Never the Same

I’m in Quito, Ecuador.
For the past 17 years I’ve taken students (and adults to help me) on two-week international mission trips.

My friend Steve Goley, with Big World Ventures out of Tulsa, Okla., actually puts the details together for me (flights, ministries, hotel, translators, etc.) so I can simply concentrate on loving and ministering.

My main job is to speak each evening. When everyone comes back to the hotel, we have a hot meal and then an evening service we call  FUAGNEM: Fired Up And Going Nuts Every Minute!

Each summer we see more than a thousand people give their lives to Christ through this ministry. We collect their information and give that to local pastors who want to disciple them and get them involved in their churches.

May I confess something?
I’m exhausted. Just finished speaking at a camp in VA
and barely had time to repack and do laundry before flying overnight to Quito. Part of me is longing to be home.
In my own bed.
With my two dogs, Obie and Amos.

But I’m here because it’s right.
For the past 17 years it’s been right.
It’s my chance to see God move in big ways.

And more than making an impact in another country . . .
the real reason I do a missions trip each year is for our students.

Most teens view their relationship with Christ as a feeling—
and it’s usually how they feel when their hands are in the air
and they’re swaying to praise and worship music.
This is Christianity, they think.
This is what it means to love God.

Sometimes I wish we’d just stop all the music and teach students there are other ways to worship.
Before you condemn me, please hear me out.

When we enter a relationship with God,
It’s something that’s so sacred
so huge
so holy
it transcends our understanding.
It’s BIG.
It can’t be contained in how I feel when my hands are in the air
And I feel the beat of drums swelling in my head.
In fact, it has nothing to do with this.
It’s beyond that!
It’s saying, “I won’t renounce” when the machete is at the throat of an Iraqi Christian.
It’s making time to read the Bible . . . daily . . .
no matter how tired we are or how much we have to do.
And it’s praying constantly.
It’s trusting God for what we can’t see.
It’s weeping before Him and yearning until our hearts feel raw from praying for genuine intimacy with Him.
It has nothing to do with my favorite chorus.
And on these trips . . . I see our students go beyond the music.
I watch them push deeper than the excitement of an overseas trip.
I see the light go on in their eyes as I speak to the group about living in radical obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
And I hear their confession. I see their growth.
And we have revival.

Revival. Not a word we hear much anymore.
Most teens have never heard the word.
And when they experience it, they don’t know how to label it.
They come to me with tears running down their cheeks saying,
“I’m a Christian, but I’ve never been challenged like this.”
“I don’t hear stuff like this in my church back home.”
“I’ve never been challenged like this before.”

And I wonder what IS being preached in many of our churches.
Or if many are simply places to feel good.
And I question if most teens who think they have a relationship with Christ really do have a genuine relationship with Him.

So I do this trip every year.
Because I love revival. And I love introducing teens to revival.
And I love hearing them testify. Many don’t even know what a testimony is. They learn quickly.

And when I watch a teen lead someone to Christ . . . it’s amazing how his confidence soars! Nothing is impossible, if one can lead someone to God! Sharing our faith is a definite confidence booster.

And by the end of the trip, to see how worship has completely changed from feel-good music to truly being in awe of our Creator God . . . to being speechless before Him . . . to grasping even a bit of His power . . .

Well, that’s why I’m here.
And missing my own bed is a very small price to pay.

Share with me your thoughts on how YOU experience genuine revival. And why do you think many churches no longer have revival?

Masterpiece

The paint is still wet on the canvas.

The colors glisten in the sun.

Texture and technique equal vibrancy extraordinaire.

The Artist has created brilliance.

 

But instead of putting down His brush, He waves it over His creation and breathes directly into the painting. The colors receive His breath and begin to move. Rhythm gives birth to shape. Silhouettes become personalities. Life explodes through the canvas.

 

It’s a masterpiece. What the Artist has captured is beyond your imagination. You don’t want to blink for fear of missing something.

As your focus intensifies . . . you’re able to see beyond the kaleidoscope of vivacity . . . and you’re stunned.

