Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Posted on November 4, 2013 - by admin
When I was new in my Christian faith I attended one of my first Bible teaching seminars. I sat up front. I was there to hear a man who at that time, was one of America’s best known Bible teachers. I couldn’t wait. Suddenly, the host announced to us that the famous teacher would not make it that day because the commercial flight he was on was delayed in a snow storm. I and the crowd were disappointed. The host then announced that in his absence, he would have a local business man speak & give his testimony. A stampede took place as people rushed to the exit doors. Within minutes the crowd was only enough to fill a small living room. I recall the speaker asking if anyone else needed to leave, in his opening remarks. None did. Looking back I now see the consumer mindset of religious people from the crowds response, but then again they were all use to this “conference” mentality & I’d only been a Christian a few weeks, so I didn’t know the game.
What I did learn was one of the most life-changing principles and I realize God pre-ordained me to be there, the business man to be there, the plane delay, and on & on. I don’t even recall the speakers name. I recall that he looked very average. Short, light red hair, fair complexion, completely non-religious and humble. The host said he was worth hundreds of millions of dollars, that he’d experienced financial success from a life of poverty, no education and no help from anyone other than God. It was both a great American story & a God honoring one.
I focused on listening and forgot there was anyone else in the room but he and I. He said the secret of his life was obtaining the “wisdom of God. He referred to James 1:5, “If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives it liberally.…” He referred to the invitation of Solomon to obtain wisdom from Proverbs 4. He unpacked for me verse after verse, of Gods’ Word on the subject of wisdom.
His testimony was, that wisdom enabled him to make decisions in life, business, marriage & faith that were sound and successful. He told of the pressure of peers in his life and the voices of others pulling him to do things or invest in places that looked good on the surface, when the voice of wisdom in his spirit would not agree. Each time he listened and obeyed, he’d look back later with no regret.
He plead, like I’d never heard a man plea, with the 8 or 10 of us in the large auditorium to pursue wisdom with a passion. I was caught. Today I make that same appeal to you. I’ve lived long enough now to see that it is Gods wisdom that has given me guidance in the things I enjoy. It never has been my abilities. It’s wisdom from above. As I realize how close I came to marrying the wrong person for me and relied on God’s wisdom, I’ve enjoyed over 33 years of a non-stop honeymoon with the High School beauty queen I married. Our children, our finances, our relationships and everything I have been blessed to enjoy have all been the result of the wisdom of God.
My appeal to you today is that God wants to guide and bless you. His path will bring Him glory through your life and fulfillment in yours, if you will make the pursuit of wisdom a high priority.
Now here’s the process that I’ve learned that He uses. As we pray for His wisdom, we wrongly assume that we will suddenly open our eyes and be smarter and have the skills of a master in every area. Not so. Wisdom comes through experiences that God will allow you to live and learn through. As you pray for wisdom, you will discover a path of diversity with many choices in it. You’ll face betrayals, broken trust, mountains of obstacles at times, new people coming into your life either as a blessing from God or a test for you. You’ll be at the crossroads over and over. You will face and live on “The Road Less Traveled” all of the time….And here’s the thrilling part of it….You will hear the voice of wisdom speaking in those times. It’s a silent voice when the road is smooth, it’s a calming, assuring voice when the road is grueling and dark. Wisdom comes through experience.
I’m glad the plane of the famous speaker was stalled. I fear what I would have missed if I’d not heard the truth of the unassuming voice of the “fill-in” speaker that day. Wisdom was already at work in me that day as he wouldn’t let me leave the place with the rest of the crowd. It’s been a great journey every since… Try it for yourself. Make the pursuit, the cry out for wisdom, a serious goal in your life. It’s the road BEST Traveled.
Posted on May 13, 2013 - by admin
Summer is almost here and I’m excited about what’s ahead in so many ways. Our annual Marriage conference at Disney World is coming up and it’s already sold out with a few people on the waiting list (We’re trying to ensure all can go.)
One of the things we enjoy most of these times are not just interacting with couples and getting to make new friends, but also watching how the couples themselves open up to each other along with making new friends.
Debbie & I came into marriage with no tools, role models, or plan for how to make it work. We’d never read one book on it. Our study of the Bible is what gave us the real plan and we’ve just never found anything to improve on that. When we began to want to learn about marriage, God sent us help. Like, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” We met some friends named Arthur & Terri Stewart and they modeled for us what a good marriage looked like.
