Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ask and it will be given; a different look...

Week 4:
Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

I recently finished leading a Crucible Men’s Weekend.  The week of the weekend, I asked the leadership team to pay attention to anything emotionally, spiritually, mentally that might affect how they would lead this weekend.  We would each get a chance to voice that about ourselves in our pre-retreat leader’s meeting.  I make this a personal common practice before staff these weekends.  As I began to pay attention that week to what my issue may be, the above passage came to mind.

I, like I believe many others do, tend to look at this passage form a perspective of gain.  What I mean by that is that when I ask and when I knock…it is usually for a material gain; or an upper hand on something; or an answer to a difficult situation.  Putting into practice a somewhat self-critical exercise opened my eyes to a new way at looking at this passage.  That week, I began to notice in my everyday encounters some ways that could hinder my leadership of the up-coming weekend.  This allowed me to be aware of these things, voice them with other leaders who could support me, lead better than I would have had I not asked God to reveal those to me.

The key to the whole exercise was to ask God to reveal where my weakness is in my current way of doing life.  Like the passage above says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  From this ask of God came a few questions:

·         Where am I vulnerable? 
·         Where am I exposed? 
·         From where does all of this come from? 
·         What do I believe about myself right now? 
·         Out of what I believe, what is truth and what are the lies?
·         How am I reacting to life out of all of this?

God did not disappoint.  He showed me what I needed to see and He gave me power to handle them in a healthy way.  By being aware of them, those issues had very little power over me.  I did not hide them or deny they existed.  I did not stuff or repress them. I put them in the open.  I talked about them as being a part of me.  I explored their origin.  Because of that, I was comfortable with leading.  I was not perfect.  I made mistakes.  I learned new things.  However, during those mistakes and new learning I was able give myself grace, drop defensive actions, and be open to a new way of thinking and learning.

This passage is not just for our requests.  God will give revelation in Parts of our character and behavior when asked.  As you enter your world where you are king or queen, I invite you to ask the above questions of God as you lead in your world.  Be ready because the initial answers may sting a bit.  But give yourself grace and be open to holding those things in front of you.   Voice them and turn them into strengths.  You’ll be surprised with the result.


1.      How have you used this passage in your life in the past?
2.      How often do you ask God to reveal areas of your life that you keep hidden or deny?
3.      How have you used parts of you that you do not like as strengths?
4.      Spend some time this week asking God to reveal issues that cause you to become defensive.  Then ask God to reveal the origin.  Finally, ask God to show you how to handle those going forward.

Click HERE to purchase Weekly Devotional Thoughts: Weekly Applications of God’s Word on Amazon Kindle and write a review.
Don't forget to visit my Amazon links.  General purchases:  Click on the Banner at the top of the blog.  For a list of my favorites go to:  http://astore.amazon.com/weekldevottho-20

Accepting the word "No"...

Week 3:

2 Samuel 7:1-17 After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”
Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.”  But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying:  “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’  “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
“‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’”
17 Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.
(This story is expounded in 2 Chronicles 22:6-10)

Several years ago, my wife and I took a class at Church called “Growing Kids God’s Way.”  It is a great guide to raising children and I highly recommend the course to anyone.  Not only has it helped me as a parent, it has helped me as a coach, teacher and principal as well.  There are great concepts that work well with children of all ages.

One of the concepts the presenters teach is this idea of accepting the word “no” before being able to accept the word “yes”.  In many cases, as a parent, we have to tell our children “no”.  Most of the time, we know the reason, outcome, etc.  Sometimes we explain the “why” behind our “no”.  Sometimes, that explanation is beyond the child’s maturity level.  Sometimes, it is a judgment call on the part of a parent.  Regardless, handling the word “no” creates a maturity and/or responsibility around handling the word “yes”.  This is similar to the concept Jesus introduced about being trusted with little allows one to be trusted with much. 

This application of handling the word “no” is not lost on us as adults.  There are several examples of where God one of His “no”.  Paul was told “no” on a couple of occasions.  The above passage is the story of David being told “no”.  David wanted to build a temple for God.  God told him “no”.  This the man after God’s own heart…yet he was not going to build the house of God. 