You’re looking at you.

 

The Artist has included you in His painting.

It’s hard to swallow.

Your heart is racing.

How is this possible?

 

It may be hard to believe . . .

but breathe a sigh of relief, because it’s true.

 

YOU are inside the greatest painting in the world.

In fact, even before the Artist picked up His brush,

you were on His mind.

 

He knew the color of your hair before He painted it.

He saw your laugh lines before sketching them.

He places so much value in who you are, that He never thought twice about placing you in His creation. In fact, if you look a little closer, you’ll see a resemblance between you and the Artist . . . for He fashioned everything in this masterpiece after His own image.

 

YOU are in the painting.

YOU are part of the masterpiece.

YOU have reason to rejoice.

 

As you study the work before you,

it begins to move . . . and you realize this is not a still painting.

It’s a moving piece of art.

 

Let’s not simply look at the painting or admire it from a distance.

Transformation never comes from simply viewing.

The Artist has extended His hand.

He has issued the invitation.

Will you join Him?

He invites you inside the masterpiece.

 

Go ahead.

Step inside.

Look around. Characters are moving swiftly now.

The Artist Himself is quickening. He’s engaged. He, too, is inside the painting. And He’s moving more rapidly than anything else on the canvas.

 

What’s He doing?

Look around.

Notice every detail.

This is all about you.

 

Soak it in.

The Artist is shifting everything in the painting to get to you.

From His vantage point, it’s you on center stage.

The painting revolves around you.

He’s literally moving heaven and earth to get to you.

He’s chasing you.

He wants you.

He’s calling you by name.

 

Allow yourself to be captured

and

captivated by Him.

 

It’s all about you.

If you were the only one in all the world to paint . . .

He’d still use the richest, most vibrant, all-expensive colors

on you.

 

It’s all about you.

You’re the one for whom He died.

You’re the one for whom He refused to stay in the tomb.

You’re the one for whom He has purchased the new canvas.

 

You’ll meet some fascinating personalities affected by the Artist.

You’ll become part of the story inside the stories the Artist has breathed onto the canvas.

 

Go ahead.

Accept His invitation inside the painting.

Discover your story by learning His.

Along the way, you’ll engage in 18 encounters that prove

it really is

all about

you.

 

(The above is the introduction to my new book Masterpiece: 18 Encounters With Jesus That Prove It’s All About You)

Where’s Your Heart?

God spoke a lot about a man’s heart.

Know it by heart . . .

When you break someone’s heart

He’ll want a heart-to-heart with you.

David was a man after God’s own heart

But he soon had a heavy heart

After breaking God’s heart.

From the bottom of his heart

He had a change of heart.

David crossed his heart

That he would follow God’s heart

With all of his heart.

He did.

And God still refers to him as a man after His own heart.

Cool how God finds it in His heart to forgive, forget and   restore!

 

Did You Know . . .

• Michael J. Fox’s middle name is Andrew.

• My middle name is Sue. (No, it’s not Susie Sue. Susie is my nickname for Sue. I’ve always been called Susie. My first name is Marjorie—after my mother.)

• Twelve percent of all the Coca-Cola in America is drunk at breakfast.

• That God collects your tears (see Psalm 56:8)

• Anthophobia is the fear of flowers. (I’m glad I don’t have anthophobia! I love flowers. My favorites are roses. Around my front porch area, I have several rose bushes in bloom. I’m growing pink, yellow, red, orange, light green, peach, white and even purple.)

• There are some things God can’t do. He can’t go against His nature of holiness. He can’t lie. He can’t sleep. He can’t fail. He can’t lose. He can’t stop thinking about you. And He can’t be blamed if you don’t make it to heaven.

• Summer on Neptune lasts for 40 years! But the temperature is minus 328 degrees Fahrenheit.

• If you’ll read three chapters of the Bible every day, and if you’ll read five chapters every Sunday, in one year you will have read the entire Bible.

 


 

Have you read the Bible in its entirety? Some folks make it a priority to do this every year. I know an evangelist who reads his Bible several times through in a year.