We didn’t realize until we saw their marriage how bad ours was. We were broken and didn’t know it. As we grew in the areas we chose to, we became best friends. Raising 3 awesome sons and watching them provide for their families and lead them has been the result of us working toward a good marriage.
“You get out what you put in,” has always been our belief, and that applies to anything. Just this morning, one of our sons told us he bought his wife a car for Mother’s Day and he said, “She’s a great mother, wife, & friend and I wanted to show her I love and appreciate her.”
Debbie & I spontaneously high fived each other! That’s the rewards of working at marriage; your kids will model what they’ve learned in their own one day.
Marriage is a gift. Many wish for one. Many also wish for a good one. If you’re fortunate enough to have what you want, treat what you have with your best in time, attention, and love. Treasure those you love and make plans to keep growing together.
Posted on April 4, 2013 - by admin
Putting away a few books I’d just read, I thought a comment or two on them may interest you, if you’re searching for escape, insight, or adventure.
Let me begin by admitting that my reading is very, very, versatile. Some may not be your “cup of tea”, half are not religious or Christian, but for me, all were informative and enjoyable. So here goes:
1. “Force of Nature” by Laird Hamilton. World class big wave surfer, phenomenal athlete. He’s married to professional volleyball player Gabrielle Reece. His insight into health, exercise and attitude were outstanding.
2. “The Strategist” by Cynthia Montgomery. She’s known for teaching strategy in the business school at Harvard. For me, this book is above anything I’ve ever read on the subject before.
3. “Killing Lincoln & Killing Kennedy” both by Bill O’Reilly. Very well written, enjoyable, and since I admire both presidents and read of anything written of both, these books were refreshing.
4. “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson. He’s a pastor in Washington, D.C. who has detailed his faith journey of his church and life in a very encouraging style. It’s a faith builder.
5. “Love Does” by Bob Goff. Great book! No one tells real life stories in print like this guy. He will have you laughing one minute and challenged the next with how we can make a difference. It’s a great read!
6. “My Cross to Bare” by Gregg Allman. Southern Rock & Roll singer and brother of the late Duane Allman who formed the Allman Brothers band. I grew up on their music and read with interest his book detailing his life & career. It was hard core, very honest, and provided good insight into life struggles. The ending is encouraging.
7. “The Voice of Reason” by Chael Sonnen. Mixed marshal artist and former NCAA Division 1 All-American wrestler, he’s one of the best communicators on the planet. He is the voice of persuasion. You may not agree with his attitude, his arguments, or his values, but you will love the way he states his causes and perspectives so convincingly.
8. “No Higher Honor” by Condoleezza Rice. Former Secretary of State, one of the first 2 women to be allowed into Augusta International Country Club, She’s extremely intelligent. Her book was like taking a journey behind the scenes of politics, how decisions are made, and why certain policies are important. It makes you feel a greater appreciation for America.
9. ”The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” by John C. Maxwell. As with all John Maxwell books, they “bring the goods”. This one delivers too. He is the “Leader of Leaders” and communicates truth you can use like no on else.
I’ve read a few others that wouldn’t make the list. Not that they were bad, just that the 9 listed, bring some things aren’t easily forgotten and are usable.
