Daily Walk

Everyone loves exercise. Wait. What? That might be true for some, but it is not true for me. I like what exercise does for me, but the act itself is painful and requires discipline! I try to go running a couple of times a week, but if I’m being honest (and I try to always be honest in my writing) I usually end up walking more than running. I am encouraged that I have yet to find a scripture encouraging my daily jog with Jesus, but there are many verses about our walk with God!

Psalm 81:13 (ESV) Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!

Galatians 5:16 (ESV) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

True confession, I hate running. I’m sorry exercise people, you may now cast your head down in shame of my discretion. I don’t like it. It’s ok in small spurts, but I can’t imagine trying to run everywhere all the time. I’m no Forest Gump.

It is my experience that when people run, they are usually running for a specific purpose or to a specific destination, but when people walk it is often more about the journey. It’s enjoyable to bring someone along for a walk, because you can have a great conversation while walking! It’s more challenging to converse in mid run. Being out of breath makes it a pain to communicate without long, breathy pauses.

Walking with the Spirit enables us to please God. Everywhere we go we should walk with the Spirit. Too often we give into temptation because we walked over to a place where the Spirit of God did not lead us to go and so we left Him behind. We must make every effort to follow God’s leading in every area of our life. Is the Spirit of God going to that party on Friday night? If not then why are you going?

Growing in God is not a sprint, but a marathon. A walk takes longer. Spiritual growth is not sprung over night, but over time. A walk implies slow and steady progress. Too often we try to run ahead, get out of breath and then we have stop and catch our breath. God’s design is to walk with us, and to help us steadily grow to become more like Him. He also usually takes it one step at a time. Every morning when we get up we should ask the Lord, what step would you have me take today?

Now, I am not saying there isn’t a destination in our walking. God has intention for us, but His first priority is always our relationship with Him. We must have Spiritual health ourselves, before we can lead others to obtain Spiritual health. Walking with the Lord makes us healthy, because it is spiritual exercise and discipline.

You know what doesn’t make us healthy? Sitting in a church pew, but never exercising our faith. Just like in life if all we do is sit, never getting up to move, we will get fat and unhealthy. Sadly, there are many spiritually unhealthy people in our world who need to get up and stretch their legs and begin walking with Jesus.

Hebrews 12:1 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

2 Timothy 4:7 (ESV) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

As we walk through this life, let us keep the end in mind. Heaven awaits! When I get there I will be face to face with a God whom I have been walking with my entire life. Wouldn’t it be horrible to get to Heaven and meet God and it’s like meeting a stranger? That isn’t God’s plan for us. He longs to reveal Himself to us now.

Through our daily walk with Him we can grow in relationship with our amazing God. We can get to know His character. We can move past the image of a distant God, to a deep close personal intimate relationship that will last through eternity.

Encountering God

If someone came up to me and tried to convince me that grass is really purple and has always been purple there is a high possibility I will look at them and laugh at the absurdity of their claim. Why? I know that grass is green, not because someone told me, but because I have witnessed grass being green my entire life. It has always been green. My knowledge is founded upon years of experience.

Now if you wanted to convince me of something scientific on the molecular level, true or not, I would probably believe you. Why? I have zero experience studying this area of science. My only knowledge is predicated upon what others have told me, which isn’t that much.

What is the foundation of your knowledge of God? Have you dug into scripture to find out what the Bible really says? Have you experienced and encountered the very real presence of God? Or is your faith based entirely upon the words of a pastor, teacher, friend or family member?

My dad often used to teach us that If you convince someone with an intellectual argument alone, then they can be unconvinced by a better intellectual argument. Many people are constantly back and forth on their beliefs based upon the most recent logical sounding argument they heard.

However, as Leonard Ravenhill said, a man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument. If you encounter the supernatural power of God in your life then no one will ever be able to convince you that God isn’t real! Why? You know Him! You’ve felt His touch and seen Him at work in your life.

How do you approach evangelism? Too often I feel like we are trying to appeal to people on a mental and logical level, and while that might sound nice, ultimately it falls flat. People need to encounter God’s love before they will receive that knowledge.

I believe this is why the expression, “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care” rings so true. People are more open to what you have to say, if they have experienced the genuineness of your love for them and by extension God’s love.

Reaching people for Jesus is first and foremost a supernatural effort. We cannot accomplish this task in our own strength. Evangelism starts with prayer, not with a well crafted argument. Invest your time in praying for souls, your friends, family and even people the Lord might bring in your path.

