What Causes Hunger in a Believer? – Part Two

We are looking at having a hunger for more of God… And we examined:

1> Receive hunger as a gift

2> Ground yourself in the fear of the Lord

3> Read the Bible to develop lasting hunger

4. Express Your Devotion Through Prayer

As you read the Word, your understanding of God grows as does your love and devotion to God, and prayer becomes the way you express that love and devotion.

Prayer looks different in different people’s lives. I pray early in the morning after spending time quietly listening for His voice and reading His Word, the Bible. As I pray I reflect on al the amazing and wonderful things He has done in my life, my family, and in the ministry He has blessed me with. 

I just can’t help but magnify God in worship for all that He’s done and created. Prayer is a discipline of our faith, but when our hearts are devoted to Jesus, it doesn’t feel like a chore. It’s a deep pleasure.

There are so many ways that you can practice prayer. Find ways to pray that help you express your devotion to Jesus and inspire a greater hunger for Him, not based necessarily on what everyone else does, but from your heart of pure devotion to Jesus. 

And remember prayer is basically building a relationship with the Lord God and not just a way to receive what you think you need in your life at this point in time.

5. Let Encounters Fuel Your Hunger

Encounters with God – experiences where you are touched by His presence and His power – are where our theology becomes a reality. When we encounter God, we meet Him in a very special way. When we encounter and experience God (Father’s love, Jesus, Holy Spirit) our faith in Him becomes stronger and we feel more secure and connected to Him. 

Not all encounters with God will be dramatic, but every encounter with God has drawn me into more hunger for Him, as I long to know His heart better and hear what He has to say. But each encounter – big or small – has strengthened my faith.

Thomas told the other disciples that he wouldn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side,” (John 20:25b NIV). 

When Thomas eventually met Jesus, Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 NIV). 

What’s Jesus saying? I believe He is saying that encounters and personal experiences are good but they don’t create faith. However, they strengthen faith. Faith comes to us simply by hearing His voice through His Word and in prayer. Romans 10:17 states: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word (Rhema) of Christ.” (ESV)

There are many people who are hungry for God that have never experienced God physically like Thomas did, and yet they believe in Him and continue to press in. I believe that they’re more blessed than those who have big encounters with God. 

God is present and good, whether we feel Him or not. Encounter is a beautiful part of our journey of developing hunger for God. It fuels our desire, our passion, and our hunger, but it can’t determine our faith in who God is.

6. Avoid Hunger-Suppressing Fillers

We’re all made with a built in desire for God. We’re made to be hungry for Him. But if we snack and fill up in other areas that satisfy for a short amount of time, that hunger for God will grow dull. These “fillers” look different for different people. For some, fillers are numbing habits, for others perhaps a better salary, bigger success, more possessions, or greater status, even within Christian circles.

The way to figure out if something in your life is a filler is to ask yourself how you’re motivated. 

Love is always self-sacrificing, and the sinful nature is always motivated by selfish gain. Who is the beneficiary of the things you’re pursuing? Is it God, others, or you? The things that will develop hunger for God in you will be motivated by your love for God, they’ll be things you do for others as a result of God’s love for you. These things will result in God being glorified, rather than your personal gain.

7. Pursue a God-Focused Life – Be “Christ-Centered”

God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – must be at the centre of our lives. We must put Him first in our lives…

Then our hearts will be filled with the fear of the Lord, and all our motivations will be for His glory. All our affections will be focused on God, and our behaviours will come into line with that.

Matthew 6:31-33 NET “So then, donʼt worry saying, ʻWhat will we eat?ʼ or ʻWhat will we drink?ʼ or ʻWhat will we wear?ʼ For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Remember our lead verse … 

Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (NIV). 

Matthew 22:37 (NET) “Jesus said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’” 

So, keep God and your relationship with Him as the central focus of your daily life. 