Posted on August 18, 2012 - by admin
I’m often asked if I could do ministry all over again, what would I do differently. My answer is clear. I’d begin a Pastors Prayer Partner ministry on day 1 or I’d not do ministry at all. Seriously. Ministry without a prayer ministry to me, is no ministry at all. Jesus said, “My Fathers House is to be a house of Prayer”. The example He set and the value He placed on prayer cannot be overlooked. In our 10th year at Cascade Hills Church, after listening to John Maxwell describe a ministry like this he had in California, we begin this ministry. While the church had grown and enjoyed blessings the first 10 years, nothing compares with what we’ve enjoyed since we the Pastors Prayer Partner Ministry. What IS a Pastors Prayer Partner Ministry? After realizing the value of it and teaching it to our people, I asked our members if they will pray for me, my family and our church daily. We then assign them into teams to meet 1/2 hour before each service to pray together. For us this means 3 services per week with 3 different men teams and 3 different women teams per weekend. The men and women pray separately in specified rooms. The unity they have with each other is the first noticeable benefit. Remember “the family that prays together stays together” concept. The church family unites through this. This was the prayer of Jesus in John 17. If that alone were the only benefit, it’s be worth it. Today almost 1100 Pastors Prayer Partners per month are devoted to this ministry. Secondly, we see genuine spiritual growth and guidance. A prayer ministry supernaturally opens windows of heaven in your life and church. The Pastors Prayer Partner ministry provides a place for even the newest member to connect into church and it helps them develop a prayer life.There are so many more benefits that I don’t have time to describe here. For this reason, o n Thursday September 20, 2012 we are going to host our first Pastors Prayer Conference at Cascade Hills to help you begin this ministry in your church. The cost is only $25. It only 3 hours in length (9 a.m. - 12 p.m.) The cost covers both a breakfast & lunch and all material & Q & A. We will provide in specific detail how to begin this ministry in your church immediately. If you’re a lay person, bring your pastor. If you’re a pastor, move heaven and earth to be here. If you’re tired in ministry, frustrated that your people aren’t connecting with each other or yourself, longing for a touch from God that really works in a corporate church environment for the long haul, you need this. Life change and Church change cannot happen without a touch from God, but how can we experience this if we’re not praying? Let me help you begin this ministry ASAP. You will discover what I learned, this is where Gods vision for your life and church start, it’s where the body unites, and it’s where the Pastor is infused with a love for the people and the people express it back. Nothing will prioritize your ministry faster and more effectively. To learn more or register go to http://ow.ly/cYy9O Hope to see you there.
Yours because of Calvary,
Posted on August 17, 2012 - by admin
One of the most important but undervalued matters in our lives is in the area of “process”. By nature we are selfish and want what we want when we want it. I’ve often illustrated this by referring to the new born baby. If the baby would wait to do his/her crying until morning when the rest of the family woke up, it would be selfless, considerate, and greatly appreciated, but its’ nature doesn’t think that way. They want what they want when they want it. That same nature is often seen in “adults”. I want to take a moment and help us consider the path, the process, or the long, slow road that you may feel you’re on and help you to value this as important. Sometimes the “overnight success” of others can bring you discouragement. Consider Moses who spent most of his life in the slow lane, before God positioned him for influence. Or Joseph who was alone, separated, & often betrayed for a long time on a slow journey before God placed him in leadership. Jesus modeled this best. For 30 years he was a common man, living in Nazareth. He was undistinguishable from other men in the eyes of his community. He was undiscovered. There was no throng of people lining up at the carpenters shop to touch Him or hear His wisdom. He was a simple man in a simple town and from day one was scoffed at with “Can any good thing come from Nazareth”? remarks. But it was in his ordinary days, his ordinary life that he handled the tools of the common man, boards, hammers, human responsibilities, communicating with people as they entered the shop that He “grew in grace with men”. I think the missing link in leadership is that too many “want what one has earned and not what one has learned”. My appeal to us is to appreciate the process. It is in the forming of our character and the reliance on God for our satisfaction that He is most pleased. Don’t by-pass your Nazareth. It’s a pattern so clear in scripture that almost everyone we admire in the Bible experienced it. Don’t look around at others and their journey, thank God for and grow in your place. Be alert to what God is doing in your life. Value the process. It’s God’s specific path for you and you’ll look back one day and treasure it.
Posted on April 25, 2012 - by admin
I’m not a “conference groupie.” I haven’t attended a Christian one in over a dozen years. I have been to a few corporate conferences, which are pretty impressive the past few years, but last week I went to one called Catalyst West at a church my son attends in Orange County, California. Funny that while there I saw ten or twelve guys I know who were at the last one I was at twelve years ago. Most of them told me they’ve been to five or six per year, so that makes sixty to seventy conferences I’ve missed. Oh well.
My schedule didn’t permit me to stay long, but I was able to make a session led by Andy Stanley. My youngest son attends his church in Atlanta. He’s an awesome communicator and God’s hand is on him. His message was about living in the present. He drove home the point that we’re often so busy tweeting, updating our facebook and the other things that keep one busy, that we fail to engage in the present. He said a lot of other great things also.
His point was something my 2009 New Years resolution was about, to be present. I have to admit, that year was a game changer in relationships for me. I listened more, learned more, grew closer, and deeper in relationships than any time up until then. For me the Turkish Proverb, “If speaking is silver, then listening is gold” became true. I’m still working on that goal.