Actively seek to meet needs in the lives of people, to show them how much you care. Don’t be afraid to pray for people and give God the opportunity to demonstrate His power in their life. People don’t need an argument, they need to encounter God.

Remember it is not our job to convince people of the truth, rather our place is to be a witness to what God has done. Salvation is a supernatural event and is always caused by supernatural effort. God is the one who draws people in and bears witness to the words you share. The Holy Spirit does the convincing.

I will close with this. In John chapter 4, when Jesus encountered the woman at the well (The same woman from “Am I Thirsty?“) and told her all she had done she went into town and told everyone to come and meet this amazing man. Many people came to meet Jesus and the truth of their experience is found in verse 42

John 4:42 (NLT)  Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”

The woman’s testimony peaked their curiosity, but their own experience with Jesus cemented their faith. The world does not just need knowledge of God, they need to encounter his presence.

Let’s do our part and be the body Christ, let’s take the presence of Jesus to the world.

Pile of Poop

You did not misread the title of this blog, and before you check to see if you’re in the right place, let me assure you, you are. No, I didn’t lose my mind before the week began. I’m Pastor Chris and I love Jesus. Thanks for being here. My whole purpose for writing is to encourage people to pursue Jesus above all else! Today we are going to look at a scripture that so eloquently explains why I am so passionate about this.

Philippians 3:8 (NLT) Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.

Everything is worthless compared to knowing Jesus! That is a bold statement. In my younger years I loved this scripture and boldly proclaimed that all this world is worthless, that we should forsake our sin, forsake our worldly desires and pursue Jesus!

That is true, however, the scripture goes much deeper than that. The apostle Paul isn’t referring to sin or wrong desires. It is a given that those things are garbage compared  to Christ. Just a few verses before he was explaining all of his accomplishments as a Jewish man and as a pharisee. He is saying that all the things he once thought were valuable are not worthless because knowing Jesus is the greatest reward.

The King James version actually refers to all his accomplishments it as “dung”. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it is an antiquated term meaning poop. Think about that. All of my accomplishments, the best I have to offer actually amounts to nothing more than a pile of poop compared to knowing Jesus.

This is incredible to me! It means all my goals and dreams that I might have outside of Jesus become not only less important, but as desirable to me as a pile of poop. For those paying attention, that is absolutely NOT desirable in the slightest. In fact, it’s repulsive.

Do you long for Jesus so greatly that by comparison everything else is garbage? I pray that my life, once lived, would be able to boast one thing and one thing alone. That I pursued Jesus with all that I had within me.What can I accomplish apart from God?

Psalm 44:6-8 (NLT)  I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me. You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us. O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name. 

Today let’s boast in our God! Let us remember we can do nothing a part from Him! Our salvation comes from Him alone. Our trust is in God alone! What great joy to give glory to the Lord, to praise His name all throughout the day.

That’s my challenge for you today. Try to praise God constantly throughout the game. Make a game out of it if you’d like. See how many times you can give God praise throughout the day. Try and bring God to your mind every single minute, and praise Him! Thank Him! Say a quick prayer.

Let us live in constant awe of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! After all, everything else is just a pile of poop.

Spiritual Fruit

We’ve come to the end of our second week together. Once again I’d like to close this week by evaluating our Spiritual progress. Last week I briefly made mention of the fruit of the Spirit. This week I’d like to take a closer look.

Galatians 5:22-23 NLT But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

There is good news and bad news. Would you like the bad news first? If the answer is no then skip this paragraph. These are all spiritual qualities that we are incapable of producing in our own ability. No matter how hard we find, there is no true joy or peace unless the Spirit produces it in our lives. Sure we can find worldly substitutes, worldly joy, worldly peace, but such peace only lasts so long as our present circumstance. Spiritual joy lasts no matter what situation we find ourselves in.

The good news, because we cannot produce these qualities in our own ability we don’t have to freak out about not having enough of one of them. We can simply go into our prayer closet, shut the door and get alone with our Father. As we grow closer to God many of these fruits will automatically become more apparent in our lives. The Spirit produces them.

If you’re like me and you find yourself struggling with some of them from time to time, you don’t need to panic. Perhaps you’ve been in a situation where you are really struggling to speak kindly to a specific person for whatever reason. You don’t panic and say, “I thought I was a Christian, why am I not more kind?!”

You simply go and pray, “Lord, I am struggling to treat this person with kindness, please produce this fruit in a greater amount in my life. Help me to speak to them with kindness, help me to show them kindness with my actions, so that You might receive glory.