Conclusion:

So, our prayer should be:

That our hunger for God will increase every day

That God will enable and empower us to stay focused on Him in everything we do

That our fellowship with the Holy Spirit will grow sweeter and deeper and that we can and will experience His presence every day

That through His Word (Bible) and His world we will see the hand of God active in our lives on a daily basis

That our lives will be ever increasingly filled with His joy and contentment

That we may live a life loving and pleasing Him as you walk in His love and give it away to those who do not know Him personally

What Causes Hunger in a Believer? – Part One

Earlier today I spent two hours with some young disciples of Jesus. I’m guessing they were between 18 and 30 and the leader was in his mid fifties. The young people had such a hunger for God. For more of God. They were attentive to everything I was sharing. They asked questions. They “leaned into” the material I was teaching and interacted with it and with me. It was an amazing two hours that blessed me and super-charged me. I felt encouraged and excited. Not drained and depleted as I often do after teaching. 

When people are hungry for more of God it is so exciting to teach. When they are not hungry it is like pushing a dead horse uphill all the way. An effort and very unrewarding for the teacher. For me. 

So afterwards I began thinking about the difference between today’s experience and that which I most often encounter when teaching. And it seems to be that it simply boils down to how hungry people are for more of God. And hunger leads to people being expectant, wanting to receive from God through the teachings. Anticipating meeting God in some way within the teaching.

So, the question I asked myself: How Can A Person Stay Hungry for God?

We read in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (NIV). 

It seems that the greatest blessing comes to those who are hungry and thirsting for Jesus. Disciples who hunger after the bread of life and thirst for living water (to put it in Bible terms).

So how can we develop this hunger for God, and then stay hungry for Him?

1> Receive Hunger as a Gift

Hunger for God isn’t something that we conjure up for ourselves. It’s a gift that we can only receive from Him. A lot of Christians try to coerce themselves into hunger for God, thinking, “I’ve got to have more faith, I’ve got to be more hungry, I’ve got to be more loving.”

In Galatians 2:20 we read, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (NIV). 

In the King James translation, we read “I live by the faith of the Son of God.” 

When we grasp that Christ is alive inside of us, that we are no longer alive in our old ways, then we can understand that all of our ability to live the Christian life comes from Jesus. All our ability to love God comes from Him. Our hunger for God is because of Jesus’ passion for the Father and the Holy Spirit.

So, we need to simply ask for this hunger for more of God to grow within us. It’s a gift and God most certainly wants to give this gift to each and every one of His children.

2. Ground Yourself in the Fear of the Lord

True hunger for God comes from a revelation of the fear of the Lord. When you’re grounded in the fear of the Lord, you want your life to bless Him, for His sake, more than for your own gain. Our hunger is fueled knowing that Jesus is the center of our salvation rather than ourselves. It’s all by Him, through Him and for Him.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites were chosen as a nation to be priests and kings for God’s purposes and His glory. When they understood this, they were on the right track. When, on the other hand, they focused on themselves, whether they were blessed or not, they lost their way and followed other gods. The fear of the Lord was not at the centre of their hearts.

We develop the fear of the Lord by understanding who He is, and who He has made us to be. When you’re grounded in the fear of the Lord, you want God to be glorified in your life. Your entire motivation for your life is to please Him. 

As you live a life worthy of Jesus Christ, a life that glorifies Him in thought, word, and deed then a deep hunger for God overwhelms you.

3. Read the Bible to Develop Lasting Hunger

How do we know that the God we’re relating to is the true and living God? I’m so thankful that He’s given us His Word. It’s by reading and studying His Word that we discover His ways and His character. We can’t learn God’s ways without knowing His Word.

By reading the Bible every day and spending time listening to His voice, we develop a lasting hunger for God. I have read the Bible, cover to cover, every year for the last 45 years. Reading and studying God’s Word has absolutely transformed me. It has caused me to be more in love with Him, and to be increasingly more hungry to know Him.