Being present means being fully engaged. You can’t be everywhere, doing everything, and get the most out of life if you miss being present. My friend Rob is a single dad. He told me that he came home one evening and his son was on the computer, texting on his iphone, had the television blaring and talking on the home phone at the same time. He said, “You’re supposed to be doing your homework” to which his son said, “I am,” and held up a book.
Being present is especially productive in our prayer life. “Be still and know that I am God” the scripture says, “Wait on the LORD” the psalmist reminds us. I’ve pondered the thought before that maybe God makes some of us wait on Him like we’ve made Him wait on us before. Being present in prayer is the starting place for a day that gets us in alignment. Try it soon.
Posted on February 7, 2012 - by admin
I recently released my latest book The Emotion Driven Life. It was written as an effort to help people overcome the emotions that can disrupt our lives. Whether you realize it or not, every person is driven by something.
What drives your life? Is it money? Power? Popularity? Ambition? Validation? Acceptance? Pastor Rick Warren’s bestseller, The Purpose Driven Life, encouraged millions of readers to live their lives with God’s purpose in mind. It is a book that focused on how our Creator designed us to live our lives.
However, as a pastor for over thirty years I’ve discovered that most people miss the point. I believe that most people are letting the “Emotion Driven Life” guide them. I’ve discovered that emotions like lust, bitterness, anger, guilt, and fear direct a lot of our choices. This is not God’s will for us.
I’ve been thrilled at the responses we’re receiving in the first week of this books release. Here’s what some of them are saying…
A teenager wrote, “For over a year now I’ve been carrying around a lot of hatred towards a person who seriously wronged and hurt me. I just finished your book a few minutes ago and all I can say is, wow! I have asked for forgiveness and already feel 1,000 pounds lighter!”
Another person said, “ I could NOT put it down. I will be re reading and using it as a reference. I could relate to every word and page.”
My friends and I just completed the book The Emotion Driven Life. After reading it we all agree, we began the best discussion we’ve ever had. Each of us identified various chapters on an emotion like anger, bitterness, jealousy or guilt that we struggled with. The freedom we left with has been truly life-changing. Thanks for creating a simple, easy to read, yet applicable book with REAL life changing truth!
The longer I live the more convinced I am that because we’re emotional beings, we often let our emotions rule us instead of vice-versa. Life is too short to live that way and when you think about it, life is also going to be too long if you do. What would you do if fear or guilt didn’t hinder you? How would your relationships be if jealousy or anger didn’t creep in? How far could you go in life if bitterness or rejection was not a factor from your past? What would the emotion of real love in you bring to your life if you could live empowered by it?
The only way to know is to explore and experience firsthand the answers to those and other questions. I hope you will.
Posted on July 11, 2011 - by admin
“Open doors, closing doors” are biblical phrases used by its’ writers to refer to divine guidance. Those sincerely seeking Gods will for their life accept the “open door/close door” experience peacefully. (Isaiah 45:1,2, Acts 14:27, I Corinthians 16:9, II Corinthians 2:12, Colossians 4:3, Revelation 3:8). We use the term in the secular world to ask questions. “How did you close the door”? What we mean is, how did the conversation, relationship, or deal conclude.
I believe “how one closes the doors in their life has a lot to do with how God opens the doors for their life”. Just something I’ve observed after 30 yrs.
If it’s within our control, we should close doors of work, relationships and situations as gently and Christ-like as possible. First, because it honors God. That alone should be reason enough. But for those wanting a “WIIFM”, (What’s in it for me?), it means putting ourselves in a position for God to open the door in front of us because we’ve been Christ-like in the way we’ve closed the doors behind us.
Sometimes closing doors behind us mean forgiving, learning from, becoming wiser, & knowing we can walk back in those environments with integrity.
I served 3 other churches in my past. In each there were great experiences that shaped my life and difficult days that tested me. In every departure, I thanked the pastor privately before leaving for the privilege he entrusted to me while on his team and was provided a “farewell” experience from the church where, like Paul (Acts 20:25-38) I thanked the people also.
In the secular world, I’d resigned from 3 different work environments as a student. In each case, leaving was hard because the experiences were enjoyable. From 2 of those I worked the last 2 weeks notice without pay as a “thanks” for the privilege. Six months after leaving one of them, the owner died in an accident. Even though they had many employees, I was asked to be a pallbearer because his wife said he respected the way I departed. I never realize then how important that was until years later.
