Thursday, January 7, 2016

Great Expectations

Happy New Year everyone! Are we all eased back into work and the daily grind? Some more than others? When I was praying about what I should speak on this morning, the word "expectation" came to mind. With each new year, it seems we all have hopeful expectations, right? This year is going to be different. My financial situation is going to change, my relationships will improve, fill in the blank. There is a bit of magic in the air at midnight because expectation is high.

I spent the week leading up to New Year's making plans with friends, taking advantage of shortened work hours and expecting a fun few days. Not so much. Five different people cancelled on me over five days in a row. And one of them was a date I was really looking forward to! I went from hopeful expectation to big let down.

A little more lighthearted - I was speaking with a friend the other day who expected to receive a specific Christmas gift. Her sister asked her, "What would you like for Christmas?" and she responded, "an iPod." But instead of 16 gigs, she received 16 shirts from her sister. Sixteen shirts! But expecting what she asked for wasn't unrealistic, right?

When our expectations aren't met, we're disappointed. The joy gets sucked out a little. Life teaches us over and over again where we should not place expectations - namely, on other people. Will my friends cancel on me again in the future? Absolutely. Will I cancel on them, or let them down in another way? Sadly, yes, I will. Can you always expect to receive what you ask for from another person? Not always.

This is why our great expectations should be focused elsewhere. On the only person who can actually meet them - Jesus Christ. The one true God. With Him, we are taught that we will not be disappointed. He is always available, always faithful, never wavering. He is, in many ways, what we can't be, at least not while we're fallen. And that's why our eyes should be fixed on Him.

What can we expect from God? I'm thinking of an often quoted and favored verse from Jeremiah. Do you know it?

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -Jeremiah 29:11

Forget your plans. God's plans are so much better, and if you can believe that and expect Him to pave the way in your life, you will find peace.

Wait for and confidently expect the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord. -Psalm 27:14


We can expect God to show up in our lives! He won't be silent, he won't be sedentary. That's just not His nature.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. -Psalm 62:5

We can expect one of my favorite pastimes - rest. And something no person should go without - hope.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. -James 1:17


He doesn't change! But so many things do right? Living situations, jobs, relationships. We can't expect them to stay the same forever, but we can expect God to be the same incredible Father He's always been.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. -Matthew 7:7

Have you ever prayed expectantly, and had that prayer come true? I really need to start praying like that. Rather than my usual meek plea, I want to present bold requests with faith. That's my resolution for 2016.

I subscribe to daily emails from Rick Warren, and I loved what he said a few days ago - "God wants you to dream big. He wants you to base your dream not on what you think you can do but on what you think God can do. He wants you to use the imagination that he gave you, because dreaming big honors him. It shows faith. It shows trust."

So! As Christians, lovers of Jesus, we can expect:


  •     A prosperous future
  •     God to show up in our lives
  •     Rest and hope
  •     That God will never change
  •     Answered prayers

We know our expectations of God can be high, and He'll still blow them out of the water! But let's go back to the people in our lives. What should we do when they don't meet our expectations, or when we don't meet theirs? We should do as Jesus does to us - listen, forgive and love. We're going to be let down countless times, and we'll let others down, too. The good news? There's grace for that. A grace that we can share with everyone. Let's do that this year.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year

I've been waiting for things to change for a while. Hoping and wishing that something electric would be injected into my life. Reflecting on times when that happened, longing for them.

I've been passively waiting. I haven't actively sought out what I'm looking for. I haven't taken leaps of faith. I've barely even prayed about it.

On January 1, 2015, I had an overwhelming sense that it was going to be "the year" when something good would happen. I don't want to be ungrateful, but the truth is, I've felt like the past few years have been fairly wasted. I live in the same isolated, fly-infested apartment. I haven't been able to save a dime. I've meandered from church to church. I continue to question whether or not I should be a photographer. I wonder if I will ever meet someone.

Yet, the worst - My relationship with God is pretty sparse, Bible reading practically nonexistent, service at the minimum. How am I actually living out this life that I claim to lead?

The past two weeks have been shameful. I've willingly fallen into sin and done little to get out of it. "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it."

