Archive for the 'Marriage/Family' Category

Just As I Am

By drewFebruary 14th, 2012Blog, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
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Twenty years ago I met a beautiful girl in college.  She was a leader, smart and funny, in love with Jesus, and I loved being around her. We became great friends and then decided to take our relationship to the next level.  As we began to date, our conversations deepened and we began to discuss dreams and plans for the future. I remember the night we were driving somewhere and she began to tell me what she was hoping for in husband.  I wasn’t looking to get married at 18 but she was the kind of girl that definitely made me start thinking about it. I was on my best behavior and tried to come across like I had it all together and hoped that in some way I could impress her.  She shared what she had been hoping, even praying for in the man of her future.  She shared her desire that he be a passionate believer in Jesus, someone who could make her laugh, someone driven to succeed and become all that God wanted him to be. Up to this point, I was holding my own, I felt like I had a chance with this amazing girl. Then she added one last criteria, one last prerequisite. “I want him to be pure – to be a virgin”.  My heart dropped from what seemed to be the highest cliff in my chest and I’m sure my countenance changed.  I realized in that one split second I had been disqualified from the race to win her heart, that I might as well quit hoping and trying for a deeper friendship with her because I was not a virgin – not pure.  I began to cry.  She knew in that second that her desire for something more in a man wouldn’t be found in me.  I felt all the shame and guilt of my sin compounding in that moment. Now I hadn’t only disappointed and failed God, I had failed in my life and my future.  I felt with a stinging reality, a painful consequence of the “lusts of my youth”.  She began to cry. What had seemed like a beautifully charged moment of hope and destiny became a brutal awareness of the brokenness of sin. I don’t remember the exact conversation that followed but I do remember that at some point, she lowered her expectations and offered me grace. In the most real way I had ever experienced, I felt grace, undeserved favor – forgiveness.  That wasn’t the only time I disappointed that girl, and not the last time she offered me grace.  She’s been a beautiful, real, tangible reminder of God’s grace in my life.  She’s not perfect, and so I’ve had the privilege of returning the favor at times.  She has however taught me so much about how God loves me in spite of me, that even though I couldn’t measure up to His standards, God’s expectations and prerequisites were met in the holy, sinless life of Jesus. Jesus extended to me, through His sacrifice, a chance to have value, to be accepted, to be apart of His family. My sin disqualified me from a relationship with God, but Jesus applied His sacrifice to my life and I was accepted, given undeserved favor – forgiven.

Have you been so busy in your “work” for God that you’ve forgotten that moment His grace was traded for your sin? It’s easy to forget who we were, what we’ve done, or who we can be in our sinfulness. Let’s make time to worship this heroic friend that has made a way for us, whose grace is sufficient for all of us, whose love has accepted and justified us (just as if I had never sinned).

That girl became my wife nearly 18 years ago, and we now have two beautiful daughters who are teaching us new lessons on grace and mercy. We continue to be undone by God’s love and kindness for us and seek to model His grace for each other and those around us.

Rom. 5:8 (MSG)

“But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.”

“This is that mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s, and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours. He has emptied himself of his righteousness that he might clothe us with it and fill us with it; and he has taken our evils upon himself that he might deliver us from them.”    – Martin Luther

For more study on this topic:

I Jn. 1:9 / Matt. 11:28 / Rom. 5:20 / 2Cor. 4:16 / 2Cor. 13:14 / 1Tim. 1:12

* Photo by Matt Britton

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Rebuild

By drewJanuary 12th, 2012Blog, Featured, Leadership, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, The ChurchNo Comments
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Hands And Feet (Haiti Tribute – Click to Play Song)

Today is the second anniversary of the tragic earthquake that devastated Haiti.  I woke up with the overwhelming thought, “what was that moment like when the whole world came crashing down?”.  I began to think about all those beautiful people who survived that event.  Does this day bring memories of loss and brokenness or hope and healing?  They say time heals all wounds, but wounds leave scars and scars remind us of pain and struggle. My prayer for that country is that their scars can also remind them of life and restoration, of God’s presence in the storm and be The Light that leads them out of the darkness.

I’m convinced that God allows tragedy and pain in our lives because of the change it can bring about in us.  In moments when I’ve been so full of confusion, broken-hearted and alone, I’m reminded that my only hope is in the Lord, not in who I am, what I’ve done or some delusional thought of what I can become. It’s not in my family or in my friends, not in what I have or want, not in anything but Jesus. One of the biggest things I’ve learned in those moments is that we don’t really understand or know what faith is until we really need it – have to have it. Growing up in church my entire life has afforded me the blessing of a foundation of faith in God, in my community, in my self.  But until we truly have no idea where the next paycheck is coming from, if the Lord will heal that disease, that broken heart, or relationship, we have to completely leave it at the feet of Jesus. No conditions, no expectations – just faith. Faith to truly believe that God is good, even when life is not. Faith to believe that He can use our story, no matter how tragic and confusing it seems to be in the moment of our pain. Faith to hope for days of peace and joy while walking through ones of darkness and depression.

Our God is a faithful friend, strong to walk with us, as together we rebuild what life has broken down. He provides all we need, and we work with the faith that at some point what looks like ground zero will be a place of unbelievable beauty – in His time.  We don’t remove our scars, we don’t hide those experiences, we paint around them, they provide context for the depth in our walk with Jesus and compassion for those around us surviving their own earthquakes.