I urge you to develop a disciplined approach to reading God’s Word. It will create a broad and wide foundation for your spiritual life. Your passion for God will grow, your fear of the Lord will grow and you’ll develop discernment about how He’s leading you to live your life

KEEPING YOUR F-O-C-U-S 

One of the struggles that I feel Christians face is the one to stay focused…here are a few things that I am currently learning and trying to apply when it comes to F-O-C-U-S 

F = FIGHT 

If focus is going to be maintained…it isn’t going to happen by accident, you will have to fight for it. 

Let me drill down on this for a second…in the last meeting I had with my mentor he mentioned that a move of God will have two characteristics… 

It will fire people up!
It will piss people off!
And caution MUST be taken with both groups… 

The first group…out of pure passion…will want to do more than God has actually given you the vision for…they will want to add things to it. BUT…in order to be true to God and His calling we simply must do what the Lord has led us to do…no more, no less. 

There are also some lazy people in the group who often want to piggy back their idea on the vision God has shared with you. They will call and begin to tell you that the church needs to capitalize on certain opportunities…but when they are challenged to lead the charge in the idea they are bringing up…they will often make a remark about how they don’t have time. 

I usually share two thoughts with people like this… 

#1 – If God placed something in your heart to do…then do it, don’t delegate it and then think you’ve honoured Him! 

#2 – Your burden will never become my passion! 

The second group…out of pure stupidity…will begin to attack the vision and tear you down personally and even go as far to tell you all of the reasons that what you want to see happen cannot happen. 

I seem to have the spiritual gift of pissing people off…and I’m perfectly okay with that…if I am constantly making people happy then I’m not hearing from Jesus! 

I don’t try to make people angry just for the sake of doing so…I would say that is sinful…but I’ve GOT to be true to the vision He’s placed in me…and when people get angry and criticize the plan…it fires me up!! 

That is why…as a leader and a disciple…you’ve GOT to be willing to fight for the dream and desire that God has placed within you. 

F = Fight

O = Optimistic

Call me crazy…but I am an optimist…I always see the glass half full! Let me be very clear…I’ve never met a person who enjoyed or embraced a pessimistic leader or even a believer for that matter. 

Sure, we will all have our days marked with doubt; however, if a leader doesn’t fully believe in the vision that he or she is casting…and at the first sign of resistance want to throw up their hands and quit…then how in the world do they expect other people to fully buy in? 

If God places something inside of you…then you have to believe what His Word says in Philippians 1:6…that HE began that work…and HE will complete it. 

NO ONE can be held accountable for the optimism in relation to the vision other than the leader. And so…if the people around you don’t seem to be optimistic…take a look in the mirror before talking down to them. 

C = CHANGE 

Many times God will change things up in order to get us to focus on Him more…and one of my prayers lately has been, “God, please DESTROY my preconceived notions of how church should be done and place YOUR HEART, MIND and DESIRES in me!” 

In reading through the book of Acts lately it has been so clear to me that God had to do some MAJOR changing in the church to get them to remain focused. 

In Acts 2 He changed the idea that the church was supposed to remain a group of 120 people who were committed to being “deep!” 

In Acts 6:1-7 He changed the idea that the pastor needed to do everything & the people were merely to observe and not participate. 

In Acts 8 He changed the idea that church is always safe.
In Acts 9 He changed the idea that some people are beyond the reach of His grace. 

In Acts 10 He took Peter through a very uncomfortable experience in order to change the notion that the Gospel is limited to a group of people who looked and acted just like him. 

Intense focus requires allowing God to change us in order that our attention on Him may become more intense! Change isn’t always comfortable…but it is often necessary. 

I personally believe that many churches are a change or two away from experiencing God’s blessing and favour like never before…just my opinion! 

U = UNDERSTANDING 

If we are going to remain focused as leaders then we’ve got to understand that God is in complete control…despite what our current circumstances are telling us. 