You may recall that I visited Resting Place's prophecy room about two years ago and was completely rocked. It is so incredibly powerful to hear through other people what God wants to say to you. Especially when you have trouble hearing Him for yourself.

Boardwalk Vineyard is currently wrapping up a prophesy weekend, and I was able to sign up for two 15 minute slots of ministry yesterday morning. As much as I wanted to arrive expectant, my spirit was distracted. Nevertheless, God surely spoke, and I know it's important for me to write out what was said.

During my first session, a few pray-ers from The Barn spoke words of comfort over me, assuring me that this will truly be a new year - one where I must trust Him, step out in faith, walk hand in hand with God and record what He's doing, so I can look back at it when I'm discouraged. One woman saw me as a big green pine tree (green is the color of life) on a cliff, with Christmas lights and a star, shining over a large land.

My second session was with a man I've never met and Darlene, who I'm grateful to know. She has been an important part of Shore Vineyard for many years, my former (and forever in my heart) church home. I've always been fascinated by Darlene's uncanny ability to connect with God. I remember being on a retreat some years ago, and she told a few of us ladies about how she was communing with God that morning, quite literally like she was talking to a friend right in front of her face. She talked to him, and He responded? She could hear Him? Since that moment, I've wanted to the same fluid, natural relationship.

The sanctuary was bright and peaceful, Jersey Shore light flooding the windows. If I wasn't expectant at my first prayer session, I definitely was now. And thanks to my Dad, smart enough to record this one on my phone.

"The Lord showed me a picture of a tranquil pool. I feel like the Lord gave me a glimpse of your spirit. I think God has created you to be one who specializes in or has an extraordinary gifting in the realm of tranquility and the deep peace of God, which is wrapped up in the love of God. Out of that arises beauty, a deep appreciation and love for the beauty of God, and the beauty of creation. I believe you are a creature of God, a creation of God who is intended to create beauty. I see artistic anointing on you, and I would encourage you to follow out nudgings of the spirit that come into your heart - thoughts, directions and projects that come into your mind that have to do with artistic endeavors, to reveal the beauty of God through creative arts, one kind or another. This will be an expression of the Kingdom, whether it's explicitly Christian or whether it's artistic expression that flows out of you, that blesses many and is a pointer to God's own beauty, to God's own creation. I would just encourage you in this realm of life, in this dimension, I think as you give yourself to it, there will be great inner satisfaction - that you'll be in touch with an aspect of your destiny, which will be very fulfilling in you." -Bruce

Well! This harkens back to what was spoken over me in the prophesy room, yet I still fail to believe it. I know that God has put me on a path to be a photographer, but there is such immense fear and anxiety that comes along with it, that I find myself not wanting to photograph at all. It's certainly easier to ignore a calling than actually work toward it. I purchased 12 photography education books - one for each month of this year - and I'm already fearing that I won't actually read them. I've also had a few personal photography projects cross my mind that I haven't acted on either. If this is truly what God wants me to do, why are there so many roadblocks? If this is truly my destiny, why aren't I over the moon enthusiastic to do it?

"I saw you with this candle. You were dressed in purity and holiness, and you were walking with this candle in the darkness. I see Jesus walking just beside you. The two of you have been walking through this place that needed the light that you were bringing. Now, He's opening a new door, where there is light all over, lots of light for you. You're going to see new things now that the two of you walking through the darkness with just that one candlelight couldn't see as well. Maybe you didn't even see He was right next to you, because His light was there with you. But now, you're going to see more. You're going to see more that as Bruce said, your creative gifting and anointing is going to be able to transfer for others to see it as well. It's not just going to be through your art. It's also going to be through your writing and your speaking. Because you have been in places that other people have been, but they didn't have the light to understand it. The understanding of some parts of your life is gong to come to you in this new light and brightness." -Darlene

I love to write and speak, and I've always been quite good at both. The fact that I rarely use either is rather sad. I wonder how many gifts go unused in the church. I was really touched by Darlene's vision, because as I mentioned above, the past few years have just felt dark, stagnant, unproductive. I know Jesus has been with me the whole time. I truly know that. But we just haven't done much except wander around. If He will illuminate my life and understanding this year, give me clear vision and direction, I know that joy and productivity will be unstoppable.

