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Listen UP!

But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak of his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13-14

“What should I do?”  As a pastor, I hear this question a lot. While I consider it an honor that someone would seek out any wisdom I may have for them, I know that I should never be their first or their final source. In fact, I’m not even their guide. I’m more of a guide to their guide. The Holy Spirit is the one who will guide any disciple of Jesus into the truth they seek. He needs no intermediary.

It is the insecure leader who enjoys being the sole source of wisdom for the people they lead and though they may end up with many followers, they develop no true leaders. I have learned over the years that the best response I can have to the question “What should I do?” is to ask “What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?” While I can offer Godly counsel from my knowledge of the Bible, a word of knowledge or prophecy based upon my spiritual gifts, or wisdom based upon my own experience or the observation of others, there is nothing quite like the pinpoint accuracy of the Holy Spirit speaking directly to a disciple. His counsel is flawless and He sees perfectly into the future. He has no hidden agenda but to glorify Jesus and to lead me beside quiet waters, restore my soul, and guide me in paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:2-3).

If someone coming to me for counsel does not yet know how to hear from God, then helping them with that becomes my primary focus. It is almost always more important than whatever immediate situation they are facing. After all, I am called to equip believers to do the work of the ministry and this is the essence of equipping. And, contrary to what many think, it’s not hard. John 10:4 says, …His sheep follow Him because they know His voice. Romans 10:8 says, The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart. 

We don’t need to get God to speak to us. He’s always speaking to us! We need to listen UP.

Tune in to what He is already saying. Stop looking around (to others) and listen up (to heaven)! My most important role in making disciples is teaching people how to hear the Holy Spirit for themselves and to trust His leading. He’s calling and leading you to green pastures and quiet waters.

Sometimes there’s a desert on the way to your green pastures but He won’t leave you there.

I encourage you to listen UP and hear the voice of our Good Shepherd. He will guide you into truth. It can be a simple as just praying “Speak to me, Lord” and then waiting and listening. You may be very surprised at what happens next!

The High Road

“I’m taking the high road!”

How many times have you heard this phrase? But what does it mean? Often, it is interpreted that in your choice of responses to a negative situation, you should choose the one that is more restrained and less combative. The problem with the high road mentality is that when we choose it, we usually do so out of pride. Pride encourages high-road-thinking. It is a veiled attempt to look down from its lofty perch to those on the low road. Our pride convinces us that we are somehow morally superior to the other party. It uses innuendo and suspicion to cast a dark cloud over others and becomes a form of slander. And when pride enters the heart, love leaves.

This pride is most evident when we feel the need to tell people we are taking the high road!

The reality is that there is no high road or low road. There’s just your road. It’s the one God has laid out for you.

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

Did you know Jesus took the low road? He chose the path of a sinner though He was without sin. He hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors, died a criminal’s death, and went all the way to Hades to rescue those who were waiting for Him in faith. There is no road too low for Him if it means reconciling men and women to God. He did this because of His great love and this love is the key to the Kingdom road marked out for you.

The roads of God’s Kingdom are paved with humility, it’s streetlights are love, and it’s center line is the Holy Spirit.

Find the path God has for you and trust that what He has shown you is the way to go. Others can help guide you but ultimately, the Holy Spirit is your Guide. Let love rule your heart and pride won’t have room to take up residence there. Don’t worry about the road others are on or what they think of your road. A heart filled with love for God and others lives with an un-offendable spirit anyway. Find your road, let God fill your heart with His love, and enjoy your walk.

I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. Psalm 119:32


King David. Israel’s greatest king. A man after God’s own heart. The standard by which every other king would later be measured.

King David. Liar. Adulterer. Murderer.

Sounds like the scandalous headline of a supermarket check out line tabloid doesn’t it? No fake news here, though. David was all of those things. Though a great leader, he made a BIG mistake. He lusted for a woman who was married to a righteous man named Uriah. He slept with her and then tried to cover it up by having Uriah killed.