In any significant move of God that I’ve ever had the privilege of being a part of…there was always a phase in which I begin to ask questions like… 

Has God forgotten about me? Has God abandoned me?
Did I hear correctly?
Is God on a coffee break? 

I think we’ve all been there…and it is often during these times that He teaches me how HUGE He is…how He is always working…and that HIS plans will take place in HIS ways in HIS time…and that I am not the one who gets to direct His will…but rather participate in it! 

When things seem most out of control…He is most in control! We cannot proclaim to be believers in the Sovereignty of God and then freak out at the first sign of the wheels coming off! 

Understand this…no matter what happens…no matter WHAT happens…God is still God…He still reigns…He is not worried…we shouldn’t be either! 

S = SIMPLE 

The more we having going on in our lives and our ministry the less we can pay attention to. 

Please read that sentence again… 

God didn’t call me to do everything…and He didn’t call you to either! 

One of the goals I am setting for 2022 is to continue to simplify my life and the ministry that I am in charge of. 

Making things simple allows me to enjoy the quality of my life more…and allows me to actually accomplish more than I ever thought possible. 

I pity the pastor that feels like he must do everything and refuses to seek the face of Jesus and beg Him to reveal the gifting in his life…and then pursue that revelation with every single ounce of energy he has. 

Leaders and believers have GOT to be about hearing from Jesus as to why He put us on this earth “for such a time as this!” 

Look at the life of Jesus–how in the world did He accomplish so much in three years? Simple– he was focused…He kept things simple and honoured His Father first! 

What are the things you need to stop doing? Hint…they are the things that bring you the least amount of joy and sense of fulfillment…they are the things that you dread…and they are the things that keep you from being who God called you to be–and you do them out of a sense of guilt rather than a sense of destiny. 

Make a list…cross things off…simplify…focus! 

An Aha Moment.

 Sometimes it is good to ask yourself a series of questions. And, if we answer them honestly and don’t become defensive we can, at times, even have an Aha Moment. But, if nothing else happens we will be a little more in touch with ourselves and that is always a good thing.

1. What is it that God has called you to do? 2. What is unique about you – the strength or ability that you bring to the table, the relationship, or the thing God has spoken to you about?
3. What is your single greatest strength?
4. How can you change to be better organized to move forward in life?
5. How do you need to connect with and build relationally with?
6. What three things would you do to give you a 50% increase in your your satisfaction level in your life (or to decrease your level of frustration)?                               7. Do you know why you do what you do?
8. What are you most excited about?
9. What is your biggest obstacle?
10. What three changes could you make right now that would be most pleasing to God?

Just some thing to think about as we are about to start a new year.

SEVEN THINGS WE’VE GOT TO DO TO BE EFFECTIVE

Recently I noted in my journal seven things that I honestly feel each minister…heck, EACH CHRIST FOLLOWER must be willing to do if we want to have an effective ministry / lead an effective life. 

(I took this out of John 14-16, some of the richest teachings of Jesus…in my opinion!) 

#1 – We Have Got To Be Willing To Serve – John 13:1-5 

I often joke with my people that I do not have the spiritual gift of mercy or compassion; however, that is not an excuse for me to be unmerciful in all that I do. 

There are times when we are called out of our comfort zone…and our gift zone…to serve people in a way we’ve never served them before. We must be willing to be stretched this way by the Holy Spirit and the needs of others. 

If anything is “beneath” us…then we truly are not beneath Christ!

#2 – We Must Be Willing To Love – John 13:34-35

Christians fight too much–period!
Jesus said that the world will know we are His by the love we have for one another. 

When someone doesn’t believe the particular brand of theology we embrace…we need to love them anyway. I am begging God to raise up a generation of leaders who do not feel that everyone needs to be the same…and who are secure enough to learn from people who do not believe exactly like them. 

Jesus didn’t say they will know we are His disciples by the way we blog against one another OR attack one another…but by the love we have for one another. 