"Are you a singer?" -Bruce

And there it was. Last weekend at church, Ali Mac (worship leader) asked me the same question, and just as out of the blue. My answer to both friends was, "No, but I wish I was." Ali asked me to try and harmonize with her, which I failed at miserably, yet her even asking me to try tugged at my heart strings. I told Bruce I've always wanted to sing. If there was something I didn't do well, a gift that I wish I had, it would be singing. Music was such a huge part of my life for many years, but not in that way.

"I'm so glad you said that, because one of the words of knowledge that the Lord gave me last night while I was praying was that somebody was going to be anointed for music that had never had it before. So, I declare that in the name of Jesus as a word of knowledge that is coming true at this moment. That He's given you now an anointing for music that you've never had before. An opening of your voice, an opening of your mind, a opening of your ability with your body, whatever is required, whatever music He's calling you to. You're going to have such an anointing that people will think you've had education in it, when it's been His gift to you. You know, there have been men and women in the past who couldn't read, and God gave them the gift of reading. Men and women who couldn't paint, and God gave them the gift of painting. You wish and prayed that you would have that gift of music, and it's coming right now to you." -Darlene

"I also want to enlarge that word to you - songwriting, as well. I just feel like there may be songs that you write that you will sing, and songs that you write that others will sing. And you'll rejoice that you've been able to offer the songs, but others have expressed them." -Bruce

I lost it at this point. "That would mean so much to me," I choked out between tears. The Lord knows I wish I could sing and have tried before. Every now and then, I'll have a good note. I remember one time in particular at Shore Vineyard, I was lost in the moment during worship, and it was as if my lungs and throat opened like they never had before, and a loud, joyful note came out that actually scared me in the moment! I thought wow, that was me? I wish I could sing like that all the time! I've struggled over the past 24 hours to really let this sink in and believe it. Could God do it? Absolutely. But I'm honestly skeptical. Twenty nine years of mediocre singing, and suddenly, I'll be writing and performing songs? A dream, indeed. Could it really come true? What should I do with that now? Break out the ol' keyboard?

"I'm getting two other words for you. One is radiance. I feel like that word radiance is a word that contains within it a kind of movement. The motion is from the inside out. Not only do I think there's a radiance of Christ around you, and I think that was confirmed by the vision of you walking in an abundance of light. I think that was Jesus next to you, but it's also Jesus within in you, radiating out. The second word is acceleration. The ministry that's within you, the Kingdom of God that's within us and flows out - that's the radiance part. And I think now, there's a season of acceleration that's starting to happen very quickly, like a gate is going to open. You're going to move forward very quickly on things. And when that happens, you'll be synthesizing a lot of information and leading and promptings that will be coming in. It will really be timed like the gate is open for the racehorse. And the racehorse flies out of the gate, takes off, and everything within that horse is going. I think you're entering into a period when you're going to be radiating God, and all the gifts within your own personality are going to released, and you're going to run the race." -Bruce

I love the word radiance. If there was one word that could describe me or my life, man, I'd like it to be that. And hallelujah! Accelerate away! That's what I've been waiting for. I've been waiting to fly out of the gate toward my destiny. To stop putzing around and actually act. Forward motion. Please, please let it be so! I've been tired out of boredom. Let me be tired out of productivity.

"In the name of Jesus, we seal these prayers, these words that were spoken. We thank you for healing the memories of the times when she was walking with one candle, and she didn't know that Jesus was walking with her. Thank you for all that you created this beautiful woman to be and the plans that you have for her future. Thank you Lord that you've gone before her in all things, and you're protecting her and watching over her. As she walks now into more light and more giftedness and more talents, and even her music ministry, that she would remember who gave it to her. You say you did not choose me, but I chose you. And now, the desires of your heart have caught up with my desires for you, and I've actualized it in this realm. In Jesus name, be blessed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." -Darlene

"A final word came to me - narrative. Narrative is speaking out, and I feel like what came then was storytelling." -Bruce

I told Bruce I call myself a visual storyteller as a photographer.

"I think part of what God is going to be doing during this acceleration period of light that you're going to be entering into, is that particular ability will be ramped up." -Bruce

Double confirmation on the photography. Drats. I almost cringe when I hear it, because of the fear and intimidation. I'm going to really need some help to get past all of that.