My pastor mentioned in one of his sermons that many Christians don’t read the Bible at all—except for what’s flashed on the screen each Sunday in church.

Where are you with reading the Bible?

What’s It Called?

Conversation with my 93-year-old aunt:
ME: Do you have your list for Walgreens?
AUNT: Yes, but you’ll just have to be patient as I get in the car. It takes me a while.
ME: I won’t close the door until you’re in.
AUNT: I have to walk slowly because of my asthma.
ME: You mean your arthritis?
AUNT: No, my asthma.
ME: Are you having trouble breathing?
AUNT: No.
ME: It’s not asthma. It’s arthritis. You’re having trouble walking.
AUNT: That’s why I should be driving.

 

Once in a while all of us get our words mixed up.
Is it asthma or arthritis?
Is it behoove or bemean?
Accept or except?
You’re or your?

 

When I can’t think of the right word, I just make up a new one and keep going.

Unfortunately, many have forgotten the word Christian and what it truly means.

If we’re temporarily “taking a break from Jesus” can we still call ourselves Christian?

If we’re not striving to live as Christ lived, is it right to call ourselves Christian?

 

What IS a Christian?
Isn’t a Christian one who is a Christ-follower?
One who takes on the name of Christ?
One who surrenders his or her life to the authority of Christ?
One who begins to live like . . . act like . . . look like . . .
even smell like Christ?

 

Ephesians 5:2 tells us that Christ is a fragrant aroma.

And 2 Corinthians 2:15 explains that WE are the aroma of Christ to the world.

 

I want to start looking like my heavenly Daddy.

Years ago, Alexander the Great ruled most of the known world. The story is told, one night he was walking the guard duty because he couldn’t sleep.

The Roman guards were told that if they had guard duty and they fell asleep while on duty, it was punishable by death. As the leader of the whole Roman Empire walked around that night because he couldn’t sleep, he found a guard who had become so exhausted—and thinking that nobody would ever know—he had fallen asleep.

Alexander the Great kicked the guy in the side and the young Roman solider looked up, petrified. He recognized the face of who he was looking at, and he knew there was no hope. He would be dead within 24 hours.

Alexander the Great looked at him and said furiously, “Solider, what’s your name?”

Terrified, the young man whispered, “My name is Alexander, Sir.”

Alexander the Great looked at him and history reports that he said, “Then solider, either change your conduct or change your name.”

 

Do you think God could be saying the same thing to us?

“Christian! Change your conduct, or change your NAME.”

 

Change your lifestyle . . . or change your name.

Change your habits . . . or change your name.

Jesus, I want to act like You—

REACT like You . . .

Live like You

Smell like You.

 

I often fall so short.

 

Please help me never to forget what the word Christian means

and how much it cost You to give me Your name.

 

 

 

 

Thoughts to this blog post?

 

Ouch!

ouchI went to physical therapy today because my back has been hurting. Too much hauling heavy luggage around the country. So I thought some good ol’ P.T. might help. (Please remind me never to use “good ol’ and P.T. in the same sentence again.)

Did it help?

It’s too early to tell.
This is normal, right? To be unable to move 10 hours after therapy?

She smashed my lower back and kneaded it like dough then pounded, punched, pulled, plied.

As I lay wincing on the table, I realized the pain she was inflicting on me was much greater than the pain I had walked in with. She was hurting me more! Since I don’t curse, I loudly repeated the alphabet over and over. I thought perhaps yelling something would take my mind off of the pain.

It didn’t.

Now, 10 hours later . . . I’m still sore. And actually bruised.
Yes.
That’s right.
There are bruises on my back now.

 

I know. I know. I know. I’ve heard it a zillion times:
“It’s going to hurt worse before it can get better.”

I don’t want to be a baby, so I’m trying to look at life’s trials this way. Isn’t it true that most of the time stuff has to hurt a little before it gets better?

Wah. Wah. Wah.

There are some things, however, that only Mexican food can fix.

Discerning God’s Will

Last week we began chatting about finding God’s will for our lives.