Here are a few things I pick up from this example:

·         God knows the outcome.  God has the master plan.  He knows what is best and he knows the why.  It is difficult for me at times to not know why I am getting a “no” answer.  The “no” from God is a great practice of submission and faith.
·         God has something different and maybe even something better in store for me.  In the case of David, he is to be the one who’s family line Jesus is to come from.  God had a different plan in mind.  Furthermore, David’s past may have kept him from being the one who built the Temple.  God has other plans for me in my “no” moment.  It may be a yes later.  It may be a different plan.  It may be a consequence for how I was at one time.
·         Even though what we want is good and noble and in our mind can further the kingdom…the answer still may be “no”.  David’s heart was right.  He wanted to build a house for God.  That is a noble want.  Still God knows better.  He knows what His purposes and plans are.  I can be disappointed and grieve the fact that God says “no”.  However, I still have to accept the “no” and look for what God wants me to do next.

One thing I notice about the word “no” in this culture.  It appears to me that the word “no” is short for “negotiation”.  I realize that in a wealthy country like the United States, we have poverty and homelessness.  However, for a large part of our population, we need for nothing and, in fact, have a large excess.  This makes the word “no” a difficult answer to take.  I know I don’t like the word.  I believe that is the challenge when it comes from hearing “no” from God.  The older and wealthier I become, the more difficult to take a “no”.  Yet…God knows what He is doing.  That is where faith comes in.


1.      How well do you handle the word “no”?  Explain.
2.      Where in your life have you heard a “no” from God?
3.      Have you experienced where God wanted you after the “no”?  Explain.
4.      What came up for you when you read the statement “…’no’ is short for ‘negotiation’”?
5.      What are some other Biblical examples of God telling someone “no”?
6.      This week, pay attention to how you handle the word “no”.  Ask God to reveal to you what you might need to learn in this situation.

Click HERE to purchase Weekly Devotional Thoughts: Weekly Applications of God’s Word on Amazon Kindle and write a review.

Don't forget to visit my Amazon links.  General purchases:  Click on the Banner at the top of the blog.  For a list of my favorites go to:  http://astore.amazon.com/weekldevottho-20

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Taking responsibility...

Week 2:

I Samuel 15:13-15 13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”  14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”  15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”

Passing off blame has been an age old problem.  Biblically, Adam began this whole blaming thing by passing responsibility for eating the forbidden fruit to Eve (Genesis 3).  While reading again the story of Saul and God rejecting him as king, I noticed how Saul passed blame and responsibility to his men in verse 15.  Even though this is an age old problem, I get a sense that it seems to be more prevalent in our current society.

I watch and listen as educated adults give away their power through blame and the passing off of responsibility.  Furthermore, when faced with the question, “What can you take responsibility for in this situation?”...confusion and further blame ensues.  I also realize in these situations that I am not immune to this way of reacting.  I too, give away my power and become victim to passing off blame.

Here is what passing off responsibility does:

·         It puts the power into the teeth of the situation.  When I blame the circumstances, I am victim to my circumstances.  My circumstances now have control and I will rarely take control back.  I become powerless and get stuck.  In that process, others suffer due to my inaction and lack of power.  Saul gave up his power by blaming his men.
·         It damages my character and eventually my soul.  I can no longer be trusted.  I become unapproachable.  I begin to blame even more and isolate.  When I isolate, I am easily tempted by sin.  Sin causes shame, and I begin to live out of my shame.  Saul damaged his soul eventually leading to his being tormented by a demon.  His anger burned unhealthily toward David.
·         I become even more selfish.  When I feel a victim, I power up in the wrong places and in unhealthy ways.  All I can think of is me.  The “me” world becomes a lonely world.  Saul asked Samuel to still honor him in front of the people.  He gave up his power to a false sense of image.

Here is an example of what I observe regularly.  I deal with Secondary students daily.  When a student is sent to me for discipline reasons, I make efforts to separate the student from the choice.  Sometimes in those moments, the student does not see he/she made a choice and begins to pass blame…on other students, his/her situation in life, the teachers/coaches, school rules, me, etc.  This becomes a teachable moment for me and I make note of how our society is riddle with ducking responsibility and giving away our power.  In most cases the student begins to get the picture.  Sometimes, either by a deep seated pattern of behavior or a poor presentation on my part…or both, the student goes home and complains to his/her parents. 