So, what now? We've learned that I have giftings in photography, writing, speaking and now music? I'm really only utilizing the first. In what capacity would He have me pursue the others? I have so many questions. In the midst of all this, I really need to lock down a church family. That's my number one at this point. Irony is, I'm so confused and torn about where I should be that I didn't go to church today. Listening and writing this out and praying about it was my church this morning.

God, please send me confidently without question to the places you'd have me, to the opportunities you've laid out for me. Help me to find a church home, get plugged in and use my gifts there for your glory. Help me to make an impact for your Kingdom on a daily basis. Help me to get out of this several year slump and illuminate my future. Help me cast aside my skepticism and faithfully believe that what you've said is true. Lord, I need a lot of help that only you can give. Please come near to me in 2016, and may I come near to you. Amen.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Jesus I Never Knew


This is one of the best books I've ever read and may ever read. It's clear that Yancey did extensive research and soul searching to produce this head-scratching, heart-opening text. I admit to forgetting who Jesus is, forgetting what He's done and continues to do, even though I am living proof of His grace. Yancey presents simple yet overlooked characteristics of Jesus that I never really took the time to meditate on until now. There are so many gems in this book - only a few are below, but they struck me especially. If you get a chance to purchase this book (or want to borrow mine), you definitely won't regret it! Believers and non-believers alike - get to know this God we all think we have pinned down.


According to Jesus, what I think about him and how I respond will determine my destiny for all eternity.

Other people affected Jesus deeply; obstinacy frustrated him, self-righteousness infuriated him, simple faith thrilled him. Indeed, he seemed more emotional and spontaneous than the average person, not less. More passionate, not less.

One day miracles seemed to flow out of Jesus; the next day his power was blocked by people's lack of faith. One day he talked in detail of the Second Coming; another, he knew neither the day nor hour. He spoke eloquently about peacemaking, then told his disciples to procure swords. His extravagant claims about himself kept him at the center of controversy, but when he did something truly miraculous he tended to hush it up. As Walter Wink has said, if Jesus had never lived, we would not have been able to invent him.

The Master of the universe would become its victim, powerless before a squad of soldiers in a garden. God made himself weak for one purpose: to let human beings choose freely for themselves what to do with him.

The more I get to know Jesus, the more impressed I am by what Ivan Karamazov called "the miracle of restraint." The miracles Satan suggested, the signs and wonders the Pharisees demanded, the final proofs I long for - these would offer no serious obstacle to an omnipotent God. More amazing is his refusal to perform and to overwhelm. God's terrible insistence on human freedom is so absolute that he granted us the power to live as though he did not exist, to spit in his face, to crucify him. All this Jesus must have known as he faced down the tempter in the desert, focusing his mighty power on the energy of restraint.

I believe God insists on such restraint because no pyrotechnic displays of omnipotence will achieve the response he desires. Although power can force obedience, only love can summon a response of love, which is the one thing God wants from us and the reason he created us.

This quality of restrain in Jesus - one could almost call it a divine shyness - took me by surprise. I realized, as I absorbed the story of Jesus in the Gospels, that I had expected from him the same qualities I had met in the southern fundamentalist church of my childhood. There, I often felt the victim of emotional pressures. Doctrine was dished out in a "Believe and don't ask questions!" style. Wielding the power of miracle, mystery and authority, the church left no place for doubt. I also learn manipulative techniques for "soul winning," some of which involved misrepresenting myself to the person I was talking to. Yet now I am unable to find any of these qualities in the life of Jesus.

He has nearly inexhaustible patience with individuals but no patience at all with institutions and injustice.

Jesus did not mechanically follow a list of "Things I Gotta Do Today," and I doubt he would have appreciated our modern emphasis on punctuality and precise scheduling. He attended wedding feasts that lasted for days. He let himself get distracted by any "nobody" he came across, whether a hemorrhaging woman who shyly touched his robe or a blind beggar who made a nuisance of himself. Two of his most impressive miracles (the raising of Lazarus and of Jairus's daughter) took place because he arrived too late to heal the sick person.

