Sheep with the Shepherd’s Heart

Sheep are really really stupid, is it a coincidence that the Bible compares us to sheep? I’m not sure about you but for me I feel like this comparison makes a ton of sense. James (1:23) says that we are like a person who looks in a mirror and then walks away and forgets what they look like. In all our intellect, the great amount of wisdom we feel like we possess all boils down to nothing at the end of the day if we don’t get one thing: we are like sheep.

The book of Isaiah says, 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on his servant the sins of us all.” The second Bible verse is from the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus had been out in the countryside healing people of their illnesses. In chapter 8 and 9 of Matthew, the miracles are grouped together, and at the end of this section on miracles of healing, Jesus stood before that group of people who still were sick, who still were poor, maimed, blind and lame. Jesus looked on all of them, and I quote from the Gospel of Matthew 9:36: “I will have pity on them for these people are harassed and helpless, like a sheep without a shepherd.”

A few things about the natural tendencies of sheep:

1. Sheep have strong herd instincts- Its one of the reasons why we think they are stupid. If one sheep goes over the cliff the whole herd will follow him right over. If the lead sheep doesn’t eat from a pot of food then there is a good chance the rest of them won’t either. We have the exact same tendencies to follow the crowd, to do what someone else is doing- to follow the lead of others whether it is good or bad for us. We have the same instincts in us. Basically the herd instinct in sheep is stronger than their reasoning and intelligence.
2. Sheep easily wander- sheep are constantly wandering away from the shepherd and always have to be brought back. I’m not sure about you but I feel the natural pull all the time to wander. Wandering happens so quickly and effortlessly for me that before long I notice that my wandering has taken me far from the safety and security of being under the watch and protection of the shepherd. The bad news about this is that sheep are not good at directions and have a lot of trouble getting back without help.
3. Sheep are vulnerable- Sheep are not very good at protecting themselves on their own. The sheep’s only hope for survival is to be under the protection and watch of the shepherd. Sheep are no match for the wolves. Thus we are no match for Satan or the evil in this world on our own. We can try to convince ourselves that we have what it takes to be strong, have things together, to have self-control, but we never will. ( I have tried this many times and it just doesn’t work) As sheep we do not have the ability to not be vulnerable to the mess of life, our only hope is in the good shepherd to be close to us.

Do you see any parts of you in the picture of a sheep? If you don’t yet, someday you will come face to face with the reality of humanity and our natural weaknesses and tendencies. As I was praying this morning I was asking God for the ability to live a life that matters, to not be out of touch of the limitations I have, but also be like the good shepherd that Jesus refers to himself as in John chapter 10.

I felt like God said to me- CJ you will never be the good shepherd (even though you may want to) you will always be a sheep- but if you ask for it I will give you the heart of a shepherd. In other words the amazing news for us is that God wants us to be sheep with HIS HEART! He wants us to understand our reliance on Him as the good shepherd, but he lets us participate in the process of laying our lives down with him for others. The closer we get to shepherd the more we see us move from insignificance to purpose.

Sheep with the Shepherds heart have some characteristics:

1. They know the Shepherds voice- Sheep will only respond to the shepherd’s voice that they know. Do we know His voice? Can we distinguish it from all the other voices that surround us and beg for us to follow? This takes time to learn to hear His voice and starts with just asking for the ability to hear it.
2. They will stay close to the Shepherd– When we have His heart it will draw us to stay close to Him, being close not only protects us but gives us significance as we join Him in being hope-givers and the ones who run after the other sheep when they go missing. There is an amazing feeling of being under His protection- that He is my PROTECTOR and I have nothing to fear when I am close to Him! Sheep that are close to Him will go where He goes- This will cause us to never be the same as we are walking into the craziness of life to fight battles that we never could face on our own. Do you feel close to the Jesus today, if not that’s ok- but getting close requires action- just take a step every day intentionally towards Him.
3. They will see from the Shepherds perspective- seeing from a sheep’s perspective is completely different than seeing from the shepherd’s perspective. The shepherd sees what is ahead, He knows the dangers and he knows how to lead to a place of safety and where the sheep can find food, water and life. He sees how the pieces of life fit together, he knows how far greater how to lead than we do. If we ask for His heart daily we will gain his perspective as well. This changes everything! Sheep just follow the sheep in front of them and have a dangerously limited understanding without the Shepherd.
4. They will make sacrifices for others– The shepherd is willing to lay down his life for his sheep. Sheep with a shepherd’s heart will do the same. They will leave the safety and security of the rest of the flock to go with the Shepherd to search for the one sheep that gets lost, the sheep that does this takes on the identity and the heart of the shepherd in such a way that it shapes the very decisions and direction of its life. Do you trust the shepherd in such a way as to lay down your life for the chance to save another sheep?