I’m convinced the way we close the doors in our life (which is our choice and reflection of our character) has so much to do with the way God opens the doors for our future.
So here’s the advice. If you’re moving on, do it wisely, honorably. If you’re closing a chapter in your life, make it the best exit you possibly can.
One reason I write this is because of I’ve seen the experiences of both lately. I recently watched a young lady in early 20’s leave a doctors office job and erase all of the data on the computer, leave on a Friday without notice, and then boast about how she injured them. I could see bitterness beginning to grow in her. What she didn’t know was that she was revealing her true character in her actions, and that she’ll reap what she’s sown ahead. And then a few weeks ago I listened to an older retired man describe to me his experiences in traveling the world and all he’d learned. He’d worked in dozens of interesting places and various fields. What struck me was when he leaned back, smiled widely and said, “I never left a single job without thanking God and thanking my boss”. I couldn’t help but notice how at peace he was with his past and how secure he was in the present. As I reflected on the amazing doors God had opened for him in his lifetime, I sensed it was time to write these thoughts for you today. The incredible doors my friend had been through in life, probably were opened because of the character in which he displayed in closing the doors of his past.
Posted on April 13, 2011 - by admin
After listening to several different people sharing their life journey with me this week, some older, some in their thirties, & one in college, it occurred to me that all of them made crucial life defining choices many times over at several stages of their lives. In each life they would come to a “crossroad” at some point, either in relationships, work habits, educational goals, deciding priorities, financial matters, health & lifestyle, and in their spiritual pursuits. At times they made the easy choice. While convienent at that moment, they all had regrets afterwards. The one thing that kept surfacing was that when they made the “hard” choice, the path of discipline or standing alone, or relentlessly devoting themselves to a worthy goal, they had no regrets. I conclude that it was in the “crossroad moments” that their character was weakened or strengthened. It was in that stage that they gripped the steering wheel of their life, kept their foot on the gas pedal and set out to reach their destination or they looked for an exit, gradually slowed up and pulled over with their life. One man told me of when he wouldn’t speak up about his faith at work, with friends or in public. In time he wouldn’t speak up about anything else he should have. When his wife of 20 years left him, her shocking words were, “Your not a man. I felt unprotected in our marriage, I have no respect for you”. Looking back he says, “I caved in to peer pressure early on…I paid for it too”. The young college boy described how he set and lived his values on a college campus and for 3 years it was lonely. Now he’s a respected leader by his peers because they saw his example. All of us come to a crossroad many times in our lives. What we choose, the price we’re willing to pay, the resolve we are devoted to live out brings the life of no regrets. We don’t know the names of the many who walked away from Jesus. We know the names of those who were steadfast. Peter, James, John… If you’re at the crossroad today take hope. It’s an opportunity. Sure it will cost you something, but focus your eyes on the prize. Speak up when you should, stand up when you should, do good when you should, take risk when opportunity comes, love deeply while you can, give generously when you have it, encourage because it’s a gift others need at times, & look for the crossroads in every decision and in life. It’s in that crossroad moment that God gives you a chance to steer toward your highest potential.
Posted on January 26, 2011 - by admin
The BCS National Championship game was on January 10th of this year. Auburn and Oregon were the two teams battling it out, with Auburn emerging as champion. My son B.J. is a 2005 Auburn graduate so he and his wife went to the game with two of our church members. To say this was a good game would be an understatement. It went right down to the wire.
Regardless of whether you pull for either of these teams one thing is certain, they both worked hard throughout the season to win each game.
In a few weeks, another championship game will be played. It will be the Super Bowl featuring the Packers and the Steelers. Yet again you will see two groups of players who have worked hard all season to become champions.
Although it’s fun to watch our favorite teams compete, champions aren’t only reserved for football players. You and I can have a championship season in our own lives. 2011 is a year for you to start fresh! God already has great plans for you this year. He says in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
The question is, do you believe it’s going to be a championship year for you? As you hit the ground running in 2011, plan for the best. Like all of these teams you should work as hard as you can with everything you’ve got. It may not be without challenges, but that’s ok because champions fight all the way to the end. I want to encourage you to set your sights high and keep pressing on. With the right determination you can be a champion in 2011!
I wish you all the best this year in your spiritual and personal life!