“RESTORE TO ME THE JOY OF YOUR SALVATION
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
Psalm 51:10-12 (NIV)
It’s interesting how David connects joy to willingness. It’s pretty simple actually. We are more prone to do what we “find joy in.” Did David lose the joy of his salvation before he fell into sin or after it? It seems logical to concur that David lost his joy, therefore he sinned. Scripture makes it clear that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh 8:10). We are more prone to failure and deception when we lose our joy. David wanted joy back and I, for one, am glad he got it!
We all long to be full of joy and live an exhilarated life because we are meant for it, and God finds great joy in our joy! Our success as followers of Christ is linked to our joy.
God finds great joy in our joy!
6 Thoughts on Restoring and Sustaining Joy!
1. Joy is not rooted in happenings.
Happiness and joy are not synonymous. However, I do think that most people use the terms interchangeably. It could be a matter of semantics. In my view and in this context “I would say that happiness is based on happenings.” Joy is rooted in something that happened, the cross. Happiness can be easily moved by something, but true joy is found in somebody: Jesus. I would suggest that happiness for the believer is discovered in their joy. Joy is fruit of the spirit. We don’t chase fruit, we produce it.
In other words, my joy is not dictated by circumstances, situations, relationships, etc. It is rooted in Jesus. I know it preaches easy, but we must come to grips with the fact that there is great joy in Jesus despite trials, hardships, and the happenings of life.
There is great joy in Jesus despite trials,
hardships, and the happenings of life.
2. Remember where you came from.
A couple of years ago, I ran into my childhood best friend whom I had not seen in well over a decade. We grew up together on the same street, shared the same interests, went to school together, partied together... we were basically “besties” before that was a word. But when I was 18 I gave my life to Jesus, and my friend continued his life. When I saw him again after so many years, it rocked me. My heart was broken for him. He had spent a large portion of his life in jail. He looked old, worn, tired, and broken. He laughed about it and said, “Man, look at you. You look so young, and I look old.”
The difference is Jesus. I can’t get over that moment. I am so grateful that Jesus saved me from a life of sin and many of the effects of sin. It keeps my joy intact, the joy of my salvation!
3. Remember what you came for.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross...” Hebrews 12:2(NIV)
We are the joy of Jesus that this passage speaks of. We are his mission, and because we were the prize of the cross, it sustained Him through the most critical and grueling struggle of human history.
Eyes on the prize, keep your purpose in front of you, and don’t allow happenstance to distract you from what you were built for! You were built for Jesus!
4. Practice gratitude.
It is a healthy practice to find something to celebrate everyday. Rejoicing does just what it says: it RE-JOY(ce). Celebrate and then celebrate again.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 (NIV)
It is possible that some days the only thing to celebrate is your salvation. Everyday I thank God for saving me. I thank him for the cross. I thank him for getting a hold of my hard heart. When I posture my heart in that manner, something always wells up inside of me. I hope I never get over the magnitude of what He did for me when I responded to Him almost 25 years ago.
5. Share your story.
What is your story? The story of when Jesus rescued you. What did he rescue you from? When was the last time you shared that with somebody? Your history with Jesus is one the most powerful things you have. Nobody can debate your experience. It’s your story, and one of the greatest ways you can restore or grow in your joy is by sharing what Jesus has done in your life. It is a key to victory in your life and to the lives of those you are sharing it with.
6. Ask to be filled with joy in the Holy Spirit.
We know it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Lk. 12:32) And The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 14:17)
It’s the fathers Joy to give you the Kingdom and he wants to fill you with Joy in the Holy Ghost! Understand that it is His heart for you, then ask for it! Ask him to fill you with the Holy Spirit and unspeakable & irrational Joy. I think he will fill you today if you will just ask and seek him! He gives good gifts to his kids! (Matt. 7:11)
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy..."
1 Peter 1:8 (NIV)
2 Corinthians 1:19-21 (NKJV)
19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us--by me, Silvanus, and Timothy--was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. 20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God.
It’s always encouraging to share something that is burning in your heart and it is reciprocated with an “Amen” to what you are saying. The preacher in me loves to hear “amens" from the crowd while I am preaching. It’s a great affirmation from the group of people I am sharing with, but it is also a hearty confirmation that they get what I am saying. The word amen is an ultimate declaration of agreement. In technology, a digital amen could be likened to the like button or a thumbs up! (There is even a suggested emoji for Amen! 🙏 )
In English, the word amen means “verily” or “truly.” In Hebrew, it is a firm interjection that means “so be it.” We often end our prayers with the declarative exclamation of amen. As to say “Yes! So be it!”
I wanted to encourage you today that God has an Amen. There is an exclamation point from heaven over our lives, a great big “So be it” from heaven! Jesus is heaven’s amen over us.
There are several things that God says amen to in our lives! The only thing we have to do to get the amen of God active in our lives is to trust the amen that he has already spoken in Jesus.
1-The Love of God!