Like a bell tolling from another world, Jesus' promise of rewards proclaims that no matter how things appear, there is no future in evil, only in good.

Human beings do not readily admit desperation. When they do, the kingdom of heaven draws near.

"I find it strangely heartening that the Bible remains offensive to honest, ignorant ears, just as it was in the first century. To me, that somehow validates its significance." -Virginia Stem Owens

"If anyone proved to me that Christ was outside the truth...then I would prefer to remain with Christ than with the truth." -Fyodor Dostoevsky

He brings to the surface repressed sin, yet forgives any freely acknowledged sin.

Perhaps prostitutes, tax collectors, and other known sinners responded to Jesus so readily because at some level they knew they were wrong and to them God's forgiveness looked very appealing.

Jesus proved in person that God loves people not as a race or species, but as individuals. We matter to God.

Jesus never met a disease he could not cure, a birth defect he could not reverse, a demon he could not exorcise. But he did meet skeptics he could not convince and sinners he could not convert.

"Jesus' healings are not supernatural miracles in a natural world. They are the only true 'natural' things in a world that is unnatural, demonized and wounded." -Jurgen Moltmann

I have marveled at, and sometimes openly questioned, the self-restraint God has shown throughout history allowing the Genghis Khans and the Hitlers and the Stalins to have their way. But nothing - nothing - compares to the self-restraint shown on that dark Friday in Jerusalem. With every lash of the whip, every fibrous crunch of fist against flesh, Jesus must have mentally replayed the Temptation in the wilderness and in Gethsemane. Legions of angels awaited his command. One word, and the ordeal would end.

"Anyone can be sentimental about the Nativity; any fool can feel like a Christian at Christmas. But Easter is the main event; if you don't believe in the resurrection, you're not a believer." -John Irving

God has always chosen the slow and difficult way, respecting human freedom regardless of cost. "God did not abolish the fact of evil: He transformed it," wrote Dorothy Sayers. "He did not stop the crucifixion: He rose from the dead." The hero bore all consequences, yet somehow triumphed.

In many respects I would find an unresurrected Jesus easier to accept. Easter makes him dangerous. Because of Easter I have to listen to his extravagant claims and can no longer pick and choose from his sayings. Moreover, Easter means he must be loose out there somewhere.

By ascending, Jesus took the risk of being forgotten.

God has not absconded at all. Rather, he has taken on a disguise, a most unlikely disguise of the stranger, the poor, the hungry, the prisoner, the sick, the ragged ones of earth: "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me." If we cannot detect God's presence in the world, it may be that we have been looking in the wrong places.

"First we meditate on Jesus, and then we go out and look for him in disguise." -Mother Teresa

When Jesus departed, he left the keys of the kingdom in our fumbling hands. 

Our real challenge, the focus of our energy, should not be to Christianize the United States (always a losing battle) but rather to strive to be God's kingdom in an increasingly hostile world.

If the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church, the contemporary political scene hardly offers much threat.

History gives ample precedent for legalism and also for decadence. But how does one hold to high standards of moral purity while at the same time showing grace to those who fail those standards? How to embrace the sinner without encouraging sin? Christian history offers few facsimiles of the pattern Jesus played down.

I must admit that Jesus has revised in flesh many of my harsh and unpalatable notions about God. Why am I a Christian? I sometimes ask myself, and to be perfectly honest the reasons reduce to two: (1) the lack of good alternatives, and (2) Jesus. Brilliant, untamed, tender, creative, slippery, irreducible, paradoxically humble - Jesus stands up to scrutiny. He is who I want my God to be.

It is through the Servant's wounds that we are healed, said Isaiah - not his miracles.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

One Thing You Can't Do in Heaven

Not gonna lie, I don't even remember reading this book. And I don't see it in my personal library, so who knows when this happened...Oh, December 31, 2013. Yikes! That really shows how much I've been neglecting this blog! Reading over what I marked nearly two years ago, I'm very convicted. Like to the point of anxiety. I definitely don't witness as much as I should, and this author seems to feel like what we call "living a Godly life" isn't enough of a witness. Actually getting in front of, speaking to and engaging with people is witness. Anyone else feel like they fail in this area? ...Anyone else wanna go out and witness with me sometime?