As I mature I am learning that I can love a brother or sister in Christ without having to agree with everything they say. 

#3 – We’ve Got To Be Willing To Trust – John 14:1
If I could apply this verse my life would be so much better!!! 

We live in a world that is completely out of control…and because of that we often make the mistake of thinking that God has lost control. 

But reality is this (if you are in ministry) – God wants your church to grow more than you want it to! God wants your life to be abundant way more than you do… 

One of the mistakes I have made so often is thinking that if I don’t preach well that the Kingdom of God is in danger…not true. 

One of my sins is that I take myself way to seriously. Sure, I need to spend time studying and preparing for the message…but at the end of the day I’ve got to trust that God is going to do all that I cannot do! 

And so…there needs to come a point where we desperately trust Him…even though we may not be able to see Him! 

The world needs way less of me…WAY more of Him! (John 3:30)

#4 – We’ve Got To Dream Big – John 14:12
Out of all the verses in Scripture that both excite and confuse me–this one takes the cake. 

However, I believe what Jesus said here is true…and so one of the things I always want to be accused of is dreaming big. 

How about you? For some reason the children of the King are the smallest dreamers on the planet. 

And personally..I’ve seen way too many people live for lesser dreams when God has an Ephesians 3:20 life that is merely a prayer away! 

I personally think the church should be outdoing Netflix and Disney! I think we have not only the ability to create…but the POWER of the HOLY SPIRIT! Having Him actually empowers us to both dream big and then accomplish the very dreams that He placed inside of us! 

I believe God wants MORE for the church…and I want to see what Jesus was talking about in this verse happen! 

#5 – We’ve Got To Be Willing To Stay Connected – John 14:15, John 14:21, John 15:5 

Jesus said if we love Him that we will obey Him…but the only way to do this is by staying connected with Him on a consistent basis. 

I believe that satan doesn’t want to necessarily make us sin…he just wants to get us so busy that we don’t have time to consistently connect with Christ. 

When I travel my computer will often flash up a message, “You are about to lose power–please connect to a power source and recharge your battery before you lose everything.” 

DANG…I think Jesus was saying that same thing in John 15:5! 

One of the biggest temptations of a Christian leader is to become busy. Most of us have cell phones and gadgets strapped around our belt…we don’t look like a Christian leader – we look like flippin’ Batman. I once read, “If I were satan I would invent a device that people carried that made sure their calendar was always in front of them!” 

The enemy can make us so busy that we don’t necessarily sin…we just don’t have the time to live our lives in complete obedience! 

#6 – We’ve Got To Be Willing To Play When We Are Hurt – John 15:18 

Life hurts…pastors and Christians are often carrying wounds with them…but–we CAN’T GIVE UP! 

Jesus went to a cross…and took a beating before He went. The least we can do is endure a little criticism and being kicked out of the social club at work and school! 

Leaders: if you are leading then you will be condemned and criticized…move on…play hurt…and talk to God a lot about it. David, a man after God’s own heart, did in the Psalms. He was so honest with God that it scares me just a little. 

Leaders–we need to play when we are hurt. If the devil takes us out it needs to be done in WAY more dramatic fashion that a blogger, and anonymous letter or a church member on his 4th church because “he can’t find one to meet his needs!” 

#7 – We’ve Got To Be Willing To Be Spirit Led – John 16:12-14 

One of the most awesome privileges of following Christ is having Jesus with me every single day through the presence of His Holy Spirit. 

I am NEVER alone…and I do not have to figure life out all by myself. 

I always advise leaders and Christians to take some time to pray…and then LISTEN. I believe that God is ALWAYS speaking…but many times we aren’t listening, thus being the reason that we miss Him at times. 

I have made SO many mistakes in life when I didn’t listen to the Spirit’s leadership! 

C-H-A-N-G-E 

C-H-A-N-G-E 

So what’s involved in changing something up? 