If I’m never going to be the good shepherd and will always have the tendencies of a sheep then I want the next best thing- The shepherds heart. I don’t think we have any idea of the power of receiving the shepherd’s heart and the extraordinary things that it will bring to the world and people around us and lastly the most important thing: the brand new life inside of us. All of this happens with asking- He will always honor a sincere desire for His heart. That’s what I’m asking for today- please pray for me and join me as I run after Him.

John Chapter 10- The Good Shepherd and His Sheep 10 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. 7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

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Living in the Deep End

So recently I haven’t been able to shake this question:  What is my personal and Spiritual deep end? Some really cool people recently spoke into my life that this year was going to be a year of deepening for me. What does that mean? What is the definition of “deep” and where am I currently in regard to this idea. I believe most Christians, including myself, have spent a lot of time peering into this deep well of who God is and what He can do in us, and have held back from drawing from it because we are afraid of what it means or the uncertainty of how our lives will need to change. We love seeing others do it and celebrating when God is working in deep ways in their lives, but we are unwilling to do what it takes to draw from the same well ourselves when Jesus is there the whole time offering to help us if only we ask and are committed to what He tells us when we ask. I think it’s easy to fear it and is the reason many people settle for a life of living safe and thus extremely comfortable in the shallow end of the pool.

Most large pools are marked by a few distinct markers. The ones I can think of are the Kiddie Pool, the Shallow end, and the Deep End. The kiddie pool is the pool before the pool. The shallow end is the area where you can be in the pool but can always touch the ground, and the deep end is the area where you can’t touch the ground and have to know how to stay afloat on your own.

Maybe no one has ever told you that the shallow end is not where God wants you to be. Maybe no one ever mentioned that if you want to grow in your faith you must first place yourself in areas where your feet cannot touch the ground and you are forced to learn how to swim. I have come to the realization that if I want God to deepen me this year I must do everything I can to put myself in situation after situation that I am uncomfortable and must trust in Jesus to teach me how to stay afloat. I know this is what a relationship with Jesus is all about. Jumping in the deep end, learning to get comfortable in it, and then finding a new deep end.

I’ll tell you that growing up my cousin and I would ride our bikes to Jaycee Pool in Westerville, Ohio and spent hundreds of days of our childhood years hanging out and spending beautiful summer days at the pool. We loved everything about it and had some great memories there! I remember one time trying do a “suicide” which is a dive where you jump high in the air like you are doing a belly smacker and then at the last second pull in to make a huge splash and save yourself the pain of destroying your face. One time I attempted this “suicide” dive in the 5 foot section and ended up hitting my head pretty hard on the bottom of the pool. I remember getting disorientated and almost passing out. It was the wierdest thing being in the five feet and having the scary feeling of not knowing which way was up. I learned my lesson that day as I could have died if I would have blacked out and the nearest lifeguard wasn’t paying attention.

This begs the questions: is my faith actually deep? Where am I really? Am I living the few years I have in the shallow end?

I don’t think many people like to be called “shallow.” I have never liked the term at least myself which refers to a person of little to no substance, character or depth. So how do I get to the point where I know I have true substance, I am by no means talking about a person who has alot going on or to talk about, or even a person who accomplishes much. I am seeking to be a person who’s substance is directly related to the person of Jesus Christ. That is where we get our depth, it is in submitting to the mission of Christ in this world and going where He calls us to go. In the end, when we are standing before Jesus, its the only thing anyone will actually care about.

I would much rather live my life in the deep end, living in uncertainty and sometimes in fear, but accomplishing much of value and becoming a person that is deep, than living in the shallow end and later realizing that I wasted my life and finding that I did little of value to Jesus or anyone else around me. I feel like I have a long ways to do but am headed in the right direction!

The shallow end test I am giving myself:

1. Being completely honest with yourself. Are you currently doing anything for God where you know your feet cannot touch the ground? If not, you are most likely living in the shallow end.

2. Have you ever considered whether your faith is deeply rooted or surface level? (Depth tests are only given in situations where life is not going well, its a true depth finder because it shows who we really are.)

3. Have you been led by God (The Holy Spirit) recently in relation to anything in your life that you have done or accomplished or have you done it on your own? If not, you are most likely living in the shallow end.