We cannot get out of the love of God! God cannot do anything greater than He did 2000 years ago when He sent Jesus! He can’t undo what was accomplished that day, it is the very proof of God’s love. No greater demonstration could have been made for him to send Jesus to come and die for us. (Romans 5:8) God so loved the world that he sent Jesus! (John 3:16)
2-Our Right Standing
You may think God is done with you because you blew it, because you sinned … again. I mean you did the thing that you vowed to never do … again. However, our right standing, or our righteousness, is not determined by us performing well. It was decided by God when He sent Jesus for us. Beloved, you did nothing to earn your righteousness and you can do nothing to maintain it. The only thing that secures your righteousness is trusting God that Jesus was enough.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
3. Our Identity
You weren’t just made right enough to live in the house, but to be part of the family. You are a son. You are a daughter. You are royalty. You are His prized possession. The end. My kids sometimes don’t act the way I want them to, but they are still my kids. That wont change.
James 1:18 (NLT) He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
4. His Promises
His provision and His promises have already been said yes and amen to. Provision, freedom, peace, joy, physical and emotional healing. God doesn’t say no to any of these things. Either He has promised them or He has not. Either they are promises for all of us, or none of us. God will not undo what He has already done. He already paid a very high price for our healing and freedom. He already sent His Holy Spirit to fill us and lead us with joy and peace. God is not a man, that he should lie.(Numbers 23:19) It is time that we start believing God that He is good for His word and His promises!
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed,
but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 Peter 1:23 (NIV)
It could be that the one presenting the word was "off." It could be that we are misinterpreting the scripture. Yet there is a third option.
The condition of our heart.
In Mark chapter 4, there is a parable about the sower and the seed (see below). In this story, we see the same seed being sown yet only 1 out of the 4 times did the seed produce what it was intended to produce. Jesus likens the seed to the word.
Verse 14 “The farmer sows the word.”
The Word of God is not sometimes true, it's always true. It is the incorruptible, indestructible, inerrant, eternal word of God made ineffective. Wow! The infinitely powerful word of God is limited; limited by the human heart.
Let that sink in: Our heart can limit the word of God.
Now, our heart does not change the word, it doesn’t rob the word of its power, however, it is rendered ineffective by the condition of the heart that receives it. The potential of God’s life-giving word is contingent upon our capacity to receive it. Hard hearts, shallow hearts, and hearts that are consumed with worldly desires, can limit the power of God in our lives.
I want to encourage you to keep your heart ready to receive the word of God. Whether it be when somebody speaks the word over you through a message or prophetic gifting, or when you are having your daily time in the word. Keep your heart ready!
Here are five ways to nurture the condition of your heart, and help get your heart tender and ready for the word. Tenderness makes the soil of our heart fertile for producing fruit.
1- Pray- Before you read. Before you hear. Then pray again after. Pray that the word takes root in your heart and produces fruit.
2-Ask God For Forgiveness- Of offenses you are holding onto, or bitterness of your heart towards others.
3-Worship & Praise God- Spend time reflecting on the beauty of God. Nothing will bring tenderness like thinking about greatness and expressing gratitude for all that He has done.
4-Heart To Heart- Have heart to heart conversations with people. Talk about your hurts, your pain, your anger. Not to rant, but simply to express what you are wrestling with.
5-Read It Again- And again until it gets in you. The very thing that we need in the soil of our heart is the thing that will make that heart tender! Read it, memorize it, print it, and stick it on the fridge. Write it on the bathroom mirror with a marker. Get into the word until the word gets into you!
Get into the Word until the Word gets into you!
Mark 4:1-20 (NIV) 1 Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. 2 He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: 3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that,
“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’[a]”
13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
“He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach” -Mark 3:14 NIV
The disciples were there with Jesus, partnering with Him. They gathered crowds, passed out food, advanced the message, and they even performed miracles. (Mark 6:13)
The disciples even took over and grew the ministry of Jesus after He left the planet.
(To the disciples he said) “Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.- John 14:12(NIV)
Jesus established a model and partners to advance His purposes, when He walked the Earth. It’s the greatest leadership strategy that the world has ever known. He didn’t just disciple followers, He discipled leaders!
If we are followers of Jesus, He wants us to emulate this model.
Leadership is often viewed as “be the best that you can be,” but what if we saw leadership as empowering others to be the best that they can be. Self improvement is critical, but leadership is not self improvement, it’s improving others. Leadership is not education, it’s impartation, imparting and empowering others to fulfill a greater purpose.
"Leadership is not self improvement,
It’s improving others."
In the end, our greatness will not be measured by what we do with what is in our hands, but what we put in the hands of others.
The Process of Empowering Others
"Before you will ever lead somebody effectively,
you will have to connect with them relationally."
2. Show Them
Showing somebody how to do something can be difficult and time consuming sometimes. It can be true that many times it’s “easier (and even better) if I do it myself.” But if I continue to do it myself, then somebody else doesn't get to do it. It’s actually selfish.