C = Calculation 

If a change is going to be made I believe some time must be spent investigating the possible outcomes that will be associated with it. Some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made as a leader have been changing something without thinking it through. 

H = Hesitation 

When it comes to changing something that we’ve established…we always hesitate. Don’t get me wrong, I think pausing before making the change is healthy…however, when hesitation turns into an excuse to delay the obvious…problems WILL occur. 

A = Anticipate Resistance 

The very first reaction to change will always be some sort of resistance. As I leader I am coming more and more to understand that the first question a person runs through their mind when change is introduced is, “How is this going to impact me?” And…if they detect that it may impact them in any negative sort of way…their natural tendency is to resist. 

N = Necessary 

Change is SO necessary! That statement was EASY to accept when we first began because we were changing the ways that other people did things; however, in the past couple of years or so it has become a sobering reality that the changes that are necessary are things we once thought of as edgy and innovative…which ISN’T easy…but, like I said…is necessary. 

G = God Factor 

What changes are God telling you to make? This could be personal…or even church wide. I know that He’s been speaking into me very directly lately and telling me some personal changes that I need to make in regards to the ways I lead myself and His church. God isn’t a dull God…and so following Him should never be either. He isn’t telling me the “why’s” right now…just the “what’s”…and getting comfortable with that has been an adjustment…but a good one! 

E = Expectation 

Whenever God leads us to change–we can expect fruit to come out of it. (See John 15:4-5) I have found myself getting way too nervous in the past when God leads me to change something when, in reality, I have NEVER screwed anything up by simply being completely obedient to Him– even when that includes MAJOR change. 

QUESTIONS I’M ASKING MYSELF

The other morning I spent some time reading through Isaiah 42 and Isaiah 43…and several questions popped into my mind that I thought might be beneficial if I shared. 

Isaiah 42:1, “Look at my servant, whom I strengthen. He is my chosen one who pleases me. I have put my Spirit upon him. He will bring justice to the nations.” 

Question #1 – Am I living a life that fully pleases God? 

I once heard it said, “You can please God and disappoint people, or you can disappoint God and please people…but you can’t do both.” How true that is.

As I look back in life some of my biggest mistakes have been when I’ve… 

Tried to please myself – Seriously, I am probably one of the most selfish people that I know. I can honestly say that 99.9% of the time things have gone wrong it is because of my selfish desires. The Bible says in James 4:1-3 that this attitude is just not a good thing to have– ever. ANYTIME I place what pleases me in front of what pleases God–I screw up. 

Tried to please others – One of the largest temptations a Christian leader faces is the one to try and please everyone. It can’t be done. If you are a leader (or a human being for that matter) SOMEONE is always going to be angry with you…no matter what you do. AND you will also discover that everyone has an opinion as to how you should live your life and handle your ministry. 

(Remember–opinions are like rear ends…everyone has one and MOST of them are incredible large and stink!) 

The verse spoke volumes to me. I literally stopped and prayed when I read it, asking God to show me how to live a life that is FULLY pleasing to Him. 

That’s what I want…more than anything in the world. And in doing so I know I will have to cast some things aside AND be willing to disappoint people. 

How about you–would you be willing to ask God that question? 

#2 – Am I allowing anything to cause me to lose heart? 

We live in a very discouraging world; in fact, I believe that discouragement is one of the number one weapons the enemy will use to try and strike at people–especially Christian leaders. 

And so…if there are things that cause me to lose heart, that take away my joy…then I MUST continually remove them from my life. 

That is why I don’t read certain blogs anymore–they were joy killers. (And for believers out there who says you do it and it doesn’t effect you–you are full of crap, it’s ripping your joy out– STOP IT!) 

I have literally had to decide to not hang out with certain people because, after meeting with them I wanted to set my head on fire and have it put out with a sledgehammer. 