That sounds simple, but like many simple things it isn’t easy. Many times we feel they deserve the attitude we are harboring for them, and maybe they do. However that doesn’t change the fact we need to treat them with kindness.

I challenge you to find some time today and reflect on each of these fruits and ask yourself if you  are truly displaying them in every area of your life.

Start with love. This is the most important one for me. I believe that as we grow in Christ, our love grows in correspondence. The more spiritually mature we are, the more love we have, not only for the people in our lives, but for the world. Our compassion for those in need is increasing as well.

Joy and Peace. I know they’re not the same thing, but similar thoughts come to my mind. These are difficult to have in challenging situations. I think they may be the best tool we have in evaluating our spiritual life. If we are living in the Spirit, I believe we will have sufficient joy and especially peace. When times come and we find ourselves lacking in this department, it’s time to evaluate. Ok Lord, where have I stopped living in the Spirit and started living in the natural?

Patience is also a challenge! How many times do we act impulsively instead of waiting on leading from the Lord?

Kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness. These qualities are so vital to us as Christians and we should display them in every situation. Are we always kind? Are we always good? Are we always faithful? Are we always gentle? No, but everyday is an opportunity to grow greater fruit.

Self-control is last, and I am sure it is by design. The ability to truly control oneself in every way is a true test of maturity. This is our goal, to be completely spirit led, to surrender every ounce of control and let the Spirit have His way. To not act in every situation, to hold our tongue on when needed. Yet also to act boldly and speak truth as the Spirit leads. This should be the goal of every believer.

If you’re reading this today, I just want you to know that you’re gonna make it. You’re not forgotten and you haven’t made too many mistakes. Today is perfect day to determine in your heart a renewed determination to live for Jesus, to develop spiritual fruit and display to the world the love of Christ.

Mind Game

Have you ever felt distracted? You’re supposed to be focused on something of great importance, yet your mind is wandering, drifting away with your head in the clouds rather than on the task at hand. The great challenge of every Christian is the battle to bring our minds into full the submission of Jesus.

This is so great a struggle because we have a natural way of thinking, before Christ we all were thinking, living, functional humans, but now we are called to live differently. Actions and attitudes that were natural before Jesus are now being revealed by His Spirit as sinful and He is calling us to repent and change.

Romans 8:5-6 (NLT) Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.

A good test of how you are doing spiritually is examining where your mind tends to naturally drift to. Do you naturally think about the Kingdom of God? Your prayer list? People who have needs that God could help you meet? Do you think about worshipping Jesus and growing closer to Him?

Most of the time our mind doesn’t naturally drift to those things, but rather the issues of our daily life and many times our mind would quicker drift to sinful things than holy things. The bad news is that thinking on sinful things inevitably leads to death, but the good news is we don’t have to allow our mind to stay that way. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can take every thought into captivity and renew our mind to think on Godly things! (2 Corinthians 10:5, Romans 12:2)

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NKJV)Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

I believe God is calling this generation back to holiness. In a world that is becoming increasingly comfortable with sin, God is searching for those willing to put to death all forms of sinful activity and truly pursue Him whole heartedly. Praise God that the as surely as He calls us, He is faithful to provide us with the power and resources to fulfill that call!

John 6:35 (NLT) Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Jesus is our supply! When we abide in Him and seek our nourishment from Him we will have all we need to be satisfied. We will have all we need to stand on the truth of His word and proclaim the gospel in our community. We will have the power to turn our minds over to His Spirit, rather than be dominated by sinful thoughts.

Romans 8:12-14 (NLT) Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

I love the part that says we have no obligation to do what our sinful nature urges us to do. The enemy wants to lie and make you believe that you are forever a slave to your own desires, but through the power of God you have the power to fully put to death that sinful nature inside of you. You can be free from that addiction, from that attitude, from those words that slip out.

Whatever struggle you find yourself dealing with, know that you can be free. Don’t just allow your mind to drift to whatever comes natural. Turn every thought over to the Lord today and bring them into submission to the lordship Jesus.

Don’t Play With Fire!

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Have you ever been told not to play with fire? What did you do? If you’re like me, I bet you played with it anyway! Who hasn’t melted that plastic spoon over the candle during a Banquet. Fire is fun! Fire is awesome. Fire is also incredibly dangerous and can be a source of great destruction. Are you afraid of fire? Probably not, but most of us eventually come to a place of respecting the fire and treat it with careful consideration.

It is interesting to me that scripture refers to God as a consuming fire.

Hebrews 12:20 (NKJV) For our God is a consuming fire.