"It is of great importance that the sinner should be made to feel his guilt, and not have the impression that he is unfortunate. Do not be afraid, but show him the breadth of the divine Law, and the exceeding strictness of its precepts. Make him see how it condemns his thoughts and life." -Charles Finney

"To be laughed at is no great hardship to me. I can delight in scoffs and jeers. Caricatures, lampoons and slanders are my glory. But that you should turn from your own mercy, this is my sorrow. Spit on me, but oh, repent! Laugh at me, but, oh, believe in my Master! Make my body as the dirt of the streets, but damn not your own souls!" -Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Do you realize that when you get rejected in the name of Jesus, God has rewards waiting for you in Heaven that will make any earthly reward seem like chump change? That is truly amazing.

Let's not separate ourselves from the lost, but take our light into the darkness and watch the Lord work in amazing ways.

If you decide to date rather than court, why does a date have to involve going to a movie or a party? Why can't a date consist of going to a mall to witness?

Too many times believers worry what others think. However, when we are witnessing to people, what is the worst thing they can do to us? They can kill us and send us to Heaven. Is that such a bad thing?

If you are not eternal friends, are you really friends at all?

"Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that." - Charles Spurgeon

As a believer, you have the Holy Spirit living within you to help you understand God's Word (1 Corinthians 2:12). You can comprehend spiritual truths that a lost person can't.

Therefore, before you leave your house, it's important to pray that the Lord will lead you to lost people during the day, and that He will soften the individuals' hearts before you even begin the conversation.

"What's your email, phone number or address, so when I find the answer, I can get it to you?" This allows me to follow up with people.

"To be a soul winner is the happiest thing in the world. And with every soul you bring to Jesus Christ, you seem to get a new heaven here upon earth." - Charles Haddon Spurgeon

We can know where we will spend eternity. That is very important in witnessing. If we know that when we die we'll go to Heaven, does it matter what a lost person does or says to us as we share our faith? No, it doesn't. Don't ever forget that as you boldly make your stand for Jesus.

One of the biggest lies Satan tells the lost is that they will be good enough for God on Judgement Day. If they helped an old lady cross the road, thew a few dollars into the collection plate, had the best-kept yard in the neighborhood, etc., then they will be just fine on Judgement Day. Do you see how the Law works to break through that lie?

When a person is born again, his life changes. It certainly doesn't mean that we become perfect when we get saved; there is definitely a sanctification process, as we grow in our faith to become like Christ. But there must be a desire to change, or there won't be any change.

A great statement to use with both saved and lost people is: It doesn't matter what you believe, it matters what is true. People need to think about truth rather than just belief. I might believe the earth is flat, but it isn't. I might believe the sky is green, but it isn't. I might believe you will send me a thousand dollars, but you probably won't! We must help people distinguish between their beliefs and what is true.

Here is one of the arguments I use: "Adolf Hitler killed six million of God's chosen people. So as long as he believed in his heart that it was an ok thing to do, then it was definitely ok to do, wasn't it?"

Every time you see a shirt, you know it has a creator. Every time you see a watch, you know it has a designer. Every time you see art, you know there is an artist. Every time you see order, like twenty Coke cups in a row, you know there is an orderer. When you look around the universe, what do you see? You see creation, design, art and order. If every other thing has a creator, a designer, an artist and an orderer behind it, why would you not think that there is a Creator, a Designer, an Artist and an Orderer behind this universe?

There have been more than 25,000 achaeological finds relating to people, places and events in the Bible, and not one has contradicted anything in the Scriptures.

If you can believe the historical and archaeological evidence for the Bible, why don't you think you can believe the spiritual part of the book?

I point out to people that when the Bible was written, 25 percent of the content predicted future events (eg. Micah 5:2, Zechariah 11:12-13, Psalms 22). And every single one of those prophesies has come true in the minutest detail, except for the few remaining prophecies about the return of Jesus Christ to earth. Statistically, there is no way that man can predict the future with 100-percent accuracy. I then as people, "Who is the only one who can do this?"

Even Darwin stated that the fossil record should contain millions of transitional forms to show that evolution is true. Interestingly, the fossil record doesn't contain a single transitional form! It contains only complete kinds, but no transitional forms.