What unexpected disaster has fallen down around you or someone you know?  Don’t act like it’s not there, that somehow no conversation is better than a word, a prayer, a supporting look or held hand.  Let’s run to those in pain, not with some lack of awareness that we can fix it or help in some way, but instead to just be present, just to stand with, just to listen.  God can and will heal and undergird our greatest life fractures, but let’s not let it just be a chapter in our story, but a building block toward something better, more beautiful, more dependent on our great God. He will rebuild and restore.

Job 22:21 (MSG)

“Give in to God, come to terms with him and everything will turn out just fine. Let him tell you what to do; take his words to heart. Come back to God Almighty and he’ll rebuild your life. Clean house of everything evil. Relax your grip on your money and abandon your gold-plated luxury. God Almighty will be your treasure, more wealth than you can imagine.”

1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Romans 8:26-28 (MSG)

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

* This picture is one I took of my dear little friend Modlay. He’s just one of the beautiful reasons to support the amazing work of Hands And Feet Mission in Jacmel, Haiti.  This little guy was born so small he almost didn’t make it.  He struggled with medical issues for the first part of his life, but you’d never know it by that smile.

* I wrote this song “Hands And Feet” just after the earthquake in 2010.  The proceeds from the sale of this song will go to help Modlay and his brothers and sisters at Hands And Feet Mission in Jacmel, Haiti. It will be one of the tracks on my upcoming project “I Am Becoming”.


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The Scarlet Letter

By drewApril 11th, 2011Art, Blog, Featured, Marriage/Family, The Church1 Comment
Scarlet Letter Pic

I think it was about the eighth grade or so that we read the classic story of The Scarlet Letter.  Though I remember understanding the moral of the story, I had never felt what the stories main character must have. One thing we know how to do quite well is to ostracize people.  People who are different, look different, live different, they’re usually the first to wear our badge of shame.  I was a jock in Jr. High, a thug.  The school year picture from seventh grade was sort of angelic and innocent, where my eighth grade picture reveals someone completely different.  When I look at those pictures, I see a child wanting to be seen as a man, or at least someone searching for identity and acceptance.  I seemed to have found some of it in being tough, fighting, cussing, smoking, and rebellion.  I see those two pictures, and at first want to laugh.  To laugh about my immaturity, my lack of awareness or sense of fashion.  But I think it saddens me more than it entertains me.  Seeing these two is a peek into the days of my innocence lost. The beginning of caring about what people think, starving for approval, and the creation of a personality that someone else wanted. This was not exactly the child that was created by God and raised by my parents. In those days I was one of the guys that felt he had the right to label people and put people down to lift myself up. I’ve been on that side of labeling; of accusing and pointing out others ‘specks’ though in my own eye was a tree of sin and mistakes.

I haven’t thought about that old book since those years of awkward adolescence, until recently.  I didn’t have an affair or have some moral failure that would cause a community to cast me out, but I have felt shame, I have felt ostracized and lonely and as a result I’ve thought about all the poor souls that too have felt on the outside, guilty of wrong or not, they’ve, we’ve been pushed to the side and had to find life outside of the world we’ve known. I’ve become so much more compassionate for those who’ve been misunderstood, who don’t fit in, or for whatever reason has just been sidelined.  I didn’t feel this as a kid, I was usually picked early on during sports and never felt the shame of being the kid the last team had to accept.  I can’t imagine that feeling as a child, but I know now as an adult, the sting is as sharp and the sadness as valid.  For many who live a season of their lives with a “scarlet letter” it sticks for longer than the season of scandal and reaches into other years and aspects of life, creating a personality decorated with dark colors and sunken shoulders and overwhelming sorrow. These walking wounded may have actually had an affair or divorce or committed some crime, and so they each have been labeled with their own letter representative of the offense.  Yet others like myself, though not guilty of some heinous sin, still feel labeled. I was let go recently from my job.  Not for poor performance or anything inappropriate, but for preference or cutbacks or some other reason I’m still unsure of.  Since that happened, I’ve struggled tremendously with shame, sadness and self-doubt.  I know who I am, how I’ve lived my life with integrity and passion for excellence and holiness, yet I’ve found myself shaken to the core.  Part of it goes back to that little eighth grader hoping for approval and having not gotten it.  Some of the pain is from what feels like betrayal and a lack of communication.  My loss of community and position has made me feel like there’s a “scarlet letter” on my life.  It could be an “F” for fired, or an “N” for not good enough, or even an “L” for loser.  I’ve felt all of them, but in my heart I know none of them represents me.  These last several months have made me sensitive to so many who would never darken the doors of the church because they hide under their own letters, letters that have been put on them or letters they’ve put on themselves. Either way I’ve noticed how very easy it is to be found in those descriptions instead of what’s true.

The truth is that I am identified with Christ (Gal. 3:26, 28) that I’m hidden in Christ (Col. 3:1-4) that I’m complete in Christ (Col. 2:9-10) that I’m His friend (John 15:15) that I am strengthened by Christ (Phil 4:13) that I’m chosen by Christ (John 15:16, Col. 3:12) that I’m an expression of Christ (Col. 3:4) that He has a purpose for my life (Col. 1:16, Ps. 138:8) that I’m loved by Christ (John 3:16, Eph. 1:4).  It’s also truth that God is still working on me (Rom. 8:28, Phil. 1:6, Col. 2:7) so I know that He has allowed every day I’ve faced.  Some days hold joy and love sweeter than life itself, and others pain, confusion, and darkness that find us on our faces crying out for help and healing. Both are being used of God to create in us the image of Jesus and who He is and a dependence on our God.