4. Have you looked for anything of spiritual significance or depth, have you passionately pursed more of Jesus and asked Him for more and truly been open to seeking it no matter the cost? If not, there is a good chance you are most likely living in the shallow end.

5. Do you feel close to God? Do you spend time with Him consistently? If not you are most likely living in the shallow end.

A few things about the shallow end:

1. You can’t do deep things in the shallow end.

2. You were not made to live in the shallow end.

3. There is nothing fun, or adventurous in the shallow end almost all of the cool stuff happens in the deep end. It’s the main reason people check out of Christianity. They never spent any time in the deep end.

4. There is little surprise and little adventure in the shallow end.

5. We can’t find out much about ourselves in the shallow end, we can only really discover it in the deep end.

6. Most of us want our lives to matter, the shallow end just steals meaning from us.

7. Jesus was anything but shallow, he lived and died for us by being an example of living in the deep end. He promised that we can learn how to do it too!

 

Have you ever thought about this question. In your faith, in your relationships, in your sacrifice what is your deep end?

All is for your Glory

So yesterday I was listening to a song performed by Cory Asbury at the OneThing Conference in Kansas City called “All is for your glory” and was singing it out at the top of my lungs and a number of things hit me hard. It’s funny how times we sing “prayers” out to God and don’t really expect him to answer them. The first thing God spoke to me is that I want to worship when its convenient or easy or fits into my weekly schedule. I am completely guilty of this- I play guitar, piano, and I love to sing and worship but frequently miss out on the most intimate and meaningful worship times I can have during the daily grind, I experienced this late last night. Our worship can and should look like heaven on earth. It can reach deep into our hearts in any place and at any time. A constant song and cry of “God you are worthy of everything my life has to offer, every and any way I can serve you I want to.” To worship intentionally in the frustrations of life and in community through all the feelings and emotions and situations we experience in our short time on this planet. So God used the bridge of this song to remind again me that my life in every circumstance should be leveraged for the truth that everything we have and are is for His glory. That is really what I want, I’m just not always great at doing it. So onto the story.

Yesterday afternoon I got a call about a miscommunication with our mulch ordering for our annual mulch fundraiser for our Church Summer Camp. Someone needed 70 bags of mulch delivered to a house that night or early the next morning and couldn’t really do it on their own well. I will tell you that with the amount of mulch that I have delivered and helped spread this summer I am ready to retire from mulch altogether. haha (wish I could actually make that happen!! ) Not only does the smell stick with you for a few days it seems, but when unexpected, it is a challenging thing to ever want to do. That may seem insignificant to you, but after a long day- it was not how I was hoping to wind things down. Ultimately though I knew I needed to help. We finished our band practice and made it out there around 10:30pm and as I was loading mulch into the back of our church trailer I began to realize why I was singing the words to this song earlier. God wanted to re-affirm in me that my life is meant to give glory to Him and by filling a trailer with mulch late at night I was doing just that. He was saying this is worship CJ! At that moment worship erupted in me, I realized more of why I was made. I wasn’t made to give my life in the glamorous moments only. Having fun at youth group, or camp, or leading worship on stage. I was made for these kind of moments. No one else around, to load stinky mulch when I don’t want to and serve Jesus in the process (and some other people of course.) I kept singing the words of the bridge which say “Jesus put me anywhere, just put your glory in me. I’ll serve anywhere, just let me see your beauty.” I just kept singing that over and over again as God again began to minister to me and break down the walls of my own expectations. It was like Jesus was saying to me. CJ this is when your faith is authentic, when I deepen you, when I soften your heart, when I breathe new life into you, when you become different from the world, it’s when you are able to be defined for my glory- not your own. Yeah God, keep speaking- I always need it! When those feelings arise of “I don’t want to do this at all” my heart can learn to say “Put me anywhere Jesus- and I will learn how to serve you- even if it takes all my life to get there.” Wait… hold on a second did you say anywhere Jesus? That’s a little bit of a scary prayer to pray- I hope I’m ready for it- not just saying it but living it out!!

As I was getting loaded I got some help from a couple good friends who came around the church and offered a hand. I just kept thinking do I understand what giving my life actually means? Do I have expectations on what serving looks like that keep me from only doing the things that are easy or fun. Is my heart trained so that no matter what comes my way, in a second, I will be the first one to step up and serve with Joy and worship in my heart? I want to be that kind of person who’s life is a reflection of the words to this song and that my identity would be formed in it. Jesus help me get there- I love you!

