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Focus Brings Strength

I love to take personality assessments and gift assessments. They help me discover who I am and fine tune my focus.
For many years this was not the case. My attitude toward such assessments was more frustrated than favorable. I felt they pointed out glaring weakness and only helped me see where I fail.
Most of us need very little help ascertaining where we miss it or come up short. We do, however, need help to see how our strengths are our gift and our weakness are prime space for God’s Grace.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (The Message) says it like this:

At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”“Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”


I believe focusing on our limits doesn’t weaken us, but allows us to see God’s strength come through our weakness.

Here is why I think we can embrace our limits (weak spots) and see God do great things in us:

  • It focuses us on trust instead of fear
  • It focuses us on rest instead of toil
  • It focuses us on contentment instead of complaining
  • It focuses us on grace instead of weakness

When I play to my strengths, I honor God. When I surrender my weakness, I humble my heart. I certainly love seeing how God works through a strength. But often my greatest moments of worship or satisfaction come when I stop stressing over my weakness and allow God’s grace to pool-up in the craters of my inadequacies.

If you have been struggling in life, perhaps it’s time to ask God for His ability and grace. If you’ve been pretending you have not weakness, perhaps it’s time to humble yourself and see what God could do through your surrender.
Want to discover more about the power we can find when we focus on limits?


Watch Your Step

Watch Your Step.

I remember going on a hike in Hawaii with some friends to discover some waterfalls. It was a breathtaking adventure, but not without a warning sign (or two) of danger. Of course, that didn’t keep us from exploring! As long as you were sure-footed and watched our step, we were fine. But a careless step or a distracted step could lead to a tumble. The terrain could be trusted for the most part, but it was slippery in places.
Anytime we decide to go after God’s best, there will be reasons that come up to not pursue it. An unexpected expense, a time commitment that causes us to juggle our routine or a disappointment we didn’t see coming. But those things don’t mean stepping out in faith isn’t worth it nor should it cause us to stop. We just need to be aware, the enemy of our souls will do anything to detour us from walking in obedience.
As we seek God, asking Him to reveal what we are to give in the Heart for the House campaign, we need to realize the enemy doesn’t want us to walk in faith. He wants us to think thoughts motivated by fear. The enemy wants you and I to stay put, never experiencing the thrill of following God’s plan. He wants us to get distracted and delay our obedience.
Throughout our life, God has led my wife and me to take steps of faith. From the time we committed to tithing our first and best to the time, we gave away a car, or even moving across the country. Each time, the moment we decided to obey, fear came knocking at the door.
Don’t allow the warning signs to move you into a place of fear. Decide to obey God, no matter what picture the natural surroundings try to paint. Listen to God’s voice. He can be trusted. It may feel like a stretch, but nothing worthwhile in life comes because we are comfortable. God is faithful to His Word!
2 Corinthians 9:7-8,10-11
7Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
10Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
Take 5 minutes and ask God to give you faith to step in faith. Watch as you step out in faith, committing and participating in this campaign, how God provides along the way. He loves to honor those who have a Heart for His House!


Bring A Bucket

Proverbs 20:5 tells us that wisdom is like deep water and person who understands that, will draw it out. The way one can draw from a deep well of water or draw water from a water source is a bucket.

Each time we come to God’s Word, we have an opportunity to draw from the wisdom and life-source found within the pages. Water won’t automatically jump into out bucket, we must do the drawing.

Sadly, many people who come to read God’s Word or hear God’s Word taught, show up bucketless. They are not ready to receive, draw out, nor take away anything with them.

I am grateful for the men of God who have shaped my life and taught me the value of bringing a bucket, each time I come to God’s Word. 

I recently read a blog for parents talking about how to help create positive routines and habits in your family. The writer cited and summarized a book by a New York Times reporter entitled, The Power of Habit Here is what the blog cited:

All habits, good and bad, follow the same pattern, or what he calls the habit loop. It works like this:

First, there’s a cue, which is anything that triggers the habit, from time of day to location to other people. The cue signals the brain to go into automatic mode, thus making the action that follows extremely hard to resist.

Next comes the routine, which is the actual habit or the behavior you wish to change.

Finally, the reward is the reason why habits exist at all — this positive reinforcement tells the brain that this behavior is something worth remembering.

I believe reading God’s Word requires our intentionality. Of course, we all want euphoric delight when reading or listening to the Bible, but I have found that it is my diligence that delivers me to a place of delight.