Developing people takes time, but is aways more important than accomplishing tasks! Take the extra time to develop somebody to do what you are doing, and you might be surprised in the short amount of time that they are doing it better than you ever could!
Developing people > Accomplishing task.
3. Grow Them
Jesus spent way more time with His disciples than He did with the crowd. Much of what we read in the gospels are resourcing moments where Jesus was growing his disciples.
Resourcing and encouraging those who are around you is your responsibility as a leader. Whether it be an article, blog, video, a message, or something you generate yourself, it is the leader’s job to be the equipment manager of the people they are developing.
4. Let Go of Them
I heard years ago that if somebody can do what I am doing 80% as good as I can, then I should give it to them.
This is a struggle for me. I am a hands on leader. I am also very particular. (All of the people close to me said “Amen!”) This can be a problem because if I am not careful, I will micromanage what I hand off. It can cause those that I impart to to operate out of fear and become insecure. Insecure leaders will sometimes meet expectations but rarely exceed them. In order for people to get better, they have to be able to set expectations for themselves rather than living under the scrutiny of the person delegating to them.
"Insecure leaders will sometimes meet expectations
but rarely exceed them."
For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.
- Proverbs 24:16(NIV)
That is what we do. We get up. We rise from the ashes. We are not one hit wonders. As leaders, the greatest stories we use to inspire others are the redemption stories of when we were low, and we were able to gain ground.
3 Things to Remember to Help Get You Back Up:
Sometimes it is easy to have grace for others but not for ourselves. In fact, in my life, I have found that when I don’t have an understanding grace for myself I am not very graceful towards others. Take it easy on yourself! Grace empowers the second chance. Grace doesn't simply show pity when we are down, it empowers us to get up!
" Grace empowers
the second chance."
2. Reach Out
There will be moments in our lives where the only way we can get up is with the assistance of another. Everybody needs a hand. God has placed people in your life to help you when you are down.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV) Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
3. One More Time
It is critical to remember that you only have to get up one more time than you fall. When you are down, just declare the words, “just one more time.”
Micah 7:8 (NIV) Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.
"Substance doesn't come from copying a model.
Substance is born in the heart."
I don't want to seem dramatic, but I think at times we border on idolatry. Making people that inspire us the goal, and not what God has called us to do. It's hard to resist. As an artist I get it. As a public speaker I get it.
Let me be clear there is nothing wrong with repeating what another person says, or following a trend. However, it is imperative that when we are being an echo, that we don't lose our own voice. Go ahead with some retweets, but don’t let your life be a retweet of somebody else’s timeline.
"Don’t let your life be a retweet
of somebody else’s timeline."
3. Embrace Creativity
Believers should be the most creative force on the earth! You were made in the image of God! You are creative. Look inward and stop focusing so much on what others are doing. Comparison is killing your ability to create. Comparison screams be more like _____. However, God is raising up ground breakers and pioneers. Will you be willing to dream with The Creative One? Get alone, disconnect from technology, and dream with God!
4. Embrace Principles
I have spent most of my time in this blog trying to break a mold, but principles are important to remember. There are right and wrong ways to be original. The most virtuous and the greatest evil in human history all started with an idea. The noble follow noble principles. They color inside the lines, but they use different colors. As a follower of Christ, don't try to redefine virtue. As it’s been said, “The method changes but not the message.” The principles are given by your Creator.
5. Release Passion
What burns inside of you? Discover your “why” and give yourself over to it. It might not become the greatest trend, but the only way you will ever influence the masses is by influencing the one. The only way you can influence one is by pouring out yourself on what you do. Let it out. It’s inside of you. Do, be, and create all that God has put in your heart!
Over the past several years, sloths have become a bit iconic. From memes to animated movies, they have become a visual staple in our culture. Whether it's Monday or a lazy weekend, sometimes our pace can be illustrated by the lethargic beast that sleeps 15-20 hours everyday that gets in a hurry for nothing. The Bible does not really talk about sloths but scripture talks a lot about the slothful.
Scripture uses several words to communicate the concept of slothfulness: sluggish, lazy, idle, slow, indifferent, careless. It's a deeper issue than simply not wanting to get out of bed in the morning.
Throughout the Bible and heavily throughout the book of Proverbs, we see warnings of this behavior because it can lead to debt(Prov 12:24), poverty(Prov 13:4) and even destruction(Prov 21:21). In Biblical culture laziness was no joke to be laughed at. It was very frowned upon, considered one of the lowest forms of behavior. Historically in the church and society slothfulness made the list of the 7 deadly sins. It's kind of a big deal.
We need to have days of rest, God commands it even. However, our mode in life should be that of diligence if we want to be successful and live a life that honors God.
Romans 12:11 (NIV) Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Other translations state to it this way: Never be lazy, but work hard(NLT)In diligence not Slothfull.(ASV)
The greek root word is Okneo: meaning (1) to feel loath, to be slow (2) to delay, hesitate.