Have you ever felt labeled?  Do you ever feel like people have already made their mind up about you, without trying to know you or understand the situation? Maybe you’ve believed a lie, or forgotten the truth of who you are and who God is in you.  You, we are not alone.  Our prayers and songs and hearts ring out with the voice of experience.  We KNOW God is faithful, we KNOW God provides, we KNOW He loves us.  Without walking through moments and seasons of struggle, we would never know the depths of God’s love and goodness.

I think it’s time we change the letter. It still remains a “Scarlet” one however, bathed in the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice for us, redeemed by His love. “F” for forgiven, or “L” for loved, or even “C” for child of the Almighty God.  It’s not easy but we have to find our identity in truth, in God. We are more than how we feel or what someone thinks of us.  We will be found in Him, we will be identified by Him, we will live and move and have our being in the One who gives us life.

Psalm 23 (Message)

A David Psalm

1-3 God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.

You have bedded me down in lush meadows,

you find me quiet pools to drink from.

True to your word,

you let me catch my breath

and send me in the right direction.

4 Even when the way goes through

Death Valley,

I’m not afraid

when you walk at my side.

Your trusty shepherd’s crook

makes me feel secure.

5 You serve me a six-course dinner

right in front of my enemies.

You revive my drooping head;

my cup brims with blessing.

6 Your beauty and love chase after me

every day of my life.

I’m back home in the house of God

for the rest of my life.

* Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of “The Scarlet Letter” (1850), regarded this painting, which William Walters commissioned from Merle in 1859, as the finest illustration of his novel. Set in Puritan Boston, the novel relates how Hester Prynne was publicly disgraced and condemned to wear a scarlet letter “A” for adultery. Arthur Dimmesdale, the minister who fathered her child, and Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s elderly husband, appear in the background.

Merle’s canvas reflects some of the same 19th-century historical interest in the Puritans as Hawthorne’s book, a fascination that reached its peak with the establishment of Thanksgiving as a national holiday in 1863. By depicting Hester and her daughter, Pearl, in a pose that recalls that of the Madonna and Child, Merle underlines “The Scarlet Letter”’s themes of sin and redemption.

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Surrender

By drewJanuary 28th, 2011Leadership, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, Music Biz, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
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Luke 22:42

42“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Surrender.  It’s an interesting word.  It’s most commonly used in a military setting, meaning you give up the fight, to declare to an opponent that they have won, or to relinquish control because of force.  It could also mean to abandon or give up an idea or intention, or to lay down your rights. When I think about the word surrender, I picture a bloody field complete with soldiers muddy and exhausted.  I picture faces completely resigned to the fact that they can’t go on, that any further attempt to fight would be futile.  They throw down their weapons and their hands shoot up in the air to show their commitment to the loss.  Depending on which side you’re on is the difference in victory or defeat, joy or fear, life or death.

However, when we surrender our lives to Christ we don’t die, we live, we’re not defeated and instead WE are victorious.  The battle field with which you’ve wrestled with God my be bloodied by your stubbornness or arrogance, but when you come to the realization that it’s futile to fight with the One who loves you most, you too will resign all efforts to oppose His will for your life.  You’ll throw down every weapon or excuse and your hands will shoot up in the sky to show your commitment to Christ and His leadership in your life.  Jesus perfectly models surrender for us in this passage from Luke 22 and I think to remain committed to a life of surrender, it’s something we do every single day.

Father, accept my bowed head, and broken and contrite heart. My eyes closed and hands raised in surrender to You and Your will.  Forgive me for ever fighting or wrestling with You over my plans versus Yours for me.  I know You want the best for me and I lay my life down for You to do with what You want.  I relinquish my rights, and declare You Lord of my life and I pray as You did Lord Jesus, ‘not my will, but yours be done’.

For Further Study:

Matthew 10:39:

39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

* The Picture above is one I took of a woman worshipping at the Temple ruins at Capernaum (Peter’s hometown) near the sea of Galilee.  Click on the image for the full image.

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A Children’s Story

By drewJanuary 4th, 2011Blog, Featured, Marriage/FamilyNo Comments
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I’ve always loved children.  Being the youngest of 4 in my family I never had the experience of a baby sister or brother to play with, or torment, and being that my personality was one of a more nurturing side, I loved holding and playing with babies anytime I could be around them.  I couldn’t wait to be a father.  I’m a very relational person and my greatest dream in life was to have a family of my own.   When my wife Lori and I got married in 1994 we thought like most young couples that we would take a couple of years of wedded bliss and then start the process of having babies and our family.  I remember us making our plans for a boy or girl and cute names and perfect images of nurseries and strollers and all things children, as if we had some control over those things. Having a family wasn’t my only dream. I also dreamed of being a Contemporary Christian music artist.  I dreamed like most kids of huge crowds and loud music and making records.  I worked with passion to become that artist and to follow my dream, and in a lot of ways saw it come true.  I traveled on the road full-time shortly after getting married performing nearly 1000 concerts in 3 years and Lori followed her own dream of being a radio DJ and working with artists.  Before we knew it we had been married over 8 years and still had no children.  Our busy schedules and career chasing kept us from worrying too much about it, and we were young. We thought we would have plenty of time.