Why are there no missing links today? We see only whole dogs, cats, horses, birds, etc. We do not see creatures that are half cow and half whale, or half dog and half cat. They just aren't there.

Evil doesn't prove that there is no God; it only proves that there is evil.

Love by definition demands a choice. We can choose to love our parents. We can choose to love our spouse. We can choose to love our kids. We can also choose to love God, or choose not to love God. The evil that we see around the would is because people choose not to love God and obey Him. If we truly believed that people were made in the image of God, we would no do the things that we do to other people.

There are hypocrites in the mall today, and it didn't stop you from coming to the mall. There will be hypocrites in the restaurant tonight when you and your girlfriend go out to eat, and it won't stop you from going there. So why in the world would you let hypocrites stop you from finding out about the one true God who loves you unconditionally and wants to forgive all your sins?

If you want to become a better evangelist, fall more in love with Jesus.

Remember that if you are not fishing, you are not following.

During a battle in World War II, General Douglas MacArthur said, "The enemy is in front of us. The enemy is behind us. The enemy is to the right and to the left. They can't get away this time!"

The people I meet who are continually fired-up for Jesus are those who are doing the work of the Lord. They are active in their faith: They work at homeless shelters, witness to the lost, write school papers from a Christian perspective, visit prisoners, etc. They are putting wood on their fire. And if you do this continually, not only will the fire not go out, it will grow larger. God doesn't want us to be mere campfires; He wants us to be bonfires, raging infernos for Him. Keep doing the things of God, and your passion for Him will stay strong for the rest of your life.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

How to Run Your Business By THE BOOK


I finished reading this book months ago and marked so many passages that I put off typing them up until now! I initially bought "How to Run Your Business By THE BOOK" because I figured it would contain some Biblical principles that I could apply to my part time wedding photography business. Turns out, it really spoke to me regarding my full time job at The Salvation Army and harshly revealed areas where I really needed to grow. I'm so thankful that I can already see tangible improvement in those areas, and I pray God continues to push me! This is a fairly long post, but you'll find some gems in it!

You honor the leader above you by being publicly loyal to him or her, while confronting difference privately. You look for ways to make him or her look good. You volunteer to take on tasks that may not be within his or her strength zone, but are a better fit for your own abilities. You refrain from gossip and never conduct an "If I were in charge around here" conversation with subordinates.

...render unto your leader as you would render unto God.

Becoming more precedes doing more. The "becoming" must happen first and includes increasing in maturity, discipline, humility, knowledge, competence, righteousness, and focus.

If you're truly gifted, people will find you. During the times when no one seems to notice you or your contributions, practice the discipline of becoming more valuable so that you can add more value.

Moving fast in order to give the impression that you're more accomplished than you actually are is both dangerous and delusional.

You're never likely to get all of your work done because in a growing organization there's always an infinite amount of work to do. Thus, focus on getting the right things done first, and stop doing the wrong things well and often.

Students of THE BOOK are the best decision makers because they have a holy filter through which to strain their deliberations.

Imagine the state of your spiritual, mental, and emotional health if you'd spent the same amount of time deepening your love and knowledge of God and family as you do engaging in the mindless.

There is little that provides greater evidence of pride than prayer-lessness.

Maintaining flexibility and giving others a chance to make decisions, employ their ideas, solve their own problems, and have their way, builds a wall of humility around you that will be difficult for pride to penetrate.

In the wake of a great victory where do you head, to the bar or to your knees?

(about Mother Teresa, Gandhi and Jesus) Their strength and leadership ability was anchored in their lack of self-interest, their focus on the edification of others, and a willingness to decrease themselves so that others might increase.

Which best describes your work ethic: "just enough" or "and then some"?

According to Christ, if you do only what you are required to do, your performance is nothing special and is unworthy of acclaim. (Luke 17:7-10)

Listen with the intent to understand and not to reply.

Don't interrupt people or finish their sentences for them.

You develop charismatic people skills when you take focus off of yourself and put it on the other person.

Part of becoming better at serving others is forgetting your service.

He (Paul) also instructs that you should focus more on the humble task of judging yourself, rather than judging others.