Spiritually we can become slothful- that is slow and indifferent. We become lazy, lose our fire, and we just coast. We figure just as long as we are not sinning as much as we used to that we are doing well. Stagnation in our walk can be just as detrimental as drifting. I want to ask you today, what does your spiritual diligence look like? Have you become slow in your pursuit of Jesus and his kingdom? Has your relationship with him grown mild? Have you became slothful in spirit? Have you lost your fire? If so, get it back! Return to your first love, your first passion and get it back! (Rev 2:4)
We are not called to just be spiritually diligent we are called to a life of diligence. What does diligence look like in your life? Are you slothful? I know a lot of us are naturally sloths. I get it, I’ve been there and have had to fight hard for a lot of years and lay down my tendency. I grew up in a blue color town and my dad modeled an incredible work ethic. Even in that environment, I had to fight the tendency to become slothful.
Slothfulness can be demonstrated in our lives in several ways:
1. Carelessness/ Apathy:
A lot of times it's just a heart issue. We simply don't care. If that is the case it simply ends there. If you are dealing with being apathetic every day, for as long as it takes get before Jesus daily and ask him to reignite your heart.
2. Consistently running late:
Most of us will be late occasionally. Things happen. Being late for things is very inconsiderate of people that are waiting on you. Being late tells other people that we do not value their time. It’s inconsiderate. Value people's time and make being on time a priority, it will speak well of you!
Procrastinating is not always about laziness but it’s about priorities. We will do what we find most important first. Don't wait till tomorrow to stop procrastinating. ;)
4. Failing follow through
It is critical as believers, and especially leaders, that we follow through with our commitment. When we don't follow through with what we say, it's essentially saying, “I have no integrity.” Be a person of your word. Your testimony and your reputation hinge upon it.
Follow through is a responsibility issue. Responsibility is not just the measure of maturity, it's the sustainer of our credibility.
Don’t overcommit, don’t oversell. There is a difference between what you can do and what you actually will do. Make sure that your commitment is not what you intend to do but what you actually will do.
"Responsibility is not just the measure of maturity,
it's the sustainer of our credibility."
5. Lack of motivation:
I believe for most people slothfulness is a motivation issue. Whether you fell like doing it or you don't feel like doing it, if you do it the outcome is the same. Sometimes you only feel like doing it when you are doing it.
I love mowing the lawn. I enjoy being outside, the smell, the heat, the monotony of it. It's very therapeutic to me. However, I always dread mowing the lawn until I am mowing the lawn. Sometimes you just have to allow discipline to do the driving and allow the heart to follow.
Hebrews 6:10-12 (NIV) 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Dear Christian Millennial,
I love you. I believe in you. You are not just our future, you are our present. A movement is happening and you are spear heading it. You have become a label, a cliche, a point of buzzed memes, and you have been stereotyped. But I love you and I believe in you. There are a lot of uncertainties in the world at this point in history, but I am optimistic about our future. The world is yours to steward and I don't despise you.
I am a 40 something year old Lead Pastor, married, and have four kids. I am creative and an entrepreneur, so I feel like I get you in many ways, probably due to the fact that I work so closely with many of you now and have been a youth pastor to many of you in the last two decades. I want to do what I have done most of my life: I want to encourage you and lead you. I want to do that today by giving you a few things to focus on. I know we don't need another open letter or another blog about Millennials. I know you hate labels and I too am sick of all the negative attention your generation receives, but if you give me a few moments I want to invest in you.
1. Be Secure
Identity is so important to you. Like being true to yourself and searching your heart, these things are incredibly valuable to you. The likes on your latest snap selfie does not determine your worth. Since this is a letter to Christian Millennials, my encouragement to you is to yield yourself to your identity in Christ. Christianity is not simply your religion, it’s your identity. You are more valuable than you will ever know. When you discover His value for you, you will see that it dwarfs your tiny view of your personal worth.
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. -Colossians 3:3
2. Be Solid
Be a person of conviction. A person of long term conviction. Be set apart. Be sanctified. Live sacrificial and not superficial to your faith. Don't be so swayed by emotions or moments. Remember the YOLO thing…It was trendy for a reason. As you have grown up you have realized that living for the moment and living in the moment are totally different. Be smart and exercise self-control. Don’t live for the moment, live for an eternal reward. Develop an enduring work ethic with conviction!
"Living for the moment and living in the moment are totally different."
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. -1 Corinthians 15:58
3. Be Supportive
I watched some of you grow up in church and a lot of you are mad at the Church. I understand. There is a lot to be angry about, but your anger won't fix the Church. Your love will. Don't be so sarcastic and cynical. It’s not working. Be devoted to Christ’s Church. If you will love the Church like Jesus loves the Church, pray for the Church and commit to the Church as much as Jesus commits to the Church, it will be the Church that you can believe in. Be the Church. Be truly faithful to church, serve your church, raise your kids in the Church. The Church has a lot to offer you and you have a lot to offer her.
"There is a lot to be angry about, but your anger won't fix the Church."