As time rolled on, we knew there was a problem and went to a few specialists, Lori had a surgical procedure to help with her Endometriosis and I remember the doctor saying “You’ll be fertile Myrtle now!”  A few years later we still had not conceived and we hadn’t moved any further in finding out what the problem truly was.  Lori was given a clean bill of health and so was I, still no children. We continued to follow our careers and dreams but found that we were becoming bitter and unbelievably sensitive about children.  Most of our friends already had one or two and made comments about how they ‘couldn’t even sit too close to each other without getting pregnant’.  Those kinds of comments or even story lines in movies or TV shows that dealt with abortion or babies in any way were unbelievably difficult for us.  We began to notice that our dreams and careers felt shallow and that we so longed for children.  As we wrestled with what steps to take in fertility, we realized that Lori was struggling even with the idea of being a mommy.  Her parents had divorced after 17 years of marriage and for some reason Lori felt that children had something to do with that.  We had a pretty big argument about where we were, how old we were getting and whether or not we were going to try anymore.  Lori had begun to worry about what kind of mom she would be and if having children would some how affect our marriage in a negative way.  After all she hadn’t seen it work well.

We were stuck.  I wanted to move on discovering what was keeping us from getting pregnant and she was paralyzed with fear of what might happen if we did. We went to see a dear friend and counselor that helped us and encouraged Lori.  After a few sessions we were seeing truth and growing hopeful of what having a baby would be like.  We made an appointment with a fertility clinic and began the very difficult process of assisted fertility.  I’ll never forget in the middle of that process after we had 2 different failed attempts at artificial insemination, feeling so embarrassed and like a lab rat, that I said to Lori, “This should be done at home where we can love on each other in the privacy of our own home and marriage not in some cold clinical test tube, does God not think we’ll make good parents”, to which my precious wife responded, “It takes more love to walk through this process, more sacrifice, more commitment”.  I just began to cry and remember why we were walking this road.  We finally moved forward with IVF and though Lori is deathly afraid of needles, we made it through.  We conceived!!  On January 25, 2007, we gave birth to our beautiful little girl Daisy Joy.  Daisy has been such an incredible gift from the Lord and there’s not a day that goes by that we don’t thank Him for her.  During the IVF process we had 3 embryos that continued to grow and be viable for implant. Two were implanted when we conceived with Daisy, losing one, and one was frozen.

We decided to go and get our little “snowflake” about a year ago and started the process of praying and talking with the fertility clinic about what steps should be taken.  We had a busy summer in 2009 and though we had hoped to try the implant in June, we didn’t actually make time in our schedule until September. We found ourselves waiting for Lori’s cycle to begin so we could communicate with the clinic and start the process.  We realized that she was 9 days late and she mentioned to me that she was a little confused as to why.  We got a test that night and the next day discovered we were pregnant on our own. (I was convinced this was a nearly immaculate conception…God was involved no doubt!)  On May 25, 2010 we gave birth to our second little girl Jovie May!  We will try to retrieve our little “snowflake” next year sometime.  God is so good, and has been present with us through it all. There were so many times that it felt like we were in a desert, and that surely He wasn’t listening, but “He’s never left us or forsaken us”.  His timing is perfect and He is always good.  He allows us to walk through some difficult seasons in life but we are never alone.  The question is, do we trust Him?  This is His story He’s writing, not ours.

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A Soul’s Worth

By drewDecember 31st, 2010Art, Blog, Marriage/Family, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
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This Christmas season I carried on with chores and work and family and all the other things that keep us busy from day to day. However, at this time of year, it’s all accompanied by a soundtrack of melodies and lyrics that repeat from year to year celebrating the birth of a King, a Savior.  I love Christmas music and as each song passes through one ear and out the other, my lips sing along without missing a beat, but rarely does my heart stop and reflect on the lyrics.  These Christmas songs are so familiar that we seem to sing them by rote and never consider the depth of truth and life given line by line, even word by word.

It was while I was hunched over my laptop recently that one of those old familiar Christmas songs caught my ear, as I looked up, thinking I’d see some children’s show on my TV, I notice that the lyric to the familiar song was going across the screen and though the strength of the melody didn’t catch my heart, the power in seeing the lyric did.  The line was “He appeared and the soul felt it’s worth”.  We all know this line from the beautiful 19th century poem turned Christmas classic “O Holy Night”.  This one phrase had given me pause before but not enough for me to really dig in and considered it.  I think this time was different because I’ve been in a place lately asking God to remind me of who I was, not what I had done or even wanted to do, but who He had made me to be. I wasn’t even interested in knowing what my childhood, or mistakes, or dreams had created in me, but specifically that He would remind me that my identity is in Him.  As I’ve thought and prayed about it, I’ve realized that my identity is deeply connected to my value, my worth.  I’m not talking about my self-worth, though what I believe about who God says He is and what God says about me determines what I believe about myself. I’m talking about my literal value. What am I worth? If I could determine my value or worth than I can determine how I should feel about who I was, my identity.  As I began to consider my value in that light, I’m reminded of an old saying “An objects value is determined by whatever someone will pay for it”.  Some old broken, worn out item may be junk to me, but have enormous value to someone else. They may be willing to pay top dollar for that piece because they value it for whatever reason.  I thought about that phrase and how my life in so many ways may seem like a broken, worn-out piece of junk to some, but that this King whose birth we celebrate, sees me and wants me.  He values me.  His value given to me gives me my worth, my identity.  I know who I am because I’ve been bought with a price, valued by the King, and loved with a sacrificial transaction.  Jesus blood for my sin.  My shame for His joy. His death for my life.
This is New Years Eve, we look back at a year of life and lessons both joyful and tumultuous but all beautiful in the light that Jesus “makes all things new”, that He uses “our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”. We look to a new year, new hope, new lessons, and new life in the One who gives us life “more abundantly”.  Our hope and peace, and worth is in our God!

Don’t take my word for it!!! (Keep reading!!)

Who Am In Christ?

All bible verses (quotes) quoted in NIV

I am accepted…

John 1:12 I am God’s child.

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

Romans 5:1 I have been justified.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.

But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

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

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

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

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

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

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

I am secure...

Romans 8:1 I am free from condemnation.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:28 I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:31-39 I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died more than that, who was raised to life is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:”For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughter”No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 I have been established, anointed and sealed by God.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Colossians 3:1-4 I am hidden with Christ in God.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Philippians 1:6 I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me.

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

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

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

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

We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.

I am significant…

John 15:5 I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God’s temple.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation for God.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship.

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 3:12 I may approach God with freedom and confidence.

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

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

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Who Am I in Christ?

I am a child of God; God is spiritually my Father.
Romans 8:14,15

because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Galatians 3:26

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus

John 1:12
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

I am a new creation in Christ; old things have passed away and all things have become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

I am in Christ.
Galatians 3:26,28

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

I am an heir with the Father and a joint heir with Christ.
Galatians 4:6.7

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, ” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

Romans 8:17

Now if we are children, then we are heirs heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

I am reconciled to God and am an ambassador of reconciliation for Him.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

I am a saint.
Ephesians 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:

1 Corinthians 1:2
to the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ their Lord and ours:

Philippians 1:1
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ for good works.
Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I am a citizen of heaven.
Ephesians 2:19

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household

Philippians 3:20
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ

I am a member of Christ’s body.
1 Corinthians 12:27

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

I am united to the Lord and am one spirit with Him.
1 Corinthians 6:17

But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

I am the temple of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 3:16

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 1 Corinthians6:19
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.

I am a friend of Christ.
John 15:15
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

I am a slave of righteousness.
Romans 6:18
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God

I am the righteousness of God in Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

I am enslaved to God.
Romans 6:22
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

I am chosen and ordained by Christ to bear fruit.
John 15:16
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

I am a prisoner of Christ.
Ephesians 3:1
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles Ephesians 4:1
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

I am righteous and holy.
Ephesians 4:24
and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

I am hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:3
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

I am the salt of the earth.
Matthew 5:13
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness,how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything,except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

I am the light of the world.
Matthew 5:14
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”

I am part of the true vine.
John 15:1-2
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

I am filled with the divine nature of Christ and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.
2 Peter 1:4
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

I am an expression of the life of Christ.
Colossians 3:4
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved.
Colossians 3:12
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience

1 Thessalonians 1:4
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you

I am a child of light.
1 Thessalonians 5:5
You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.

I am a partaker of a heavenly calling.
Hebrews 3:1
Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.

I am more than a conqueror though Christ.
Romans 8:37
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
I am a partaker with Christ and share in His life.
Hebrews 3:14
We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first

I am one of God’s living stones, being built up in Christ as a spiritual house.
1 Peter 2:5
you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

I am a chosen generation, a royal priest hood, a holy nation.
1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priest hood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

I am the devil’s enemy.
1 Peter 5:8
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

I am born again by the Spirit of God.
John 3:3-6
In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

I am an alien and a stranger to this world.
1 Peter 2:11
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

I am a child of God who always triumphs in Christ and releases His fragrance in every place.
2 Corinthians 2:14
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.

I am seated in heavenly places in Christ.
Ephesians 2:6
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus

I am saved by grace.
Ephesians 2:8
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

I am a recipient of every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
in Christ.
Ephesians 1-6 (The Whole book!)

I am redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
Revelations 5:9
And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

I am part of the Bride of Christ and am making myself ready of Him.
Revelations 19:7
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.

I am a true worshiper who worships the Father in spirit and in truth.
John 4:24
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.

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Layers

By drewDecember 22nd, 2010Blog, Leadership, Marriage/Family, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
Pic - Layers

Remember the line from Shrek, “I’m like an onion, lots of layers?” I think that’s true for all of us.  I’ve been thinking recently about how as children we’re free – free to dance, laugh, play, trust – you name it, but each and everyday of our lives as we grow into adulthood we begin to add layers to our hearts.  I don’t think we do it intentionally, instead I think those layers begin to grow on their own to protect us in some way and before you know it, what hurt us before doesn’t hurt as badly the next time, what wounded us before comes against a tougher exterior now and we find ways to survive.  Seems like a natural way to evolve as a person, right?  Wrong! Adam and Eve started this whole layering process when they hid from God.  They ran and played and danced innocent and whole with Creator God until they bought into a lie and then they began to layer, to hide.

