “Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah, for which I am in prison.” HCSB
  • “The only faith that appropriates is faith that causes you to ask God for what you need!” -Jim Cymbala
  • I have a choice to make: Will I live by faith or will I live by sight?
  1. Control Your Thoughts
  • II Cor 10:4-5′ “We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.” HCSB
  • Pro 23:7,”As a man thinketh in His heart, so is he.” KJV
  • Every day is a mind battle and every day is a challenge to try to think God’s way!!! (Rom 12:2)
  • I have a choice to make: Will I adopt the world’s thinking or will I strive to have the mind of Christ?
  1. Abide in Christ
  • John 15:5, “The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit,” HCSB
  • PSA 27:4, “I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple.” HCSB
  • My prayer for 2015 is to stop trying harder and start trusting Him more!
  • I have a choice to make: Will I slow down and wait on the Lord or will I press on in my weak anemic human efforts?
  1. Show and Express Honor
  • Rom 12:9-10, “Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. Show family affection to one another with brotherly love.  Outdo one another in showing honor.”  HCSB
  • First and foremost, be honorable in all things!
  • Who is it that I should and need to show honor towards today?
  • I have a choice to make: Will I focus on myself or will I focus on honoring others?
  1. Prayer Does Make a Difference
  • Jam 5:16, “The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect!” HCSB
  • Yes, prayer is mentioned twice and needs to be!
  • Make no mistake about it – Your prayers can make a difference!!!
  • I have a choice to make: Will I ask Him or not?   Remember, we have not because we ask not!

There you have it 7 Things the Lord has Taught Me in 2014 that will help me follow him in 2015.  I look forward to the lessons He will teach me in 2015!