But if you are real with others - if you don't hide your fears, your doubts, your weaknesses, your struggles - they will know that you are real.

To enhance your people skills and workplace charisma, be more of a partier than party-pooper, greeting others with an uplifting attitude, always ready to listen to them, advise them, and lend a helping hand.

You might also give the person you're ready to judge some benefit of the doubt by assuming the best about them rather than the worst.

You reach people by giving energy and attention to what you have in common and not by how you differ.

When you pray for someone, you will begin to look at them differently - as God sees them.

Grasp that one of the great paradoxes of God's world is that when you take your focus off your own wants and needs and put it on the wants and needs of others, more of your own wants and needs are met!

...discipline is simply making yourself do the things you know are important, even when you don't want to do them; once you do them long enough they become habits and no longer require the effort they did at the outset.

...when you feel stress, it indicates you've lost your sense of gratitude.

Discipline does not restrict, it liberates.

Perhaps the two most effective words to finding balance in your life are "be there." When you're at home, be there! When you're spending time with your family or on vacation, be there! And when you're at work, be there, too! Fully engage yourself where ever you are at the moment because one of life's most draining and stressful activities is to be one place physically and somewhere else mentally.

..don't let the blessings you receive from God cause you to forget about Him.

This is when you must remember that giving is not a logical issue of the head but a character issue of the heart.

Tithing demonstrates obedience and the humility to put God first.

After all, God is glorified not so much by preserving us from trouble, as by upholding us in trouble.

...great teams were built with intent and not by chance.

Give up power so that you can go higher! You will never build an inner circle if you continue to do too much of the work by yourself! The measure of your leadership is not how much you can do personally but how much you can get done through others. Remember that perhaps the greatest leadership lesson of all time is that you can't do it alone!

To put God's love and grace in perspective, we should never ask, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" Instead we should stand in askance and awe and declare, "How do so many good things happen to us even when we're bad?"

The prayers and praises of Paul and Silas in the midst other crisis didn't only benefit themselves. All those listening to them had their doors opened and chains loosed!

As God continues to conform you to Christ's image, pray that through His grace you may begin to face crisis with a new strength and hope; considering them less a price you are paying and more of a prelude to the miraculous. 

Your vision should contain bold and measurable components to be accomplished within a predetermined time frame. 

Structure creates internal energy that generates momentum.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It's Not You, It's Me

Ever use that excuse when ending a relationship? I have. And I'm discovering just how true it really is.

I've never been in a serious relationship. I've had opportunities to be and decided to end them, often prematurely. One red flag? I start to back away. Two red flags? I'm outta there.

But what exactly is a red flag? Abuse? Total red flag. Ego? Definitely something to take note of. Still "finding their way" in life? Maybe not grounds for termination.

Yet all of the above, and several other traits, have led me to retreat. As soon as flaws (or things I sometimes wrongly categorize as flaws) emerge, I shut down, as if I don't have any of my own to work through. The idea of taking on someone else's baggage seems like too much of a task, not enough fun. Why waste my time?

Yet Jesus takes me on every single day. He takes my flaws, my anger, my confusion, my everything, the bad and the good. He never sees me as a waste of time or hopeless or a terrible partner. He sees my potential. He builds me up. He doesn't run. In fact, He's promised to never, ever leave me (Matthew 28:20).

My response to this unconditional, unfailing love has been less than stellar, both in past years and very recently. Why have I never realized this before? Perhaps my pride and fear blinded me. I thought my tendency to isolate myself was normal, a comforting safety net. A protection against all the guys who would only end up hurting me anyway. But who will ever gain access to my heart if I never crack open the door? How will I ever grow if I don't allow another person to grow alongside me?

I feel like all I can do at this point, and really the best thing to do, is lean on Christ more than ever before. To ask for His help in understanding how He can love me so much despite my shortcomings. How He always believes in the good that is to come. And how I can extend the same grace to men navigating this wild world of late 20s/early 30s dating.

If any of you happen to read this, and you know who you are, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for not giving you the chance you deserved, for overlooking the value and beauty of who you are, for being flat out selfish. Most of you have surpassed me in life and in love, and rightfully so. May this be a lesson to me now when it should have been then. May I live without fear and with grace, and may His will always be done.