Be devoted to one another in love. -Romans 12:10
4. Be Significant….Now!
I love your drive and desire for significance. I love that you want to matter. In order to matter you must become effective, and that takes time. Overnight significance is a myth. It’s going to take a lifetime of hard work. You matter and you will be significant, so stay the course. Focus on significance in the small and the mundane. Be significant in your commitments. Be consistent and significance will follow!
I love you. I believe in you.
There is a guy I see at the gym most days. He is probably in his 60’s, doesn't smile much, nor does he talk to other gym goers. I imagine him as a man that has worked hard his entire life. He is rugged and strong. Often times I see him on the bike or at the arm curl machine grinding out his workout. What fascinates me most about this man is that he does not have the typical attire of a gym goer. He wears athletic shoes, a trucker hat, a t-shirt, and jeans. Yes, he exercises every day in jeans. He works out hard wearing Wranglers with a long wallet sticking out of his back pocket. I also don’t imagine that he drinks Starbucks and is probably more likely to drink the canned Folders that is brewed for free at the gym. He doesn't have the look but he has the lifestyle. He shows up.
There are these ladies that frequent the Starbucks where I spend my Tuesday mornings. They order a skinny vanilla late and wear t-shirts, yoga pants, Nike caps, and athletic shoes along with pristine makeup. Their makeup looks so untouched most likely because they aren’t working out. They have the look, but they don't have the lifestyle. It's just fashionable.
I feel like this is how a lot of people are. They have the look but they don't have the lifestyle. Rather than focussing on the work, they focus on the look. In the highlight reel of the digital age, we show people the best moments of our lives. We give them our fashion, but do we backup the lifestyle? We keep most people at a screens distance, so naturally we live in a extremely sensitive and insecure culture.
Leadership has become fashionable. It’s trendy to use quotes, attend conferences, and hold titles. All leaders need to be students of leadership, but it’s one thing to be a student of leadership and it’s another to actually lead. We love the idea of influencing others, but it takes time and energy. It takes work. A lot of work. We can’t just carry the title, we have to show up.
Nobody likes hypocrisy. It’s not a new concept. Even Jesus hated it. The word hypocrisy is taken from the Greek term for “actor” and literally means “one who wears a mask”. (Ancient Greek actors wore masks during their performances.) So the true meaning of a hypocrite is someone who pretends to be what he is not. Now before you jump to the conclusion, I am not saying that yoga pant moms are hypocrites. My point here is that it does none of us any good to go around acting and putting on the garments if we are just playing dress up and pretending. Putting on a show.
Three easy ways to quit pretending:
1. Just be real
Be honest, and by being honest I don't mean that you announce your sin to the world with a megaphone. Stop feeling the need to cover up. It’s sad that a common term in our culture is “honestly” or “To be honest.” #TBH I mean, shouldn't we always be honest? Now, Self-Control is a fruit of the spirit that we should exercise regularly, but with people that we are living life with, we should let them know the real us- not the fake us.
“People would rather follow a leader who is always REAL than one who is alway RIGHT.” -Craig Groeschel
2. Show up
Our life and leadership will never produce if we only live based upon how we are feeling. There can be a great difference in how you feel and what you do. We must lead our heart if we want to experience life at the fullest.
One day at the gym, I noticed something about the man in jeans. He had a cane. I don’t know if he had it all the time but that day I noticed it. If I needed a cane I would skip the gym. But not this guy, he is the real deal. He doesn't make excuses, he doesn't let the pain keep him at home. He works out. It’s what he does.
On our best day or our worst day we show up. We are not being fake, we are being faithful.
"On our best day or our worst day we show up.
We are not being fake, we are being faithful."
3. Stay at it
Consistency is what defines us. It’s not our highlights nor our moment of weakness that reveals who we are. What we are made of is revealed throughout the seasons of our lives. Faithfulness ceases when we fail to be faithful, and fruitfulness is the result of being faithful. So stay at it! You are becoming the person and the leader that God has designed you to be. You can’t get results with out the hard work. Your job is to keep going and allow God to take care of your promotion.
One of my favorite things about my years spent in student ministry is the culture that was built. There were many fond moments as lives were being shaped and molded! One of the most fun things that came out of developing our culture were little “isms” that are formed. Part of the culture we developed was hard work. We would tirelessly hustle to get things done and often we found creative ways to problem solve. A term that we often used and lived by in those days was “Don’t tell me the problem tell me solution.” You see, I had trained our student leaders that they were not allowed to tell me about a problem until they tried several ways to solve it. If they came to me with a problem I would simply ask what they did to figure it out, or I would ask what they had tried. As stern as it may have sounded, rather than bailing them out, I taught them how to problem solve. Today some of those students are some of the most competent adults I know.
Problem solving is one of the most important aspects of leadership. Often times we will have to know how to find quick, innovative, quality solutions. Here are few things that will help you grow in solving problems.
“Don’t tell me the problem
tell me solution.”