Here are some practical ways you can be intentional in your Bible reading, so you move from diligent to delight.

1) Schedule it.

In a day when your schedule is likely too crowded, you need to pick a time during and put it on your calendar. Set a reminder, and protect that time on your calendar. Do it at a time when you are at your best. For me, it’s in the morning, but that may not be  Life is gonna happen, but setting a consistent time each will help you be intentional. All the important things get calendared — kids basketball game, recitals, business meetings, vacations, etc — why shouldn’t we calendar an appointment with God Almighty?

2) Follow a plan.

A simple reading plan can help you stay on track and not get bogged down trying to figure out what to read. This year we are highlighting a new Youversion Bible App reading plan based on each sermon or series we do as a church. We will share the plan on Facebook, TXT, & through weekly Sermon Notes (posted to our EVENT in the Youversion Bible App). You can download the free Bible App from

PRO TIP: Create an account and choose the “Plans with Friends” option when you start any plan. Then you can invite your friend, read together, share what you’re learning, and encourage each other as you go. Not sure who to invite? Feel free to join me, anytime during the year. Here is the current Plan I’m doing.

3) Journal after you read.

I have been using the Life Journal method for many years. It is simple, easy to use, and anyone can do it. It follows a simple acronym, SOAPScripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. As you go through the daily reading, select a scripture, write an observation, make personal application, and end in a prayer. Your journal can be as long or short as you want. This simple method helps you retain and focus as you read. It also helps you to focus on listening to Holy Spirit as you read and not just rushing to check a box.

4) Pick a version you understand. 

There are a lot of great versions of the Bible you can read. In fact, I will typically pick a new version each year for my personal devotion time. Some of my favorite (in no particular order) are:

  • New King James Version (NKJV)
  • English Standard Version (ESV)
  • The Message (MSG)
  • New Living Translation (NLT)
  • New International Version (NIV)

As an aside, if you wanting to really grow in your faith and study of God’s Word, I would suggest purchasing a study Bible. My favorite (and I’ve used many through the years) is the Spirit-Filled Life Study Bible. It comes in a few version (NKJV, NLT, & NIV) and range in price from $30-$75. The study notes are thorough and have some great articles and word studies within its pages.

5) Keep your imagination on.

This may seem odd, but the Bible was written about real people, living in an actual time period, in a real setting, with human surroundings. We cannot approach the Bible like it is only an ancient writing or some instruction manual that is cold. As you read, ask yourself questions like, “What time of day was this? Who is talking? What is the tone they are using? What color of clothes would they be wearing? What would the landscape be like?” I know it may sound silly, but I truly believe God gave us an imagination for a reason. Imagination has more purpose than the enjoyment of childhood. I believe imagination is linked to our faith. Imagination teaches us how to use our faith; they operate on the same principle.


I hope these little tips have been helpful. At Faith Church, we want to help Faith come to life. We want to resource you and journey with you as you pursue a vibrant relationship with Jesus.



Paralysis of Choice

White or wheat bread? Private school, a magnet school, public school, or home educate? Is this the right person to marry? Should I invest in that company or just add more to my 401K? Should we build an addition or sell/buy a home?

When it comes to most decisions we face the options to choose from are plentiful. It’s easy to see anxiety and stress are real issues we all face at different times. It is easy to become paralyzed by the numerous choices and uncertainty we face. Throw a little fear of failure into the mix and your life can become a standstill where you go into protect mode, never experiencing much progress in life.

Recently, the main turn-off from the highway to the road our church is one was closed. There were two main alternate routes available. One was shorter in distance, more direct requiring more gravel roads to travel on. The other route required you to do more back-tracking, was a little longer in distance, and had fewer gravel roads. All-in-all it all looked the same.

Some decisions are major and some decisions just aren’t. And even some decisions we have to make seem like there is no clear upside to either, like my dilemma of which route to church should I take.

How do we avoid the paralysis of choices? How do we make the best decision? And what if we get it wrong?

While there are no one-size fits all solutions to life’s decisions, I believe there are some practical things we can to do to help facilitate our decision making.

Here are five things I have found personally helpful when faced with a decision:

+ Pray First.

I am not trying to throw some simplistic response to the serious nature of what you may be facing and I’m certainly not trying to offer some trite answers. I truly believe if we seek God’s guidance, He will illuminate the path we need to take. When I pray over a decision, I normally begin to sense peace about moving in one direction or another. I encourage you to pray about everything, even the seemingly silly things of life (what restaurant to go to, what outfit to choose, etc); it will help form a habit of prayer.