Leviticus 9:24 (NLT) Fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground.

I share this scripture because it so beautifully depicts God as an all consuming fire. I love how the people were filled with joy, yet they also fell down on their faces in reverence to God.

This is to me, a picture of what the fear of the Lord should look like. The fear of the Lord, is something that has often baffled me. Because obviously, God is love! The Bible even tells us that we shouldn’t have a Spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). So I never fully understood scriptures telling us we should have a fear of the Lord.

Psalm 111:10 (NLT) Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.

Psalm 33:8 (NLT) Let the whole world fear the Lordand let everyone stand in awe of him.

Surely it doesn’t mean that we should be trembling with fear of our loving God? Or maybe it does Matthew tells us we should fear the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell! (Matthew 10:28). That’s pretty terrifying.

It is when I put it in the context of fire that it makes sense to me. We shouldn’t walk around terrified of God, but like the fire we should treat God and His presence with great care.

2 Corinthians 7:1 (NLT) Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.

This is why I believe that it is the fear of the Lord that leads to wisdom. Like fire we know that God is not something to be played around with. We accept His free gift of salvation, but now we must turn from our sins. We must approach His presence with awe and reverence. We should seek to live in such a way that honors Him completely.

Today is a great time to ask yourself if you’ve lived your life with a healthy fear of the Lord. Are you seeking to live in a way that truly honors him? Not just in avoiding sin, but in the attitudes you have and the way you speak to people?

Maybe throughout this post you’ve realized you don’t fear the Lord in the proper way. Don’t be discouraged, simply ask God to help you develop a renewed fear of the Lord and remember….

Don’t play with fire.

The Battle Between…

Recently I’ve realized my faith isn’t as strong as I thought it was. That statement isn’t an easy one to make. We have perceptions of who we are and occasionally we have difficult moments where we truly see through our own web of self deception and see reality. Too often we only see our intentions and overlook our lack of action.

That’s the key right there, because to have faith is to know without doubt that what you believe will come to pass. When we are pursuing God’s will for our lives, we should live boldly with no doubt that our plans will succeed, because God is on our side. If you have this kind of faith then ACTION will be the natural byproduct. It’s easy to act on what we know, it’s hard to act on what we doubt.
GettyImages-489748108_master.0.jpgI will sit in a chair with confidence, because I know it will hold me up, but if you ask me to walk across a bridge made of  glass, forget it! I will be filled with fear and as a byproduct be filled with inaction. Frozen.

Frozen is where I have found myself on more than one occasion. I fully believe God’s ability to accomplish what He has put in my heart and in my life, yet many times when it comes down to it, I am filled with doubt.

Things don’t always work out the way we expect, these are the moments that test the genuineness of our faith. It is the trying times, when circumstances seem to tear apart our dreams that we will either stand firm on the promises of God or give way to fear.

In the latter half of Mark 5 we see such a moment develop. Jarius, a leader in the local synagogue came to Jesus full of faith that Jesus could heal his dying daughter. I am sure he was in a hurry and was frustrated by the great crowds following Jesus. As a father, worried over his dying daughter he must have been feeling very anxious when the woman with the issue of blood touched Jesus and he stopped to interrogate the crowd.

The woman confessed that it was her who had touched Him and Jesus told her, in verse 34 “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” Jesus knew she had faith because of the corresponding action, she fought her way through the thick throngs of people and was just barely able to touch the bottom of His robe.

Jarius must have felt encouraged, again seeing Jesus has the power to heal, and full of faith that Jesus would do the same for his daughter.

Then everything changed.

Mark 5:35-36  (NLT) While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.  But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”

We know how the story ends. Jesus goes to the little girl and performs a great miracle, but what if Jarius had listened to his companions? What if he had set his sights completely upon his physical reality instead of having faith in a spiritual reality? It would have been easy to listen to this news and completely despair, but Jesus intervened.

There will be times we have to choose to look past our fears, look past our doubts and look to Jesus, trusting in Him completely. David understood this.

Psalm 38:13-15  (NLT) Meanwhile, my enemies lay traps to kill me. Those who wish me harm make plans to ruin me. All day long they plan their treachery. But I am deaf to all their threats. I am silent before them as one who cannot speak. I choose to hear nothing, and I make no reply. For I am waiting for you, O LordYou must answer for me, O Lord my God.

I want to encourage you today, don’t listen to the negative voices that would have you believe your dreams are dead. Be like David and choose not to hear them and definitely don’t respond. Instead wait on the Lord.

Continue to have faith that He will make a way.