Daily Crosses Lift Easier With Faith

underhiswingsI press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23

The Cross of Your LIfe:
The going home celebration of a friend of a few decades reminded me of the fragilility of life on this side of heaven. It is full of laughs and tears and comings and goings. None of us are guaranteed the next hour of breathing. None of us are guaranteed the next hour of financial prosperity. None of us are guaranteed the next hour of health. My friend lived with joy and endurance and love and all who knew her are stronger for it.
By faith, we embrace life with all of the uncertainty and instability.
By faith, we believe in a God that promises to never leave us or forsake us.
By faith, we hope in the glory of which we cannot see, but which changes us moment by moment.
By faith, we look to life and life more abundantly.
By faith, we are certain that He will see us through to completion.
By faith, we grasp the confidence that He is greater than any issue of the world.
By faith, we tackle issue after issue after issue.
But, there are no guarantees.
The cross of your life may include some time struggling through illness or disaster.
The cross of your life may include some days of uncertain financial footing.
The cross of your life may include some betrayals and unstable friends and family.
The cross of your life may include temptations to which you fall.
But, there are sure promises and continual blessings.
By promise, we understand that He owns this world and can move resource to our need at just the right momemt.
By promise, we hold to the faith of the Son of God, who loves us and gave Himself for us.
By promise, we have wisdom in Christ.
By promise, we are complete in Him.
By promise, we know those that follow Him will lack for no good thing.
By promise, we depend on His constant intercession.
By promise, we are filled with inestimable treasure of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control.
By faith in the promises of a Living God we live with and through our crosses stronger for each moment and more like Him. And that is life. Live it. My friend did and all of us who knew her are stronger for it.

Prayer: Father, when I started this morning life looked glum.  I have to be honest with You.

In Your promises, I find life is a joy.

In Your love, I find life is happiness.

In Your support, I find life is enchanting.

Take me though this day with all the crosses to bear and let life be more abundant.

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Meet Jesus: Clear Thoughts Matthew 5:27

meetjesustakebackMatthew 5: 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

 One of the greatest thought battles of the male is with lust.  Jesus is fully aware of that thought battle.  He is conscious of the struggle men face.  He doesn’t excuse it away.  Connecting with Jesus is connecting with a commitment to clear, controlled thought-life.

With what appears to be such a strict edict, is there hope for men and women?  Yes, the thought is not just directed to men, it is directed to all.  Is there hope?

Like any struggle, Jesus is giving us tips to stopping damage before it goes to full fruit.  The key is to stop thoughts before they develop into action.  He isn’t telling us that a quick temptation is like full blown sexual contact.  He is telling us, “Don’t go there.  Get control of your thoughts before they develop further than a fleeting idea.”

ACT!  Thoughts wandering?  Try speaking blessing over a person instead of contemplating their sexual attraction.  Change the focus of your mind.  Give your mind something else to think about.  See the person as a person not an objective.

 PRAY!  Father, our hearts can be so distracted.  So many times we find ourselves struggling to stay faithful and content with the lives in which we are blessed.  You call us to not covet other’s goods and spouses and conditions.  Keep envy far from us.  Keep jealousy away from our door.  Keep coveting out of our mind.  Clear our hearts, God.  We need Your help.  You give us clear and clean thoughts to guide us.  Help us to focus on the good and gentle and kind in life and be content with our condition.

Life Can Be Frightening, Friend.

But then, God did not give you a spirit of fear, but of love and power and a sound, well-disciplined mind.  The Father dispenses right knowledge and wisdom and equipage to get your life lived with a smile and a dance in your step.  He does.  Really, He does.

It is frightening to face life without a loving Father’s protection and insight.  This morning as I prayed for my friends, my guideline was the book of Ephesians.  Yes, I read through the entire letter and prayed.  It usually takes about an hour these days, sometimes two hours or more.  Martin Luther, the great reformation leader, and others are quoted as saying, “I had so much to do today, I had to start with 3 hours of prayer.”  I get it.  There is no time to waste. Every minute has to count and prayer puts the power in the punch.

It is frightening to look into tomorrow and realize the threats and opportunities to fail and opportunities to succeed. Failure and success are not distant partners.  Each brings an element of pain and cleanup.  Each creates a next step that has to be addressed.  Plan for success and handle the failure.

It is frightening to go it alone. Living alongside the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is a fearsome task.  He really does get things done. Boy, am I glad I don’t work in the kingdom alone.  It would be hell.  Yes, I believe hell on earth is trying to do the work of living without family and friends and partners in work and ministry and life. When I make a list of co-laborers, I never get to the end.  There are thousands.  What a blessing.

It is frightening to trust my own hand. Friend, never trust yourself to get it done.  When you stretch out with God, you will find yourself in situations that are impossible.  They take impossible strength, impossible faith, impossible love, and impossible energy.  He has a ready supply of all four.

My prayer for friends.

Father take the hand of my friend and bring impossible strength, impossible faith, impossible love, and impossible energy into the path.  As You walk with my friend enable with everything necessary to live abundantly, faithfully, and effectively.  Let life be changed.  Let fear be put into the street.  Let faith shine so bright those around my friend will lose fear and find faith.