5 Ways to Grow Problem Solving Skills
1. Grow in Discernment.
When God allows you to be in a leadership role, He also equips you with a level of discernment. The only way you are going to grow in that is by having the courage to move forward in your discernment. Leaders can see what others can’t see. Problems and solutions. Not to just see the problem, but to quickly figure out the why behind it is even better. Start taking a birds eye view to all of the challenges you face as a leader. Open your eyes and ask God to bring clarity to your objective view.
2. Take responsibility.
Anybody can find a problem, leaders find solutions. John Maxwell says, “Leaders can give up anything but final responsibility.” If you see a problem, even if it is not in your area of expertise, jump in and own it.
I can't tell you how many times I have been an attendee or a guest at a event and (after asking for permission) jumped behind a sound booth or a media center to figure how to make audio or video work properly. I might not be able to help, but I figure if the right person isn't there then I have to at least try to be that person. It’s what leaders do. We see problems as opportunities to contribute.
3. Do whatever it takes.
A friend I used to serve on staff with, Seth Wolverton, would often pipe up anytime we talked about accomplishing a big job. He would say, “Let’s make it happen.” His approach always lifted the standard and the morale of the team. It’s what leaders do. We start early, finish late, and do whatever it take to get the job done. Leaders exhaust every option to accomplish the objective. At times is inconvenient, but we didn't sign up up for convenience. We are running with a mission that is bigger than ourselves.
Some may disagree, but in my experience I have seen the “whatever it takes” approach actually gets easier with time. It kind of becomes part of your nature after you make the necessary investment on the front end. Once you become a whatever it takes person, it is not as laborious.
4. Refuse to make excuses.
Another “ism” we would say in our student ministry was “Stop making excuses and start making arrangements!” Excuses will always end progression, we will never move forward, nor will our organizations move forward, if we have an excuse to why it is not.
“Stop making excuses &
start making arrangements!”
There is almost always a way to accomplish what you set out to do. Sometimes that way has not been discovered yet. Be a creative learner. Ask God to fill you with creative solutions to accomplish what He wants to do with and through you. Don’t ask the Lord to bail you out! Sometimes the old way won't work because God wants to show you a new way. Remember: Necessity the mother of invention.
1. Agreement is important to God
John 17:20-23 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.
2-Agreement brings exponential increase.
Psalm 133:1-3 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down Aaron's beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows(commands) his blessing, even life forevermore.
We Celebrate DIVERSITY:
The difference of identity.
The difference of functionality.
The differences of personality.
Unity is not sameness: unity is oneness of purpose.
Don't allow emphasis to become a point of contention.
Things that break the spirit of agreement.
1. A disagreeable spirit.
Those that thrive off cynicism, sarcasm or disagreement, jaded, etc…
“You can agree but still have a disagreeable spirit and
you can disagree and have a agreeable spirit.”
2. The Spirit of Offense.
Proverbs 18:19 (NLT) An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.
There are two types of offended people: (1) those who have been mistreated; and (2) those who think they have been mistreated but actually were not.
“Offense plays the victim but the only one
victimized is the one who is offended.”
3. The sin of Divisiveness:
Romans 16:17-20 (NLT) 17 And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. 18 Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.
“Divisiveness not only hinders relations of people it actually hinders our relationship with God.”
Matthew 5:23-24 (NLT) 23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.
The Spirit of Agreement….
1. Chooses conversation.
We are not in covenant with our opinion we are in covenant with People.
2. Properly confronts tension.
When you speak your disagreement to non direct parties you open the door for offense and you break a spirit of unity.
Matthew 18:15-18 (NLT) 15 “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. 16 But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 17 If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. 18 “I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.
3. Seeks Understanding
UNDER STAND- Stand Under.
You may have seen the illustration before. I first saw Pastor Scott Wilson share it in the mid 90’s. It is basically about priorities. If you put the golf balls in the container first then the rice (or rocks) everything fits in the container. However, if you put the rice in first then try to fit all the balls in, everything won’t fit. It is an incredible illustration about priorities and how putting first things first makes for a more functional life and ensures everything fits in the right place.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
#3. Community with other believers.
Sometimes what you need in your life is found in the package of another person. God never intended us to live life alone. In fact, the first thing God said that was not good was that man is alone(Genesis 2:18). We need community! Sometimes our soul is empty simply because we don't have the right relationships in our life. I am not talking about just having friends, but true fellowship with people that are on a similar journey in their pursuit of Jesus. This is one of the reasons faithfulness to a local church is so important.
Acts 2:42-44 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.
#4. Christian Service.
As we build our spiritual devotion we will fuel the engine of our heart. If we do not have an exhaust system we can implode. The last thing we need is spiritual constipation. Serve at your church, serve at a community event, a homeless shelter, share the gospel with a friend or a coworker. Invest emotionally, physically, and economically to something bigger than yourself. Sometimes the reason we don't reap emotionally is because we have not invested in the lives of others. This is crucial in having a healthy soul.
1 Peter 4:10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.
I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you,
even as your soul is getting along well.
3 John 1:2
"People need to recharge!"
#1. Clear your calendar.