+ Pre-determine Priorities.

Priorities must be predetermined, not identified for the first time when it’s time to make a decision. Know what your priorities are, help you make decisions keeping what you value at the center. Knowing your priorities also help you avoid the trap of making an emotion-based decision.


+ Give Yourself Time.

Just because you are aware of a decision, doesn’t mean you need to make the decision right now. It may be urgent, but it may not be needed immediately. There are certainly some deadlines we can’t move, and we need to be responsible in those scenarios. But most of the time we have a little lead-time before a decision is required. So sleep on it and then come back to the discussion.


+ Calendar it.

Seriously, put a date on your calendar or set a reminder to make the decision. Don’t shrug off the need to make a decision, instead, set a deadline for yourself. This is great for those of you who lead in any capacity or are married. I will often tell my wife when I’ll make a decision and then set a reminder to do just that. This helps me forget about it in the moment so I don’t get too consumed by it while helping me not forget about it altogether.


+ Identify the Hidden Cost.

It’s pretty easy to the see the obvious cost and benefit of most decisions, but there normally is a hidden cost attached too. Hidden cost often comes in the form of adverse emotions or in the currency of time. Just because there is a hidden cost, doesn’t mean a decision is the wrong one. Not long ago some friends decided to sell a car. They had other vehicles that fit their family’s needs better and the extra cash would strengthen their savings. Sounds like a no-brainer. However, they told me they were surprised by how much stress they unknowingly carried while selling the car until after it sold and they felt so much relief. If you can identify the hidden cost up front, it helps you navigate life as you make the decision or deal with the results of a decision.


I hope this list helps you avoid being stalled-out when staring multiple options. I believe we honor God when we are faithful stewards of the life and resources He blesses us with. We cannot allow ourselves to be poor stewards because we experience the paralysis of choices.

What would you add to this list? What are some things you do in making decisions and avoiding the paralysis of choice?

Oh, by the way, I decided to take the route with less gravel even though it was a little longer. Because the hidden cost of me stressing about my car getting dirty was too high for me. 🙂


Put on the suit.

Recently, to the shock of many in our church, I wore a full suit. Our community is a little more laid back, so I was not quite surprised at the comments and reactions that came my way. While I have worn a sports coats on a number of occasions, this was certainly going to garnish some curiosity and intrigue.

As a kid, I thought it would be cool to own a clothing business, designing suits. I liked the idea of dressing sharp and looking your best. I think being at your best, is important. I know many people who feel that if they wore a suit dressed up, it would be pretentious or even feel a bit unauthentic for them.

I get that. And to some degree, that was the purposes of me wearing the suit, to begin with.

You see, I think learning to believe and speak in faith, can at first glance feel unauthentic. We can feel that if we speak in a positive manner, we are living in denial about a current reality.

Here’s the deal. I own the suit. I picked it out and paid for it. It hangs in my closet, unused most of the time. While it is not my normal attire nor is it the typical norm of the cultural context, the suit is still mine and I have access to it whenever I choose.

I believe this is a great illustration for the purpose of our words. As I look through the entirety of Scripture, it’s pretty clear that words have the ability to bring life or to bring death. Through Jesus, we have access to all of Heaven. Every promise is for us and we can access those promises through the power of our words (i.e. prayer, confession, renewing our mind, etc).

Let me be clear. I am not talking about speaking into existence whatever your materialistic heart desires. I’m not talking about rubbing a magic lamp and the genie-god pops out to do your bidding. God is not our slave. He is not a vending machine that, when we speak the perfect combo of confessions with a perfect pinch of some scripture, it produces our latest cravings.

I do believe God wants to prosper His people. I do believe God promises to meet our needs. I do believe that what God promises, He has the ability to deliver. And I believe our words have the power to build our faith.

Words help us reach into the closet of heaven and pull out the promises that we already have access to.

Our culture is full of problems. Problems that God has provided a promise that has the power to shift the goodness of heaven into our earthly realities. The Kingdom of God is simply, in my opinion, the fullness of God’s goodness.

We need to search the scripture and begin to declare the promises of God. Turn those promises into prayers. Use scripture promises as declarations, as they can deconstruct the problems we face, turning problems into victories we celebrate.