Other’s Need – God’s Supply – Your Hand and Heart

Remember to pray for the Community Transformation Initiative and all those that are helping and joining. After taking a few months of prep and collaboration, you would not believe the demands of the next six weeks at the Community Transformation Initiative.  We are actively engaged in East OKC, North OKC, Stillwater, Del City, St. Louis, Matamoros, Mexico, and online around the world. Every one of these engagements results in life change.  Our goal for 2013 was to impact 1000 families face to face.  In the last 30 days, we’ve exceeded 300 and expect to pass that goal in the next six weeks. Much of this is 1-1.In the next six weeks, we will be presenting live for over 60 hours.  The average pastor will present 10 hours in the same period. Much of our presentation will be bilingual and all of it will occur outside my personal cultural background.  The average pastor/leader never does either of these because they are ten times more exhausting than staying within your personal culture zone or niche. The Community Transformation Initiative is not called to be average.  Our aim is transformation.

 

Our commitment and high level schedule:

General Ministerial Conference – Dallas July 24-26

East Zion Men’s Leadership – July 26th 7pm

Telemundo Radio 33.1 – July 27th Interview on Matamoros outreach 2:30pm to 3pm

Rewrite – Mentoring – Life Church July 31st

Fearless Weekend – Tabitha Baptist East OKC Aug 2,3,4

Fearless Weekend – Regrese de Clase – CAREVI – Matamoros, Mex Aug 8-12

Watch DOG Launch –  Back to School – Tulakes NW OKCAug 16

Watch DOG Launch – Epperly Heights – Del City – date tba

Outreach Planters Training – OKC Aug 23-25

Schools of Prayer – West OKC – Aug 7, Sept 4

Dad’s University – Online Fall Semester Aug 20-end of term

Champion Fathers Luncheon and Tourney – SW OKC Sept 16th

Total cost to get this done – $20,000.  On hand funds $1500.  Faith Commitments $5000. God’s Challenge To Be Met: $13,500

How to support.. <==click it

Impossible faith will see it to completion.

Impossible love will keep us motivated.

Impossible strength will bring us to perform.

Impossible energy will make this fun.

Meet Jesus: Conciliation Matthew 5:23

meetjesusinfluencerMatthew 5: 23: Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24: Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

To Jesus the issue of treating our brothers with respect was powerful. It wasn’t just a matter of not killing each other and not calling each other names. His outlook was one of resolving differences. Jesus is tough on those issues that divide unnecessarily. Surely, 99% of what divides us today can be resolved with humility and the right approach.

In the verses before and behind this the issue is laid out. Don’t attack or be angry with your brother unless it is super serious. Settle a matter quickly, even if the person has set themselves as an enemy against you. Deal with it.

Workday Conflict: The conflict at work was intense. These two just could not get along. Every meeting was full of asides and stares. What could break the personality impasse? Work was not getting done because decisions could never be trusted.
One of the parties stayed after a meeting. Their demeanor was serious. Slowly, they admitted the problem was real and asked me, their manager, how to address it. Fortunately, they were Christian. The concept of grace was easily appealed to with them. We agreed they would begin to list out frustrations with the individual after every meeting and cross off all the ones that had no substance. Then they would follow up outside the meeting with the person to come to a compromise on ones that did have substance.

Everything did not get better immediately. But it sure made the rest of the week more productive. Maybe the other person would eventually respond to the extension of grace.

Community Clashes: A friend was frustrated as we ate lunch. As he worked with pastors, he noted many of them hated each other. They would make vile comments about other pastors and churches working in the same community and culture. How could this be?

We prayed for pastors and leaders. We agreed we would continue to offer love and acceptance to each one of them. Maybe our extension of acceptance to them could help break the bottleneck of competitive spirit we were finding.

ACT! Call someone who is testy with you. Offer them peace and acceptance.

PRAY! Wow, Father, You are really serious about Your family getting along. Surely, You created us to live together with peace as much as possible. Help me today to be a peaceful person and a peacemaker. Help me to move first toward peace with others. I love You, Father. I am glad You are always on my side for me to grow.

Mercy AND Truth Psalm 25

Discipleship Principles

Discipleship Principles

Let mercy and truth cover your conversation and way of life.

Psalm 25:4,5 Show me Your paths, O Lord.  Teach me to walk in Your ways.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.

Morning Moments: Rising this morning to some cooler than average temperatures, truth stirred in me.  Solomon’s wisdom shouts out.  David’s prayer prompts.  Maybe, like me you’ve found life tough.  Results resistive?  Outcomes untimely?  There are many days like that.  And there are many days full of results where outcomes are powerful and lives are changed.

Better: Fulfillment comes watching my children and grandchildren develop into all God has for them.  Contentment builds in living the adventure with my wife, Dian, for over 35 years.  The Father continues to build me and mold me.  Like the song, “Every day with Jesus is better than the day before.”  Truthfully?  It does not always feel like it.