If you don't run your schedule, then your schedule will run you. You must set a time in your calendar to recharge. I heard a man one time say that we need to take time off daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally (every 3-4 months) and annually.
Daily- We need to sleep obviously, but outside of that we need 20, 30, or 40 minutes to check out and unwind.
Weekly- We should take a day to rest from our work and enjoy ourselves. In the kingdom we call this the Sabbath. “Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.’” Mark 2:27 I have the luxury of working from different locations, so when I tend to feel stale I just need a change of scenery. Sometimes this means going for a walk or working form another location. You may also take a day of the week and go to bed early. That can work better than sleeping in.
Monthly- Try to take a little more than your normal day and do something eventful or recreational. I will take this opportunity to mention to parents to have a date night at least monthly to have some time to nurture your marriage. This will bring rest to the grind of raising kids.
Seasonally- I try to get away by myself a couple of times a year just to reflect and recharge. Whatever it takes, set aside some time every 3-4 months to do something out of the norm. It will help keep you fresh! Do something that is relaxing that you enjoy.
Annually- Take a vacation, plan it, save for it, and enjoy yourself.
#2. Clear your desk.
Recharging is not a reason to negate your responsibilities. Prepare in advance so you can be emotionally and mentally clear when you take some time to recharge. Right now I am sitting at Starbucks writing this blog (a commitment I made) so I can get away and not think about the things that need to get done. Last night I took care of some work so that when I leave town, I’m not thinking about all of the things I need to get done.
#3. Clear mind mind.
When it’s time to recharge, just recharge. Don't carry work and responsibilities with you. Delete apps, turn off notifications, and just rest. Do something recreational and fun. For me, I like solitude and quiet, so I have to get away by myself every once and a while to recharge
"Unplugging won't charge you, you have got to plug
yourself into a source to get a full charge"
#4. Plug in.
It's not enough to unplug. Unplugging won't charge you, you have got to plug yourself into a source to get a full charge. As a follower of Christ, I have to do this daily but I also need patterns of plugging in. Church services weekly and other events seasonally to recharge. We hear people all the time saying they need a break but what they need most is to plug into the Holy Spirit and allow Him to recharge their spiritual battery.
“I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.” Psalm 121:1-3
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us.
“You are so creative!” I have heard these words most of my life. It’s encouraging, yet my response is almost always the same; “so are you.” Some will protest that they are not creative mostly because when we think of creativity we think of an artist, but creativity should not be restricted to the confines of the arts. Creativity should play into every area of our lives from strategies and systems at work, to the way that we play with and raise our kids, or express love to our spouse.
Creativity is the ability to deliver what we imagine. The first part of the word imagination is the word image. We were all created in the image of God, therefore we all have a creative nature. Studies have shown that up to 50% of the time that we are awake we are imagining. We call this day dreaming, it’s the place where the “what if’s” dwell.
The imagination is an incredibly powerful place, it can lock us down in fear, or cause us to move forward with hope. Our imagination can hinder our perspective and cause us to isolate ourselves from friends. In our imagination we can create the next breakthrough invention, or articulate the words that will transform somebody’s life forever. Think about it, everyday we use things that were initiated in a mind. It’s crazy! The way in which we live our lives is a product of somebody's imagination.
One of a leaders greatest assets is their imagination. Here are some ways that you can leverage the power of your imagination.
1- Take a Mind Break: Most of the time when I am lacking creativity, I know that my brain is exhausted. I am mostly thinking about work and my list of responsibilities. Sometimes I have to get out of the office and go walk around in a store or go get the mail, just to simply get away from what is in front of me. Sometimes I need to get away for a day and just spend that time to day dream. It is hard to do if you don't make time for it, so take the time! It may be 2 minutes in an hour or 2 full days a month. Your mind needs rest too! I have noticed I am way more productive if I will take the time to allow my mind to be refreshed.
2- Ask Questions: When pulling away from your work, ask how can this be done differently? How can I be more efficient? How can I be more effective? These questions will inspire new ideas and a fresh approach to the monotony of our work.
3- Pray: Years ago my Pastor Buster Russell peaked his head into my office and gave me a nugget I have carried for over 15 years. He said, “Josh, if you are ever lacking creativity, spend some time praying in the Spirit.” That is the best creative advice I have ever been given. Any time that I am in a slump I will get away from my screen and pray in the Spirit. It not only refreshes my soul, it energizes my creativity.
4- Write Things Down: Every idea you have, scribble it down. Some of the best ideas I have ever had I forgot because I didn't write them down. It may be a physical journal or a notes app on your phone. WRITE IT DOWN!!! This will help you process and develop the things that are in the space of your imagine.
I hope these tips will help you in your journey of expressing all the things God has put in your heart. May He nurture a spirit of creativity and empower your imagination!
God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.
Am I Called?
The short answer is yes, but I think you should keep reading.