This is huge! This is who we are, how we respond, how we live and interact with God and everyone else.  How people experience us is based on how we’ve layered crap over our souls. God’s desire is that we “un-layer”, become pliable and transparent.  For me, I’m watching God dismantle layers over my heart, false beliefs and lies I’ve bought into, attachments even.  I long for the day that I can find my innocence again, the laughter and dance and trust of a child.  To find my relationship with Jesus like that of early Adam, walking in relationship with God – heart uncovered, vulnerable and free. It all starts with awareness.  Seeing the truth about who you are, who you’ve become and finding community with people who will help you change, people who will forcefully assist in pulling down the strongholds and back the curtain the enemy has so skillfully placed over you and the eyes of your heart.

Look for your soul, the childlike you, it’s in there behind all the years of survival, all the lies, all the scars. If you’re like me, you’re tired of settling for something less than Eden.  Jesus restores all things, and makes all things new. Now if I can just learn to dance!

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Good To Grace

By drewDecember 13th, 2010Blog, Leadership, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, Worship3 Comments
Good To Grace pic

I’m an entrepreneur at heart.  I’ve been around business quite a bit and admired those who have succeeded at it.  I’ve racked my brain at times trying to think of the next “Facebook” or “Walmart” and though I’ve come up with some ideas, nothing ever seems to be significant enough for me to find the will or drive to just make money.  I’ve blamed it on lack of business savvy or right opportunity, but the reality is, that though I have an entrepreneurial spirit, God has set me apart to be a leader in the church, to rethink systems and motives and strategies, sometimes to simplify, sometimes to build structure, but one thing is for sure – the church is not a business, we shouldn’t lead it like one!

I love learning about leadership and being mentored by great men and women whether personally or through books but something that seems a common mistake of late is that pastors or church leaders can sometimes confuse the mission of the church, or how they lead the church, with that of some business or leadership book.  They are NOT the same.  I do believe, with all my heart, that we can glean and learn from great books not specifically written for the ecclesiastical application but we must be careful to not be misled about how to lovingly lead this bride of Christ, one book is sufficient for that, it’s His word.  As pastors we must remain accountable to godly counsel and healthy debate so that our agendas and sinful nature don’t wander into the family God has placed us in responsibility of.

The business book “Good To Great” by Jim Collins, is a great book about leadership, business, winning, and excelling in competition, standing out among so many other businesses or organizations.  There are some amazing nuggets of wisdom for church leaders in this book like this one:

“If we allow the celebrity rock-star model of leadership to triumph, we will see the decline of corporations and institutions of all types. The twentieth century was a century of greatness, but we face the very real prospect that the next century will see very few enduring great institutions.” – Jim Collins (Good To Great)

This is a great quote for church leaders to be reminded that Jesus is the Chief Elder according to scripture, that this position of leadership is not for us or about us and we should be militant to fight the desire within us to surround ourselves with people who only agree with us. Instead, we’re called to serve and model this life in Christ.  Proverbs 27:17 says that “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” If you’ve ever seen this sharpening process you would agree that it’s not a quiet or uneventful one, but that the sparks fly and that it takes great heat and pressure to turn ordinary iron into that of a beautiful, functioning tool.  In the same way, if you as a church leader never see sparks fly or the heat turned up in loving discussion, then you will remain a safe, protected, useless lump of metal.  Be intentional to surround yourself with people who have a different world view than you, different approach to life or ministry.  Their input for your leadership will be invaluable. If they are loving in their approach and kind in their debate, yet truthful and honest, you can trust that what they’re saying is real, and being said to better and strengthen, not tear down or hurt.

(Prov. 27:6)

Pastors, have you created a culture where your input is valued more than the rest, or have you sought to lead through serving, offering your opinion as one of many, seeking God’s agenda and not your own?  If you’re serving more than being served and listening more than you speak, than you’re on the right track to lead as Jesus did.

“Good To Great” talks about ‘level 5 leaders’, these are people with an “unwavering will and commitment to do what is necessary to drive the organization to the top”.

That’s a fine and right approach for business but how does that translate for the church? I know a lot of pastors that would translate it to ‘unwavering will to serve the church over our own relationships in Christ or devotion to our families, driving the organization ‘to the top’ while driving our souls in the opposite direction. Is it the Kingdom way to shoot for the top? And what is the top in church leadership?  Have we really looked at our motives as church leaders recently?  This is where the agenda of “Good To Great” gets quite screwy when applied to the stewardship of the family of God. 

One of the most recognizable theories from “Good To Great” is the one about making sure you have the right team.