;

There’s just one chief end to man’s purpose
And one main reason for existence
All man’s vain and high ambitions
Will one day be brought low

For You alone will be exalted in that day
Worthless goals will be exposed as idols that we’ve made
For You alone will be exalted in that day
You’ll be seen as rightful King
And from our hearts we’ll sing

All is for Your glory
All is for Your name
All is for Your glory
That in all things You may have the first place
That in all things You may have preeminence

To treasure You above all others
To love You like we love no other
Your greatness soon will be uncovered
And all the earth will then know

Put me anywhere
Just put Your glory in me
I’ll serve anywhere
Just let me see Your beauty

;

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An ounce of Anointing is better than a Thousand Ton’s of Talent

“An ounce of anointing is more precious than a thousand tons of talent.
When I say anointing, I’m talking about the supernatural enabling of the Holy Spirit.
If you’ve got it, you’ll do greater things for God than you can imagine, and live a remarkable life for His glory.
If you don’t, you won’t.
If you’re anointed by God, you’ll do things far beyond your capability. You’ll live in a constant state of humility, because you need the Lord for every step, every breath, every situation. You’ll live in constant amazement at all the ways He comes through for you.
If you’re not anointed by God, even your strengths will become weaknesses in time. You’ll still do good stuff, maybe even impressive stuff. But it won’t have eternal power in it, and it will be just a small slice of what you could have done, if the Lord was doing it through you.
Talent is a great thing to have. It’s a gift from God.
But having talent without anointing is kind of like having seatwarmers in a car but not having an engine under the hood.
God can work in spite of our lack of talent. Through the anointing, even our weakness can become a playing field for the Lord to show off His strength.
Ask Moses.
But talent alone isn’t enough to get the job done if you don’t have God’s power behind it. You’ll come up short in the end.
Ask Samson. “ STEPHEN FURTICK

I feel like too much of my life I have relied on my talent, my family, my money, or my relationships with people and haven’t sought out the anointing and power of God in my life. Maybe its because I too often think that as long as things are going “well” that I can do enough good on my own without God’s power in my life. Its pretty sad that I have so many times believed that. I wish I wouldn’t have wasted so much of my life in that place. The truth is that we were never created to live without anointing, its just that this world has convinced us we don’t need it. Its the fuel of a life worth living for Jesus, it’s not surprising to me that the Holy Spirit is directly connected with our sense of self, hope, and mission. It’s the adventure and the excitement of living a Christian life. This anointing is only for those who have surrendered control of their lives to Jesus, it’s a free gift, but is not forced upon anyone who doesn’t ask for it. We have believed we can live the Christian life on our own strength. Maybe you are like me and wonder why you keep just doing good stuff and not God stuff. Or why your walk with Christ is mundane and boring sometimes? I would contend, like Stephen Furtick writes,that it is because we have not sought to submit our lives fully to Jesus, to begin to believe the truth about our identity in Christ, and then ask God for a fresh anointing and be open to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. You might not be familiar with the term “Holy Spirit” but quite simply it is just the part of God that lives inside of us, that pushes us to do great things for God, that operates as a moral compass, that ignites our heart for God and the things He cares about, that gives us wisdom, and that reminds us of what we have to live for, and lastly it gives us power to conquer any battle we face! Anointing doesn’t come naturally, it must be sought after, but I believe God is wanting to anoint us to live lives that will matter significantly in the kingdom of God, it’s not too late for you and I ask God to do a miracle in our lives and give us the best gift ever this Christmas, the gift of a deep relationship with Himself. Let me warn you though, if you seek the Holy Spirit and a deep relationship with Jesus than there may be moments where your character and the very deepest parts of your heart may need to have an overhaul. This is a process that is worth going through, but can be extremely challenging, and is well worth the process of beginning to live a life of eternal purpose and significance for God’s glory. How do we start this? It begins with opening the Bible, reading and believing the truth of what God says about you and open your heart to Him. Here are a few I have decided to start with 🙂

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.

2. John 1:12 I am God’s child.

 3. Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.

4. Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.

5. Romans 8:1 I am free from condemnation.

6. 1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.

7. 2 Timothy 1:7 I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.

 8. Philippians 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven.

9. 1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God’s temple.

10. Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship.

11. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

Hide and Seek

Why is it so hard for us to admit when we are wrong? What makes it so hard to not let people see the mess that we sometimes are inside? The garden of Eden was meant to be a place where we were free from pain, that perfection would win the day. It would be absent of confusion and any need to hide anything. It was meant to be a place where no hiding would be necessary.  This is where the Bible begins: What great freedom we are offered in the ability to take of the mask’s that hide who we really are deep down inside. What is the cost? Is it really true that I can find freedom in not only coming to God with my hidden things, but by also letting others know where I attempt to hide. Musician Derek Webb explained it this way. He said that the best thing for each one of us would be for all of our sins, the ones we have tried the hardest to hide, would literally be broadcast on the 5 o clock news. That all of our darkest, most embarrassing moments would be shown for everyone to see, in order that we would no longer have the option to hide from people and that would have nothing but Jesus to cling onto. He goes on to say that the truth is that our sins ALREADY have been exposed to Jesus. But that we should take heart, because our Savior is real and the forgiveness He offers is real. Wouldn’t it be easier to live life with the freedom to not worry about hiding, we we’re never meant to do it.

THE WAYS WE HIDE
1. Hiding from God.– Its funny to think about Adam and Eve trying to hide from God in the garden of Eden when they knew that God created them, was powerful and even walked with them. They still made coverings to begin to hide their nakedness in Genesis
2. Hiding from yourself… Hypocrisy is tough to see in the mirror. We never like to admit we are wrong, that we don’t know, or that we are doing something unwise or even stupid. We would rather go on living in our fantasy world where everything is ok and not deal with the fear of admitting to ourselves that we have problems that need to be admitted before they can be defeated.
3. Hiding in our stuff—We love to hide in our smartphones, computer’s, magazine’s, video games, crossword puzzles, gym memberships, clothes, its the stuff that has distracted us daily from depth in our relationship with God. Our stuff probably helps and encourages us to hide more than anything else in our lives. Most of the things we call entertainment really seduce us into giving more of our hearts and attention and we unintentionally begin to be sucked into being serial and professional hiders.
4. Hiding your hurt– Most of us have been hurt by someone or something in the course of our lives. This is a common place for us to hide. For the person who has been cheated on it’s easy to want to never trust again, for the person who has been robbed of something emotionally significant to want to live in unforgiveness. Our past hurts sometimes even affect how we view God. If we had an abusive earthly father, its hard to see God as a loving father. If we have been repeatedly lied to, its hard to believe that God is the Truth. Our hurts affect how we view the world and in turn play an important role in why we do the things we do. Unresolved hurt or anger can derail even the best of us and even the ones who would never expect it to “happen to them.” We need to lay our hurts out one by one and let them come into the light so that in God’s time we can move past them. Our natural tendencies will always be to keep these inside because they are extremely painful and sensitive to even bring up, but they are pages that need to be we-written in our lives and wounds that need to be healed, no matter how long the process takes.
5. Hiding your addictions– Porn, alcohol, drugs, lust, power, security, you can fill in the blank in your life. Addictions hold significant power to handcuff us from living significant lives for God. When we hide these things from others we are choosing insane battles that could be fought with an army instead of in isolation. Addictions are rarely overcome on our own power. We need community, sometimes professional help, and most importantly the true power of Jesus in order to win at the end of the day.
6. Hiding in your activities– I have had many friends over the years that go from sport to sport, activity to activity, and in the process clearly crowd God out of their lives with things that could definitely be labeled as “good” things. There is nothing wrong with being involved with different activities in life, but if they are helping us hide from God and others by taking up so much time that no one really knows who we are, then we should definitely take a step back.
7. Hiding in your relationships– If you have ever played the game Sardines (Reverse hide and seek) you may be able to relate to what we end up doing relationally.  Do you know that many times when we are meant to be finding people and rescuing them from brokenness we end up hiding with them instead and getting lost in the very thing we meant to save someone else from.

I am constantly trying to avoid hiding myself. It’s every day that something seems to be pulling me back into trying to hide who I am from you, and from God. I’m praying that God will continue to help me to not be afraid in any circumstance to show who I really am to anyone who is interested enough to hear. God let your light shine into the darkest parts of our being and bring forth the transparency for us to no longer have the motivation to hide anymore! 🙂

A great hope for the average

I don’t know about you, but I wake up many days just feeling average.  Many of the days of my life I have lived like it too. I used to believe that God really wanted to use the extremely gifted among us. The one’s who naturally are talented, strong, and impressive in many areas of life. While God does use these people, I think He loves redeeming things that nothing else can fix. That He would rather use the humble, the unexpected, and the opportunity to show how powerful He can be. This is where a relationship with Jesus is better than anything else in the world. He has the power to redeem us from all aspects of brokenness and give us the true gift of deep inner healing if only we choose to move in the direction He is taking us. I am not talking about surface level band-aid fixes, but rather being transformed from our “average” lives to becoming a distinctly new person. My definition of average has nothing to do with natural abilities but rather God’s ability to determine the outcome and product of our lives.