(I know that doesn’t sound very godly…but if everyone would be honest for just a second–we all have people like that in our lives…it’s just that many don’t have the courage to admit it!) 

I can’t allow discouragement to take a hold in my life–Scripture says in Ephesians 4:27 that we should not allow the devil to have a foothold…and one of his STRONGEST footholds on believers and church leaders is discouragement. 

That is why I don’t see hateful and mean spirited emails and letters…all it does is take a shot at my soul. I am open to rebuke…in love, but that never makes it way to me in an unsigned letter or anonymous email. 

What needs to be removed from your life to protect you from discouragement? 

The Bible states: “Sing a new song to the Lord…” Isaiah 42:10 (NLT), 

#3 – What “old song” must I stop singing to make room for something new that God wants to place in my heart? 

Every church leader and planter is going to face this issue one day. 

I have planted a number of churches … and worked closely with many others. And, in each case the traditions that the leaders are now having to attack are the ones that they helped to develop. The ideas that we are now calling “outdated” are the ones that were once a brand new thought in our minds. 

Honestly, there are times when I have been in a meeting and have wanted to halt the conversation because, well, to be honest, I didn’t like what was being discussed. It was tearing away at what I had shed hours of blood, sweat and tears over…but…God has been slowly showing me that I must celebrate the songs that we’ve sang…but I must always be open to the fact that He wants to do new things. 

Is there anything in your church that was once a good idea that isn’t anymore?
We’re hitting this hard…and it’s tough for me…but I know it’s going to be awesome in the end. He REALLY brought this home for me when I read Isaiah 43:16-19… 

“I am the LORD who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smouldering candlewick. But forget all that–it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it…” 

I should CELEBRATE all that God has done…but ANTICIPATE that He is going to do more and be willing to change ANYTHING that He needs to change. 

I’m asking Him to “put new songs” in my heart. Here’s the last one for today…

Isaiah 42:16 (NLT) – “I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them.” 

#4 – Am I Sincerely Seeking God To Lead Me…Or Am I Trying To Lead Him? 

There have been so many times I’ve taken my thoughts and dreams to God, asking Him to bless them and allow them to come to fruition instead of asking Him what His thoughts and dreams are. 

Here’s a confession–on my best day…I am still nothing more than a blind man who desperately needs the leadership of Jesus in my life if I am going to accomplish anything significant. (John 15:5) 

And the thing I am learning more and more is this–God WANTS to lead me in the right way. He wants me to get things right. He wants me to succeed in life. AND–HE WANTS TO SPEAK TO ME and show me how to get there–but this requires me giving up what I want and asking Him to open my eyes to what He wants. 

This text says that He will lead me along an unfamiliar way. I believe the churches best days are yet to come. I believe God is going to do things we’ve never seen before…but in order for us to get there we have to be willing to walk in unfamiliar ways…and the only way to successfully do that is LISTEN to and FOLLOW the voice of God. 

He’s always speaking…many times though I’ve not been listening. 

He will smooth out the road ahead. He will brighten the darkness…at least that’s what His Word says. So…I’ve got to trust Him with my future. 

This has RADICALLY changed my prayer life. Instead of taking a wish list to Him every day I am simply asking Him to allow me to see as He sees and feel as He feels…THAT IS MESSING ME UP! It’s a process…but I’m giving up my desires and asking Him to put HIS in me. 

I may do a decent job leading my current ministries…but I do a HORRIBLE job when I try to lead God. I’m blind without Him…but with Him I can’t go wrong. 

How about you–are you SERIOUSLY seeking what God wants…or are you trying to get Him to buy into your plans? 

TWO THINGS WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE… 

It’s been said that the two biggest life change factors are: The people I hang out with and the books I read. 

God’s been reminding me lately that this is so true in my life, and this truth has so many implications: 

This is why my personal alone time with God is so important! Spending time reading God’s Word and talking with Him is THE BIGGEST catalyst for change in my life! 

This is why I need to constantly assess who I’m hanging out with and make sure I am rubbing shoulders with people who are wiser, smarter, more successful, and closer to God than I am! 

That’s been a big part of the year 2021 for me personally. It has meant stepping away from some relationships, looking for new relationships, and embracing and hanging out with some really neat people whom I have just come to know. 

This is why I need to be even more diligent and systematic in my personal reading and leadership development time. I read quite a bit, but I need to read MORE! So, I am consciously increasing the time I dedicate to reading each day. The has meant getting up earlier in the morning and moving away from the television earlier in the evening.

Right now, here are a few books I’m reading: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Simply Jesus, a novel called A Time For Mercy, and The 12 Ways of Christmas.

Who are you hanging out with? 

What are you reading? 

If you tell me the answers to those two questions, I’ll tell you what you’re becoming. 

10 REASONS WHY YOU’RE PROBABLY GOING TO FAIL 

I’ve experienced failures. I’ve watched others fail. I’m guessing you’ve seen plenty as well. This morning I tried to think through some common reasons why failure happens. I’m looking forward to some healthy conversation on this one. With that, here are: 

10 Reasons Why You’re Probably Going to Fail                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

It’s not your passion. If it doesn’t make your heart beat fast or cause your mind to race when you’re trying to sleep, you’re probably doing the wrong thing. 

You don’t have a plan. You need a vision, and you need to identify specific steps to make that vision become reality. That includes a financial plan. (I happen to believe you need direction from God on this.) 

You’re waiting for it to be perfect. Test-drive it. Beta-test that new idea. You’ll fall into the trap of inaction if you think it has to be absolutely right from day one. 

You’re not willing to work hard. Everything worth pursuing in my life has involved discipline and perseverance. 

It’ll outgrow you. Keep learning. Keep growing. But more importantly, build a team of people including leaders that can be who you’re not. 

You’ve had success in the past. I’ve watched organizations hang on to a good idea for too long. Time passes. Momentum fades. It’s risky to let go of the past and jump on the next wave. 

You’re unwilling to stop doing something else. Complexity is easy. Simplicity takes discipline. You can’t build a healthy marriage if you’re unwilling to give up dating other women. Who/what do you need to stop dating? 

You won’t build a team of friends. Anyone can hire from a resume. You need to find people you want to share life with. In the long run, great relationships will get you out of bed in the morning. 

You won’t have the tough conversations. When breakdown happens (and it always does), someone needs to put on their big-boy pants and initiate the difficult conversation that leads to relational healing. 

You’re afraid of failure. When fear consumes you, it will cause you to do stupid things. You’ll let negativity distract you. You’ll embrace the known, and grow comfortable with mediocrity. The more often you fail, though, the more often you’ll find success. 

Here’s the deal. I don’t think this list is just about personal failure. This is about organizational failure (your ministry, your church plant, etc.). This is about business failure (your start up, your turnaround effort, etc.). This is about relational failure (your marriage, your dating relationship, your friendships.). The same principles apply. 

Now it’s your turn. What else should be on the list? What are some other ingredients for failure you’ve experienced or witnessed? What would you add/delete from the list? 

Sometimes I Miss the Obvious

Sometimes I Miss the Obvious

There is an annoying advertisement on television for hotels.com which features a character called “Captain Obvious”

He has been around since 2014 and is becoming fairly famous through his somewhat obvious comments in ads for his company

Thus his name Captain Obvious

Makes you wonder about comments you hear and signs that you see when travelling…

      • You know its cold outside when you go outside and it’s cold
      • Please make sure the elevator is there before stepping in
      • Wet paint unless it dried
      • Caution: water on road during rain
      • Open the door before entering. Thank you.
      • Do not breathe under water
      • Caution: Fire is hot
      • Library is closed until opening time
      • On a bin of peanuts: This product contains peanuts
      • On a milk freezer in the grocery store: This is not an exit

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