In some cases, the parents visit me with a protective persona in place.  The emotion of the child has triggered an emotional response of the parents and they have come to “fix” the problem.  In most cases, once the parents have heard what I told the student from me, they get it.  Occasionally, there are those who pass the blame to me.  And we just cannot see eye to eye on this situation.  I get it.  I do the same thing many times myself.  As a parent, I fall into the trap of making sure my child lives in emotional perfection and happiness.  When I step away for a while, I realize that this is not helpful to my child.  I need to teach him/her to take responsibility for his her actions. 

This is a lengthy example I know, but an important one to note the heightened awareness of the state of our society.  So far, I presented the problem.  But what does taking responsibility do for you and me?

·         It gives me power over my life.  Sure, there are things I cannot control.  And I certainly cannot control people.  But I am responsible for my reaction.  I don’t deny or hide or stuff my reaction, but I do not let it control me either.  I own my reaction.  I voice the boundaries that have been crossed.  It allows me to have control.
·         It protects my character and soul.  When I own my mistakes and me emotion around those mistakes, I am more trustworthy and more “human” to those around me.  I am able to drop the mask and be me.  To live as a fake is exhausting to the soul.  To live as me, is refreshing to the soul.
·         I begin to love others and have compassion on them.  I am able to see into the hearts of those around me and recognize from where they are coming.  I can see the cause of their reactions and walk with them.

My challenge is twofold.  First, I need to continue to flex the muscle of taking responsibility.  That may mean some pain and humility as I admit my mistakes, selfish behavior and flaws.  But that pain is short-lived compared to the pain that is caused by unhealthy emotion because of a damaged conscience and soul.  Second, I challenge my readers to take back their power by taking responsibility for themselves, their lives and their actions.  If you are a parent, recognize where we as parents foster blaming in our children.  Take back the power that was given to us through the Spirit of God.


1.      What is your overall reaction to this piece?
2.      Where is your “sweet spot” for blame?
3.      What do you suppose has been a consequence for not taking responsibility in your life?
4.      Who else has paid this cost?
5.      Notice this week where you pass of blame or do not take responsibility.  Ask God to open your eyes to this and free you from this pattern.

Click HERE to purchase Weekly Devotional Thoughts: Weekly Applications of God’s Word on Amazon Kindle and write a review.

Don't forget to visit my Amazon links.  General purchases:  Click on the Banner at the top of the blog.  For a list of my favorites go to:  http://astore.amazon.com/weekldevottho-20

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

In the beginning...

Week 1:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

As we begin a new year, I am mindful of God and His creation.  God set in motion the universe, this earth that we occupy.  He set in motion the seasons and the days.  He gave to us our life and a place to live that life.  God is a God of order, function, love, grace, mercy, kindness, justice, compassion, etc. 

I believe that because God is a God of order, humankind was inspired to create the calendar and noting time.  Because of that, we have beginnings and endings.  We have now closed another year and have begun a new one.  For many of us, a new year is a fresh start…a new beginning, yes, influenced by the previous, yet still new and mysterious. 

For me, a new year is the beginning of a new adventure.  I carry with me the learnings from the previous year.  Hopefully, I am a year wiser and will handle the rough spots this coming year with a different wisdom and set of choices.  I look forward to new challenges as well as attacking some old ones with fresh energy.

From this verse I draw strength in four words, “In the beginning God…”  Without God, there is no beginning.  Through God all is created.  Going forward, I am led by God.  He knows His creation.  He knows my heart and Soul.  He is in all and through all.  God is the center of it all.

As much as I may try, I am not the center of all creation.  My family is not the center of all creation.  My job is not the center of all creation.  My Church or other ministries are not the center of all creation.  My money is not the center of all creation.  God is center.

In a way, it is shaming to be reminded that He is center and I am not.  In other ways, it is comforting that he is center…it alleviates some stress.  Going forward, I am to remember that whatever this year holds; whatever this new beginning leads to, God is there.  God is center of it all.

“In the beginning God…”


1.      What has been the center of your universe?
2.      What do new beginnings mean for you?
3.      What commitment are you willing to make to God as you begin your new year?
4.      How does “In the beginning God…” impact you?
5.      Over the next few weeks, take note of things God may be doing or preparing you for in this coming year.

Click HERE to purchase Weekly Devotional Thoughts: Weekly Applications of God’s Word on Amazon Kindle and write a review.
Don't forget to visit my Amazon links.  General purchases:  Click on the Banner at the top of the blog.  For a list of my favorites go to:  http://astore.amazon.com/weekldevottho-20