How do you and I become more average? Ignore God’s plan for us, ignore the beautiful chance you are being given right this second to turn things around and commit your life more fully to Him, ignore the voice inside of you that knows something is wrong but you are scared to do something about it, you may think average is normal, but it is not what you and I were born to be. God’s plan was never for us to be average. It was never for us to do anything other than what we were uniquely created and fashioned to do by HIM. We were created to live in right standing with God and to be drawn to the light of Christ and simply be a mirror that reflects the light that is shining on us towards a profoundly dark world. Becoming more than average only requires finding better ways to understand, be defined by, and more fully pass the light that is infusing us with blessing, hope, and power on to others.

I believe that there is a great hope for the average. The Bible should be all the evidence you need. Look at who Jesus invested into, look at who He used to change the world. He used the most unlikely of people. The one’s no one else would have chosen. The one’s that needed multiple chances, didn’t understand much, and failed often. There is something so unique and special about a God like that, one who sees past our current state into what we have the potential to become and then puts each and every one of us in a position to realize that potential.

This promise is extended to you and I, and to be even more clear, Jesus is the ONLY hope for every person on this earth.  Jesus loved to use the average… I actually think He actually prefers it.. This should give you and I an inconceivable hope. Greatness is not a pre-requisite to being picked and used in powerful ways for His team and His glory. God please give me, my friends, and my enemies the grace to be more than average.

Apologizing with Integrity

The Bible helps us understand how to be people who apologize well. The world around us tells us through music and action that there is a time where it is “too late to apologize.” I believe wholeheartedly that there is never a time where we shouldn’t move to apologize, even if its not received well. Craig Groeschel helped me understand this better in a message he gave on restoring relationships. So many times i have failed at apologizing the right way and feel like understanding the practical wisdom that God gives us can change everything when it comes to apologizing and making peace with each other. Here are a few things that have helped me:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9

  • THE GREATEST ENEMY TO PEACEMAKING IS PRIDE.- Ever feel that weird feeling in your gut when you know that there is a problem with someone but everything inside you just wants to avoid it. To not have to confront it? It’s called pride. It’s the feeling that we don’t want to go through any pain or conflict in order to find peace. We would rather just avoid it in general. Another aspect of pride shows itself when we know we aren’t wrong, but we still need to make peace with someone. Can we be the first one to make a move even when it’s not our fault?
  • THE GREATEST FRIEND TO PEACEMAKING IS HUMILTY.- Humility is always the first step towards peace. Are you humble? If so people will receive your attempts at peacemaking much more quickly and easily because they know you are willing to admit when you are wrong and that you don’t always have it together.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

 

HOW TO APOLOGIZE WITH INTEGRITY (this could save our relationships)

1)    ADMIT TO SPECIFIC ACTIONS AND ATTITUDES. We all know that apologies that aren’t specific feel extremely hollow because it causes us to wonder if the other person even understands what they are apologizing for. It starts with I am sorry for……and be as specific as possible.

2)    DON’T MAKE EXCUSES. We are always wanting to make ourselves look better. The first way to devalue an apology is to give excuses for our actions whether they are legitimate or not. Why can’t we just apologize and acknowledge what we did without trying to convince people that we aren’t actually that bad. Making excuses make us feel better about the thing we did wrong and better about possibly doing it again.

3)    ACCEPT THE CONSEQUENCES. Not making excuses and feeling more remorse about what we did to offend someone else really helps us to feel the consequences for what we did. Whether that is a loss of trust, a broken relationship, or just making an innocent mistake. The better we get at accepting consequences, the better the chances that we will learn to never do the same thing again.

4)    CHANGE YOUR BEHAVIOR. Every other step doesn’t matter much unless we actually change our behavior. Apologizing for not calling someone back on time won’t matter to much if we don’t call them back on time the next time. We must change our behavior

5)    ASK FOR FORGIVENESS. This is the step that is frequently left out. Many times we apologize but fail to ask the other person to forgive us. It forces the other party to have to choose to let go and verbalize it to us. I heard a good definition of forgiveness is giving up the right to hurt you for hurting me.