“Get the right people on the bus – that has to happen before the “what” decisions are taken. That can change if you have the right people, but the wrong people will certainly make the enterprise fail.” – Jim Collins (Good To Great)

I agree with Collins that you have to have the right group of people serving with you to accomplish your goals, and think his idea here is best if you’re building a team from the ground up.  However, once you’ve built that team or if you’ve found yourself coming into an existing team, this theory has to be tweaked a bit. You’re now called as a leader of a church to love and care for people, for their hearts, and for their families.  These are not just “seats on a bus” but family, each of them children of God with a unique design and imprint from the Spirit of God.  How you care for them or mistreat them shows more about the condition of your heart than what your words may so eloquently portray. We are called to love, to communicate clearly, and to lead with grace over greatness.  Matthew 18 is known well for Jesus’ directive to approach someone in sin but interestingly enough the chapter begins with the disciples arguing over who is the greatest among them. Not unlike what so many churches seem to be doing competing with each other in buildings, budgets and programs, instead of investing in people, making disciples and loving the least.  Jesus, pulls a child to His side and reminds the followers of the simplicity of the Kingdom of God and the warning to all leaders to keep our priorities straight, not misleading the body by doing all we can, to go from good to great.  Obviously I’m not saying that we can’t learn from this and other business books on leadership, but more that when our decisions begin to take on the strategy of Collins instead of the character of Christ, we’ve begun to be misled, all the while misleading those who follow us.  That seems to be the progression for many churches today. Working so hard to grow in number or to come across so perfect in performance that they’ve not only lost heart but the priority to be about changing them, developing them or caring for them.

Another lesson from Matthew 18 can teach us so much about the heart of God and practice of a great pastor.

Vs 10-14

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? and if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

Does reading this change how you think God feels about your “seat on a bus”?  Obviously we as leaders have to assemble, manage and care for those on our teams but more so, we are called of God to treat them as family, with grace and a tenacity to love them in their coming in or their going out.

The Greek word for church is Ekklesia.  It is most closely translated family of God, not organization, not business, not board, committee, or denomination.  It’s time we as leaders, lead more like fathers not presidents, more like brothers not CEO’s.  In a family every one has a voice that is valued and though we sometimes drive each other crazy, we can’t run away from tension, we learn to navigate in the struggle and love with humility, forgiving seventy times seven, serving more than securing and trusting our chief pastor Jesus to shape us into something useable and beautiful together.

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Don’t Hide, Be Hidden

By drewSeptember 3rd, 2010Blog, Featured, Marriage/FamilyNo Comments
Pic-Don't Hide

When I was a little guy, I remember getting in trouble with my parents and running to my room and hiding in the closet.  It’s not like that was the safe haven where no discipline would find me.  In fact, it was usually the place my father would find a trusty belt to remind me of why it’s good to be obedient.  The truth is, it’s in our heritage to hide.  When we’ve truly screwed up and know it, it’s only “natural” to want to remove yourself from the situation and run to some dark place where the consequences of that action hopefully won’t follow.  Unfortunately, they always do.  I say it’s in our history because even in the garden, Adam and Eve sinned, heard God walking and calling out to them and then they hid. I think the cause of this desire to run and hide is shame.  Shame, by definition is, a negative emotion that combines feelings of dishonor, unworthiness, and embarrassment.  Even at a very young age when we’re disobedient we know that our action will most likely bring some act of discipline and that’s the part we hate.  We don’t mind the sin so much, it’s more the consequences that cause us to find the nearest closet.

As we grow older the closet seems to lose it’s ability to cover and protect us and we find new places to hide.  As adults it’s easier for us to hide emotionally, to detach ourselves from the reality of our situation or sin and hide in destructive places. For men, we often retreat to the shelter of our Lazyboy, a good game on television, our work, or worse the internet.  Women can hide from reality with a good romance novel, shopping spree, or soap opera.  Our families and friends can still see us and we may even fool them enough in our churches that they think we’re doing just fine, but often our true hearts are lonely, afraid and hidden in the closet of some dark addiction instead of the transparent solace of our Father’s arms.

Psalm 139:22-24 says “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  To make this your prayer, you’ve got to be ready to be undone, floored by God’s grace, to be completely open to His Spirit and willing to allow Him to purge you of every wrong thing.  As a worshiper, your heart should be seeking God, asking Him to look deep into the reality of who you are, to draw you out of your hiding places into His marvelous light. Know however, the wonderful irony of God is that we don’t have to hide from God when we feel guilty or shameful, but instead let Him be our hiding place.  Let His grace be the first place we run to, not from.  Our nature is to run away from God when we’ve sinned, but through Christ, God has given us a new life and a new direction.  We may now find our hiding place in God and come boldly before Him.

What exactly in your life are you hiding from God, from your spouse, or from the truth of scripture.  There is healing, and hope and help if we’ll just not run away from God to hide but instead, to hide in the shadow of His wing.  Don’t hide, be hidden.

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Show Up

By drewAugust 27th, 2010Blog, Featured, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
Show Up

Conflict and struggle can be hard to face, but how we respond will not only show if we believe in ourselves, but what we believe about God.

As a kid I remember at times being bullied and pushed around, not from kids my age because I was always a big kid, but usually from older kids.  (Doesn’t matter how old we get it, seems there will always be bullies.) I remember a few instances where the bigger kid would challenge me to a fight and like the wild west, he’d throw down the charge, “Meet me behind the school after class” or some other frightening phrase like it.  I remember carrying fear around with me all day like the books on my back, dreading and counting down the minutes until the show down.  It took everything I could muster to just show up.  Uncertain of victory or utter annihilation the one thing I could not do was not show up.  Like some unwritten code in my DNA as a man-child, I had to at least be there, to not run from the challenge, I may not have been able to walk away from the scene but at least I would show up.

Sometimes the first step in frightening battles we face in life is to just “Show Up”.  As men living life in the everyday mundane rat wheel it’s sometimes hard to find the strength or will to “Show Up” for the things that matter most.  Serving our families, praying for those we love, listening to a friend instead of talking about yourself, reading scripture or having consistent integrity.  Sometimes these things feel like the hardest, most impossible tasks of our day but still we must “Show Up”.  Being consistent as a Godly man is so important.  Trying to not be overwhelmed by always sizing up the opponent or big picture of paying bills and working more than you’d like or the effort to serve when you’d rather be served. But instead, take one day at a time, one loving act of kindness, one extra minute to care.  Soon we find that a few extra moments of selflessness and a couple of extra efforts of serving, make the difference in the lifetime of a child or the quality of a marriage.  Before we can be used of God to fight some battle waiting for us in our destiny, we have to be committed and determined to at least “Show Up”.

Once we’ve made the decision to follow through we must then “Stand Firm”, when I think about this phrase I have visions of William Wallace (Braveheart) or Maximus (Gladiator). These men were resolute in what they believed and fought for it, even at the cost of their own lives. Most of the time however, the Lord just wants us to stand, He does the fighting.

2 Chronicles 20:17 says “You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.”

I think it’s so interesting that the Lord would have us dress up in our battle gear, and even take formation and prepare our footing for a fight, and then tell us to watch because the battle is His.  Almost as if to say, I’m allowing you to feel apart and encourage you, and even giving you the deep honor and pride of feeling important and useful and needed, but I’ll do the fighting.  As a kid I played every sport under the sun and in each one, some of the basic instruction included having the right footing, whether blocking out in basketball or blocking an offensive line man to make a tackle in football, the most important part of each was learning to stand firm and to be ready for the challenge.  Each of us struggles with temptation and failure but we have to be committed to getting back up after we’ve been knocked down and stand firm for the next challenge.  We often walk away with a black eye or a limp, but we can hold our heads high and our hearts steady when we Show Up and Stand Firm.

God asks us to trust Him with the battle but also to “Be Strong and Courageous” in the middle of it. God has promised, ‘the Salvation of the Lord’, and the assurance that you are not alone.  Maybe every fear is not completely subsided but there is a sense of confidence and faith and trust in the One who will fight the fight for you.

Deuteronomy 31:6  “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Go back in your memory and be encouraged by the innumerable amount of times that God proved Himself before you, provided a way or answered a prayer. We must trust that God goes before us and loves us enough to call us into the action.  Let’s stand next to Him ready and willing to offer our lives, yet with the faith that the fight before us is His, and that we must not fear for He is with us.

One thing I remember about those school ground challenges is that I never knew when those days would come, that hasn’t changed as an adult. We have no idea what God is going to allow us to walk through from day to day, but whatever we face, we can trust He has allowed it in our lives and He is with us through the fight.

Praying that I/we will be willing to SHOW UP, to STAND FIRM, and BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS.

Stand Firm

2 Chronicles 20:17 (Whole Chapter) [Exodus 14:13, 14 ] You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ [ 2 Chronicles 20:15 ] Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, [2 Chronicles 15:2; 32:8; Num 14:9] and the LORD will be with you.”

1 Corinthians 16:13 (Whole Chapter

Be watchful, [Gal 5:1; Phil 1:27; 4:1; 1 Thess 3:8; 2 Thess 2:15; 1 Corinthians 15:1 ] stand firm in the faith, [1 Sam 4:9; 2 Sam 10:12; Isa 46:8 ] act like men, [Eph 3:16; Eph 6:10; Col 1:11] be strong.

Galatians 5:1 (Whole Chapter) [ Christ Has Set Us Free ] For [Galatians 5:13; Galatians 2:4; James 1:25 ] freedom Christ has [ John 8:32 ] set us free; [ 1 Cor 16:13 ] stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to [Acts 15:10 ] a yoke of [ Galatians 2:4] slavery.

Ephesians 6:13 (Whole Chapter) Therefore [1 Pet 4:1 ] take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in [Ephesians 5:16] the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Philippians 1:27 (Whole Chapter) Only [Philippians 3:20 ] let your manner of life be [ Eph 4:1 ] worthy [Greek Only behave as citizens worthy] of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you [ 1 Cor 16:13 ] that you are standing firm in one spirit, with [Philippians 2:2; 1 Cor 1:10 ] one mind [Jude 3] striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,

Philippians 4:1 (Whole Chapter) Therefore, my brothers, [Or brothers and sisters; also verses 8, 21] whom I love and [ Philippians 1:8 ] long for, [Philippians 1:4; 2:16; 2 Cor 1:14 ] my joy and [Prov 16:31; 17:6 ] crown, [Philippians 1:27] stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Be Strong and Courageous

Deuteronomy 31:6 (Whole Chapter) [Deuteronomy 31:23; Josh 1:6, 7; 10:25; 1 Chr 22:13; 28:20 ] Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, [ Deuteronomy 20:4 ] for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. [Josh 1:5] He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Joshua 1:7 (Whole Chapter) Only be strong and [Joshua 23:6 ] very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law [Joshua 11:15 ] that Moses my servant commanded you. [Deut 5:32; 28:14] Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success [Or may act wisely] wherever you go.

2 Samuel 10:12 (Whole Chapter) [ Deut 31:6 ] Be of good courage, and [1 Sam 4:9; 1 Cor 16:13 ] let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and [1 Sam 3:18] may the LORD do what seems good to him.

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