Speaking words of faith is not being fake. You simply are accessing something that you already have access to. You are not pretending, you are putting on God’s promises, His goodness, His Kingdom.

Along those same lines, confessing your sin to God is not speaking about something unauthentic or fake. You are simply revealing or bringing to the forefront something that was previously hidden. When you speak God’s word, and His promises, you are speaking something that already exists; it’s already been provided.

So, go ahead. Reach into the closet of heaven. Put on the suit that has already been paid for. Those promises look good on you.


Snakes + Shakes

Whenever you say the word, “Pentecostal,” many people go to a crazy extreme in their mind, thinking about people handling snakes and having the shakes, while they fall all over the place. Just search Youtube, and you’ll find some crazy, sad, and inaccurate representation of Pentecostalism. (Admittedly, many of them are hysterically entertaining too!!)


Year One.

It’s been just over a year ago that my family and I moved from the East Coast to Mid-America, into Fort Scott, Kansas. We transitioned because God was giving us an opportunity to pastor a local church. It’s something I’ve always felt “called” to do, but never really believed would happen – but that is for another blog at another time.

We have fallen in love with a community, a church, and this calling.


The Best Sex & Intimacy.​

It is true. I preached a full, 50-minute message, titled, “The Best Sex” this past Sunday.

Why? Allow me to explain.

First, I believe God Created sex.

Seriously. God fashioned our bodies intentionally. God knew how to maximize our potential enjoyment. (And He worthy of praise for it!!!) If there is a subject you want to learn about, why not go to the Person who authored it and first introduced the subject.


Second, I believe what we bring into the light has the best chance to be healthy.

1 John tells us that if we walk in the Light, we have can have fellowship with Jesus. On the flip side, if we do not walk in the Light, we live in the darkness. We lurk in the shadows with our struggles, doubts, secrets, & insecurities.

The enemy of our lives (and marriages) wants to move us to live in the shadows. He likes things to stay hidden. He wants to plagiarize what God authored while twisting it towards something dark and dirty. Nothing healthy grows in the dark. The enemy has lied about this subject for too long, and many people, including Christian people, have bought the lies.


Third, the Church needs to be a safe place.

As a Pastor, I want the people in our community to experience the best God has for them. I want them to experience God’s best in their marriage. Sexuality is something many people are uncomfortable discussing, I get it, yet it is incredibly important to the formation of our lives – spirit, soul, & body. The church should be dealers of hope and life, not just for our spirituality, but also for our souls (mind, will, and emotions) and our bodies.

I believe Jesus can bring health, redemption, passion, and hope into each area of our lives. If there is brokenness and pain, whether, from your actions or someone else’s actions, Jesus can restore us. I have experienced personal pain and regrets throughout my life – yet God’s love and forgiveness are complete. It will take time, but healing and freedom are available.


Fourth, I believe the best sex is married sex, accompanied by intimacy.

Intimacy unlocks our spouse’s passion, purity, & creates a dynamic partnership that actually brings fulfillment in our life. When we develop intimacy in our marriages, we strengthen the unity of our spirits, find health in our souls, and it is expressed using our bodies.

On Sunday, I outlined 3 things that can distort and disrupt our intimacy, along with the way we overcome them. You can listen to the message here if you’d like.

Finally, I believe Faith Church is called to be a marriage-building church. I feel it is part of the calling God has on our church for our community. We will consistently look for ways to do just that, including teaching on each aspect of marriage relationships. If marriages can become healthy and God-honoring, we help reflect an accurate image of God’s love for humanity.

There are three resources I highly recommend. All three are written from Biblical perspectives and can help you in the stage of life you are in:

You can experience God’s best in your relationship with your spouse. The Author of life and wants to partner with you to move the meter in your marriage to be the best possible!



Resolving Conflict in Marriage

Recently I’ve been teaching a series at church all about experiencing God’s best within marriage. (You can check it out here.) One of the messages was on the topic of communication.

I have never met anyone who said they wish they communicated less in their marriage. I know plenty of people who wish the nagging tone of communication would lessen or they wish there were less fights, I mean, discussions.

Disagreements happen within a marriage. Sometimes it leads to all out conflict and things can be said out of hurt that cannot be retracted.

I shared some of these tips for resolving conflict in my message but wanted to expound and put them in blog form.

Tip # 1: Actively listen with a caring ear.

The tendency is to listen with the sole purpose of responding. The problem is you don’t actually listen to them, you are thinking about what you will say in response toward them. Body language, empathy, engagement, and a willingness to see from their perspective all help reinforce the value that you actually care for them.

Sometimes it is best to set a day and time to have a complete, uninterrupted conversation in which you need to resolve a conflict. Set the environment so it is comfortable and calm. A great approach for these types of conversations is to make “I feel” statements –
“I feel isolated and unvalued when decisions are made without being allowed to add my thoughts.” Communicating the affects of an action helps create empathy and gives the opportunity for your spouse to respond in a caring way.

Bottom line: Active listening helps limit attacking. 


Tip #2: Short and sharp is incomplete.

In a day and time where memes rule the internet and they are used to make pointed opinions palatable – that approach will not work in the context of your marriage (and it really is incomplete in any context).  As conflict arises in a marriage, you must work hard to avoid hurtful digs and sharp opinions. Avoid bringing up the past and keep on the subject. Choose not to use emotional trading stamps (i.e. you hurt my feelings so it’s only right I trade you and hurt you this way) or the silent treatment to make a point. Short and sharp statements can often sound like, “you always/never _____,” yet those types of remarks only add to the intensity and are not helpful to bringing reconciliation.

Bottom line: A meme can be humorous, but too many hurtful digs can create a grave for the relationship.


Tip #3: Fight for all their heart instead of fighting with all your heart.

The goal is not to be right but rather to have right relationships. Put your energy and focus into finding solutions to accompany any criticism and you will win their heart. But if you focus solely on pointing out problems you will fight with all your heart and lose their heart. When you realize you are wrong, admit it, apologize, and stop doing whatever it is. When you realize you are right, just shut-up.

Bottom line: Your spouse wants you on their side in life not on the sideline as a critic.

I realize many people who read this are likely in the middle of a serious conflict. I am praying for you. I know it’s not easy to walk through these situations. While you desperately want the scenario to change, the only component within your control is you. So choose your words, actions, and attitudes so they communicate love, hope, empathy, sincerity, and a desire to reconcile.

I hope these thoughts have been encouraging and life-giving.

What are some helpful tips you’d add?


A Roaring Lion

Have you ever heard a lion roar? It rattles your bones a little and certainly catches your attention. And all that is caused by watching Discovery Channel and “The Lion King” with the volume turned up loud.

It’s true, I’ve never experienced it live. But the television conveyed enough, that I’m perfectly fine not hearing that up close and in person!

In 1 Peter 5, we read a description of the devil as “a roaring lion.” He is searching for his next victim so that his roar can strike fear into them. I find it interesting that, while it says the enemy wants to devour people, the featured adjective within the verse is “roaring” not “devouring.”

The scripture goes on to say that one can “resist the enemy, standing firm in our faith.” Which is indeed good news. But that roar can be terribly loud sometimes. It can ring-out in a person’s ears to the point they are distracted and forget the authority they have in Christ. Somone can quickly become paralyzed by fear and not move forward in life.

Let’s look at 1 Peter 5:6-9 for a little more context.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

There are few “roars” the enemy seems to use, time and again, to disorient people.

  1. Pride. The enemy wants to convince people they can do it all on their own. The roar of pride causes someone to rely too much on their own strength, leaving them lacking God’s grace all the while, deceiving themselves.
  2. Anxiousness. The enemy likes to drop a loop of worry into our thought patterns. The more someone magnifies a problem, the bigger the problem becomes. The level of anxiousness increases as they sit with a scenario full of uncertainty playing on repeat.
  3. Victim. This is a vicious roar the enemy uses. If the enemy can get someone convinced they are helpless in their circumstance or he can get them feeling as if God has given up on them – hope begins to evaporate. Where there is no hope, people lose sight of victory is. So people live their lives, bound by insecurity, playing the role of victim.
  4. Shame. The roar of shame will keep someone’s head down. The enemy will convince someone their past or current situation is embarrassing and rattles them to step toward isolation. With the sounds of shame loud within a person becomes oblivious to the truth, believing they are only one to ever experience this.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard these roars. I certainly have. Knowing the truth about the tactics the enemy of our soul likes to use, helps us stand in faith. Whispers and thoughts, words that were spoken from another, personal perspectives lacking humility, even past experiences – all of these are ways the enemy lets out a roar.

When we hear the enemy’s roar, remember this – it is based on a lie. It’s a distortion of truth that causes us to lose perspective of God’s Kingdom. Keep a sober mind and cast every worry or concern to God – He really does care!