When confronted with his sin, David repented and God forgave him but the child born from the sinful act died. Though there was forgiveness there was also consequence.

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” Romans 3:23-24

Because of this grace provided for all of us, sinners like David, like you, and like me can be forgiven. If we confess our sin to Jesus and repent we will receive His free gift of eternal life.

So guess what that means? David and Uriah are both in heaven together. Now that would be an interesting meeting! As David enters through the pearly gates, there’s Uriah waiting to say hello. How do you think that went down? Probably very differently to how it would have gone down for most people on this side of heaven. “David, have you met Uriah?” “Uh..yeah…I have.”

But in Revelation 7 we see a picture of heaven where David and Uriah are now. There are multitudes in white robes crying out together in a loud voice “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Revelation 7:10 David and Uriah are there in that crowd, singing together. Their praise was so overwhelming, the angels followed their lead and started worshipping. Imagine being the worship leader of an angelic choir!

David and Uriah are a picture of Kingdom unity. Outside of God’s Kingdom, unity is often attempted by dressing alike, looking alike, talking alike, or going to the same church. But in the Kingdom, what unites us is that we have been washed by the blood of Jesus and been made holy by His salvation. It’s not by anything we have done.

The Church is a representation of God’s Kingdom in this present age. It is heaven on earth. Jesus taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 

We, the Church, can live with the same unity that is in heaven right now. We need more of heaven.

The Church has a long history of focusing more on what divides us than what unites us. Blacks vs. Whites. Protestants vs. Catholics. Charismatics vs. Cessationists. Democrats vs. Republicans. Some local churches are still characterized as a black church or a white church. I even know Christians who today won’t worship with others because of who they voted for! David and Uriah would be shocked and these divisions grieve the Holy Spirit.

But Kingdom unity can happen in our cities when we realize that what unites us is stronger than what divides us.

Unity is possible when who you are worshipping is more compelling than who you are worshipping with. It’s possible when we all wear the white robe of a freed prisoner, without spot, wrinkle, or blemish. Uriah couldn’t see David’s sin because it wasn’t there anymore. David was so completely forgiven that God put His own Son in David’s lineage. In the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1, David is listed as the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife. Religious and judgmental Christians have explained that this passage is a reminder of David’s sin. Its not. It’s a reminder that God’s grace is so complete that even the worst of sinners can give birth to a Savior.

If we want to live united in God’s Kingdom here on earth, it’s time we stopped seeing each other’s sin and focus on who we are worshipping — Jesus. When we do, God promises to send a commanded blessing (Psalm 133). Let’s be committed to seeing God’s Kingdom come, to see more of heaven, and to see His blessing.

Get off the Treadmill

I love running. Specifically, I love running outside. I love the fresh air, constantly changing scenery, and actually moving forward to get somewhere. Alone is ok but with a friend, we can find a pace that is mutually beneficial, talk to each other, and accomplish something together. The weather isn’t always perfect, but I love being OUTSIDE. But occasionally, due to weather, I have to run on a treadmill inside a gym.

I hate treadmills.

Don’t get me wrong, the availability of a treadmill is great. The climate is controlled for you and you never have to leave the room. It’s predictable. But that’s also the problem. For me, what makes running a joy is that it’s outdoors…and I was born for the outdoors. Treadmill scenery never changes. People come and go out of the gym but you’re stuck in the same place you started. Others may run alongside you but they’re not getting anywhere either. Headphones on to distract from the boredom and to avoid any awkward conversation, they just get busy. Treadmills have become the subways of the fitness world, crowded and lonely at the same time. Churches can be like that, too.