 

#1. First, God’s will has a lot to do with our desires.

(See last week’s blog for this part.)

 

Let’s look at a couple more ways to know His will.

 

#2.  God’s will is found in God’s Word.

Simply put: God often speaks to you through the Bible. Are you reading the Bible consistently? My pastor mentioned in a recent sermon that most Christians aren’t reading the Bible. He said the majority of Christians who come to church read the Bible when it’s flashed on the screen with the morning’s message.

Wow.

That’s pitiful.

If you’re NOT reading the Bible, why not? Let me give you an easy challenge: Start reading the Bible one minute every day. You’ll be surprised at the difference even one minute each day will make. And really, anyone can do that. So start there. Just one minute a day. Begin with the Gospel of John. After you’re finished with John, read Proverbs. It has 31 chapters—that’s one for each day of the month.

 

#3. God’s will never contradicts God’s Word.

He’s pretty clear about saving sexual intimacy until marriage. So for someone to say, “I realize that, but I’ve prayed about it, and I feel it’s OK”—that person isn’t hearing the voice of God. He or she is hearing Satan who’s disguising himself as God’s voice. Yes, he can do that. The Bible tells us he disguises himself as an angel of light. (See 2 Corinthians 11:14.)

God’s will is NOT a feeling.

Feelings come and go. They’re often unreliable, and they’re not a sound source for guidance.

Feelings can also lie. Have you ever made a decision that felt right . . . but later it proved to be the wrong thing?

Our hearts can be flakey. Even Scripture says so:

“Who can understand the human heart? There is nothing else so deceitful” (Jeremiah 17:9 TEV).

In other words, our feelings can lie to us; they play tricks on us. Satan can create feelings. So just because you had a feeling about something doesn’t mean it’s God’s will.

Thoughts?
Comments?

Next week: Something totally different

 

Neighbor Kids, a Podium and God’s Will

When I was 9 years old, I asked my dad to make me a podium so I could speak. He did. It was about three feet tall—just my size.

I used that little podium a lot. The neighborhood kids gathered in our garage, and I’d tell them stories and try different things to keep their attention.

I can’t help but laugh when I think I about that little podium—and me speaking to the neighborhood. Ha!

I wish I still had it. It would be something fun to show that Dad created just for me. But I think we ended up using it for firewood one winter.

 

God’s Plan
Most Christians are obsessed with finding God’s will for their lives.
“I just wish I knew what God wanted me to do,” many college students say.

“Why can’t I discover His plan for my life?”

I’d love to share a few things I’ve learned about God’s will:

 

#1. First, God’s will has a lot to do with our desires.

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires” (Psalm 37:4 NLT).

Wonderful. I desire a new Jeep.
No. Keep it in context.
FIRST put your delight in the Lord. Let Him saturate you!
When we’re living in obedience to Him, He works through our desires. He puts the desires in our heart!

“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed” (Psalm 20:4 NIV).

God puts the desires in your heart. He then uses those desires to direct you on the path He wants you to go.

Chances are good that God isn’t going to direct you to do something you hate. He’s not going to call me into accounting. Nor will He lead me to be a math teacher. Or an astronaut. Too many numbers.

This is not where I’m gifted.

He does, however, often call us to something bigger than ourselves.
And if He does? He’ll equip us with everything we need.

But because the Lord has gifted me in communication skills, He DOES ask me to use those gifts to communicate Him through speaking and writing.

Flashback: I’m 9 years old. I can’t articulate why I want a podium. I just know there’s something inside that wants to get out. I want to speak to others in a controlled setting. I want to bring something to life to them. I want to take material and communicate it to others.
The neighborhood kids.
Whether it was fairy tales, Bible stories or vacation memories, God planted the desire in my young heart to speak.

I smile today.
My heart praises Him.
I’m so grateful I get to live out my heart’s desires by speaking fulltime.

God is so faithful.

Feel free to comment on this blog. Share your thoughts. Let’s get the communication lines open. And next week, let’s look at a few more ways to discern God’s will.

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