Faith or Feeling: Truthfully?  Feelings are not the food of a disciple of Christ. When was the last time you heard that phrase applied to you, ‘a disciple of Christ’? Faith is the food of a disciple of Christ.  Vision is the food of a disciple of Christ.  Service is the food of a disciple of Christ.  Giving is the food of a disciple of Christ.  Witnessing is the food of a disciple of Christ.  Prayer and thanksgiving and fellowship are food of a disciple of Christ.  Scripture study and meditation are the food of a disciple of Christ.

Discipleship: Yesterday, I was mentoring a church leadership team in discipleship principles.  The freshness of the lead team after years of sameness is beautiful.  The good news is bringing new believers.  Scriptural principles applied to those new lives will result in faith and right living.  This team knows enjoying our feelings in the moment and praying for God to miraculously teach new believers what they need to know is foolish and irresponsible and untruthful.   Ouch.  Let mercy and truth hang as an ornament.  Put it out there.  They are getting the right results.

Back to results:    Right disciplines steer the course to right results.   That is truth. The miracle love of God providently takes our small efforts and causes them to give much larger outcomes than are humanly possible.  That is mercy.  Mercy works with truth.

Prayer:  Father, this morning lacks the full luster I would like.  Underneath the feelings and human perceptions, I understand the principles put into motion are working.  Beyond my sight and touch, I know You are working miracles of mercy.  It just does not feel like it.  Okay, that is truthful, Father.  I believe, help my unbelief.  Stir the life blood of Your Holy Spirit to a boil in my soul.  Cause the energy from Your presence to be enthusiasm for others to touch.   Let mercy and truth come out from me as well as live in me.  Let it be an ornament of beauty for others to see based on right living as a disciple of Christ and great mercy as a child of the Most High Creator.

Support:

Online Dad’s University

Champion Fathers Luncheon and Tourney  Sept 16, Willow Creek Golf and Country Club

IPHC General Conference July 24,25,26  Dallas, Texas

East Zion Mens’ Leadership July 26th OKC

Rewrite – with The Mentoring Project and Life Church July 31st  Edmond campus

Fearless Fathers Catalyst Weekend Aug 2,3,4 Tabitha Baptist, OKC

Fearless Families Catalyst Weekend Aug 9,10,11  Matamoros, Mexico

Watch D.O.G.S. Launch Aug 16th  Tulakes Elementary, OKC

Meet Jesus: Dignity Matthew 5:21

www,examiner.com

www,examiner.com

Matthew 5:  21″You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

 Dignity is a key concept in Christ.  Jesus did not assault the dignity of any human.  There were times He directly challenged people to righteousness.  He had no problem calling people to account for hidden agendas and false fronts.  He did not attack the person as a person.  He never called anyone a fool or an idiot or stupid or any such attack.  That standard stands for us.

 Interesting is the way Jesus looks at one of the ‘ten commandments’.  There is a level beyond the surface to which He takes us.  It is the heart intent that is most important.  It is the beginning of the action in the depth of the heart that Jesus looks to identify.  Lusting leads to adultery.   Anger and contempt leads to murder.  Stop the action at the point of the seed in the heart.  That’s His message.

 ACT!  Look for any bad seeds in your heart.  Take a few moments to sift through your thoughts over the last few days.  If you have a mate, is there another besides your mate that has taken time in your thoughts in the wrong direction?  Have you been unduly angered and contemptuous with someone?  Are you miffed at God over something You think He should have done for you?  Have you railed at a government official?  Now is the time to uproot the seed before it germinates.

 PRAY!  Father, I’ve got to admit.  There are times I am really upset with people acting out of my pattern.  Yes, Father, I have my ways.  Help me to not be so quick to call them right and others wrong.  Help me to see the person separately from the action.  Help me to protect the dignity of each human as precious.  Help me to look at others as Your creation with an intention for good.  Though they may be demonstrating wrongly, help me to look beyond at potential and design.  Let me call out goodness for the lives of others in the midst of pain and problems.  Help me to be like You.

Meet Jesus: Integral

 meetjesusnearathandHow in this world can our righteousness exceed that of the most religious?  

Matthew 5: 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. 

Jesus calls us to a higher place than religion.  It is not the place of pious righteousness born of obeisance to which He calls us.  Did that make sense?  It is not surface righteousness He wants.  It is not doing great motions that He wants.  He wants righteousness born of the spirit of the heart.  He wants our desires for living like God.  This goes beyond the righteousness of religion.

 

A story: Sharon was looking.  So often she had seen religion in the lives of others.  That did not appeal to her.  She wanted something more.  She wanted relationship and meaning in her life.  How could she find it?  This group that met on Tuesday nights seemed to have something more.  Her coworker had convinced her to go the first time.  There was something in them more than just their bible-book and talk.  She wondered what it was.

ACT!  Is there a hunger for right living in you?  Is it bigger than just what you do, but how you think?

PRAY!  Father, where is the place of peace I seek.  In my life there are many mistakes.  So many times, I’ve lost sight of the goodness You want for me.  So many times, I have tried and failed to live up to Your ways and laws.  But, I want to follow You.  I want to live for You.  I want to connect with Your love every day and every hour.  Peace me, Father.  Flow the presence of Your Holy Spirit into me in new ways.  Break the old mold of my life and breathe something new in me.  Make my love for You fresh and vibrant.  Break me.