I’ve been on a spiritual treadmill at times, too. Running hard to keep up with what I thought were Kingdom priorities but getting nowhere, mistaking busyness for progress. I’d fallen into the common trap of thinking that doing for God was the same as being with God. But they are not. On the spiritual treadmill you work hard but see little fruit from your labor. You try to live a life of excellence without realizing you are already made in the image of God and it’s the work of Christ in you that makes you excellent.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to good works… Ephesians 2:10

…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill Hs good purpose. Philippians 2:13

The worst thing about a treadmill is that we never leave the room. On the spiritual treadmill the church building becomes our gym as all of our time and effort is used to entertain Christians. We build stationary church buildings and expect the lost to come to us when Jesus said to go out into all the world and make disciples.

Our efforts on the spiritual treadmill say ‘come and see what we’ve built’ when Jesus said ‘go and make disciples.’

Responding to the call of Jesus to go out is risky. It’s easier to put on the headphones of our religious rhetoric and get right back on the treadmill. But after a while even the fittest get tired, turn off the machine, and walk out of the gym. There’s always someone else waiting for your treadmill.

The outdoors are for me. I’ve come to realize that Jesus is more concerned about me walking with Him than how far I’ve run, or whether I outran the person next to me. He’s not interested in what I’ve built. He’s interested in me. He’s interested in who I’ve brought to Him. Jesus is bringing His Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy to a world that desperately needs it and He is bringing me along. There is freedom and beauty in an outdoor run and in there is freedom and beauty in that kind of relationship with Jesus.

As a disciple of Jesus, I can no longer afford a spiritual treadmill because if what God pours into the Church stays in the Church, then it will die in the Church. To make disciples and advance the Kingdom of Heaven my greatest efforts need to be outside the walls of my church building where the real gains are to be made.

Do yourself a favor…Get off the treadmill. You’ll be glad you did.

When God is Silent

God speaks to us. Sometimes clearly, sometimes subtly but He has a voice and, no, it doesn’t sound like Morgan Freeman. That would be cool though, right? There have been moments in my life when I have heard God so clearly that it drowned out every other voice and even the often most powerful voice — my own. My voice in my head is often the most powerful because what I tell myself can have the biggest impact on the fruit my life produces. We’ll talk about that more in another blog.

God can speak to you in several different ways. A voice from a burning bush, the mouth of a donkey, a voice from the clouds, God is one creative communicator! Regardless of the method, as a follower of Jesus, when you know you’ve heard from God and He has given you a commission you really only have two choices — obedience or disobedience. For perspective on the latter option read the book of Jonah. Jonah eventually got it right but, as I frequently remind my young sons, delayed obedience is disobedience.

God is infinitely patient with us but there are moments when God wants us to move without hesitation. Luke 9:59-62 tells of a time when Jesus commissioned two people to follow Him. Though the call was clear, they both told Jesus they first had other important matters that needed their attention. Jesus essentially told them to stop looking back and move forward with what He was telling them to do now. Leave behind whatever you have and do exactly what He has told you to do. As He said, the dead (the things you leave behind) will bury their own, Luke 9:60.

The lesson is this: when you clearly hear the voice of God the time to act is NOW.

But what if God is silent in other areas? What if, although God has told you what He wants you to do, He has been silent on how to do it? What if you really need to hear from God on a particular issue but it seems as though He’s not answering your texts, never returns email, hasn’t commented on your Facebook post, the gates of heaven have closed, and your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling? Trust me, we’ve all been there. Left to our own devices we can think either God isn’t listening or we’ve done something wrong.

There are several instances from Scripture why our prayers can be hindered. A husband who who does not respect or honor his wife will struggle to hear God (1 Peter 3:7). Spiritual opposition (Daniel 10:12-14) can cause a delay in receiving your answer. These are just a few. But sometimes God chooses not to speak to us. Only He really knows why but I often suspect it is the same reason I don’t always answer every question my kids ask me. I want them to figure it out for themselves. I want them to realize they had the answer all along, they just needed to use the resources and wisdom I had already given them. In the next few posts, I want to show you a few of the valuable resources God has given us to help us obey Him and proclaim the Kingdom of God to our generation.

I want to show you what to do when God is silent.

Coming up: When God is Silent: Light it Up!