We have heard many times, “This is my calling.” In and out of the church we talk about our calling. Mostly I think we mean that it is something that we instinctively have to do. A voice, an experience, we woke up to a burning in our heart, or possibly it was an opportunity that opened up and we enter into an assignment that makes us feel alive. It’s the ultimate nonnegotiable in our lives, it’s our purpose, our mission, the ambition of our life. We all have a calling.
Scripture gives us some insight to our calling.
We are all called to:
#1. The Great Command
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Matthew 22:36-39 (NIV)
It’s pretty simple. God’s expectation is for mankind to love and connect with God in every aspect of our lives and to demonstrate love to those around us. We can’t get out of it, it hasn't changed for over 2000 years and it’s not going to change, ever. It’s the great command, God’s great expectation of every human being.
#2. The Great Commission
Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
The purpose of The Great Command is to love God and people enough to get the gospel to them and lead them to a life that follows Jesus. I’ve heard it said before, “It’s the great commission, not the great suggestion.” I think we are wise to devote our lives to The Great Commission if we truly follow Christ.
#3. The Great Contribution
The great commandment and the great commission are universal, meaning that they are for all people.
The great contribution is where is gets personal. This is where what we normally feel “called to” comes into action. It’s really the nuts and bolts of the universal mandates (commission/commandment) So how do we discover that?
In June of 1993, I was a new christian and attended a youth camp in Roaring Springs, Texas. Months before that our youth pastor had resigned because of an incurable disease, so every night I would help gather our youth group together to pray for him. That Thursday night as we were praying, I looked around that circle and felt that God was calling me to gather people around His presence. I knew that God was calling me to into pastoral ministry. It was an incredibly powerful moment and most days I still remember that moment. There have been many days over the past 23 years that that moment was the only thing that kept me in pastoral ministry. I understand 2 things about a calling:
#1. You don't pick a calling, a calling chooses you.
#2. You can quit a job but you cannot quit a calling.
There have also been dozens of moments over the years that have confirmed that moment. Not everybody has a moment like mine or a “burning bush” experience, but we are all called. Here are few questions to ask yourself in discovering your calling to the Great contribution.
#1. What bothers you?
What annoys you? What are the things in the world or the church that frustrate you? I have heard it said “your misery, your ministry.” We all know complaining doesn’t work, so how can you do to fix the irritation? Maybe God is causing this divine frustration to so that you can be the solution to the problem. If you see improvements that need to bet made, then jump in and make them! You may discover your calling.
#2. What burns in you?
What moves your heart and keeps you up at night? What are you passionate about? If somebody gave you 10 million dollars tomorrow, what would you do with it? This reveals what you are passionate about. What is the single thing you cannot get away from?
#3. What burdens you?
What breaks your heart? What is the thing that you have been thinking about over the last several months or even years that moves you heart? That is compassion in your heart. This is what moved Jesus to do much of his ministry on the Earth! Don't just feel sorry and pity the need in your heart, act on it, develop a plan, and do something. You may discover your calling.
#4. What blesses you?
What gives you great joy? When you hear about or see something that makes you so happy inside no matter how many times you hear or see it? Don’t let your joy be in the hands of others. Get out there and accomplish the things that bring pleasure to your heart. Doing what ever that may be is also going to bring great pleasure to your Father’s heart!
Friends, I wan't to talk about the opportunity you have. No not your opportunity to vote, albeit that is important. I voted, and I have a lot invested prayerfully, emotionally, and mentally in this election. In fact the next 40 years depend on it. Not just my children but my grand children will be affected by it. It’s that important.
This is more about you than your vote.
I want to talk about the opportunity you have IF things don’t go your way. The way you hoped, prayed, and thought they should go. The way you thought that God would have it. You will have the opportunity to demonstrate Christ or demonstrate your flesh. You have an opportunity to be like Jesus and love those that voted different than you, and you will also have the opportunity to honor a candidate you possibly despise. You will have excuses for your instincts. You can blame the character of the individual you slander or you can reveal your character by slandering them. You can pray for them, their character, their protection, and pray that God would do a work in their heart. It seems to be the way of Christ and the way of the early church when they faced grave injustices and their liberties were taken away.
Before you say “well the disciples didn't face a king like this…”,
I would encourage you to do a little research on the kings of old, especially Nero. He was one of the most vile kings in history. His life was characterized by debauchery, violence (he caused his own mother to be killed), and extravagance. A lot of people thought he was the Anti-Christ. He torched cities & killed Christians.
This is God’s unchanging word to them that were under a vile kings rule:
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.” 1 Peter 2:13-14 (NIV)
“Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” -1 Peter 2:17(NASB)
It wont be easy, but let’s choose the way of the righteous.
Choose love and honor towards the candidate that wins and the candidate that loses. Before you cuss (or almost cuss) at the television, before you rant on Facebook, remember Jesus. His words, His heart for that person and for our nation. Remember that God deeply loves each candidate and each person you disagree with.
I like my candidate. I think they are the better choice, and although I think they have a great shot at winning, it may not happen. I faced this test 4 years ago and there is a real possibility I will face this tension again. Will you join me to control the thing I can control…. My response?
“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, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. -Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV)