Picture these scenarios –
- A lack of effort on the basketball court
- Parents struggling to find respect in their own home
- A dying church that can’t reach the next generation
- Disgruntled employees that don’t meet their quota
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You know what I’m doing this Christmas?
That’s right! In the midst of a very busy time, filled with ministry and get-togethers, I’m pulling back the reigns and slowing down. I’m watching less TV, doing fewer unnecessary things and coming back to the heart of worship. I’m coming back to what the holiday is truly meant to be.
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Holidays are some of my favorite days because regardless of what holiday we’re celebrating they always end up being days centered around family as well. Father’s Day is always a favorite because well, I love being a dad! Honestly it’s one of the best things in the world! I love being there when my kids wake up and I love laying them down to sleep. I love just watching them, listening to them, spending time with them. I love sharing moments together and making memories with them.
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In a world that advertises it’s so connected through technology and social media I would argue that we have never been so unconnected before! Sure innovation has given us some amazing capabilities and brought some pretty sweet new tech but it has also stolen so much from us and we’ve allowed it to! How many lives have been taken because drivers are busy texting and not paying attention to the road? How many marriages have ended in divorce because of feeling unloved, not valued or not paid attention to? It starts with something small but it builds and builds until they become non responsive. Think about it, how many times does your wife have to call your name when you’re watching a football game or how many times did your wife not hear what you were saying because she was focused looking at her phone? How often have your kids not listened because they were on their devices (and have you’re kids learned this from you)? The problem is real! Sure we can easily point the blame but the problem isn’t the new technology, the problem stems from the human heart. It’s so easy for us to get distracted, forget what’s most important in life and cruise on autopilot living life but really just going through the motions…
Don’t settle with going through the motions, don’t live life half heartedly – not really present in the moment, for that is no kind of life at all! Too many have believed the lie that, “I’m multitasking” or “I’m getting more done!” Are you? Are you really? When’s the last time you REALLY connected in conversation with another soul? (It doesn’t happen when our minds are on other things).
I’ve done it before, in person and on the phone. There’s times I’ve had to ask friends and family members to repeat themselves because I wasn’t really listening the first time (I was too busy being distracted and often times those distractions were trivial and meaningless). And so I ask, “Are you trading the most meaningful things in life with those that are meaningless?” May I challenge you today to put your phone down, shut the TV off, stop daydreaming and really listen and engage with the people close to you today. People know when they’re getting your full attention and they know when they’re not! Life is too short to waste, so don’t waste it being busy and please don’t waste it by not really being present around those who desperately need you to be present!
It’s what the Apostle Paul talked about, we can do a whole lot of great things in life but if we don’t have love we have nothing! There is a more excellent way and it is the way of love! I feel most loved by people who listen to me, you know what I mean, people who know you, listen to you and love you! These people are gems! They’ve nailed one of the greatest commandments, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” They’ve discovered that life is all about relationships (especially with those right in front of you)!
A quote that often comes to mind is this, “Wherever you are, be there!” I believe this is true worship! When I read scriptures like “Whatever you do, do it ALL for the glory of God” or “Whatever you do or say, do it ALL in the name of the Lord Jesus” it confirms it! Jesus said the greatest commandment was to “Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul, mind and strength!” Do you see what God is saying to us in all these verses? There is a more excellent way, it is the way of love and love listens, love engages, love responds, in whatever love does it gives everything it has, it uses ALL of the heart! And so I challenge you today, wherever you are be there! Whatever you have to do, do it (with ALL your heart)! For when we begin to make this our daily practice we begin to experience ALL that God has intended for us. Let’s experience ALL that God has for us, let’s fully enjoy our closest relationships, let’s use ALL our heart, let’s be, “All in!”
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
(Scriptures referenced: 1 Corinthians 10:31, 13:1-8, Colossians 3:17, Mark 12:30-31)
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Last week I stayed at my sisters house in Ohio for a couple days while visiting. I loved every minute of it being with family (even the early wake up calls from my beautiful niece and nephew). Every time I walked by their entry way I noticed this wonderful piece of Art (actually created by my sister) which read,
“No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.”
I’ve always loved this song (In Christ Alone) but I really loved this verse and that it was in the center of her house for all to see! I can imagine ten years from now when her children are teenagers and the Holy Spirit brings these truths to remembrance to help them in times of trouble or twenty five years from now when they’re singing this verse over their own children (by the way, never underestimate the power of truth and love that is sown into the heart of a child)!
Well, ever since I read that it’s stuck with me! God has brought it to my attention everyday sometimes two to three times a day! And at the same time I’ve also felt guilt for no apparent reason (condemnation and false accusations from the enemy). Not only that, I’ve picked up on the feelings of guilt from others. It’s like fear and guilt are in the air.
So, I want to speak to these things right now (so if you’re feeling fear or guilt and know others who are as well I kindly ask that you will agree with me in prayer). “God, I speak to the lies of fear and guilt that the enemy is sowing and right now in Jesus name I take authority over them! They have no place in the hearts of your children. Rather in place of those things I speak joy and peace! I pray that our hearts will overflow with your love and goodness. Bring a confidence in knowing that we are loved, forgiven and saved! Who the sons sets free is free indeed and God we are free! Thank you Lord, and it’s in Jesus name we pray, amen!”
Remember: No guilt in life and no fear in death!